Ayn Rand Would Have Loved Kickstarter

In a world where we can now go online to escape the mainstream, the crowdfunding site offers the ultimate in 'value-for-value'

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Ayn Rand, Russian-born American novelist, is shown in Manhattan with the Grand Central Terminal building in background in 1962.

What does it mean that the makers of the final installment of a three-part film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s controversial 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged are asking for donations at the crowdfunding site Kickstarter? Isn’t that the book where characters pledge to “never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine”?

To critics of the first two movies in the trilogy (released in 2010 and 2011) and of Rand’s stridently individualistic philosophy, it’s just the latest indicator that the author of The Virtue of Selfishness and her fans are obnoxious hypocrites. “Ayn Rand Movie Producers Beg for Money,” reads a Buzzfeed headline. “Atlas Shrugged producers turn to Kickstarter for help warning others against moochers,” snarks The AV Club.

But regardless of the reasons for why producers John Aglialoro and Harmon Kaslow are seeking $250,000 via crowdfunding (and we’ll get to those in moment), the fact is that Kickstarter and other sites like it are best understood as today’s answer to “going Galt,” a concept that’s central to Rand’s dystopian novel. Crowdfunding uses the internet to match up like-minded people who are spread all over the place to connect and support all sorts of projects, from staging of concerts to starting businesses to just about anything you can imagine.

(MOREAtlas Begged: Would Ayn Rand Approve Of Producers Asking For Handouts?)

In Atlas Shrugged, entrepreneurs and other creative types face an America controlled by petty bureaucrats and other “looters and moochers” who pass all sorts of stultifying policies, confiscatory taxes, and others laws to punish high-achievers. Rather than suffer such indignities, the most productive, visionary people literally escape to “Galt’s Gulch,” a hidden valley of unbridled capitalism, voluntary exchange and unregulated sexual passion. By going Galt, these people were able to live life on their terms.

In a post-war America that emphasized conformity and consensus in business operations, sexual identities, housing, attire and more, it made sense to conceptualize freedom and the pursuit of happiness in terms of physical escape—of going someplace where you could start over with people understood you. It’s not coincidental that just as Rand was pushing the concept of going Galt that another iconic malcontent, Jack Kerouac, was constantly talking about going “on the road.” Freedom and fulfillment were always someplace else.

Due to a combination of technological and cultural advancements, 21st-century America no longer requires us to think in such metaphors. Cable TV, the internet, e-commerce and globalization have in many ways brought the world in all its variety to even the most remote town in America. The result is that we are all more comfortable not just with different foods and clothing, say, but with different ways of living that were unimaginable to us even a few decades ago (wasn’t that former President George H.W. Bush acting as a witness at a gay marriage the other day?). You don’t have to go on the road to find freedom these days. You can go online instead.

(MOREAtlas Shrugonomics)

In such a world, crowdfunding represents a new, high-tech way of going Galt. It allows creators and funders to escape conventional financial, ideological and aesthetic gatekeepers who have long suppressed heterodoxy in media, business, the arts and more. Arguably more important, it allows for the creation of a virtual community of like-minded folks who may live thousands of miles from each other.

With the Atlas Shrugged movie project, the community-building is front and center, as the producers don’t need the money to finish their film. As they explain at their Kickstarter page, they’ve already fully secured the movie’s budget of just under $10 million. The Kickstarter project, which includes different levels of swag depending on the amount of money pledged, is a means of giving hardcore fans various ways of being part of the process. Fifteen dollars gets you a PDF file of the final shooting script, for instance, while $2,500 earns you a trip to the set and $5,000 secures you a role as an extra.

Whatever else you can say about the unimpressive box office take to date for the first two movies, the Kickstarter project for Atlas Shrugged is going gangbusters. Indeed, in just a few days, it’s already reached $175,000 in donations.

This may or may not prove Aglialaro and Kaslow’s argument that their Kickstarter experiment represents capitalism at its finest—these are purely voluntary “value-for-value” transactions, they say. But it does seem incontrovertible that we can now all go Galt at the touch of a keyboard.

MOREThe Crowdfunding Economy Is About to Pop

17 comments
ricardo1
ricardo1

What are the elements that make a kickstarter campaign successful?


Although Kickstarter seems like a relatively easy way to crowdfund a project, there are several steps to be taken to create, maintain, and manage to give your Kickstarter campaign a high chance of success. Creating a product that people would want to support is only part of the equation. A lot of research and analysis must be done to make sure your funding goal is set modestly enough that it has a high chance of being met yet high enough to be able to meet reward obligations and fees. With respect to rewards, make them great; these rewards are the incentive to potential backers; why would they want to back the project now rather than wait until the product is available?


