Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
The Conflict in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged skillfully effectively introduces us to a setting where actions and values are placed on a scale and compared to each other. Although the author also deals with many side struggles, her primary conflict is that with human action. Rand is able to add dramatic effects to her writing as she integrates the theme of “the role of the mind in human existence.” Atlas Shrugged focuses on the concerns of values and issues that are then further expressed with actions. Rand does an amazing job at interpreting actions using wide abstract principles that can be seen throughout the conflict which unravels through the conflict. Atlas Shrugged introduces us to the plot-theme from the beginning as it centers its attention on getting the audience to understand how the theme and the main conflict are linked back to the action that takes place in human existence. Going more into depth, Rand specifies that the abstract theme is focused around “men of the mind going on strike against an altruist-collectivist society.” This truly comes to prove that Rand’s hope for the book was to give attention to the highly important situation we have at hand which she expressed through her abstract theme of how the mind plays an enormous role in our lives and how every action results in a reaction.
The main conflict of Atlas Shrugged is presented indirectly by Rand as she states it in terms of action. This creates a smooth transition throughout the reading which slowly prepares the reader for the moment when the conflict arises. She is able to transmit the theme and thus introduce the conflict through her efficient use of strong characters in this case the creators and looters. They play a detrimental role in Atlas Shrugged because they are in fact in moral conflict with each other. Rand actually uses this conflict to express how the characters action play into the overall theme.On the other hand, the creators, Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden, are portrayed by the author as extremely against the looters both willingly and morally. However, in a way she contradicts herself for they support them in action. Rand does this again further in the reading as Dagny and Rearden oppose Galt and the strikers in action, but agree with them morally. This comes to show how actions and morals are separated in the story which adds on to Rand’s argument that actions are the drive of human’s existence.
Throughout the story Rand portrayed the heroes as the source of the success. In the story it was them that had the power to control the world and carry the burdens that came with it on their shoulders. She gives special emphasis to Dagny and Hank for they are shown to take initiative and matters into their own hands resulting in their own happiness. Although they are mesmerized, some of the characters such as the producers are dramatized as only taking initiative whenever the situation deals with matter having to do with themselves. The author’s heroes are portrayed to be extraordinary people that are above others. The most crucial events in Atlas Shrugged are clearly dramatized. These events actually occur before the eyes of the readers as Rand uses literary devices such as flashbacks in order to convey the importance of key events relating back to the central theme and thus the cause of the conflict of the story.
In addition, Rand introduces the conflict with society which is mainly derived by position and level. Dagny is placed under public scrutiny and is criticized for what she stands for as a person as was done with James. Dagny’s personality is portrayed as cold, but in her own mind she sees her actions as good. Also, it can be seen that it is difficult for her to make decisions on the capitalism when she feels like she’s being pressured. The society expresses that they want to be made a part of the current economic system, but when she attempts to open their eyes she faces backlash. It is evident that humans are resistant to change even if this means that they continue to stay in the dark on important matters of the world although this can be affecting their own society. Change forces humans to step out of their comfort zone and can be uncomfortable at times because it is difficult to do something that others might see as strange. It is shown in Atlas Shrugged that they are stubborn and against change.
Atlas Shrugged depicts how opposition and conflicts from society oppose what’s good morally and physically in action. Throughout the book, the embodiment of honesty is differentiated from the embodiment of corruption. At the end it is clear that the solution to the conflict at hand is that despite the looter efforts to hurt the mind, Galt finds a way to be successful through intellect. Showing that intellect has the power to change lives.
Directive 10-289 As a Main Element in Atlas Shrugged
The Quote “In the name of the general welfare, to protect the safety of people, to achieve full equality and full stability, it was decreed for the duration of the national emergency -” is the introduction of legislation called directive 10- 289. in the passage from the novel Atlas Shrugged where the main government leaders this quote appears, Mr. Thompson Head of State and Wesley Mouch of the Office of Economic Planning and Natural Resources, and some corrupt corporate executives as James Taggart, Orren Boyle , among others, they are talking and looking for ways to weave the threads of the conspiracy that allow them to freeze the economy and natural resources of the nation, right through legislation, which they called Directive 10-289, obviously this law only will benefit the conspirators, this legislation consists of eight points which essentially aims to make businesses artificial satellites government workers enslave and subjugate the general population.
