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Book Reviews

THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS * Ayn Rand (1964)

the_virtue_of_selfishness_1964_edition.jpgSelfishness — a virtue? Ayn Rand chose this book’s provocative title because she was on a mission to overcome centuries of demonization. “In popular usage,” Rand writes, “the word ‘selfishness’ is a synonym of evil; the image it conjures is of a murderous brute who tramples over piles of corpses to achieve his own ends . . . and pursues nothing but the gratification of the mindless whims of any immediate moment.

“Yet the exact meaning and dictionary definition of the word ‘selfishness’ is: concern with one’s own interests.

“This concept does not include a moral evaluation; it does not tell us whether concern with one’s own interests is good or evil; nor does it tell us what constitutes man’s actual interests. It is the task of ethics to answer such questions.”

Mass Market Paperback: 173 pages

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Book Reviews

Atlas Shrugged * Ayn Rand Book Review

This has been due for a long time. The mammoth book that Ayn Rand wrote over 60 years ago (1957) is a manifest for objectivism and a case study of how the world would turn out if socialism were to be the ruling force of society. If need and not ability would be the ones that were deemed as worthy of pay. If the mooching people and the leaches would reach the ruling class and would give out laws that suit them and their friends.

I read it over a span of two years with a break in the middle as the book can get a bit overwhelming and dark. I recognised so many things from other countries’ way of ruling and the corrupt ways of power and I fell in love with the strong characters that this book had to offer. Dagny Taggart- a female tycoon who wants to build a trans-continental train line, Hank Reardon – a metallurgist who invents his own alloy which is lighter than iron and multi-functional. Francisco d’Anconia who sets up to increase his family’s fortune in copper mines. Further along the book come John Galt and Ragnar the pirate. Bad boys who destroy / save society by quickening the process that had started and by removing the leacher’s blood victims from being sucked to death.

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Excerpts

Best sex scene in Atlas Shrugged * Ayn Rand

Whoever told you that Atlas Shrugged is a boring book, they never mentioned that it features some pretty cool characters, love triangles by the truckload and one sex scene that would make Anne Rice blush! Well, maybe not Anne Rice but it’s definitely better than Murakami’s approach.

The sound came from his engine, from the control of his hands on the wheel; she held onto that; the rest was to be endured, not resisted.
She lay still, her legs stretched forward, her hands on the arms of the seat, with no sense of motion, not even her own, to give her a sense of time, with no space, no sight, no future, with the night of closed eyelids under the pressure of the cloth-and with the knowledge of his presence beside her as her single, unchanging reality, They did not speak. Once, she said suddenly, “Mr. Galt.”
“Yes?”
“No. Nothing. I just wanted to know whether you were still there.”
“I will always be there.”

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Excerpts

Did you wonder what is wrong with the world? * Atlas Shrugged – John’s speech.

Still reading Atlas Shrugged (been about two months now) and I came across this part of John Gault’s speech.

Close to the finish now but I still don’t want this book to end…

“Did you wonder what is wrong with the world? You are now seeing the climax of the creed of the uncaused and unearned. All your gangs of mystics, of spirit or muscle, are fighting one another for power to rule you, snarling that love is the solution for all the problems of your spirit and that a whip is the solution for all the problems of your body – you who have agreed to have no mind.

Granting man less dignity than they grant to cattle, ignoring what an animal trainer could tell them-that no animal can be trained by fear, that a tortured elephant will trample its torturer, but will not work for him or carry his burdens -they expect man to continue to produce electronic tubes, supersonic airplanes, atom-smashing engines and interstellar telescopes, with his ration of meat for reward and a lash on his back for incentive.

“Make no mistake about the character of mystics. To undercut your consciousness has always been their only purpose throughout the ages -and power, the power to rule you by force, has always been their only lust.

“From the rites of the jungle witch-doctors, which distorted reality into grotesque absurdities, stunted the minds of their victims and kept them in terror of the supernatural for stagnant stretches of centuries- to the supernatural doctrines of the Middle Ages, which kept men huddling on the mud floors of their hovels, in terror that the devil might steal the soup they had worked eighteen hours to earn -to the seedy little smiling professor who assures you that your brain has no capacity to think, that you have no means of perception and must blindly obey the omnipotent will of that supernatural force:

Society-all of it is the same performance for the same and only purpose: to reduce you to the kind of pulp that has surrendered the validity of its consciousness.

