• 00:20    |    
    Queremos darles nuevamente la bienvenida y el día de hoy tenemos también algo especial para nuestro programa, además de David Kelley, nuestro conferencista,n por lo que quiero pedir al Señor Rector que pase por acá para contarles de qué se trata.
  • 00:45    |    
    Señoras y señores, jóvenes, muy buenas noches, bienvenidos. Es un verdadero gusto tenerlos acá, esta semana la hemos celebrado en grande en la Universidadn Francisco Marroquín, conmemorando el 50 aniversario de la publicación de la gran novela de Ayn Rand, "La rebelión de Atlas".
  • 01:23    |    
    Que para quienes no la han leído, yo les pido que la lean, y les digo algo, como dijo mi amigo Freddy Cofman en este auditorio; qué envidia, a quienes no lan han leído les tengo envidia porque no hay como leer por primera vez esa gran novela. Ojalá que lo hagan y lo hagan pronto.
  • 01:25    |    
    Y aparte de las celebraciones que hemos tenido en la Universidad en ocasión a este aniversario, realmente empezaron hace meses, empezaron a mediados de esten año, donde propusimos un concurso de reseñas sobre La rebelión de Atlas.
  • 01:43    |    
    Y tenemos aquí en el público la ganadora de ese concurso y le quiero pedir a Lilian Yon que por favor suba al podio y que la recibamos con un aplauso. Muyn bien, me corresponde ahora, felicitaciones de nuevo Lilian, me corresponde ahora presentar a David Kelley, como saben la conferencia es en inglés, así que me voy a permitir leer sun currículo.
  • 02:19    |    
    David Kelley is a good friend, he visited Guatemala almost a year ago, when we had the General Meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society, hosted by the Universidadn Francisco Marroquín.
  • 02:31    |    
    We had the luck of having the visit of about 520 people from all over the world. Literally, from Mongolia to Belorussia, so it was a large contingent ofn people and among the speakers for that conference, we had the fortune of having David Kelley speak on a very interesting topic, Objectivism and Journalism.
  • 02:54    |    
    David Kelley first read Atlas Shrugged when he was sixteen years old. And I think that´s sort of like the ideal age to read the novel, those of you who aren above that age, and haven´t read it, don´t worry, it´s still, it´s always a good time to read it.
  • 03:12    |    
    David Kelley is a professional philosopher, teacher and writer, after earning a PhD in Philosophy from Princeton University in 1975, he joined the Philosophyn Department of Vassar College, where he remained until 1984, he also taught at Brandeis University as a visiting lecturer.
  • 03:33    |    
    Among his books are: Unrugged Individualism; The Selfish Bases of Benevolence; The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand; The Evidence of the Senses: a Treatise onn Epistemology; and The Art of Reasoning, one of the most widely used logic textbooks in the United States.
  • 03:52    |    
    With Roger Donway, he co-authored Laissez Parler: Freedom in the Electronic Media, a critique of government regulation. His most recent political work is An Life of One's Own: Individual Rights and the Welfare State, a critique of the moral premises of the welfare state and defense of private alternatives that preserve individual autonomy,n responsibility, and dignity.
  • 04:20    |    
    His articles on social issues and public policy have appeared in Harper´s, The Sciences, Reason, Harvard Business Review, The Freeman, and elsewhere. He hasn been an editorial writer for Barron's, has appeared on "20/20", and the ABC News special, "Greed" with John Stossel, and has written and lectured extensively on issues in philosophy, politics,n and public affairs.
  • 04:45    |    
    Just this week, on the precised date of the 50th anniversary of Atlas Shrugged, Wall Street Journal published a wonderful article by David Kelley, you shouldn look into that. He is an active proponent of Objectivism for more than 25 years, he has lectured to student groups at Harvard, Yale, University of Michigan, Berkeley, Amherst, and now I shouldn say and should add, Universidad Francisco Marroquín.
  • 05:13    |    
    He has also addressed the Mont Pelerin Society, the Free Press Association, the Cato Institute, and Heartland Institute, as well as many Objectivistn conferences. Welcome Dr. Kelley.
  • 05:33    |    
    Thank you very much Giancarlo. After several earlier events in which he introduced me in Spanish, which sadly is not a language I speak, I´m delighted ton know finally what you have been saying about me all day. -- Giancarlo: It´s a whole different story, David. --
  • 05:47    |    
    Trust is everything.
  • 05:53    |    
    In 1917, Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin, seized control of Russian in the famous October Revolution, it ended a short-lived experiment with Constitutionaln Democracy, and replaced it with a one-party socialist state.
  • 06:12    |    
    As the revolution swirled through the streets of St. Petersburg, a girl of 12 watched many of the events from the balcony of her parent's home. That girl wasn Alyssa Rosenbaum, who ultimately left Russia for America, and became the writer we know as Ayn Rand.
  • 06:32    |    
    In 1957, she published her final and greatest novel, Atlas Shrugged. The book we celebrate today in honor of its 50th anniversary in print. Atlas shrugged isn a revolutionary work. But the revolution it represents is diametrically opposed to the one that Rand witnessed and lived through as a youth.
  • 06:57    |    
    In the eight years before she left the Soviet Union in 1925, Rand lived through the economic chaos and the poverty, the desperate poverty that it caused inn Russia, as the communists nationalized businesses and expropriated private wealth.
  • 07:14    |    
    Her father was a pharmacist; and Rand herself, was in the shop when soldiers arrived to close the business and seize the property; leaving the family withoutn its work, its income, or its property.
  • 07:31    |    
    In the years before she left, she lived through the growing tyranny of stateism, as the communists used every means to expand their power; including secretn police, terror tactics, executing enemies or exiling them to Siberia. Under the new communist regime, more and more of private life was made political, politicized, including speech, ideas, andn education.
  • 07:59    |    
    Rand was appalled by this system. She was appalled not merely by its visible effects on herself and the people around her; she was appalled also by then underlying ideology of communism, especially the ideas of Moral Collectivism, that made communism possible and were used to justify it as a moral and noble ideal.
