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.”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Anti-Business Mentality

In the Indian society, businessman are not regarded highly enough as of various cultural reasons and prejudices. Much of it had to do with the caste system, but it can’t be solely attributed to it. The situation is universal, though there are variations in the degree of the bias from country to country. The reasons behind it as obvious, as it would become evident in these words of Ayn Rand: “Throughout men's history, money was always seized by looters of one brand or another, whose names changed, but whose method remained the same: to seize wealth by force and to keep the producers bound, demeaned, defamed, deprived of honour. Yet through all the centuries of stagnation and starvation, men exalted the looters, as aristocrats of the sword, as aristocrats of birth, as aristocrats of the bureau, and despised the producers, as slaves, as traders, as shopkeepers--as industrialists.”

People instinctively grasp that some men rightly deserve their wealth, and for many, nothing can be more unbearable than this. People hate Capitalism for the same reason, that it rewards people based on their socially objective value. Moser put it eloquently, though sympathizing with people plagued by such notions : “Life in a society in which success would exclusively depend on personal merit would simply be unbearable. “

All this is not to say that businessmen never acquire their wealth through devious means. No advocate of Capitalism, as far as I know, had said that businessmen are angels, and would always act in their rational self-interest. Omkar Ghate reminds us in his column in Forbes that being pro business is not the same as “assuaging the desires of the business lobby.” One of the most common arguments (It is not exactly an argument) I hear against her works is that it worships businessmen and corporations. Now, this is not true at all. What is intended is just that businessmen perform a very important, and often underestimated function. Many of her villains, her critics forget, are the worst kind of statists .

In the words of Ghate , “The true producer Rand shows, makes just one demand of Washington: "Get the hell out of my way!" If we can extort any sense out of statist arguments, it would be just that businessmen bribe Government officials and get things done. This much is true. However, it doesn’t follow from this alone that further regulations are the answer. It is the regulations that got us here. We are in big trouble when the alleged defenders of capitalism themselves call for more and more regulation!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Atlas Meet in Delhi - Watch the additional disc in the boxed set of Ayn Rand's "We The Living" on DVD

The next monthly Atlas Meet in Delhi will take place on Saturday, 18 September, 2010. The last couple of meetings have focused on the screening of the movie version of Ayn Rand's debut novel "We The Living" on DVD (courtesy Rajendra Lakhotia). Staying with that theme, we propose to view the additional disc in the boxed set that contains the scenes deleted from the original and many interviews of people associated with the movie.

This movie 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. It  has some stellar performances by Alida Valli and Rossano Brazzi and was a cult hit in Italy at the time of its release. 

Decades later, Duncan Scott helped restore the film and re-edit it for release under Ayn Rand's guidance.  The additional disc captures many moments that were deleted from the original Italian version and tells the story behind the re-discovery of the film and its painstaking restoration.

[Last month, Mr.Scott had offered DVD sets of the movie to us for $25 (Rs.1250) each and many of us have ordered our own copy. Just a handful of DVDs are still left, so those still interested may send a mail to vbajaj@aynrand.in to order their copy.]


18 September 2010

5.30 pm - 7.45 pm

The Agenda

Session I (Savor and Study)
5.30 pm - 6.30 pm: Watch the additional disc of the DVD set of "We The Living" 

6.30 pm - 7.00 pm: Tea and snacks break. 

Session II (Spread and Sustain)
7.00 pm - 7.45 pm: Discussions on the movie and a broad range of topics, including ways to spread Ayn Rand's ideas 

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 by leaving a comment below or by sending an email to vbajaj@aynrand.in .

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Castro Admits the Failure of the Cuban Model

Fidel Castro, who had abstained from commenting on local issues for a long time, has admitted that the communist economic model doesn’t work. He said this to an American journalist who visited the country. "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore”, he said, when he was asked whether other countries would do well if they adopt the Cuban model. In Cuba, the Government controls 90 percent of the economy.

Cuba was a country which adhered to Socialism even after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Castro can’t claim that he was not warned, that this mistake was made innocently. Half a century has passed after these words were written: “Fifty years ago, there might have been some excuse (though not justification) for the widespread belief that socialism is a political theory motivated by benevolence and aimed at the achievement of men’s wellbeing. Today, that belief can no longer be regarded as an innocent error. Socialism has been tried on every continent of the globe. In the light of its results, it is time to question the motives of socialism’s advocates.”(Ayn Rand, The Virtue Of Selfishness). It is strange that it took him such a long time to catch up to this knowledge. While it should be appreciated that he had the honesty to admit that he was wrong, his evasiveness on the subject raises much suspicion.

Socialism was definitely not a mistake which would be evident only after a post-mortem analysis. In 1920, Ludwig Von Mises proved beyond doubt that no rational planning is possible under socialism in the absence of market prices.” Pictures of Socialistic Future” by Eugene Richter warned of the impending disaster in 1891, much before communists got their way in Russia. Even then, it was an issue which was beaten to death long ago. Bastiat wrote as early as 1849 of the socialist attitude: “Superior! This supposes that these gentlemen can see further than the common people; that their only fault is that they are too ahead of their times; and if the time is not yet come for suppressing certain free services, pretended parasites, the fault is to be attributed to the public, which hasn’t caught onto Socialism. I say, from my soul and my conscience, the reverse is the truth; and I know not to what barbarous age we should have to go back, if we were to sink to the level of Socialist knowledge on this subject.” It is ironic that such semi-barbarians claim their monstrous, archaic ideology to be ahead of the times and morally and economically superior. The claim of economic superiority has weakened, and now it rests only on the moral argument, which never had any merit.