Tuesday, March 10

Atlas sucked.



So I've been reading at several different blogs how a small but vocal cadre of libertarian right-wing-authoritarian-masquerading-as-libertarian bloggers are threatening to respond to Barack Obama's cruel, Marxist attempts to make us all communist put the highest marginal income-tax rate back where it was in the late 1990s by "going John Galt" -- i.e. quitting work in protest and ceasing to make contributions to a society that supposedly only wants to suck off of them like leeches -- and I was prepared to write a long, withering rant about how stupid that is, but a) DougJ at Balloon Juice has already done a better and more succinct job than I would've done (and is named Doug to boot) and b) there's no empirical proof that anyone's actually done it yet.

So in lieu of that rant, I will simply say this: If you're basing your lifestyle, your belief system, or even the name of one of your pets on Atlas Shrugged or anything else written by Ayn Rand, you are a tool.

This isn't even the cranky asshole left-wing liberal in me telling you this, this is the cranky asshole English-lit minor: Atlas Shrugged sucks. It sucks as both a political allegory and a work of fiction. It sucks hard. Atlas Shrugged is not a novel, it is a pissy, monotonous political treatise disguised as a novel, only the disguise is as threadbare as literary gloss gets, because less than 100 pages in it's clear that Rand never bothered to listen to the "show, don't tell" part of her creative-writing classes, nor did she listen to the part where somebody might've taught her how to base her characterizations on anything deeper than what brilliant, calculating industrialists her characters are. It is melodramatic, cartoonish, and as deep as a kiddie pool, but while the simplistic banality of Rand's central conceit seems like something that the average writer could explain and wrap up pretty efficiently, she manages to go on and on and on for more than a thousand pages. Here's a tip: If you're trying to write something as cut-and-dried as a political allegory but you can't bring that bird in for a landing in anything less than 1,088 pages, maybe you need to hang up your literary ambitions and go get your MBA instead. Either that, or find a more diligent editor.

If you're still of an age where teachers or professors are still making you read certain things, I have a bit of advice for you: If any of your teachers have put Atlas Shrugged on your assigned-reading list, drop that class and don't look back. Atlas Shrugged is not just awful, it is godawful. It does not need to be read or analyzed, much less lived; it exists for only two reasons: first, to demonstrate that economic conservatives can be just as annoyingly self-righteous as liberals and religious conservatives, and second, to show you whom you should avoid getting involved in conversations with at parties. I speak from experience here, for I've had the misfortune of running into a few Rand devotees in social settings, and to call them dipshits would be an insult to both dip and shit. This is not meant as a slam against libertarians in general, because I've known some very bright ones, but Ayn Rand is to libertarianism what Fall Out Boy is to punk rock: It's what you get into before you grow up and start actually thinking.

And if you actually liked the book (or claim to), then the best way you can "go John Galt" is by killing yourself. Seriously. If what you really want is to remove yourself from society, it doesn't get much more definitive than that.

ADDED: What do you know, right about the same time I was composing the rant above, the inimitable TBogg was Twittering this:



Short, sweet, to the point. More so than I was, anyway.

57 comments:

Schatten said...

Atlas Shrugged DID suck. That said, did you ever want to doggy romp with Dagney Taggart while making the sign of the dollar bill in the air? I know I did.

NCT said...

I actually enjoyed The Fountainhead (rape as romance aside). And by "enjoyed", I mean I had a good time reading it, although it pissed me off the entire time. I have an architecture thing, so maybe that helped.

But Atlas Shrugged? I agree. Here's where I think Rand made her biggest mistake: the railroads. Really? Really?! You're going to take the one industry in the history of the United States (other than defense) that from top to bottom, beginning to date, has taken advantage of the most public/government assistance and use it as your primary example of how we should just leave individuals alone and we'll all be better off? Really?

i don't care about apathy said...

Rand, Ayn
1. a Russian Jew who is best known for being an American atheist.
2. a writer who espoused a philosophy of unabashed and absolute individualism, thus starting the most massive wave of apple-polishing the bootlickers of the world have enjoyed in decades.

Universal Remonster said...

I'm glad i thought Atlas Shrugged sucked too, otherwise I'd have to off myself...

