Atlas’ Five Rules
To a fearless mind. To an indestructible truth
The speeches of the evening show guests on the need for social equality, protection of the poor, the effectiveness of collective property and reproaches against wealthy capitalists that do not serve the interests of society are warmly greeted with a storm of applauses from the audience. It is necessary to raise government-guaranteed social standards, increase salaries and pensions, reward athletes and encourage unemployed, destroy monopolies and give entrepreneurs equal shares. The audience’s ovations are getting louder. They hear a simple and clear language: money can belong only to thieves and exploiters, and their absence is an indicator of moral purity and honesty. Poverty and needs are the necessary conditions to claim a part of the common pie, and those who live for profit are selfish without thinking about the common good and future generations. It’s time for a simple little man.
In 1957, Ayn Rand granted the world with an intellectual tool for combating populism, collectivism and altruism – the novel “Atlas shrugged”. This is a story about the way the world breaks down good and capable people, forcing them to live and work according to an imposed by the society moral code and what this world turns into when the worthiest people realize their silent complicity in the crime and decide to leave.
Atlas is a giant that holds the world on its shoulders, like an industrialist and innovator, who face numerous obstacles and societal conviction for their only rational interest – the market. Atlas uses his virtues to produce the best product and faces the growing demands of those who can not perform even the simplest clerical work. The author of the novel offers Atlases to realize their part and to remove the shackles of slaves who have devoted themselves to the demand to serve the interests of society. As once Thomas Aquinas returned Aristotle’s philosophy to the Medieval Europe and created the intellectual platform of the Renaissance, Ayn Rand created on the basis of Aristotle’s ideas her own philosophy – objectivism – for the revival of the Atlases. In the spirit of a time, Aquinas explained the five ways of God’s existence; In the spirit of our time, let us track the five rules for the existence of the Atlases.
- Rule one. There is the only form of human degradation – the loss of purpose
At the beginning of the novel Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand with the words of Eddie Willers, the right-hand of the protagonist – Dagny Taggart, co-owner of the transcontinental railway, formulates the central question of the book’s discussion:
-And what, in your opinion, can be the best in us?
– I do not know
– We must find it out
Ayn Rand begins the search of an answer with a fantastic event – a mysterious silent strike of the worthiest members of society. With no noise and explanations, Dagny Taggart losses the best worker and valuable contractor. Successful entrepreneurs and skillful managers one after another disappear without a trace. The economy is in hardships. The natural depletion of ore deposits, the wear of equipment, the shortage of materials and the difficulties with transportation lead an influential circle to the conclusions widespread even today that:
“In a modern complex industrial society, no business enterprise is able to succeed without taking over part of the problems of other industries,” and a free economy must prove its social values and accept responsibilities in front of a society. The virtues from high offices decide that “the only justification for private property is service to the public interests”.
For the sake of public interest, the rules against predatory competition in the railway industry are adopted, which remove the small efficient carriers from the market. To fill the deficit of railway tracks, Dagny relies on a new rearden metal – an alloy created by another protagonist of the novel – industrialist Hank Rearden – after ten years of experiments. Due to strength and cheapness, the monopoly supplier-producer of the new alloy receives numerous orders for the supply of metal.
The key dialog of the string unfolds on a cold rainy evening between two antipodes – the industrialist and workaholic Rearden and his complete opposite – the playboy Francisco d’Anconia. Ayn Rand exposes the conflict of the protagonist, which is still relevant in modern life, economics and politics. Under the pressure of his family, Rearden gives money to an unemployed and poor brother, although he despises lazy people; because of reproaches in selfishness, Rearden has to pay money for PR campaign to improve his image, although he does not care about someone else’s opinion; because of the pressure of his wife, he comes to this tonight’s party, although the very thought of it terrified him. This is a conflict, the nature of which he does not understand – the motive has no power over him, but impels him to act.
– Your mistake is that you allow others to consider your fair unwillingness to be vicious. Why do you agree to carry them on yourself?
– Because they are miserable babies, desperately, with all their might, trying to stay alive, and I do not even notice this burden
– But they think that you do not understand this and consider you work for them, and not for yourself.
