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105 responses to “The Invisible Hand Shrugged”

  1. Phil


  2. Patrickb

    Yes noticed this had been released to an almost universal panning. Only the New York Post found anything good about it but that’s to be expected. Perhaps the only thing that could have been interested was the thing that was removed, the 1950s setting. With a bit of tweaking the set design could have had a real “BioShock” feel to it. Otherwise it looks like a very tedious Young Liberal’s cocktail party. In fact play “BioShock” if you want an entertaining romp through the mind of A. Rand.

  3. tssk

    I don’t know why the filmaker is complaining. This was always going to bomb at the box office.

    The long tail is where it’s at. He’s going to make millions from schools colleges and universities who buy this as part of their curriculum.

  4. Mercurius

    Wow, it didn’t even achieve the rank of “so bad, it’s good”?

    The market has spoken!

  5. dj

    He he he, any bets on him lobbying governments to purchase it?

  6. Helen

    But it’s all part of the Plan! The audience is going Galt until, er, um, the withering away of the State or something. Oh, why are you all so cynical!?

  7. David Irving (no relation)

    Having read the book about 45 years ago (and thought it was crap even then), I’ll pass on the movie. Life’s too short.

  8. Jacques de Molay

    You folks just don’t know films. Battlefield Earth now that’s a film.

  9. dylwah

    Yes, this appears to be a terrible movie, the question remains tho, is this the real movie, it appears to have been edited, extensively. Also, i have to ask, why is it being released now, there are more important things demanding our limited, 24 hours a day, attention, all eyes on Ben Bernanke, eh. 😉

  10. FDB

    I reckon a significant proportion of those who end up watching it will be either:

    1) normal people doing so with the intent of laughing at it

    2) libertarian internet cranks who illegally download it then spend forum time justifying their theft on libertarian principles

  11. tssk

    To add

    3) Classes who have it on their curriculum.

    4) Tea partyiers who will have ‘Going Galt’ showings.

  12. Paul Burns

    Well, from my vague memory of reading tThe Fountainhead years ago when I was an indiscriminate innocent teenager, Rand’s stuff is badly written boring shit. I can’t really remember having read Atlas Shrigged, but if I did I found it so bad I forgot it immediately.
    My heroes Margaret and David thought the movie was crap. That’s good enough for me.
    Besides who wants to see or buy the DVD of an unfinished movie. LOTR its not.

  13. Fine

    Look who one of the stars is – Grant Bowler. Star of that great Kiwi tv series ‘Outrageous Fortune’ and host of ‘The Mole’. Woot!

  14. PatrickB

    Anyone know how catalaxy is taking this? Are they having a showing ’round at Sinkas place? Perhaps he’s got a grant to fly the select to the US for a trip to a megaplex.

  15. Fine

    “Though the film has made only $3.1 million so far, Aglialoro said he believes he’ll recoup his investment after TV, DVD and other ancillary rights are sold.”

    Tell him he’s dreaming. I’ve read different figures for the actual production costs, but it’s between $10-20 million. A film needs to generate between 3-4 times its production costs to make a profit, depending on how much has been spent on marketing and distribution. He thinks it’s going to generate $30 – 80 million on ancillary? I don’t think so.

    Tangentially, there’s some very interesting Oz films being released over the next few months; ‘Mad Bastards’, Toomelah’, ‘Here I Am’, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Snowtown’ and ‘Red Dog’. I won’t link to websites, but check them out. I think there’s films there for just about every taste. Plus ‘Mrs. Carey’s Concert’ Bob Connolly’s new doco has got limited theatrical release this weekend.

  16. Robertb

    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.” – John Rogers

  17. Adam

    Melissa Hardie teaches Rand’s Fountainhead at the University of Sydney:

    ENGL 3604 Cinematic Modernism

  18. Fine

    [email protected], it’s hard to know how much they’d be spending. But, theatrical distribution is really expensive. Even small scale Oz films such as the ones I’ve mentioned spend between $400,000 – $500,000 on theatrical distribution just within in Australia. One of the big costs is the price of a film print; $20,000 – $30,000 per print and most cinemas still use prints. This is changing rapidly and will lower the cost.