And I'd like to amend your little Fallout Boy comment... "but Ayn Rand is to libertarianism what Vanilla Ice is to rap: It's well liked for a couple of seconds until people realize what they are listening too, and then people point and laugh for the rest of eternity."

ChicagoDawg said...

Wow, that was unexpected and frankly disappointing. To say this effort was intellectually lazy would be an insult to lazy people and a misuse of the word intellectual. You have basically attempted to take what is a reasonable difference of opinion about how to best organize a society and efficiently allocate resources and dismiss it through -- a.) assuming you know the intellectual foundation for the arguments of the counter view b.) using Ayn Rand as a surrogate for all that represents the counter view c.) dismissing the counter view based on your literary critique of a piece of fiction without addressing the key arguments or articulating why your centrally planned worldview offers a better solution. Lame. I guess I could put just as much thought into a retort, which says liberals eat boogers and get their intellectual inspiration from Kieth Olbermann -- a pedantic, narcissistic and disingenuous blow-hard.

steve said...

Going John Galt is the conservative nutbag version of the liberal nutbag moving to Canada if George Bush is elected. I would venture to say that very few people who make over $250,000 a year will see the idea of going John Galt very appealing whether they've read Rand or not. They probably didn't get to that success level by being idiots. However, there are quite a few reports that a high number of liberal idiots did go to Canada, probably after reading one of Al Frankin's masterpieces.

CoolSchool said...

ChicagoDawg, the question of the moment is did you like Atlas Shrugged as a book, not as a political treatise. Many years ago, after hearing so much about it I read it, or should I say tried to read it. I admit I only made it through about 800 pages. Even if you agree with the philosophy, can you not agree with Doug that, as a book, it is not very good?

ChicagoDawg said...

CoolSchool -- Sure, the novel, as piece of literature may blow. Frankly, I admit to not having the appetite to tackle either the Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged. Not because of their size, but because I am bored by reading works that I may be sympathetic towards. I am much more stimulated by views that challenge my beliefs, which is why I read the NYT, Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker and listen/watch NPR and MSNBC for current events information. I don't know anyone who has built their belief system around Rand or her works. Sure, I suspect that libertarians and fiscal conservatives may identify with the thesis of these works, but I know of no serious person who views these works as holy writ. Perhaps I mis-read the intent of the blog, but to me it felt like an attempt to swat away any criticism of Obama and his ambitions by characterizing those who dissent as a bunch of sycophants who worship at the altar of Ayn Rand.

CoolSchool said...

ChicagoDawg, thanks for the clarification. You sound like a member of an endangered species-an openminded thinker.

Josh M. said...

Not all books can be The Audacity of Hope or It Takes A Village, after all.

jkelsofarrell said...

I liked The Fountainhead a great deal and I even enjoyed Atlas Shrugged. Her best fiction is probably Anthem, of course Anthem is about 120 pages as opposed to the other behemoths.

But I read them as literature and not as politics, being that I was an English major (and now have the dubious honor of having a PhD in English literature) and try to avoid politics whenever possible because it all just makes me sad.

Patrick said...

Doug, I read here a lot, and I don't usually have cause to comment. I just can't help myself here.

I want to preface this by saying that I like your writing and your site. I also find you to be one of the funniest guys out there. Other than a couple of the Vol blogs (including our own), there are only two or three that are worth reading every day, including yours (for giggles, the other two are get the picture and JCCW).

An avid reader, I am one of those people who puts Atlas Shrugged as my favorite book I've ever read. I also devoured Fountainhead and Anthem. If any book is a political allegory to the letter, it is Anthem. Just a fantastic and simple book.

I like books that make me think, just like I like movies that make me think. I didn't read Atlas as a political manifesto, although I certainly agree with a large part of the political philosophy of the book.

I don't think Atlas is as much a call to people who society depends on to fuel the economy and the government to withdraw necessarily, as it is a warning to society as a whole and those who look to those people as their saviors. The whole point of the book is that no one will continue to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders (other than Christ himself) without shrugging it off. I can definitely see analogues in the current events of today, but I'm not ready to "go John Galt" or anything. Actually, I would never reach that point, and neither would most people I don't think.

