Kategoriarkiv: Romantik

Atlas Shrugged och kärlek

Robert Tracinski skrev nyligen en lysande artikel, All An Ayn Rand Hero Really Wants Is Love, som förklarar på djupet vad Ayn Rands roman Atlas Shrugged (Och världen skälvde) handlar om.

”So sure, Ayn Rand glorified plutocrats and looked down on poor people—if you’re reading a completely different book.”[…]

”Much of the plot of Atlas Shrugged can be understood as interlocking story arcs about love and friendship.”[…]

”So if you look at Atlas just as a political parable or an economic manifesto, then complain that it’s two-dimensional, that’s because there’s a whole other level of the plot that you’re missing.”[…]

”So the answer to the paradox is that Ayn Rand doesn’t care about money so much as she cares about the things that give money value: creation, production, and the qualities of character that make it possible to create and produce.

It’s amusing that a lot of same people who talk about Ayn Rand looking down on the poor or wanting to crush the weak also complain that her writing lacks subtlety. Yet themes like this are right out there in the open, and they blithely skip over them. Apparently, it’s a little too subtle for them.”[…]

”Love is about shared values, including the value of loving the truth, loving this world, and wanting to build and create. So are Ayn Rand heroes out to make money? Yes, eventually—after they have achieved the virtues that make money possible.”

Shakespeare var banbrytande

Har tidigare tagit upp William Shakespeare här och här. Shakespeare var briljant och banbrytande på många plan. Huruvida det var han eller Edward de Vere, eller någon annan/några andra som skrev pjäserna är en diskussion jag lämnar därhän.

Shakespeare var unik för sin samtid i att belysa maktens lockelser, korruption, begränsning och demokratisering. Det var revolutionerande och får sägas ha haft betydelse för den gryende liberalismen. Tyrannen Rikard III blir offer för sitt eget godtyckliga styre. Paranoian växer med makten, ett öde som till slut drabbar alla tyranner. Henrik V är en mildare regent. Inför slaget vid Azincourt går han under natten förklädd för att lyssna på sina soldaters tankar och känslor inför det förestående slaget. Han vill förstå dem och vinna deras förtroende. Men om han nu kan prata med folket som om han vore en av dem, varifrån kommer hans rätt att vara kung? Hans makt demokratiseras, men vad skiljer honom från alla andra och varför ska han styra?

Vid sidan om detta var Shakespeare även en lysande författare av komedier och sonetter. På The Atlasphere skrev Michelle Fram Cohen en väldigt bra artikel som lyfter fram att Shakespeare huvudsakligen inte skrev tragedier, utan komedier, men också om hur tragedierna kan omvärderas.

”From a historical perspective, Shakespeare’s view of man is a quantum leap from the Middle Ages. Man is no longer a two-dimensional sinner or saint in a morality play like Everyman, or a brainless pleasure-seeker in a satire like Canterbury Tales, but a three-dimensional human being living on earth. God never plays a major role in Shakespeare’s plays and several of them take place in pagan Greece. Ulysses himself makes an appearance to present a logical view of the universe.”(…)

”When Shakespeare’s entire oeuvre is examined, what emerges is a linguistic, artistic, and psychological genius.”(…)”The perceptiveness and depth of his portrayal of a vast variety of characters from all walks of life leave no doubt about his psychological insight. His plays express vividly the souls of heroes and villains alike.”

Kenneth Branaghs lysande filmatisering av Mycket väsen för ingenting.

Rob Roy och hedersbegreppet

”Heder” är ett begrepp som har använts flitigt på olika sätt, ofta i sammanhang som egentligen inte är hedervärda, där personer med dålig självkänsla måste återupprätta något som omgivningen, samhället eller familjen förväntar sig, eller som personen tror att omgivningen förväntar sig, med risk för destruktiva följder för alla inblandade. Kirsti Minsaas visar i en bra artikelThe Atlasphere om filmen Rob Roy från 1995 hur ett sunt hedersbegrepp kan åskådliggöras. Utdrag:

In its portrayal of a distinctly moral hero, Rob Roy conforms to Ayn Rand’s Romantic credo that the highest purpose of a fictional work is to project a moral ideal, or, as she liked to phrase it, to hold up an image of “man as he might be and ought to be.” But whereas Rand, in her own fiction, aimed to present a universal moral ideal — personified in heroes who possess virtues she regarded as essential to human flourishing at any time or in any place — Rob Roy gives us a hero whose virtues are intimately bound up with the time and place in which he lives.(…)

It is worth noting that the representation of honor in Rob Roy reflects codes of conduct widely current during the 18th century. The standard view was that honor is a quality of moral nobleness and integrity, residing in a person’s character. In Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1755), for example, honor is defined as “nobility of soul, magnanimity, and a scorn of meanness.” This dates back to Aristotle, who similarly linked honor to the virtue of magnanimity.