– Why should I consider what they think?
– Because it’s a battle in which everyone must determine accurately own position. They have a weapon against you. The weapon is single, but awful. The evidence of its existence is in the unforgivable fact that you can not be called a happy person.
The true goal of a man is to rationally enjoy his life and the loss of this goal is the main form of moral fall, the consequences of which are terrible. Society massively inspires a person to serve other people’s needs, destroying the desire to fight for personal interest, declaring it amoral. The conclusion of the first rule is in the thesis: nothing can be an excuse for self-sacrificing.
- Second Rule. Production and trade for getting money is the password of honest people.
The decline in production and living standards lead the government to the idea of the necessity for an “equalization of opportunities”. The society easily supports the idea of a fair share law: “It is not fair to allow one entity to own several enterprises, while other people do not have one; That it is disastrous to leave all resources in the hands of a small group of entrepreneurs, without giving a chance to others; That competition must ensure that no one gets too high. “
The fair share law forces Hank Rearden to sell all his industrial concerns, and the government is trying to buy the rights for rearden-metal, sincerely devaluating the value of the notion of “ownership”:
– Why do you want to fight for years and years, squeezing some pathetic penny from a ton of metal sold, instead of selling it to us and immediately get a fortune for your goods? Why?
– Because it belongs to me. Do you understand the last word?
The government knows that the new metal is too good and can lead to the closure of other less efficient enterprises. But the effectiveness and the presence of a best product is not what the collectivists are striving for. Society, they believe, is mired in the swamp of materialism.
“In pursuit of material benefits and technological focuses, people have lost all spiritual values. The world has become too comfortable. But people will return to a more noble way of life, if we re-teach them to endure deprivation. And that’s why we must put an end to a personal greed “
Representatives of the majority of the society declare the fight against greed with the motto: money is the root of evil!
“Atlas Shrugged” offers a reasonable response to such a statement.
“Money is an instrument of exchange, which can exist only if there are manufactured goods and people capable of producing them. Money is a material expression of the principle that people can interact with the help of trade and pay value for the value. Money – is not a beggars’ argument, who cry to get a value from you, or robbers’ who take it by force. Money is made only by those who produce. These pieces of paper, like gold, contain the energy of people who produce values.
Have you tried to find the root of production? Look at the power generator and try to convince yourself that it was created only by the muscular efforts of unreasonable animals. The human mind is the root of all values and all the wealth that exists on Earth.
But you say that money is made by strong at the expense of weak? What kind of force are you talking about? This is not the power of arms or muscles. Wealth is the product of human thinking abilities.
Money, before they could be stolen or solicited, were made by the efforts of all honest people, by each according to his capabilities. An honest man is one who knows that he can not consume more than he produces. Production and trade for the sake of getting money is the password of honest people.
You offer people values, not wounds, proving that the connection between people is not an exchange of sufferings, but an exchange of goods.
Without money, a gun becomes the only argument. Run away from the person who will tell you that money is evil. This sentence warns us about the approach of the robber. “
- Rule three. You do not need to convince or conquer the world.
– Every girder of a steel bridge has a durability limit. Which one do you have?
Despite the adopted laws, the deficit of disappeared specialists, the restrictive requirements of trade unions and the false research of the national scientific institute, the protagonists manage to launch an innovative super-fast and reliable railway branch made of rearden-metal. It was a success and it belonged personally to Dagny and Rearden. The branch was intended to serve the most powerful oil refinery of Ellis Wyatt, who sought to turn oil shale into an inexhaustible source of fuel.
But the front pages of newspapers were full of headlines about the need to prevent undesirable events and protect national interests. The Bureau of Economic Planning issues a number of directives that limit and regulate the production of goods and services.
Directives destroy Wyatt’s business together with the accompanying railway business. Wyatt disappears without a trace, leaving ash behind instead of a plant:
“I am leaving it as I found it. Take over. It’s yours.”
Large entrepreneurs and producer continue to disappear without a trace on a background of cheerful newspaper headlines, which declared “a victory of a small man.” The very “little simple man”, who can be called “each to the extent of those degrees that he could not reach.” The reason why, the protagonists – Dagny and Rearden – do not join the strike lies in their unreasonable optimism and excessive self-confidence.