My next comment is to say that you are better than this crap. You sound like many of my buddies who are Obama apologists and don't want to address Rand's theories head on when they are cited. Instead, you choose to attack her and her writing style and the people who follow her as opposed to the actual philosophy/sociology she believed in (Rand was an objectivist by the way, although there is a lot of libertarian overlap). Attacks like that coupled with your self-credentialing as a lit major make you look like a lit snob. That's what I mean by "you're better than this crap." Just because it isn't James Joyce, Cormac McCarthy, Tolstoy, or Steinbeck doesn't mean it deserves to be thrown in the trash.

Finally, I know you hated the book, but I sense that is in large part because you don't like the premise and disagree with her on so many things. Fair enough. It is also easy for you to discount it as a literature major because some gray-headed dingbat on a college campus preferred you to read Shakespeare taught you that you should. But you can't deny its popularity, which obviously isn't popularity fueled by the masses of people who consume Britney Spears recordings and read Harry Potter books. Rather, the book's popularity comes from educated college graduates and open-minded thinkers. I don't mean to stereotype, but stupid people don't read 1100 page books. Rand's audience isn't exactly stupid. At one time, I saw that it was #1 on a favorite books list, although all I can find is this tidbit from Wikipedia regarding it: "According to a 1991 United States survey by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club, Atlas Shrugged was the book that made most difference in readers' lives after the Bible."

All that said, Rand's theories/beliefs are unrealistic. A completely free market economy is a disaster waiting to happen and will stomp all over society in order to accumulate all the wealth in a few. But it is closer to the way things should be than where we are going, and I think that is the true lesson we should learn from it. It is all about balance, and now the balance is tilting toward the wrong axis.

Anyway, keep up the good work, and thanks for reading my long-winded comment!

Doug said...

Let me reiterate that while I find Rand's beliefs sophomoric, they're only incidental to my hatred of Atlas Shrugged. She'd be a boring, talentless writer even if she were a leftist pinko like me.

Will said...

Atlas is probably the only book that has a lobbying group to get it on reading lists.

As far as people following Ayn Rand's teachings, I'd say Alan Greenspan (who knew her as well) would be the #1 example. And it was just a few months ago he went before Congress and admitted "I was wrong."

Too many people assume that once gov't regulations are out of the way we'll be dealing among "rational actors"--and that clearly was not the case in the financial industry.

DC Trojan said...

Will, I'd argue that in fact the financial industry was full of people who were very much being "rational utility maximizers," inasmuch as they were undertaking decisions that 1) left them significantly weathier, and 2) left a lot of other people significantly wealthier. However, the failure of the underlying mathematical models and the lack of transparency created risks which, unfortunately, have affected many more people than were benefiting in the first place.

ChicagoDawg, while I take your point about tarring people with a given brush, I do wonder about people who would make a short term decision based on Rand's books or even use them for rhetorical basis. As I understand it, Rand was writing very much in reaction to the emergence of totalitarian state socialism in Russia, and the brutality of the civil war transitioning into collectivization and the other nightmares of Stalin. That, to me, seems like a bad baseline to use for talking or thinking about American politics simply because, in practice, our political economy is more Randian (Randy?) than Stalinist.

Put it another way: I am finding it hard to understand why people are getting riled up about "Obama's socialism" and at least suggesting dropping out because of a 39% marginal income tax rate when it is, in effect, a return to the Reagan years. That, to me, is not objective, it's hysterical.

And while I could go on at length about the Bush Administration, I don't join with the sort of people who would make Nazi analogies - as bad as I thought they were, the Bush Administration didn't merit that comparison. I find the notion that the proposed (and likely) taxation plans of the Obama Administration are in any way analogous to collectivization to be equivalently inane.

And for what it's worth, ChicagoDawg, while I read the Atlantic and (sometimes) the New Yorker, I do also read the Economist for a little variety.

John said...

Amen to DCT. Our policy discussions have now taken the form of either side to an issue opposing any proposed marginal change with nuclear rhetorical weapons. Propose to put marginal tax rates back where they were when Silicon Valley was innovating like a mother&^%$? "Why that's socialism! All of our creative people are going to become hermits."