For Aristotle, however, honor was primarily an attitude of esteem or admiration bestowed, by others, on a man of great worthiness. This notion of honor also gained currency during the 18th century. But, under the influence of a decadent aristocracy, it often lost its moral import and decayed into a claim to worthiness derived from nobility of class rather than nobility of soul, something a person of high rank saw as his rightful due by virtue of his superior social position, regardless of moral merit.

In the figure of Rob Roy, we see an honor that fully accords with the conception of honor as a moral quality. Interestingly, it also accords with Ayn Rand’s statement in her West Point address in 1974 that “Honor is self-esteem made visible in action.”

For Rob, honor is above all a matter of self-respect, grounded in his own sense of moral worth, independent of class or how he is judged by other people. This is reflected in his words to his sons that “All men that have honor are kings, but not all kings have honor…. Honor is what no man can give you and none can take away. Honor is a man’s gift to himself.” His words also indicate that he sees honor as an essentially selfish virtue, marked by a person’s unswerving loyalty to his own principles of right conduct.

Rob Roy förklarar för sina barn vad heder är.

Intervju från 1997 med Kirsti Minsaas i Full Context, en tidskrift som först publicerades 1988 för The Objectivist Club of Michigan av Karen Reedstrom (senare gift Minto) för att sedan bli internationellt spridd. Den lades tyvärr ner 2000, men jag har läst den med behållning, i synnerhet för de många intressanta intervjuerna den innehöll. Utdrag från intervjun:

”Q: You are writing a doctoral thesis about Shakespeare. How do Shakespeare and Rand compare?

Minsaas: Well, for me they are both examples of creative genius, having the power to amaze me with the incredible mental power that must have gone into their work.

Q: Are there any important similarities and differences?

Minsaas: The strange thing is that, different as they may seem to be, they are yet very similar in that they deal with the same fundamental issues regarding human existence, particularly on the moral level. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that they are both deeply steeped in ancient philosophical traditions. I am not here thinking only of Aristotle, although he certainly is important in both cases, but also of schools such as Stoicism and Epicureanism and even Platonism. What we find in the literary works of both Shakespeare and Ayn Rand are fictional explorations of the questions that concerned these ancient philosophical traditions, like: how should one live? what is the good life? what is the role of evil in man’s life? why do men fall into tragedy? what is the nature of happiness? But their way of doing this was of course very different. Generally, apart from the fact that Shakespeare wrote dramas and Rand novels, I would say that Shakespeare was a much more openly inquiring writer than Ayn Rand, less dogmatic, closer to Aristotle in fact, less concerned with teaching a doctrine and more concerned with inspiring and provoking the reader to think for himself.

Q: A lot of Objectivists think tragedy in art is automatically bundled with a malevolent sense of life. But I look at a play such as Romeo and Juliet and do not see a tragic sense of life but the author’s warning to future parents of warring families whose children may fall in love. Do you think that tragedy can have the purpose of making people grieve about third party characters and shock them into rethinking their own actions in life? That some tragedy is an effort to inspire the audience through the emotion of grief to become better people?

Minsaas: Yes, I believe these are things that tragedy, good tragedy, may do. But more important, perhaps, from an Objectivist perspective, is the fact that a tragedy, to achieve these effects, indirectly must be strongly value affirmative. It is because we sympathize with the young lovers in Romeo and Juliet, because we identify with their youthful and passionate romance, that we get mad at the parents and the feuding families. In this, the story is in fact very much like We the Living.(…)

Q: In what way can an appreciation and understanding of Shakespeare add to one’s understanding of esthetics? Of ethics?

