Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, capitalism, economics, free-market economy, GOP, government, Objectivism, Paul Ryan, philosophy, Rand Paul
I’ve been reading Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s epic novel that has become the spiritual guide for the likes of Rand Paul and Paul Ryan. They, so we understand, have made it required reading for their staffs.
I’m only about half way through (it’s over 1,000 pages), and I can already tell that anyone who thinks this is some kind of model of how to run a country is, well, not exactly playing with a full deck.
Ayn Rand was an immigrant from Russia, and pretty much that’s all you need to know. Her thinking is utterly shaped by her hatred of Communism and those who brought it upon the earth–the intellectual elites in the form of “progressives.”
Her heroes in the book are all brilliant industrialists, those who work because they see the only virtue as being the quest to create. It is the purpose of existence.
Juxtaposed against them are the progressives, those who teach and those who are not capable of creating. They pursue as their virtue love of humanity and the need to help one’s brother.
Where it all goes horribly wrong is in the extrapolations. The good guys are perfectly good and the bad guys are perfectly bad. It gets down to even sex. For the good guys sex is a million fireworks going off at once as to perfect people unite in creative glory. For the bad guys, sex is that dirty little animal drive reserved for faceless men and women in back alleys.
In a nutshell, Rand creates draws out the pitfalls of the nanny society to such absurd extensions and the glories of unbridled capitalism to inhuman heights, that they ultimately are laughable. That anyone could take this as a serious likelihood worldwide, is indeed quite juvenile in their thinking. Indeed, they are incapable of anything resembling critical thought.
The fact that most philosophers have rejected her theories of “objectivism” relying on utter reason as the basis for all knowledge, and her belief that only a pure laissez-faire capitalism can protect individual rights, hasn’t stopped those who champion her cause. Of course it is a rather convenient excuse for corporate greed. And surely she would have nodded at Gecko’s shout: “Greed is good.” She promoted selfishness a proper and “good” thing after all.
Ironically, she was very much against religion of any kind, finding it failed the “reason” test. I say ironic because today her most ardent supporters are the know-nothing TeaNutz®. A healthy percentage of them are also ultra right-wing Christianists who wish in the end to form a theocratic state modeled after their strange interpretation of the bible. Ayn would have shuddered and be repulsed by such notions. Given that the average TeaNutz® imbiber has neither read Rand nor has a clue of anything she wrote, this is pretty understandable. You can imagine that the GOP elite is not rushing to inform them either.
She would have whole-heartedly endorsed the idea of calling industrialists as “job creators” since she found workers as parasites, necessary ones to be sure. Among her friends and presumably fellow travelers is one Alan Greenspan. Other admirers are Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavericks and John P. Mackey, owner of Whole Foods.
It is not hard to extrapolate from her portrayal of the wealthy as the true “victims” of society to the idea that it is a near-religious sin to think of taxing these superior folk. That is essentially the Republican mantra. After all, they are the fountainhead (pun intended) of the successful state.
I have to admit that I am enjoying the read. I love tomes (I read Aztec for god’s sake!), and this one is about par for the course, wildly boring in spots, full of soapbox rhetoric that passes as “conversation” and a plot that is fairly obvious. I am about half way through and long ago “guessed” the outcome. Still, the characters are interesting and like I said, I like these kinds things. (I’ve also read War and Peace TWICE.)
Still, reading the book or even reading a Wikipedia bio on Rand explains a good deal of what would otherwise be inexplicable regarding the GOP. What is amusing most of all is that the silly TeaNutz® continue to have no clue. It is quite clear that the GOP elite neither cares nor is interested in pursuing the social aspects of the trailer-livin’ right. They are prepared to give lip service and that only. Rand was in favor of abortion rights, she had an open marriage, and she as I said, had no use for religion whatsoever.
Much of the “shadow” GOP feels the same. This is simply about money, and making sure that money goes to the right place and thus power is retained where it should be. The little folks are just to be patted on the head, thrown a crumb or two once in a while, and assured that “efforts are being made” to effect a moral government based on the bible. To the degree that a number of them feel that this is “ordained” by their unique interpretation of the bible, that is well, gravy.