    The whole area of distribution is in a huge amount of flux and there’s lots of discussion going around about financial models for web only distribution etc, as well as being much cannier about using social media to publicise the film. This will turn out to be very good news for smaller films.

    Many distributors think critical reviews are only useful for small scale films. A Harry Potter film can be caned by every reviewer in the world and will still make a fortune, because the market is there. But, does ‘Atlas Shrugged’ have that big a fan base? I dunno. I don’t think they’ve been using social media much as I think I would have heard about it. If you want to see a film that’s been great at building its fanbase before it’s even been completed, google ‘Iron Sky’, which looks like a hoot. Nazis on the Moon.

    Another thing is that there are just so many films released every week that even when a film is doing quite well, the exhibitors will pull it as soon as a bigger earner appears. The economics is that the exhibitor takes their cut of the box office, the distributor then takes their cut, plus their distribution costs and then the investors get what’s leftover. So, it’s hard for investors to actually make a profit. They’re always last in line.

  19. tssk

    The long tail will come from the same place as the book sales. I’m guessing special interest groups will buy up thousands of copies in bulk to give out for free to school libraries.

  20. Adam

    Indeed, tigtog. I guess my pointing that out was to suggest that canonisation of films, novels etc isn’t necessarily predictable, and that film and novels may find their way into some other contexts in the academy somewhere down the line. Certainly Rand’s fiction is more likely to than this film.

    In either case, not something one would want to stake a large sum on.

  21. PatrickB

    Wouldn’t “Atlas Snubbed” have been a better title?

  22. Paul Burns

    Yes, but tigtog, such flawed works would probably aloso require a touch of brilliance about them – unless, of course, its a course in how not to make movies. And, clearly, whoever directed/produced Atlas Shrugged it wasn’t whoever made The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

  23. Jacques de Molay

    in this case I predict that the Tea Party is far more likely

    The Tea Party have just reformed too, excellent band.

  24. Alan

    Why would I want to see it? I sat through all three instalments of The Lord of the Rings.

    I don’t mind an unrealistic fantasy as a bit of escapism, but a petulant and tedious unrealistic fantasy does not have even that virtue.

  25. harleymc

    I was, and still am, waiting for my taxpayer funded ticket to ‘Atlas Shrugged’ to be home delivered to me by the Nanny State.

  26. Mercurius

    On second thoughts, this could be the perfect movie for me.

    You see, I have this problem where I tend to fall asleep at around the 25-minute mark of pretty much every film I try to watch (that’s why I still really dig that hot chick from The Crying Game)….

    …so, anyway, it sounds like around 25 minutes for Atlas Shrugged will be perfect!

  27. Paul Burns

    Now recall another Ayn Rand moment in my life. Many years ago, when Beaseley was Minister for Em[;oyment etc, I had to go to a Job Club. Yje nloke who was running it was heavily into motivation. One of his motibators was Atn Rand, and ge started playing a tape of her for us to listen ro. I pointed out to him that Rand was a dog-eat dog fascist Darwinian ca[italist (the ignorant guy knew nothing about her) and I wasn’t at job Club to listen to fasc*st propaganda. I told him I would not attend the session, and would repoty him to Beasley if he dobbed me in to the SS and then he would lose his job. Then I walked out. I got away with it, too.

  28. David Irving (no relation)

    PB, “One of his motibators was Atn Rand” has got to be about the best typo I’ve ever seen.

    motibator, n. One who provides an incentive by interfering with him- or herself.

    Fits the average glibertarian like a glove.

  29. TerjeP

    I saw subsequent media reports in which the director denied any intention to quit. I get the impression nobody here has seen the movie. Nor have I. I have not even read the book, although I do own a copy just in case it one day takes my fancy. Although I’ll probably see the movie first. I’ll reserve judgement until then.

    My favourite on screen libertarian is Shrek in the first movie. He has a healthy scepticism about the government and the ordered society it seeks to create (Duloc). He is vocal about his property rights (my swamp). He is adept at defending himself and handling his own affairs. And of course he gets the girl in the end. 😉

  30. TerjeP

    PB – it sounds like the motivation tactic worked. It would seem to have got you rather animated.