The first point of this directive, on the one hand enslaves workers and the other takes steps to ensure the availability of workforce, establishing specific issues like that all people who reach the age of twenty years will account Unification Board, which will include where, in his opinion, their services will better serve the nation’s interests; the second point of law requires all manufacturers and traders of any nature forcing them to remain in operation and prohibits them from selling or transferring their business, under penalty of expropriation of their establishment and of each and every one of its properties; the third point goes further and puts the private company under the absolute supervision government, eliminating everything that represents the operation of the independent private company, making clear that the government will be the administrator of all the country’s resources; the fourth point confirms all the provisions of the third point; subsequent points it involve freezing of wages, profits, as well as the obligation of citizens to have to spend the same amount of annual money for goods and services, also industrialists are forced to maintain the same production levels that they held prior to the launch of the new legislation.
Directive 10-289 seems to be inspired by the practices carried out by various socialist states, although it is important to note that in countries with socialist orientation government such changes do not occur all at once as described in Atlas Shrugged in socialist governments all changes are gradually introduced and justifying them as measures necessary for the welfare of the people.
The bottom line projected in this passage from the book Atlas Shrugged, it is how the power of government in cahoots with wealthy and servile people can conspire to violate the freedoms enjoyed by the capitalist and democratic system, impersonating with a totalitarian system, similarly reveals that no one is safe from the depredations of government, which relies on the hollow reasoning that anything does is for the common good.
Although the issue of the quote regarding the directive 10-289 described in Atlas Shruggedis fictitious, some details such as certification under penalty of perjury that large companies have to do about that are not reducing the workforce full-time workers simply to avoid the mandate of Obamacare, the obligation to present statements under oath about this particular, setting fines for breach the law and also that employers are required under the rules of this law to justify their decisions about personnel hired or fired, this situation was described by Mr. Thessen as a inquisitorial measure by the treasury department, taking this topic to establishing a point of comparison a parameter comparison with the point number one of the Directive No. 10-289 described in atlas Shrugged, but at the end of his interview Mr. Thiessen clarified that the Obama administration is not required that people stay in their jobs, or they cannot be fired only to avoid Obamacare, the existence of the resource to impose fines for non-compliance with this law seems to be a government strategy to cover any breach of this law, if the government was convinced that this law would have no obstacle on their way to being implemented, these inquisitorial measures were not necessary.
In conclusion although the directive 10-289 Ran any book is the product of fiction and raising this directive literally has remote possibility to happen in America, it is important that we remain vigilant to protect our political, social and economic freedoms, because always can be the possibility that our lives changed and fall under the total control of a corrupt government supported by large corporations, which without scrupulous n would not hesitate to enslave the working masses if that represents them more wealth
Ayn Rand in ‘Atlas Shrugged’ context
Ayn Rand, an influential American novelist and philosopher, endeavored to offer her readers a new perspective on life’s meaning. Growing up as a Jew in a communist country, Rand struggled to find her place in society and, therefore, matured as an anti-communist citizen in her move to the United States (Murray). In her works, she signifies self-importance, highlighting the wrongs of communism for overlooking citizens, and for acknowledging them as a collective rather than as individuals. Rand often caricatures communism as a means of preventing individuals from achieving their hopes and dreams. By conveying this message to her audience, the author encourages a society based on self-work, one that is capitalistic. Through this theme of self-work, Rand’s pieces incorporate her views on the importance of the struggle between the individual and society, calling attention to the enlightenment of self-learning.
Rand expresses her animosity towards communism in a variety of ways throughout her works. In Atlas Shrugged, the protagonists, the capitalists, escape communism to build a society revolving around their own economic views (Mallon). Here, Rand directly promotes individualism by presenting the happiness and success of these individuals in a society of self-growth, a characteristic that was not present in a communistic state. Equality 7-2521’s banishment as a result of learning and innovating in Anthem also shows the author’s powerful anti-communistic mind-set, as Rand supports individualism as a form of self-satisfaction and success (Cox). The main character’s despair in his society, much like the despair that appears in Atlas Shrugged, demonstrates the incapability of communism to permit individuals to reach their full potential and achieve a state of genuine contentment. Illuminating this thought, Rand’s characters rebel against society, finding in capitalism an escape from the seemingly evil world that is communism. Atlas Shrugged uses a relatively direct approach to promote capitalism, as the characters seek happiness through building a capitalistic economy while on strike against the world, creating their own utopian heaven (Clardy). This approach strikingly opposes communism, as Rand blatantly argues that capitalism is superior, providing the protagonists with a sense of joy that was not previously achieved. In Anthem, a more indirect approach for promoting capitalism is used as Rand displays Equality 7-2521’s happiness in a home where he can learn what he wants to learn, separating himself from society to flourish as a unique individual. Rand noticeably supports the notion that success, not only for society as a whole but for each individual as well, is achieved when each man works for himself. Her works illustrate that this goal can only be reached in a society where individuals are encouraged to work for themselves, one that is clearly not communistic.
