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Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult

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The Great Transformation Neoliberalism as secular religion, "idolatry of money" Techno-fundamentalism Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure Globalization of Financial Flows Globalization of Corporatism
Greenspan as the Chairman of Financial Politburo Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Neoliberalism credibility trap Greenspan humor Etc

She was a shitty writer who could sell books by giving a repressed Calvinism-inspired society permission to be dicks. Now that the little selfishness-orgy is coming to a close, we find ourselves feeling nauseated and sticky, while this woman's legacy is trying to convince us to keep pumping, instead of grabbing a shower and skulking away to do something productive in order to distract us from the shame.

"Rand + Greenspan = Bonnie + Clyde". All you closet Objectivists can now step up to the plate and have at it...

There is great irony here. Karl Marx envisioned Communism to deal with the abuses of Capitalism. But the Russian Immigrant Ayn Rand, fleeing the abuses of Communism, created an equally idealized scheme of Capitalism that became a part of Neoliberalism doctrine. And managed to take a part, by proxy via unforgettable Chairman Greenspan, in almost sinking the ship. Some recent Ayn Rand aficionados, like Mark Sanford, are simply fools. Alan Greenspan was not a fool. But he was an ideologue, and as such a very dangerous and destructive player. He genuinely thought our economy could tolerate the unregulated derivatives market, unregulated financial institutions, and practices that created huge, profitable financial bubbles. Those were ideology-driven “hunches” that went tragically wrong… Unlike Marx saying that the history repeats itself, first and tragedy, second as farce, the second time in this case was also a tragedy and countries ruined by neoliberalism and the lives destroyed are not difficult to count. So it not just a cult, it is a medieval cruel cult.

As Pope Francis noted "idolatry of money" is connected to the denial of primacy of human person (Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 2013):

No to the new idolatry of money

55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

It's interesting how close Ayn Rand teaching is both to national-socialism (via primitive assimilation of Nietzschean ideas and Bolshevism (both of her books are written in traditions and aesthetics of "Socialist realism"). It's interesting that like was the case with bolshevism she created a classic "cult of personality" environment typical for Bolsheviks leaders:

One of the closest to Rand was Nathaniel Branden, a young philosophy student who joined the Collective in the early days before Atlas Shrugged was published. In his autobiographical memoirs entitled Judgment Day (1989), Branden recalled: "There were implicit premises in our world to which everyone in our circle subscribed, and which we transmitted to our students at NBI." Incredibly, and here is where the philosophical movement became a cult, they came to believe that (pp. 255-256):

It is important to note that my critique of Rand and Objectivism as a cult is not original. Rand and her followers were, in their time, accused of being a cult which, of course, they denied. "My following is not a cult. I am not a cult figure," Rand once told an interviewer. Barbara Branden, in her biography, The Passion of Ayn Rand, recalls: "Although the Objectivist movement clearly had many of the trappings of a cult -- the aggrandizement of the person of Ayn Rand, the too ready acceptance of her personal opinions on a host of subjects, the incessant moralizing -- it is nevertheless significant that the fundamental attraction of Objectivism . . . was the precise opposite of religious worship" (p. 371). -[Bolsheviks would laugh at such an augmentation -- NNB]

And Nathaniel Branden addressed the issue this way: "We were not a cult in the literal, dictionary sense of the word, but certainly there was a cultish aspect to our world . . . . We were a group organized around a charismatic leader, whose members judged one another's character chiefly by loyalty to that leader and to her ideas" (p. 256).

But if you leave the "religious" component out of the definition, thus broadening the word's usage, it becomes clear that Objectivism was (and is) a cult, as are many other, non-religious groups. In this context, then, a cult may be characterized by:

The ultimate statement of Rand's absolute morality heads the title page of Nathaniel Brandon's book. Says Rand:
The precept: "Judge not, that ye be not judged" . . . is an abdication of moral responsibility: it is a moral blank check one gives to others in exchange for a moral blank check one expects for oneself.

There is no escape from the fact that men have to make choices; so long as men have to make choices, there is no escape from moral values; so long as moral values are at stake, no moral neutrality is possible. To abstain from condemning a torturer, is to become an accessory to the torture and murder of his victims.

The moral principle to adopt . . . is: "Judge, and be prepared to be judged."

The absurd lengths to which such thinking can go is demonstrated by Rand's pronounced judgments on her followers of even the most trivial things. Rand had argued, for example, that musical taste could not be objectively defined, yet, as Barbara Branden observed, "if one of her young friends responded as she did to Rachmaninoff . . . she attached deep significance to their affinity." By contrast, if a friend did not respond as she did to a certain piece or composer, Rand "left no doubt that she considered that person morally and psychologically reprehensible." Branden recalled an evening when a friend of Rand's remarked that he enjoyed the music of Richard Strauss. "When he left at the end of the evening, Ayn said, in a reaction becoming increasingly typical, 'Now I understand why he and I can never be real soul mates. The distance in our sense of life is too great.' Often, she did not wait until a friend had left to make such remarks" (p. 268).

With this set of criteria it becomes possible to see that a rational philosophy can become a cult when most or all of these are met. This is true not only for philosophical movements, but in some scientific schools of thought as well. Many founding scientists have become almost deified in their own time, to the point where apprentices dare not challenge the master. As Max Planck observed about science in general, only after the founders and elder statesmen of a discipline are dead and gone can real change occur and revolutionary new ideas be accepted.

In both Barbara's and Nathaniel Branden's assessment, then, we see all the characteristics of a cult. But what about deceit and sexual exploitation? In this case, "exploitation" may be too strong of a word, but the act was present nonetheless, and deceit was rampant. In what has become the most scandalous (and now oft-told) story in the brief history of the Objectivist movement, starting in 1953 and lasting until 1958 (and on and off for another decade after), Ayn Rand and her "intellectual heir" Nathaniel Branden, 25 years her junior, carried on a secret love affair known only to their respective spouses. The falling in love was not planned, but it was ultimately "reasonable" since the two of them were, de facto, the two greatest humans on the planet. "By the total logic of who we are--by the total logic of what love and sex mean--we had to love each other," Rand told Barbara Branden and her own husband, Frank O'Connor. It was a classic display of a brilliant mind intellectualizing a purely emotional response, and another example of reason carried to absurd heights. "Whatever the two of you may be feeling," Rand rationalized, "I know your intelligence, I know you recognize the rationality of what we feel for each other, and that you hold no value higher than reason" (B. Brandon, p. 258).

Unbelievably, both Barbara and Frank accepted the affair, and agreed to allow Ayn and Nathaniel an afternoon and evening of sex and love once a week. "And so," Barbara explained, "we all careened toward disaster." The "rational" justification and its consequences continued year after year, as the tale of interpersonal and group deceit grew broader and deeper. The disaster finally came in 1968 when it became known to Rand that Branden had fallen in love with yet another woman, and had begun an affair with her. Even though the affair between Rand and Branden had long since dwindled, the master of the absolutist moral double-standard would not tolerate such a breach of ethical conduct. "Get that bastard down here!," Rand screamed upon hearing the news, "or I'll drag him here myself!" Branden, according to Barbara, slunk into Rand's apartment to face the judgment day. "It's finished, your whole act!" she told him. "I'll tear down your facade as I built it up! I'll denounce you publicly, I'll destroy you as I created you! I don't even care what it does to me. You won't have the career I gave you, or the name, or the wealth, or the prestige. You'll have nothing . . . ." The barrage continued for several minutes until she pronounced her final curse: "If you have an ounce of morality left in you, an ounce of psychological health--you'll be impotent for the next twenty years!" (pp. 345-347).

Barry Ritholtz in his November 15, 2009 blog entry "Ayn Rand: The Boring Bitch is Back"

There is a substantial take-down of pedantic bore Ayn Rand in GQ. They tease it thusly:

2009’s most influential author is a mirthless Russian-American who loves money, hates God, and swings a gigantic dick. She died in 1982, but her spawn soldier on. And the Great Recession is all their fault.

I love that because it is both funny and touches upon so many subtle truths; Here is a longer, funnier excerpt:

“This is because there are boys and girls among us who have never overcome the Randian infection. The Galt speech continues to ring in their ears for years like a maddening tinnitus, turning each of them into what next year’s Physicians’ Desk Reference will (undoubtedly) term an Ayn Rand Asshole (ARA). They constitute a relatively small percentage of Rand readers, these ARAs. But they make their reading count. Thanks to them, the Rand Experience is no longer limited to those who have read the books. It’s metastasized. You, me, all of us, we’re living it. Because it’s the ARA Army of antigovernment-antiregulation puritans who have spent the past three decades gleefully pulling the cooling rods out of the American economy. For a while, it got very big and very hot. Then it popped. And now the rest of us have to spend the next decade scaling the slippery slopes of the huge suppurative crater that was left behind.

Feeling fisted by the Invisible Hand of the Market lo these past fifteen months? Lost a job lately? Or half the value of your 401(k)? Or a home? All three? Been wondering whence the too-long-ascendant political and economic ideas and forces behind Greenspanism, John Thainism, blind Wall Street plunder, bankruptcy, credit-default swaps, Bernie Madoff, and the ensuing Cannibalism in the Streets? Then you, sir, need to give thanks to Ayn Rand Assholes everywhere—as well as the steely loins from which they sprang.”

Brilliant.

I haven’t read Rand’s work for decades, but I do recall two things: A) It was a giant pedantic bore; 2) Debating it with people in College was always a hoot. The thing that struck me most was the lack of rigor in the arguments — it was more religion than logic, more wishful thinking than reality based observations of how humans actually behave.

You can the concentration of ARAs in a certain groupings. These are the folks who blame the CRA for the collapse of the economy; ARAs tend to be hardcore ideologues; many are rabidly partisan. All too many are deeply uninformed. They breathe cognitive dissonance they most people breathe oxygen. When confronted with facts, data, reality that challenge their ideology, they make up new facts.

I imagine that Freud would bluntly use Randian logic to note they inhabit a guise of superiority in part to compensate for vast and deeply felt inferiorities and insecurities. That’s right, those of you who feel compelled to talk about how big your junk is are typically are sporting selections from the wee person’s aisle.

Malcolm Gladwell is a guy who knows how to write compellingly readable stories. The takeaway in his book Outliers The Story of Success is quite unRandian — it is that luck plays an enormous factor in out-sized success. That is a factor the Randians prefer to ignore.

What I find so weird about Rand is that there are more than a few people I respect who gobbled up her work. These are not ARAs — but are otherwise rational folks who never quite went full tilt into ARA-hood. But they have a huge respect for her work. Me? I prefer “lessers” like Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson and John Maynard Keynes. I prefer John Stuart Mill’s Harm Principle of Liberty over Rand’s Objectivism.

Dangerous Minds contextualizes the pedantic bore portion of the Rand legend:

“It’s Rand’s dialogue that seals her reputation as an author you just can’t take seriously. To be fair, she was writing in her second language, but the problem with her books is that no one actually speaks to one another, they just make speeches at each other. Hectoring, long-winded speeches. It’s fine to read stuff like that as a teenager, but when I crack open one of her books today, I shake my head in disbelief at how bombastic and horrible her writing is.”

Bombastic and horrible? You are being too kind . . .

My actual problem with Rand — behind her blindingly horrific prose — is that she was pushing back against a totalitarian system in the Soviet Union, a corrupt and morally indefensible system she had every right to be infuriated by. But she applies that righteous fury and outrage to a Democracy, whose economy is Free Market based. Hence, rather than challenging the politburo, she challenges Unions. Cooperative behavior seems to be hard for her to grasp. One suspects she would have disliked Consumer Reports, or Zagats, or Amazon’s user ratings.

Worst of all, Rand’s Objectivism has become the rationale for all manner of morally repugnant behaviour. However, I did take one personal lesson from Atlas Shrugged to heart: Anytime I see a parked car with a John Galt bumper sticker, I like to knock off one of the sideview mirrors, and leave it on the hood. I include a note stating my selfish, random act made me feel good, and therefore should be a perfectly fine act in their world.

I assume the recipients miss the irony . . .


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[Sep 11, 2017] Around 1970 corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests with capital owners and realigned themselves, abandoning working class and a large part of lower middle class (small business owners)

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... My observation is that the New Class (professionals, lobbyists, financiers, teachers, engineers, etc.) have ruled the country in recent decades. For much of the twentieth century this class was in some tension with corporations, and used their skills at influencing government policy to help develop and protect the welfare state, since they needed the working class as a counterweight to the natural influence of corporate money and power. However, somewhere around 1970 I think this tension collapsed, since corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests. ..."
"... This "peace treaty" between former rivals allowed the whole newly enlarged New Class to swing to the right, since they really didn't particularly need the working class politically anymore. And since it is the hallmark of this class to seek prestige, power and money while transferring risk away from themselves, the middle class and blue collar community has been the natural recipient. Free trade (well, for non-professionals, anyway), neoliberalism, ruthless private equity job cutting, etc., etc. all followed very naturally. The re-alignment of the Democratic Party towards the right was a natural part of this evolution. ..."
"... They also sense that organized politics in this country – being chiefly the province of the New Class – has left them with little leverage to change any of this. ..."
"... the New Class has very strong internal solidarity – and since somebody has to pay for these little mistakes, everyone outside that class is "fair game." ..."
"... So in that sense–to the extent that you define liberal as the ideology of the New Class (neoliberal, financial-capitalistic, big corporate-friendly but opposed to non-meritocratic biases like racism, sexism, etc.) is "liberalism", I think it is reasonable to say that it has bred resistance and anger among the "losers." As far as having "failed", well, we'll see: the New Class still controls almost all the levers of power. It has many strategies for channeling lower-class anger and I think under Trump we'll see those rolled out. ..."
"... Perhaps some evolution in "the means of production" or in how governments are influenced will ultimately develop to divide or downgrade the New Class, and break its lock on the corridors of power, but I don't see it on the horizon just yet. If anyone else does, I'd love to hear more about it. ..."
"... A little puzzled by the inclusion of teachers, alongside financiers and the like, in William Meyer's list of the New Class rulers. Enablers of those rulers, no doubt, but not visibly calling the shots. But then I'm probably just another liberal elitist failing to recognize my own hegemony, like Chris. ..."
"... I assume he meant certain professors [of economics]. Actually on @4, there's a good chapter on the topic in a Thomas Franks latest. ..."
Nov 14, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

William Meyer 11.13.16 at 9:40 pm 4

Obviously Mr. Deerin is, on its face, utilizing a very disputable definition of "liberal."

However, I think a stronger case could be made for something like Mr. Deerin's argument, although it doesn't necessarily get to the same conclusion.

My observation is that the New Class (professionals, lobbyists, financiers, teachers, engineers, etc.) have ruled the country in recent decades. For much of the twentieth century this class was in some tension with corporations, and used their skills at influencing government policy to help develop and protect the welfare state, since they needed the working class as a counterweight to the natural influence of corporate money and power. However, somewhere around 1970 I think this tension collapsed, since corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests.

Vive la meritocracy. This "peace treaty" between former rivals allowed the whole newly enlarged New Class to swing to the right, since they really didn't particularly need the working class politically anymore. And since it is the hallmark of this class to seek prestige, power and money while transferring risk away from themselves, the middle class and blue collar community has been the natural recipient. Free trade (well, for non-professionals, anyway), neoliberalism, ruthless private equity job cutting, etc., etc. all followed very naturally. The re-alignment of the Democratic Party towards the right was a natural part of this evolution.

I think the 90% or so of the community who are not included in this class are confused and bewildered and of course rather angry about it. They also sense that organized politics in this country – being chiefly the province of the New Class – has left them with little leverage to change any of this. Watching the bailouts and lack of prosecutions during the GFC made them dimly realize that the New Class has very strong internal solidarity – and since somebody has to pay for these little mistakes, everyone outside that class is "fair game."

So in that sense–to the extent that you define liberal as the ideology of the New Class (neoliberal, financial-capitalistic, big corporate-friendly but opposed to non-meritocratic biases like racism, sexism, etc.) is "liberalism", I think it is reasonable to say that it has bred resistance and anger among the "losers." As far as having "failed", well, we'll see: the New Class still controls almost all the levers of power. It has many strategies for channeling lower-class anger and I think under Trump we'll see those rolled out.

Let me be clear, I'm not saying Donald Trump is leading an insurgency against the New Class – but I think he tapped into something like one and is riding it for all he can, while not really having the slightest idea what he's doing.

Perhaps some evolution in "the means of production" or in how governments are influenced will ultimately develop to divide or downgrade the New Class, and break its lock on the corridors of power, but I don't see it on the horizon just yet. If anyone else does, I'd love to hear more about it.

Neville Morley 11.14.16 at 7:11 am ( 31 )

A little puzzled by the inclusion of teachers, alongside financiers and the like, in William Meyer's list of the New Class rulers. Enablers of those rulers, no doubt, but not visibly calling the shots. But then I'm probably just another liberal elitist failing to recognize my own hegemony, like Chris.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/14/are-you-a-sinister-filthy-elite-take-this-quiz-and-find-out-now?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Chris S 11.14.16 at 7:31 am

@29,

I assume he meant certain professors [of economics]. Actually on @4, there's a good chapter on the topic in a Thomas Franks latest.

[Jun 08, 2017] What is the Last Man (Nietzsche) - Apotheosis Magazine

Jun 08, 2017 | www.apotheosismagazine.com
The glorious German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in Thus Spoke Zaratustra brought up the concept of the Last Man. Trawling through the internet you will hear about the Last Man constantly, but no accurate definition or statement about what a Last Man actually is. So this article will discuss the character traits of the Last Man – let's just hope that the Last Man does not remind you of yourself.

The Last Man is primarily characterized as the type of individual that is fat, lazy and falls asleep watching TV after over indulging in junk food. This clearly denotes the type of man that is content with living a life whose primary and only purpose is to exist in a perpetual state of comfort, security and pleasure. This is a value system that does not idealize or extol higher values, challenging circumstances or hard work.

Zarathustra after descending the mountains is trying to deliver a sermon to a crowd of people that are hanging around the marketplace. Individuals that normally hang around a marketplace are typically known as commoners – especially in Nietzsche's time – and their primary concern is grotesque entertainment, gossip, manners and commerce.

