Quote of the week...please share your favourite line from Ayn Rand's writings

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.”

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest 2009 - Semi Finalist from India

Last year, the Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest drew a record 4000 entries from around the world - double the number in the previous year! As part of the Atlas Shrugged Initiative, Liberty Institute too had promoted the contest in India through posters and web advertising. While the details about the number of entries from India is awaited, we know of at least one entry that made it to the Semi Finals!

Congratulations to Jaidev Deshpande, an Electronics Engineer who is a research associate at VIIT, Pune. 

Writing on the theme 'Comparing Basic Motivations and Approaches to life of Hank Rearden and Francisco d'Anconia', Jaidev wrote the following essay:

The contrast between Rearden and Francisco lies in Rearden’s unwillingness to rebel against the looters and Francisco’s intransigence. Rearden’s philosophy stems from a breach between his mind and his body. He thinks that in the domain of one’s personal life self-abnegation is virtue, but in the material realm he works for solely his own profit and pleasure, where any sacrifice is unacceptable. Francisco, on the other hand, believes that there exists a causal link between mind and body, just as between thought and production, between self-esteem and sex, or between values and life.

The contrast is also the quintessential contradiction Rearden struggles to solve. He seeks Francisco’s vision of life, but does not accept his methods. He understands that in a non-absolute world, only Francisco can give him the true appraisal of himself – yet loathes him for resorting to detrimental means. When Francisco explains how Rearden is the one giving up his vision to the looters, he speaks of Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders in pain and suffering (422). Rearden is the Atlas who refuses to shrug.

Francisco tries to convince Rearden that the looters are counting on him to carry their ‘wretched bunch’ (141) along, and

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A report on the Atlas Meet in Delhi on 15th January

The 6th Atlas Meet in Delhi took place on Friday, 15th January 2010 (let's call it "The Eve of January 16th"!). Barun Mitra, Vikram Bajaj, Arun Virmani and Rajendra Lakhotia attended the meet and also celebrated the 105th Birth Anniversary of Ayn Rand (which falls on 2nd February 2010).
It took a while for everyone to get assembled on a cold and somewhat foggy evening. The talk centered around the continuing financial crisis and chances of China's economy hitting a brick wall.
A little later we were joined by a new member at the meeting, Rajendra Lakhotia. It was the first time at the meet for Rajendra, who lives in Gangtok and has been an Ayn Rand fan since he first read her in 1968. For many of the early years, he corresponded with or visited Objectivists on visits to the USA. Back home, he would hand out Ayn Rand's novels to young people he knew and still does. While he has maintained his interest in Ayn Rand's works and philosophy for over four decades, the Atlas Meet was probably the first time he succeeded in connecting with other dedicated Objectivists in India!
After introductions, we began the meeting by viewing an excerpt from Michael Paxton's Oscar-nominated documentary "Ayn Rand: A Sense Of Life". We watched with fascination the glimpses of young Ayn with her two sisters, her early influences in literature and the impact of the Russian revolution on her life. (Her first conception of a hero, it turns out, came from a comic book character of a British officer in the jungles of 19th century India!)
With less time on hand, we decided to watch the remaining videos at subsequent meets and moved on to the highlight of the evening - cutting a cake (a rich chocolate truffle arranged by Barun) in honor of Ayn Rand's 105th Birth Anniversary!
Once the party was over, we concluded the meeting, even as we look forward eagerly to the next one.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Atlas Meet in Mumbai

Dear All,
We are reviving the Atlas Meet in Mumbai.

24th January 2010

A45, Vijay Kunj, Opp New Model English School, Vakola, Santacruz East, Mumbai.

Right now open to suggestions.

Options are:
(a) Watching a video/interview, which will be followed by a discussion.
(b) Meeting of new people to discuss ideas of Ayn Rand in general.
(c) Any other suggestion you may have.

Please do drop in your comments/suggestions.

ph# (0) 9820226297

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Atlas Meet in Delhi - Celebrating Ayn Rand's 105th Birth Anniversary

The next monthly Atlas Meet in Delhi will take place on the coming Friday, that is on 15 January 2010. Since Ayn Rand's 105th birth anniversary is just round the corner on 5th February 2010, we'll also mark the occasion with a small celebration!

15th January 2010

5.30 pm - 7.45 pm

The Agenda

Session I (Savor and Study)
5.30 pm - 6.30 pm: Watch a trailer of the wonderful Oscar-nominated short film "Ayn Rand: A Sense of life", followed by a video of Ayn Rand's first television interview given in 1959. In this engaging interview, Ayn Rand capsulizes her philosophy for CBS's Mike Wallace. The discussion ranges from the nature of morality to the economic and historical distortions disseminated about the "robber barons." She also comments on her relationship with Frank O'Connor, provides some autobiographical information and gives her perspective on the future of America.

6.30 pm - 7 pm: Tea and snacks break. We'll cut a cake for Miss Rand!
[Those interested in coming in only for one session, could arrive or depart during this time.]

Session II (Spread and Sustain)
7 pm - 7.45 pm: Discussions on ways to spread Ayn Rand's ideas amongst students -
i) continuation of discussions on ideas mooted in previous meetings (Organizing talks in schools through personal contacts).
ii) other ideas for promoting the same.

*New* : You can also participate in the discussions live over the internet via audio/video conferencing. All you need is a web-browser and audio capabilities on your computer. If you have a webcam, then you can see us and be seen as well. If you are interested, you must send an email to vbajaj@aynrand.in at least one day in advance to receive the link and instructions.

The Venue
inlingua International School of Languages,
N-12, first floor,
South Extension - Part I

It is an open meeting - anyone interested in Ayn Rand's ideas is welcome. You may call Vikram on 9810028900 for directions. If you're planning to attend, it would be helpful if you let us know through the comments column below or by sending an email to vbajaj@aynrand.in .

