Tag: Ayn Rand

You didn’t build that!

Her på stedet er vi ikke bange for at citere Ayn Rand, som med denne passage fra Atlas Shrugged (1. del, kap. 9) taler så direkte som det kan blive, til Barack You-didn’t-build-that Obama:

“He didn’t invent iron ore and blast furnaces, did he?”

“Who?”

“Rearden. He didn’t invent smelting and chemistry and air compression. He couldn’t have invented his Metal but for thousands and thousands of other people. His Metal! Why does he think it’s his? Why does he think it’s his invention? Everybody uses the work of everybody else. Nobody ever invents anything.”

She said, puzzled, “But the iron ore and all those other things were there all the time. Why didn’t anybody else make that Metal, but Mr. Rearden did?”

HT: Lisbet Røge Jensen a.k.a. KapitaLisbet

Rand eller RAND?

Jeg har dd. et lille læserbrev i Weekendavisen:

Man kunne sige meget om Bo Bjørnvigs lidt pudsige, men langt fra originale artikel om Ayn Rand og hendes roman Og Jorden Verden Skælvede fra 1957 (19.2.). Mens der ganske rigtigt er meget besynderligt ved den roman, er det dog bemærkelsesværdigt, at Bjørnvig tilsyneladende finder det forkert at fremstille fiktive personer som havende forskellige værdier, forskellige evner og forskelligt udseende. Mere presserende er det måske at korrigere en faktuel fejl, før den spreder sig og opnår mytestatus: Når Bjørnvig skriver, at »forfatterens eftermæle plejes af en indflydelsesrig tænketank, Ayn Rand Corporation«, må der næsten et sted være en forbindelse til, at Bo Tao Michaëlis dagen før (18.2.) skrev i Politiken, at »USA’s forrige udenrigsminister Condoleezza Rice har gået på hendes institut«. Her må vist være tale om en forveksling, der forslår – mellem det lille Ayn Rand Institute, som forfatterens mest dedikerede fans driver, og så den 1.600 mand store militærstrategiske tænketank RAND Corporation, der blev grundlagt i 1946 af USA’s Flyvevåben, og som indtil videre har huset knap tre dusin Nobelprismodtagere. Sidstnævntes navn har meget med »Research And Development « at gøre og meget lidt med Ayn Rand. At forveksle de to svarer nogenlunde til at tage fejl af Blekingegadebanden og LO. Uden sammenligning i øvrigt.

Who is … Dagny Taggart? II

For et par år siden, i denne blogs ungdom, omtalte jeg i en post, at producenterne bag en mulig filmatisering af Ayn Rands evigtaktuelle monster-blockbuster Atlas Shrugged havde skrevet aftale med selveste Angelina Jolie om, at hun skulle spille den kvindelige hovedperson, Dagny Taggart.

Nu har jeg lige, med nogen forsinkelse, opdaget nyheden om, at dét projekt–måske ikke så overraskende grundet den lange forhistorie og bogens karakter–tilsyneladende er kørt ud på et sidespor.  Det skulle så til gengæld være til fordel for en TV-miniserie og med halvdelen af Brangelina skiftet ud med … selveste Charlize Theron.

Lad os nu se, om ikke også dét projekt kører af det Taggartske togspor, men alt andet lige lyder begge dele som en forbedring.  Lige så spændende Jolie er, lige så ubærligt ville det nok være at skulle høre hende ud(/øde-)lægge bogens filosofi.  Og så giver det da os muligheden for en sjældent attraktiv illustration af en punditokratisk blogpost …

Rand, Greenspan og John Galt

New York Times’ business-tillæg bragte i lørdags en længere artikel om Ayn Rands forfatterskab og den store indflydelse, især Atlas Shrugged har haft – og fortsætter med at have – på en række amerikanske økonomer og erhvervsfolk.