Minsaas: The supreme value of Shakespeare, I think, lies in his mastery of translating philosophical ideas into drama, of turning different ethical codes into the stuff of dramatic conflict, experienced by thinking, feeling, living human beings. But to fully appreciate this, one has to have some knowledge of both ancient and Renaissance philosophy. Leonard Peikoff has complained about Shakespeare that his characters are not motivated by ideas but by passions, springing up from nowhere. But this is not true at all. Generally, his characters are embodiments of some ethical code or value system. Brutus, for example, in Julius Caesar, is a Stoic, who is destroyed by a rather rigid moral idealism incapable of dealing with the complexities of political reality. And Hamlet was probably meant to represent the code of the courtier that played such an important role in the Renaissance conception of the ideal man and that was popularized through Castiglione’s famous book. The Book of the Courtier. What Shakespeare does with him, however, is that he places him in a situation where he comes under pressures that put his code seriously to the test and force him to readjust it to the demands of reality. Thus, Shakespeare’s tragedies dramatize in different ways what it means to live an ethical ideal in actual reality, put up against the demands of sometimes complex and shifting social pressures. This, I think, should be of great interest to Objectivists – at least to Objectivists interested in living the philosophy rather than just preaching it to other people.(…)

Q: What do you think of the novels of the early 19th century women writers such as Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, and why do you think the revival in movies of these books is taking place?

Minsaas: I enjoy both, particularly Austen. I am not too sure about the movie revival, but it might have to do with the fact that many people (both audiences and people in the industry) are tired of the mindlessness and the value vacuum of many contemporary movies and simply go back to great literature for more substance.”

Läs även hela intervjun!

Peace and quiet


Baby I’m A Fool för frid i sinnet.

God Jul & Gott Nytt År!

Norbergs föreläsning om lycka

Jag lyssnade igår på Johan Norbergs intressanta föredrag om sin nya bok Den eviga matchen om lyckan. Café Athen i Lund var fullsatt med säkert 100 personer. En videoinspelning finns här.

I anslutning till temat lycka länkar jag till ett tidigare blogginlägg av mig om Carpe diem och en romantisk livskänsla.

The English Spirit

Det har gått en dryg vecka sedan den 15 juni. Det var det datumet år 1215 som den engelske kungen Johan utan land på Runnymedes äng tvingades skriva under Magna Carta, Det stora frihetsbrevet. Det var inget liberalt manifest, men sådde fröna till en utveckling där individens rättigheter alltmer togs på allvar och godtycklig maktutövning stävjades. Till de banbrytande formuleringarna hör:

”No free man shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, not will we proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers and by the law of the land.”

England anses som liberalismens stamort. Andra länder har också tidigt uppvisat frihetliga drag, som Nederländerna och Schweiz, men England har utan tvekan betytt mest i detta avseende. Och utan den brittiska frihetliga traditionen hade inget USA kunnat födas, vars självständighetsförklaring den 4 juli 1776 (ironiskt nog gentemot Storbritannien) var en idépolitisk blomsterprakt sådd med brittiska frihetsfrön.

Min mamma fick 1952 en liten bok (som jag med godkännande lagt beslag på) som heter The English Spirit. Den utkom 1944 och är en samling av några av de radiotal som BBC under andra världskriget lät sända med skådespelaren Leslie Howard och författaren J.B. Priestley som redaktörer. Motivet var att mana till kamp mot Nazityskland och stärka britternas mod.

I den behandlas olika aspekter av brittisk kultur, allt från 1600-talsrebellen John Lilburne som ledde de frihetliga Levellers till engelsk landsbygd och bypubar. Men det är framförallt två tal som innehåller viktiga tankegångar, utan att jag håller med om allt vad som sades, men som illustrerar det frihetliga draget i det ”brittiska”. Det ska inte förväxlas med nationalism och britterna har sannerligen inte alltid levt upp till frihetliga ideal, varken nu eller historiskt. Men precis som USA är även andra anglosaxiska länder som Kanada, Australien och Nya Zeeland mer frihetligt präglade än många andra länder. Individualismen har bidragit till det engelska intresset för den personliga karaktärsdaningen.