If you’re interested in starting a crowdfunding project, Command Partners has years of experience working on successful Kickstarter campaigns, including the MyType Keyboard and Remyxx (now Rekixx) Sneakers which went on to feature on Shark Tank.


We’ve written an article with 10 Kickstarter Marketing and Project tips to get projects off on the right foot - read here for more information:


http://commandpartners.com/blog/10-ways-to-maximize-your-kickstarter-marketing-strategy

DavidDaniel1
DavidDaniel1

Kickstarter is a voluntary effort and thus the comparison does not exist. 

prov6yahoo
prov6yahoo

As usual the government's lackey media tries to paint anarcho-capitalists (which is what Rand really was) as hypocritical.  Rand and the freedom movement have a really simple, moral idea.  It is called the Non Aggression Principle.  Which means you do whatever you like as long as you are not aggressing against someone else or their property.  An important part of this is that you can aggress against yourself all you want.  This is the antithesis of government which is all about using aggression (force) against everyone and everything. Gubments are also all about protecting you from yourself; thus they enforce drug laws.  

When they say it is hypocritical to "beg for donations" for this movie they could not be further from the truth:  ASKING is fine.  FORCING people to donate to something (i.e. taxes) is what is hypocritical and wrong.

k.kaprow
k.kaprow

"Crowdfunding represents a new, high-tech way of going Galt.

Not really. The producers and creators in Atlas Shrugged literally go on strike -- they disappear from the corrupted world and create their own society based on individualism and capitalism. "Going Galt" means to voluntarily withdraw from a decadent and doomed world, not to find new ways to exist within it.

 Not that there is anything wrong with seeking capital from one's ideological allies in order to promote an idea or fund an enterprise. Private investors have been doing this for centuries. It isn't charity either, not that Ayn Rand was opposed to the concept of charity (so long as the giving is voluntary and uncoerced and -- above all -- not a sacrificial act on the part of the giver). 

So Kickstarter has nothing at all to do with "going Galt." It's just another social-media invention that ostensibly raises funds for causes and projects while somehow managing to piss off and antagonize bored narcissists and ideologues with nothing better to do than publicly complain about their enemies.

wrededarren
wrededarren

Nick,

You're a smart guy. I've seen you conduct a number of interviews (George Will, Russ Roberts, et al.); I've seen you on "Red Eye" with what's-his-name . . .

But this Kickstarter thing is so obviously a scam, I'm surprised you don't see it. Just how does donating money to producers who claim they don't need it make one "part of the process"? The heart of the "process" involves screenwriting, casting, and directing. Will those who donate have any say in those things? Of course not. $15 gets one a PDF of the screenplay (without any autographs from the stars); and $7,500 gets one's name carved into the side of John Galt's house (without an invitation to spend the night there).

Smells like a scam to me. Aglialoro and Kaslow long ago implied that Part 3 of Atlas Shrugged would likely perform about as well at the box office as Parts 1 and 2 did. Since they've claimed Part 3 is already "fully funded," doesn't it seem reasonable to assume that the $250,000 requested on Kickstarter is simply going straight into their pockets? If they were really keen on letting fans be "part of the process", why request money at all? Why not simply have a selection process such as a lottery?

It's amusing in a pathetic sort of way. Do those who win the PDF of the screenplay understand that directors are not bound by any law to follow it when actually directing the movie, so that it may or may not match the movie that actually screens? Do those who win the honor of having their names carved into the side of John Galt's house realize that no law compels the director to shoot any exterior scene showing the carved names, or even showing the outside of John Galt's house? Do they understand that even if such a scene is shot, the editor might decide that it does nothing to move the story along, and will therefore cut it? As a consolation prize, will the $7,500 donors at least get out-takes of scenes showing their carved names, should those shots end up being cut? DON'T MAKE ME LAUGH.

mak4374
mak4374

The epitome of the old clique: Never underestimate the ability of the smart to rationalize anything and of the idiots to believe it.

All one has to do to disqualify the..."arguments" this hack that Time keeps pushing on us (do they think that anyone with a degree and an opinion is quilified to provide a "balanced" view, no matter their agenda, or the way that they go about propagandizing?), is point a couple of his lies: The first movie cost $20 mil, the second $25 (one of the "moochers" came up with this thing called Wikipedia, and gave it to the other "moochers" for free, who by the way, run it for free; because that's how some "takers" roll, in the open road), and now..."they’ve already fully secured the movie’s budget of just under $10 million".  Riiiight. And "the Kickstarter project for Atlas Shrugged is going gangbusters. Indeed, in just a few days, it’s already reached $175,000 in donations"!  Wow!  Except, of course, that $155K was from only two contributors.  Only the other $20K was from contributors going "gangbusters" to fund the film (oh, one little point: if so many people are so excited for this movie to be made, how come the other two not only did not make enough to fund this one, but they were some of the biggest bombs of the last two years?).


