Saving a Seat for John Galt: The Atlas Shrugged Movie and Social Metaphysicians as part of the Neurotypical Crowd

Yesterday, my daughter and I attended opening night of the Atlas Shrugged movie. We had to plan this outing carefully. I bought the tickets in advance on Fandango, to make sure they wouldn't be sold out. I had Lawrence, my chimp sitter come in  on a Friday afternoon, and I paid him for a whole day's worth of sitting (nearly six hours) so that I could get ready, and pick my daughter up from school and so that we could drive nearly two hours to a far away city, eat dinner on the way, and arrive more than an hour in advance of the show, so that we could get really good seats, because they don't have assigned seating.

I have to tell you this, so that you will understand my context, when I tell you the rest of the story. Please understand that this showing was important to me, and that I paid with my time and my money for the right to select the exact seats for me and my daughter.

Even though the tickets cost less than twenty dollars, the whole outing was around two hundred dollars, something I can ill afford, and certainly a luxury that I do not allow myself every day.

Atlas Shrugged Movie poster


Moochers, theatre seats, college tuition and the laborers in the vineyard

When people see that you have something, they don't always understand what it took for you to get it. That accounts for why sometimes, they are graceless in the way they expect you to give it up. Ayn Rand called such people moochers.

Here are a few examples: your parents save money so that you can go to college. But when the time comes for you to go to college, you are charged full price, and people whose parents didn't save for them to go to college are given financial aid out of taxes that your parents paid. Then you end up having to go to a second rate college, while people who have no money go to an Ivy League school.

Or how about this: You pay for tickets, you arrive early to the theatre, and you sit in the front row, but there is a set of seats that are cordoned off, which you assume are for VIPs or people who paid extra. But when it turns out that the room is overbooked, they let the people who came late and bought tickets at the last moment at the regular price sit in front of you in those extra seats.

That happened to me once, and I swore it would never happen again.

Or how about this: Some liberal employer hires laborers to work in his vineyard. He tells them all they will get minimum wage for working a full day. But some people come early and some people come late, and some people don't show up until two minutes before quitting time, and at the end of the day, he pays them all exactly the same: minimum wage for a full day's work. And when the people who worked a full day complain about it, he tells them he can do what he wants with his money. And they say: Okay, but next time we'll come late, too, cause we're not stupid, you know! (In case you're wondering, that's the parable of the laborers in the vineyard from the New Testament, Matthew 20:1–16.)

Books by Ayn Rand

Sitting Pretty

Sword and I selected two seats in the middle section of the theater, one seat in from the aisle. I sat next to an empty seat by the aisle, and Sword sat on the other side of me. We came in as soon as seating was allowed. Little by little the hall started to fill, until our section was pretty much full, except for a seat on the other side of Sword and a seat next to me on the aisle. By this time, people had turned off the expensive new cell phones they had been using to look up the cast profiles of every actor.

"How come you don't have a fancy cell phone like that that hooks up to the internet?" Sword asked me.

"Because I don't have that much money."

"Yes, you do," she said, and began to question me about my net worth. Fortunately, we were speaking in Hebrew so nobody could understand our private conversation.

"Everybody here is old," she said. It was true. There were not too many young people, and no children at all. But just then a younger woman with a boy who looked to be eleven or so came up the aisle and as they passed by us and went further up the aisle to the higher seats, I pointed them out to Sword. "See, there's a boy about your age."

"His mom probably made him come."

A little later, the woman and the boy came back down and made their way in our direction.

By now, the screen was not black anymore, and they were showing music videos. One featuring Jennifer Lopez gyrating to a very stirring beat was playing as the woman with the boy stopped by us. The woman turned to me: "Is this seat taken?" she asked, pointing to the seat next to me by the aisle.

"No," I said. "It's not."

"What about the other seat, over there?" she asked, pointing at the empty seat by Sword. "Is it taken?"

"I'm not sure," I said, because I didn't know if the people next to it, on the other side of Sword, were saving it for someone.

She asked, and it turned out the seat was free. So then she directed her son to sit next to Sword and she sat next to me. I was fine with this arrangement. I thought it was nice that a boy her age was sitting next to Sword, and the woman next to me seemed pleasant enough. She was slender, so she didn't take up more than her fair share of the space. I would have been very happy for things to remain as they stood.

But then the woman turned to me and started to ask: "Do you think that maybe..."

"What?" I asked.

"Oh. Never mind." And she went back to her silence.

What does she want? I wondered.

The movie was about to start. Suddenly the woman turned to her son and said: "Josh, would you like to move to those seats down there, where we can sit together?"

Was it a question or a statement? Her tone was kind of neutral, and her son treated her utterance as if it were a speech act. He didn't reply. He just got up and off they went. There were in fact plenty of empty seats in the lower section. The hall was not full.

Oh, well, I thought. Too bad the boy didn't stay. It would have been nice for Sword. But that woman was a bit rude. If she had wanted to sit next to her son, why didn't she select a place where there were two empty seats next to each other, instead of making such a big production out of it?