They are sure that they will not be stopped, even if everyone surrenders and leaves the job. Atlas on earth, Rearden is confident about the victory:
“We are capable of action. They are not. So we will win our long race, no matter how they want to damage us”
But the contradiction is peremptory:
“Every person can be stopped. You just need to know its driving force “
In the name of collective welfare, the directive 10-289 is introduced. Workers are forbidden to leave, enterprises – to close, owners – to sell or buy assets. A “moratorium on brains” is declared.
Miraculously Dagny finds herself in a hidden remote Atlantis – the Galt Valley, where she meets all the once-lost industrialists. Here, far from the world saturated with collectivism and populism, they built a society based on the principles of personal freedom and the supremacy of personal interests. In this world, there is no place for duties to society, taxation, altruism. Here “truth is truth, according to the Aristotle law of identity”. This strike seems incredible.
” There is only one kind of men who have never been on strike in the whole of human history. Every other kind and class has stopped, when they so wished, and have presented demands to the world, claiming to be indispensable—except the men who have carried the world on their shoulders, have kept it alive, have endured torture as sole payment, but have never walked out on the human race. Well, their turn has come. Let the world discover who they are, what they do and what happens when they refuse to function. This is the strike of the men of the mind, Miss Taggart. This is the mind on strike.
All this time they, Atlases on earth, believed in rationality and frankly did not understand the cause-and-effect relationship in the actions of other people. They created added value, and for this reason they were forced to pay ever larger taxes and follow the requirements of someone’s designated national interests.
– People can cut my profits at any time simply refusing to buy my product. Any other method of reducing profits is a method of marauders.
They did not understand this envy for the success of large industrialists from the people who were shaking from the thought that someone else’s work would be better than their own. Their conviction was that they could shape the world on the basis of their higher values. But these values are not given to comprehend to the majority of people who accuse large entrepreneurs:
“They refuse to recognize that production is their duty to society. No matter what happens there. They must produce goods. Work is not a private affair of a person, it is his duty to society. There is no nether private matter, nor privacy!”
in Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand calls us not to count on those who deny reasonable arguments. You will not enter Atlantis until you realize that you do not need to convince or conquer the world. In your power to build or destroy only your happiness. Do not waste time on petty matters and petty people. Conclusion is in the thesis: The mind is not given to everyone automatically. Those who deny it cannot possess it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone.
- Rule four. The biggest sin is to accept an undeserved guilt
Nobody returns to the old world after Atlantis. Staying in the Galt valley – a voluntary choice of everyone, but you can get there only after a rigorous selection. On the external world there are still few Atlases left, who are missed for a long time in the valley. They are expected there, where their abilities and professionalism cause pride for the human race. Hank Rearden is the last bastion of resistance, for who other Atlases advance from the Galt valley. When the last entrepreneur leave an external world – it will get the deserved chaos, scarcity and hunger. Everything, that has been so purposefully pursued for the sake of the public good.
For the first time in many years, Hank Rearden is broken. He passed the court trials, endured the presence of governmental representatives at his enterprises, he was forced to abandon the rights for his metal in the name of a common good. He did not understand that special laws are required to work as well with people, as with mechanisms.
“You gave to your enemies the most deadly weapons you have never suspected and understood. This weapon is their moral code “
But contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong The guilt becomes obvious:
“-You are guilty of a terrible sin, Mr. Rearden, more guilty than you are told, but not at all, in what you are suspected. The most awful sin is to accept an undeserved guilt, and you’ve been doing it all your life. “
Ayn Rand defines the term “driving force of a man.” This is his moral code. The algorithm is simple and complex at the same time. Check where the public moral code guides you and what it offers you as your ultimate goal. Verification questions: “By what law? By what standard? “. If the goals do not coincide with your personal ones, if you notice a contradiction – check the logical premise. Give up such a morality that states that you must support society, because it is not able to survive without you.
“If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders-what would you tell him to do?”
“I . . . don’t know. What . . . could he do? What would you tell him?”
