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.”

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A report on the screening of "We The Living" and the Skype session with Duncan Scott

On a very wet Saturday afternoon, 35 intrepid fans braved a Delhi downpour to make it to the screening of Ayn Rand's film classic "We The Living" at the NCUI auditorium. Projected on a large screen with crystal clear sound and easily read sub-titles, the film proved to be a captivating and  truly immersive experience for each and every member of the audience, despite a run-time of nearly 3 hours. 

The chemistry of the lead pair, the emotional roller-coaster as the lives of Kira and Leo are torn asunder, the abject destruction of Andrei as he learns the truth about Kira - each had such an impact that by the end of the film quite a few handkerchiefs were in evidence!

After a break for tea and snacks - and some time to recover from the drama of the film - the group reassembled for what turned out to be the highlight of the evening: a live session on Skype with Duncan Scott, who is the producer and editor of the reconstructed film! 

Mr. Scott had very graciously agreed to be ready for the chat at 7 a.m. at his home in California, and he gave nearly an hour of his time for what proved to be a fascinating discussion. He spoke at length about how at age 21, as a young film-student, he had offered his services to the Holzers, who were Ayn Rand's lawyers, for re-editing this lost classic.  

That was the beginning of a fascinating journey as a four hour film had to be edited down to three hours in order to enable its release in theaters. Bits of propaganda inserted by the fascist government in Italy back in 1942 was easy to eliminate. To remove the sub-plots was trickier. The biggest challenge was to 'create' scenes from within the existing footage and re-record dialogues that

Friday, August 27, 2010

Social Insecurity

Recently, The United States celebrated the 75th anniversary of Social Security and the president Barack Obama promised to protect it against “privatization.” In a radio address, he said to the public: “Seventy-five years ago today, in the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt signed Social Security into law, laying a cornerstone in the foundation of America’s middle class, and assuring generations of America’s seniors that after a lifetime of hard work, they’d have a chance to retire with dignity. We have an obligation to keep that promise; to safeguard Social Security for our seniors, people with disabilities, and all Americans–today, tomorrow, and forever.”

Social security, needless to mention, is one of the greatest frauds perpetrated on mankind. Such schemes are introduced in the midst of crises such as economic depressions, as it is easier to sell it to desperate people. It is forgotten that the depression itself was caused by the Central Bank, a government institution which inflates the currency and throws people into a life of poverty and misery. When Ayn Rand was asked (In the Mike Wallace Interview) whether there should be unemployment insurance when the economy breaks down, she replied: “Study economics. A free economy will not break down. All depressions are caused by government interference. And the cure that is always offered is to take more of the poison that caused the disease. Depressions are not the result of a free economy.”

It is absurd to compare social security to voluntary insurance plans, as social security rests on coercion and coercion alone. Such a comparison will inevitably founder upon this simple but devastating question: If it is voluntary, why should the Government be involved? Such questions do not occur to proponents of the welfare state.

Alex Epstein writes in the Ayn Rand Institute website:

“This is a fraud. Under Social Security, lower- and middle-class individuals are forced to pay a significant portion of their gross income--approximately 12 percent--for the alleged purpose of securing their retirement. That money is not saved or invested, but transferred directly to the program's current beneficiaries--with the "promise" that when current taxpayers get old, the income of future taxpayers will be transferred to them. Since this scheme creates no wealth, any benefits one person receives in excess of his payments necessarily come at the expense of others.”

Monday, August 23, 2010

Reason is All

Sudha G Tilak has an interesting review of Heller's Rand biography in Open Magazine. The reviewer recognizes Rand as one of the most original and interesting personalities of the 20th Century.The Heller book, she says, is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand Rand and her life better.


"Revisiting Rand has never been as interesting as reading Heller’s striking biography. It takes us closer to the creature that Rand was, a compelling entity whose advocacy of rebellion and individualism held a mesmeric quality over those around her, even detractors who rejected her idea of wealth. Heller includes interesting details of how Rand would wear dollar pins on her dress to advocate her support for capitalism, though she did not attach much importance to wealth when she gave up her royalties. Heller points out that for Rand, the wealth of ideas amounted to the intellectual capital she so cherished in her own life. Alan Greenspan might find her ideas appealing, but at heart Rand’s philosophy owed more to Nietzsche, hints Heller."

"Heller’s tome talks about Rand, born Alissa Rosenbaum to Russian-Jewish parents who immigrated to America, and made New York her home to pursue a career in writing. The book is divided in a chronological order following her life and also some of the life of her followers after her passing. Heller finds that Rand’s social criticisms of an industrial America were based on her grounding in 20th century Russian history. Heller explains at the outset that she is not an advocate of Rand’s philosophy, but admires her facets. ‘Whatever one thinks of her positive program of rational selfishness, egoism, and unregulated capitalism, her ability to spot and skewer cowardice, injustice and hypocrisy is at least as keen and passionate as that of her ideological opposite Charles Dickens.’"