The Big Fans

Just as the movie was beginning, a big, overweight man came by and asked: "Are these two seats taken?" And he, too, pointed at the seat by Sword and the one by me.

"No, they are not taken," I said a bit crossly.

The man sat down. "My wife will be here shortly," he said to me.

"Okay," I said, perplexed. Why do I need to know this? I wondered. Wasn't he violating a Gricean Maxim  by providing me with extraneous information?

But when his wife appeared, and the man remained seated, I realized that Sword and I would have to stand up to allow the very, very large woman to squeeze past us. However, the man apparently did not expect us to just stand there, and eventually, after some hesitation, he moved to the seat beside Sword, while his wife took the aisle. They spent the entire movie passing a huge tub of popcorn between them, and they kept knocking my box of almonds off the armrest, where I had put it.

Every time somebody said "Who is John Galt?" the man laughed very loudly.

Picking Up on Non-Verbal Cues

By the time the movie ended, I understood what the other people had expected of me. They had wanted me and Sword to move one seat down, so that they could sit next to each other. They were trying to give me non-verbal cues and speech acts to tell me what they wanted, but they could not be bothered to explain it to me directly.

You see, I'm not stupid and I have good analytical skills, but I can't process social cues in real time. I wasn't trying to be uncooperative. If the woman with the boy had asked me to move, I would have. But she didn't ask. She just assumed that I would know what she wanted, and she was really ticked off by my selfishness when I didn't.

I could tell that they were all basing their behavior on some unwritten social compact, but I was slow on the uptake. I wonder if they went home and complained about the how certain Ayn Rand fans have "emotionally stunted growth", while leaving their own motives unexamined.

Why is it that when someone wants a favor from someone else, not only do they not come right out and ask, they also act as if the other person is a bad guy for not giving them that favor as if it were their due?

The Movie: Lillian Rearden steals the show

So how was the movie? I did enjoy certain parts of it. All the parts with Lillian Rearden in them were great. Rebecca Wisocky played her so well!

Taylor Schilling and Grant Bowling as Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden, respectively, were also good, but they weren't given enough interesting material to work with.

I'm not going to review the whole movie, but here are a few remarks that might be helpful to the initiated. Since this is only part one, and really only deals with a very small portion of the plot of the novel, more care could have been given to the characters that did appear, and less time might have been given to elements that only come to make sense in later parts of the book.

Rearden's moral confusion should have been given more screen time. Rearden is a person with conservative social values who ends up "sinning". In order for this to be real to us, we should have had a better view of his inner struggle, including evidence that he damns himself for not living up to his own standards. Then someone should help explain how conservative social values are very similar to socialist economic values.

For the uninitiated, people who have never read Rand, this would have been something that could have held their attention. Instead, Rearden is seen breaking his marriage vows with casual ease.

My daughter turned to me after that brief love scene, whose take on Randian sex was very, very tame, and asked in Hebrew: "Why is he being disloyal to his wife?"

"Because she doesn't love him," I answered softly, but clearly the answer was inadequate.

The scene where Francisco explains sex to Rearden would have been so helpful! But... real people don't talk about such things explicitly. Only characters in an Ayn Rand novel would do that! In real life, people exchange subliminal, non-verbal cues about everything from what seat someone should occupy in the theater to who should sleep with whom, to how we recognize "good" and "evil". At least, everyone who is neurotypical does this.

There are some things we don't talk about

Talking explicitly about good and evil is what Ayn Rand does best. She breaks a lot of taboos doing this, and that is why her characters seem unreal to people who are "well-socialized".

It took me years to realize that the nasty epithet "social metaphysician" that Rand used to hurl at people that she did not like tended to single out the same characteristics that are known as being "neurotypical" in the autistic community.

Some things go without saying. Well, for most people, but not for all of us.

On the way home, I examined my own motives in regard to seating arrangement. Was I being a jerk by not moving? I mean, I didn't know that's what they wanted until it was too late, but if I had known what would I have done? And why was there an empty seat next to me anyway? Who was I saving it for?

Who is John Galt?

The Price We Pay for What We Have

Like the prophet Elijah, John Galt did not come to claim his seat. And so the seat remained empty.

But what would have happened if any decent Ayn Randian hero had walked into that theater and wanted a pair of seats adjoining each other on our row? Would they have hinted around and tried to make me feel guilty? Or was there another way that the problem could be solved?

I realize that those were city people, used to dealing with other city people, and that in a place where space is scarce people behave differently from where space is plentiful. If I am late to the local theater in our neck of the woods, I sit where I want, because the theater is almost always empty of people. But if there were a shortage of places, I would never dream of trying to make people move without even asking them to.

I also realize that those city people had no idea how far I had to travel to get there and how much I had had to pay for the privilege. But does that really matter? Just because they did not know how much it had cost me, does that mean they should assume it was worth nothing? If they believe in Ayn Rand's values, shouldn't the market decide?

Imagine Dagny and Rearden arriving at the theater in Springfield in separate cars, so as not to let anyone know about their sinful relationship. They come at the last moment, and they see the two empty seats next to Sword and me.

