Main Atlas Shrugged Discussion

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12:16:35 PM May 5th 2011
I've removed the Astroturf trope from the page for the following reasons:
  • There is no evidence to suggest that this very clumsy and poorly planned rush of reviews came from the people behind the movie. I would have thought that if they were willing to the effort of trying to... achieve whatever this rush of reviews would achieve they would at least go the effort to have it occur AFTER the film was released. Until any evidence if presented that the people behind the movie are the people behind the review rush then there's no evidence to suggest Astroturfing. The clumsy nature and how well the clumsiness was documented and reported leads me to think that somebody who wished to discredit the movie did this, but there's no evidence for that either so let's just leave it out.
  • The page is supposed to document the tropes that make up the film, not the actions of an unknown third party in the real world that has nothing to do with the actual plot of the film.
  • Adding this to the page seems more like a political statement (with a link to a leftwing site that would have an obvious anti-Objectivist bias) and has no place on a wiki that is supposed to document story elements, not make political statements.
06:17:02 PM May 6th 2011
edited by KooKooBanana
The user reviews DID come out after the movie was released. Furthermore, he's sockpuppeting the false claims of left-wing film critic Roger Ebert, who hated the movie.
01:27:47 AM May 7th 2011
So the claim that all the reviews came out before the release isn't even true?
02:24:25 PM May 7th 2011
edited by KooKooBanana
Considering that there were a few screenings before the official release, there were a few reviews, but not the high volume claimed by those that oppose the film.
08:48:22 PM Apr 27th 2011
The page says "Spoilers are unmarked. Five year rule." What "five year rule" are they talking about? NOHAMOTYO doesn't appear to fit.
08:02:16 AM Dec 26th 2011
They seemed to be speaking about a site "Spoilers Off" policy... which doesn't really fit with that page either, which implies that we should consider lapsing into public domain to be a good threshold for not spoiling works (I like this idea better. It seems rather insane to believe that five years after a story has been released, everybody who wants to read it for entertainment will have done so already.)
11:26:52 AM Apr 18th 2011
Add to the smoking is cool, as a subsection, I think, but I'm not sure exactly how to characterize it: Ayn Rand herself died lung cancer. It strikes me kind of as a Funny Anyeurism, but the bit about smoking in Atlas Shrugged wasn't meant to humorous. Maybe something about irony, especially given that she believed that all the evidence that showed smoking caused cancer was erroneous. It's not a harsher in hindsight, given that she was promoting, not attacking smoking.

06:39:24 PM Mar 18th 2011

Karma Houdini: A lot of minimally bad people die horribly, but quickly. Worse people take longer to die, but even more horribly.

sounds more like Laser-Guided Karma to me. How are people escaping their karma?
03:52:01 PM Mar 18th 2011
Race Lift

Is there any indication in the book that Eddie Willers is white? I don't remember reading it myself (Ayn Rand never obsessed over skin colour). If the answer is no then I don't think this tropes applies to the film.
07:37:27 PM Jan 24th 2011
Want to put this here before deleting it: I think the motor entry under Did Not Do The Research represents a misunderstanding of what Rand was going for. She didn't mistakenly believe that such a motor was necessarily possible. It's just the style of the book: impossibly wonderful people doing impossibly wonderful things. There's even a little Hand Wave later in the book with Robert Stadler, who says something about the motor requiring a fundamental re-appraisal of the laws of energy and thermodynamics.
04:35:07 PM Mar 26th 2011
I've added the mention of the engine violating physics under the What We Now Know to Be True trope.
05:55:24 PM Oct 17th 2010
If Rand's philosophy would actually work, and the stupid and greedy didn't make up the majority of the rich, then I would agree with her. But objectivism wouldn't work with the way that social structures and money distribution is currently, the same reason that so many other great systems like Communism are unworkable. Semi-related: Have there ever been any objectivist societies? It seems that the best way to see the failings of a system is to put the system into practise.
07:21:30 PM Oct 17th 2010
If you want to share your opinion, try writing a review. Just click the "reviews" button at the top of the page.
09:31:35 PM Dec 23rd 2010
Gear Box Clock,

"The stupid and greedy" may be the majority of the rich, but its arguable they are the majority of the poor too. Sturgeon's Law.