I'm not sure which group is currently annoying me more, Galtians or people who have problems with the mocking of Jim Cramer for actually trying to defend his Jimmy the Greek Act as legitimate financial journalism.

Holly said...
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Holly said...

Atlas Shrugged should be held up in backwaters everywhere as an argument against teaching women to read and write.

Josh M. said...

"...because of a 39% marginal income tax rate when it is, in effect, a return to the Reagan years."

Why does everybody think the "socialist" tag comes just because of the tax rate? (Even though, as an aside, a reduction of that rate led to increased private spending and the booming commerce of the '90s).

Only part of it is how much money is being spent - a much bigger part is HOW it is being spent. That's where the socialism tag comes from. Spreading the wealth, etc. And I have yet to hear an Obama come up with a better response to "He's a socialist" than "Nuh-uh."

Explain to me how he ISN'T one - and please don't cling to that tax rate argument, because it's a false example.

Josh M. said...

...an Obama defender...

Doug said...

Name one industry that Obama has nationalized. Hasn't nationalized the auto industry, the airlines, the insurance industry, or even the banks, in spite of noted Marxist pinkos like Alan Greenspan urging him to do so.

And your tax statistics are off. The highest marginal income-tax rate was raised from 31% to 39.6% in 1993 -- this happened while Clinton was president, and happened to coincide with that "private spending and the booming commerce of the '90s" you're so nostalgic for. Bush dropped the highest rate a half-point in 2001, then another half-point a year later, then down to 35% in 2003.

So if Obama is putting the top marginal rate back where it was at the onset of that wonderful period of prosperity in the '90s, then seriously, what are you bitching about?

DC Trojan said...

Josh, color me confused. It seems to me that when I hear people objecting to Obama's policies from a conservative standpoint, one of the first things that comes up is the increase of marginal rates on income tax to levels that are essentially status quo ante and had no demonstrable effect on reducing growth in the 1990s. So if that's not a valid example, then what exactly am I responding to?

Put it another way, your request that someone persuade you that Obama isn't a socialist is to say "prove he isn't." Rhetorically speaking, that's the equivalent of asking if I've stopped beating my wife. Why is the onus not on you to explain why Obama *is* a Socialist?

Robert said...

Gravity's Rainbow and Atlas Shrugged are answers to this Jeopardy question:

"These books are better to get high and talk about rather than actually read"

jkelsofarrell said...

Robert, I couldn't agree more with you about Gravity's Rainbow. What a clusterf*ck that book is.

Universal Remonster said...

You forgot "Finnegans Wake" there, Robert....

Josh M. said...

In just 50 days, Obama has already made motions to socialize the health care industry, energy and post-secondary education. Any jobs he talks of creating are always government jobs; his tax increases on high achievers guarantee that private sector jobs will decrease in great numbers.

I've never called Obama a capital-S Socialist, but many of his policies carry that onus. Nearly every one of his proposals has the effect of empowering government and politicians over our lives, and he's just getting started.

John said...

OK, I'm calling bull%^S!.

Socialize post-secondary education? How? By growing the direct lending program which has existed for over a decade? I guess if taking away bankruptcy-protected and government-subsidized loans from lenders is socialist then definitions have no meaning. The prior system of goverment-guaranteed profits always struck me as rather anti-market in itself. Instead, they propose going to the cheaper-for-the-taxpayer direct lending system.

Socialize health care? Jeez, his initial proposal was to increase taxes and have those who can buy on the market and those who don't join the existing Medicare system. But, he's also said that I'm coming up with the funding mechanism, you guys come up with a way of increasing coverage.

Energy? You come the closest with that but it's still not socialism my friend. He's proposing a carbon cap-and-trade system which would drive investment (and consumption) into cleaner venues. Where the means of production would still be (gasp) owned by private actors.

DCT's point is well taken. If you're going to accuse someone of being a socialist, please bring some details along for the ride. I picked the portions of your response based on your broad strokes.

Doug said...

What "motions" has he made, exactly? The only mentions of these plans I could find on the Web were on right-wing Web sites I can most charitably describe as "fringe," and none of them could give any more specifics about what these plans are supposed to entail than you did.