But pointing these things out, kind of shooting fish in a barrel.  I find it more interesting the round-about way he goes about "proving" his main point.  Except, of course, that his round-about way was very much a myth.  Kerouac wrote "On the Road" as a metaphor of the complacency and conformity America fell into "post-war"? Really?!? It wasn't because the "creators" couldn't push their agenda on a powerful, stable economy and the government that enforced the rules that kept the stability, but instead propagated the social status quo inherited from the 19th century which they knew it was to be used by the vicious and the idiots to keep society divided? Because the modern political environment, after Kerouac, did not start with the Southern Strategy? No? So, Kerouac now has become a hero of the "disposed" rich who are not allowed to, what?!? Have more people serve them, and keep quite under an economic system that gives every advantage to the rich and that very system has decided that this movie is bull#$#@?


The irony which this author tries so desperately to deflect from, and rationalize, is that the "creators" of this crap-of-a-movie (hey, they were a lot of other movies based on crap - most are in fact - but many, many of them actually are successful if they are any good, in some ways) have found those who support them and the system they propagate, indifferent; just as a philosophy based on selfishness would ultimate devolve to.  And then they turn to the "moochers", and specifically those who are too stupid, or at the very least, too ignorant and confused about their own well being and (irony of ironies) self-interests to realize that they are supporting a bankrupt philosophy that dismisses their inspirations for a balanced society.

And the sarcastic laughter directed at you Mr. Gillespie? No matter how you try to rationalize it, at least in this instance, balance has been achieved.




k.kaprow
k.kaprow

@prov6yahoo 

"Anarcho-capitalists (which is what Rand really was)..."

Hardly. She would have laughed at your description. Rand was a capitalist, period. Capitalism is a politico-economic system. Anarchy and capitalism are incompatible. The so-called "anarcho-libertarians" betray their ignorance of Rand, capitalism and Objectivism by their simplistic over-reliance on -- and parroting of -- the non-aggression principle. For the record, Ayn Rand described anarchy thus:

"Anarchy, as a political concept, is a naive floating abstraction. . . a society without an organized government would be at the mercy of the first criminal who came along and who would precipitate it into the chaos of gang warfare. But the possibility of human immorality is not the only objection to anarchy: even a society whose every member were fully rational and faultlessly moral, could not function in a state of anarchy; it is the need of objective laws and of an arbiter for honest disagreements among men that necessitates the establishment of a government." -- from "The Nature of Government" by Ayn Rand

micheal.john.price
micheal.john.price

@j45ashton Thank you for your unsupported ad hominem.  Few people know this but the internet will actually collapse if less than 30,000 ad homs aren't made per hour.  Thank you for providing the internet, and society in general, the only service you can.

HenryBowman
HenryBowman

@wrededarren If you think it's a scam, don't send them any money.  

I wish I could get the same honest deal on all my payroll deductions.

JazzOZHamilton
JazzOZHamilton

@wrededarren A scam? Apparently you've missed where it has been stated by the producers that the monies raised will go to paying down debt, covering other non-production-related expenses, etc.

Before spewage commences, sometimes it helps to actually know what one is spewing about to stave off embarrassment later....

JazzOZHamilton
JazzOZHamilton

@mak4374 Good old Mac...tossing out ad homenistic bromides left and right. That laughter you hear is directed at you, good buddy. So you keep lapping up that junk "philosophy" you believe in and don't worry...someday you'll grow up. Or not. It won't matter much either way to the rest of us.

j45ashton
j45ashton

@micheal.john.price @j45ashton Hmmm...well, I don't think I'll write a paper on it, but Rand is pretty simpleminded & I'm happy to go into a little of it,  The model for Howard Roark for example is Frank Lloyd Wright...whose work was great but his personal life was an absolute painful mess.  Gail Wynand the publisher in The Fountainhead is supposedly modeled on Wm Randolph Hearst.  He actually seems much closer to Rupert Murdoch.  Kind of undercutting to have a conservative icon really close to what Rand considers a failure.  It's hard to see how Rand makes a leap into economics but she does & Alan Greenspan was one of her admirers & followers.  We've seen what Greenspan help create in 2007.  At least he had the guts to say publicly that he was wrong.  There is some kind of hedonistic, libertarian premise at the heart of Ayn Rand.  I can only imagine that her followers think that the only reason they haven't been more successful & recognized as terrific is because of the federal gov't...because the government seeks to meet the needs of the masses rather than celebrating the individual.  How celebrating the individual alone resolves into a productive society is beyond me.  If even possible, it would only work out for very few (which is what the GOP seems to be aiming for.) I could go on...but the surest  proof will be in your own life.  If you're a true believer you will reject Medicare.  And if you get good and sick, after your money starts dwindling down & all your friends convince you to stop acting like an idiot, you'll sign up.   Rand is attractive to the disenchanted.  She gives them a mental haven.  But nothing she stands for works beyond her own theoretical dreaming.