Blandt andet biografi-aktuelle Alan Greenspans interesse og beundring for Rand behandles i artiklen. I et forsvar for Atlas Shrugged fra 1957 skrev Greenspan: ”Atlas Shrugged’ is a celebration of life and happiness. Justice is unrelenting. Creative individuals and undeviating purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfillment. Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should”. Her følger flere brudstykker fra artiklen:

One of the most influential business books ever written is a 1,200-page novel published 50 years ago, on Oct. 12, 1957. It is still drawing readers; it ranks 388th on Amazon.com’s best-seller list. (“Winning,” by John F. Welch Jr., at a breezy 384 pages, is No. 1,431.) The book is “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand’s glorification of the right of individuals to live entirely for their own interest.

For years, Rand’s message was attacked by intellectuals whom her circle labeled “do-gooders,” who argued that individuals should also work in the service of others. Her book was dismissed as an homage to greed. Gore Vidal described its philosophy as “nearly perfect in its immorality.”

But the book attracted a coterie of fans, some of them top corporate executives, who dared not speak of its impact except in private. When they read the book, often as college students, they now say, it gave form and substance to their inchoate thoughts, showing there is no conflict between private ambition and public benefit.

… One of Rand’s most famous devotees is Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, whose memoir, “The Age of Turbulence,” will be officially released Monday. Mr. Greenspan met Rand when he was 25 and working as an economic forecaster. She was already renowned as the author of “The Fountainhead,” a novel about an architect true to his principles. Mr. Greenspan had married a member of Rand’s inner circle, known as the Collective, that met every Saturday night in her New York apartment. Rand did not pay much attention to Mr. Greenspan until he began praising drafts of “Atlas,” which she read aloud to her disciples, according to Jeff Britting, the archivist of Ayn Rand’s papers. He was attracted, Mr. Britting said, to “her moral defense of capitalism.”

… Shortly after “Atlas Shrugged” was published in 1957, Mr. Greenspan wrote a letter to The New York Times to counter a critic’s comment that “the book was written out of hate.” Mr. Greenspan wrote: “ ‘Atlas Shrugged’ is a celebration of life and happiness. Justice is unrelenting. Creative individuals and undeviating purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfillment. Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should.”Rand’s magazine, The Objectivist, later published several essays by Mr. Greenspan, including one on the gold standard in 1966.

Rand called “Atlas” a mystery, “not about the murder of man’s body, but about the murder — and rebirth — of man’s spirit.” It begins in a time of recession. To save the economy, the hero, John Galt, calls for a strike against government interference. Factories, farms and shops shut down. Riots break out as food becomes scarce.

Rand said she “set out to show how desperately the world needs prime movers and how viciously it treats them” and to portray “what happens to a world without them.” The book was released to terrible reviews. Critics faulted its length, its philosophy and its literary ambitions. Both conservatives and liberals were unstinting in disparaging the book; the right saw promotion of godlessness, and the left saw a message of “greed is good.” Rand is said to have cried every day as the reviews came out.

Rand had a reputation for living for her own interest. She is said to have seduced her most serious reader, Nathaniel Branden, when he was 24 or 25 and she was at least 50. Each was married to someone else. In fact, Mr. Britting confirmed, they called their spouses to a meeting at which the pair announced their intention to make the mentor-protégé relationship a sexual one. “She wasn’t a nice person, ” said Darla Moore, vice president of the private investment firm Rainwater Inc. “But what a gift she’s given us.”

… Some business leaders might be unsettled by the idea that the only thing members of the leadership class have in common is their success. James M. Kilts, who led turnarounds at Gillette, Nabisco and Kraft, said he encountered “Atlas” at “a time in college life when everybody was a nihilist, anti-establishment, and a collectivist.” He found her writing reassuring because it made success seem rational. “Rand believed that there is right and wrong,” he said, “that excellence should be your goal.”

John P. Stack is one business executive who has taken Rand’s ideas to heart. He was chief executive of Springfield Remanufacturing Company, a retooler of tractor engines in Springfield, Mo., when its parent company, International Harvester, divested itself of the firm in the recession of 1982, the year Rand died. Having lost his sole customer in a struggling Rust Belt city, Mr. Stack says, he took action like a hero out of “Atlas.” He created an “open book” company in which employees were transparently working in their own interest.