After delivering his sermon about the Overman/Superman (or Ubersmensch) Nietzsche receives an apathetic and mocking response. One must imagine how extremely jarring this was for Zarathustra considering he has just descended from his sojourn in the mountains to proclaim this message. Rather comically, you can imagine Nietzsche's Zarathustra as the typical hobo you hear in the town centre raving about God or some other incoherent babble, whilst others walk past laughing, scared or neutral. Except this raving mystic is much more coherent than usual and is delivering some badass Nietzschean theory.

Nietzsche: " There they stand; there they laugh: they do not understand me; I am not the mouth for these ears They have something of which they are proud. What do they call it, that which makes them proud? Culture, they call it; it distinguishes them from the goatherds. They dislike, therefore, to hear of "contempt" of themselves. So I will appeal to their pride.
I will speak to them of the most contemptible thing: that, however, is the Last Man !"

Contempt here is being used in its typical notion, the feeling that something is worthless and should not be considered. Here, as suggested by the text, Nietzsche will appeal to their "pride" by talking to them about what he believes is the most contemptible thing – The Last Man . This Last Man is the embodiment of their culture. So, Nietzsche is clearly telling us that the Last Man is valueless and worthless.

What is the Last Man :

Nietzsche: "I tell you: one must still have chaos in oneself, to give birth to a dancing star. I tell you: you have still chaos in yourselves.
Alas! There comes the time when man will no longer give birth to any star. Alas! There comes the time of the most despicable man, who can no longer despise himself.
Lo! I show you the Last Man ."

The Last Man cannot despise himself. That is, he cannot feel or understand that his actions, values or decisions may under some or all circumstances be lacking in value. This is important. To not have the orientation that your actions may be lacking, be worthless or unsubstantial entails that you do not have any serious self-reflective capacity to evaluate your actions. The Last Man we can reasonably assume acts in a manner that is contemptible and embarrassing for a culture to promote. So the fact that the Last Man does not have the consciousness nor the insight to evaluate his actions as lacking value or real meaningful substance means that he is unable to change them in a positive manner and be something other than the Last Man . Only the Last Man can be the type of man that lacks insight to such degree that he finds it not only acceptable, content, but also agreeable to be the Last Man.

Nietzsche: "What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?" -- so asks the Last Man, and blinks. The earth has become small, and on it hops the Last Man, who makes everything small. His species is ineradicable as the flea; the Last Man lives longest."

The Last Man according to Nietzsche's rendering of him is the type of individual that does not care or even remotely try to answer the questions of his existence, those that profoundly affect and determine his life. The Last Man , by this characterization, is neither a romantic, a philosopher, a scientist or a poet.

And due to the unquestioning nature of this type of man, the world has been made small and manageable. According to this type of man, the striving, the ambition, the determination to battle against hardship and the desire to become more than we currently are is a deterrent to happiness.

Nietzsche: "The earth has become small, and on it hops the Last Man, who makes everything small. His species is ineradicable as the flea; the Last Man lives longest.

Yet despite all of this, the Last Man , due to his security, comfort and pleasure believes:

Nietzsche: ""We have discovered happiness" -- say the Last Men, and they blink."

Nietzsche goes on to discuss the herd-like collective behaviour and the smug mentality of this group that dogmatically and unquestionably believes the man of the present to better than the men of the past. If this is true, then the values and behaviors that instantiate the Last Man are, according to him, to be preferred over all other values. Once again, the Last Man is unwilling to question his values against any other lifestyle or generational values, due to their inability to evaluate values that should guide their or others' behaviour.

Nietzsche: "No shepherd, and one herd! Everyone wants the same; everyone is the same: he who feels differently goes voluntarily into the madhouse. Formerly all the world was insane," -- say the subtlest of them, and they blink.

Despite Zarathustra's attempt to shame the market crowd with a contemptible notion of their culture through the concept of the Last Man , the crowd continue to mock him by clamoring to become the Last Man . As we can see, they have truly misunderstood Nietzsche's message and this market crowd is the collective manifestation of the Last Man .

--

If you're interested in buying Thus Spoke Zarathustra please use the link below to support and improve Apotheosis Magazine

[May 19, 2017] The Great Realignment and the New class

May 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

point , May 19, 2017 at 04:12 PM

Paul says: May 19, 2017 at 04:12 PM

"...Republicans ... went all in behind Trump..."

Well, maybe for those with selective memories. There was plenty of consternation among Repubs about lining up behind the guy.

libezkova , May 19, 2017 at 04:41 PM
Here is part of an insightful comment by William Meyer in which he made an important point about "great realignment" of the "New Class" (aka "the USA nomenklatura") with capital owners which happened in 70th.

http://crookedtimber.org/2016/11/13/on-the-alleged-failure-of-liberal-progressivism/#comment-698333

William Meyer 11.13.16 at 9:40 pm 4

My observation is that the New Class (professionals, lobbyists, financiers, teachers, engineers, etc.) have ruled the country in recent decades. For much of the twentieth century this class was in some tension with corporations, and used their skills at influencing government policy to help develop and protect the welfare state, since they needed the working class as a counterweight to the natural influence of corporate money and power. However, somewhere around 1970 I think this tension collapsed, since corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests.

Vive la meritocracy. This "peace treaty" between former rivals allowed the whole newly enlarged New Class to swing to the right, since they really didn't particularly need the working class politically anymore. And since it is the hallmark of this class to seek prestige, power and money while transferring risk away from themselves, the middle class and blue collar community has been the natural recipient. Free trade (well, for non-professionals, anyway), neoliberalism, ruthless private equity job cutting, etc., etc. all followed very naturally. The re-alignment of the Democratic Party towards the right was a natural part of this evolution.

I think the 90% or so of the community who are not included in this class are confused and bewildered and of course rather angry about it. They also sense that organized politics in this country – being chiefly the province of the New Class – has left them with little leverage to change any of this. Watching the bailouts and lack of prosecutions during the GFC made them dimly realize that the New Class has very strong internal solidarity – and since somebody has to pay for these little mistakes, everyone outside that class is "fair game."

So in that sense–to the extent that you define liberal as the ideology of the New Class (neoliberal, financial-capitalistic, big corporate-friendly but opposed to non-meritocratic biases like racism, sexism, etc.) is "liberalism", I think it is reasonable to say that it has bred resistance and anger among the "losers." As far as having "failed", well, we'll see: the New Class still controls almost all the levers of power. It has many strategies for channeling lower-class anger and I think under Trump we'll see those rolled out.

Let me be clear, I'm not saying Donald Trump is leading an insurgency against the New Class – but I think he tapped into something like one and is riding it for all he can, while not really having the slightest idea what he's doing.
Perhaps some evolution in "the means of production" or in how governments are influenced will ultimately develop to divide or downgrade the New Class, and break its lock on the corridors of power, but I don't see it on the horizon just yet. If anyone else does, I'd love to hear more about it.

[May 16, 2017] America is still segregated. We need to be honest about why by Richard Rothstein

Notable quotes:
"... Growing inequality partly reflects a racial wealth gap. Middle-class white Americans are more likely to live in neighborhoods with rising home values (and thus, family equity) while their middle-class black counterparts are more likely to rent, or live in neighborhoods with stagnant values. ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Growing inequality partly reflects a racial wealth gap. Middle-class white Americans are more likely to live in neighborhoods with rising home values (and thus, family equity) while their middle-class black counterparts are more likely to rent, or live in neighborhoods with stagnant values.

Hostile, sometimes fatal confrontations between police and African American youth might be rarer if the poorest young people were not concentrated in neighborhoods lacking well-resourced schools, good jobs and transportation to better opportunities. In integrated neighborhoods with substantial middle class populations, police perform as public servants, not as an occupying force.

We've done little to desegregate neighborhoods, believing their racial homogeneity is "de facto", tied to private prejudice, personal choices, realtor discrimination or income differences that make middle-class suburbs unaffordable to most African Americans. Under our constitutional system, if neighborhoods are segregated by private activity, we can do little about it.

Only if neighborhoods are segregated "de jure", by explicit government policy, is remedial action permitted. Indeed, the constitution requires remedies for de jure segregation.

In truth, de facto segregation is largely a myth. As my new book, The Color of Law, recounts, racially explicit government policy in the mid-twentieth century separated the races in every metropolitan area, with effects that endure today.

The New Deal created our first civilian public housing, intended to provide lodging mostly for lower-middle class white families during the Depression. The Roosevelt administration built a few projects for black families as well, but almost always segregated. At the time, many urban neighborhoods were integrated because workers of both races lived in walking distance of downtown factories. The Public Works Administration (PWA) demolished many such integrated neighborhoods – deemed slums – to build segregated housing instead, creating segregation where it had never before existed.

In his autobiography, The Big Sea, the poet and novelist Langston Hughes described going to high school in an integrated Cleveland neighborhood where his best friend was Polish and he dated a Jewish girl. The PWA cleared the area to build one project for whites and another for African Americans. Previously integrated neighborhoods in Cambridge, Atlanta, St Louis, San Francisco and elsewhere also gave way to segregated public housing, structuring patterns that persisted for generations.

During the second world war, white and black Americans flocked to jobs in defense plants, sometimes in communities that had no tradition of segregated living. Yet the government built separate projects for black and white citizens, determining future residential boundaries. Richmond, California, was the nation's largest shipbuilding center. It had few African Americans before the war; by its end, some 15,000 were housed in a federal ghetto along the railroad tracks.

By the mid-1950s, projects for white Americans had many unoccupied units while those for African Americans had long waiting lists. The contrast became so conspicuous that all public housing was opened to African Americans. As industry relocated to suburbs, jobs disappeared and public housing residents became poorer. A program that originally addressed a middle-class housing shortage became a way to warehouse the poor.

Why did white housing projects develop vacancies while black ones had long waiting lists? It largely resulted from a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) program that guaranteed loans to builders of suburban subdivisions, on the explicit condition that black families be excluded and that house deeds prohibit resale to them. In the late 1940s, William Levitt could never independently have amassed capital to construct 17,000 houses in what became Levittown, east of New York City. He could do so only because the FHA relieved banks of risk in making development loans, provided homes were for whites only.

Urban public housing, originally for middle-class white Americans and later for lower-income African Americans, combined with FHA subsidized suburbanization of whites, created a "white noose" around urban black families that persists to this day.

In 1968, the Fair Housing Act permitted African Americans to access previously white neighborhoods. But it prohibited only future discrimination, without undoing the previous 35 years of government-imposed segregation. In suburbs like Levittown that sprouted nationwide in the 1940s and 50s, houses sold for about $100,000 (in today's currency), twice the national median income.

FHA-amortized mortgages were affordable for working-class families of either race, although only whites were allowed. Today, these houses sell for $400,000, seven times national median income, unaffordable to working-class families. Meanwhile, whites who suburbanized with federal protection gained $300,000 in equity to use for children's college tuition, care for aging parents, or medical emergencies. Black families remaining as renters gained no such security.

Our belief in "de facto" segregation is paralyzing. If our racial separation stems from millions of individual decisions, it is hard to imagine the millions of different choices that could undo it. But if we remember that residential segregation results primarily from forceful and unconstitutional government policy, we can begin to consider equally forceful public action to reverse it. Learning this history is the first step we can take.

[May 15, 2017] The explosive mixture of middle-class shrinking and dual economy in the West

This idea of two segregated societies within one nation is pretty convincing.
Notable quotes:
"... A book released last March by MIT economist Peter Temin argues that the U.S. is increasingly becoming what economists call a dual economy; that is, where there are two economies in effect, and one of the populations lives in an economy that is prosperous and secure, and the other part of the population lives in an economy that resembles those of some third world countries. ..."
"... The middle class is shrinking in the United States and this is an effect of both the advance of technology and American policies ..."
"... In the United States, our policies have divided us into two groups. Above the median income - above the middle class - is what I call the FTE sector, Finance, Technology and Electronics sector - of people who are doing well, and whose incomes are rising as our national product is growing. The middle class and below are losing shares of income, and their incomes are shrinking as the Pew studies, both of them, show. ..."
"... The model shows that the FTE sector makes policy for itself, and really does not consider how well the low wage sector is doing. In fact, it wants to keep wages and earnings low in the low wage sector, to provide cheap labour for the industrial employment. ..."
"... As already described , the middle-class, which has not collapsed yet in France, still has the characteristics that fit to the neoliberal regime. However, it is obvious that this tank of voters has shrunk significantly, and the establishment is struggling to keep them inside the desirable 'status quo' with tricks like the supposedly 'fresh', apolitical image of Emmanuel Macron, the threat of Le Pen's 'evil' figure that comes from the Far-Right, or, the illusion that they have the right to participate equally to almost every economic activity. ..."
"... The media promotes examples of young businessmen who have succeed to survive economically through start-up companies, yet, they avoid to tell that it is totally unrealistic to expect from most of the Greek youth to become innovative entrepreneurs. So, this illusion is promoted by the media because technology is automating production and factories need less and less workers, even in the public sector, which, moreover, is violently forced towards privatization. ..."
"... In the middle of the pyramid, a restructured class will serve and secure the domination of the top. Corporate executives, big journalists, scientific elites, suppression forces. It is characteristic that academic research is directed on the basis of the profits of big corporations. Funding is directed increasingly to practical applications in areas that can bring huge profits, like for example, the higher automation of production and therefore, the profit increase through the restriction of jobs. ..."
May 14, 2017 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr

The Pew Research Center, released a new study on the size of the middle class in the U.S. and in ten European countries. The study found that the middle class shrank significantly in the U.S. in the last two decades from 1991 to 2010. While it also shrank in several other Western European countries, it shrank far more in the U.S. than anywhere else. Meanwhile, another study also released last week, and published in the journal Science, shows that class mobility in the U.S. declined dramatically in the 1980s, relative to the generation before that.

A book released last March by MIT economist Peter Temin argues that the U.S. is increasingly becoming what economists call a dual economy; that is, where there are two economies in effect, and one of the populations lives in an economy that is prosperous and secure, and the other part of the population lives in an economy that resembles those of some third world countries.

globinfo freexchange

MIT Economist Peter Temin spoke to Gregory Wilpert and the The Real News network.

As Temin states, among other things:

The middle class is shrinking in the United States and this is an effect of both the advance of technology and American policies . That is shown dramatically in the new study, because the United States is compared with many European countries. In some of them, the middle class is expanding in the last two decades, and in others it's decreasing. And while technology crosses national borders, national policies affect things within the country.

In the United States, our policies have divided us into two groups. Above the median income - above the middle class - is what I call the FTE sector, Finance, Technology and Electronics sector - of people who are doing well, and whose incomes are rising as our national product is growing. The middle class and below are losing shares of income, and their incomes are shrinking as the Pew studies, both of them, show.

The model shows that the FTE sector makes policy for itself, and really does not consider how well the low wage sector is doing. In fact, it wants to keep wages and earnings low in the low wage sector, to provide cheap labour for the industrial employment.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/BRs4VcHprqI" name="I1"

This model is similar to that pursued in eurozone through the Greek experiment. Yet, the establishment's decision centers still need the consent of the citizens to proceed. They got it in France with the election of their man to do the job, Emmanuel Macron.

As already described , the middle-class, which has not collapsed yet in France, still has the characteristics that fit to the neoliberal regime. However, it is obvious that this tank of voters has shrunk significantly, and the establishment is struggling to keep them inside the desirable 'status quo' with tricks like the supposedly 'fresh', apolitical image of Emmanuel Macron, the threat of Le Pen's 'evil' figure that comes from the Far-Right, or, the illusion that they have the right to participate equally to almost every economic activity.

For example, even in Greece, where the middle class suffered an unprecedented reduction because of Troika's (ECB, IMF, European Commission) policies, the last seven years, the propaganda of the establishment attempts to make young people believe that they can equally participate in innovative economic projects. The media promotes examples of young businessmen who have succeed to survive economically through start-up companies, yet, they avoid to tell that it is totally unrealistic to expect from most of the Greek youth to become innovative entrepreneurs. So, this illusion is promoted by the media because technology is automating production and factories need less and less workers, even in the public sector, which, moreover, is violently forced towards privatization.

As mentioned in previous article , the target of the middle class extinction in the West is to restrict the level of wages in developing economies and prevent current model to be expanded in those countries. The global economic elite is aiming now to create a more simple model which will be consisted basically of three main levels.

The 1% holding the biggest part of the global wealth, will lie, as always, at the top of the pyramid. In the current phase, frequent and successive economic crises, not only assist on the destruction of social state and uncontrolled massive privatizations, but also, on the elimination of the big competitors.

In the middle of the pyramid, a restructured class will serve and secure the domination of the top. Corporate executives, big journalists, scientific elites, suppression forces. It is characteristic that academic research is directed on the basis of the profits of big corporations. Funding is directed increasingly to practical applications in areas that can bring huge profits, like for example, the higher automation of production and therefore, the profit increase through the restriction of jobs.

The base of the pyramid will be consisted by the majority of workers in global level, with restricted wages, zero labor rights, and nearly zero opportunities for activities other than consumption.

This type of dual economy with the rapid extinction of middle class may bring dangerous instability because of the vast vacuum created between the elites and the masses. That's why the experiment is implemented in Greece, so that the new conditions to be tested. The last seven years, almost every practice was tested: psychological warfare, uninterrupted propaganda, financial coups, permanent threat for a sudden death of the economy, suppression measures, in order to keep the masses subservient, accepting the new conditions.

The establishment exploits the fact that the younger generations have no collective memories of big struggles. Their rights were taken for granted and now they accept that these must be taken away for the sake of the investors who will come to create jobs. These generations were built and raised according to the standards of the neoliberal regime 'Matrix'.

Yet, it is still not certain that people will accept this Dystopia so easily. The first signs can be seen already as recently, French workers seized factory and threatened to blow it up in protest over possible closure . Macron may discover soon that it will be very difficult to find the right balance in order to finish the job for the elites. And then, neither Brussels nor Berlin will be able to prevent the oncoming chaos in Europe and the West.

Read also:

[May 08, 2017] Is the Silicon Valley Dynasty Coming to an End Vanity Fair

Notable quotes:
"... In just the past month, the Valley has seemed like it's happily living in some sort of sadomasochistic bubble worthy of a bad Hollywood satire. ..."
Apr 27, 2017 | www.vanityfair.com

It has been said that Silicon Valley, or the 50 or so square-mile area extending from San Francisco to the base of the peninsula, has overseen the creation of more wealth than any place in the history of mankind. It's made people richer than the oil industry; it has created more money than the Gold Rush. Silicon chips, lines of code, and rectangular screens have even minted more wealth than religious wars.