  31. Paul Burns

    i already was motivated – to jump through all the necessary useless hoops required – it didn’t get me a job and was among the most boring and useless two weeks of my life.

  32. Paul Burns

    DI (r).
    You’ve taught me a new word. 🙂

  33. sg

    Also TerjeP, Shrek literally lives in a gulch.

  34. Paul Burns

    David Irving (nr),
    Sorry. Left out the n. Apologies.

  35. Mercurius

    @38 sg, it may be a gulch, but it’s his gulch, dammit! 😀

  36. David Irving (no relation)

    No, Paul, you’ve taught me a new word, and I thank you for your typo.

  37. TerjeP

    Sg – it is a swamp within a gulch. He only seemed to lay claim to the swamp bit. At one point he threatens to build a ten foot wall around it. These days such a move would probably run fowl of the local council and he would have to try his luck in the land and environment court.

  38. sg

    I saw a guy in China running fowl – a flock of geese. Don’t think the council cared, but you’re right TerjeP, they might object to running geese through the wetlands of any major AUstralian city.

    Harsh, yes. They can take your fowl from your cold dead hands.

  39. TerjeP

    p.s. I believe his land claim was based on the homesteading principle. Even the King acknowledged it when he offered to give back “your swamp” if Shrek went on a quest for him.

  40. TerjeP

    PB – was that the occasion on which you first realised that you love the government?

  41. TerjeP

    Sg – my foul use of fowl was a fail.

  42. sg

    TerjeP, I think Shrek’s unilateral decision to expropriate land previously held for the common benefit is a good example of some of the problems with the libertarian romanticisation of private property. Of course in the real world we know that the homesteading principle usually involved taking someone else’s home; this isn’t necessarily directly equivalent in the fairytale world, but there are still important issues of consent and community cohesion to be considered. For example:

    – it’s well established that in setting up his swamp, Shrek drove a small number of will ‘o wisps and troglodytes away from the area, increasing the rate of attacks by these pests in other, nearby communities. It’s well-established that one should drive these creatures away but there are also systems in place for balancing the risk and coordinating activities with other communities that Shrek ignored.

    – run-off from his farming activities is known to have contaminated valuable stocks of fairy floss in nearby forested areas. Communities of boggarts that market products based on fairy floss have been dislocated and may have to move to urban habitats, which both reduces their wealth and creates costs for urban communities. Everyone knows that boggarts are particularly difficult to integrate into complex multicultural (and often multidimensional!) fairysteads

    – he will undoubtedly start producing children soon, and this will place a heavier burden on the fragile swamp ecosystem. This swamp provides an important component of downstream water supplies for a community of sylphs, who you are no doubt aware cannot move away from the river they are born in due to their ethereal connection. Thus Shrek’s “individual” decision to set up his home here may lead to the destruction of a community of (admittedly slightly pesky, but no doubt still sentient) fairies

    – his decision to move there led to significant social order problems for his immediate neighbours, in the form of (amongst other things) dragons, crazy donkeys, kung fu princesses and, ultimately, war. When the neighbours are rebuilding their homes after the strife he brought with him they probably won’t be thinking about how admirable his rugged individualism is

    – due to unfortunate and unavoidable aspects of Ogre personality, it’s well known that property values go down after a troll moves nearby. I think we can see why clearly from the available documentary material. I’m not racist, but the neighbouring fairies should gain some compensation from this, and from the environmental effects of his decision to set up a small band of adventurers and launch a violent attempt to overthrow the fairly appointed leader of a neighbouring state.

    Surely the fairies should be allowed to consult with him and others, and perhaps to levy some kind of compensation for the imposition of this situation on their previously ordered lives? Just as in real life, in the fairyworld there is no such thing as genuinely private property.

  43. jumpnmcar


    There will be No Troll Tax under any Kingdom I lead.
    Something like that?

  44. sg

    It would certainly be a Great Big Tax!

  45. jumpnmcar
  46. Mercurius

    The self-identification of libertarians with ogres is what is known, in technical terms, as an “own goal”.

  47. jumpnmcar

    It’s just video game humour Merc, sheesh.