"Are those seats taken," I can see Dagny asking me, while Rearden looks guilty because he doesn't want anyone to know that he is with her.

"No, they are not," I answer crossly.

Dagny looks me up and down shrewdly. She takes in what Sword and I are wearing, the fact that I don't have an expensive cell phone. Finally she says: "How much did it cost you to get these seats?" Dagny is a realist. She knows that the price of getting those two seats includes many other factors besides the face value of the movie ticket.

"Two hundred dollars," I reply.

"That much?" she considers. "And how much would it take to make you move one seat over?"


"I want you to move one seat over," she says. "Of course, you have every right to refuse me. But... I could offer you one thousand dollars for the privilege of sitting next to the aisle with my friend here." (Rearden skulks about trying to look inconspicuous.)

And supposing I were so stupefied by her offer as to remain speechless, she might have added: "Write your own ticket. How much for these two seats?"

Now that is what a real heroine does! How come I didn't meet someone like that at the theater last night?

© 2011 Aya Katz

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Comments 57 comments

Ef El Light 5 years ago

Did you choose those seats for the sake of provocation? I suppose your daughter was more comfortable leaving a seat empty beside her.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

F.L. Light, no, I didn't choose the seats in order to provoke anyone to do anything. We sat down rather naturally where we felt comfortable. But... upon thinking about it afterwards, I realized it was not wise.

The empty seat next to my daughter occurred because of the way the people on the other side of her arranged themselves, later when they came. But... the empty seat next to the aisle was kind of a buffer zone between us and the world. If only it were left empty, and not the other seat by my daughter, then I think no one would have wanted it. Or I should say, no two people could have wanted it, if they wanted to sit together.

nhkatz profile image

nhkatz 5 years ago from Bloomington, Indiana


I too spent close to $200 to take Dagon to see Atlas. However,

I did it today. We caught the 10:55 A.M. matinee, and while

the theater wasn't quite empty, there was plenty of space.

I thought the film left a lot to be desired. There were serious problems with the sense of life. Francisco didn't get to play marbles. Hugh Akston didn't get to cook burgers. But Jim Taggart gets a model train set in his office? That's just wrong. If Jim Taggart liked playing with model trains, he would have been a good guy.

I think the writers made a mistake to cut out the introductory scenes of Dagny establishing her competence. As it was, she spent entirely too much time attending cocktail parties and not enough building railroads. Her one moment

of prodigality, "I don't care what the NSF says about Rearden

metal. I take only my own opinion. After all, I took engineering courses in community college," came off a touch forced and unbelievable.

I never pictured Robert Stadler as a native Italian, but perhaps it was a lack of imagination on my part. (Maybe the filmmakers think he's really a thinly veiled Enrico Fermi.)

I have to confess I did burst out laughing once during the film. It was because of the scene between McNamara, Dagny's

contractor and John Galt.

Galt: McNamara?

McNamara: Yes. Are you from Taggart Transcontinental?

Galt: No

McNamara: Oh, so you're trying to sell me something?

Galt: No, I'm not trying to sell you anything. I want you

to join a society where a man is appreciated only for his

productive abilities.

[It's tough dealing with solicitors.]


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Nets, did she really say NSF? I could have sworn it was SSI. But NSF would have been more direct. Was there already an NSF in 1957?

Stadler's accent threw me off,too, but by then so many other things seemed to demand my attention that I hardly gave it much thought. Do you think Hugh Akston wasn't allowed to cook because of union regulations? Or not enough budget for a burner?

I've got to say though the cocktail party seemed reasonably accurate. (Well, maybe except for Francisco and his entourage.)

Did Dagon enjoy the movie?

nhkatz profile image

nhkatz 5 years ago from Bloomington, Indiana


Yes I'm taking liberties. I always thought of the SSI as a thinly veiled NSF.

The NSF was founded in 1950 by an act of Congress. It was a continuation of more ad hoc mechanisms by which the government funded science during the war. Those war-time contracts, though, had explicitly military aims.

There was an inaccuracy in the cocktail scenes that really bothered me. Lillian Rearden, is supposed to jokingly suggest exchanging her bracelet for a diamond one. It seems a little too forward for her to suggest this idea on her own. It makes Rearden's comment that she needn't have done it seem more


It also bothered me that Rearden was a little too sociable. He actually knows Dagny has been invited and encourages her to attend. At the party, he suavely offers her champagne.

There were some made up touches that I enjoyed. I really liked James' snub of Phillip. I thought Lillian's telling Rearden he has no friends was priceless.

The feature of the movie Dagon showed the most interest in was the high quality of the cakes. He insisted that I explain to him what an anniversary party is.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Nets, I think it's okay that Rearden was trying to be sociable at the party. He promised Lillian he would try, and he is an honorable man who keeps his promises. I agree that Lillian telling him that had no friends was brilliant!

Jim Taggart snubbing Phillip Rearden was great, too.

The cakes did look good, and the almost inaudible dialogue about how one person likes banana and another person likes chocolate and a third person likes something else, so all those flavors were combined in the cake also seemed to have ideological implications.

Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 5 years ago

Love this Hub Aya!

Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged and the heroic characters still call to my sense of fairness, logic and justice daily! Sorry to hear there were gaps of judgement in the making of the film! All of the details in Rand's writing are there for a purpose; eliminating or altering any of them would make the film incongruent!

Even so, I look forward to seeing the film! I too, will report back! Thanks for the insights! Thumbs up! EarthAngel!

P.S. Yes, I still look for Dagny and especially John every day!

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Earth Angel, thanks! I look forward to hearing your impressions after you have had a chance to see the film. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who looks for Rand's vision and her characters to materialize in the world we live in.

Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 5 years ago

Ahhhhhhhh, dearest Aya,

Please do not ever give up hope! You may be aware of the following, if so, please forgive my redundancy!

Rand's vision is alive and well here in California - and many parts of the world; the Ayn Rand Institute ARI is located in Irvine!

I attended Stanford University shortly after Rand died in 1982 and you would have thought she was walking and talking in the halls thanks to her good friend and devoted former student Leonard Peikoff!

In Rand's life, Leonard Peikoff was the only one who "totally got it" and she acknowledged him publicly and privately! Peikoff, now in his 80's, has spent his life pursuing, explaining and writing successfully about Objectivism!

Peikoff's grown daughter, Kira Peikoff, has a book coming out in the Spring of 2012 called, Living Proof!

Notice under the ARI link there are Essay contests for youth with prizes each year totaling almost $100,000; has Sword by chance taken up your craft of writing and penchant for logic??

Did you know there is a dating site devoted to Rand and Objectivist ideals?

Hope, although not a favorite "emotion" of Rand's, is what keeps many of us going whose "brains are wired" a bit differently than most! I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Rand may have had a delightful dose of Asperger's! It keeps me going!

Blessings to you, Sword and Bow!! EarthAngel!

Frediano 5 years ago

Rational self interest includes, building the kind of world you want to live in.

There are some 'sacrifices' that are not really sacrifices, except under a microscope.

Like, while in a long line of traffic, letting someone in. If you really want to live in a world where, should you ever commit the sin of trying to enter a busy street from a side street, you must wait 8 hours for everyone to drive home, then follow absurdity to extremes.

But, weigh the terrible 'cost' of simply letting someone in.

Ditto, the terrible pain of... holding a door open for a perfect stranger. If you want to live in a world where such simple courtesies never happen, then build that world, if you regard that as in your rational self-interest.

But don't question the values of other selves, if you truly adhere to one skin, one driver, if others sometimes find it in their rational self-insterest to live in a different kind of world, one not quite so reptilian in its narrow definition of rational self-interest.

As I read Rand, her main point was about free association vs. forced association, not reptilian assholishness vs. doormat.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Wow, Earth Angel! I have always valued your warm comments and I would never have pegged you for a Peikoff objectivist!

I try to stay out of the highly volatile schism issue, admiring Rand, but not necessarily believing in her ability to judge those she knew. However, I do wish you and I could have gone to college together. It would have been great!

Thanks also for providing the links, as you never know whom they might help.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Frediano, clearly you think I was wrong and the people who didn't ask me to move were right. Is it possible that you have never considered that not everybody can read everyone else's mind?

Did you not believe me when I said I didn't understand what those people wanted at the time? Would it have hurt them so very much to speak out loud their unexpressed desires? Do you think only the majority have the right to be treated with courtesy?

Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 5 years ago

Ayn Rand Leonard Peikoff Objectivist Blessings to you again Aya!

Yes, I agree, college together would have been marvelous! I also agree, some of the people Rand surrounded herself with, left answered questions in my mind! At the same time, I love the odd, the different, the non-conformist, independent-thinking people that bless my life abundantly! (And yes, I consider myself one as well!)

I envision lively debates with Rand herself regarding my "spiritual" practices, beliefs and commitments! I'm sure the name of my company, Earth Angel Publishing, would have made her eyes roll!

What Rand taught, however, was the value of personal experience! To never substitute another person's judgement for your own! To be hard-fast in looking for solid Truth! That faith was never to be substituted for concrete, rational, logical beliefs! Who we pick as friends and mates is a direct reflection of our estimate of ourselves and our value system! The philosophy, the framework by which we live is critical, not to be taken lightly, and not to be given over to some other in abdication of our responsibility!

Rand was also a survivalist; most of her life, along with most of her peers of the time, were spent working hard and keeping a roof over their heads! Although financially comfortable later in life, she never really had the luxury of pondering/exploring/considering or experiencing things on a more subtle plane!

Had Rand lived longer (she died of lung cancer too early having smoked like a chimney most of her life - completely illogical) I like to think a good Kudalini experience would have given her reason to question/consider the validity of a concrete, yet invisible, realm! As you know, the sciences have come a long, long way from Rand's day and I would like to think she would have gone about examining them with the same fervor as she did railroads and human interaction!

Thanks for the wonderful written dialogs this morning! I'm off to my green garden with six fur-family in tow!

