ATLAS SHRUGGED: 3 DISCUSSION POINTS
by Georgevine Moss
1. In the valley where the industrialists settle after they leave the world, there's--among other businesses--a BANK, a POWER PLANT and a TOBACCO COMPANY. And of course, no CHURCH.
Since God has no part in Rand's philosophy, the no church in the perfect new little world the industrialists build for themselves when they decide to go on strike makes sense.
What about the tobacco company?
The novel was published in 1957. Would the author have included such a company in the valley if she'd been writing the novel in 2012?
2. When that man on the train describes to Dagny how the new plan worked at the Twentieth Century Motor Company (p.608-618) among other things he says:
"...Overtime without pay--because you weren't paid by time and you weren't paid by work, only by need....We who had once been human...We began to hide whatever ability we had...What else could we do, when we knew that if we did our best for 'the family', it's not thanks or rewards that we'd get, but punishment?"
"God help us, ma'am! Do you see what we saw? We saw that we'd been given a law to live by, a moral law, they called it, which punished those who observed it--for observing it. The more you tried to live up to it, the more you suffered; the more you cheated it, the bigger the reward you got."
Today, there are laws that protect the workers from being taken advantage of and there's also a system , by which the workers are--at least in theory--paid according to their abilities/contribution. But--in practice--the system can be gamed and the laws can be bend and when that happens, the worker feels cheated.
Someone perhaps would focus on the "paid by need" part of the story and argue about the benefits of today's government programs, but instead of doing that, why not focus on the fact that people need their work to be appreciated and that even that doesn't work if they feel cheated? How can the system and the laws be improved so that unfairness, which can cause serious disruptions in a micro and macro level in the long run, can be avoided?
PURPOSE OF MAN
3. On page 670 the author writes "...and had known that the work of achieving one's happiness was the purpose, the sanction and the meaning of life."
Many philosophers have tried to define what is the purpose of man. Rand's effort seems to be a good one.
In contrast, she offers this when she tries to describe through John Galt's words what the people in charge in her story propose as the purpose of man:
"This idol of your cult of zero-worship...is your image of man and your standard of value...where you seek to make the concept 'human' mean the weakling, the fool, the rotter, the liar, the failure, the coward, the fraud, and to exile from the human race the hero, the thinker, the producer, the inventor, the strong, the purposeful, the pure--as if to feel were human, but to think were not, as if to fail were human, but to succeed were not, as if corruption were human, but virtue were not--as if the premise of death were proper to man, but the premise of life were not."