I continue to be amazed at how so many people on your side of the aisle are going to such great lengths to find socialist overtones or other nefarious intent less than two months into the Obama presidency, particularly after having looked the other way for the better part of eight years as Bush spent more money and expanded the reach of government far more than Obama has even dreamed of doing so far. Yes, there's been a political shift in Washington, and no, you may not like how much money Obama is spending or how he plans to spend it, but "socialism"? Let's not make this any more dramatic than it is.

The Realist said...

I think we are missing the idea of "shades of gray" inherent in any political discourse. There are extremes, but very rarely are governments allowed to operate at those extremes. The United States government is no exception.

Obama is not a socialist in the extreme, but let's say he has socialist tendencies. Bush was not a Nazi, but the government gained extreme power at the sacrifice of those he governed.

It's not that it is one way or another. It's more of a spectrum of operating boundaries within which the government is allowed to operate. Sometimes, those boundaries shift like they did under FDR. Reagan moved the country back to the right, but it was still within those boundaries. Clinton moved back to the middle, and Bush II was all over the place with each policy that came out of the White House.

My hope is that Obama will at least provide some consistency in the policies. He may change some things, but it will hopefully be by moving things back toward the middle. He may move things left to a degree, but I don't anticipate sweeping changes that adjust those boundaries despite the economic collapse.

Of course, that's just my humble, uneducated opinion.

ChicagoDawg said...

Realist -- You make a very good point. It is always easier for people to retire to their respective ideological ghettos where they are affirmed in their beliefs and can project whatever virtue they want onto the acts of their protagonist. From that place, they then seek to degrade the views and motives of the "opposition" through hyperbolic claims that bear little resemblance to reality. I am certainly not trying to be holier than thou in this regard as I too have lapsed into this behavior and can be easily baited into that mindset. However, to your larger point, the political parties in the US are both largely center oriented parties, by any reasonable measure, with neither deviating greater than 1 standard deviation from the mean. Clearly, Obama is pursuing a center-left agenda (too left for my personal taste), but he is not a collectivist in the USSR/NKorea/Cuba mold. Just as George Bush was not the cause for your broken water heater, flat tire, cheating girlfriend or every other unfortunate event over the last 8 years, Keith Olbermann's delusions notwithstanding. However, if that is the prejudiced lens through which you wish to view events then those are the conclusions you will draw -- however removed from reality they might be.

Matt Brooks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Buck said...

In my opinion "Atlas Shrugged" is just very bad science fiction.

To get to the root of what is going on now put down Atlas Shrugged and read Nixonland.

chrisfrmatl said...

Socialize this and socialize that.. Could someone please give me a definition of socialism without googling it?

ChicagoDawg said...

chrisfrmatl -- Socialism is the public/govt ownership and control of a given entity (be it property, goods, services). However, it is not to be confused with democracy or totalitarianism -- as you can have state ownership of these entities in democracies (see Western Europe). Also, there is a wide variance in the degree to which there may be socialism, where only a few institutions may be socialized (public education & Social Security) vs. the entire economy (N Korea, Cuba, USSR).
That is my un-googled definition, for whatever that is worth.

Will said...

Josh-
Obama can't even bring himself to propose a full-on Single-Payer healthcare solution.
The latest proposal I've seen was similar to John Edwards' plan: create/expand the healthcare that Federal workers (Congressmen) get to all, and the private insurers either compete with that, or they die. Which sounds pretty capitalist to me.

And if the 90s boom can be attributed to Reagan's cuts...you wouldn't object to the post-WWII boom from the 50s to the 70s being the result of a top marginal rate between 92% and 70% would you? (Ah the fun of ribbing based on tax rates...I need to bring a flask to work...)

ChicagoDawg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ChicagoDawg said...

Will -- I am sure you are not suggesting a return to the top marginal tax rates that you cite (at least I hope). But, I feel compelled to state that the 50s - 70s boom for the US is more highly correlated to the lack of global competition.

China, USSR and Eastern Europe were non-participants on the global economic stage as they falsely chased after a Marxist utopia. Latin America was agrarian. India was trying to pull itself together after post-colonial rule and were socialist non-participants also. Western Europe was digging out and rebuilding after 2 continental wars that decimated their infrastructure, industries and a millions of lives. Japan was also rebuilding itself in the 1950s after being severely degraded after WWII. Lastly, we were also able to provide for much of our own energy needs in the 1950s & 60s.