Wealthy societies, indeed, have their own complicated incentive structures and mores. But they do often tend, as any technological entrepreneur will be quick to remind you, to distribute value across numerous income levels, in a scaled capacity. The Ford line, for instance, may have eventually minted some serious millionaires in Detroit, but it also made transportation cheaper, helped drive down prices on countless consumer goods, and facilitated new trade routes and commercial opportunities. Smartphones, or any number of inventive modern apps or other software products, are no different. Sure, they throw off a lot of money to the geniuses who came up with them, and the people who got in at the ground floor. But they also make possible innumerable other opportunities, financial and otherwise, for their millions of consumers.

Silicon Valley is, in its own right, a dynasty. Instead of warriors or military heroes, it has nerds and people in half-zip sweaters. But it is becoming increasingly likely that the Valley might go down in history not only for its wealth, but also for creating more tone deaf people than any other ecosystem in the history of the world.

In just the past month, the Valley has seemed like it's happily living in some sort of sadomasochistic bubble worthy of a bad Hollywood satire. Uber has endured a slate of scandals that would have seriously wounded a less culturally popular company (or a public one, for that matter). There was one former employee's allegation of sexual harassment (which the company reportedly investigated); a report of driver manipulation ; an unpleasant video depicting C.E.O. Travis Kalanick furiously berating an Uber driver; a story about secret software that could subvert regulators ; a report of cocaine use and groping at holiday parties (an offending manager was fired within hours of the scandal); a lawsuit for potentially buying stolen software from a competitor; more groping ; a slew of corporate exits ; and a driverless car crash . (The shit will really hit the fan if it turns out that Uber's self-driving technology was misappropriated from Alphabet's Waymo; Uber has called the lawsuit "baseless.")

Then there was Facebook, which held its developer conference while the Facebook Killer was on the loose. As Mat Honan of BuzzFeed put it so eloquently: "People used to talk about Steve Jobs and Apple's reality distortion field . But Facebook, it sometimes feels, exists in a reality hole. The company doesn't distort reality-but it often seems to lack the ability to recognize it."

And we ended the week with the ultimate tone-deaf statement from the C.E.O. of Juicero, the maker of a $700 dollar-soon-reduced-to-$400 dollar juicer that has $120 million in venture backing. After Bloomberg News discovered that you didn't even need the $700-$400 juicer to make juice (there are, apparently, these things called hands ) the company's chief executive, Jeff Dunn , offered a response on Medium insinuating that he gets up every day to make the world a better place.

Of course, not everyone who makes the pilgrimage out West is, or becomes, a jerk. Some people arrive in the Valley with a philosophy of how to act as an adult. But here's the problem with that group: most of them don't vociferously articulate how unsettled they are by the bad actors. Even when journalists manage to cover these atrocious activities, the powers of Silicon Valley try to ridicule them, often in public. Take, for example, the 2015 TechCrunch Disrupt conference, when a reporter asked billionaire investor Vinod Kholsa -who evidently believes that public beaches should belong to rich people -about some of the ethical controversy surrounding the mayonnaise-disruption startup Hampton Creek (I can't believe I just wrote the words "mayonnaise-disruption"). Khosla responded with a trite and rude retort that the company was fine. When the reporter pressed Khosla, he shut him down by saying, "I know a lot more about how they're doing, excuse me, than you do." A year later and the Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into whether the company defrauded investors when employees secretly purchased the company's own mayonnaise from grocery stores . (The Justice Department has since dropped its investigation.)

When you zoom out of that 50-square-mile area of Silicon Valley, it becomes obvious that big businesses can get shamed into doing the right thing. When it was discovered that Volkswagen lied about emissions outputs, the company's C.E.O. was forced to resign . The same was true for the chief of Wells Fargo , who was embroiled in a financial scandal. In the wake of it's recent public scandal, United recently knocked its C.E.O. down a peg . Even Fox News, one of the most bizarrely unrepentant media outlet in America, pushed out two of the most important people at the network over allegations of sexual harassment. ( Bill O'Reilly has said that claims against him are "unfounded"; Roger Ailes has vociferously denied allegations of sexual harassment.) Even Wall Street can (sometimes) be forced to be more ethical. Yet Elizabeth Holmes is still C.E.O. of Theranos. Travis Kalanick is still going to make billions of dollars as the chief of Uber when the company eventually goes public. The list goes on and on .

In many respects, this is simply the D.N.A. of Silicon Valley. The tech bubble of the mid-90s was inflated by lies that sent the NASDAQ on a vertiginous downward spike that eviscerated the life savings of thousands of retirees and Americans who believed in the hype. This time around, it seems that some of these business may be real, but the people running them are still as tone deaf regarding how their actions affect other people. Silicon Valley has indeed created some amazing things. One can only hope these people don't erase it with their hubris.

E-commerce start-up Fab was once valued at $900 million, a near unicorn in Silicon Valley terms. But after allegedly burning through $200 million of its $336 million in venture capital, C.E.O. Jason Goldberg was forced to shutter its European arm and lay off two-thirds of its staff.

Fired in 2014 from his ad-tech firm RadiumOne following a domestic-violence conviction, Gurbaksh Chahal founded a new company to compete with the one he was kicked out of. But Gravity4, his new firm, was sued for gender discrimination in 2015, though that case is still pending, and former employees have contemplated legal action against him.

[May 08, 2017] Silicon Valley is the story of overthrowing entrenched interests through innovation. Children dream of becoming inventors, and scientists come to Silicon Valley from all over the world. But something is wrong when Juicero and Theranos are in the headlines, and bad behavior from Uber executives overshadows actual innovation by Matt Stoller

Apr. 19, 2017, | www.businessinsider.com

Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Open Markets Program at New America.

Silicon Valley is the story of overthrowing entrenched interests through innovation. Children dream of becoming inventors, and scientists come to Silicon Valley from all over the world. But something is wrong when Juicero and Theranos are in the headlines, and bad behavior from Uber executives overshadows actual innovation.

$120 million in venture funding from Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, for a juicer? And the founder, Doug Evans, calling himself himself Steve Jobs "in his pursuit of juicing perfection?" And how is Theranos's Elizabeth Holmes walking around freely?

Eventually, the rhetoric of innovation turns into .... a Google-backed punchline.

These stories are embarrassing, yes. But there's something deeper going on here. Silicon Valley, an international treasure that birthed the technology of our age, is being destroyed.

Monopolies are now so powerful that they dictate the roll-out of new technology, and the only things left to invest in are the scraps that fall off the table.

Sometimes those scraps are Snapchat, which managed to keep alive, despite what Ben Thompson calls ' theft ' by Facebook.

Sometimes it's Diapers.com , which was destroyed and bought out by Amazon through predatory pricing. And sometimes it's Juicero and Theranos.

It's not that Juicero and Theranos that are the problem. Mistakes - even really big, stupid ones - happen.

[Sep 16, 2016] Glamorisation of the rich as alpha males under neoliberalism and randism

Human society is way to complex for alpha males to succeed unconditionally... Quite a different set of traits is often needed.
Dec 31, 2015 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 10:51 am

As Hemingway replied to that alum: "yes, they have more money."

Vatch December 29, 2015 at 11:25 am

Superficially, Hemingway was correct. But on a deeper level, he missed the reality of the heightened sense of entitlement that the very rich possess, as well as the deference that so many people automatically show to them. The rich shouldn't be different in this way, but they are. In some other societies, such entitlement and deference would accrue to senior party members, senior clergymen, or hereditary nobility (who might not have much money at all).

MyLessThanPrimeBeef December 29, 2015 at 11:45 am

"Go with the winner."

That is how it works for the alpha male (a chimp, an ape, or a gorilla)…for most followers anyway.

Some will challenge. If victorious, followers will line up (more go-with-the-winner). If defeated, an outcast.

Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Without a doubt Hemingway had a rather catty attitude toward his literary rival, but in this instance I think the debunking is merited. It's quite possible that rich people act the way we would act if we were rich, and that Fitzgerald's tiresome obsession with rich people didn't cut very deep. Hemingway is saying: take away all that money and the behavior would change as well. It's the money (or the power in your example) that makes the difference.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 1:58 pm

In my opinion, the fact that if they had less money would change the way they think, does not change the fact that, while they have more money, they think differently, and different rules apply to them.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Addendum: The fact that an Alpha Chimp would act differently if someone else was the Alpha Chimp does not change the fact that an Alpha Chimp has fundamentally different behavior than the rest of the group.

Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Sounds like you are saying the behavior of the rich is different–not what F. Scott Fitzgerald said.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:F._Scott_Fitzgerald

"Hemingway is responsible for a famous misquotation of Fitzgerald's. According to Hemingway, a conversation between him and Fitzgerald went:

Fitzgerald: The rich are different than you and me.
Hemingway: Yes, they have more money.
This never actually happened; it is a retelling of an actual encounter between Hemingway and Mary Colum, which went as follows:

Hemingway: I am getting to know the rich.
Colum: I think you'll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money."

Just want to point out that that quote of Hemingways wasnt about Fitzgerald and wasnt even by Hemingway. Anyway I was more attacking the "rich have more money" thing than I was trying to defend Fitzgerald, but I feel Fitzgerald got the basic idea right

craazyman December 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm

I read somewhere, maybe a biography of one of them when I read books like that, that Hemingway actually said it and only said that F. Scott said it.

There are no heroes among famous men. I said that!

giantsquid December 29, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Here's an interesting take on this reputed exchange between Fitzgerald and Hemingway:

"The rich are different"… The real story behind the famed "exchange" between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

http://www.quotecounterquote.com/2009/11/rich-are-different-famous-quote.html

Apparently Fitzgerald was referring specifically to the attitudes of those who are born rich, attitudes that Fitzgerald thought remained unaltered by events, including the loss of economic status.

"They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."

Hemingway suggested that Fitzgerald had once been especially enamored of the rich, seeing them as a "special glamorous race" but ultimately became disillusioned.

"He thought they were a special glamorous race and when he found they weren't it wrecked him as much as any other thing that wrecked him."

[Dec 04, 2014] annotated-ayn-rand Geoffrey Raymond, New York Stock Exchange

May 18, 2011 | zerohedge.com

It is no secret that Geoffrey Raymond, the author of the infamous "Annotated ____" series, is one of Zero Hedge's favorite artists, in no small part due to the crowdsourced method of artistic creation. Indeed, it was only last summer that a copy of the Annotated Cramer (who can forget that prominent third nipple) was sold to a mysterious collector for a stately sum after it was annotated (in addition to the comments from the usual disgruntled suspect scribbling directly on the canvas) with comments compiled from our own post revealing this masterpiece. And once again, just as it should be, Zero Hedge and it's readers get the last word.

Prior to shipping his portrait of Ayn Rand to its new buyer, Geoffrey Raymond has invited ZH readers to submit a final round of comments, which he will then transcribe, more or less verbatim, onto the painting. He painted The Annotated Rand to coincide with last month's release of the Atlas Shrugged movie (a truly terrible flick, we are told) and the annotations inscribed in black were taken outside the premiere, then later at theaters around NYC. The blue comments were taken at his usual stomping grounds outside the NYSE.

The Raymond market, as we've predicted here before, remains hot, with prices for this best work now flirting with six figures. Might make sense to go to www.annotatedpaintings.blogspot.com and pick up a choice one while they still cost just a little more than a handful of gold coins in CME-adjusted terms. Regarding the Rand painting, our favorite annotation is "Rand + Greenspan = Bonnie + Clyde". All you closet Objectivists can now step up to the plate and have at it...

Take it away.

john39:

may have something to do with the fact that she is a racist zionist, but that's just a guess.

downwiththebanks:

Don't forget she's also a HUAC Snitch.

Eternal Student:

What, that free unregulated markets always end in disasters or monopolies? Or that the current economic disaster, which was brought to us under the banner of free unregulated markets (kicked off by Ronald Reagan) has its roots in Ayn Rand and delivered by her Libertarian poster boy Alan Greenspan?

That may be your Godmother. It isn't mine. Alan Greenspan must be your Godfather too.

McPoopypants:

She was a shitty writer who could sell books by giving a repressed Calvinism-inspired society permission to be dicks. Now that the little selfishness-orgy is coming to a close, we find ourselves feeling nauseated and sticky, while this woman's legacy is trying to convince us to keep pumping, instead of grabbing a shower and skulking away to do something productive in order to distract us from the shame.

eff that shit.

YHC-FTSE:

Folks who have been suckling at Aynd Rand's whithered teat never realize that it's not rich milk but diseased pus they are ingesting.

If you constantly visit Zerohedge, and believe this website stands for Aynd Rand/Rosenbaum/O'Connor, then you misunderstand everything including objectivism. The woman was a halfwit with half good ideas that appealed to egomaniacal twits with delusions of grandeur about themselves. In other words, a good paperback fiction writer.

Guy Fawkes Mulder:

http://i.imgur.com/wYaew.jpg

Because that book was full of business executives and bankers who were trying to build a world empire of megacorporate oligopolies and rigged crony captial controls. Just like current events.

Read Ayn Rand's description of Midas Mulligan. You will see that even in her magnum opus, she did not understand capitalism as run by capitalists.

Everything that occurred after the magnum opus was a miscarriage and mismanagement of the spirit of the novel. The current state of Atlas Shrugged leadership is now just an ivory tower think tank that gets paid in FRNs and produces such wonderful shilling as this:

http://blog.aynrandcenter.org/vindicating-standard-oil-100-years-later

Guy Fawkes Mulder:

You need to relax. It's clouding your judgement and your rationality and your ability to understand me.

My point was that Midas Mulligan is a totally imaginary character. In no way does he resemble any real banker. The book was very unrealistic in its portrayal of executives, particularly Mulligan. The real Fortune 500 executives and chieftains of finance in this world are not doing the morally right thing -- getting away from the immoral society and making a just one with their own abilities and alliances with moral people. In fact they all seem to be complicit in the construction of a neo-feudal world order involving resource wars of conquest and police state domestic control grids.

Standard Oil was anti-freedom. It was a monopoly octopus. It bullied out competitors. It cannot be vindicated by any one who truly believes in economic freedom.

It's just very obtuse to believe that Rockefeller-style capitalism is a good thing. It's very obtuse to say "look prices went down, thanks to Rockefeller". That's ignoring the fact that he squeezed out the competition with ruthless grafting, bribery, intimidation, and corruption.

It may be disingenuous too, but I'm going to give the "objectivism" think tanks a break and assume that they merely have their heads up their asses, and are not intentionally writing this stuff up to mislead people.

Anyway... please relax...

eureka:

Ms. Rand considered herself not just a fiction writer/entertainer, but a philosopher...

well, so much for that; her blind spots could fill the black holes in Wall Street's cooked books.

I'm sure she's discussing it with Jesus right now - correlating her super-human ideals to Greenspan's flip-flop on the gold-standard.

harlanaladd:

You pretty much captured what I was going to offer:

"World's best author. When you're 16."

Pladizow:

How about:

"The Maestro's Mistress?"

brian0918:

How about "The Maestro's Betrayal":

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/alan-greenspan-betrayed-ayn-...

hedgeless_horseman:

The bad news is ray-shielded mountain valleys are a fantasy, and looters are real. Login or register to post comments by The Alarmist on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 17:20 #1288899

Are you sure? Look up what is in and around Denver.

Login or register to post comments by hedgeless_horseman on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 17:39 #1288923

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kind of OT, but too funny...

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=105x2093328

Good liberal towns in Colorado?

"We're considering selling our house in LA [too many minorities] and moving someplace a little cheaper [lower taxes] for awhile. Looking at Portland, Seattle and Kalispell area. My husband also wants to consider Colorado.

Is Boulder a liberal city? [Have the tax payers and businees all left yet?] Does anyone have any recommendations? [Where are the mostly white schools?]

Login or register to post comments by velobabe on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 17:50 #1289027

boulder is the biggest hypocritical city in amerika. you are moving because of too many minorities. damn lady, you want minorities in and around you. you will just get so bored at looking at these white liberals in boulder. it probably has the highest per capital homeless population in amerika. i am so tired of just looking at these sorry assed white prius driving liberals. god i can't even go out for a walk on a perfect day any more and looked at these clueless people. men woman and the young people are void of any emotion, thought or action. the beauty of the environment is hard to not yearn, so see what kind of balance you can obtain, in a liberal town such as boulder colorado. colorado is the epicenter of the globalists.

brian0918:

"Who's this Anne Rand, anyway?"

VyseLegendaire:

'Atlas Sharted'

NotApplicable:

Greenspan did nothing contrary to her personal views (which are very different from her writings). She was actually proud that her boy got selected by Pres. Ford.

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/08/02/business/02bbt_CA0.ready.html

See how they're all smiling?

Anybody that can spout the incoherent ideology that a strong centralized state is required to safeguard individual liberty is no true friend to liberty, or to coherent ideology.

The "Bonnie and Clyde" label fits these two to a tee. They are nothing but agent provacateurs in service of power. If she believed what she wrote originally, she quickly abandoned it in exchange for the cult of personality she gained once she hit the big time.

Objectivism was created as a dead-end street for those who thought it was putting her words into action. Luckily for many of us, Rothbard quickly figured her game out and told anyone who would listen.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard23.html

Login or register to post comments by NotApplicable on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 17:55 #1289032

LOL, I just noticed that Greenspan's mother was named Goldsmith.

Oh, the irony.

Shock and Aweful:

That woman represents nothing more than an unrealistic philosophy for unrealistic people I'd say.

Somewhere between the cold, un-empathetic ideology that she espoused and the 1984-esq nightmare we live in today is what we should strive for.

Ayn Rand and other Libertarian thinkers have some good ideas about personal responsibility and what makes a strong nation and people...but taken literally and to their logical conclusions just don't seem to really be practical

Same goes for the progressivism / socialist idology. There is something admirable about wanting to create a society where equality abounds....but implementing it on a large scale and in a way that works (and without creating an entire class of people who abuse and exploit the government assistance) has been very elusive.

