“Atlas Shrugged,” Psychology, and 60 Years

By John E. Dick © 2017

Atlas Shrugged, by novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand, turns 60 years old this year, 2017, published so many years ago in 1957. I read Atlas Shrugged for the first time 40 years ago as a very young man, just out of my teens. As with so many others who have read it, the impact of its story and ideas changed my life forever.

While most acknowledgments of the impact of Atlas Shrugged focus on the philosophical and intellectual components, agreeably both fundamental and essential in the story, I would like to, nonetheless, point out the great impact of the psychological elements of Atlas Shrugged.

The human being is an integrated being of reason and emotion, but fundamental to our basic nature as individual living entities is that unique quality know as volition (or free will). The emotional component of any individual acts like a barometer, making us aware that something seems good or bad. However, since this “barometer” is only a reaction, and could be right or wrong, we require as individuals that our emotions be understood and guided by reason, that is, by rational and logical thought.

But, the use of rational thought is directed by volition, as a choice: volition is part of our basic nature, but we must choose to be rational or irrational, to face facts or avoid them, to understand our emotions or ignore them.

Yes, some unfortunate human beings can have certain physical or medical conditions that may hamper and limit the use of their volition, but I think most human beings exist in a normal state capable of exercising their free will. It’s just that many individuals choose not be rational, and so their emotions take center stage. This choice affects our psychology. Also, the fundamental concepts and ideas we each hold as individuals drive and affect our psychology.

I am by no means an expert in psychological or mental studies and professions, but one cannot ignore the fact that Ayn Rand understood, with amazing clarity, the impact and relationship of ideas and psychology in creating and developing the characters in her novels. Yes, incorporating “consistent character psychological development” is essential for any serious and good writer, and there are other authors who do achieve this, both in heroes and villains.

However, I think Ayn Rand goes a step further in showing how volition and ideas drive psychological elements in her characters, with equal attention paid to psychological developments as she does with intellectual and philosophical ones. Her development and inclusion of the psychological part is brilliant and genius. Here are but a few examples, both positive and negative (I include one from Rand’s novel The Fountainhead) with my observations:

  1. From Atlas Shrugged: “The Face Without Pain or Fear or Guilt.” (Part Two, Chapter Nine) Even the title of one of the book’s chapters reflects emotional states, that is, psychological states. By the end of the novel, we discover which ideas create such a look, that is, such a “psychological portrait,” and which ideas do not. Another reference to this “portrait” occurs when the heroine, Dagny Taggart, crashes her plane in a remote area of the Rocky Mountains, and she survives yet is injured and dazed (Part Three, beginning of Chapter One). Not being totally conscious of her surroundings, Dagny opens her eyes to see the face of the stranger who finds and rescues her, and her first thought is “But of course.” I quote, “She was looking up at the face of a man who knelt by her side, and she knew that in all the years behind her, this is what she would have given her life to see: a face that bore no mark of pain or fear or quilt.” Not aware of herself, yet remembering all the ugly and senseless struggles she’d had to endure over the past years, Dagny whispered to this stranger, “We never had to take any of it seriously, did we?” The stranger replied “No, we never had to.”
  2. From Atlas Shrugged: “The Room” at John Galt’s house in Mulligan’s Valley (Part Three, end of Chapter One). This is the room that all strikers must stay their first nights in order to be ready for Mulligan’s Valley. The room represents that particular psychological breaking and separating point for all strikers from their past. I quote John Galt: “This is the room where they spent their first night in the valley. The first night is the hardest. It’s the last pull of the break with one’s memories, and the worst. I let them stay here, so they can call for me, if they want me. I speak to them, if they cannot sleep. Most of them can’t. But they’re free of it by morning…. They’ve all gone through this room. Now they call it the torture chamber or the anteroom – because everyone has to enter the valley through my house.”
  3. From Atlas Shrugged: The total mental breakdown of the villain character James Taggart (Part Three, Chapter Nine). Because of his continuous and purposeful avoidance of reality and the consequences that follow, James Taggart has a massive and complete psychological breakdown during the event where the hero, John Galt, is captured and tortured. Taggart wants to break Galt, even kill him. But Taggart also realizes that Galt’s death will mean his own death. Taggart’s mental capacity to handle even the simplest of cognitive functions is completely wiped out. He has to be dragged away by his fellow villains, they fearing to be close to Taggart’s mental demise themselves.
  4. From The Fountainhead: “The courage to face a lifetime,” (Part Four, Chapter One). Architect Howard Roark meets a young man on a bike at one of Roark’s building projects. Roark does not know the man, and unaware to Roark, the young man has a passion to compose music. When the man sees Roark’s architecture and stops to ask Roark who built these buildings, Roark replies “I did,” and the man says “Thank you.” Roark had no idea he had just given this young man “the courage to face a lifetime,” for if Roark survived to build this architecture, then this man could also survive his life to compose music his way. This is a very personal and crucial psychological launching point for the young man. Courage is a very complex psychological state, and it can involve a mix of all kinds of emotions and ideas: competence, love, passion, drive, loss, fear, anger, one’s convictions, etc. And, the psychological and emotional courage necessary to follow your dreams for a lifetime is supreme.