You are the BEST! Spiritual-Objectivist Blessings Always, EarthAngel!

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Earth Angel, I hope you have a wonderful outing with your fur-family! I'm glad you can see both Rand's circumstances and her short-comings, but are still able to envision lively and productive debates with her. I feel the same way!

PDXBuys profile image

PDXBuys 5 years ago from Oregon

I think you summarized why I don't go to movie theaters anymore! For $200 you could buy a nice DVD player, a couple months of Netflix, a big bag of popcorn, and you could invite the entire neighborhood over to watch the film. Ah well, the price of being first (or early) is steep. But I enjoyed reading about your observations... I remember from my childhood seeing my parents' copy of "Atlas Shrugged" on the bookshelf. Perhaps it was the strange name (I always pronounced it as "Ann"). Never read the book but had heard that it was socially significant. I would like to see the film - but will wait to get it on Netflix.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

PDXBuys, you are so right! I already have a DVD player, and I watch most movies at home long after they come out. But for me, this was a special occasion, and I was actually hoping to interact with others. I was hoping maybe there would be a discussion after the movie, or a rally, or people talking in the lobby.

maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona

Aya...A lot of people who have read Atlas Shrugged have made the mistake of thinking that Rand was writing about the real world... Atlas Shrugged is fiction, by definition it’s unreal, just like any other fiction.

Much of the best fiction is set in a reality that is close to the real world, with a minor twist of some sort. In Atlas Shrugged, the twist is that no one except a very few people, like Dagny Taggert, is ethical. In the real world, most people are ethical. Society couldn't work if they weren't.

I'll wait for the DVD so I can watch and make notes at my leisure...Thank you for this brilliant, as usual, Hub...voted up and useful...Larry

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Maven101, thanks for your comment.

I don't agree that because Atlas Shrugged is fiction, what it describes is not the real world, necessarily. After all, if a work doesn't depart from any of the real world conditions, but only creates situations with imaginary, but realistic characters, then we can use it as a simulation of real life.

If Atlas Shrugged does depart from describing the real world, then it is not because it is fiction, but because the simulation of the real world is faulty.

Most people are ethical? Then why don't they do what they promise to do? Why do they borrow money and then not pay it back? Why do they come late to meetings, and then blame the people who are on time? Why do they want to take from some people by force and give it to someone else? Why do they tell you that you are very brave for blowing the whistle on corruption, but then not stand by and support you when an investigation is begun? Why do they watch the ATF and the FBI kill people on TV, but not do anything about it? In what way are most people ethical? Most people stand by and let bad things be done in their name and don't lift a finger against tyranny, because they are afraid to risk their own skin.

BTW, maybe one of the ways that Atlas Shrugged the book is unrealistic is that it shows people standing up and making speeches at social gatherings. In my experience, if you do try to make a speech at a social gathering, people will not listen to you.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Maven101, it really depends what you mean by ethical. If you mean, not out to harm others, then this is also true in Atlas Shrugged. Most people think that they are good. Most people are not out to defraud others, but they don't do anything to stop it from happening. And when they have to help decide whether the victim or the perpetrator is going to be upheld, they often support the perpetrator. Sometimes they do it out of fear and sometimes out of ignorance, because ethics is a hard subject to master, and people who use emotions rather than logic as tools of cognition are often on the side of wrongdoers. It does not mean that most people are bad, but between those who are bad and those who are stupid, and those who are just too scared, it doesn't leave a lot of people doing the right thing.

Dagny is not merely ethical. She is also brave and smart. And competent. While many people in the real world have some of these traits, it's very rare to see all of them combined in a single person. But this does not mean that it could not happen.

Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 5 years ago

Dearest Mavin101,

I must agree with Aya in her comment above! If you live where most people are ethical, I'm moving to where you are in Arizona!

I think the definitions of the word ethical, as well as the words logical, rational, responsible, etc. mean different things to different people - at different times - in different circumstances!

Is it ethical to work for a company that produces weapons if the paycheck earned keeps food on the table?

In Atlas Shrugged, ethical means taking 100% responsibility for one's actions! Oddly enough, this is the same tenet in Eastern beliefs including Buddhism!

I, like many, originally thought that taking 100% responsibly was easy, right? I don't lie or cheat or steal and am a good person! I'm a Minister for heaven's sake!

Yet, upon closer examination, what am I doing to erase my carbon footprint? Is it necessary for animals to die horrible deaths so people can eat meat? Are we absolved of 100% responsibility if we do our jobs well but the company we work for makes pesticides? Or uses over seas child labor? Or drug testing on animals?

Being ethical and 100% responsible not that easy (try it) and Atlas Shrugged points out beautifully and dramatically the issues we all wrestle with daily!

Ayn Rand also wrote a book called, Philosophy, Who Needs It? We all need it; philosophy is the conscious framework by which we make all decisions!

Atlas Shrugged encourages us to awaken to how things are (and not the way we want them to be) and stand up for injustices both large and small! Based on sound reasoning and logic!