How about, instead of running our political / social systems based on an ideology or a philosophy....we have a political/economic and social order that is based on common sense and common purpose.

Oh fuck it....nevermind....there ain't any money in that!

That will never do.

Aquiloaster :

Agreed. Rand's objectivism is an economic footnote to social Darwinism (the biological facet would be eugenics). The equilibrium/equality she sees is gained by everyone pulling for himself as hard as he can in a 300,000,000-way tug of war. Not my idea of utopia. In fact, it is neither efficient, harmonious, nor the most productive way. A liaisez-faire fantasy by a wannabe great philosophical economist. Rather, she acheived the status of long-winded novelist writing about two-dimensional characters with a transparent agenda.

AgShaman:

May she (Ayn R. and the new movie) inspire new generations of clueless college/univ. educated idiots....longing for the trappings of fictional future-worlds...and a serious lack of "T-shirt syle".

Whatever nausea may result from her silk screened homage...would still be a healthy break from the mass commercialism of Che Guevara

buzzsaw99:

John Galt works for the gubbermint now.

downwiththebanks:

Actually, the gubbermint works for Galt.

Always did. Always will.

Rand doesn't get that. And that's what makes her work fiction.

Use of Weapons :

"Everyone I fucked betrayed me; making it into a philosophy made me rich".

"I might have been the original sociopathic cougar and loved the drugs, but Objectively, history remembers me for turgid prose and simplistic idealism".

"My philosophy champions rationalism; I fucking destroyed anyone with heavenly fire who didn't agree with me. And then purged the fuckers out of my cult. And I spit on their graves".

"When you see the murals of Ben Gold, you see my innermost fantasies".

"I was too stupid to read Nietzsche or Kant"

"Objectivism: Or what I did for the KGB against the useful idiots"

Um. Wait.

You want positive comments?

"Ayn Rand: A six-foot floral arrangement in the shape of a dollar sign was placed near her casket when she died, showing her true love. Then again, McDonalds made millions selling shit to the masses as well - and fiat dollars aren't a good score card".

[No, really. Hateful old hack, and not very bright. For a champion of rationalism, her brain wasn't up to the iconic role. Junk away, but she was one ugly soul, and her legacy is currently destroying the USA. Ironic, no? Or KGB deep mole planning *shrug*]

>>Cliff Notes:

#1 Misunderstood Darwin, as have others - social adaptation / altruism have very specific cost/benefit returns, and are fundamental to a functioning society. Predators should stop being so bloody self-absorbed [thanks Ayn, tool, for making them so] and realise that symbiosis works, and predator<->prey relations in ecology are hugely complex. The current crowd make me shudder, because they mould to fit their limitations, they don't grow to meet complexity. For this crime, they need purging; mostly maladaptive mutants with obvious flaws.

#2 Misunderstood business, as have others - greed is good, if you have a something to spend it on. This does not mean purely material goods; why else would the 0.01% masturbate over 'charity' and 'bequeathing a legacy'. Top tip - complexity is a function of the market; if you leave the market more complex [rich in information] then you are a benefit. If you do not, you are not a capitalist, you are a parasite. Now stop with the bollocks and start building infrastructure again, because without it, you all die. Fucking tools.

#3 Judgement of emotions. Behaviourism is a stupid, and "nice for the masses" thought processes. Yes, I'm looking at you, proponents of 'behavioural economics' and 'nudges'. Top fucking tip: You do NOT WANT a society where people do not notice the "context hidden" nudges or psychological guides, UNLESS you want slaves. If you want slaves, then do the decent thing & split homo sapiens into two breeds, a la H G Wells. Stop being so hypocritical about your self-indulgent morality. When I have custody over other species, I relate to them QUA species. Canine qua canine. Equine qua equine. Homo Sapiens qua Homo sapiens. Anthropomorphism is stupid, dull and egotistical to the point of insanity.

In ending - killing the oceans was also dumb. For 'rationalists' you'd have been better off preventing over-fishing than anything else. I find little to recommend the short sighted and foolish nature of my species.

p.s.

Yay, junked!

If you want a sensible answer: she was a smaller copy of Karl Popper, for an American overly Religious market. Try reading the original first.

Misean:

Who is Ayn Rand?

downwiththebanks:

Just a shitty fiction writer.

She did testify before HUAC as a snitch.

bobola:

If Rand Paul married Ayn Rand, he would be Rand Rand.

MachoMan:

A few for the background:

"I hope that comb-over man cunt straps one on and ass fucks greenspan for eternity in hell" [you nailed the hair btw, although a hitler mustache might be a nice addition]

"My estate thanks the FED and the Federal Government for loose money policies that allowed Hollywood enough wherewithal to trash my writings with visual and audio vomit"

"If I were still alive, I would have fucked DSK and maybe that midget Roubini who reminds me of a drug crazed Billy Crystal hit with a wiffle ball bat doing an impression of a sex crazed foreigner"

feel free to paraphrase

magpie:

"For the main Design of the Fable, (as it is briefly explain'd in the Moral) is to shew the Impossibility of enjoying all the most elegant Comforts of Life that are to be met with in an industrious, wealthy and powerful Nation, and at the same time be bless'd with all the Virtue and Innocence that can be wish'd for in a Golden Age; from thence to expose the Unreasonableness and Folly of those, that desirous of being an opulent and flourishing People, and wonderfully greedy after all the Benefits they can receive as such, are yet always murmuring at and exclaiming against those Vices and Inconveniences, that from the Beginning of the World to this present Day, have been inseparable from all Kingdoms and States that ever were fam'd for Strength, Riches, and Politeness, at the same time."

Whittaker Chambers Versus Ayn Rand By Cass R. Sunstein

Nov 5, 2013 Bloomberg

Whittaker Chambers and Ayn Rand are two of the most important American conservative icons. Both abhorred collectivism and spoke on behalf of individual freedom. Chambers' autobiography, "Witness," is one of the defining conservative documents of the 20th century. Rand's most influential novel, "Atlas Shrugged," continues to inspire and orient conservative and libertarian thought.

Here's what history has largely forgotten: Chambers utterly despised Rand's novel. Their differences were fundamental, and they involved both substance and sensibility. Those differences have continuing importance, because they tell us a great deal about divisions within contemporary conservatism. (Yes, there are analogous divisions on the liberal side, but that's a tale for another day.)

Chambers' devastating essay on "Atlas Shrugged," published in the National Review, begins by acknowledging common ground: "A great many of us dislike much that Miss Rand dislikes, quite as heartily as she does." For Chambers, the problem is that Rand "deals wholly in the blackest blacks and the whitest whites," depicting a world in which "everything, everybody, is either all good or all bad, without any of those intermediate shades which, in life, complicate reality and perplex the eye that seeks to probe it truly."

Notice Chambers' use of the verb "perplex." Whatever Rand was, she wasn't perplexed. Whatever she thought of reality, she didn't believe it to be complicated.

Fairy Tale

In Chambers' account, Rand created a fairy tale, "the old one known as: The War between the Children of Light and the Children of Darkness." Rand's Children of Darkness are caricatures of identifiable figures on the left, especially familiar to "those who think little about people as people, but tend to think a great deal in labels and effigies." Because "Atlas Shrugged" doesn't deal with people as people, Chambers believed that it "can be called a novel only by devaluing the term."

Chambers goes so far as to link Rand with Karl Marx. Both, he says, are motivated by a kind of materialism, in which people's happiness lies not with God or with anything spiritual, and much less with an appreciation of human limitations, but only with the use of their "own workaday hands and ingenious brain."

Chambers connects Rand's arrogance with her contempt, even rage, against those who reject her message. Thus Chambers' final indictment: "From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding, 'To a gas chamber -- go!'"

These are strong words, to say the least. If they are taken literally, they aren't exactly fair. Rand certainly objected to them. William F. Buckley Jr., the founder and then-editor of the National Review, reported that after Chambers' review was published, "her resentment was so comprehensive that she regularly inquired of all hosts or toastmasters whether she was being invited to a function at which I was also scheduled to appear, because if that was the case, either she would not come; or if so, only after I had left; or before I arrived."

If Chambers' gas chamber comment wasn't an accurate reading of anything that Rand actually prescribed, it nonetheless captured some of the anger and violence that simmers in her text. (Compare Rand's cartoonish and sometimes brutal depictions of romantic passion with Chambers' account in "Witness," at once tender and thunderstruck, of falling in love with his wife, Esther.)

In his review of "Atlas Shrugged," in "Witness," and in countless other places, Chambers' work is closely connected with an important and enduring strand in conservative thought -- one that distrusts social engineering and top-down theories, emphasizes the limits of human knowledge, engages with particulars, and tends to favor incremental change. This is the conservatism of Edmund Burke, Michael Oakeshott and Friedrich Hayek.

Different Breed

It endorses the view of Judge Learned Hand, who said at the dawn of World War II that the "spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right." No political figure wholly stands for this strand of conservatism, but during his presidency, Ronald Reagan sometimes embraced it, and Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah often captures its essence.

Rand was an altogether different breed. Armed with a top-down theory, and wielding a series of abstractions and a priori truths, she did not see humility as a virtue. Ted Cruz is just starting his career in the Senate, but both his content and his tone are sometimes reminiscent of Rand. He is apparently a fan, having read from "Atlas Shrugged" during his September filibuster on Obamacare. He began with the words, "Now let me encourage any of you who have not read 'Atlas Shrugged,' go tomorrow, buy 'Atlas Shrugged,' and read it."

Senators are certainly entitled to offer book recommendations, but here's a better one, meant for conservatives and liberals alike: Go tomorrow, buy "Witness," and read it.

(Cass R. Sunstein, the Robert Walmsley University professor at Harvard Law School, is a Bloomberg View columnist. He is the former administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the co-author of "Nudge" and author of "Simpler: The Future of Government.")

How Ayn Rand's Idiotic Worldview Makes the Wealthy Feel Good About Themselves

Alternet

November 16, 2013 Sorry, but making a profit off something that's useless to society is not morally superior to helping others.

For those who haven't had the great misfortune of reading "Atlas Shrugged," the book is premised on the idea that if the world's "creative leaders," businessmen, innovators, artists (i.e., the "makers") went on strike, our entire society would collapse. These strikers hide out in a utopian compound in the mountains of Colorado while the rest of us despondently wail and gnash our teeth and beg for them to once again bestow their creativity upon us.

The book mirrors in many ways the more lefty "Elysium," where to escape the environmental degradation they have wrought, the wealthiest go off to form their own society in the sky. The rest of the human population remains mired in slum-like conditions, because the only thing standing between humanity and savagery is Bill Gates. But have no fear! Rather than collectively solving our problems, humanity needs a salvific "Jesus" in the form of (who else?) Matt Damon to make us citizens of Elysium and thereby save humanity. These two, very disparate tales of woe both have common elements (what I will call the "Randian vision"): society relies on the wealthy; collective action through government is either meaningless or detrimental; and a few individuals ("great men") should be the center of social change and innovation. But all of these assumptions are false.

The appeal of the Randian vision to today's wealthy is obvious: it puts them back at the center of economic life. They long ago realized that rather than being the beneficent "makers" they had always imagined themselves to be, they were the parasitical "takers" they so despised. Their wealth, which was once a symbol that God praised their work, became an instrument for social change (Carnegie, Rockefeller) and eventually good in itself (Gates, Jobs). Social Darwinism, the idea that the economy is a "survival of the fittest" competition where the superior end up on top, exults the businessman as superior and deserving. But as Henry George noted of Herbert Spencer (the founder of Social Darwinism): "Mr. Spencer is like one who might insist that each should swim for himself in crossing a river, ignoring the fact that some had been artificially provided with corks and other artificially loaded with lead." F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thorstein Veblen ridiculed the idea that the wealthy were in any way superior. Social Darwinism has resurged in conservative thought, supplementing the Randian vision to fortify a social order in which a minuscule proportion of society reaps its rewards.

Because the wealthy are no longer willing to use their wealth for good, they have decided to glorify the wealth itself as good, thus, Harry Bingswanger writes in Forbes,

Imagine the effect on our culture, particularly on the young, if the kind of fame and adulation bathing Lady Gaga attached to the more notable achievements of say, Warren Buffett. Or if the moral praise showered on Mother Teresa went to someone like Lloyd Blankfein, who, in guiding Goldman Sachs toward billions in profits, has done infinitely more for mankind. (Since profit is the market value of the product minus the market value of factors used, profit represents the value created.)

...As E.F. Schumacher observed about capitalism, "Call a thing immoral or ugly, soul-destroying or a degradation to man, a peril to the peace of the world or to the well-being of future generations: as long as you have not shown it to be 'uneconomic' [unprofitable] you have not really questioned its right to exist, grow, and prosper." To justify their wealth, the titans of industry must make themselves the center of economic progress and society, but the dirty little secret is that they aren't; they're just along for the ride. As Richard Hofstadter observed about American capitalism, "Once great men created fortunes; today a great system creates fortunate men."

... The Human Genome Project cost the government $3.8 billion but generated $796 billion in economic gains. The project is expected to bring about returns of 140 to 1 to the public. Research by Kenneth Flam finds that, "eighteen of the twenty five most important breakthroughs in computer technology between 1950 and 1962 were funded by the government, and in many cases the first buyer of the technology was also the government." The Randian vision praises hedge fund managers, even though most hedge funds underperform the market.

[May 25, 2013] Ayn Rand was a Sociopath

YouTube

She was mentally ill person weather her fans want to admit it or not.

[May 25, 2013] Ralph Nader on Ayn Rand

[May 25, 2013] Hitchens Destroys the Cult of Ayn Rand

YouTube

Christopher Hitchens from the lecture "The Moral Necessity of Atheism" given on February 23, 2004 at Sewanee University

[Jun 10, 2012] How Ayn Rand and L. Ron Hubbard Came Up With Their Big Ideas

Cracked.com

josap

ac wrote:

Didn't L. Ron Hubbard joke about creating a sci-fi religion before he actually did it?

Yes, he planned it out before hand. At least that is the story per Sprag DeCamp, who knew Hubbard well. But then there was lots of bad blood between Sprag and the followers of Dianetics, dead cats on doorsteps etc.

[Jun 10, 2012] Confessions of a recovering Objectivist | Victoria Bekiempis

guardian.co.uk

Thankfully, I grew out of that phase. Not surprisingly, but a few years of minimum-wage work cleaning up cat faeces, without benefits, and other thankless, unstable odd jobs made me question Objectivism's foundations and rekindled an earlier interest in anarcho-syndicalism.

[Nov 30, 2011] Hitchens Destroys the Cult of Ayn Rand - YouTube

[May 18, 2011] annotated-ayn-rand

Geoffrey RaymondNew York Stock Exchange

It is no secret that Geoffrey Raymond, the author of the infamous "Annotated ____" series, is one of Zero Hedge's favorite artists, in no small part due to the crowdsourced method of artistic creation. Indeed, it was only last summer that a copy of the Annotated Cramer (who can forget that prominent third nipple) was sold to a mysterious collector for a stately sum after it was annotated (in addition to the comments from the usual disgruntled suspect scribbling directly on the canvas) with comments compiled from our own post revealing this masterpiece. And once again, just as it should be, Zero Hedge and it's readers get the last word. Prior to shipping his portrait of Ayn Rand to its new buyer, Geoffrey Raymond has invited ZH readers to submit a final round of comments, which he will then transcribe, more or less verbatim, onto the painting. He painted The Annotated Rand to coincide with last month's release of the Atlas Shrugged movie (a truly terrible flick, we are told) and the annotations inscribed in black were taken outside the premiere, then later at theaters around NYC. The blue comments were taken at his usual stomping grounds outside the NYSE. The Raymond market, as we've predicted here before, remains hot, with prices for this best work now flirting with six figures. Might make sense to go to www.annotatedpaintings.blogspot.com and pick up a choice one while they still cost just a little more than a handful of gold coins in CME-adjusted terms. Regarding the Rand painting, our favorite annotation is "Rand + Greenspan = Bonnie + Clyde". All you closet Objectivists can now step up to the plate and have at it...

Take it away.

john39:

may have something to do with the fact that she is a racist zionist, but that's just a guess.

downwiththebanks:

Don't forget she's also a HUAC Snitch.

Eternal Student:

What, that free unregulated markets always end in disasters or monopolies? Or that the current economic disaster, which was brought to us under the banner of free unregulated markets (kicked off by Ronald Reagan) has its roots in Ayn Rand and delivered by her Libertarian poster boy Alan Greenspan?

That may be your Godmother. It isn't mine. Alan Greenspan must be your Godfather too.

McPoopypants:

She was a shitty writer who could sell books by giving a repressed Calvinism-inspired society permission to be dicks. Now that the little selfishness-orgy is coming to a close, we find ourselves feeling nauseated and sticky, while this woman's legacy is trying to convince us to keep pumping, instead of grabbing a shower and skulking away to do something productive in order to distract us from the shame.

eff that shit.

YHC-FTSE:

Folks who have been suckling at Aynd Rand's whithered teat never realize that it's not rich milk but diseased pus they are ingesting.

If you constantly visit Zerohedge, and believe this website stands for Aynd Rand/Rosenbaum/O'Connor, then you misunderstand everything including objectivism. The woman was a halfwit with half good ideas that appealed to egomaniacal twits with delusions of grandeur about themselves. In other words, a good paperback fiction writer.

Guy Fawkes Mulder:

http://i.imgur.com/wYaew.jpg

Because that book was full of business executives and bankers who were trying to build a world empire of megacorporate oligopolies and rigged crony captial controls. Just like current events.

Read Ayn Rand's description of Midas Mulligan. You will see that even in her magnum opus, she did not understand capitalism as run by capitalists.

Everything that occurred after the magnum opus was a miscarriage and mismanagement of the spirit of the novel. The current state of Atlas Shrugged leadership is now just an ivory tower think tank that gets paid in FRNs and produces such wonderful shilling as this:

http://blog.aynrandcenter.org/vindicating-standard-oil-100-years-later

Guy Fawkes Mulder:

You need to relax. It's clouding your judgement and your rationality and your ability to understand me.

My point was that Midas Mulligan is a totally imaginary character. In no way does he resemble any real banker. The book was very unrealistic in its portrayal of executives, particularly Mulligan. The real Fortune 500 executives and chieftains of finance in this world are not doing the morally right thing -- getting away from the immoral society and making a just one with their own abilities and alliances with moral people. In fact they all seem to be complicit in the construction of a neo-feudal world order involving resource wars of conquest and police state domestic control grids.