Only the Atlas’ silent consent to survive in more and more tougher conditions made evil possible. Industrialists and entrepreneurs have created the world wealth, but they allowed the society to establish a set of moral principles. Collectivists are aware that for the sake of work and opportunity to produce, entrepreneurs will endure everything, because their highest morality are achievements in the market. Therefore, society bulldozes the capitalists, turning their own morality against them. “The whole world is rolling into the abyss of horror, pushed by the hands of decent people, who believed that needs are higher than abilities, and pity is beyond justice.”
Here is the conclusion of the fourth rule: Leave the evil without your support. You support robbers whenever you silently accept slogans or ideas of collectivism, altruism and state totalitarianism.
- Rule Five. Morality is the only thing that people are afraid to change in culture and what should be changed in the name of the best in us.
The culmination of the policy “every man is a watchman to his brother” came close. Fuel and clothes were redistributed from one area to another to confiscate food in favor of the former. Accidents and shutdowns of production have become common. Workplaces were reduced, hunger riots began. Public morality was about the need to help others to the detriment of those who had stocks left. Need became the only right for property.
People began to serve the needs as the highest duty. They were frightened that capitalism turns society into a wolf pack, and in practice the wolf pack turned out to be what their world turned into. The neighbor became not a watchman, but a cannibal, which then turn into food for other. Motivation to work more effectively disappeared, as the surplus of production was redistributed among the more needed.
This was the essence of the policy of public morality supporters: “the harder people work and the less they receive, the more humble their spirit; That people who make a living by moving the arms on the electric control panel, are not so easy to rule, and those who dig the earth with their bare hands – easily; Feudal lords do not need electronic enterprises. “
“Businessmen-hijackers” appeared in the society, who traded friendship in government circles. The world plunged into chaos and people desperately did not understand how a decent prosperous society had turned into a flock of savages.
The societal moralists are trying to come to an agreement with the remaining producers and return everything back, but “even going back requires the activity of the mind.” Representatives of trade unions at the Rearden plant raise a strike requiring the salaries raise, his assets are frozen, and losses and profits of the plant were equalized with others in the industry.
They, moralists and apologists of needs, are confident that he cannot abandon his business, he cannot leave it “in the name of charity, forgiveness and brotherly-cannibalistic love.”
The culmination of the novel is a speech on the air of John Galt, the owner of the Atlas Valley, in which Ayn Rand explains the nature of the moral crisis in society and the reasons for the strikes of the people of the mind.
“You sacrificed justice for pity, independence for unity, reason for the sake of faith, wealth for need, self-esteem for self-denial, happiness for the sake of duty. Do not shout that our duty is to serve you. We do not accept such a duty.
We do not consider need as a right. We decided not to harm you anymore and no longer to exploit you.
You do not need to return to morality, but you need to reopen it for yourself. Morality is a choice not an imposed, understood and not accepted for granted as an order.
To live, a person must consider three things as the highest and decisive values: Reason, Purpose, Self-respect. This is the “best in us”.
Production process and industrialists are at the center of economic welfare, whose moral value is opposed to the moral bankruptcy of those posting demands.
In the real world, industrialists and entrepreneurs do not have an opportunity to hide in a secret valley, but they have an opportunity to influence the outcome of the battle with anti-mind. This battle with different success occurs in modern society in all corners of the world, at the levels of populated areas, streets and even within families.
Everyone who really wants to make this world better must end the dominant collectivist ideology. It is necessary to live in such a way as to earn a place in Atlantis – to produce and trade, to have an independent mind and not to take anything on faith, rationally comprehend beliefs. Nothing can stand above the judgments of one’s own mind. “Everyone builds the world in his own image. He has the opportunity to choose, but there is no way to avoid having to choose”
Every time with the approach of a destroyer carrying a flag of a societal obligation to serve the needs, Atlases must act in a united front, so that never again no one had to stop the driving force of this world.
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
review by Turolyev Glib
UA / EN / RU П’ять Правил Атлантів – рецензія на книгу Айн Ренд “Атлант Розправив плечі” Atlas’ Five Rules – review of the “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand http://onemadteaparty.com/atlas-five-rules/