Priestley (som annars var en sorts frihetlig socialist) citerar den tyske författaren Thomas Mann om hur engelsmännen har värnat friheten starkt till skillnad från tyskarna, och att detta kan sammanfattas som liberalism, och fortsätter själv:

”This Liberalism, as Thomas Mann rightly calls it, is probably England’s greatest contribution to world civilisation. It has been produced by an odd mixture of peoples living their own kind of life on a misty island just off the edge of the great European peninsula, a people who have been allowed by circumstances — and also by their own passion for liberty — to develop in their own way, to grow as a tree grows. It runs through all our political and social life, and not only here in this island but everywhere the English have gone. It runs through our glorious literature, in which there is blended an appreciation of the twists and turns of human character with a sense of the strange mystical background of this life, a blue haze like that we find so often over the English hills.”[…]

”I remember last year a clever foreigner, who knows us well, saying to me: ‘You know, the English are a good people. When you come to know them, you see there is something naturally, instinctively religious about them.’ By religious he did not mean that the English people are fonder of prayer, worship and ritual than other people, for clearly they are not. He meant that the ordinary English folk have an instinctive trust in the moral order of the universe, have a deep respect for all that is fundamentally personal to other people and are moved by goodwill. This goodwill runs like a golden thread, glinting with humour and poetry, through the fabric of our history. And I believe with all my heart that it will be a black tragic day for the world when that shining thread is seen no more; but I also believe that it will outlast our time.”

Utan att vara religiös, och det var som sagt inte poängen, kan jag sympatisera med detta som lika gärna kan vara en ickereligiös spiritualitet som har drag av det Ayn Rand kallade The benevolent universe premise.

Lord Elton beskriver utvecklingen av brittisk utbildning och karaktär:

”From the dawn of its history this has been a country in which men have preferred to do things for themselves. As far as possible, they wanted their rulers to leave them alone. Very early in their story they were boasting that ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’, and long before other nations, they forced their rulers to abolish the odious right of imprisonment without trial. Within a man’s home — provided of course that he observed the law — he was to be left alone to manage his family life as he pleased.

A little later this instinct for independence and for individual enterprise — the instinct which gave us the Elizabethan sea-adventurers and the Pilgrim Fathers — began to look farther afield. Men felt that it was not sufficient to be left alone by the Government. They wanted to do its work for it. They began to organise themselves in voluntary associations to work for social and political reforms which in almost every other country at that time were thought of as being the business of the State, which is another way of saying that they were neglected altogether. Thus the slave trade, and a little later slavery, among the negroes in the British colonies were abolished, much earlier than elsewhere, after a long agitation conducted by a group of private citizens led by William Wilberforce. 

And to-day, although the power of the State has grown so fast and so far, everyone who knows Britain knows that it is still a network of voluntary associations, trade unions, friendly societies, religious and political organisations, literary, scientific and sports clubs innumerable, so that every aspect of the national life is enriched and vitalised by the free, voluntary enterprise of men and women who are not told what to do and how to think by uniformed officials, but of their own goodwill and on their own initiative contribute to the national life.”[…]

”Thus it is typical that the most original and the best-known British educational experiment has been the so-called public schools, which have owed less than any department of our education to the State, and which have been entirely developed by the initiative of individuals.”

William Waltons musik till filmen Spitfire/The First of the Few (1942) med Leslie Howard i huvudrollen.

Filmen Yanks (1979) utspelar sig också under andra världskriget, och skildrar kärleken mellan en amerikansk soldat och en engelsk flicka. Filmen är sådär, men musiken av Richard Rodney Bennett är bedårande vacker! Förutom kärleken får den också symbolisera de frihetliga banden mellan England och Amerika.

Rudyard Kiplings The Reeds of Runnymede (Magna Charta, June 15, 1215)

At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
What say the reeds at Runnymede?
The lissom reeds that give and take,
That bend so far, but never break,
They keep the sleepy Thames awake
With tales of John at Runnymede.

At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
Oh, hear the reeds at Runnymede:–
”You mustn’t sell, delay, deny,
A freeman’s right or liberty.
It makes the stubborn Englishry,
We saw ‘em roused at Runnymede!

”When through our ranks the Barons came,
With little thought of praise or blame,
But resolute to pay a game,
They lumbered up to Runnymede;
And there they launched in solid time
The first attack on Right Divine–
The curt, uncompromising ‘Sign!’
That settled John at Runnymede.

”At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
Your rights were won at Runnymede!
No freeman shall be fined or bound,
Or dispossessed of freehold ground,
Except by lawful judgment found
And passed upon him by his peers.
Forget not, after all these years,
The Charter Signed at Runnymede.”