In portraying her revulsion from communism, Rand argues that success and happiness sprout from self-learning. As stated in Atlas Shrugged, “Everything he needs or desires has to be learned, discovered and produced by him–by his choice, by his own effort, by his own mind (LaBlanc and Milne).” The author encourages individuals to pursue their dreams, but to do so alone. The quote clearly emphasizes “him,” but no one else. Growing up in a society based off of working for one’s brother, essentially sharing all the wealth, Rand rebelled against this seemingly absurd concept. Her characters do the same, questioning why they are not fulfilling their hopes and dreams. This thought was clearly at the root of her growing objectivist philosophy, which maintains that the sole purpose of life is to work towards one’s own self-happiness (Thomas). In Anthem, genius Equality 7-2521 is forced to learn in secret, as he is prohibited from doing so in the city’s House of Scholars. Yet, in his new home, he teaches himself to read and absorbs the meaning of the word “I”. Rand deepens her theme of self-learning in this novella by showing the self-satisfaction achieved by the protagonist upon learning to think for himself. After the time and dedication he puts into learning everything in his new library, he literally discovers himself as an individual, finally referring to himself as “I” rather than “we” (Cox). This mode of reference ties into Rand’s objectivist philosophy once again as she illuminates individual rights under a new light, promoting opportunities for everyone to learn, succeed, and attain full potential. By doing so, she further argues that laissez-faire capitalism is the only way these rights can be embodied, rendering the government uninvolved in the personal affairs of the people.
The struggle of individual versus society further conveys the author’s anti-communistic beliefs. This conflict escalates in Atlas Shrugged when protagonist John Galt rebels against the system of corruption that has taken over the world: communism. Through her anti-communistic sentiment intertwined with her objectivist philosophy, Rand intensifies Galt’s struggle, his condition of being the only outcast in society for favoring capitalist policies. Many other characters, who eventually end up siding with the willful protagonist, also feel as though they face society without support (LaBlanc and Milne). Although all these characters end up joining forces, Rand stresses that individuals face their own struggles alone, even if their neighbors go through the same processes. In the journey to individualism, Rand considers this personal battle an important step, one that teaches people how to help themselves rather than to rely on others. Equality 7-2521 faces a similar struggle in Anthem. Although other characters despise the extreme communist life-style they face, as is evident through the screams in their sleep, Equality 7-2521 is the only one to rebel. He runs away from civilization, reads books to educate himself, and discovers his own reflection in a mirror (Cox). Through this process, the protagonist educates himself not only about the world around him, but also about himself. Equality 7-2521’s seclusion grants him an opportunity to reflect on life, pondering who he truly is as a person, rather than his role as a member of a collective society. Rand makes it evident through both pieces of literature that the first step on the path to individualism is isolation. As they escape their respective communities, John Galt and Equality 7-2521 learn to appreciate their distinct transformations, introducing themselves to a society largely premised on working to fulfill the individual’s aspirations.
Ayn Rand’s powerful anti-communistic sentiment strongly impacts her writings, as she uses it as a form of obstruction in her character’s daily lives. Her common themes of individual versus society and the importance of self-work further highlight her promotion of capitalism as a means of achieving success and happiness. Her protagonists face their own individual struggles in which they are forced to learn how to work and fight for themselves, not their brothers. Rand’s rough childhood in a communistic society was a guiding factor in her objectivist philosophy, leading her to promote the pursuit of one’s own happiness. By shedding light on this inspiring viewpoint, Rand influences her readers to live life in just this manner and encourages them to build societies as different as possible from the communist system that she experienced.
