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The link above is the speech. The man paints a very malevolent picture of the world, and I'd like someone to tell me how he might be wrong.

asked Jan 13 '14 at 20:38

Collin1's gravatar image


edited Jan 17 '14 at 12:16

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

I haven't seen the movie, but I found two additional, longer versions of the same scene on YouTube:

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnYb5zGCnuY [5 minutes, but shows slightly more of the final ending]

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72QFqOeV3Nc [9 minutes, shows more events leading up to the key speech]

The very short version linked in the question appears to be an accurate excerpt from the complete scene, taken out of its original context in the movie, not misrepresenting the movie's meaning but omitting the additional concretization that the longer versions of the scene provide.

For further insight about the movie as a whole, I ran a Google search on the movie title and found a number of helpful links, including the following:

  • http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2368553/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl

This link provides a concise movie synopsis:

Jim is an average New Yorker living a peaceful life with a well paying job [as a security guard] and a loving family. Suddenly, everything changes when the economy crashes causing Jim to lose everything. Filled with anger and rage, Jim snaps and goes to extreme lengths to seek revenge for the life taken from him.
  • http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/assault_on_wall_street_2013/

This link provides some additional detail of what the movie depicts. Jim's wife evidently committed suicide because of the financial burden of her illness, a burden which she and Jim connect to Jim's financial investments which were lost in the financial collapse.

  • Wikipedia article on the movie

This article provides additional useful perspective on the movie.

The YouTube links apparently show the final scene in the movie. What the final scene (especially the 9 minute version) dramatically conveys is that (a) businessmen allegedly are just gangsters, but (b) real gangsters aren't as bad as the businessmen.

That, of course, is a concretized form of philosophy, not history or journalism. Atlas Shrugged is philosophy, too, artistically concretized. Atlas offers a very different perspective. If one looks, one can find plenty of supporting evidence for the Atlas perspective in the actual history of capitalism versus statism, as Ayn Rand explains in For the New Intellectual and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

If one needs additional specifics, one example is Atlas Shrugged's depictions of the "dog-eat-dog competition" view of capitalism and its rebuttal. Another example is Ayn Rand's discussions of "the static view of wealth." But the movie linked in this question isn't primarily a depiction of innocent though pervasive errors of history and/or economics; it's a deeply malicious assault on capitalism as such, with laser-like targeting of Wall Street as the penultimate symbol of capitalism. (For more economic and moral insight on the true causes of the financial collapse, refer to VOS, CUI, and especially Free Market Revolution by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins.)

There is a lot of talk about gangsters in the final scene, since the whole movie is aimed at portraying capitalists as gangsters. The attacker (Jim) evidently didn't start out as a gangster himself, but quickly became one during the events in the movie. He seems to acknowledge his own "gangster" status explicitly in the final scene, especially early in the 9-minute version, and his virulently brutish actions in shooting as many capitalists as possible also confirm it. What, then, is the metaphysical meaning of this artistically concretized duel between gangsters?

A major clue is the attacker's sudden change of approach when he reaches the chief capitalist. He doesn't simply shoot the capitalist without hesitation, as he had already done with so many of the lesser capitalists. Instead, he tries to engage in a discussion. He says to the capitalist, "Why should I let you live? You're a salesman. Sell me." This leads to the banker's brief rant against integrity and honesty, and a competitive game to see who can grab the gun first. The capitalist wins by cheating on the rules of the "game." But then we see that the attacker had already thought of what might happen and had a huge surprise in store for the capitalist. As the SWAT team bursts into the room, the capitalist (standing in front of the desk with the attacker behind it) suddenly turns toward the SWAT officers and even points the useless gun at them. What do you suppose they do then? The scene ends with the capitalist eliminated and the SWAT team carefully escorting the rescued "victim" (as perceived by the SWAT team) out of the room. Since the attacker had worn a mask throughout all of his earlier killing in the same building, there wouldn't have been any surviving witness who could recognize him by his face. Moreover, the whole twist of the gangster seeming to become the banker and vice versa demonstrates the intricate plan that Jim had alluded to when he mentioned that the principal difference between a gangster and a banker is that the gangster always has a getaway plan (with no other differences mentioned). That's a very clever plot twist in addition to the symbolism of it. But again, what is the metaphysical meaning of such planning and dueling in a work of art?

My own answer is that I see this movie as expressing the view that man's life is inexorably about brute physical force and also a pervasive element of deception. It's a contest to see who can outwit whom before "who" gets outwitted by "whom," to see who can forcefully crush whom first. It's a view of life as consisting of "faith and force," as Ayn Rand put it in her article on that topic (PWNI Chap. 7). It's a view of life as dominated by Attilas and Witch Doctors, as Ayn Rand describes in FNI. The winners prevail not just by overt force, but also by deceiving others.

Where is reason in this worldview? It isn't. It's seen as impotent and a big myth (except when used for deception). Without reason, there is no way for humans to deal with each other except by brute force and deception, by becoming a power monger and/or a con artist. That is the deepest premise that Ayn Rand most vigorously sought to challenge. She sought to defend the efficacy of reason, and that is what the movie most fundamentally strives to evade. Reason has no reality (beyond deception) in the minds of gangsters.

The question asks about "false premises." But truth and falsity don't matter to one who rejects reason. What matters to him is only power. To whom do truth and falsity matter? To anyone who adheres to reason. Is reason a true premise, then, or merely an optional "lifestyle choice" which brutes and con artists are free to reject without adverse consequences to themselves? The answer is that they, too, depend on "men of the mind," i.e., on others' use of reason. No one can survive for long or in relative comfort without someone somewhere who uses reason just enough to carry the others as well as himself in earthly life. As the brute and the con artist gradually run out of new victims to sacrifice, they place their own survival increasingly at risk. The worst examples historically have known this. The principle that has led them to think they can succeed at it is brilliantly concretized in Atlas Shrugged, namely, the "sanction of the victim," the moral support of the victims. They should learn how and why to shrug.

answered Jan 15 '14 at 01:07

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

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Asked: Jan 13 '14 at 20:38

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Last updated: Jan 17 '14 at 12:16