Crushing Our Spirits

George Monbiot is at it again. Earlier he attacked the “neoliberals”, claiming that they serve the interests of the ultra-rich. Now, it is the turn on Objectivists. He writes in “The Guardian”, on the Copenhagen Climate Summit: “The summit’s premise is that the age of heroism is over. …This is a meeting about chemicals: the greenhouse gases insulating the atmosphere. But it is also a battle between two world views…. The angry men know that this golden age has gone; but they cannot find the words for the constraints they hate Clutching their copies of Atlas Shrugged, they flail around, accusing those who would impede them of communism, fascism, religiosity, misanthropy …. I fear this chorus of bullies.”

Robert Tracinski has written a brilliant post on Monbiots article in Real Clear Politics:

“Monbiot is right about the big question, even if he's on the wrong side of it. The goal of the environmentalist movement is not anything so trivial as capping our carbon. It's about crushing our spirits. It's about breaking the ambition of man the achiever-the explorer, the adventurer, the discoverer, the builder-and replacing him with man the meek, a modest little paper-shuffler constrained to live a small, inoffensive existence.”

“Monbiot's message is the same as Toohey's. He describes his opponents as "angry," but his whole column seethes with resentment at the independent man who defies social conformity-who the hell does he think he is? To dress up this ugly motive, Monbiot keeps saying that we need to be "restrained" in order to keep us from "trampling on the lives of others." But isn't trampling on our lives exactly what he advocates? He offers a scheme for universal control, not just of the economy, but of the human spirit itself. Behind everything he says is the motive Toohey confesses as the goal of his crusade against the independent man: "I don't want to kill him. I want him in jail.... Locked, stopped, strapped-and alive.... And he'll obey. He'll take orders. He'll take orders!"”

“Monbiot's column is environmentalism's real-life equivalent of Toohey's confession, and it indicates that what is at stake in the fight over global warming is much more than economics. Today's "progressives" have become the supreme reactionaries. They stand athwart history-the history of man's ascent from the cave to the stars-yelling "stop!" What is at stake is the survival of the human aspiration to achieve-and that is what we have to save from the environmentalists.”

Thursday, January 7, 2010

“Atlas Shrugged” In News

The subject of Thursday’s (8 p.m., Eastern Time) “Stossel” (John Stossel is a journalist with Fox Business and Fox News. He is also a libertarian columnist) the Fox Business Network will be the novel “Atlas Shrugged”. There will be interviews with leading Objectivists including Dr. Yaron Brook.

Atlas Shrugged sales are going through the roof as of the economic crisis. The year before, an all time high of 200,000 copies were sold. People find some similarities between the novel and the present happenings. When Ayn Rand was asked “Is Atlas Shrugged a prophetic novel or a historical one?” she replied “If some people believe that Atlas Shrugged is a historical novel, this means that it was a successful prophecy.” One has to agree.

As Richard Salsman pointed out, “altruism” is the root of the present economic crisis. . Subsidies doled out to prop up failing businesses are a classic case of robbing productive individuals to “help” the incompetent. Politicians are trying to solve these problems through more and more controls, not paying attention to the fact that it was controls which led to the crisis in the first place. Controls breed further controls. It is easy to blame the free market and “greed”, but it should be obvious that the problem is much deeper. (The heroes of Atlas Shrugged were branded “greedy”.) If people had understood the ideas put forward in the “Atlas Shrugged”, the world would have saved a lot of pain.

Laws to promote house ownership for the poor were the root cause of the housing bubble. George Bush said in a speech in 2002: “We use the mighty muscle of the Federal Government in combination with State and local governments to encourage owning your own home. That's what that means. And it means - it means that each of us - each of us - have a responsibility in the great country to put something greater than ourselves - to promote something greater than ourselves.” We must be "unified in service to the greater good", said Obama. One is tempted to quote John Galt, "Why do you shrink in horror from the sight of the world around you? That world is not the product of your sins; it is the product and the image of your virtues."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A funny take on Uncle Sam

For some comic relief, watch the YouTube video by Tim Hawkins spoofing big government. Click here or copy and paste the link below in your browser.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Inflation Is Man Made

“Food Inflation”, as they have named it, has soured to a decade’s high in India. As usual, speculation and hoarding is being blamed. False remedies are being proposed. It is time to think in terms of fundamental principles. Ayn Rand had pointed out decades back in her essay "Egalitarianism And Inflation" that “Inflation, a man made scourge, is made possible by the fact that most people don’t understand it.” If people were sound on monetary matters, government manipulation of money and credit would not have happened.

Ayn Rand asks what would have happened if a person is allowed to trade in paper in a society in which gold has evolved as money. What if such a person claims that he is the best customer and expands the market? The issue, now, must be clearer than crystal to everyone. That person is making a claim on goods for nothing. That’s precisely what the Government does-Counterfeiting, a crime which is punished severely if done by an ordinary citizen. As Ayn Rand had noted, there is only one institution which has the legal power to trade by means of rubber checks: the Government. Counterfeiting is implicit theft.

Of course, it is true that the Government doesn’t simply print paper money and circulate in the market. The process is more complicated. But, that doesn’t change the intrinsic picture. The fact remains that the Central Bank, a Government institution, creates money out of thin air. Ayn Rand identifies that there will be two concepts a savage thinking on the range of the moment transported into an Industrial society can’t grasp-“Credit” and “Market”. We, however, can’t make such an excuse. We are capable of long range thought. If we are to stop inflation, we should grasp these concepts and step into action.

Article: The Cure For Inflation