So, while the US suffered huge losses of life (500k) and treasure in WWII, it was small relative to those experienced in Europe and Asia and we emerged with a profound global competitive advantage that is likely never to be seen again. That competitive advantage has eroded through the transformation of previously closed economies of USSR, Eastern Europe, India and China, re-birth of Western Europe and the industrialization of Mexico, Viet Nam, South Korea, et al.

Jason said...

I thought this was a football blog.

Someone should ask Mike Leach his thoughts on Ayn Rand. That would be solid bloggery.

Syskiller said...

http://crooksandliars.com/david-neiwert/atlas-wanked-fiction-fraud-52-years

nuff said

Dr. Squid said...

And I have yet to hear an Obama come up with a better response to "He's a socialist" than "Nuh-uh."

If you make the claim, don't demand that someone else do the legwork, lazy-ass conservative dipshit. I'm sick of you fucking leeches. All you fuckbags going Galt would be the best thing to happen to America.

just john said...

I believe it was John Barth, author of The Sot-Weed Factor, who said any story that can't be told in 819 pages or less isn't worth telling.

Bluesborn said...

"Atlas Shrugged should be held up in backwaters everywhere as an argument against teaching women to read and write"

Thanks for the belly laugh Holly.
Very droll.

aka, Markoff Chaney said...

First off, there is no such thing as a 'free' or 'private' market - think about how many laws and regulation are there to maintain current distribution of wealth and markets (under Bush or any other professed uber-capitalist)... in other words, the private market is always heavily regulated and relies on tons of political choices about distribution.

Secondly, only in America do you get this wierd capitalism vs. socialism argument where each idea is absurdly reduced to really really broad generalizations. Maybe this is just the fact that we live beneath the legacy of a country of people who dont travel, dont really read that deeply, watch way too much television, and so on.

Third, Obama is no more socialist than Bush is pro small government... Privatization, from the Enron debacle to government services in America, or abroad (think what happened in post Soviet Union era to Eastern and Central European countries), has not really proved to be a good thing for most people. Both Obama and Bush administration buy into the neoclassical economic idea of comparative advantage, which we are witnesses now first hand in the states is not really true in any way, shape or form. At the end of the day Obama's outrage over AIG bonuses, for instance, is just theater, just as Cheney's concern for following the rule of law is disingenuous at best (unless the rule of law means a super-presidential system staffed by energy ceos and military-industrial complex people). Invoking 'socialism' or 'capitalism' instead of thinking strategically about the distributional and pragmatic consequences of actions, is just an attempt to not have to think.

What I think this conversation is really about, is that most people realize that government has totally undergone regulatory capture by major financial interests, and no one really knows what to do about it short of violence which we dont want either...

Obama sucks in most ways financially, and Bush was pretty much an unmitigated disaster, and as 'developing' markets are growing it is just basic economics that the US lifestyle will go down to some extent... new situation, new context, for god's sake, could we stop thinking in a 1950s mindset and catch up to the current reality?

Kevin said...

Ayn Rand's books were and still are immensely popular soft core porn for college girls. Anyone who takes the "philosophy" seriously is a nitwit.

P Smith said...

To chrisfrmatl:

Socialism is traditionally defined as government ownership of industry, but in practice it does not actually require it. Partial control of industry through regulation is often considered a form of socialism.

Many times, governments control business where free enterprise cannot or WILL not provide the market with a product at an affordable price (e.g. post office, police, telephone companies in small countries). In countries such as Canada or England, they are called "Crown Corporations", which is a term you might want to look up.

Whether a country is "socialist" is really a matter of degree. No one would call the George Putsch government "socialist", yet there were still fire departments, road construction, police, school boards, the post office and other facilities still "socialized" for the benefit of all. And nobody calls it socialism or welfare when corporations are given public money for research and development or bailouts, yet that's exactly what it is. Similarly, countries such as Sweden, Finland, England, Denmark, Canada and many others have policies that are very "socialist" yet their capitalist democracies are not labelled as such.