  48. David Irving (no relation)

    sg, you know the average glibertarian can use contract law to justify his or her way out of the negative impacts of their behaviour. I think the fairies and will o’ the wisps are shit out of luck, as the swamp was probably terra nullius.

  49. sg

    perhaps DInR, but the point of Shrek’s little incursion is that he didn’t sign a contract with anyone – the land itself was available for homesteading. The issue is the ramifications of his decision, which e.g. the sylphs need to sign a contract about somehow, but he’s already in position and he’s got the whip hand, so how can they make him?

    Not that you’d sign a contract with fairies, very very dangerous business that. But you see my point…

  50. Mindy

    Really sg if you are going to have a go at Shrek I’d at least expect that you watch all four movies. The kids have already arrived.

  51. James McDonough

    TerjeP –
    I like your thinking, but what’s this “in the first movie” cop-out? The story arc sees Shrek move from his mistaken individualism to valuing community. And I always thought that Duloc was Switzerland – the world’s foremost enabler of capitalism. Farquaad is no libertarian, but you know he’d claim to be. He only tortures gingerbread men to keep us free, surely.

  52. TerjeP

    Sg – I suspect you are a lawyer and Lord Farquaad has you on some form of retainer.

    Modern libertarians have moved on from homesteading. We’re now into seasteading.


  53. Mercurius

    Oh great, so you’ve gone from Shrek to Waterworld?

    That’s your idea of an improvement?!

  54. sg

    and what do the mermaids think of that, TerjeP? You can’t escape the deeper problems in your definition of private property by heading off into deeper waters. Though compared to Shrek I think seasteading really is off with the fairies…

  55. jumpnmcar

    Nice idea, but you’d never” Stop the boats” 🙂

  56. TerjeP (say tay-a)

    Sg – the mermaids are thrilled. They love libertarians. And libertarians love mermaids.

  57. TerjeP (say tay-a)

    Jumpnmcar – I’m not sure “stopping the boats” is a libertarian ideal.

  58. Patrickb

    Now this has to be a signal moment in internet history. This idea couldn’t possibly have any legs without the internet.

  59. Tyro Rex

    Ahhh, seasteaders; the Pinochets of Penzance!

    But libertarians are political dissidents only in narrowly selfish directions. As respectful of “order” as the most polite bourgeois, they cannot conceive of pirates as antecedents, only as threats. (As indeed they might be, were there any seasteads to plunder.) By distancing themselves from this antiestablishment hydrarchy, the libertarian seasteaders unwittingly identify with the other hydrarchy that Linebaugh and Redicker discuss: the imperialist, maritime state. Coercive political apparatuses, operating internally and externally, are implicitly, sometimes explicitly, part of the libertarian seasteading project.


    There are dangerous enemies, and then there are jokes of history. The libertarian seasteaders are a joke. The pitiful, incoherent and cowardly utopia they pine for is a spoilt child’s autarky, an imperialism of outsourcing, a very petty fascism played as maritime farce: Pinochet of Penzance.

  60. David Irving (no relation)

    Thanks, Tyro. That was extremely interesting.

    I remember hearing some glibertarian wittering on about sea-steading on the radio a couple of years ago, and wishing I could negotiate an introduction to his drug dealer.

  61. TerjeP

    The cruise ship industry has been growing at about 8% per annum for decades. Some people are happy living at sea. Most cruise ships fly a national flag. If they flew their own flag a put down an anchor you would be 95% of the way there.

    Seasteading is not about living without a government. It is about creating a frontier in which people can experiment with new forms of government. It’s the age old tension between the option of staying and reforming or leaving and rebuilding. I’m more in the stay and reform camp but I’d also like to see the other option do well.

  62. Paul Burns

    Terje P.
    No. It was the moment I realkised capitalists were not only cruel, unprincipled and selfish, but stupid and ignorant as well.

  63. Fine

    Seasteading: isn’t this just rich people using their money to insulate themselves for the problems of a society they helped to create and from which they benefited in the first place?

    Where are pirates when you need them?

  64. Helen

    Seasteading is not about living without a government. It is about creating a frontier in which people can experiment with new forms of government.

