Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is a novel of ideas, a suspense narrative based on Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. Those ideas come across, scene by scene, in the film adaptation. In these short, engaging videos, philosopher David Kelley, a script consultant on the movie trilogy, plays excerpts from the films and discusses their philosophical meaning.
 Economic power is the ability to buy and sell, the ability to make contracts. It's power exerted in the marketplace, in the context of trade. Political power is the power of government and power obtained through the political process, such as by getting laws passed favoring the your purposes. Both economic power and political power are instances of control over others.
Political controversies and protests are often dominated by the theme of rights or individual rights. We hear about a "right to health care," a "right to education," even a "right to high-speed Internet." In California, one man has even claimed a "right to longboard" on city sidewalks. Others claim there is no "right to health care" because such a right entails forcing others to pay for one's health care--and coercion they say is a violation of individual rights. How can we make sense of competing claims to rights?
The Declaration of Independence states that the purpose of government is to secure the rights of man. Most Americans know and assent to the stirring words: We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. These words are immortal; they are what America stands for. Sadly, they now apparently mean next to nothing. What Rights Are What does it mean to have rights? A right is an absolute political claim. If you have right to some land, other people ought to permit you to have it. If you have a right to vote, nobody should prevent you from voting. If animals have rights, then we mean that no one ought to harm them. Rights are political claims because they pertain to what the law can or can’t force you to do, and what it can or can’t force others to do for you. Rights are not a physical property of human beings. They aren’t encoded in your DNA, rooted in your hair follicles, or readable via an iris-scanner. But they aren’t just a moral fashion statement, either: it’s wrong to say someone has a right simply to cheer for whatever the right stands for. I think it would be grand if people would travel to Mars. However, that alone doesn’t give someone a right to travel to Mars. Moreover, if you have a right, you have a right to do wrong, too. Your right to vote isn’t just a right to vote for good...

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