Second, there have been no Objectivist societies. Plenty of societies have been influenced by Classical Liberalism (the political philosophy that Objectivism subscribes to), but none practice it consistently. Present day America (the most obvious example of a society that was originally based on Classical Liberalism) is a Keynesian, somewhat Corporatist mixed economy rather than the laissez-faire free markets supported by Objectivism.

Third, if you wish to make a critique of Objectivism, we do have a Useful Notes page on Objectivism here. Feel free to submit a criticism or an argument or a question.
07:06:44 PM May 21st 2010
OK, now that we've hashed out the Canon Sue issue, maybe we can make some progress on Harsher in Hindsight.

I don't love the current language, which seems rather over the top. "Frighteningly vivid," indeed. I don't particularly want to get into an economics fight, both because I took just one econ class in college and because it would be tiresome. But let's acknowledge here that there is a debate, and quite a few people (highly regarded people, including Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman) think that Rand's laissez faire philosophy played a big role in the breakdown.

The current entry just invites future Edit Wars. Still, I'll acknowledge that there are elements of collapse that are mirrored in AS; government role in the running of businesses deemed "crucial to the national economy," bankers lending to people who don't deserve it (Midas Mulligan), etc.

That said, I think we should change the entry: moderate the language a bit, acknowledge those few specific elements that are shared between AS and the current crisis and take no position on the Austrian School of Economics and other grand issues of economic philosophy.
09:41:50 PM May 23rd 2010
edited by StudiodeKadent
Speaking here as an Economist, to claim Randian Laissez-Faire produced the Global Financial Crisis is just asinine, irrespective of what Krugman believes (for one, his Nobel was given for his work on trade theory rather than for any analysis of business cycles). First, yes, Alan Greenspan was once an Objectivist. However, when he ran the Federal Reserve, he ran it according to the Neo-Keynesian consensus that dominated academic economics at the time. He expanded credit in a counter-cyclical fashion, i.e. when the Tech Wreck occurred, he slashed interest rates to unpredecentedly low levels (which in turn allowed banks to lend out money to people that, under less loose lending conditions, could never have afforded a loan in the first place (i.e. subprime mortgages)).

Randian Laissez-Faire would not have a central bank. Indeed, Randians support either a Mises-style gold standard or a Hayek-style denationalization of the money supply (competing currencies).

Additionally, pre-GFC, the two most heavily regulated markets in the US economy were Health Care and the Financial sector. The idea that the financial sector (or the healthcare sector, for that matter) were even close to Laissez-Faire is the most bleedingly obvious case of Did Not Do The Research visible in popular journalism dealing with economic issues. The financial sector, for one, has the supply (and hence price) of money centrally determined by a state-priveliged entity (the Federal Reserve, which produces legal tender currency, i.e. backed with the force of law).

Attempting to blame Ayn Rand for the Global Financial Crisis requires ignoring the difference between Neo-Keynesian and Hayekian or Misesian approaches to Monetary Policy.

I'm happy to change "frighteningly vivid" to something less emotive. And I'm willing to state the specific concrete factors you mention (banks forced to lend out money to risky borrowers, governments nationalizing or at least taking de facto control of businesses deemed crucial to the national economy). But if we are going to mention Krugman and the like, I don't see why we should not mention The Economist and how it argued Austrian theory is probably the best explanation of the GFC and how Rand endorsed the Austrian theory. Either both sides of the debate are mentioned in a neutral fashion, or none of them are. For that matter, I wouldn't object to a neutral mention of the opposing point of view.

Let me make a proposed example:

  • Harsher in Hindsight: Some commentators have found several similarities between the book's description of economic collapse and the lead-up and aftermath of recent Global Financial Crisis (of 2007 to 2010). For instance, banks being pressured by political and legal factors to lend more than they otherwise would (which made Midas Mulligan go on strike) and the government expanding control of (formerly) private enterprises deemed "crucial to the national economy." Whether or not these similarities have any significance is debated;
    • On one hand, some commentators (such as Social-Democratic economist Paul Krugman) argue that Rand's endorsement of laissez-faire free markets was a contributing factor in precipitating the crisis.
    • On the other hand, some commentators (including The Economist magazine) argue that the crisis is best explained by the Austrian School theory of the business cycle (which Rand endorsed); i.e. that the crisis is ultimately attributable to the unprecedented expansion of the money supply that occurred under Ex-Randian Alan Greenspan's time as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.
    • As for which of these arguments is correct, this is a matter that this entry shall not discuss, since it deals with Flame Bait.
09:18:16 AM May 24th 2010
edited by Andrew
I actually don't want to mention Krugman or The Economist; this isn't a site for that kind of thing. So let's excise the sub-points.