    What happens to their sewage and chemical effluents? or are these just, er, externalised into the ocean we all share?

  65. David Irving (no relation)

    Helen, the article Tyro Rex linked to poked quite a few holes in the whole idea. For instance, who’s going to swab the decks and clean the shitters while the glibertarians all get rich selling each other mobile phone plans?

  66. David Irving (no relation)

    PB, I’ve shared your new word (motibator) with my son. He likes it too, and reckons it means “wanker who writes self-improvement books”.

  67. Tyro Rex

    DI(NR) as soon as I saw the mention of seasteading I thought of that article, which I read abouta month ago. There are plenty of other attacks on it as a concept that I’ve seen but for me that article nails the entire sorry concept to a wall for all to ridicule.

    The attempt to escape from the “state” (or “experimenting with with new forms of government”, if one likes) leads straight to various types of fascist, imperial, authoritarian structures quicker than you can say “Ayn Rand”. Even before any real actual vessel is launched into the high seas – or even had its keel laid – one of these projects (the Freedom Barge) is already a full-blown imperialist adventure in the jungles of Honduras, imperially attempting to deprive people of their land and livelihoods, no doubt while enriching some local despotic two-bit quislings who sense the, ahh, “opportunities” of the project.

    The hilarious thing would be just how much such a concept has to rely on the traditional powers of nation-state politics to even exist as a viable concept. Such a massive ship would be so ponderously manoeuvrable and slow, it would have to be a big, fat, sitting duck for every pirate on the surface of the planet. No visiting the Indian Ocean then (see maps & reports as to just how far those Somalian pirates can roam now). And this thing – rich pickings indeed for anyone accustomed to making their living by stealing ships on the high seas. It would end up almost at all times being trailed by an extensive collection of high seas camp-followers, I reckon. In order to keep these hordes of pirates at bay, it would have to employ an impressively powerful military force itself – or rely on those of the nation-states its inhabitants despise. I can certainly see in its future, a tax-payers revolt, but of it’s own motley collection of tax-avoidance sharks – I would expect the tax payers of the nation state to start demanding their governments cease using their extensive tax-payer funded maritime assets to protect such a vessel.

    “Pinochets of Penzance” is the ideal epithet for such a project. It may say “SS Freedom” on the hull, but both internally and externally it absolutely requires an absolutely repressive security apparatus and authoritarian decision making command structure to even be a remotely plausible proposition. A repressive state where “citizenship” is the exactly the same thing as “paying passenger”. Some freedom.

  68. zoot

    Most cruise ships fly a national flag. If they flew their own flag a put down an anchor you would be 95% of the way there.

    95%?? Which universe are you living in?

  69. Mercurius

    …a spoilt child’s autarky…

    Heh, yep, nailed it.

    As for the “freedom” of the seas, there is a whole host of very good reasons why, on a ship, the Captain IS the law…

  70. zoot

    Maybe if we renamed “tax” to “price of ticket” the glibertarians would be able to understand the concept?

    Probably not.

  71. TerjeP

    How I pay the ticket price the same as everybody else. That doesn’t mean I can’t argue the price should be lower.

  72. Tyro Rex

    But Terje people are citizens regardless of their tax-paying status.

  73. TerjeP

    “How” should be “Hey”.

  74. TerjeP

    Tyro – so what?

  75. tssk

    Um hang on. Sea steading? What? Have we moved from Atlas Shrugged and Shrek onto Bioshock?

  76. David Irving (no relation)

    I think I prefer the Dead Hand of the State, stifling though it is, to the glibertarian paradise of SS Freedom.

  77. TerjeP

    tssk – try and keep up.

  78. zoot

    Hey I pay the ticket price the same as everybody else. That doesn’t mean I can’t argue the price should be lower.

    True, but how does running away to Waterworld reduce the price?

  79. David Irving (no relation)

    Thanks, tigtog. I’d not heard of Bob the Angry Flower.

  80. TerjeP (say tay-a)

    True, but how does running away to Waterworld reduce the price?

    Given that waterworld does not yet exist it wouldn’t. However moving to Hong Kong or Singapore would do the trick.

