Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Who is lifting the world on their shoulders?

atlas

Who is lifting the world on their shoulders?

Politicians?
Philosophers?
Writers?
Philanthrophists?

None of the above. The right answer is - entrepreneurs / business folks - they are the ones lifting the world. They create new markets, promote new ideas, blaze new paths by fighting the system, fighting stereotypes, taking risks against all odds.

In this post I will introduce you to "Atlas Shrugged" - a magnum opus by Ayn Rand.  This book glorifies the entrepreneurial spirit.

The key players :

Looters

These are the scum of the society - apparently holding top positions. The top brass in the Government, the industry lobbying heads - they do not produce anything but they loot - from the business and from the public. They know only to take and not give anything. They outnumber and control the producers.

Producers

The producers are the entrepreneurs, the inventors, the innovators. They are the ones fighting the system to introduce new ideas and keep the world ticking and moving forward.

Henry Rearden
He is a business man who invents a new kind of alloy that is cheaper and stronger than steel. The Government wants it because their research institute cannot produce anything close to this. He refuses and he is threatened with sanctions, taxes, a govt official watchdog is sent to curb his production ( because the steel industry is fast becoming reduntant ). Yet he fights the system to produce his alloy.

Francisco d'Anconia
A rich man who inherits a copper smelting business owned by his family. However he destroys all his fortune - but before that he lures the looters to buy all his stock and bonds - there by making them lose big.

Dagny Taggart
She runs a rail road. Her brother belongs to the looters group and is the President of the rail road. She fights him and fights the lobby industry to keep the trains running.

John Galt
He is the key person or the hero of this book. He invents a new type of electric device which can generate electricity from air ( its fiction remember ! ) - but he refuses to share it with the world run by looters. Along with this invention he takes the other producers ( Henry Rearden, Dangy Taggart and there are more - a musician, a writer, an oil digger, a banker etc. ) from the world and moves to a world he builds himself - among the mountains unknown to the world. And he brings the world to a halt.

This book is a fat one. 1000 pages with page after page of philosophy being dished out from different angles - on almost all the professions. Then there is a section where John Galt addresses the public on radio - it is a master piece. It runs for some 40 pages if I remember correctly and has thoughts on all aspects - love, honesty, dignity..you name it.

I had written about this book in my personal blog earlier. If you are interested you  can read this post - Who is John Galt?.

If you are a bibliophile and an entrepreneur or planning to jump in - do read this book - it will give you brilliant new insights.

Some memorable quotes from the book:


"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
" - This is the oath everyone who joins John Galt should take.

Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.

Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value and, like all of man’s values, it has to be earned.

Rationality is the recognition of the fact that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving it.

The Argument from Intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence.

and finally the quote that sums it all up beautifully :

Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to become the means by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of other men. Blood, whips and guns--or dollars. Take your choice--there is no other.

4 comments:

  1. Hey,

    I am an entrepreneur and have read other books of Ayn Rand too. I don't think it is right to say that entrepreneurs are carrying burden of the world on their shoulders. I think they are playing their part on the stage of the world, like everyone else, be it a poet, writer, lawyer, doctor, politician or any one else. It's just lame to glorify one profession and look down at other. It's just a work of fiction.. read it, enjoy it and move on. I don't think you would accept less - we can't survive without doctors, and same is true for engineers, musicians or politicians. Think about it and you would appreciate the "Theory of Everything".. By the way, this book "Theory of Everything" is worth a read...

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  2. Dilip Sanyal2:34 PM

    @Saurabh: hmm...i agree there's been some relative glorification of entrepreneurs in this nice book review.. however, i feel his intention here is to separate the 'producers' from the 'obstacles in production' - those who make a living out of defending status-quo.
    Nevertheless, you've gotta agree that you and all other entrepreneurs are a breed of their own.. And nothing wrong in patting each other on the back now and then in this rather lonely journey of entrepreneurism :)

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  3. @Dilip, Thanks for pitching in!

    @Saurabh, I guess I should have made myself clear. My grouse was not on politicians, doctors, scientists etc - but the looters that exist in the system - characters in these professions who do not contribute anything - produce anything, but work the system for their own means by using others and preventing actual growth.

    The book actually glorifies the entrepreneurial spirit - which is there in every profession.

    I think I will write a separate blog post on this topic sometime.

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  4. @Dilip - I read this blog again and again and I guess I 'm convinced that the language is kind of derived from the twisted side, but I get the basic point. Though I have seen looters as entrepreneurs too trying to burn VC's money. So, it's hard to put things in black and white... Btw whats with the 'lonely journey of entrepreneur' - I used to feel lonely in my job since I define people who dream as people who I can connect with. And I am meeting lot of entrepreneurs these days so I won't definitely agree with the lonely journey concept :). But I can relate to the feeling very closely.

    @Venkat - We all love being entrepreneurs and glorify the profession as being the one which share the burden of the country/world and not lifting the entire burden.. :) .. Would love to read your more blogs.. Besties

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