Standard Oil was anti-freedom. It was a monopoly octopus. It bullied out competitors. It cannot be vindicated by any one who truly believes in economic freedom.

It's just very obtuse to believe that Rockefeller-style capitalism is a good thing. It's very obtuse to say "look prices went down, thanks to Rockefeller". That's ignoring the fact that he squeezed out the competition with ruthless grafting, bribery, intimidation, and corruption.

It may be disingenuous too, but I'm going to give the "objectivism" think tanks a break and assume that they merely have their heads up their asses, and are not intentionally writing this stuff up to mislead people.

Anyway... please relax...

eureka:

Ms. Rand considered herself not just a fiction writer/entertainer, but a philosopher...

well, so much for that; her blind spots could fill the black holes in Wall Street's cooked books.

I'm sure she's discussing it with Jesus right now - correlating her super-human ideals to Greenspan's flip-flop on the gold-standard.

harlanaladd:

You pretty much captured what I was going to offer:

"World's best author. When you're 16."

Pladizow:

How about:

"The Maestro's Mistress?"

brian0918:

How about "The Maestro's Betrayal":

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/alan-greenspan-betrayed-ayn-...

hedgeless_horseman:

The bad news is ray-shielded mountain valleys are a fantasy, and looters are real. Login or register to post comments by The Alarmist on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 17:20 #1288899

Are you sure? Look up what is in and around Denver.

Login or register to post comments by hedgeless_horseman on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 17:39 #1288923

http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/Revenue/REVX/1176842266433

http://www.colorado.gov/PEAK/services-programs.html

http://www.unions.org/unions/colorado/6

http://www.scc-asp.org/american_socialist_party_colorado.html

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kind of OT, but too funny...

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=105x2093328

Good liberal towns in Colorado?

"We're considering selling our house in LA [too many minorities] and moving someplace a little cheaper [lower taxes] for awhile. Looking at Portland, Seattle and Kalispell area. My husband also wants to consider Colorado.

Is Boulder a liberal city? [Have the tax payers and businees all left yet?] Does anyone have any recommendations? [Where are the mostly white schools?]

Login or register to post comments by velobabe on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 17:50 #1289027

boulder is the biggest hypocritical city in amerika. you are moving because of too many minorities. damn lady, you want minorities in and around you. you will just get so bored at looking at these white liberals in boulder. it probably has the highest per capital homeless population in amerika. i am so tired of just looking at these sorry assed white prius driving liberals. god i can't even go out for a walk on a perfect day any more and looked at these clueless people. men woman and the young people are void of any emotion, thought or action. the beauty of the environment is hard to not yearn, so see what kind of balance you can obtain, in a liberal town such as boulder colorado. colorado is the epicenter of the globalists.

brian0918:

"Who's this Anne Rand, anyway?"

Alans father:

Alans father!

VyseLegendaire:

'Atlas Sharted'

NotApplicable:

Greenspan did nothing contrary to her personal views (which are very different from her writings). She was actually proud that her boy got selected by Pres. Ford.

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/08/02/business/02bbt_CA0.ready.html

See how they're all smiling?

Anybody that can spout the incoherent ideology that a strong centralized state is required to safeguard individual liberty is no true friend to liberty, or to coherent ideology.

The "Bonnie and Clyde" label fits these two to a tee. They are nothing but agent provacateurs in service of power. If she believed what she wrote originally, she quickly abandoned it in exchange for the cult of personality she gained once she hit the big time.

Objectivism was created as a dead-end street for those who thought it was putting her words into action. Luckily for many of us, Rothbard quickly figured her game out and told anyone who would listen.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard23.html

NotApplicable:

LOL, I just noticed that Greenspan's mother was named Goldsmith.

Oh, the irony.

Shock and Aweful:

That woman represents nothing more than an unrealistic philosophy for unrealistic people I'd say.

Somewhere between the cold, un-empathetic ideology that she espoused and the 1984-esq nightmare we live in today is what we should strive for.

Ayn Rand and other Libertarian thinkers have some good ideas about personal responsibility and what makes a strong nation and people...but taken literally and to their logical conclusions just don't seem to really be practical

Same goes for the progressivism / socialist idology. There is something admirable about wanting to create a society where equality abounds....but implementing it on a large scale and in a way that works (and without creating an entire class of people who abuse and exploit the government assistance) has been very elusive.

How about, instead of running our political / social systems based on an ideology or a philosophy....we have a political/economic and social order that is based on common sense and common purpose.

Oh fuck it....nevermind....there ain't any money in that!

That will never do.

Aquiloaster :

Agreed. Rand's objectivism is an economic footnote to social Darwinism (the biological facet would be eugenics). The equilibrium/equality she sees is gained by everyone pulling for himself as hard as he can in a 300,000,000-way tug of war. Not my idea of utopia. In fact, it is neither efficient, harmonious, nor the most productive way. A liaisez-faire fantasy by a wannabe great philosophical economist. Rather, she acheived the status of long-winded novelist writing about two-dimensional characters with a transparent agenda.

AgShaman:

May she (Ayn R. and the new movie) inspire new generations of clueless college/univ. educated idiots....longing for the trappings of fictional future-worlds...and a serious lack of "T-shirt syle".

Whatever nausea may result from her silk screened homage...would still be a healthy break from the mass commercialism of Che Guevara

buzzsaw99:

John Galt works for the gubbermint now.

downwiththebanks:

Actually, the gubbermint works for Galt.

Always did. Always will.

Rand doesn't get that. And that's what makes her work fiction.

Use of Weapons :

"Everyone I fucked betrayed me; making it into a philosophy made me rich".

"I might have been the original sociopathic cougar and loved the drugs, but Objectively, history remembers me for turgid prose and simplistic idealism".

"My philosophy champions rationalism; I fucking destroyed anyone with heavenly fire who didn't agree with me. And then purged the fuckers out of my cult. And I spit on their graves".

"When you see the murals of Ben Gold, you see my innermost fantasies".

"I was too stupid to read Nietzsche or Kant"

"Objectivism: Or what I did for the KGB against the useful idiots"

Um. Wait.

You want positive comments?

"Ayn Rand: A six-foot floral arrangement in the shape of a dollar sign was placed near her casket when she died, showing her true love. Then again, McDonalds made millions selling shit to the masses as well - and fiat dollars aren't a good score card".

[No, really. Hateful old hack, and not very bright. For a champion of rationalism, her brain wasn't up to the iconic role. Junk away, but she was one ugly soul, and her legacy is currently destroying the USA. Ironic, no? Or KGB deep mole planning *shrug*]

>>Cliff Notes:

#1 Misunderstood Darwin, as have others - social adaptation / altruism have very specific cost/benefit returns, and are fundamental to a functioning society. Predators should stop being so bloody self-absorbed [thanks Ayn, tool, for making them so] and realise that symbiosis works, and predator<->prey relations in ecology are hugely complex. The current crowd make me shudder, because they mould to fit their limitations, they don't grow to meet complexity. For this crime, they need purging; mostly maladaptive mutants with obvious flaws.

#2 Misunderstood business, as have others - greed is good, if you have a something to spend it on. This does not mean purely material goods; why else would the 0.01% masturbate over 'charity' and 'bequeathing a legacy'. Top tip - complexity is a function of the market; if you leave the market more complex [rich in information] then you are a benefit. If you do not, you are not a capitalist, you are a parasite. Now stop with the bollocks and start building infrastructure again, because without it, you all die. Fucking tools.

#3 Judgement of emotions. Behaviourism is a stupid, and "nice for the masses" thought processes. Yes, I'm looking at you, proponents of 'behavioural economics' and 'nudges'. Top fucking tip: You do NOT WANT a society where people do not notice the "context hidden" nudges or psychological guides, UNLESS you want slaves. If you want slaves, then do the decent thing & split homo sapiens into two breeds, a la H G Wells. Stop being so hypocritical about your self-indulgent morality. When I have custody over other species, I relate to them QUA species. Canine qua canine. Equine qua equine. Homo Sapiens qua Homo sapiens. Anthropomorphism is stupid, dull and egotistical to the point of insanity.

In ending - killing the oceans was also dumb. For 'rationalists' you'd have been better off preventing over-fishing than anything else. I find little to recommend the short sighted and foolish nature of my species.

p.s.

Yay, junked!

If you want a sensible answer: she was a smaller copy of Karl Popper, for an American overly Religious market. Try reading the original first.

Misean:

Who is Ayn Rand?

downwiththebanks:

Just a shitty fiction writer.

She did testify before HUAC as a snitch.

bobola:

If Rand Paul married Ayn Rand, he would be Rand Rand.

MachoMan:

A few for the background:

"I hope that comb-over man cunt straps one on and ass fucks greenspan for eternity in hell" [you nailed the hair btw, although a hitler mustache might be a nice addition]

"My estate thanks the FED and the Federal Government for loose money policies that allowed Hollywood enough wherewithal to trash my writings with visual and audio vomit"

"If I were still alive, I would have fucked DSK and maybe that midget Roubini who reminds me of a drug crazed Billy Crystal hit with a wiffle ball bat doing an impression of a sex crazed foreigner"

feel free to paraphrase

magpie:

"For the main Design of the Fable, (as it is briefly explain'd in the Moral) is to shew the Impossibility of enjoying all the most elegant Comforts of Life that are to be met with in an industrious, wealthy and powerful Nation, and at the same time be bless'd with all the Virtue and Innocence that can be wish'd for in a Golden Age; from thence to expose the Unreasonableness and Folly of those, that desirous of being an opulent and flourishing People, and wonderfully greedy after all the Benefits they can receive as such, are yet always murmuring at and exclaiming against those Vices and Inconveniences, that from the Beginning of the World to this present Day, have been inseparable from all Kingdoms and States that ever were fam'd for Strength, Riches, and Politeness, at the same time."

[Jan 29, 2011] Ayn Rand Railed Against Government Benefits, But Grabbed Social Security and Medicare When She Needed Them Tea Party and the Right

January 29, 2011 | AlterNet

Ayn Rand was not only a schlock novelist, she was also the progenitor of a sweeping "moral philosophy" that justifies the privilege of the wealthy and demonizes not only the slothful, undeserving poor but the lackluster middle-classes as well.

Her books provided wide-ranging parables of "parasites," "looters" and "moochers" using the levers of government to steal the fruits of her heroes' labor. In the real world, however, Rand herself received Social Security payments and Medicare benefits under the name of Ann O'Connor (her husband was Frank O'Connor).

As Michael Ford of Xavier University's Center for the Study of the American Dream wrote, "In the end, Miss Rand was a hypocrite but she could never be faulted for failing to act in her own self-interest."

Her ideas about government intervention in some idealized pristine marketplace serve as the basis for so much of the conservative rhetoric we see today. "The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand," said Paul Ryan, the GOP's young budget star at a D.C. event honoring the author. On another occasion, he proclaimed, "Rand makes the best case for the morality of democratic capitalism."

"Morally and economically," wrote Rand in a 1972 newsletter, "the welfare state creates an ever accelerating downward pull."

Journalist Patia Stephens wrote of Rand:

[She] called altruism a "basic evil" and referred to those who perpetuate the system of taxation and redistribution as "looters" and "moochers." She wrote in her book "The Virtue of Selfishness" that accepting any government controls is "delivering oneself into gradual enslavement."

Rand also believed that the scientific consensus on the dangers of tobacco was a hoax. By 1974, the two-pack-a-day smoker, then 69, required surgery for lung cancer. And it was at that moment of vulnerability that she succumbed to the lure of collectivism.

Evva Joan Pryor, who had been a social worker in New York in the 1970s, was interviewed in 1998 by Scott McConnell, who was then the director of communications for the Ayn Rand Institute. In his book, 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand, McConnell basically portrays Rand as first standing on principle, but then being mugged by reality. Stephens points to this exchange between McConnell and Pryor.

"She was coming to a point in her life where she was going to receive the very thing she didn't like, which was Medicare and Social Security," Pryor told McConnell. "I remember telling her that this was going to be difficult. For me to do my job she had to recognize that there were exceptions to her theory. So that started our political discussions. From there on – with gusto – we argued all the time.

The initial argument was on greed," Pryor continued. "She had to see that there was such a thing as greed in this world. Doctors could cost an awful lot more money than books earn, and she could be totally wiped out by medical bills if she didn't watch it. Since she had worked her entire life, and had paid into Social Security, she had a right to it. She didn't feel that an individual should take help."

Rand had paid into the system, so why not take the benefits? It's true, but according to Stephens, some of Rand's fellow travelers remained true to their principles.

Rand is one of three women the Cato Institute calls founders of American libertarianism. The other two, Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel "Pat" Paterson, both rejected Social Security benefits on principle. Lane, with whom Rand corresponded for several years, once quit an editorial job in order to avoid paying Social Security taxes. The Cato Institute says Lane considered Social Security a "Ponzi fraud" and "told friends that it would be immoral of her to take part in a system that would predictably collapse so catastrophically." Lane died in 1968.

[Nov 07, 2010] Times Higher Education - The devil inside by Barbara Oakley

November 30, 2007

Are some people innately duplicitous, self-serving and evil? Based on the latest developments in neuroscience - and the experience of her own unscrupulous sister - Barbara Oakley argues that they are.

My sister stole my mother's boyfriend. It wasn't as if the boyfriend, Ted, was any great catch. At 85, he trundled about with a nose tube and oxygen tanks, hacking and snorting as he nursed his emphysema. Then there was the age gap - Ted was 40 years older than my sister. So what was the attraction? As it turned out, it was the gift Ted had planned for my mother - the Parisian vacation she had always dreamt of.

On hearing that my mother was planning a trip to Paris, my sister Carolyn suddenly realised that she, too, had always wanted to go to France. And what my sister wanted, she had a way of getting. When Carolyn clicked her spotlight on Mum's boyfriend, he was dazzled. Soon, my sister was tucked beside Ted and his breathing apparatus en route to Paris. Apres Paris, of course, Carolyn dropped Ted like a hot rock.

My mother withdrew, shamed and saddened by this ultimate humiliation. Not long after, she passed away.

Manipulative, hurtful people such as my sister can't help but draw our wonder even as we agonise over the pain they cause. Perhaps we remember working for an arrogant, tyrannical supervisor - a charismatic man who wowed upper management with his flashy presentations and witty wordplay during golf. Or perhaps we never mention our pillar-of-the-community father - a kindly Santa Claus of a man who no one would believe had a sinister flip side. Or we learnt too late that a seemingly perfect wife is in reality a deceitful manipulator who has no qualms about using the children as tools to get her way.

Looking outside our circle of relatives, friends and acquaintances, we've all wondered about the larger-than-life characters. How could a man as unrelentingly evil as Hitler ever rise to the top? And what about the "Butcher of the Balkans", Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic? Or Uganda's despot Idi Amin, who kept a freezer full of human heads? Shouldn't people have noticed early on that these leaders were a little, well, strange? Were these dictators merely extensions of a normal range of human evil (assuming human evil can ever be thought to be normal)? Or were they a different psychological species altogether?

It turns out that, over the past five years, an extraordinary revolution has taken place in our understanding of how malevolent minds function. I set out the remarkable breakthroughs scientists are making in my new book, Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend . As I explain, science is finally beginning to home in on some of the sources of human evil.

For example, you may know someone who lies so often, and so unnecessarily, that you are convinced there is something pathological going on. And indeed there may be. One study has shown that pathological liars have volumes of "white matter" in the brain, a sort of scaffolding for neurons, roughly a quarter more than the rest of us. You may think that the person you know is consciously deciding to lie - and in a sense they are. But in another sense, if your or my brain were wired in a similar way, we would in all probability be doing the same thing.

Psychopaths - those amoral monsters who are responsible for some of humanity's worst actions - have been found to have significant differences in the layout and functioning of their brains. Their limbic system, for example - the seat of our emotions - responds only feebly to emotionally charged words such as "blood" or "rape". Other parts of the brain respond more actively than usual, as if the psychopath were attempting to cope with their dysfunction by using alternate neural pathways. And the corpus callosum - the superhighway that connects the two halves of our brain - is weirdly shaped and elongated.

Even for seemingly normal people, it turns out that our neurological underpinnings play a far stronger role in the flavour of our decision- making and interactions with others than we had previously realised. Have you ever shaken your head at the impossibility of reasoning with someone of a different political persuasion? In fact, it appears that political partisans of any party (yours included) often do not reason logically in relation to candidates and issues. Instead, emotional circuits are activated that provide a momentary dollop of limbic ecstasy when a way is found to prove the other side wrong.

Environment, as we know, is crucial in the formation of our personalities. For evidence, one need only point to the abandoned Romanian orphans, some of whom have suffered from lifelong problematic personalities because of their lack of early care. In this situation, the environmental influence was so strong that it overrode genetics.

But research is uncovering the fact that, in more normal circumstances, virtually every facet of our personality - including impulsiveness, ability to focus, narcissism, religiosity and degree of altruism - is also affected, sometimes quite significantly, by genetics. Dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of genes play a role in shaping any one trait, and these genes also interact with the environment to form a complex tango of causes. Sometimes, seemingly "evil" genes can help underpin conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. But, surprisingly, some of those same genes, when mixed with others, can help underpin some of our best traits - including intelligence, sense of self-worth and exuberance.

Just as environmental conditions can occasionally override any set of genetics, we find that genetics can sometimes override any given environment. Essi Viding of King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry and her colleagues have shown that if one identical twin has psychopathic-like traits, it is extremely likely that the other twin will have them. Fraternal twins do not share this propensity. This indicates that psychopathy, at least in some cases, is genetically based. In other words, some people really are born with a genetic propensity to be bad, rather than being bent sinister by their environment. Sadly, at present, medicine has no way of fixing these unfortunates.

The implications of these and other recent findings are profound. They mean that some people - though, thankfully, just a tiny percentage - are innately duplicitous, self-serving and deceitful. These malevolents are not necessarily in prison and can sometimes rise quite high in social hierarchies. (After all, they cheat.) Just as important to understand is that such people cannot be reasoned with - even though they may appear at times to be rational, reasonable actors. The quintessential example of this is Hitler. Before people finally realised what kind of person he really was, many took him at his word as a man of peace. After all, when diplomats met and were charmed by him, he gave his personal promise that the conditions he demanded would solve the problems that might have led to war. Yet as soon as each condition was met, of course, his demands just expanded.