  • 08:25    |    
    Even as a child, she knew that there was something horribly wrong in the idea of sacrificing the individual, for the collective, in breaking eggs to make ann omelet, as the cynical expression to put it.
  • 08:41    |    
    Her first published work, "We, the Living" ,offers a portrait of Russia in those years, as she lived through it, and of the crushing effects of communism onn people of ability, ambition, and independent spirit. But, Atlas Shrugged is her fullest and deepest portrayal of the issues involved.
  • 09:05    |    
    It goes far beyond the specifics of any particular type of system, whether it be communism or fascism, or any other form of control over individuals.
  • 09:15    |    
    It deals with the essence of a collectivist society, and in particular, the essence of socialism which is in some ways, whether it takes a communist form orn a national socialist Nazi form, is the horror doctrine that is opposed to an individualist system of freedom and rights.
  • 09:38    |    
    Socialism, she would write, is the doctrine that man has no right to exists for his own sake, that his life and work do not belong to him; but belong ton society, and that the only justification for his existence, is his service to society. Which I believe is very philosophically accurate about the fundamental premise.
  • 10:00    |    
    More importantly, in Atlas Shrugged what we find is the positive ideal, the positive case for a society of individualism, including the capitalist system ofn economic freedom.
  • 10:20    |    
    And it is important to understand that what she meant by capitalism is not the mixed economy, that is characteristic now of all the industrialized andn industrializing nations, in which the government consumes a third or more of the wealth that people produce as individuals and firms, and heavily regulates all the rest.
  • 10:38    |    
    No, she meant Laissez Fairecapitalism and, in her words, with a separation of State and Economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separationn of State and Church.
  • 10:52    |    
    The function of government -she held- is solely to protect individual rights, including property rights, when it redistributes income, when it nationalizesn businesses, or regulates voluntary transactions. It commits a moral fallacy of socialism, the fallacy of treating the individual as a means to an end. I think Rand´s great achievement was ton offer a vision of capitalism as a moral ideal.
  • 11:26    |    
    The characters in Atlas Shrugged illustrate the virtues of rationality, production and trade, and in the case of the villains, the vices of parasitism andn the lust for power.
  • 11:38    |    
    The narrative, the plot, dramatizes the struggle of producers against the parasites and the predators. It traces the consequences of that struggle across then whole society, as power gains ascendency over freedom, and what the economic consequences are and the personal consequences for the characters.
  • 11:59    |    
    And the meaning of all these events is put into words in speeches by various characters that lay out a new philosophy, that she later decided to calln Objectivism. In its characters, in its plot, and in its philosophical themes, Atlas is about a new revolution, a capitalist revolution; it is truly the capitalist manifesto.
  • 12:27    |    
    What I´d like to do this evening is to explain a little more fully what I mean by the novel's revolutionary character; and let me say, at this point hown happy I am to be here at University Francisco Marroquín, with my good friends Giancarlo and Manuel Ayau, and all of you, many of whom I have visited with before.
  • 12:50    |    
    I am a great admirer of the achievement of this University, and I am especially proud to be here to witness the new sculpture of Atlas outside the building.n I am very pleased that the artist could be here tonight as well.
  • 13:10    |    
    I´m going to begin by saying a little bit about the story itself, the plot of Atlas Shrugged, which tells the story of a certain kind of revolution; an capitalist revolution.
  • 13:23    |    
    And then I want to move on to the core ideas of the book, which are revolutionary as philosophical ideas. As a novel, Atlas Shrugged, has the form of an mystery story. We follow two major characters, Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden, as they try to find answers to the puzzles of their world.
  • 13:46    |    
    Dagny is the Vice President of Operations for Taggart Transcontinental Railroad, the largest railroad in the United States. Hank Rearden is the head of an steel manufacturing company that he started from scratch and built into the most efficiently run, and most profitable steel firm in the country.
  • 14:10    |    
    As the story opens, Rearden has just developed and put on the market a new alloy he has invented, that is cheaper, lighter, and stronger than steel. But he´sn had no takers. Dagny is his first costumer, she wants to have the rails of the metal to replace a branch line in Colorado, where many new factories have located and need better transportationn for their products.
  • 14:34    |    
    Dagny and Rearden are surrounded by people who put obstacles in their way. There is Dagny's brother James, he is the President of the Railroad, a family, then family has retained control of the corporation. James, however, is afraid to rely on his own business judgment and he fears and resents those who do, especially Dagny.
  • 15:01    |    
    He´s more of a political type; he spends most of his times on public relations and on scheming, with his political connections, on how to get subsidies thatn favor the railroad through government coercion or laws passed that will restrain his competitors. Orren Boyle, another villain of the piece, is the head of a steel company that competes withn Rearden.
  • 15:29    |    
    He is a crony of James Taggart and very much of the same stripe in character, he operates the same way. He never delivers steel on time, he never makes an profit, but he´s got excellent public relations and he´s got really good political connections.
  • 15:46    |    
    There´s also Wesley Mouch; actually, I don't know to this day how his name is supposed to be pronounced, it could be Mooch, it could be Mouch, and I thinkn it´s Mouch. And you can kind of tell by the name what kind of person he is.
  • 16:03    |    
    He starts out as Rearden's man in Washington, the one that Rearden keeps in an office in Washington to let him know when the government is doing somethingn that will affect him. At a key moment, he sells out Rearden, by going along with a kind of anti-trust law that´s aimed at Rearden, and he moves his way up to Federal Bureaucracy until,n ultimately, he becomes the economic Czar of the country.
  • 16:34    |    
    And then, there´s the State Science Institute, a government body, with a truly Machiavellian power-hungry Executive Director, named Floyd Ferris, who attacksn Rearden Metal, without evidence, as unsafe and a possible danger to the public.
  • 16:50    |    
    So, but over and above all these obstacles the individuals are placing in the way of Hank and Dagny, as well as the other genuine producers, the more minorn characters in the novel, in addition to all of this, there´s something probably wrong with the world.