Nistula Hebbar has a review of the same book in The Financial Express, which even buys the fallacy that Rand even failed to realize that Roosevelt's New Deal got the United States out of depression.


"The book points the finger at the one thing, in fact, which makes most people uncomfortable with Rand’s philosophy despite the brilliance of her premises, the fact that this is an imperfect world, and

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Special Event: Screening of Ayn Rand's "We The Living" and Live Interaction with Duncan Scott, Producer and Editor

We are pleased to announce a special screening of the film "We The Living" at 3 p.m. on Saturday, 21 August 2010, at the NCUI Auditorium in Delhi.

Based on Ayn Rands' debut novel, this 1942 film classic starring Alida Valli and Rossano Brazzi has a checkered history. It was made in Italy during World War II, without Ayn Rand's knowledge or permission and was based on an unauthorized Italian translation of the novel. Surprisingly, it was a cult hit in Italy at the time of its release, but was soon banned by the Mussolini regime.

Decades later, Duncan Scott helped restore the film and

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The World's Biggest Message with a 'GPS Pen'

In the US, one man drove 12,238 miles and across 30 states to scrawl a message that could only be viewed using Google Earth. His big shoutout: "Read Ayn Rand." 

We The Living, The Movie

Ayn Rand's novel, We The Living tells the story of individual battling the state. It was made into a movie, first without the permission of Ayn Rand. It was a huge success when it was released, and was reviewed widely. Many consider it a better movie than the film version of "The Fountainhead. A special screening of the film "We The Living" will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, 21 August 2010, at the NCUI Auditorium in Delhi.

Excerpts from certain reviews and interviews:

" The banned, lost, rediscovered: Ayn Rand's "We the Living" lives on!" was published on We The Living The Movie website.

"The movie opened in Rome and was a huge box-office success. But before long, the film came to be viewed as a sly indictment of the Mussolini regime. In addition, the portrayal of an intelligent, sexually independent heroine, groundbreaking for its time, was viewed as controversial. The film was banned by the Italian government and ordered to be destroyed. But Massimo Ferrara, the studio chief for Scalera Films, hid the original negatives with a trusted friend and sent the negatives of another Scalera production to authorities for destruction! After the war, efforts to rerelease the film were ended when Rand declined to grant the necessary literary rights. By the early 1950's Scalera Films had gone out of business and We the living had dropped from sight."
"Philosopher Robert Mayhew on Ayn Rand's novel "We the Living", interviewed by Scott Holleran" was published in Capitalism Magazine.

"What is We the Livings theme?
The individual versus the state, especially the evil of statism. I think

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ayn Rand Fan Page On Facebook Crossed 100,000 Fans

The Ayn Rand Page on the social networking website Facebook crossed 100,000 admirers. Very few writers match that popularity on Facebook. The number of people who liked the Ayn Rand page, operated by the Ayn Rand Institute is greater than many popular writers including J K Rowling, the world’s richest author.

The fact that Ayn Rand is gaining popularity gives much hope to the followers of Objectivism all over the world. Ayn Rand Institute president Yaron Brook expressed happiness in crossing the milestone. "No other author has such a powerful and compelling message that is so accessible to so many readers. Ayn Rand addresses fundamental questions that affect each of our lives, and she offers engaging, real-world answers to those questions.” he said.

As of the Internet, several youngsters across the world are embracing the philosophy of Objectivism. Many of them are from India.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Private Ownership of Roads

At the recent discussion about capitalism at our Atlas Sunday Meet in Bombay, the issue of roads, traffic, congestion, and and infrastructure was brought up. I think my post on this issue from my blog Leitmotif is pertinent in response:

When we think of privatizing roads, the scenario is so far removed from anything we have witnessed in real life that we respond–-almost instinctively–-with suspicion and concern... of uncertainty, anarchy, high costs, and unpredictability. Our ability to imagine the operations of a free society is not inhibited our by level of intelligence but by the strictures of thought that we--and the current philosophical, statist, and educational system--has placed upon our minds; the concept of the government is so entrenched in our socio-political thinking and academia that life without the government produces a mental blank-out.

This blank-out is analagous to a theists incapacity to imagine a moral life without god; like the famouse Dostoyevsky quote says: "If there is no God, then anything is permitted."

The Nature of Extremism

At our most recent Atlas Sunday Meet in Bombay, I was asked the following question--in somewhat similar words:
"Your view seems very extremist to me. Why do we have to look at extremes--Communism or Capitalism; free markets or government control? Can we not strike a balance between full and unregulated economy and some amount of legitimate control?"

