In Book 2, Chapter 6 of Atlas Shrugged, on May 15,  Dr. Lloyd Ferris, head of the State Science Institute, extorts from Henry Rearden the patented process for making Rearden Metal, and Ayn Rand brings the storyline for Rearden Metal to a close. The chain of events leading up to Rearden's signing away his life’s work is intricate and involved, and you’ll need to read Atlas Shrugged if you want to follow it all – or at least check out our new Pocket Guide to Atlas Shrugged – but the chapter gives a good overview, and is worth a review. The chapter begins in a conference room filled with bureaucrats (chief among them Wesley Mouch, Clem Weatherby, and Head of State Mr. Thompson – a man so nondescript Rand doesn’t bother to give him a first name), crony capitalists (James Taggart and Orren Boyle), a former banker (Eugene Lawson), a union leader (Fred Kinnan), and one government scientist (Dr. Ferris). These men, after years of government regulation, rent seeking, and labor strikes, have finally succeeded in grinding the economy of the United States to a halt, and they are meeting to discuss what to do next. Not that they meant to shut the country down. Their planned economy, so many years in the making, was supposed to work. Still, the year-over-year losses are devastating; Mr. Weatherby is...
There are some plagues that mankind seems to be incapable of fully destroying. One of these plagues is slavery, which has existed since man moved from being a hunter-gatherer to agriculture. Slavery is the condition where an individual is deprived of much of the product he or she produces and often all or much of their property. The ancient Greeks held slaves. The Romans held slaves. The Chinese held slaves. The Ottoman Turks held slaves. Serfdom, a less restricted form of slavery, existed in Europe from the fall of Rome until it was finally abolished in Russia in 1861. The harsher forms of slavery existed in Europe and most of the rest of the world until the 19th century –– when it was peacefully abolished in many countries, such as England, or through violent clashes, such as the U. S. Civil War. By 1900 most of the “civilized” world had abolished slavery and serfdom. But then a more lethal variant emerged under the benign names of socialism, fascism, and communism. The implementation of these ideologies resulted in governments causing the deaths of somewhere between 100 and 200 million of their own citizens in the 20th century. As in the 19th century, the peasants revolted, and late in the 20th century, those living in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union rose up and tossed off their yokes. The peoples of the world had the opportunity to...
In a bombshell report The New York Times revealed ten years of tax information showing President Donald Trump claimed financial losses of over a billion dollars, wiping out any taxable income for those years. The Times and other media claim the revelation refutes Trump’s Art of the Deal persona as a highly successful businessman: “Mr. Trump was propelled to the presidency, in part, by a self-spun narrative of business success and of setbacks triumphantly overcome,” while the leaked information by contrast “paints a different, and far bleaker, picture of his deal-making abilities.” Other critics question whether the losses were legitimate – and have seized on the story as an illustration of a tax system which fails to tax property owners and real estate entrepreneurs enough. New York Magazine’s Eric Levitz, for example, alleges that allowances for claiming loss on property depreciation (a reduction in value of a property asset over time) aren’t adequately balanced by gains in property value:  It’s an indefensible provision that, among other things, allows many landlords to pay no taxes on their rental income.” Without expertise in commercial real estate tax...
MM: Did you invent the profession of philosophical practitioner?   LA:  I thought I did, but after publication I was contacted by an officer of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association who liked the book and wanted me to review books for them.    MM: In his role as a philosophical practitioner, Eric helps people sort out their problems.  But he also tries to get them to accept that some of their problems are caused by mistakes in logic. In other words, thinking about something the wrong way is often the cause of a problem, and that thinking differently is the way to solve it. That makes sense to me. Does there necessarily have to be anything more to problem solving? LA: Well, after you consider psychological problems, logical errors, evasion, and substituting emotion for thinking,  you’ve pretty much covered the ground. You could make a case for including all those under the heading of errors in thinking, but I think it’s helpful to  draw attention to these particular categories. MM: You studied fiction writing with Ayn Rand when she gave a course of lectures in her home in 1958. I’ve read the book, The Art of Fiction, so I’m not going to ask you about the subject matter. I do want to say that it must have been amazing to work closely with her. What were your most important takeaways from the course? LA: The overriding importance of plot and concretization. Of course she thought characterization was important too, but she...
Editor’s Note: The Philosophical Practitioner, by Larry Abrams, is part of The Writers Series, our highly popular series that features novelists who were influenced by Ayn Rand. The following excerpt is the first chapter of Abrams' 2011 novel. The protagonist  is a philosophical practitioner - a new profession that emphasizes reason but doesn't slight emotions. His father's mind is going. His clients want to know how to live their lives. His now rich and famous old flame wants to get back together with him, but their lifestyles are very different. And a woman he's never seen before wants to kill him.  I had my feet up on my desk and my hands clasped behind my neck, trying once again to puzzle out why science progressed so much faster than everything else, when she walked into my office unannounced. Nothing wrong with that since I didn’t have a secretary. But she didn’t even bother to knock. She paused on the threshold for the space of a heartbeat while her dusky eyes ticked off the contents of the room – me, my desk, my computer, a desk clock, a coffee machine, and my client chair. I could see her adding these up to a sum that must have meant...

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