wrededarren
wrededarren

@JazzOZHamilton @wrededarren

>>>A scam? Apparently you've missed where it has been stated by the producers that the monies raised will go to paying down debt, covering other non-production-related expenses, etc.

Yeah, I guess did miss that statement by the producers, you gullible moron. You have a fertile imagination — making you the perfect knee-jerk cult-member.

This is the statement on the Kickstarter website under FAQs:

"What will the funds be used for?

While the film is already funded, final budgets will be completed after the Kickstarter project. All funds collected through Kickstarter will be distributed throughout the production, distribution and marketing budgets."

I don't see anything there about "paying down debt", and I don't understand what the producers could mean by that "etc." They might not know either. Essentially the "etc." means, "We're unsure at the moment to what need or want some of that Kickstarter financing might be put. We just want the money now, and we'll see what sorts of expenses and overages occur."

In an earlier question in the FAQs, we see this:

"Why Kickstarter? Why do you need the money?

The movie is actually already funded and is now headed into production this October. All additional funds collected through Kickstarter however will be put towards expanding the production, distribution, and marketing budgets.

The Atlas Shrugged Movie Kickstarter campaign is not so much about money though as it is about marketing."

The producers claim the movie is "fully funded", yet they're asking for an additional $250,000 for the purpose of "expanding the production, distribution, and marketing budgets."

If a film is "fully funded," it means it's "fully funded": production, distribution, and marketing. That's what "fully funded" means. It doesn't mean, "We have *just* enough money to pay the actors and the crew, and now we need a quarter-of-a-million more to make sure that people see it." That's not fully funded; that's PARTIALLY FUNDED. In other words, the producers have — or claim they have — just under $10 million for the literal shooting — the "lensing" — of their movie; perhaps enough to cover post-production as well. But they don't have money for anything else.

And in any case, they admitted that the money would be used to "expand" the production budget, as well as other budgets (such as they are).  If that's the case, then frankly, $250,000 seems awfully slim.

I love how the producers first claim that Kickstarter monies will be used to expand budgets for production, distribution, and marketing; then — as a kind of afterthought — they claim that Kickstarter monies are not really about money at all (!!!), but about marketing. So, if it's about marketing, why say that the monies will ALSO be used for production and distribution? As usual, Aglialoro and Kaslow sound confused, which has been their usual state of mind throughout this entire trilogy. And if the Kickstarter campaign is "not so much about money" but, rather, about getting cult-members "involved" in the production, then why ask for money in the first place? To limit the demand of cult members who might want to come to the set during shooting in order to pretend that they're "part of the process", the producers could have used a lottery, or some other system of random selection.

In moviemaking, EVERYTHING is about money. The Kickstarter campaign for Atlas Shrugged Part 3 is no different. The reason the producers are asking for money is that they WANT the money.

Finally: the producers are trying to define an "us" vs. "them" mindset in donors, with the former being "men-of-the-mind" and the latter being a convenient scapegoat group called "haters." The producers are consciously aware of this psychological ploy, and they use it intentionally to incentivize cult members to donate money ("It's for a great cause! You don't want the Haters to win the world, do you?"). The fact is, there are many admirers of Miss Rand and the original novel from 1957 in that latter group of scapegoats; the only thing they really "hate" is a lousy movie.

mak4374
mak4374

@JazzOZHamilton @mak4374 At least I have "a" philosophy.  And I am able to defend it, whether you think it is junk, or not.  What exactly have you done, other than throw "ad hominem" variations around, as if you know what it actually pertains to (yes, this is the fourth time I have seen responses of yours that use that clique)?

I might not be right, but you still haven't proven me wrong.


HenryBowman
HenryBowman

@j45ashton @micheal.john.price "If you're a true believer you will reject Medicare."

But, of course, you will continue to fund Medicare with every paycheck you draw, because you have no choice in THAT, right?  Same with FICA.

Now, if you're proposing a different deal, please do tell, including what authority you have to make it.  Moocher.