I see Aya's second comment! GREAT minds think alike!

Blessings to all of you! EarthAngel!

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Earth Angel, thanks for your supportive comment!

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Earth Angel, upon re-reading your comment, I do feel it incumbent on me to also state I don't think there is anything wrong with working for a company that produces weapons, because I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, as well as the right to manufacture them for others.

Many objectivists I know are pacifists. I most certainly am not, and this is a demonstration of just how difficult the topic of ethics can be, even for people who are like-minded on many other topics. When we disarm good people and don't allow them to defend their rights, we are on the side of evil.

To see how I handle this topic when it comes to airport security, take a look at this hub:

Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 5 years ago

Dearest Aya,

Thank you so much for the clarifications! You are a dear for taking the time! I support you fully while not having any expectations that we will agree on every point!

I have spent the morning composing a response and just noticed I am late for an appointment! I do, however love our written dialog and would love to continue over the next few days!?

In the meantime I leave you with a favorite quote:

"The world has achieved brilliance

without wisdom,

power without conscience.

Ours is a world of nuclear giants

and ethical infants.

We know more about war

than we know about peace,

more about killing

than we know about living."

– Omar Bradley

Blessing on your day dearest Aya! EarthAngel!

P.S. Exclamation points are a request by my God-children spread all over the country! They say it is my way of smiling!

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, Earth Angel. Of course, we don't have to agree on everything, and I will be delighted to continue a dialogue with you about this.

lobonorth profile image

lobonorth 5 years ago

The world of Atlas Shrugged seems very different to the US of today. There was a time when those who contributed to the culture were rewarded and we all had a pretty good idea of what was being rewarded. Today, the number of people who work in the financial industry has increased greatly and they achieve vast rewards but not through dint of their brilliance.

The notion that corporations can become too large to fail seem a contradiction to any who believe in anything approaching a free market. Laws which prohibit monopolies and corporations who act in collusion are intended to encourage competition are crucial.

I suspect the percentage of parasites among those individuals with some of the largest incomes is greater than the parasites at the other end of the system.

I have known a number of people with vast wealth and while there are many pleasant things I could say about a lot of them, I certainly do not regard them as having contributed a great deal to the culture.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Lobonorth, you point out an important fact: most corporate managers and CEOs today are not "producers" or "contributors" and they did not get to the top by dint of technical excellence, dedication, talent and courage. They are instead consummate consumers and political animals who got to the top because they were better at manipulating other people than their conspecifics. They are all a great deal more like Jim Taggart than they are like Dagny.

However, this is not a reason to rail against the rich, or to set up more artificial means of fleecing them as a revenge tactic. Instead, why not get rid of limited liability for corporations? That way talented individuals can stand out, and no one will be shielded from the direct consequences of his own actions.

To learn more about the corporate entity and why it violates free market principles, read this hub:

viveresperando profile image

viveresperando 5 years ago from A Place Where Nothing Is Real

Interesting. I have been in moments where I am wrapped up in my own thoughts to not notice certain "social situations" and have been asked if I could move one seat over. I had no problem with it. I live in an area though were people are not shy. lol Would I ever ask anyone to move a seat for me? No, nor would I sit in between two people and expect them to move. Enjoyed reading this.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, Viveresperando. I'm usually fairly cooperative, once I understand what is going on, but am sometimes slow on the uptake.

EmpressFelicity profile image

EmpressFelicity 4 years ago from Kent, England, UK

What an excellent hub. I’ve read Atlas Shrugged but not seen the film. On the basis of what you and the commenters here have written, I don’t think I ever *want* to see the film - it sounds as though it’s done that Hollywood thing of rendering the surface characteristics of a book (or some of them) into film, yet somehow distorting the actual point or even missing it altogether.

To be honest, I probably wouldn’t regard someone as a hero if they offered straight out to pay me so that I would move cinema seats - I’d be very much taken aback in fact. However, I would be grateful for someone who just said, politely: “Excuse me, my friend and I would like to sit together. Is it OK if you and your daughter move up one?” I would welcome more of such directness from people IRL - as long as it’s done courteously, of course. As it is, I often find myself having to second guess what people *really* mean as opposed to what they’re actually saying.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 4 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Empress Felicity, yes, that's all I really needed, too. Directness is so much better!

As for the movie, you may or may not want to see it, but waiting for the DVD should be good enough. I think I saw a news story about how they had to recall some of the DVD covers because they described it as a movie about self-less devotion to one's ideals!

EmpressFelicity profile image

EmpressFelicity 4 years ago from Kent, England, UK

Aya: "they had to recall some of the DVD covers because they described it as a movie about self-less devotion to one's ideals!"


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

Atlas Shrugged is one of my favorite books. I had read this as a teenager, and I'm still reading this. I love to go back to the book once in a while and read few pages.

When I was young, I loved the suspense, as a grown up man I look into philosophical content.

However, I have not watched this movie, it was never released in my country. And the DVD too is not available.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 4 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Vinaya, Atlas Shrugged is one of my favorite books, too, and I read it as you do.