  • 17:09    |    
    The society seems to be at some kind of decline, buildings and machinery are in disrepair; things break and don´t get fixed; businesses close or cut back;n company people are hard to find. Economically, it seems like a recession, but it´s also a recession of the spirit, a mood of despair, utility, and resignation.
  • 17:37    |    
    That´s captured in what has become a popular expression: Who´s John Galt? An odd thing about this state of affairs too, is that a number of highly talentedn people seem to just be disappearing, resigning at the peak of their careers or success; or extremely gifted young-people opting out of a career path and taking menial jobs. Why?
  • 18:04    |    
    While working against seemingly impossible odds, Dagny succeeds in completing the Colorado branch line, which she has named The John Galt Line, in an act ofn defiance against this popular mood. Rearden, works closely with her, is the first showcase of his metal and they soon become lovers.
  • 18:26    |    
    Rand´s description of the first run of the John Galt Line, is one of the most vivid and powerful things she ever wrote. It is vivid in describing the trainsn motion, as it hurdled through the mountainous terrains, around curves, held to by its force by the thin ribbons of Rearden Metal track. It is powerful in the inner reflections that Dagny hasn about what this experience means to her as the one who did it, the one who achieved it.
  • 18:55    |    
    Unfortunately however, their triumph is short-lived, the government's control over the economy has been growing; the public resents the business boom inn Colorado; it's clamoring for special tax on that state, it's clamoring for a law that requires equal train service to all parts of the country, no matter how much commerce or traffic theren is.
  • 19:19    |    
    Now that the worth of Rearden Metal has been proven, everyone wants some, and the government steps in to allocate it, telling Rearden how much he can selln and to whom.
  • 19:29    |    
    The only bright spot in the picture is that Dagny and Rearden, on a vacation trip, find a motor in an old-abandoned factory. It´s a motor that appears ton have been a technological breakthrough, operating by a new form of energy, that would´ve taken a scientific breakthrough to have recognized and put it and made to work in a piece ofn technology.
  • 20:00    |    
    What´s it doing in a junkie, in an old factory? And what happened to the genius that must´ve invented it? Well, as Dagny tries to solve that mystery byn finding that genius, she would love to have this motor drive her trains; as well as the mystery of why these talented people are disappearing. She´s increasingly convinced that then disappearances is some kind of organized plot.
  • 20:29    |    
    And eventually, she discovers, ...but wait, wait, Atlas is a mystery novel, if you have not read it, but would like to, I do not want to spoil the suspensen and pleasure of finding the solution to the mystery. So, if that is the case with any of you, I hereby grant my permission as the speaker to cover your ears or bring out your iPod or headphonesn for the next paragraph because it´s a spoiler.
  • 21:06    |    
    So eventually, eventually, Dagny discovers that indeed there is such a plot, it is led by the man who invented the motor, of all things, and they are engagedn in a strike, a very unusual strike. A strike of the producers, the capitalists, and it´s a strike to withdraw, they´re not demanding anything from society, except the right to be left alone andn to produce and trade freely.
  • 21:35    |    
    But meanwhile, they are withdrawing their talent and their work, and their ability to create wealth from a society that dishonors their work, even as it´sn expropriating the product.
  • 21:46    |    
    They´ve set a condition for their return, the recognition of their right to produce and to trade freely, without state interference. In effect, they are onn strike to bring about a capitalist revolution. Their leader, John Galt, turns out he is a real person, has issued the call: Capitalists of the world unite!
  • 22:12    |    
    Now the moral philosophy, ok you can now take your iPod headphones off, the moral philosophy embodied in the strike, can be broken down I think, into threen broad themes that represent the ideal content of the novel.
  • 22:27    |    
    There are actually a multitude of ideas that are dramatized, an entire philosophy really, but these three, I think are the essential ones, and if you comen away tonight with these three ideas in mind, you will have a sense of what this book is about, and can decide whether it´s something you want to pursue.
  • 22:49    |    
    Those three ideas, I´ve given the following titles, number one: The Glory of Production; number two, The Morality of Self- Interest; and number three, Then Justice of Trade. And I´m going to go say a few words about each of them.
  • 23:03    |    
    At the beginning of Atlas Shrugged, Eddie Willers recalls a childhood conversation he had with Dagny Taggart. Eddie Willers was a childhood friend and growsn up to become Dagny's Executive Assistant, he´s vice president level or assistant to vice president.
  • 23:21    |    
    But at the beginning of the novel, he´s walking along the streets of New York and he recalls a conversation that he had had with Dagny as a child; you wantn to do something great ,I mean the two of us, together? What? she asked.
  • 23:40    |    
    He said, "I dont know, that´s what we ought to find out. Not just what you said, not just business and earning a living, things like winning battles orn saving people out of fires, or climbing mountains. The minister said last Sunday, that we must always reach for the best within us. What do you suppose is the best within us?
  • 23:57    |    
    By the end of the novel, Eddie knows the answer to that question; thinking back to that reflection, he says, I said not business or earning a living, butn Dagny, business and earning a living and that a man which makes it possible, that is the best within us, that was the thing to defend.
  • 24:16    |    
    Ayn Rand regarded the core human capacity and achievement excellence as the ability to create and achieve, to produce, to create things. The novel focuses onn the creation of wealth because that is the one that is least often recognized as a moral attribute. Although, the point applies to any form of creation.
  • 24:44    |    
    And Hank Rearden is the character who provides the full template for Rand´s concept of the producer as a hero. He is truly the Atlas of the world's title,n the one who supports the world on his shoulders by creating wealth.
  • 25:00    |    
    He came from poverty, he began working in the Minnesota mines, at age fourteen, he worked, learned and saved, until he bought the mines. Then he bought ann abandoned steel plan and then coal mines, from which he built the most powerful steel company in the business, and then, spent ten years of research and experiment to invent a new metal alloyn that was better than steel.