I like the main point, save for the link to the WSJ. Let me try and improve the language a bit. Tell me what you think:

  • Harsher in Hindsight: There are elements from Atlas Shrugged that played a prominent role in the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2010. For instance, before the crisis banks were encouraged to lend to unworthy individuals, which was the sort of thing that made Midas Mulligan retire. In the current climate, the federal government is exercising a measure of control over private businesses deemed crucial to the national economy. It is not the purpose of this website to decide whether those things have any significance or what role Rand's philosophy plays in this entire drama.
08:28:19 PM May 24th 2010
I like it, although I'd change "or what role Rand's philosophy plays in this entire drama" to "or whether or not Rand's philosophy has played a role in this entire drama."
08:59:54 PM May 24th 2010
Done and done.
10:18:50 PM May 18th 2010
Whether or not all the protagonists are Canon Sue is debatable. Dagny, for one, can fill the role of an Escapist Character for some of the audience. Additionally, both Hank and Dagny have flaws (intellectually speaking) and these flaws do play a role in the plot (Dagny's conflict with Galt and Rearden letting himself be exploited by his unsupportive family). Finally, full Suehood requires that the story be an excuse to show off how awesome the characters are, whereas in Atlas the story and characters all serve the ends of the philosophical anvil-dropping.

Also, lets not forget the fact that many people use the accusation of "Sue" as a thought-terminating cliche to Complain About Characters They Don't Like.

John Galt arguably is a Marty Stu by Rand's standards, Word of God flatly admits it. Even Objectivists, including myself, find him a thin character and dangerously close to what Rand would call a "floating abstraction."

But this is romantic fiction. It's not meant to be gritty hardboiled realism that reflects all the mundane facts of the daily life of "most normal people." Additionally, it seems any character that embodies any virtues at all is accused of being a Sue, as if "most normal people" can't embody or practice anything even remotely good. The implications here are pretty unfortunate.
10:39:53 PM May 18th 2010
The problem is that just because something is "debatable," that doesn't mean that we can reach a middle ground on the main page. Since the page is not subjective, the most we can do is put Your Mileage May Vary in there somewhere as a disclaimer. Another solution would be to delete the entry altogether, but that would inevitably invite conflict and lead to somebody else adding it back in down the road.

A third possibility is noting that this is not necessarily a bad thing, as demonstrated by grouping Escapist Character and Mary Sue together further down the page. Since your main point of contention seems to be the negative tone contained in the wording of the example, it should be reworded to reflect both sides of the debate and allow whoever reads it to pick a side. Just because the novel was designed to advocate a particular point of view, that does not mean the examples should.

Whatever happens, the argument you just made should be left out. It is your interpretation and you are entitled to it, but putting something like that in an example leaves it open to arguments that could result in an Edit War. Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment, and all that. Incidentally, that's why it was deleted twice. This page has seen a lot of arguments before, as people tend to feel very strongly one way or another about the source material.

I may reword the example later, but if you decide to do it yourself, please keep what I said in mind. It will avoid a lot of trouble.
03:38:41 AM May 19th 2010
Your points are noted and they make sense. I've placed a tentative description on the main page, which I believe accomodates your concerns.
10:35:13 AM May 19th 2010
The entry is fine as a compromise; I don't generally like entries that merely note a controversy, as they don't add much, but it's certainly better than Natter.

But let me suggest some new language:

Canon Sue: Just about everyone agrees that John Galt fits.
  • Rand's style is a celebration of what she feels humanity can be at its greatest moments, and the "good" characters tend to embody that. As a result, just about all of them can be read as Sues. Your mileage certainly will vary.

1. Acknowledges Galt's role, which seems fairly undeniable. 2. Expands just a bit on the other characters. 3. Presents them in a fair, extremely positive context. 4. Acknowledges the debate.
06:23:25 AM May 21st 2010

I like your suggestion. It explains the rationale behind idealization of the protagonists as well.
09:09:29 AM May 21st 2010
Great. Copied and pasted.
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