I’m rereading Atlas Shrugged, and I have to say it’s a lot less frustrating this time.
The first few times I tried to read it, the arguments of the “weak” characters (the villains) were so exasperating, mainly because they seem unmotivated to me. The brother Taggart says something along the lines of “making money isn’t important,” but what businessman would EVER say this? He also wants to give business to the underdog supplier, even though the supplier is less competent, because it’s more “fair.” Which is also ridiculous.
Thanks I suppose to the absurd incompetence and blatant lies of the failed Bush Administration, I am now much more able to recognize a reframing device.
This exchange which opens the book is an appeal to anti-anti-Monopoly Legislation. But the argument for anti-Monopoly laws isn’t “it’s more fair.” I suppose you could look at them this way, but the way I see it, their benefit is not intended for small business owners. The real benefit is consumer protection, so the monopoly cannot charge arbitrarily large prices for a given product (the consumer has the choice to consume the competitors’ product or service). To see the desirability of this scenario, look at your cable bill. You always have the option of NOT having cable TV I suppose…
My new realization is: I think this actual benefit was well understood at the time Rand was writing, so I have to assume she’s doing it on purpose. Which again points to her classist hypocrisy. If Objectivism is about an objective reality and everyone doing what is in their own best interest, how is encouraging monopolies in the consumers’ best interest? And there will always be more consumers than producers, especially for the high-margin goods and services required to support Rand’s titans of industry. She’s basically taken the working part of Utilitarianism and thrown it away
AYN RAND: *pisses in JB’s cheerios*
JEREMY BENTHAM: What a bitch!
From another angle: monopolies are actually bad for businesses operating in a consumptive role outside of the monopoly. If I have an ice cream store, and there’s only one company that makes paper cups, and they suddenly choose to charge $5 a cup… I’m screwed.
My theory as to the motivation for Rand ignoring reality like this: it is easier to disregard one’s philosophical opponent if one paints them in one’s OWN MIND as unreasonable. Example: Liberals hate America! Liberals want to destroy jobs! Liberals like killing babies!
Life is easier to live if you ignore all contradictions. LA LA LA I’M NOT LISTENING TO YOU… it’s even easier to be a follower of this kind of thinking nowadays, because the media outlets will provide you with these justifications themselves.
I was in a conversation with a relative who is a genuine dittohead… I asked him why it was Liberals Hate America, or any number of other questions requiring some kind of model of his chosen adversaries… he never had an answer. To him, The Liberals were and still are a crazy group of monsters who act completely randomly, with no rationale at all. All he knew was that they do these things that are bad. It never occurred to him to wonder why.
I remember people having this problem with al-Qaeda. I suppose they still do. Yes, al-Qaeda hates America… but… why? What is their actual plan? al-Qaeda is not “COBRA” from G I Joe; their big idea is not just randomly blow things up. So what is their deal? How are they served by terrorism? Most of the time, people have never even wondered this question.