I just finished reading the chapter “The Aristocracy of Pull” from my new all-time favorite book, Atlas Shrugged. I had the pleasant opportunity of reading it coincidentally about 30 minutes after I had seen the Winklevoss Twins discuss “The Real Social Network” on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight. The twins are famous for their roles as “moochers” of Mark Zuckerburg’s empire and have recently been brought to attention of many moviegoers in this year’s Best Picture frontrunner, the Social Network. If you are someone who has never had the opportunity of reading Atlas Shrugged, go buy it as soon as possible. It’s quite a tome at 1,250 pages, but it is well worth the time you will put in.
One of the distinct themes that always sticks out to me in the book is the language of the characters. The protagonists in the novel are brilliant entrepreneurs who speak with a distinct substance throughout their dialogue. This group includes Dagny Taggart, Hank Rearden, Francisco D’anconia, as well as a diverse group of others. The vast majority of characters, however, speak in circular dialogue that leads nowhere. They all complain about the actions of the entrepreneurs, although they have no problem accepting handouts through the American governments slew of directives and statutes that seek to destruct any idea of free enterprise. They also cling to the idea that the “love of money is the root of all evil,” although none of them offer any set of premises that makes this supposition deductively valid. At a pivotal scene in the novel, a women makes this claim to Senor D’anconia and he responds in the most eloquent and convincing monologue of the book thus far.
The majority of this monologue supports the success of Mark Zuckerburg and Sean Parker, the true minds behind Facebook, and clearly paints a true picture of the Winklevoss Twins attempt to derail their achievements with litigation that has no end in sight. I encourage everyone to watch the full interview once I post it as it is released on CNN’s website after reading the following excerpts from the book:
“Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce” (Rand 435).
“An honest man is one who knows that he can’t consume more than he has produced” (437).
“Did you get your money by fraud?…By catering to fools, in the hope of getting more than you ability deserves?…If so, then your money will not give you a moment’s or a penny’s worth of joy. Then all the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame. Then you’ll scream that money is evil. Evil because it would not pinch-hit for your self-respect? Evil, because it would not let you enjoy your depravity?” (438).
“The lovers of money are willing to work for it. They know they are able to deserve it” (438).
I would like to edit this to include specific quotes in the twins’ interview to splice in between each quote and support my position, but for now take a look at the video. You’ll see that their perspective lies on the wrong side of these quotes. The reason this scares me is because of the implications that Francisco draws following the description of these types of people. Keep reading below:
“To the glory of mankind, there was, for the first and only time in history, a country of money-and I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America, for this means: a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement. For the first, man’s mind and money were set free, and there were no fortunes-by-conquest, but only fortunes-by-work, and instead of swordsmen and slaves, there appeared the real maker of wealth, the greatest worker, the highest type of human being-the self-made man” (440).
“If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose–because it contains all the others–the fact that they were the people who created the phrase ‘to make money.’ No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity–to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created. The words ‘to make money’ hold the essence of human morality” (440).
Ayn Rand, the author of Atlas Shrugged, wrote the book in 1953 about what she envisioned the state of the USA would be like in 2005, and through most of the book, she hit the nail right on the head. As it stands now, Americans spend more on litigation then any civilized country and they spend twice as much on litigation as they do on automobiles. This is not the same driven population that the nation encompassed after World War II, where one had to work for what he earned. I believe that if you watch the video of the Winklevoss twins, you will see two young men with limitless potential reaping the benefits of someone else’s hard work because they failed to take action. Whether they had an idea or not doesn’t matter. Everyone has ideas. The discrepancy between their legacy and Mark Zuckerberg’s lies in the fact that they are part of the 99 percent of people who never put their ideas into ACTION.