  • 25:25    |    
    Its character is shown in countless ways throughout the novel; Rearden is a man of purpose and vision, with a self-generated will to pursue that vision inn reality.
  • 25:34    |    
    When the first teed of Rearden metal is poured, he thinks back of what kept him going through the exhausting process of developing the metal, doing then research, trial and error, the one thought - and this is from the novel- the one thought held immovable across his mind for ten years, under everything he did and everything he saw;
  • 25:52    |    
    the thought held in his mind when he looked at the buildings of the city, at the track of a railroad, at the light in the windows of a distant farmhouse, atn the knife in the hands of a beautiful woman cutting a piece of fruit at a banquet; the thought of a metal alloy that would do more than steel had ever done; a metal alloy that would be to steeln what steel had been to iron.
  • 26:12    |    
    That, Rand suggests us, is the kind of creative vision and dedication that is possible to human beings and possible in all walks of life, including then entrepreneurial business walk of life.
  • 26:25    |    
    Rearden was a man who takes responsibilities for all his decisions and actions; not just in business, but in every part of his life. He was his own harshestn task master and judge.
  • 26:40    |    
    At the root of his character and infusing all of his other traits was an absolute commitment to objectivity, to accepting facts as facts, without evasion,n without wishful thinking. He not only had a brilliant creative mind as a point of intellect, as a point of talent and capacity, he was committed also to using his mind to the fullest, ton understanding the world, to finding the truth, and to speaking it honestly.
  • 27:09    |    
    In other words, he not only had a highly developed capacity for reason, he had the virtue of rationality; and finally, he was a man of pride in himself andn all of his accomplishments, manifested in many ways throughout the novel.
  • 27:31    |    
    Including many of his conflicts with the government, which I will leave you to discover for yourselves, because they are highly exciting scenes, and forn people from, I think our stand point, extremely gratifying scenes.
  • 27:41    |    
    One of the things Rand conveys about production over and over again, in many different forms, is that the source of material achievements in wealth lies inn the spirit of the producers.
  • 27:53    |    
    Early in the novel we see Dagny again, this an interior reflection, she looks up at the Taggart Transcontinental Building in New York City, where the centraln offices are and she thinks; what is it that keeps that building standing. It´s not the concrete that it rests on, but the trains, the motion of the trains rolling across the continent.
  • 28:14    |    
    Now that´s a metaphorical way to think, obviously in a literal sense the building stands on concrete, but the point is that what makes it possible for thatn building to exist and to be the physical edifice it is, is that is the enterprise involved in the operation of an entire transcontinental train system.
  • 28:36    |    
    And underneath that, the dedication and vision of those who created and operated, and that without that, the building would just be piles of brick and wouldn not last long.
  • 28:47    |    
    The point being that production is not a sheerly materialistic affair in the way it is often regarded; and indeed, when the spirit is gone, and what we seen through the novel is the spirit of production, talent, and creative power, draining away from the society, what´s left is the mere physical stuff, and it has no power to enrich human livesn anymore.
  • 29:20    |    
    There are many scenes of this and they´re quite hunting. In one particular scene when Dagny and Hank are, when they find the abandoned factory, where there´sn that motor, they pass through a country side that is deep and declined because the factory has gone out of business.
  • 29:38    |    
    And what they find is that people are living in basically pre-industrial conditions. There are still the products of technology, the relics and reminiscesn technology left, but they´re not being used for their technological purpose, they´re just being used as, for accidental purposes that their shapes kind of allow.
  • 30:01    |    
    There is a telegraph wire, that´s being used as a clothe line to dry clothes; there´s no telegraph communication left; there´s an engine block, but it´s justn sitting out there no longer driving a motor vehicle, but is being used as a flowerpot to decorate someones home.
  • 30:22    |    
    That´s not what wealth is, wealth is the animated physical structures that are created and maintained and sustained by human mind and spirit.
  • 30:34    |    
    And at that respect, I think Rand oppose was challenging an old prejudice that material production is a lesser, more mundane, mechanical, purelyn materialistic affair. This has been a parcel of western, many western and other cultures, and is still today not uncommon to hear the expression.
  • 31:00    |    
    Even in the nineteenth century, after the industrial revolution, after the beginnings of the explosion of wealth and standards of living, and creativity, andn the creation of whole new products and industries,
  • 31:11    |    
    even after all of that was visible, a great mind, Mathew Arnold, who was a prominent and really towering English critic and educator, would write, and it´s an quote from him "Which is more admirable, the England that produced coal and railroads or the England that produced Shakespeare and Johnson?"
  • 31:38    |    
    Well, he intended that as a rhetorical question, all right-thinking people would´ve said Shakespeare and Johnson, I think Rand would´ve said "both good; alln good, all creative".
  • 31:53    |    
    At one point in Atlas, a composer kind of puts that kind of thought in words, he says, and this is Richard Halley for those of you familiar with the book, hen says: "whether it´s a symphony or a coal mine, all work is an act of creating and it comes from the same source; from an unviolate capacity to see through ones own eyes.
  • 32:12    |    
    That shining vision, which they talk about as belonging to the authors of symphonies and novels, what do they think is it driving faculty of men who discovern how to use oil, how to run a mine, how to build an electric motor?
  • 32:28    |    
    So, the first key to Rand's conception of, moral conception of capitalism, what I'm calling the Glory of Production, is the point that productive achievementn is the essence of what she considers to be the human ideal of human beings as they can be and ought to be.
  • 32:44    |    
    She's not making or not just making the economic point that capitalism excells in permitting and encouraging the production of material wealth; althoughn that´s important and she is fully aware of and supportive of that, but she´s going making the additional point that capitalism protects and rewards those human qualities that make suchn production possible; it protects and rewards the best within us.
  • 33:16    |    
    The second core idea, the morality of self-interest, is one that also has to be on the short list of the really, truly revolutionary ideas that Rand putn forward. In the market system of capitalism individuals are free and, typically, do pursue their self-interest and the economics of the market.