My response was:
In popular parlance, extremism has a negative connotation. Any extremist position is considered immature at best and evil at worst.
However, extremism really is an invalid package deal. Nothing in the concept permits your mind to evaluate the content of the extremist position. It simply demands--without offering any evidence to your rational faculty--that any position labeled "extreme" must be rejected ipso facto.
In one of my blogposts on Leitmotif, I had said:
Anything regarded as "extreme," "radical," "ideal," "fundamental," or "principled" is viewed negatively or with suspicion.
In contrast, concepts like "open-minded" have come to refer to the attribute of someone who is unsure or uncertain of every idea and belief, of someone who is open to any and every kind of persuasion, of someone who is unwilling or incapable of committing to any point of view even if it is true to the best of his knowledge.
To me, this modern connotation of "open-mindedness" is more akin to intellectual promiscuity.

Whenever one is confronted with the package deal of "extremism," one has to unravel the contents of the position to properly evaluate the merits of the idea. For instance, being an extremist or an absolutist about human rights--the right of every human being to life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness--cannot conceivably be wrong.
And that is what capitalism is: it is an extremist position in the political and economic context about human rights.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Moral Foundations of Capitalism

This was the first meet at the Mumbai University Campus thanks to Prof Mugdha Karnik, the director of the Centre of Extra Mural Studies of the University of Mumbai. She is also currently in the process of translating Atlas Shrugged in Marathi. Due to her interest in Rand's philosophy and in promoting her ideology, she has agreed to give us the university space on every last Sunday of the month. Hence, from now onwards, we shall have meetings in every last Sunday of the month at the university. This shall also give a good enough notice for the interested people to plan and work around their schedules and keep this time free.

The topic for this meet was "The Moral Foundations of Capitalism". Though I am completely bowled by Rands philosophy, capitalism was something I have kept away from. On a basic level of reason and individuality, I seemed to agree, but I would think, trading for self interest was against human nature. A mind cultivated in this "sacrificing, community-based society, where other's happiness comes before your own", I was enslaved to my understanding that trade for selfish gains is morally wrong. However, ignorance hardly lasts longer than the moment it is identified. And so, today, I can defend capitalism with moral values.

The meeting started with Jerry's opening marks on the meaning, origin and importance of capitalism.

New Atlas Shrugged Website

The Ayn Rand Institute has announced the launch of a new website for Atlas Shrugged with an immersive redesign and interactive features. Click on the link below to go to the website:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

"Ayn Rand In India" Among The 50 Best Blogs On Ayn Rand

The “Ayn Rand in India” blog was rated as one among the best 50 blogs on Ayn Rand, all over the world by the website Online Masters Degree. The blog was mentioned in the list of “Best Well Known Blogs for Ayn Rand Readers”. “If you live in India, you may have heard of this group. They often meet in India to discuss Ayn Rand, her works, and more. Entries are often on what they discussed and they welcome entries from readers.” , was the comment on this blog on the website.

The other popular blogs which were mentioned were Voices for Reason, Cato Unbound, Noodlefood, The Objective Standard, Capitalism Magazine and The Atlas sphere. Another Indian blog which was mentioned was Jerry Johnson’s blog “Leitmotif”, and there was a reference to his excellent article, “Why is Ayn Rand Respected More in India?”.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"Ayn Rand And I" By Gurcharan Das

Gurcharan Das has an excellent review on Anne C Heller’s “Ayn Rand and the World She made”.


"Anne Heller’s excellent biography of the Ayn Rand is an exception. Her great achievement is to have connected Rand’s extraordinary legend and individualistic philosophy of unbridled capitalism to her life as a youngster, Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, an awkward and wilful Russian Jewish prodigy, who had written four novels by the age of eleven. Heller makes you believe that that Rand’s excessive self-absorption and vehement protest against any form of collectivism are rooted in her family’s suffering in early-twentieth-century Russia, where Jews were violently persecuted and personal freedom died when the communists came to power."

"I came to admire free enterprise after decades of living under the inefficiency of Nehru’s ‘mixed economy’ or License Raj, as many call it. Whereas I turned against state control from economic compulsions, Rand came to free enterprise from her collectivist Russian experience. I rebelled against the inefficiency of socialism; she revolted against its lack of human freedom and individuality. My embrace of markets was a pragmatic decision; she sought in capitalism a moral foundation. Both of us ended in a suspicion of state power but our paths were different. For me political liberty was not an issue because India had uniquely embraced democracy before capitalism. Democracy came to India soon after 1947 but our love affair with capitalism only began seriously after the 1991 Reforms when we began to dismantle the socialist institutions of the License Raj."

"Ayn Rand understood that free markets brought phenomenal productivity and prosperity, but