And still when Mob or Monarch lays
Too rude a hand on English ways,
The whisper wakes, the shudder plays,
Across the reeds at Runnymede.
And Thames, that knows the moods of kings,
And crowds and priests and suchlike things,
Rolls deep and dreadful as he brings
Their warning down from Runnymede!

En film apropå bilstöd

Som tur var röstade den amerikanska senaten nej till stödpaketet till bilindustrin. I gårdagens Sydsvenskan står det bl.a.:

”Republikanen John Ensign sade igår att det vore osannolikt att en statlig byråkrat skulle lyckas bättre än de tre cheferna för Ford, GM och Chrysler.”

I Sverige vill tyvärr den borgerliga regeringen ge stöd till bl.a. bilindustrin, i en återgång till 70-talets industripolitik, vilken Mattias Svensson har en uppgörelse med på sin blogg. 

Inom bilindustrin har det, liksom i andra sektorer, alltid funnits företag som velat få speciella förmåner av staten när inte kundernas efterfrågan räckt. Apropå detta fenomen, så kan en film rekommenderas: Tucker: A Man and His Dream, i regi av Francis Ford Coppola (1988). Den baseras på den verkliga historien om Preston Tucker (spelad av Jeff Bridges) som på 40-talet lanserade en egen bilmodell. Politiker och de etablerade bilfabrikanterna gillade inte uppkomlingen och försökte stoppa honom. I filmens slut håller Tucker i rättssalen ett brandtal för den fria företagsamheten. Filmen är som hämtad från en Ayn Randroman.

I denna libertarianska artikel av Gregory Rehmke kan man läsa mer om Tucker och även hans tal i filmen.

”Ask your parents or grandparents about the Tucker’48. After World War II everyone wanted one of these sleek new cars of the future–but only fifty people ever got one. George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola bring this story to screen in Tucker: The Man and His Dream. The movie dramatically illustrates the dangers of a mixed economy, with its meddling bureaucrats and myriad behind-the-scenes ”arrangements” between politicians and businessmen. Central to the idea of free enterprise is the freedom of entrepreneurs to bring new competition into a any industry–freedom to succeed by offering consumers a better product, and the equal freedom to fail. But though most businessmen claim to support free-enterprise, far fewer favor new competition in their own industry.”

I en annan artikel, i libertarianska The Freeman, skrev Melvin Barger, med lång erfarenhet inom bilindustrin, att filmen inte är historiskt helt riktigt återgiven. De tre stora bilföretagen var enligt honom inte så beroende av politiker för att knäcka Tucker, utan var mer upptagna med sin inbördes konkurrens, även om det fanns politiker som försökte sätta käppar i hjulen. Tucker var visserligen en driftig entreprenör, men vid tiden fanns det även rent företagsekonomiska faktorer som bidrog till att han inte lyckades.

Inte desto mindre tycker jag, liksom Rehmke och Raymond Keating, den senare i denna artikel i The Freeman om filmen och Hollywoods syn på kapitalismen, att det är filmens budskap som är det intressanta. Det är inte ofta vi ser detta. 

Tuckers tal i filmen:

”When I was a boy I read about Edison, Ford, the Wright brothers. They were my heroes. Rags to riches wasn’t just the name of a book. It was what this country was all about.

We invented the free enterprise system where anybody, no matter who he was, where he came from, what class he belonged to, if he came up with a better idea about anything, there was no limit to how far he could go. But I grew up a generation too late, I guess. The way the system works now, the loner, the dreamer, the crackpot who comes up with some crazy idea that everybody laughs at that later turns out to revolutionize the world, he’s squashed from above before he even gets his head out of the water. The new bureaucrats would rather kill a new idea than let it rock the boat.

If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, he’d probably get arrested for flying a kite without a license. We’re all puffed up with ourselves now because we invented the A-bomb and we beat the daylights out of the Nazis and the Japanese…if big business closes the door on the little guy–you, me–with a new idea, we’re not only closing the door on progress and hard work, we’ve sabotaged everything we fought for, everything the country stands for. We might just as well let the Japanese and the Germans walk in here and tell us what to do. What’s the difference? If new ideas can’t be allowed to flourish, then we’ve just exchanged one set of rulers for another. Right?”

Edward Younkins skriver i The Freeman om andra företagshjältar i filmvärlden vid sidan om Tucker.