  • 33:42    |    
    Assume that and go on to show how the interactions of people pursuing their self-interest are harmonized and coordinated through price mechanisms of then market. However, the fact that there is self-interesting driving the process, has always created a moral problem for defenders of capitalism, because of the moral tradition of altruism.
  • 34:12    |    
    Virtually, every code of morality in history has said that helping others is thecore principle of ethics. That self-sacrifice is the noblest thing you cann do, that we should all try to put service over self. And because of that moral sentiment, capitalism, historically and to this day, was widely conceived, widely thought of as conceived inn sin.
  • 34:42    |    
    The pursuit of wealth fell under the shadow of injunctions against selfishness and avarice. And the early students of spontaneous order, including Adamn Smith, Bernard Mandevilleb, Adam Ferguson, were all conscious that they were asserting a moral paradox.
  • 34:59    |    
    The paradox is, as Mandeville put it, that private vices could produce public benefits, and as a result, advocates of the free markets tend to focus on then economic efficiency of the market and its general benefits to society.
  • 35:15    |    
    But at the same time, the critics of capitalism have always attacked it as founded on selfishness. Long before he wrote Das Kapital,Karl Marx, was writingn essays that denounced capitalism as immoral and, the system as immoral, not just that capitalist that he thought were exploiting workers. He denounced as immoral the entire classical liberaln philosophy of individual rights.
  • 35:40    |    
    Here is what he said in one of his essays: "None of this supposed rights of man, therefore, go beyond the egoistic man that is an individual separated fromn the community, only preoccupied with his private interest and acting in accordance with his private caprice."
  • 35:57    |    
    Marx's advocacy and development of socialism was driven, not simply by an economic theory representing Das Kapital,but by his more fundamental moral enemiesn against capitalism.
  • 36:14    |    
    Later in the nineteenth century, Beatrice Webb, who is a prominent member of the Fabian Socialists in Britain, which were perhaps the single-most influentialn group in bringing about the British welfare state, Beatrice Webb, I think, described her attitude and that of her fellows in a very clear way, she said, "socialism is an attempt to transfer then impulse of self-subordinating service from God to man."
  • 36:45    |    
    So that instead of living for God now you live for other human beings. It´s undoubtedly this kind of impulse that explains why socialism was such a popularn cause. It could not have been Marx's economic theories, it could not have been that millions of people rallied to the cause of socialism because they were enamored with Das Kapital.
  • 37:06    |    
    I think it´s obvious that it was rather the idea of socialism as an ethical system, one that´s founded on sharing, on the brotherhood of man, on giving ton each other on the basis of need.
  • 37:19    |    
    And today that same altruist moral premise lie behind the frequent attacks on business and the profit motive especially as greedy, which we see everyday inn the press and in popular television programs, that feature business people as villains and so forth.
  • 37:36    |    
    And we also see it in the tendency of some, many highly successful business people, to feel that they must, in somehow, engage in philanthropy to justify then wealth they have acquired, rather than taking pride in the fact that, that wealth represents a value that they created in the course of earning that, the wealth, and needs no further apology,n on the contrary it should be a matter of pride.
  • 38:06    |    
    So Rand´s defense of self-interest and her criticism of the altruist morality, are really the most radical features of Atlasand she put it in the title of an later work she subscribed to, The Virtue of Selfishness.
  • 38:21    |    
    There are many instances in the book, but the one that always strikes me most powerfully, is a scene in which Hank Rearden is on trial for having violatedn one of the idiotic economic regulations that have eluded him from doing business,
  • 38:39    |    
    that makes every rational sense, that´s otherwise honest and straight forward, but it violates some regulation and, of course that´s probably the intend ofn the regulations, to catch people like him.
  • 38:49    |    
    So, he´s put on trial and he can´t deny the facts of the case, but he challenges the principles behind the law and the punishment that is being heldn out.
  • 39:01    |    
    He says, "I work for nothing but my own profit, which I make by selling a product they need, to men who are willing and able to buy it; I do not produce forn their benefit at the expense of mine, and they do not buy it for my benefit at the expense of theirs.
  • 39:16    |    
    I do not sacrifice my interest to them nor do they sacrifice their´s to me. We deal as equals by mutual consent, to mutual advantage, and I am proud of everyn penny that I have earned in that matter.
  • 39:32    |    
    And I think that one passage captures all the core ideas of Rand´s conception of the pursuit of self-interest, the morality of self-interest. He takes priden in pursuing his goals; but he also practices the principle that selfishness is a virtue.
  • 39:58    |    
    I´m sorry, that virtue is itself selfish, he regards dealing with people fairly as part of what he means by the pursuit of his self-interest. Rand held, then underlying principle of her morality is that every individual is an autonomist person with a moral right to pursue his own happiness.
  • 40:19    |    
    And she really admired those who embrace the wonderful fact of their own existence and lived their lives to the fullest. But her conception of self-interestn and egoism is very different from the conventional picture of the selfish person.
  • 40:34    |    
    What she has in mind is not the kind of grasping, exploitative attempt to satisfy urges of the moment or to get money, sex or power at any cost. No, that isn the villain businessman who fit that picture, and she doesn´t think that they exhibit true selfishness because the lack of true self, or self that has some ideals in the long run, who reachn goals.
  • 41:03    |    
    So, that´s the respect in which her heroes are people of strong character, but they regard the issues of acting with justice, with rationality, with talkingn responsibility; they regard those as important themselves. So that´s what I mean by the selfishness of virtue is the corollary to the virtue of selfishness.
  • 41:26    |    
    I should say that in criticizing altruism, Rand drew a distinction between the principle of altruism itself and the issue of benevolence, and it´s ann important distinction the one that I think is not widely enough understood, but it´s key.
  • 41:46    |    
    Altruism means the principle that others must always take prestiments, all must take, in you hierarchy of values others come first and your needs fit inn second. It is really truly a doctrine of belonging to and regarding oneself as belonging to our own, and the society of others.