Perhaps being aware of the latest results from neuroscience can help us to avoid the pitfalls of history. Those who believe it is best to reason, trusting discourse with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for example, might do well to look past his charming, Hitlerian facade. After watching his bizarre recent announcement at Columbia University that Iran has no homosexuals, do we really believe that he might genially allow himself to be convinced otherwise? By heeding the hints of science, we can more easily accept that his call for Israel to be "wiped off the map" may not be some flight of fanciful rhetoric but a real, horrific intention, as with Hitler's explanation of his plans in Mein Kampf.

Perhaps the deepest significance of these new scientific findings is the personal empowerment they give us. Although it is disheartening to learn that a small percentage of people may be neurologically inclined to take advantage of or even hurt us, this awareness allows us more easily to recognise people who may not mean us well. This, in turn, helps us to establish boundaries to avoid being hurt or used. It also allows us, perhaps surprisingly, not to take terrible treatment quite so personally. After all, such treatment is a result of their pathology, related to how they are wired. If they weren't picking on us, they'd find someone else to treat the same way. Knowledge of these cutting-edge scientific results can also help us be a little less hard on ourselves - our own seemingly negative emotions of frustration and anger are often simply evolution's way of protecting us from people who do not mean us well.

Both my loving, caring parents were devastated by the emotional wreckage my sister Carolyn left at nearly every twist of her life. They wondered until their dying days how someone could make the kinds of hurtful choices she made. I think it would have helped my parents to know what science is telling us: that some of us, through the luck of the environmental and genetic draw, have our choices constrained by fate. And that, with a few tweaks of our genome and our lives, Carolyn lies within each of us.

Barbara Oakley is associate professor of engineering at Oakland University in Maryland. Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend is published by Prometheus Books at £20.99.

[Nov 07, 2010] normblog Writer's choice by Barbara Oakley

Barbara Oakley is an associate professor of engineering at Oakland University in Michigan. She is the author of the first seriously funny book about evil, Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend. (Her sister really did steal her mother's boyfriend, and far more besides.) Barbara has worked as a translator on Soviet trawlers, a radio operator at the South Pole Station in Antarctica, a teacher in China and an Army officer in Germany, among other adventures. She is at work on her next book, which will also provide an unusual take on people. Here she writes about Ayn Rand, objectivism and Atlas Shrugged.

Barbara Oakley on Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

I was tipsy by the time I got around to asking about what had bothered me for months. 'Did you know,' I said, thrusting a chin toward the picture of Stalin, 'that he was responsible for the death of twenty million?'

'Well,' sniffed one of my Soviet tablemates, 'everybody makes mistakes.'

Nobody laughed.

In the early 1980s, I spent several fishing seasons working aboard Russian trawlers - then technically part of the 'Evil Empire' of the Soviet Union. Ultimately, I found that inefficiency, incompetence, and a blasé attitude toward hardship were the least of communism's problems. It was the all-pervasive fear that made the system so horrific. Overall, the Soviet Union, I knew, hadn't changed much since 1926, when 20-year-old Alisa Rosenbaum heard, the evening before she slipped out of the country: 'Tell them that Russia is a huge cemetery, and that we are all dying slowly.' Rosenbaum was later to rename herself Ayn Rand, and become an internationally renowned philosopher and best-selling novelist.

Communism, with its creed of 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,' sounds so much nicer than the seemingly greedy approach of capitalism. But communism takes little account of naturally nasty sorts who believe that their needs are far more important than anyone else's. Without direct personal experience such as my own, which avoided the glorious, brittle façade of communism presented to journalists and tourists, it's difficult to understand how awful the system turns out to be in actual practice.

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is her master work, and a profound and wise refutation of communism. It was meant to be a novel that explained her philosophy of objectivism - a sort of anti-communism - through a compelling fictional narrative. Indeed, objectivism has much to recommend it: it emphasizes old-school values such as integrity, logical thinking, and the importance of working hard. But objectivism also prizes some characteristics that are at odds with the Judeo-Christian tradition, such as the importance of pride and self-interest, and the unhealthiness of altruism. Many who read Rand's works are put off by these latter ideas, as well as by her one-dimensional characters, tendentious writing, and sex scenes involving domination and pain. How on earth, a reader might wonder, could anyone come up with such a strange pastiche of a philosophy?

Objectivists often feel that Rand's personal life should have no bearing on her philosophy. I suspect this may be because objectivists like to feel that Rand's philosophy is so insightful and complete that it doesn't matter where it came from. But to understand Rand's philosophy, how it was created, and how some of its seeming flaws actually provide its strongest merits, I think it's important to understand not only the communist system that originally shaped Rand's thinking, but also certain aspects of Rand's unusual personality.

Modern neuroscience is beginning to reveal that some individuals can have severe personality dysfunction, yet never come in for treatment. This appears to have been the case with Rand, whose brilliant, yet bizarre behavior worsened as she grew older. Rand's hypnotic charisma - noted by almost everyone she met - led her to convince her leading disciple, Nathaniel Brandon, to begin a sexual affair with her despite the fact that he was 25 years younger. Rand also convinced her long-suffering husband Frank, as well as Brandon's wife Barbara, to 'happily' go along with the weekly trysts.

The ultimate of temperamental narcissists, Rand basked in the attention as her fame grew. She charmed the public with her lectures. Brief exposure showed her at her very best - few had any idea of her paranoid, controlling, manipulative, emotionally impulsive side, which placed the blame for any problems she created on others. Rand almost invariably drove off anyone who became close to her. Yet she herself insisted that she had never had an emotion that clashed with reason. As one ex-friend, Edith Ephron, noted, 'There is no way to communicate how crazy she was.'

In fact, Rand's overall pattern of behavior showed every sign of what is now known as borderline personality disorder - a disorder characterized by differences in the shape and functioning of many areas of the brain. It's interesting to note that another characteristic of borderline personality disorder is magical thinking - a strong belief that one can will something, often something completely improbable, into reality. Although Rand derisively rejected such thinking in others, it was her own magical thinking - she would become a famous novelist - that allowed the penniless, heavily accented unknown to become one of the English-speaking world's best-selling authors. Let's be clear here - without Rand's dysfunction, no one would have ever even heard of her ideas, good, bad, or indifferent.

But there's more. Rand's focus on the importance of self-interest seems, well, selfish. But she was right to note that, bad as the trait might seem, it forms a crucial part of the individualism that underlies Western notions of freedom. Rand knew the consequences of communism, where people can suffer terribly when self-interest, that most natural of human traits, is denied. After all, why even bother to work hard to bring in the crops if the harvest doesn't belong to you?

How did Rand unravel the importance of self-interest, when it went against the very grain of Judeo-Christian cultural traditions, and those around her during her formative years marched uniformly to the tune of communism? Rand's dysfunction, this time in the form of her narcissism, again appears to have played a powerful role. She was apparently 'wired' to believe that she herself was extraordinarily important, so a philosophy emphasizing self-importance would certainly have seemed more natural. And Rand had also seen how notions of altruism could be used by the shiftless to mooch off the lives of others. (Rand was not against generosity, for example, helping a hard-working but penniless young man to get his footing after he first arrived as an immigrant.) Finally, without other traits often seen in borderline personality disorder, such as inflexibility and a dogmatic conviction that she was right, Rand could never have been so assertive in standing up to the many who disagreed with her.

Again, let's be clear. Rand's 'dysfunction' appears to have helped her perceive reality very differently from others without her neural quirks. Even her brilliance, it seems, came at a price: some genes associated with intelligence are also associated with the neuroticism that so afflicted Rand.

In fact, it appears Rand's ideas, both good and bad, were shaped by her neurochemistry - something Rand herself would have vehemently denied. Her conviction that her perceptions and resulting conclusions were based on objective reality went to extremes. For example, when she suffered from medication-induced hallucinations during a hospitalization, Rand insisted they must have been real. After all, she reasoned, she had seen what she had seen with her own seemingly objective eyes. When a friend insisted on the illusional nature of what she had seen, Rand ended the friendship. And, as writer Daniel Flynn states, 'What Randians considered "objective" were in fact personal tastes - that is, Ayn Rand's eclectic tastes.'

Perhaps most importantly, Randians - the ultimate libertarians - believe everyone has equally free will to decide how to live their lives. If Rand's husband chose, for example, to stay with her despite being cuckolded, who are we to judge? But it appears everyone does not have equally free will. Borderlines, for example, are eminently capable of breaking down people's psychological defences, leaving them to 'choose' a life of physical and mental abuse. Rand's husband Frank, a kind, gentle, rather spineless individual even when she first met him, became Rand's virtual puppet, unable to leave despite his tremendous unhappiness.

In actuality, our free will is often far more constrained and shaped by our genetically pre-programmed and environmentally conditioned personality traits than we might ever realize. Psychopaths, for example, some of whom appear to have been formed by an unfortunate confluence of genetics, consciously understand the right thing to do. They often instead choose the wrong thing, however, because it seems they don't have the neural apparatus to make them feel uncomfortable when they do the wrong thing. Of course their free will leads them to stumble around 'purposefully' making wrong choices.

Communism and objectivism provide differing strategies for explaining and living our lives. Each strategy mischaracterizes, ignores, or oversimplifies various important human attributes. But in the end, it's perhaps most important to recognize that objectivism has long served an important role in upholding the sanctity of the individual - a sanctity ignored by communist icons Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, whose psychological dysfunction far surpassed Rand's. And it also serves a critical role in exposing problems with Judeo-Christian apologists whose altruism can enable the lazy and corrupt. In short, objectivism and Atlas Shrugged, birthed from Ayn Rand's deeply dysfunctional personality, have played a crucial balancing role for modern society. (I would like to thank objectivist Doug Basberg for his generosity in commenting on earlier drafts of this essay.)

[Nov 06, 2010] Happy 105th Birthday, Ayn Rand! - Hit & Run by Katherine Mangu-Ward

February 2, 2010 | Reason Magazine

Ayn Rand: She's hot. She's sexy. She's dead. But if she wasn't, she'd be 105 years old today! Over a century after Alisa Rosenbaum was born in St. Petersburg, she's bigger than ever.

A Twitter meme today suggests celebrating her birthday by "kicking a homeless person in her honor." But that's totally unfair to Rand, since even the people who only read the dirty bits in The Fountainhead know, Rand would prefer that we celebrate by kicking the person who most perfectly embodies Objectivist values:

For a more G-rated option (well, PG-13 anyway) why not enjoy a sampling from Reason's Rand archive in her honor?:

Watch "Rand-O-Rama: The Long Shelf Life of Ayn Rand's Legacy" below:

Go here to Reason.tv's entire series "Radicals for Capitalism: Celebrating the Legacy of Ayn Rand."

[May 09, 2010] The Unlikeliest Cult in History

From Skeptic vol. 2, no. 2, 1993, pp. 74-81.

The following article is copyright © 1993 by the Skeptics Society, P.O. Box 338, Altadena, CA 91001, (818) 794-3119. Permission has been granted for noncommercial electronic circulation of this article in its entirety, including this notice.

THE UNLIKELIEST CULT IN HISTORY

BY MICHAEL SHERMER

Contents: Freudian projection is the process of attributing one's own ideas, feelings, or attitudes to other people or objects--the guilt-laden adulterer accuses his spouse of adultery, the homophobe actually harbors latent homosexual tendencies. A subtle form of projection can be seen in the accusation by Christians that secular humanism and evolution are "religions"; or by cultists and paranormalists that skeptics are themselves a cult and that reason and science have cultic properties. For skeptics, the idea that reason can lead to a cult is absurd. The characteristics of a cult are 180 degrees out of phase with reason. But as I will demonstrate, not only can it happen, it has happened, and to a group that would have to be considered the unlikeliest cult in history. It is a lesson in what happens when the truth becomes more important than the search for truth, when final results of inquiry become more important than the process of inquiry, and especially when reason leads to an absolute certainty about one's beliefs such that those who are not for the group are against it.

The story begins in 1943 when an obscure Russian immigrant published her first successful novel after two consecutive failures. It was not an instant success. In fact, the reviews were harsh and initial sales sluggish. But slowly a following grew around the novel, word of mouth became the most effective marketing tool, and the author began to develop what could, with hindsight, be called a "cult following." The initial print-run of 7,500 copies was followed by multiples of five and 10,000 until by 1950 half a million copies were circulating the country. The book was The Fountainhead and the author Ayn Rand. Her commercial success allowed her the time and freedom to write her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957 after ten years in the making. It is a murder mystery, not about the murder of a human body, but of the murder of a human spirit. It is a broad and sweeping story of a man who said he would stop the ideological motor of the world. When he did, there was a panoramic collapse of civilization, with its flame kept burning by a small handful of heroic individuals whose reason and morals directed both the fall and the subsequent return of culture.

As they did to The Fountainhead, reviewers panned Atlas with a savage brutality that, incredibly, only seemed to reinforce followers' belief in the book, its author, and her ideas. And, like The Fountainhead, sales of Atlas sputtered and clawed their way forward as the following grew, to the point where the book presently sells over 300,000 copies a year. "In all my years of publishing," recalled Random House's owner, Bennett Cerf, "I've never seen anything like it. To break through against such enormous opposition!" (Branden, 1986, p. 298). Such is the power of an individual hero . . . and a cult-like following.

What is it about Rand's philosophy that so emotionally stimulates proponents and opponents alike? Before Atlas Shrugged was published, at a sales conference at Random House a salesman asked Rand if she could summarize the essence of her philosophy, called Objectivism, while standing on one foot. She did so as follows (1962):

  1. Metaphysics: Objective Reality
  2. Epistemology: Reason
  3. Ethics: Self-interest
  4. Politics: Capitalism
In other words, nature exists independent of human thought. Reason is the only method of perceiving this reality. All humans seek personal happiness and exist for their own sake, and should not sacrifice themselves to or be sacrificed by others. And laissez-faire capitalism is the best political-economic system for the first three to flourish, where "men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit," and where "no man may initiate the use of physical force against others" (p. 1). Ringing throughout Rand's works is the philosophy of individualism, personal responsibility, the power of reason, and the importance of morality. One should think for one's self and never allow an authority to dictate truth, especially the authority of government, religion, and other such groups. Success, happiness, and unrestrained upward mobility will accrue to those who use reason to act in the highest moral fashion, and who never demand favors or handouts. Objectivism is the ultimate philosophy of unsullied reason and unadulterated individualism, as expressed by Rand through her primary character in Atlas Shrugged, John Galt:
Man cannot survive except by gaining knowledge, and reason is his only means to gain it. Reason is the faculty that perceives, identifies and integrates the material provided by his senses. The task of his senses is to give him the evidence of existence, but the task of identifying it belongs to his reason, his senses tell him only that something is, but what it is must be learned by his mind (p. 1012).

In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours (p. 1069).

How, then, could such a philosophy become the basis of a cult, which is the antithesis of reason and individualism? A cult, however it is defined, depends on faith and deindividuation--that is, remove the power of reason in followers and make them dependent upon the group and/or the leader. The last thing a cult leader wants is for followers to think for themselves and become individuals apart from the group.

The cultic flaw in Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism is not in the use of reason, or in the emphasis on individuality, or in the belief that humans are self motivated, or in the conviction that capitalism is the ideal system. The fallacy in Objectivism is the belief that absolute knowledge and final Truths are attainable through reason, and therefore there can be absolute right and wrong knowledge, and absolute moral and immoral thought and action. For Objectivists, once a principle has been discovered through reason to be True, that is the end of the discussion. If you disagree with the principle, then your reasoning is flawed. If your reasoning is flawed it can be corrected, but if it is not, you remain flawed and do not belong in the group. Excommunication is the final step for such unreformed heretics.

If you find it hard to believe that such a line of reasoning could lead a rational, well-intentioned group down the road to culthood, history demonstrates how it can happen. The 1960s were years of anti-establishment, anti-government, find-yourself individualism, so Rand's philosophy exploded across the nation, particularly on college campuses. Atlas Shrugged became the book to read. Though it is a massive 1,168 pages long, readers devoured the characters, the plot, and most importantly, the philosophy. It stirred emotions and evoked action. Ayn Rand clubs were founded at hundreds of colleges. Professors taught courses in the philosophy of Objectivism and the literary works of Rand. Rand's inner circle of friends began to grow and one of them, Nathaniel Branden, founded the Nathaniel Branden Institute (NBI), sponsoring lectures and courses on Objectivism, first in New York, and then nationally.

As the seminars increased in size and Rand's popularity shot skyward, so too did the confidence in her philosophy, both for Rand and her followers. Hundreds of people attended classes, thousands of letters poured into the office, and millions of books were being sold. Movie rights for Atlas were being negotiated (The Fountainhead had already been made into a film). Her rise to intellectual power and influence was nothing short of miraculous, and readers of her novels, especially Atlas Shrugged, told Rand it had changed their lives and their way of thinking. Their comments ring of the enthusiasm of the followers of a religious cult (Branden, 1986, pp. 407-415):

There are thousands more just like these, many from people who are now quite successful and well-known, and give credit to Rand. But to the inner circle surrounding and protecting Rand (in ironic humor they called themselves the "Collective"), their leader soon became more than just extremely influential. She was venerated as their leader. Her seemingly omniscient ideas were inerrant. The power of her personality made her so persuasive that no one dared to challenge her. And her philosophy of Objectivism, since it was derived through pure reason, revealed final Truth and dictated absolute morality.

One of the closest to Rand was Nathaniel Branden, a young philosophy student who joined the Collective in the early days before Atlas Shrugged was published. In his autobiographical memoirs entitled Judgment Day (1989), Branden recalled: "There were implicit premises in our world to which everyone in our circle subscribed, and which we transmitted to our students at NBI." Incredibly, and here is where the philosophical movement became a cult, they came to believe that (pp. 255-256):

It is important to note that my critique of Rand and Objectivism as a cult is not original. Rand and her followers were, in their time, accused of being a cult which, of course, they denied. "My following is not a cult. I am not a cult figure," Rand once told an interviewer. Barbara Branden, in her biography, The Passion of Ayn Rand, recalls: "Although the Objectivist movement clearly had many of the trappings of a cult--the aggrandizement of the person of Ayn Rand, the too ready acceptance of her personal opinions on a host of subjects, the incessant moralizing--it is nevertheless significant that the fundamental attraction of Objectivism . . . was the precise opposite of religious worship" (p. 371). And Nathaniel Branden addressed the issue this way: "We were not a cult in the literal, dictionary sense of the word, but certainly there was a cultish aspect to our world . . . . We were a group organized around a charismatic leader, whose members judged one another's character chiefly by loyalty to that leader and to her ideas" (p. 256).