This is just a touch of the rich psychological elements in Ayn Rand’s writings. There are dozens of examples, both in her heroes and villains. As with good fiction, so in real life. No matter how wise a sage we may become, or how far we may take our intellect, or the level of expertise or celebrity we may rise to, we also take our psychology with us on the journey – all the way, to the end. We have no choice in the matter. But, what we decide to do, or not do, with our individual intellect and psychology along the way is a choice, and counts in the end. Ayn Rand understood this explicitly.

Happy 60th Anniversary, Atlas Shrugged.

–P.S. For an insightful article on how psychology affects social structure, please see Dr. Edith Packer’s The Psychological Requirements of a Free Society, found here in pamphlet form: http://www.capitalism.net/edith.htm. I highly recommend reading it. –JD

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Statist Masters Then and Now

Recently, novelist Gen LaGreca gave a very insightful and thought provoking talk at an Americans for Prosperity event that focused on two topics. First, presenting the development, research, and writing of her novel A Dream of Daring, and second, how this research presented an opportunity to show the disturbing parallels of how the statist and collectivist ideas of controlling plantation masters of the past have once again crept into our present-day life enslaving us instead through government control and intrusion. I highly encourage anyone interested in defending freedom and capitalism to view this wonderful video.

For more information on Ms. LaGreca’s novels and writings, visit both her publishing label Winged Victory Press and her blog, Author Gen LaGreca’s Blog. –JD

Capitalism and Christmas: Perfect Harmony

Regarding the Christmas Season:

”The world of economic production and exchange produces a need to escape our awareness of the marketplace – and the market itself meets that demand.”

– B.K. Marcus, editor of the Freeman

What a beautiful picture. The very productive economic system, unfettered Capitalism, that provides limitless possibilities and opportunities in productiveness, achievement, and success for all individuals and the businesses they create, where everyone works so hard, dedicatedly, and passionately — the very system that everyone wishes to escape now and then for their personal refueling needs in the forms of vacations, celebrations, cheer, relaxation, rejuvenation, time with family and friends, and especially for the once-a-year Christmas Holiday Season — the very same system, Capitalism, automatically responds to this most basic need for a break, and provides the very means and alternatives to make the escape and celebration possible. Beautiful.

Capitalism. The perfect harmonious social-economic system.

Presidential Motivations Simplified

These are based on my own personal observations and opinions.
Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton’s Motivation: Doesn’t hate the U.S., but really doesn’t give a damn about it one way or the other. The core drive here for Hillary Clinton is personal acquisition of wealth by any corrupt means and cost, to acquire political power to keep a corrupt, crony government system alive long enough so that she and Bill can trade and/or sell political secrets, political deals, political favors, manipulations, blackmails, etc., to enable themselves to keep getting “rich, rich, rich” on the back of anyone they can. Hillary Clinton is obsessed with money, prestige, and political power, and no one or no thing will stand in her way – I think she would even encourage war if that will help her become richer. Not a healthy direction for our country, the United States.

In addition, I think President Obama should be worried about a Hillary Clinton Presidency because I think that if she had to, Hillary Clinton would redo or undo everything Obama did if it meant saving her crony government financial-gaining gravy train and connections.

Presidential Candidate Donald Trump’s Motivation: Already very rich, and earned every penny of it in the private sector. The drive here for Mr. Trump is a personal sincerity and love of the United States of America, an opportunity to fix a badly, broken government system and get rid of government waste, work towards healing a failing national economy, wanting a WIN-WIN situation for all Americans, defend and secure our Constitution, including our Bill of Rights, a desire to protect America, and help create opportunities for greatness in all Americans through reductions in taxes and regulations. Mr. Trump is not the perfect presidential candidate, and is perhaps too much of a mixed-economy type, but under the current context and situation of our country and the world, he is at least focused in the right direction towards more freedom, security, and prosperity in America for all Americans. It is a starting point. As Ayn Rand held, context is everything.