Examining Art And Reason As Depicted In Atlas Shrugged
As Dagny enters Richard Halley’s valley cottage in the cool calm of the night, she is enveloped with music that hits her as a “symbol of moral pride” (717) This pride is not built on what the heart feels is valuable, but on what the mind knows to be of value. Richard Halley is a music composer, he is an artist, and yet he understands that “all work is creative work if done by a thinking man”(933). He approaches his art with the same moral productiveness as a businessman.
The act of playing his music and of Dagny experiencing it is “mutual trade for mutual profit” (717). Halley however explains to Dagny that when he plays for general audiences in the outside world, there is no reciprocal trade for his music: “I do not care to be admired causelessly, emotionally, intuitively, instinctively– or blindly.”(717) Halley’s work has typically been judged by unthinking men, who themselves know and produce very little and yet, Halley bemoans, it’s these very people who evaluate a man of the mind. The reason Halley had to leave the outside world and take his work with him is in essence why every member of John’s Gulch comes to live inside the valley.
For Halley, his art is a testament of his “capacity to see,” and his relentless “devotion to the pursuit of truth.”(718) Spontaneous invocations, platitudes and daydreaming cannot exist for the truth seeking artist, only through the laborious and “unrelenting strain upon one’s power of clarity” can the businessman and artist reach the summit of their mind potential.
Halley pursues his creations to their logical and brilliant end, but “the nature of the looter”(682) is to deny this process – the process of mental evolution, of identifying that which is real, sticking with it and nurturing the idea into thought. Dagny wonders why Halley doesn’t share his music genius with the world anymore but Halley explains clearly that the ordinary public believed they owned his talent and these “worshippers of zero”(937) could not fully grasp the totality of his work. Only when they were ready to embrace his work, were Halley’s efforts deemed successful. In effect, he had been giving his mind, and the mastered product of his mind, away for free, to people who had neither the rigour to comprehend it, nor the capability to exchange anything of substantial value.
Those without an understanding of genuine value cannot bestow their own ideas of worth on a creation, so the only thing they can do is to destroy it and debase it in accordance with their own decrepit soul. Galt proposes the notion to Halley that his “work is the purpose of [his] life”(934), in so much as what he does is an external exhalation of who he is: work is the branch, body the vessel of the life force and both are rooted in the capacity of the mind to seek the light of its own maturity and growth. Everyone who discovers the valley approaches their work and life with the same “mathematical precision” (719) – their ability relies on the logical calculation of their mind and their body is the reinforced effect of their mind. They are truly powerful in their efforts because of their unrelenting desire to seek that which is rational, to be “the man not only of self-made wealth, but…of self-made soul.”(934)
It is because of Halley’s “intransigent devotion to the pursuit of truth”(718) he explains to Dagny, that he walked away from the “life haters” and refused to allow their destruction of his highest moral code.
His thirst for knowledge and hunger for the truth, his desire to facilitate the expansion of his whole-self as a shining example of human achievement is how he hopes to build “his world in his own image” (725).
It is in this mental acceptance of the true nature of the looters that Galt finds him. Each character who lives in Galt’s Gulch had to uncover for themselves what they always knew inside: “Sacrifice could be proper only for those who have nothing to sacrifice” (942) Halley, like the others refused to sacrifice himself for looters who stood for nothing. Not being able to sustain their own irrational existence, they leached off the production of “men of ability”.
There is no “loophole in the law of causality”(935) Whether your work is painting, architecture, engineering or running a company, the magnitude of your thinking and the extent of your mind’s dimensions dictate your efficiency in any endeavour: “ability is quality and capacity is quantitive.” If you value that which is anti life, then you are paralyzed in rotted decay of weakness. Why are Halley and the others finally happy when they join John in the valley? It is because now they are truly free to have their work “without penalty or guilt”(935).
Halley tells Dagny that he created the “Concerto Deliverance” for John. Galt helped him define what none of them had previously managed to: the creed that was inside them all. Galt helped them to uncover the truth – something that he had fought himself to earn. Thus Halley’s “Concerto Deliverance”(683) is finally the trade for trade value he has been looking for.
Ayn Rand is able to brilliantly portray man’s motivation to leave the world of the creative dead. In the end, Dagny also joins them in the valley because she too realises that “the moral symbol of respect for human beings, is the trader”(935).
Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged: 50th Anniversary Edition. New York. 1996. Print