Atlas Shrugged LO9823

jack hirschfeld (
Sun, 8 Sep 1996 10:21:35 -0400

Replying to LO9800 --

I find myself in close agreement with the comments of Grover Partee, which
are quoted below. This posting raises once again the oft-traversed loop
of conversation which contrasts individual with community and cooperation
with competition. Some of us continue to view these dualistically, while
others are comfortable that they are extremes of a continuum, and that
people move along the continuum all the time depending on the environment
and their mental models.

Grover's reference to primate behavior brought to mind the actions of a
baboon troop. The patterns of behavior in which an individual emerges to
dominate the group, while leading the group through common survival
rituals are fully observable in baboons, and anyone familiar with primate
studies will see the baboon troop replicated in every human organization.
At least that has been my experience.

Of course, what remains uncertain is whether what we see in baboon social
behavior is reflected in human behavior, or whether what we "see" is
merely a projection of our expectations, based on the human behavior we
know so well but describe so poorly.

Grover Partee wrote:

>Rand's John Galt is a mythic hero not too unlike Eastwood's Dirty Harry
>and Schwarzeneggar's Conan. The character shows up repeatedly in Western
>sagas including, of course, "High Noon" and "Shane." The loner hero is a
>peculiar fixation of Americans, especially American men. We all want to
>see the cavalry riding over the hill to rescue everyone. We fantasize
>about personally leading the charge, but the bottom line is someone is the
>victim and someone is the hero. The stories inspire some to greatness but
>lull most into complacency. <snip>
>Galt is a great model so long as we have the experience to recognize it as
>a metaphor for our own internal struggle with ourselves. When we begin to
>try to actualize it in the world, we may get Christ, Buddha or Mohammed,
>but we are somewhat more likely to get David Koresh or the Rev. Jim Jones.
>In the business sphere, such men as Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie are
>often put forth as exemplifying the solitary hero. But so does Robert
>Vesco, the "movers and shakers" behind the S&L debacle, and, in a slightly
>different line of "business," Al Capone and John Dillinger. Hitler,
>Stalin, Idi Amin and Noriega are also in the mythic hero mold.
>Rand's philosophy (or, pehaps more correctly, Nathaniel Braden's philosphy
>build on the natterings of Rand's characters) says quite clearly "Lead,
>follow or get out of the way," "Unless you're the lead dog, the view
>never changes," and "Winning isn't the main thing; it's the only thing."
>It comes of viewing life (and business) as a zero-sum game. There's no
>way *we* can win. I can win or you can win, but someone has to lose.
>There's only so much wealth in the world. I can't create it. I can only
>take it away from you.
>In an only slightly different light, John Galt is a sociopath. He's on
>the same journey as the slightly less successful Unibomber. Galt was
>successful in the novel (and remember it IS a novel) just as the Unibomber
>was successful in HIS fantasies. Success in the real world is a somewhat
>more complex thing.
>Man is a communal animal. We are descended from creatures who were able
>to survive because they banded together in families, clans, and tribes.
>Even our primate cousins recognize the value (as well as safety) in
>numbers. We're talking about learning *organizations* here. Not
>solitary, self-absorbed, antisocial and potentially dangerous whackos.


Jack Hirschfeld Doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore?

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