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Posted August 23, 2012
Read this book. It is important.
This is a dynamic, powerful book. It is filled with in-your-face pull-no-punches logic and reason. Oh these Ayn Randians (Bernstein has written and lectured with the Ayn Rand Institute for some time). Do they never stop spouting about individual rights, freedom of choice and rational self-interest?
It is a short book, 175 pages in hard cover 6″x 9″ format. It is easily digestible although this like-able academic (I attended a 3-lecture course he gave on the book this summer, Bernstein is a pleasant, down-to-earth, nice guy) does lay down a few vocabulary words I had to explore. (Ineluctably, sedulously, farrago, abstemious, exegetically. Penury wasn't totally alien. Shudder that I should increase my vocabulary while reading.)
He starts the book with a reminder/explanation of the Relevant Principles of Objectivism. It is a good condensation for Ayn Rand readers and non-readers alike. If you're not sure you want to tackle Atlas Shrugged you can get the bare essence in simple terms here in less than 30 pages.
A few quotes:
"The proper name of Rand's moral code is: "rational egoism."
"She defines values as: "that which one acts to gain and/or keep." A value is always the object of an action-it is not a wish, a dream, or a fantasy." (Both p. 5)
"Therefore, Rand states: "Man [each man] must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.""
"In Atlas Shrugged, Rand provides a comprehensive answer. The freethinking rational mind is the fundamental means by which human beings create values."" (Both p. 9)
Part II consists of 6 chapters discussing various moral dilemmas we confront today. The first five are Environmentalism, Islamic Totalitarianism (woof! no-holds-barred here!), Health Care, Abortion Rights, and Free Market Education. The final chapter of the book has subsections discussing The Right to Bear Arms, The War on Drugs (Libertarians will love this one, waste yourself to death on drugs if you choose), Immigration, and Gay Marriage.
Epilogue - Re-stating the Theme:
"The book's theme can be re-stated succinctly: in all cases, consistent protection if individual rights and establishment of a free market constitute the solution to America's current dilemmas. There are no exceptions." (p. 175)
You get the idea. Read this book. If you value a book by the weight or number of pages rather than the conciseness of thought then it is moderately expensive. You'll find a way.
Liberal progressives (Democrats), Conservatives, and Libertarians will all find something to love and something to hate in this book (or at least disagree with). What will it be for you?
For me, I must re-read this book again soon. It is important.
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