As will many other terms (e.g. "terrorists"), who the label is hung on depends heavily on who's doing the talking, and is not a matter of what the actual policies are.

eudemonist said...

Why does "Virtue of Selfishness" not get discussed more? It seems like it would be easier to attack her ideas by way of her non-fiction, where the argument wouldn't be derailed by her storytelling. Of course, it may just seem that way to me beacuse I'm a nitwit...

Doug Sharp said...

"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." - Bob Roberts
http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2009/03/ephemera-2009-7.html

Teehee.

Dante said...

So much potential, yet, so much fail. If you're going to attempt a serious political critique, try not to whine so much. You're a breathing form of Ellsworth Toohey. Good day.

cmurphy said...

The problem with Rand is two fold, in my view. First, critical to Atlas, there are no heroes. They don't exist in anywhere near the magnitude she proposes. The self-interest of the hero is not inherently aligned with the rest of us.

In her view the hero is the one with all the capital and innovation. And hence the second problem, critical to reality, her notion of hero is not in fact departing from society, refusing to play along. It's exactly the opposite. Her oligopoly-financed capitalists are in cahoots with the government. They're in and around government having formed a plutocracy to defraud us.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/21/business/21bank.html?_r=1&hp

This is the Paulson program, with some eye candy attached to it, most notably the involvement of the FDIC, which matters not one wit in practice for the plan Geithner proposes is functionally equivalent. It proposes non-recourse loans to create a (diplomatically speaking) fuckton of moral hazard.

The transparency of this unethical plan should demonstrate to anyone paying attention how similar Republicans and Democrats are when it comes to team vs. principles.

It's a disgusting, awful mess.

peter said...

the premise of atlas shrugged, that a man has created a perpetual motion machine but will not share it because he won't be properly compensated for it, is the worst sort of "deus ex machina" device of twentieth century literature.

furthermore the most successful socialist institution in history is the N.F.L.; revenue sharing, the salary cap, and the worst team gets the first round draft pick.

Last Redoubt said...

I actually enjoyed "Atlas Shrugged" in my youth. It was almost SciFi. Does no one remember the almost magical metal developed and produced by the hero. The technology used to hide the John Galts of the world. To me the book was about rewarding those that actually made the lives of others better. But that's not how the rich get rich today. They get rich on paper. They do nothing and produce nothing. They gamble in a fixed game.

mickey said...

It seems a paradox that the conservatives, neo-cons, and anti-government movement since Reagan-groups who share Rand's vision- have turned our existence into the very world of Atlas Shrugged where nothing works, the government is incompetant and corrupt, and the trains won't run on time. As to the question of who is John Galt,I think it must be Alan Greenspan.

John Kusch said...

This article got farked? Who did you blow?

(Just trading ad hominem for ad hominem. Your first two paragraphs contain no actual information.)

Dave Id said...

Boowhahahahha That was hilarious and hit the nail on the head. Awesome post. AS deep as a kiddie pool. Just brilliant.

Eran said...

I must confess that I think of Ayn Rand whenever I play Bioshock. It's like the the postscript to Atlas Shrugged.

lee coley said...

I honestly believe that most of you in American today have forgotten or were never made to read or study the Constitution of the United States. Article II. Section 2. Does not state that the President of the United States has the Power to make Law. Kings and Dictators have that singularity power. Article I., Section 8. defines who has the "Power" to lay and collect taxes, Duties.... and the General Welfare of the United States.

When and how you people came to the conclusion that ALL of the problems with America for the last 50 years rests at the feet of President's past & present is beyond me.

Congress, BOTH Houses and BOTH Parties are at fault here. We do not have a Government of the People, by the People & "for" the People. It has perished from the Earth. Tell me the last time when a sitting Representative or Senator held a town hall meeting to discuss what he or she should do on "our" behalf concerning any topic?

Well?

http://freepressisdead.blogspot.com/

Lucas said...

Actually, I thought Atlas Shrugged was an enjoyable book... not necessarily a GOOD book, but an enjoyable one. Sure, the main characters were all one-dimensional (and all the SAME dimension) and totally not believable. Sure, the plot was - well - lacking. On the other hand, I found that the 1,088 pages went remarkably quickly for me, so it wasn't excruciatingly written.