  81. Helen

    But isn’t Singapore a nation state with an active and intrusive government? Anathema to libertarians, I would have thought.

    Somalia, now, there’s a libertarian paradise. hardly any government at all. As Tyro Rex points out at 72, though, it’s also a pirate’s paradise. Coincidentally, after reading the earlier comments on Seasteading the other day, I heard this report on RN. I think the notion of needing to pack high-powered weapons is a feature rather than a bug in the fevered of imaginations in some of the sillier sections of the blokey libertarian community (? if that’s not an oxymoron) – but I’m sure the reality of sleeping with one eye open for the rest of your life would pall pretty quickly.

  82. Helen

    “fevered imaginations of”, not “fevered of imaginations in”. My bad.

  83. Fine

    Terje, are you sure you want to give Singapore and Hong Kong as examples? Two extremely repressive regimes with the government exercising a huge amount of control over peoples’ lives.

  84. murph the surf.

    Hong Kong is not actually that repressive if you want to be adventurous in the arts , personal expression or business – this is a situation that confuses lots of people who haven’t lived there but as long as you steer clear of trying to overthrow the PRC government the HK government is quite benign.
    Singapore is a whole other bucket of shrimp paste though.

  85. FDB

    “blokey libertarian community” = oxymoron.

    blokey libertarian community” = tautology.

  86. Fine

    True, murph the surf. There’s a lot more freedom of expression in Hong Kong. But, when I lasted visited there (which was a couple of times last year), I met a few filmmakers who were feeling quite nervous, with the PRC getting more hardline. But, it’s actually one of my favourite places to visit. As you say, Singapore is big time scary.

  87. tssk

    Anyway given the popularity of the topic on this movie I’m guessing it might find more legs that the director gives it credit for.

  88. Patrickb

    Annabelle Quince, fantastic name.

  89. Tyro Rex

    Terje @ 79 The point is that citizenship != paying passenger, i.e. paying taxes isn’t entirely equivalent to the idea of a ticket-holder of a thing like the Freedom Barge. In the latter case, it’s just the payment that defines your status as a “citizen” of the entity, and there will also be an entire class of service workers who are not such “citizens” (because they are employees, one guesses, of the ship-state). However, in a western nation-state, all who sail in her (more-or-less) have the franchise. Such a ship-state is probably more akin to a place like Dubai with a large majority of the population being guest-workers (and who are generally treated like shit).

  90. TerjeP

    Tyro – a fair point but it should be directed to Zoot rather than to me.

  91. TerjeP

    Terje, are you sure you want to give Singapore and Hong Kong as examples? Two extremely repressive regimes with the government exercising a huge amount of control over peoples’ lives.

    In some regards they are repressive. But in other regards they are far less repressive than here. Given that I don’t import heroin for a living Singapore seems quite appealing.

  92. zoot

    Tyro – a fair point but it should be directed to Zoot rather than to me.

    I am in furious agreement with Tyro.
    It’s time I stopped the futile task of trying to coax a libertarian into the real world.

  93. dylwah

    TerjeP – “In some regards they are repressive. But in other regards they are far less repressive than here. Given that I don’t import heroin for a living Singapore seems quite appealing.”

    Given that i don’t avoid paying taxes, i must be living in a Glibatarian paradise.

  94. Mercurius

    I’m sure there’s a song about Glibertarian’s Isle that can be set to the tune of Gilligan’s

    I mean, the words of the Australian national anthem scan nicely to the same tune, so why not give it a bash!?

  95. Casey

    Look, there is a breaking story. Osama Bin Laden is dead. The U.S. has the body. Does anyone know anything more? This is huge.

  96. Helen

    Oh wow. She’s not joking.
    Me: (googling, to workmate) OMG they’ve found OBL.
    Workmate: “Oh you’re so 10 minutes ago.”

  97. Keithy

    “…forcing- forcing I say!…”

    Now that is gold!

  98. Lefty E

    The disgrace of non-universal healthcare in a developed country: “Forty countries had lower rates of child mortality than the United States, where eight children per 1000 die before reaching the age of five years.” There were only 43 developed countries in this ‘Save the Children’ study.