Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Who is Esonlinji?

Today I finished reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. The end was not really a surprise after reading through the book, given that the grand plan was announced about two thirds the way through the book, and the rest of the book was the fulfilment of that plan.

The philosophy Rand puts forth agrees a fair bit with mine, and I can see myself incorporating some more of it into my own ideals. The main agreement is in the fundamental basis of the philosophy: the existence of a external, independent, consistent reality which man lives in. This is to me the only place to start thinking about the world we live in. To think the world is as we think it to be instead of the way it is is plain delusional. To think that you can change the world just by thinking it so without taking action to achieve such a change is to ignore the true nature of the world we live in.

Rand also points out the dangers of collectivism in the novel. The idea of taking from the rich, the skilled, the creative, and giving to the poor, the unmotivated, the leeches is not the one that socialists put forward, but is definitely a result that could happen when such a system is put in place. I think that the idea "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" should be supplemented with "From each according to his need, to each according to his ability." Each person should give their best and should be rewarded accordingly. Each person should pay their own way, pay for the resources they use in their endeavours. I'm having a little trouble fitting "to each according to his need" into this, so, except for the fact that it ruins the symmetry of the statements, I'd suggest dropping it.

I don't agree quite so strongly with Rand's ideal of laissez-faire capitalism as the ultimate form of guiding societies production. I think the problem with such systems is that once the means of production sufficiently outweigh the means of consumption, the scarcity that underpins capitalism of all forms falls away. Combine this with the reduction in physical labour due to technologies such as automation, and Rand's idea of production as the greatest of tasks seems a bit empty.

The contrast I've got in my head with the world of John Galt is that of Iain M Banks' The Culture, a post scarcity, anarcho-socialist mish mash. I think Rand would despise the hedonistic human citizens of The Culture as looters of the worst kind, having created greater beings (the Minds of the Culture) hamstrung into acting as willing victims who give their sanction to those who live off their power and ability. I think the Culture is a much better long term goal society wise, but Ayn Rand's ideas are an important step in getting there.

I'll write some more later, but will stop here since I'm rather tired.

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