I don’t say read the book. You may not have the fortitude to sign up for that long a haul, but do at least familiarize yourself with its basic outline and the life of its writer. And do pay a bit closer attention to those who promote this science fiction as “where we are headed” if a certain black man continues to guide the ship of state.
- Articles of Faith: Did Ayn Rand and Austerity Politics Kill Compassionate Conservatism? (swampland.time.com)
- The Ayn Rand-Satan Connection Revealed! (reason.com)
- Rand Paul Agrees With Mitt Romney: “All Of Us Are Corporations” (alan.com)
- Ayn Rand and the GOP vs. Jesus (tinyfrog.wordpress.com)
- Atlas Shrugged (gabriellapinto.wordpress.com)
- The Dark Side Of Ayn Rand (lukeford.net)
You’re reading ATLAS SHRUGGED? I salute your stamina.
“Ironically, she was very much against religion of any kind, finding it failed the “reason” test.”
All the more ironic when you recall that she led her followers like a quasi-religious cult, according to reports.
The mindset found it ATLAS SHRUGGED is definitely alive today, although many of its adherents wouldn’t necessarily cite Rand. The worship of wealth, the unwillingness to cooperate for the greater good, the disdain for progressives and “lowly” masses . . . it all sounds strangely familiar.
Indeed, her following is cultish and have been accused of being religious in the greater sense. It strikes me as quite interesting that Alan Greenspan was a lifelong friend and apparent political pal of Ms. Rand’s strange thinking. Now THAT’s important.
THANK YOU for reading this, Sherry–so I don’t have to! One of the guys wrote me from prison about how enamored he is with this book. I’m going to print this posting and send it to him. I remember trying to read the book when I was a senior in high school, but life intervened.
Heck two years of life could be used up in reading her. lol…She has become my supreme summer lazy reading. Can’t wait to get to the Fountainhead, her other epic snooze, but I hear that it is actually better rated.
Paul Sunstone said:
Ayn Rand filled her novels with one dimensional characters because she was incapable of a complex thought. And her followers are not much better than her.
I have to agree. Her characters are all perfect or perfectly horrid. There is little in nuanced character development.
I’ve shied away from “Atlas” cause it was just too long for my ADD attention span. Thanks for the review. The only way I’ll ever read it is via one of those small yellow books I had in college that condensed and summarized everything so you wouldn’t have waste your time reading some crap and could devote yourself to partying and hanging out at the campus coffee shop.
I understand completely. As I said, I love tomes, and this is a great one in that respect, but it is helpful to understand the otherwise insane twistings of the GOP.
“House at Pooh Corner” is a better book to fashion a society on…… trust me… I reread it every year. That Pooh! He really had his shit together!!!!!
Perhaps that is the best answer of all to our dilemmas Jimmy.
The louder you guys talk of how insane and sociopathic Rand is, the better her sales become. Even now. : )
Um, she’s dead, and her cadre of fellow travelers is pretty limited to fringe nuts. Not exactly worried about them growing beyond the speck they are.
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Atlas Shrugged paints a fiction extrapolation of problems that have long existed in the world. The goal of the novel was exactly that – to show an issue and give one possible answer to a dilema. I find it impossible for any educated individual to read this novel and not gain insight into their own personal beliefs of right and wrong. My personal insights to that experience are exactly that – my own. Why then try to sway others against deciding such things for themselves? Why base a text off of its creator? Why would her religion or place of origin have any influence on a decision to or not to read her novel?
*My apologies for any possible typos, English is not my primary language*
in theory I agree with you. Actually I found the novel, though really boring in parts, interesting as to the characters. But unfortunately far too many consider it some sort of manual for the type of society we should initiate. Rand takes her own experiences in Russia and then develops this theory of unfettered capitalism, sans any real government as the solution. I would have never read it frankly had not a number from the Right lauded her as the blueprint America should be striving for. It’s a terrible plan, since frankly it misunderstands human behavior I think, horribly. And PS. your english and spelling were just fine. !END