But if you leave the "religious" component out of the definition, thus broadening the word's usage, it becomes clear that Objectivism was (and is) a cult, as are many other, non-religious groups. In this context, then, a cult may be characterized by:

The ultimate statement of Rand's absolute morality heads the title page of Nathaniel Brandon's book. Says Rand:
The precept: "Judge not, that ye be not judged" . . . is an abdication of moral responsibility: it is a moral blank check one gives to others in exchange for a moral blank check one expects for oneself.

There is no escape from the fact that men have to make choices; so long as men have to make choices, there is no escape from moral values; so long as moral values are at stake, no moral neutrality is possible. To abstain from condemning a torturer, is to become an accessory to the torture and murder of his victims.

The moral principle to adopt . . . is: "Judge, and be prepared to be judged."

The absurd lengths to which such thinking can go is demonstrated by Rand's pronounced judgements on her followers of even the most trivial things. Rand had argued, for example, that musical taste could not be objectively defined, yet, as Barbara Branden observed, "if one of her young friends responded as she did to Rachmaninoff . . . she attached deep significance to their affinity." By contrast, if a friend did not respond as she did to a certain piece or composer, Rand "left no doubt that she considered that person morally and psychologically reprehensible." Branden recalled an evening when a friend of Rand's remarked that he enjoyed the music of Richard Strauss. "When he left at the end of the evening, Ayn said, in a reaction becoming increasingly typical, 'Now I understand why he and I can never be real soul mates. The distance in our sense of life is too great.' Often, she did not wait until a friend had left to make such remarks" (p. 268).

With this set of criteria it becomes possible to see that a rational philosophy can become a cult when most or all of these are met. This is true not only for philosophical movements, but in some scientific schools of thought as well. Many founding scientists have become almost deified in their own time, to the point where apprentices dare not challenge the master. As Max Planck observed about science in general, only after the founders and elder statesmen of a discipline are dead and gone can real change occur and revolutionary new ideas be accepted.

In both Barbara's and Nathaniel Branden's assessment, then, we see all the characteristics of a cult. But what about deceit and sexual exploitation? In this case, "exploitation" may be too strong of a word, but the act was present nonetheless, and deceit was rampant. In what has become the most scandalous (and now oft-told) story in the brief history of the Objectivist movement, starting in 1953 and lasting until 1958 (and on and off for another decade after), Ayn Rand and her "intellectual heir" Nathaniel Branden, 25 years her junior, carried on a secret love affair known only to their respective spouses. The falling in love was not planned, but it was ultimately "reasonable" since the two of them were, de facto, the two greatest humans on the planet. "By the total logic of who we are--by the total logic of what love and sex mean--we had to love each other," Rand told Barbara Branden and her own husband, Frank O'Connor. It was a classic display of a brilliant mind intellectualizing a purely emotional response, and another example of reason carried to absurd heights. "Whatever the two of you may be feeling," Rand rationalized, "I know your intelligence, I know you recognize the rationality of what we feel for each other, and that you hold no value higher than reason" (B. Brandon, p. 258).

Unbelievably, both Barbara and Frank accepted the affair, and agreed to allow Ayn and Nathaniel an afternoon and evening of sex and love once a week. "And so," Barbara explained, "we all careened toward disaster." The "rational" justification and its consequences continued year after year, as the tale of interpersonal and group deceit grew broader and deeper. The disaster finally came in 1968 when it became known to Rand that Branden had fallen in love with yet another woman, and had begun an affair with her. Even though the affair between Rand and Branden had long since dwindled, the master of the absolutist moral double-standard would not tolerate such a breach of ethical conduct. "Get that bastard down here!," Rand screamed upon hearing the news, "or I'll drag him here myself!" Branden, according to Barbara, slunk into Rand's apartment to face the judgment day. "It's finished, your whole act!" she told him. "I'll tear down your facade as I built it up! I'll denounce you publicly, I'll destroy you as I created you! I don't even care what it does to me. You won't have the career I gave you, or the name, or the wealth, or the prestige. You'll have nothing . . . ." The barrage continued for several minutes until she pronounced her final curse: "If you have an ounce of morality left in you, an ounce of psychological health--you'll be impotent for the next twenty years!" (pp. 345-347).

Rand's verbal attack was followed by a six-page open letter to her followers in her publication The Objectivist (May, 1968). It was entitled "To Whom It May Concern." After explaining that she had completely broken with the Brandens, Rand continued the deceit through lies of omission: "About two months ago . . . Mr. Branden presented me with a written statement which was so irrational and so offensive to me that I had to break my personal association with him." Without so much as a hint of the nature of the offense Rand continued: "About two months later Mrs. Branden suddenly confessed that Mr. Branden had been concealing from me certain ugly actions and irrational behavior in his private life, which was grossly contradictory to Objectivist morality . . . . " Branden's second affair was judged immoral, his first was not. This excommunication was followed by a reinforcing barrage from NBI's Associate Lecturers that sounds all too ecclesiastical in its denouncement (and written out of complete ignorance of what really happened): "Because Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden, in a series of actions, have betrayed fundamental principles of Objectivism, we condemn and repudiate these two persons irrevocably, and have terminated all association with them . . . . " (Branden, 1986, pp. 353-354).

Confusion reigned supreme in both the Collective and in the rank-and-file membership. Mail poured into the office, most of it supporting Rand (naturally, since they knew nothing of the first affair). Nathaniel received angry responses and even Barbara's broker, an Objectivist, terminated her as his client. The group was in turmoil over the incident. What were they to think with such a formidable condemnation of unnamed sins? The ultimate extreme of such absolutist thinking was revealed several months later when, in the words of Barbara, "a half-demented former student of NBI had raised the question of whether or not it would be morally appropriate to assassinate Nathaniel because of the suffering he had caused Ayn; the man concluded that it should not be done on practical grounds, but would be morally legitimate. Fortunately, he was shouted down at once by a group of appalled students" (p. 356n).

It was the beginning of the long decline and fall of Rand's tight grip over the Collective. One by one they sinned, the transgressions becoming more minor as the condemnations grew in fierceness. And one by one they left, or were asked to leave. In the end (Rand died in 1982) there remained only a handful of friends, and the designated executor of her estate, Leonard Peikoff (who presently carries on the cause through the Southern California based Ayn Rand Institute, "The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism"). While the cultic qualities of the group sabotaged the inner circle, there remained (and remains) a huge following of those who choose to ignore the indiscretions, infidelities, and moral inconsistencies of the founder, and focus instead on the positive aspects of the philosophy. There is much in it from which to choose, if you do not have to accept the whole package. In this analysis, then, there are three important caveats about cults, skepticism, and reason:

  1. Criticism of the founder of a philosophy does not, by itself, constitute a negation of any part of the philosophy. The fact that Christians have been some of the worst violators of their own moral system does not mean that the ethical axioms of "thou shalt not kill," or "due unto others as you would have them do unto you," are negated. The components of a philosophy must stand or fall on their own internal consistency or empirical support, regardless of the founder's personality quirks or moral inconsistencies. By most accounts Newton was a cantankerous and relatively unpleasant person to be around. This fact has nothing at all to do with his principles of natural philosophy. With thinkers who proffer moral principles, as in the case of Rand, this caveat is more difficult to apply, but it is true nonetheless. It is good to know these things about Rand, but it does not nullify her philosophy. I reject her principles of final Truth and absolute morality not because Rand had feet of clay, but because I do not believe they are either logically or empirically tenable.
  2. Criticism of part of a philosophy does not gainsay the whole. In a similar analogy as above, one may reject parts of the Christian philosophy while embracing others. I might, for example, attempt to treat others as I would have them treat me, while at the same time renounce the belief that women should remain silent in church and be obedient to their husbands. One may disavow Rand's absolute morality, while accepting her metaphysics of objective reality, her epistemology of reason, and her political philosophy of capitalism (though Objectivists would say they all follow from her metaphysics). Which leads me to the third caveat.
  3. The critic of part of a philosophy does not necessarily repudiate the whole philosophy. This is a personal caveat to Objectivists and readers of Skeptic alike. Rand critics come from all political positions--left, right, and middle. Professional novelists generally disdain her style. Professional philosophers generally refuse to take her work seriously (both because she wrote for popular audiences and because her work is not considered a complete philosophy). There are more Rand critics than followers. I am not one of them. Ayn Rand has probably influenced my thinking more than any other author. I have read all of her works, including her newsletters, early works, and the two major biographies. I have even read the Brobdingnagian Atlas Shrugged no less than three times, plus once on audio tape for good measure. Thus I am not a blind critic. (Some of Rand's critics have attacked Atlas without ever reading it, and Objectivism, without ever knowing anything about it. I have encountered many of these myself. Even the pompously intellectual William Buckley spoke of the "desiccated philosophy" of Atlas, "the essential aridity of Miss Rand's philosophy," and the tone of Atlas as "over-riding arrogance," yet later confessed: "I never read the book. When I read the review of it and saw the length of the book, I never picked it up." Nothing could be more irrational.) I accept most of Rand's philosophy, but not all of it. And despite my life-long commitment to many of Rand's most important beliefs, Objectivists would no doubt reject me from their group for not accepting all of her precepts. This is ultimately what makes Objectivism a cult.
I believe (and here I speak strictly for myself and not for the Skeptics Society or any of its members) that reality exists and that reason and science are the best tools we have for understanding causality in the real world. We can achieve an ever-greater understanding of reality but we can never know if we have final Truth with regard to nature. Since reason and science are human activities, they will always be flawed and biased. I believe that humans are primarily driven to seek greater happiness, but the definition of such is completely personal and cannot be dictated and should not be controlled by any group. (Even so-called selfless acts of charity can be perceived as directed toward self-fulfillment--the act of making someone else feel good, makes us feel good. This is not a falsifiable statement, but it is observable in people's actions and feelings.) I believe that the free market--and the freer the better--is the best system yet devised for allowing all individuals to achieve greater levels of happiness. (This is not a defensible statement in this forum. I am just setting the stage for my critique of Rand.) I believe that individuals should take personal responsibility for their actions, buck up and quit whining when facing the usual array of life's problems, and cease this endless disease-of-the-month victimization. Finally, I wholeheartedly embrace Rand's passionate love of the heroic nature of humanity and of the ability of the human spirit to triumph over nature.

So far so good. I might have even made it into the Rand inner circle. But I would have been promptly excommunicated as an unreformed heretic (the worst kind, since reformed heretics can at least be retrained and forgiven), with my belief that no absolute morality is scientifically or rationally tenable, even that which claims to have been derived through pure reason, as in the case of Rand. The reason is straightforward. Morals do not exist in nature and thus cannot be discovered. In nature there are just actions--physical actions, biological actions, and human actions. Human actors act to increase their happiness, however they personally define it. Their actions become moral or immoral when someone else judges them as such. Thus, morality is a strictly human creation, subject to all the cultural influences and social constructions as other such human creations. Since virtually everyone and every group claims they know what right and wrong human action is, and since virtually all of these moralities are different from all others to a greater or lesser extent, then reason alone tells us they cannot all be correct Just as there is no absolute right type of human music, there is no absolute right type of human action. The broad range of human action is a rich continuum that precludes its pigeonholing into the unambiguous yeses and noes that political laws and moral codes require.

Does this mean that all human actions are morally equal? No. Not any more than all human music is equal. We create standards of what we like and dislike, desire or not, and make judgments against these standards. But the standards are themselves human creations and not discovered in nature. One group prefers classical music, and so judges Mozart to be superior to the Moody Blues. Similarly, one group prefers patriarchal dominance, and so judges male privileges to be morally honorable. Neither Mozart nor males are absolutely better, only so when compared to the group's standards. Thus, male ownership of females was once moral and is now immoral, not because we have discovered it as such, but because our society has realized that women also seek greater happiness and that they can achieve this more easily without being in bondage to males. A society that seeks greater happiness for its members by giving them greater freedom, will judge a Hitler or a Stalin as morally intolerable because his goal is the confiscation of human life, without which one can have no happiness.

As long as it is understood that morality is a human construction influenced by human cultures, one can become more tolerant of other human belief systems, and thus other humans. But as soon as a group sets itself up to be the final moral arbiter of other people's actions, especially when its members believe they have discovered absolute standards of right and wrong, it is the beginning of the end of tolerance and thus, reason and rationality. It is this characteristic more than any other that makes a cult, a religion, a nation, or any other group, dangerous to individual freedom. This was (and is) the biggest flaw in Ayn Rand's Objectivism, the unlikeliest cult in history. The historical development and ultimate destruction of her group and philosophy is the empirical evidence to support this logical analysis.

What separates science from all other human activities (and morality has never been successfully placed on a scientific basis), is its belief in the tentative nature of all conclusions. There are no final absolutes in science, only varying degrees of probability. Even scientific "facts" are just conclusions confirmed to such an extent it would be reasonable to offer temporary agreement, but never final assent. Science is not the affirmation of a set of beliefs but a process of inquiry aimed at building a testable body of knowledge constantly open to rejection or confirmation. In science, knowledge is fluid and certainty fleeting. That is the heart of its limitation. It is also its greatest strength.

Bibliography

Branden, B. 1986. The Passion of Ayn Rand. New York: Doubleday.
Branden, N. 1989. Judgment Day: My Years With Ayn Rand. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Rand, A. 1943. The Fountainhead. New York: Bobbs-Merrill.
_____. 1957. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Random House.
_____. 1962. "Introducing Objectivism." Los Angeles Times, June 17.

[May 09, 2010] How Ayn Rand caused the GFC

SO GOLDMAN Sachs, the world's greatest and smuggest investment bank, has been sued for fraud by the American Securities and Exchange Commission. Legally, the case hangs on a technicality.

Morally, however, the case may turn into a final referendum on the greed-is-good ethos that conquered America in the '80s - and in the years since has aped other horrifying American trends in spreading across the Western world like a venereal disease.

When the globe was engulfed in the flood of defaults and derivative losses that emerged from the collapse of the US housing bubble two years ago, few understood that the crash had its roots in the lunatic greed-centred objectivist religion, fostered in the '50s and '60s by ponderous emigre novelist Ayn Rand.

Outside America, Russian-born Rand is probably best known for being the unfunniest person Western civilisation has seen since maybe Goebbels or Jack the Ripper, but inside America she is upheld as an intellectual giant. Her ideas are worshipped even by people who've never heard of her. The right-wing Tea Party movement is just one example of an entire demographic that has been inspired to mass protest by Rand without even knowing it.

Last year I wrote a brutally negative article about Goldman Sachs for Rolling Stone (I called the bank a ''great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity'') that sparked a heated debate. On one side were people who believed that Goldman is little better than a criminal enterprise that bilks the market, the government, and even its own clients in a bewildering variety of complex financial scams.

On the other were those who argued Goldman wasn't guilty of anything except being ''too smart'' and really good at making money. This was based almost entirely on the Randian belief system, under which the leaders of Goldman Sachs appear not as the cheap swindlers they look like to me, but idealised heroes, the saviours of society.

In the Randian ethos, called objectivism, the only real morality is self-interest, and society is divided into groups who are efficiently self-interested (the rich) and the ''parasites'' who wish to take their earnings through taxes. Rand believed government had virtually no natural role in society. She conceded police were necessary, but refused to accept any need for economic regulation.

Rand's fingerprints are all over the Goldman story. The case involves a hedge fund financier, John Paulson, who went to Goldman with the idea of a synthetic derivative package pegged to risky US mortgages, for use in betting against the mortgage market. Paulson would short the package and Goldman would then sell the deal to suckers. The SEC's contention is that Goldman committed a crime when they failed to tell the suckers about the vulture betting against them on the other side of the deal.

The instruments in question - collateralised debt obligations and credit default swaps - fall into the category of derivatives, which are virtually unregulated in the US thanks in large part to the effort of former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, a staunch Randian. In the late '90s, Greenspan lobbied hard for a law that deregulated the sort of interest-rate swaps Goldman used in its now-infamous dealings with Greece.

In the Paulson deal the suckers were European banks such as ABN-Amro and IKB, which were never told the stuff Goldman was selling to them was, in effect, designed to implode; in the Greece deal, Goldman used exotic swaps to help the country mask its financial problems, then bet against Greece by shorting the debt.

Confronted with public outrage, the leaders of Goldman will often appear genuinely confused. It's not an act. There have been a lot of greedy financiers and banks in history, but what makes Goldman stand out is its truly bizarre cultist/religious belief in the rightness of what it does.

The point was driven home in England last year, when Goldman's international adviser, sounding exactly like a character in Atlas Shrugged, said ''The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest.''

Even if he stands to make a buck at it, your average used-car salesman won't sell some working father a car with wobbly brakes, then buy life insurance policies on that customer and his kids. But this is done almost as a matter of routine in the financial services industry, where the attitude after the inevitable pileup would be that that family was dumb for getting into the car in the first place. Caveat emptor, dude!

This Randian mindset is now ingrained in the American character.

This debate is going to be crystallised in the Goldman case. Much of America is going to reflexively insist that Goldman's only crime was being better at making money than IKB and ABN-Amro, and that the meddling government (in the American narrative, always the bad guy) should get off Goldman's Armani-clad back. Another side is going to argue that Goldman winning this case would be a rebuke to the whole idea of civilisation - which, after all, is really just a collective decision by all of us not to screw each other over even when we can.

It's an important moment in the history of modern global capitalism: whether or not to move forward into a world of greed without limits.

GUARDIAN

[Apr 26, 2010] Satyajit Das Rand World by Satyajit Das

naked capitalism

Jennifer Burns (2010) "Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right" Oxford University Press

One of the strange by-products of the publishing boom around the global financial crisis is the revival of the Ayn Rand's reputation. The sales of her books, such as "The Fountainhead" and especially "Atlas Shrugged", the 1957 novel that for libertarians is the marker for the rise and failure of collectivism, has risen sharply outperforming most living writers and most recent contributions.