I think you can probably order the DVD online, if you are interested. It is quite different from the book, though.

ledefensetech profile image

ledefensetech 4 years ago from Cape Girardeau, MO

It's an unfortunate commentary on "modern" life that people behave in such a manner. Nobody is a mind reader and asking a simple question like 'Can you move over a seat so my son and I (wife and I) can sit together is not an outrageous request. It has to do, I think, with the conditioning people go through in public schools, not exactly a bastion of individuality and supportive of thinking outside the box.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 4 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, Ledefensetech. Good to have someone see my point of view.

Also, it's great to see you here again!

ledefensetech profile image

ledefensetech 4 years ago from Cape Girardeau, MO

Yeah the censored me a while back for "being rude" so I gave the forums and hubs a pass for a while. It's also interesting to see what a difference a couple of years makes, and how much stays the same.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 4 years ago from The Ozarks Author

The traffic has been greatly affected by the panda and post-panda updates. I have much less traffic than I used to. Many people have left, because of that, and because of changes reacting to Panda that made things much harder.

Ledefensetech, which things seem most different to you after your long absence?

BTW, were you involved in the Ron Paul doings in Missouri during caucus season?

ledefensetech profile image

ledefensetech 4 years ago from Cape Girardeau, MO

Oh I just seem to recall many predictions of the demise of the Republican Party and how the Tea Party was a temporary phenomenon. Given the strange gyrations of the Democratic party the former observation seems to be premature and given the Walker recall failure the latter seems to have been incorrect as well.

Looking at the larger picture I think that we may be able to get out of the mess we're in. It all depends on how quickly we can turn things around. Economic forces tend to follow the First Law of motion. And we've had a lot of motion in the wrong direction over the last several decades, but the last few years have been worse.

Noble as I think Paul's gesture is, I'm not really any more committed to the idea of government anymore. Just about all causes of evil can be traced back to government, from war to economic misery to just about every sort of violation of human rights there is. You can't effect change by trying to suborn government, the only real panacea is to abolish it.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 4 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Ledefensetech, wow! I'm moving in that direction myself, but it seems you have gone faster and further than I have! So are you an anarchist now? I assume it's with a small 'a'.

ledefensetech profile image

ledefensetech 4 years ago from Cape Girardeau, MO

Most definitely, read up on Murray Rothbard and anarcho-capitalism. It's obvious when you think about it. Every revolution including the American one has replaced one set of elites with another. Eliminating government is the only way to break the cycle. Besides there's nothing the government can do that private enterprise cannot do better. We let private enterprise grow food and that's about as important as it gets when you talk about critical operations. I'm thinking about writing some hubs about areas of anarcho-capitalism and see where it goes. Should be interesting anyway.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 4 years ago from The Ozarks Author

The big question is this: how do you get rid of government, when most people support it? Are you envisioning getting 100% of the populace to agree with you before government can be dismantled? Or do you recognize that every revolution requires bloodshed? Most of the Murray Rothbard types don't, so I just don't see it ever happening.

ledefensetech profile image

ledefensetech 4 years ago from Cape Girardeau, MO

No, we'll have to wait for a societal collapse. Which will cause it's own problems. One thing we have that, say, those present at the fall of Rome is a legacy of widespread literacy/printing/communication and a growing interest in true economics and how following economic rules make society more peaceful and advance humanity.

Unfortunately the fact that people won't work to avert a societal collapse mean that a lot of people will suffer and lose their lives in the chaos that follows a collapse.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 4 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Waiting for a societal collapse does not seem like a useful course of action. I have been waiting for a societal collapse since I was a teen, and I am now in my fifities. It could easily not happen in my lifetime. When it does happen, the collapse of American society will not lead to general anarchy. Other nations, like the Chinese, will see this as an opening to impose their government on us. Nature abhors a vacuum. The reason anarchy is rare is that is naturally followed by more organized forms of society. The question for someone who likes anarchy is: how to impose it on those that oppose it?

If the patriots of the American revolution had said: "Let's just wait till the British Empire collapses under its own incompetence," the US would still be in British hands during WWII. Think about that!

If not now, when? And if not us, who?

EmpressFelicity profile image

EmpressFelicity 4 years ago from Kent, England, UK

@Aya: You can't impose anarchy on people... because it would need a centralised organisation to do that, and then it wouldn't be anarchy lol. Many people (probably the majority) are naturally authoritarian. They either want to tell others what to do, and/or be told what to do themselves. Sadly, this fact is what makes me fear the outcome if the government were to fall. Like you say, nature abhors a vacuum and most people do support government. They like the *idea* of government - they think in terms of an individual leader, who can solve all their problems.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 4 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Actually, an individual leader, on the small, tribal level is not necessarily a bad thing -- no different from a head of household in a family. Those types of leaders are chosen for individual merit, and anybody who doesn't want their leadership can just leave the tribe, or start a tribe of his own. That's how we evolved to live -- in small groups. But the bigger, more ponderous governmental forms are not meritocracies, so incompetents are often chosen to lead based on political machinations, and if you don't like them, it's very hard to just walk away and start your own country.