  • 42:12    |    
    Benevolence, on the other hand, is the spirit that other people are potential values to you and you wish to live in peace and harmony with them. It may leadn you to help others, but it will do so as a choice, not as a duty.
  • 42:28    |    
    It can involve giving to others in response to a temporary crises that you can help them through, or perhaps it´s investing in someone's potential, where youn can make a difference, and help someone achieve goals that will add value to the world and maybe your world,
  • 42:46    |    
    but it does not mean, and could not cover, offering people at large a blank check of all ones time and efforts, to meat all the suffering there is in then world.
  • 43:00    |    
    And there are many scenes of true benevolence in the novel, alongside scenes in which people stand up for their rights to live for themselves. I wrote a bookn on the objectivist view of benevolence as a moral principle called Unrugged Individualism: the selfish basis of benevolence. And there are many examples I draw from the novels in there.
  • 43:24    |    
    So, we´ve talked about two core ideas, The Glory of Production and The Morality of Self-interest; the last one is The Justice of Trade, and I think I can ben a little briefer here, because this is the one that is most closely tied in with economics, which this audience, I´ve been very happy to learn is, all well-versed in economic theory, whatevern your other studies may lead to.
  • 43:49    |    
    And I salute the designers of the curriculum for making that decision. So let me just say that for Rand, trade, the core action in a market, trade is notn merely an economic phenomena, it is a moral relationship between people. It is, what´s the nature of trade?
  • 44:12    |    
    Trade is a voluntary interaction, first of all is voluntary, and secondly, it is to mutual benefit. Trade, because is voluntary, will occur only if bothn sides feel that they are gaining something and realize that they can´t expect others to provide the value they want unless that they provide value in return.
  • 44:36    |    
    So, it also, is a way of treating others as equals, as Rearden said, as "independent equals". And I can´t think of any more fundamental principle of mutualn respect. I think by contrast, regarding each other as means to an end, in one vast collective is not, in anyway, consistent with mutual respect and harmony.
  • 45:09    |    
    Rand's concept of trade was extended beyond the economic sphere to include other kinds of interactions between people, such as the exchange of ideas andn information,
  • 45:23    |    
    where people may not be doing so in a market structure where they´re buying and selling books or services, but rather just talking and exchanging, but stilln there, there´s, if it is voluntary, conversations happen because both parties deliver and expect to get some value from it.
  • 45:44    |    
    And even personal relationships, including love, work by... best, when they are relationships between people who are independent and do not want somethingn for nothing, do not want to be loved for their vices, and do not love the other for their vices. So, no goods change hands necessarily, as in market exchange, but still, the principle ofn voluntary and mutual advantage apply.
  • 46:24    |    
    Indeed, Rand made what she called the trader principle, that one should conduct one´s relations with others on the basis of trade, is really the core of hern social ethics. And the antithesis of trade, the only real alternative to trade is power. Power is the effort to get something by bringing another person's mind and effort under one'sn control.
  • 46:52    |    
    It is, therefore, not voluntary, is an attempt to bypass the voluntary choice of the other; and typically, it is your effort, if you are the power wielder,n it is your effort to get something without having to provide a value to the other.
  • 47:11    |    
    You do not offer a positive, you offer a negative, the fear of harm to you or death; your money or your life, in the old highway robbery expression. It isn typically a negative sum transaction in economic term, as opposed to the positive sum transactions that is of the very nature of trade.
  • 47:34    |    
    Now, every society, I think, has some mix of trade and power as operating principles in the social structure. One of the fascinating things about Atlasn Shrugged as a novel, is that it tracks the replacement of trade by power, over the course of a spell of years.
  • 47:59    |    
    And it traces, step by step, all of the consequences, including the economic consequences, the unintended effects of government regulations, the othern problems that must be solved by further regulations, it illustrates and shows how people being fleeing from responsibility, because they do not know what they can expect or what kind of penaltyn they can expect for stepping out of line.
  • 48:26    |    
    You have black markets arising when goods are banned; you have people with political power making more money than the people who actually produce goods andn services honestly; and finally, with the complete abandonment of markets, you end up with a state in which no rational allocation of resources is possible. Businesses just can´t plan.
  • 48:50    |    
    And Rand was a very careful student of economics, she actually, was very familiar with the Mises theories and a great admirer of his. And I think also notn just the positive economics of human action, but the looks on socialism, which, I´m sure, so well describe the experience that she lived through.
  • 49:12    |    
    So, the key ideas just to summarize, that you find in Atlas Shrugged and that represent the intellectual revolution in my judgment, are the glory ofn production, the honor it deserves as a human activity, the morality of self-interest, and the justice of trade. I think every social system has to have some moral foundation, something thatn justifies its political and economic arrangement and prescriptions.
  • 49:50    |    
    I truly believe that people must have some sense of what to expect and they desire some sense that they´re living in a reasonable and just system by whatevern standard of justice they have, and if they don´t have that sense, as many people in the world today do not, it´s still something they yearn for and would like.
  • 50:16    |    
    Socialism laid such a foundation and, I think, as I said before, that that was the reason that attracted millions of people and it became the reality that itn was and despite what I think anyone could´ve predicted, it´s the totalitarian awful oppressive nature of the system in practice.
  • 50:37    |    
    Capitalism needs such an ideal, not simply an economic justification, but an account of why it honors and protects a rational morality on the part ofn individuals, and why its social structure is just by a rational standard of fairness and justice.
  • 50:58    |    
    That´s the sense in which I think Rand is proposing a revolution in ideas to accompany and explain the revolution in the plot, and the story of the noveln that makes it such an exciting read. I urge you all to take a look and I hope you´ll think about those core ideas. Thank you for listening.
  • 51:40    |    
    Question:I was wondering, what do you think about the basic difference between the philosophy of the Atlas Shrugged and the one of The Fountainhead?
  • 51:50    |    
    DK:I think they´re, I would say, predominantly, that the philosophy of Atlas Shruggedis a further development and elaboration of the ideas in Then Fountainhead.