“But it cannot be done to you without your consent.

If you permit it to be done, you deserve it.

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Excerpts

Atlas Shrugged * The crying song of the people * Excerpt

This is what happens when inept people rule the country and prioritize budgeting for friends and luxury rather than food and subsistence and jobs:


“Soybeans make an excellent substitute for bread, meat, cereals and coffee-and if all of us were compelled to adopt soybeans as our staple diet, it would solve the national food crisis and make it possible to feed more people.

The greatest food for the greatest number-that’s my slogan.

At a time of desperate public need, it’s our duty to sacrifice our luxurious tastes and eat our way back to prosperity by adapting ourselves to the simple, wholesome foodstuff on which the peoples of the Orient have so nobly subsisted for centuries. There’s a great deal that we could learn from the peoples of the Orient.”

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Excerpts

Atlas Shrugged – The cry of the grain

I am still reading Atlas Shrugged (and I am basically on the last few hundred pages). I’ve reached a stage where I could see parts of the Communism dictatorship in Romania, where I could see what a greedy government can do to its people and I could see that favours and money made the world go round. I know it. I’ve lived in it. And reading Atlas Shrugged brought it all back to me.

I’ve reached a stage in the book where Ayn Rand is explaining in great detail what happens if the men in power listen to whimsical ideas whispered in their ears rather than think of consequences. They’ve nearly nationalized all the railroads through the Railroad Unification Act and they’ve diverted 15,000 train carts from the harvest in Minnesota to a soy-bean farm project a colleague of theirs was blabbing about. The granaries of the country – ready to dispatch their wheat to the starving people – left alone in their single hour of need.

“Well, after all, it is a matter of opinion whether wheat is essential to a nation’s welfare-

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Excerpt

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Excerpts

Unearned Love * Atlas Shrugged

Because I picked that amazing quote about love and loving from the discussion between Francisco and Henry Reardon when they both loved the same woman, I decided to pick a discussion about love between Jim Taggart and his wife.

“What do you want from me?”
“Love,” he answered.
She felt herself sagging with hopelessness, in the face of that answer which was at once so simple and so meaningless.
“You don’t love me,” he said accusingly. She did not answer. “You don’t love me or you wouldn’t ask such a question.”
“I did love you once,” she said dully, “but it wasn’t what you wanted. I loved you for your courage, your ambition, your ability. But it wasn’t real, any of it.”

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“Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself.” * Atlas Shrugged Quote

The men who think that wealth comes from material resources and has no intellectual root or meaning, are the men who think-for the same reason-that sex is a physical capacity which functions independently of one’s mind, choice or code of values.

They think that your body creates a desire and makes a choice for you-just about in some such way as if iron ore transformed itself into railroad rails of its own volition. Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a man’s sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life.

Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself.

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Excerpts

Robin Hood – The most immoral human symbol – Excerpt from Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)

I freakishly love Atlas Shrugged. This mammoth of a book from the Objectivist Ayn Rand.

This is a small excerpt from the middle of the book – just after laws were given to rob from the rich and give to the poor, to make all men equal (which is in today’s world called The Robin Hood Tax).

“I’m after a man whom I want to destroy. He died many centuries ago, but until the last trace of him is wiped out of men’s minds, we will not have a decent world to live in.”
“What man?”
“Robin Hood.”
Rearden looked at him blankly, not understanding

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Book Reviews

Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand * By Leonard Peikoff

In Objectivism, Peikoff covers every philosophic topic that Rand regarded as important—from certainty to money, from logic to art, from measurement to sex. Drawn from Rand’s published works as well as in-depth conversations between her and Peikoff, these chapters illuminate Objectivism—and its creator—with startling clarity. With Objectivism, the millions of readers who have been transformed by Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead will discover the full philosophical system underlying Ayn Rand’s work.

This book should be read by anyone interested in philosophy (which is hopefully a wide as audience as possible). Even for those who don’t agree with her, this book will present her actual ideas, which is very rare when her name is brought up in discussions. Read it for yourself and make your own conclusions about her ideas and where she may have erred.
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