That's why in order to bring down a modern tyranny, you have to stand and fight. Waiting for it to collapse or for the bad leadership to pass is not going to get you any results.

ledefensetech profile image

ledefensetech 4 years ago from Cape Girardeau, MO

I not even opposed to communal lifestyles, so long as the people in the commune are there voluntarily. I had an interesting conversation last year with a lapsed Jew over the kibbutz and how that idea was used by many of the Jewish communists as a blueprint for replicating that across society. That's what they missed though, such association has to be voluntary otherwise they only way to make it work is through the nightmare of a police state.

Malcom Gladwell makes much the same point about small groups in his book The Tipping Point. He contrasted something like a company of solders saying that was about the perfect size for an organizational group. He used the example of the company that makes Gore-Tex. They are organized into mini-companies of about 150 people so that everyone from sales to manufacturing to support are all grouped together that number no more than about 150 people. If they need to expand, they open another group.

As for waiting for things to collapse we'll you might be interesting in the following:

Specifically number 1:

Specifically the following: "In a thousand fields the welfarists, statists, socialists, and interventionists are daily driving for more restrictions on individual liberty; and the libertarians must combat them. But few of us individually have the time, energy, and special knowledge in more than a handful of subjects to be able to do this."

I'm not saying give up, what I'm saying that you'll never change the minds of people currently invested in the system. Too many people are a part of it and the way they make their living is tied intimately to the system to want to change. Plus there's the ignorance factor. Too many people are ignorant of basic economic ideas to force those invested in the system to change. Again, the forums are a good indication of this.

This is, however, the place we can make the most gains. By trying to teach people we can increase the chances that after a collapse the people who survive will be those who have a basic understanding of economics and will not make the mistakes of the past.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 4 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Teaching by example is better than teaching by preaching. The problem is that very few of us can offer an example of someone who does not knuckle down to the system in some way: by submitting to the TSA at the airport, by filing "voluntary" income tax returns, by paying whatever tax is imposed on us, submitting to licensing, whether professional or otherwise, and in all things basically cooperating with the system. To say that the system has no right to impose these things on us, but to do nothing to stand up to it, is not a good example to set. It confirms others in the idea that might makes right, and that the majority who like government can secure the cooperation of the minority that does not by the mere threat of violence.

ledefensetech profile image

ledefensetech 4 years ago from Cape Girardeau, MO

And yet until the sheeple stampede the system just carves you away from the herd to keep the rest in line. Sooner or later those tactics fail. All I'm saying is we're getting to the point where those tactics are going to fail.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 4 years ago from The Ozarks Author

I hope so, Ledefensetech.

ledefensetech profile image

ledefensetech 4 years ago from Cape Girardeau, MO

Part of it is that I'm in a funk and can't believe there are still people out there who believe all the bunk. What really concerns me is that at some point with all this nonsense we're going to reach a point of no return and I'm afraid we've passed that point so looking forward I think it's best to attenuate the consequences of collapse. It's like the Kaiser's generals telling him once the trains started rolling things would start happening and it would be impossible to stop. I might have to write up some ideas I've had on how to mitigate the excesses of collapse.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 4 years ago from The Ozarks Author

LDT, I'd like to invite you to write on this site that I have set up since panda. It's called PubWages. Here is the place to register, but if you are using an ID other than Ledefensetech, drop me an email to let me know it's you, as I delete unknown applicants.

SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 4 years ago from Southern California, USA

I was reading your review of the movie, and I think I should read the book first. People get very irate over movie theater seats, and that is one reason I am glad I do not go to the movies that often anymore. Once a man nearly got in a shouting match with some woman because he thought she was purposely taking over all the center seats, and she ended up moving just so he would calm down. Then there is the cell phone then, and today I walked by Chipolte Grill and even see people texting away before they go in the restaurant to order food. People are extremely attached to their cell phones, and there are no boundaries anymore when it comes to theaters.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 4 years ago from The Ozarks Author

SweetiePie, I highly recommend reading the book first. It presents some rather complex ideas in a very dramatic, yet thoughtful manner. Most people who talk about Atlas Shrugged oversimplify both the plot and the message. I would love to discuss it with you once you have read it.

SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 4 years ago from Southern California, USA

I am going to get it tomorrow and start reading it. I look forward to what you have to share with me about it.

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 4 years ago from The Ozarks Author

SweetiePie, I'm so glad! I really enjoy discussing books that I love with friends.

i scribble profile image

i scribble 4 years ago

I've been planning to check out the Fountainhead from the library, and this hub serves as my reminder. Ayn Rand is often mentioned on my favorite news network MSNBC. Does that sound ironic? Anyway, I've been meaning to read at least one of her novels to get a better understanding and just to see if I like the novel. Question: Do you know if Rand Paul is named after her?

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 4 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Iscribble, I highly recommend her books, and starting with The Fountainhead is a good idea.

As I understand it, Rand Paul was not named for Ayn Rand, but most people think that, anyway! It's an interesting association.

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