The God of the Machine

The God of the Machine

3.6 3
by Isabel Paterson
     
 

The God of the Machine presents an original theory of history and a bold defense of individualism as the source of moral and political progress. When it was published in 1943, Isabel Paterson's work provided fresh intellectual support for the endangered American belief in individual rights, limited government, and economic freedom. The crisis of

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Overview

The God of the Machine presents an original theory of history and a bold defense of individualism as the source of moral and political progress. When it was published in 1943, Isabel Paterson's work provided fresh intellectual support for the endangered American belief in individual rights, limited government, and economic freedom. The crisis of today's collectivized nations would not have surprised Paterson; in The God of the Machine, she had explored the reasons for collectivism's failure. Her book placed her in the vanguard of the free-enterprise movement now sweeping the world.

Paterson sees the individual creative mind as the dynamo of history, and respect for the individual's God-given rights as the precondition for the enormous release of energy that produced the modern world. She sees capitalist institutions as the machinery through which human energy works, and government as a device properly used merely to cut off power to activities that threaten personal liberty.

Paterson applies her general theory to particular issues in contemporary life, such as education, .social welfare, and the causes of economic distress. She severely criticizes all but minimal application of government, including governmental interventions that most people have long taken for granted. The God of the Machine offers a challenging perspective on the continuing, worldwide debate about the nature of freedom, the uses of power, and the prospects of human betterment.

Stephen Cox's substantial introduction to The God of the Machine is a comprehensive and enlightening account of Paterson's colorful life and work. He describes The God of the Machine as "not just theory, but rhapsody, satire, diatribe, poetic narrative." Paterson's work continues to be relevant because "it exposes the moral and practical failures of collectivism, failures that are now almost universally acknowledged but are still far from universally understood." The book will be essential to students of American history, political theory, and literature.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[T]his is a brilliant and extraordinary book. . . . It is brilliant in the perceptiveness, the incisiveness, the power, the scope of its analysis that presents—in carefully chosen, dramatically illuminating essentials the history of man’s long quest for freedom, from ancient Greece to World War II. It offers an unforgettable experience: a panorama of the centuries, as seen from the elevation of a truly grand intellectual scale.” Ayn Rand, The Objectivist NewsletterThe God of the Machine remains a classic of individualist thought. But it is not a pale historical artifact, locked in its time of origin. It is focused on the great continuing issues of civilization, which it confronts with the authority of Paterson's special character and experience. . . . [Paterson] was not merely a theorist; she had the creative imagination that brings theory to life and challenges the imaginations of others. There was nobody quite like Isabel Paterson, and there is nothing quite like The God of the Machine.” —Stephen Cox, Reason “Published by Putnam’s in May 1943, The God of the Machine displayed profound insights about the development of human freedom since ancient times and about the workings of a successful social order, all expressed in a lively style. . . . Paterson develops a consistent, comprehensive, courageous world view. She denounces conscription… paper money… hypocritical businessmen who covet government subsidies… and the New Deal Wagner Act which helped establish labor union monopolies. Reflecting on the Prohibition debacle, Paterson ridicules the notion that government can set moral standards for anyone. She joyfully celebrates private property, free markets, enterprising immigrants and gold money. What fun you’re going to have discovered, or rediscovering, this sensational book.” —Jim Powell “In her classic The God of the Machine, Isabel Paterson asks a devastating question: what gives you the steam-mill? Why have some societies had enormous scientific and material development while others stagnated? . . . Paterson’s search for an answer, articulated via a sustained metaphor of the ‘engineering principles’ of political economy needed to sustain the ‘flows’ of productive human energy, takes her from ancient Greece and Rome to Medieval Europe to the American Founding. . . . Paterson’s one-time protégé Ayn Rand said of The God of the Machine: ‘It is a sparkling book, with little gems of polemical fire scattered through almost every page, ranging from bright wit to the hard glitter of logic to the quiet radiance of a profound understanding.’ Paterson’s wit, logic, and understanding still cast light today, and The God of the Machine remains a source of illumination for modern readers seeking a better understanding of the preconditions for development and freedom.” —Cato Institute, Libertarianism.org

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781560006664
Publisher:
Transaction Publishers
Publication date:
01/01/1993
Series:
Library of Conservative Thought
Edition description:
REV
Pages:
308
Sales rank:
334,811
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.82(d)

Meet the Author

Isabel Paterson (1886-1961) was a distinguished novelist, critic, and columnist for the New York Herald Tribune. Her novels include The Road of the Gods, Never Ask the End, and The Golden Vanity. Stephen Cox is professor of literature and director of the Humanities Program at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of The Woman and the Dynamo: Isabel Paterson and the Idea of America, a biography published by Transaction; Love and Logic: The Evolution of Blake’s Thought; American Christianity: The Continuing Revolution; and The Titanic Story.

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