Mr. Stack says that he assigned every job a bottom line value and that every salary, including his own, was posted on a company ticker daily. Workplaces, he said, are notoriously undemocratic, emotionally charged and political. Mr. Stack says his free market replaced all that with rational behavior. A machinist knew exactly what his working hour contributed to the bottom line, and therefore the cost of slacking off. This, Mr. Stack said, was a manifestation of the philosophy of objectivism in “Atlas”: people guided by reason and self-interest. “There is something in your inner self that Rand draws out,” Mr. Stack said. “You want to be a hero, you want to be right, but by the same token you have to question yourself, though you must not listen to interference thrown at you by the distracters. The lawyers told me not to open the books and share equity.” He said he defied them. “ ‘Atlas’ helped me pursue this idiot dream that became SRC.”

Mr. Stack said he was 19 and working in a factory when a manager gave him a copy of the book. “It’s the best business book I ever read,” he said. “I didn’t do well in school because I was a big dreamer. To
get something that tells
you to take your dreams seriously, that’s an eye opener.”

Mr. Stack said he gave a copy to his son, Tim Stack, 25, who was so inspired that he went to work for a railroad, just like the novel’s heroine, Dagny Taggart.

… Last year, bookstores sold 150,000 copies of the book. It continues to hold appeal, even to a younger generation. Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, who was born in 1958, and John P. Mackey, the chief executive of Whole Foods, who was 3 when the book was published, have said they consider Rand crucial to their success.

The book’s hero, John Galt, also continues to live on. The subcontractor hired to demolish the former Deutsche Bank building, which was damaged when the World Trade Center towers fell, was the John Galt Corporation. It was removed from the job last month after a fire at the building killed two firefighters.

In Chicago, there is John Galt Solutions, a producer of software for supply chain companies like Tastykake. The founder and chief executive of the company, Annemarie Omrod, said she considered the character an inspiration. “We were reading the book,” she said, when she and Kai Trepte were thinking of starting the company. “For us, the book symbolized the importance of growing yourself and bettering yourself without hindering other people. John Galt took all the great minds and started a new society. “Some of our customers don’t know the name, though after they meet us, they want to read the book,” she went on. “Our sales reps have a problem, however. New clients usually ask: ‘Hey, where is John Galt? How come I’m not important enough to rate a visit from John Galt?’ ”

Hr. Boe om frihed & enerne

Eftersom kammeraterne på Information nu omsider har opdaget og eksponeret, hvad nogle af os har vidst længe (men ikke har villet blamere manden med), sker der vist ingen skade ved, at jeg citerer fra sidste uges portræt af den succesrige unge instruktør Christoffer Boe:

Den 31-årige instruktør Christoffer Boe har altid skilt sig ud fra den gemene hob

Christoffer Boe har altid skilt sig ud og haft en forkærlighed for hyldesten af eneren. På Filmskolen lagde han stort ud med en trilogi – og med sin spillefilmdebut ‘Reconstruction’ markerede han sig – som en vinder. …

Det begyndte allerede, da han var barn i Nordsjælland. Mens andre løb rundt og legede, så han film af jurist-faderens yndlingsinstruktører Howard Hawks, Orson Welles, Fritz Lang og Jean-Luc Godard. Og han var kun 12 år gammel, da han begyndte at interessere sig brændende for den omstridte tyske filosof Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900).

“I stedet for Michael Laudrup var jeg bare interesseret i Nietzsche. Så simpelt er det, og det udartede sig til mange ting. Frem for at tænde for tv åbnede jeg en bog. Dengang læste jeg virkelig meget og havde en målsætning for, hvor mange bøger jeg skulle læse om året,” har han udtalt til Berlingske Tidende.

19 år gammel skrev han to længere artikler i det ultra-liberalistiske tidsskrift Libertas, et blad, der trods placering på den ydre højrefløj var anarkistisk nok til at gå ind for Christianias bevarelse.

Artiklernes interesse for individualistens uindskrænkede rettigheder harmonerer godt med, at Boe – da han i 2003 skulle vælge sine yndlingsfilm til visning i Cinemateket – blandt andet slog ned på King Vidors ellers ret upåagtede Ayn Rand-filmatisering Kun den stærke er fri (1949), som han roste som “et fuldstændig kompromisløst forsvar for individualismen og retten til at være sin egen.”

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