  • 52:07    |    
    In The Fountainhead the core theme is individualism, and at that time Rand thought of individualism as the essence of her philosophy and stressed the issuesn of independent judgement. In The Fountainhead, she was stressing the issues of independence of sprit, integrity of spirit, and most of everything else that she presented in Atlas Shrugged, isn there in principle if you look for it; about rationality and achievement, and freedom.
  • 52:43    |    
    But it's not primarily about a society and the principles of politics, it´s really about Roark as an individual ,and the conflicts he has with othern individuals because of his character and the underlying values of that character. So I would just say Atlas is more, a fuller account and also one that has more emphasis on the politicaln aspects.
  • 53:09    |    
    Question:Dr. Kelley, I believe you own Atlas Shrugged rights to do the film, the movie. I don´t know if I am right, if I am right, you own them how is thisn stage, this project running?
  • 53:37    |    
    DK: I don´t own them, if I did I would be either, much richer or much poorer, than I am. They are owned, the film rights were acquired by a business mann named John Aglialoro, who was a long-time objectivist and he wanted to see the movie made so he bought the rights, and for fifteen years now he has tried to get a movie made.
  • 54:04    |    
    The current project, we think is going to be successful, it´s farther along than any previous project has ever come. And, as you may know, there have beenn efforts to make some form of adaptation of this film, since the time Ayn Rand herself was alive and we´re doing some work on screen play.
  • 54:25    |    
    In any case, the current project is to make a single feature film. There is a script, which is now being edited in some way, but it will be finalized soon.n There is a Hollywood studio, Lionsgate, which is a successful studio, not the biggest, but amply big enough to fund and distribute this film.
  • 54:56    |    
    There is the production, the corporation, which has worked for many years with John Aglialoro until they finally, in arranging to making this all happen, hasn stayed in the course.
  • 55:12    |    
    And the role of Dagny Taggart, it has been cast, Angelina Jolie will play that role, it´s something that she sought out herself, and apparently, I have notn met her myself, but apparently she feels very strongly about the book and about making the movie consistent in ideas with the book.
  • 55:35    |    
    We now have a director, that was the most recent addition, and the one that we are all waiting for to, in effect, reach the point of what in the movien industry they call greenlighting the movie, that is the studio will authorize the project to go forward, authorize the spending of money, authorize the hiring of the cast and so forth.
  • 55:55    |    
    So we´re optimistic. But in the other hand, if you´ve ever watched a movie all the way through the final credits, and seen how many different people aren involved, how many different, just producers, and co-producers, and not to mention the crew, and all the way down; a lot of things have to happen in harmony for a movie to happen.
  • 56:18    |    
    So, you always have to feel it´s... nothing is in the bag until it happens, but I am optimistic and I certainly look forward to seeing the film come out inn within, possibly 18 months. If there´s no hitch, it would be within 18 months.
  • 56:44    |    
    Question:In your opinion, what society resembles more the Laissez Fairecapitalism in Atlas Shrugged? Which country?
  • 56:58    |    
    DK:Which society? Which country today? There are so many factors it´s hard to say, no country has a genuine free market, at least all countries I know. Theren are smaller...
  • 57:21    |    
    Hong Kong, to some extent, Singapore have freer markets in many respects than larger countries, including the U.S.; and there are several different indexes,n indeces of economic freedom where people actually try to measure countries on various factors, on which New Zealand, U.S., Ireland, for a while, as well as Singapore, and Hong Kong, have rankedn fairly high.
  • 57:53    |    
    I´m sure that there are people in the room here who are more up-to-date on this than I am; and yet, none of them are very close to the free society, andn also, I think from Rand's standpoint, it´s not all about the money so to speak,
  • 58:14    |    
    it´s not all about the economic freedom, but also includes a kind of culture. Which countries are the most accepting of individualism, and most appreciative,n and supportive of achievement in different realms.
  • 58:27    |    
    I think America ranks, I am sorry the United States, we´re all America, the United States ranks fairly high on that because of its history, but culture isn something that´s a lot more difficult to measure than economics, and I don't really know enough other countries to draw conclusions beyond that.
  • 58:53    |    
    I´m hoping, I´m certainly looking forward to the day when I will move to Guatemala, because the University has so transformed the society here that it willn be Galt's culture.
  • 59:07    |    
    Question: Earlier you mentioned the kind of villain businessman, the one that is not moral, but most of the time you see that there are a lot of these typesn of businessmen in the world because they feel that´s the only way to succeed. I was wondering, how would you persuade somebody like that, that is against his own interest to take advantage ofn other people, to pay wages that are not fair to his employees, or to be ruthless in undermining the competition in immoral ways?
  • 59:51    |    
    DK:I think that, what I would say to that is, that when you look at any profession, any line of work, there are both internal and external forces that leadn people to act well.
  • 01:00:18    |    
    The external forces are the economic incentives of competition and the fact that people who are mistreated, employees or customers or investors orn whatever, can go elsewhere.
  • 01:00:28    |    
    So, anyone engaged briefly in any kind of business that involves repeat business with multiple exchanges and customers or long-term relations withn employees has an external incentive, whatever his internal feelings are, to deal fairly, or at least in a way that are mutually accepted by the other parties.
  • 01:00:51    |    
    Internally, however, we rely on people´s character and their moral principles. And I think for all the power of economic incentives you cannot evern replace that, but that is a realm of, not of social science and what are the forces that constrain people, but rather of morality and what are the decisions they ought to make.
  • 01:01:18    |    
    And the whole point of morality is that people do not always act as they should, they need standards. I think there´s no reason to think that people inn business are, the frequency of malefeasance is higher in business than in any other profession such as doctors or university professors, for example, that in a lot of cases I can tell youn stories.
  • 01:01:52    |    
    But there´s another part of your question and it´s a very difficult one; in a mixed economy where in your own business, the prospects of the operation ofn your business depends on government or is affected by government in ways that are not up to you, you can´t just stop now because it´s part of the coercive governmental structures of laws andn regulations.