It’s quite simple, really. Major damage to our country has already been done by the Obama Administration. At this point, the only choice left is between Trump or Clinton. It is a choice between a sincere builder who loves America and wants to repair the damage, or a crony politician who could care less about anything except her obsession with wealth and power.

Who in their right mind could vote for Hillary Clinton when she won’t say a word to condemn her own supporters who beat up a poor, homeless, black woman for defending Trump?

Halloween Costume for Work

The other day (as we are approaching that scary time of year), some of my co-workers asked me what sort of costume I was going to wear in celebrating Halloween at work.

I told them that I was coming as The Invisible Man….

I think they are still laughing.

Cheers,
John

P.S. — Sorry for the few posts now and then, but I’ve been working full-time and also restoring/updating an old 1930’s Bungalow house (60% done) these past couple of years, as well as writing piano music when time allows. A neighbor asked when will my house be done, and I replied “when I’m finished.”

Statist Elitism in One Single Quote

“The British have violated the rules. It is not the EU philosophy that the crowd can decide its fate.”
— President Martin Schultz of the European Parliament, 2016*

It’s no wonder that current political-social-economic events such as the Brexit Vote have begun to surface. Centralized power is beginning to be challenged everywhere, and centralists and their welfare-addicted herds are throwing tantrums as their control and very existence is being threatened. Statist Elitists such as President Schultz of the EU Governance have always scorned and feared individual self-determination, let alone a whole nation group of such individuals.

I have always suggested that these Statist Elitists types harbor an inner “hollow core” empty psyche of hatred, fear, and anger towards themselves, others, and life itself. This is why they are obsessed with control over everything from free individuals to whole nations and economies. Control over people is their only axiomatic purpose in life.

The man after power over people, the ultimate second-hander, to paraphrase Ayn Rand from her novel The Fountainhead.

See my Hollow Core Cartoon from 2010.

Cheers!

* Reported from the Zero Hedge website. See full article at this link.

Top 10 Reasons Why Businesses Leave America or Close

By John E. Dick © 2016

1. Heavy Taxes and Fees Burden
— Corporate Taxes, Income Taxes, Property Taxes, Business and Licensing Fees, Additional State and Local Municipality Taxes and Fees, etc.

2. Government Forced Regulations, Controls, and Limits
— Federal Agency (EPA, FDA, etc.) and State/Local Agency Compliance, Additional State/Local Regulations and Controls, Anti-Trust Laws, Forced Family Leave Acts, etc.

3. Labor Costs
— Minimum Wage Laws, Disability Insurance, Social Security & Medicare Tax, ObamaCare & OSHA Compliance, Increased Liability Insurance, Discrimination Liability, Control of Hiring, etc.

4. Litigation Costs
— Increased Legal Fees, Court Costs, Bogus Law Suits, Increased Liability Costs, etc.

5. ObamaCare (The A.C.A.)
— Compliance Costs, Labor Disruptions, etc.

6. Union Thuggery and Unrealistic Demands
— Union Collusion with Government Force, Unrealistic Wage and Entitlement Demands, etc.

7. Excessive Government Welfare Costs
— Growing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Competition Bailouts, Subsidies, Entitlement Demands, Growing Food Stamps Program, etc.

8. Government Cronyism and Forced Monopolies
— Business not allowed to compete freely because of Coercive Government Law & Force in certain Business Markets, certain Geographic Areas, certain Products and Services, across State Lines, Government Favoritism and Subsidies, etc.

9. Federal Reserve and Government Ruin of the Private Banking System and US Dollar
— Ruin through Regulations, Controls, Interest Manipulation, Fiat Money Expansion (Inflation), Destruction of Private Savings, etc.

10. American Anti-Business and Anti-Profit Culture
— The public using the “Hammer” of Government to “Squash” Evil Businesses, and Redistribute the Wealth and Profits of such Businesses.

Note: All of these factors are attacking Property Rights and Economic Freedom. American Business in general is caught between a rock and a hard place. It is no wonder that their only choices are to get in bed with government (cronyism), risk taking a chance with a foreign government by leaving the US, or simply closing up shop. Hell, I too would either leave or quit if my fellow Americans hated and abused me as much.