  • 01:02:15    |    
    How do you deal with that? All of us, all people who are participants in any kind of society that has a mixed economy and elements of a welfare state, isn both, recipient and victim, of ill-gotten gains, so to speak. Right?
  • 01:02:35    |    
    We all drive on public roads, there are many ways in which we take retirement funds, on the other hand, we are sought with taxes that take our money, orn we don´t get justice from the courts because of political connections on the part of the other people, whatever it might be.
  • 01:02:53    |    
    So, now you have to say, well first of all, I can´t sacrifice my self-interest completely in the effort to back away from all taint of dealing with then government or benefiting in any way, because that´s just suicidal: Nothing in a morality of self-interest in life can demand that you completely impoverish yourself and destroy all yourn prospects of happiness by having to be a self-sufficient farmer,
  • 01:03:24    |    
    unless you receive any subsidies in any way, and in business in particular, I draw a distinction between those business who have men in Washington, thatn is who have lobbyists, to protect themselves against new regulation or expropriation, versus those whose main goal is to get new subsidies or regulations at the cost of someone else.
  • 01:03:55    |    
    I mean, in economic terms, there´s a distinction between those who are just trying to avoid penalties and those who are rent-seekers, trying to get gainsn by means other than fair trade. How do you convince them? Well that´s why I raise the issue of character, if a person is by nature a rent-seeker, someone who wants to, has no moral scruplen against getting gains through co-opting the coercive power of government.
  • 01:04:23    |    
    There´s not much you can say, except to express your judgment of how contemptible that is. But you cannot blame, I think, business people who aren genuinely just attempting to defend themselves and in the complexity of modern economy and in the complexity of regulations, it´s not always easy to tell what the difference is.
  • 01:04:49    |    
    That´s one of the really big social and moral problems of mixed economy is that it creates conflicts of interest, where you can´t help either sacrificingn some part of your interest to some extent or sacrificing someone else.
  • 01:05:08    |    
    Because the posisiblity of a genuinely voluntary transaction has just been suspended by government intervention and that´s a very tragic thing. So,n there´s no easy answer, but it takes a lot of judgment on the part of people, and it´s too bad that now that political judgment has to be added to all the other judgments it takes to be a CEOn of a corporation.
  • 01:05:36    |    
    Question:Dr. Kelley, this conference is being webcasted and we got a question through the web, it says: How could there exist morality withoutn religion?
  • 01:05:48    |    
    DK:This is, many of the moral codes that´ve been predominant to rule history did emerge from world religions, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism,n Hinduism, and those who are believers and see the morality as pacts by the injunction of a higher power,
  • 01:06:28    |    
    naturally you think that the basis for morality and what makes morality true is that high power, so, how can you have morality without religion. On then other hand, there is in Ayn Rand's view, morality is something that human beings need because they live in this world as a rational beings who, like any other species of living beings, have ton maintain their lives by acting to support it.
  • 01:06:59    |    
    But in the case of humans need to conceptual principles for identifying what it is they need to have successful lives and what capacities they have thatn will enable them to satisfy those needs.
  • 01:07:19    |    
    So, a morality is, therefore, grounded to what is good or bad depending on what our nature is and how it can support successful flourishing lives and thatn is the basis of morality. And if we ask how can there be a science of medicine; well, medicine and the prescriptions about your health, what to do to be healthy.
  • 01:07:44    |    
    those are rooted, in this case, in the physiological nature that medical science has discovered; ethics is very much like medicine in that respect, it´sn rooted in our nature.
  • 01:07:58    |    
    This is a point of view that is more secular and it is also less commonly known, it has a long tradition in philosophy in the different works of the Greekn philosophers, and their Statillian tradition, which has influenced many later thinkers, and I would put Ayn Rand and Objectivism in that context also.
  • 01:08:42    |    
    David, thank you so much. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to present to you this as a token of our appreciation, thank you so muchn David, I appreciate it. - Thank you. - Before you leave, I´d like to just mention that, you haven´t seen it already, I would be amazed,
  • 01:09:11    |    
    but we have a wonderful relief sculpture outside of this building, on the façade and we are lucky enough to have the artist of the sculpture here, I wouldn like to present him to you, Walter Peter Brenner.
  • 01:09:30    |    
    And for those of you who were here yesterday and heard me read the citation we have or quotation, we have underneath the relief sculpture, I´m going ton read it, but now I will read it in English; and I think it´s a wonderful inspiration and I hope the young people who are here, listen to it carefully and read it when they are looking at then sculpture.
  • 01:09:57    |    
    And this is what is says, it´s a quotation from a certain part of the book, a very famous part of the book, and I´ll read it to you,
  • 01:10:05    |    
    "In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not letn your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title.
  • 01:10:29    |    
    Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let yourn fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at- all.
  • 01:10:55    |    
    Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life that you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and then nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours."
  • 01:11:22    |    
    Thank you very much, good night.



Share

Video:

Embed:

The Capitalist Ideal: The Moral Vision of Atlas Shrugged

12 de octubre de 2007   | Vistas: 2229 |  

Fifty years ago, Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged, a revolutionary novel that harshly attacks socialism and collectivism and defends economic freedom, individualism and laissez-faire. The plot of this novel is the struggle of individualist and entrepreneurial producers against arbitrary regulations and political pressure of lobbyists who favor government intervention and subsidies. Its moral vision revolves around three core ideas: the glory of production, the morality of self-interest and the justice of trade. Its importance, besides providing a positive and enthusiastic portrait of businessmen, is that it defines capitalism, the mutual benefits of trade, and the limitations of government.




David Kelley is the founder and Senior Fellow of the Atlas Society. He holds a PhD from Princeton University and…

IDEAS DE LA LIBERTAD

Nuestra misión es la enseñanza y difusión de los principios éticos, jurídicos y económicos de una sociedad de personas libres y responsables.

Universidad Francisco Marroquín