The spike is neither unexpected nor surprising. The rise in fortune coincides directly with massive state intervention in the economy following market failures in the fallout from the financial crisis. As one recently formed group on the social networking site, Facebook, expressed it: "Read the news today? It's like 'Atlas Shrugged' is happening in real life". The writer just forgot to add the "Oh boy!" at the end of "Read the news today?" to complete the nostalgia.

For some, the future predicted and feared by Rand is coming true. Alan Greenspan's downcast admission in Congress about the failure in his view of the world echoed similar admissions by the character, Robert Stadler, the gifted physicist in "Atlas Shrugged", who had betrayed his faith cravenly in exchange for political favour. The fact that Alan Greenspan was once a member Rand's circle merely added to the parallels.

Ayn Rand was a trenchant critic of the popular collectivism movements of the twentieth century. Her view was always resolutely pro-individual and anti-government. Rand helped shape the libertarian self image – the gifted individual restricted, brought down and in permanent conflict with power hungry bureaucrats, officials and the untalented 'second handers' who populate life.

Born Alisa Rosenbaum, Rand, a Russian Jew, had first hand experience of the Communist revolution and it effects on her native land. It shaped a philosophy that was fervently anti-communist and devoted to the rights and liberty of the individual.

An experienced scriptwriter, Rand shaped her two major novels less as literary works and more as vehicles for her polemic. In her time, the academic establishment found her views to be shallow and limited. Perhaps one reason was her strident criticism of everybody including people whose views were not dissimilar to her own, such as Hayek. She, it seemed, found it impossible to agree with anybody even if they agreed with her.

Her writing never rose to high standards. The stereotyped characters in her novels were poor caricatures. These weaknesses did not detract from a unique popular appeal.

In "Goddess of the Market", Jennifer Burns identifies the source of her appeal. The very shallowness of her thinking that intellectuals dismissed was inherently attractive to a certain sensibility, especially adolescents. Her absolute values and intolerance are attractive to those who prefer a Manichean worldview. Rand's popularity also derives from her correct insight that thriving societies are not possible without freedom, entrepreneurial abilities and innovation. This fact is most evident in China's embrace of market economics to some degree.

Rand's popularity is also in no small part driven by her greatest talent – creating mystique and self-promotion. Rand anticipated the cult of "celebrity thought leadership" (practised by Richard Gere, Madonna, Bono, Bob Geldorf and others) even before the terms existed.

Her power came from her greatest creation – Ayn Rand herself. Highly deliberate, Rand cultivated a distinctive image. She had a glare according to a magazine profile that "could wilt a cactus". She wore a broach in the shape of a dollar sign.

As Ms Burns writes, her personal life completed the imagery. Her long-suffering husband had to wear a bell on his shoe to ensure that Rand could hear him approach. She informed both her husband and Mrs Branden of the arrangement whereby she met and had sex with her leading acolyte, Nathaniel Branden, twice a week.

Ms Burns identifies the internal contradictions of Rand. Within her inner circle (known ironically as "the collective"), the promoter of individual liberty could not tolerate dissent of any kind. Her stifling worldview encompassed everything from politics to interior design and dancing. Despite her following, Rand never succeeded in creating a lasting legacy or political movement. The collective fell apart when she fell out with Branden.

In "Goddess of the Market", Jennifer Burns, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Virginia, provides an insightful and, at times, entertaining perspective of Ayn Rand and her thinking. Ms. Burns has fashioned an interesting portrait of one of the twentieth century's most fascinating and yet Quixotic figures. Rand's influence lives on in her book and also in the watered down elements of her libertarian philosophy that has penetrated liberal political thinking

Important Weekend Read, Jeremy Grantham (Scott's Investments, 4/24/10)

Soros Warns Those Throwing Money Into the Stock Market: We are Facing A Big Bubble and Bigger Boo... (Shocked Investor, 4/15/10)

El-Erian: Greek bailout will cause global risk aversion (Investment Postcards from Cape Town, 4/24/10)

16 Comments:
  • Tom Stone:

    Gee, the musing of a woman with narcissistic and sadomasochistic tendencies who glorified sociopathic behavior became popular? I wonder why…

  • john:

    Ayn Rand was a sociopath who idolized serial killers:

    http://www.alternet.org/books/145819/ayn_rand,_hugely_popular_author_and_inspiration_to_right-wing_leaders,_was_a_big_admirer_of_serial_killers

    It's no surprise that she and her ideas would in turn be idolized by Wall Street banksters.

  • Walker:

    As Rogers so aptly put:

    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged.

    Jojo :

    Bah! We don't need more Ayn Rand pap. In contrast, I'll submit:

    Stephen Colbert and the "Rand Illusion"
    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/221335/march-11-2009/the-word–rand-illusion

    -AND-

    THE UNLIKELIEST CULT IN HISTORY
    http://www.2think.org/02_2_she.shtml

  • K Ackermann says:

    2:19 am

    And her views on native American Indians…

    I found it ironic that a railroad were used in Atlas Shrugged. It was the government who donated the lands and supplied the capital to build railroads.

  • attempter :

    Ayn Rand was a trenchant critic of the popular collectivism movements of the twentieth century.

    Really? I'm aware that she was an aggressive, obnoxious critic. I've read plenty of examples of that. But I've never once seen a "trenchant" criticism from her.

    Rand helped shape the libertarian self image – the gifted individual restricted, brought down and in permanent conflict with power hungry bureaucrats, officials and the untalented 'second handers' who populate life.

    In other words, she wrote the gospel for precisely these untalented parasites to see themselves as heroes, since those who exalt her almost invariably are such parasites.

    Her writing never rose to high standards. The stereotyped characters in her novels were poor caricatures. These weaknesses did not detract from a unique popular appeal.

    That's better for that purpose. For a novel to have real literary qualities only gets in the way of the polemic. Chernyshevsky's equally influential What Is To Be Done? was also badly written in that sense.

    Rand's popularity also derives from her correct insight that thriving societies are not possible without freedom, entrepreneurial abilities and innovation. This fact is most evident in China's embrace of market economics to some degree.

    This is of course absurd on its face, and betrays either complete and absolute ignorance of history, or complete and absolute disingenuousness. It's true only if you define "thriving" and "freedom" as "thriving according to Rand's nightmare vision of what freedom and a society should be". So it's a Humpty Dumpty tautology and nothing more.

    BTW, the fact that her heroes were architects and such, who required Stalinist gigantism for their "dreams" to be realized, is a tip-off to the totalitarian code in which she was writing. She was really saying, we need the direct dictatorship of big corporations, while the people should be reduced to a slave mass to be mined for the corporate projects and profits of we elites.

    If that's not what she really meant, if her ideal were really the gifted individual, then why weren't her heroes poets and painters who didn't need or want material things but merely the time and freedom to create?

  • purple:

    Rand is popular (particularly with the adolescent set), because the reader can imagine they are the SuperMan who is being frustrated by the ignorant masses. Her novels feed a certain level of narcissism ; we all identify with the genius protagonist. But this is strange considering the context of her novels, that the masses cannot understand genius.

    Most of us grow out of the Rand phase, but some do not.

  • Toby:

    What I don't understand is why her philosophy justifies unrestrained self-interest with appeals to morality and fairness. Morality and fairness are both social phenomena. If life's all about me and my desires, why should I give a shit about justifications, or appeals to morality, or benefiting society generally? Also, you need a language, a tool which can only be created organically by a collective, in order to come up with and then teach this philosophy of anti-collective, objective morality. Furthermore, language can only ever be imperfect, which renders the chance of objectivity null, as far as I can make out. The whole thing seems self-delusional to me.

  • DownSouth:

    ► "Born Alisa Rosenbaum, Rand, a Russian Jew, had first hand experience of the Communist revolution and it effects on her native land. It shaped a philosophy that was fervently anti-communist and devoted to the rights and liberty of the individual."

    Life's trials and tribulations destroy some people. Others they make stronger. Ayn Rand was one of those whom they destroyed.

    We can find the antithesis of Ayn Rand in individuals such as Martin Luther King, Jr. It would have been so easy for MLK to end up hating white people, just like Rand hated the proletariat, whome she perceived as having wronged her. But he didn't.

    Here's how MLK explained it:

    Due to my involvement in the struggle for the freedom of my people, I have known very few quite days in the past few years. I have been arrested five times and put in Alabama jails. My home has been bombed twice. A day seldom passes that my family and I are not the recipients of threats of death. I have been the victim of a near fatal stabbing….

    As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways that I could respond to my situation: either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into creative force. I decided to follow the latter course. Recognizing the necessity for suffering I have tried to make of it a virtue. If only to save myself from bitterness, I have attempted to see my personal ordeals as an opportunity to transform myself and heal the people involved in the tragic situation which now obtains.
    -Martin Luther King, "Suffering and Faith," Christian Century, 27 April 1960

  • john alt says:

    8:44 am

    Rand made a career of selling narcissism as a virtue to mostly privileged white boys at the moment their privileges came most under attack.

    As the Reagan Revolution sought to restore those privileges Rand's narcissism got the validating imprimatur of official power as the militant right made a complete irony of "conservatism" with their radicalism.

    These so called conservatives now make the best approximation of a collective in the US and have managed to get the rest of us to fund their privileges as they enforce their intolerant doctrine in economics and law.

    Reply
  • craazyman says:

    8:54 am

    Bells on her husbands shoes???? ROTFLMAO. Holy Pussy Whip Batman! This woman wouldn't last five minutes with a real man, somebody who never pays more than $15 for a haircut, makes up his own mind about things, and pumps iron before NFL football starts at 1 pm. Ha ha ha.

    Any Rand. "An Naydr" says the anogram. Darkness visible.

    Boowaha ahhah ahaha hahah. Panem et Circenses.

    I wonder how he got roped into the bells. Maybe it was a long process of step-by-step rationalizations, you know, the kind that lead to . . . well . . . NINJA loans and AAA CDOs. Ecce Homo said Fred. ha ha ha.

    Reply
  • DownSouth says:

    8:56 am

    Rand's Jewishness also presents another great irony. It makes the similarities between her ideology and the racial ideologies of the National Socialists all the more glaring, since they both glorified "strength" and lambasted "weakness."

    Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that he felt "the obligation in accordance with the Eternal Will that dominates this universe to promote the victory of the better and stronger, and to demand the submission of the worse and the weaker."

    Of course in Hitler's world the "worse and the weaker" were the mentally and physically handicapped, the Gypsies, the Negroes, homosexuals, and especially the Jews.

    "The large mass of Jews is as a race culturally unproductive," Hitler proclaimed in 1938 at the national Party meeting.

    "The National Socialists were masters at inventing and imposing stereotyped concepts," Peter Adam observed, and summarizes the Manichean worldview of the National Socialists as follows:

    The opposite of the shining Aryan was the dark Jew. Uncreative, driven only by commercial thoughts, the Jew was the archenemy of culture, the parasite, bare of any idealism, without cultural roots.
    –Peter Adam, Art of the Third Reich

    "The new age of today is at work on a new human type," wrote the Nazi propagandist Walter Benjamin. "Men and women are to be more healthy, stronger: there is a new feeling of life, a new joy in life."

    "He who would win the great masses must know the key which opens the door to their hearts," Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf. "It's name is not…weakness, but will power and strength. One can only succeed in winning the soul of a people if, apart from positive fighting for one's own aims, one also destroys at the same time the supporter of the contrary."

    "Hitler's notions…appealed to popular taste and prejudice," Peter Adam went on to explain, "and could therefore count on solid support. Here suddenly was a man who had the answer to everybody's problems. Everything was going to be different in this brave new world." Painters and sculptors, infected by this new spirit, abandoned their "softer and more naturalistic style" for the "steely renderings of men from the SS and SA."

    As Adam goes on to explain, the Great Depression set the stage for the National Socialists:

    World depression hit Germany harder than most countries. Hitler understood how to fire up the dissatisfied masses when unemployment reached the 6 million mark. A nation weighted down by anxiety and poverty, filled with resentment…was an easy target for a party that promised change and renewed pride…

    Hitler came to power on January 31, 1933. The National Socialists lost no time in putting their cultural politics into practice… They began with a number of demonstrations of strength. They set about eliminating what they rejected…

    For the opening of the 1938 "Great German Art Exhibition," Hitler gave one of his famous speeches. In it he summed up once more the National Socialist theory and repeated the same old clichés. Hitler stressed again and again that the German people have a new affirmation of life. They are filled with admiration for the "strong and beautiful, the healthy and those capable of surviving"--all thoughts that aligned the arts theory with the theory endorsing the annihilation of the sick and the "racially inferior."

    Perhaps the commonalities between the ideologies of Ayn Rand and those of the National Socialists can best be summed up in the word "parasite," which they both deployed with great frequency.

    Reply
  • Melanchthon says:

    9:12 am

    Well, Ayn Rand's influence is limited to the United States. She's almost unknown in most European countries…

    Reply
  • skippy says:

    9:35 am

    Master-slave morality: Master morality weighs actions on a scale of good or bad consequences unlike slave morality which weighs actions on a scale of good or evil intentions.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master-slave_morality

    Rand a Homeric hero with a skirt…ha ha ha.

    Skippy…DS these guys are still very popular in your hemisphere…wounder why.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTYsElEGswc&feature=channel

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxaIGvI6Y8Q&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCNBObnj5QI&feature=channel

    Reply
  • In Hell's Kitchen says:

    9:42 am

    Rand's "philosophy" is conclusively shown to be a fraud in Nyquist's
    book discussed here:

    http://aynrandcontrahumannature.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  • Douche inspector says:

    10:51 am

    They are fucking books. Fiction. I enjoyed them. Some don't. Fine. Quit making such a big goddamn deal of trivial opinions. I don't give a flying fuck of your opninion on the books, or my opinion of the books or your opinion of my opinions. The people who bash Rand are as bad as the people who worship her. I find no clear distinction in the two groups. Cheerio!

    Douche Inspector #23

    Reply
  • Jesse says:

    11:04 am

    I think we are entering the 'hysteria' phase, in which scapegoats are sought and delivered by those inside the fraud which caused the crisis to deflect their own guilt.

    Those who have lost money are looking for retribution, and those who seek power feed the mob. We have some way to go yet, before they start burning books. And if there is no reform, no justice, then the madness returns.

    And you will never believe it until it has taken a firm grasp of your hands.

    Reply
  • Derrick says:

    11:41 am

    Who is John Galt?

    Reply
  • itzybitter says:

    11:44 am

    The common threads between Rand, libertarianism, and neoliberalism are what interest me. I can best characterize it both as glorification of the omnipotent adolescent, with the attendant struggle with human grief, the acceptance of the necessary life losses. At its heart is deep and dysfunctional pathology.

    Cynicism is one of its most obvious manifestations, the inability to emotionally deal with our ultimate fragility. The libertarian thus must define the terms of every engagement, vainly seeking to empower himself.

    Reply
  • In Hell's Kitchen says:

    11:46 am

    >The people who bash Rand are as bad as the people who worship her.
    >I find no clear distinction in the two groups.

    except those who "bash" her didn't get to almost cause the 2nd Great
    Depression with their actions which they base on Rand's "theory" of
    economics.

    Nobody remembers Greenspan's mea culpa ?

    Reply
  • Froggy says:

    12:52 pm

    Ayn Rand is a starting point for a framework of libertarian thought. Her philosophies are unimplementable and fantastical, but she properly constructs and characterizes (if hyperbolicaly) the agents at work in an ideal free capitalist society. She does however, miss a key element and protagonist in her theory, the moral person. Rand is amoral and coldly calculating and humans are not this way and could therefore never create or live in Galt's Gulch. Her expositions on bureaucrats and government are on balance quite adept. Their false motives of altruism (which gives her amorality its structure) used to "loot" are the visages that we see today in Obamacare et al. It is that kernel of her vision that did come true. She could never see people for what they were as individuals, but she could see organizations with perfect clarity.

    Reply
  • Valissa says:

    1:06 pm

    What is all this collective projection of all kinds of good & evil intentions onto Ayn Rand really all about? I have to say that I don't understand why the Libertarians, Conservatives or Liberals gets so worked up about her one way or another. I read Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead when I was 13-14 years old. I read Stranger in a Strange Land when I was 14 also, and I have to say that Robert Heinlein's(a different sort of Libertarian) book had a much greater impact on me. Why more Libertarians don't point to "The Moon is Harsh Mistress" for inspiration is another thing I don't understand… although TANSTAAFL, a phrase from that book is a popular economic meme and probably the first economics I ever learned.

    Back to Rand… I outgrew most of her ideas by the time I got to college. In today's world, I find it hugely entertaining that she has become an iconic or archetypal intellectual figure for people to project all kinds of ideology onto. Goddess of the Market? How New Agey and ridiculous can you get? She is not even a primary or original thinker (perhaps a 'derivative' thinker?), she was merely reflecting a certain type of intellectual approach of her historical time period and acting as an intellectual "brand" of sorts. This has brought her both followers and haters… who can now enjoy arguing about her, what she said and what she represented. Just another ideology war for those who like that sort of thing.

    Reply
  • The Barefoot Bum says:

    1:09 pm

    "I don't understand why it has to be either-or with Rand."

    It doesn't *have* to be either-or, it just happens to be the case that Rand is either trivial or completely wrong.

    "[Rand] made brilliant, prophetic points about government. Credit where credit is due."

    Seriously? Name one. Having read a considerable amount of her work, I've yet to stumble on any brilliant prophetic points about anything, much less government. It is, however, possible I've missed something.

    "Objectivism and Atlas Shrugged is an incomplete and partly flawed defense of the concept that the nature of man is to yearn to be free."

    It boggles my mind that anyone could read Atlas Shrugged and come away with the image of Hank Rearden, Dagny Taggart or John Galt groaning under the lash of their brutal oppressor.

    Rand's work in a defense of the concept that the nature of the *superior* man is to be free from the presence of the inferior man. The characters in Atlas Shrugged are not rebelling against any form of enslavement; they rebel only against having to share their air with lesser men, and the only remedy is to literally kill them all leaving a pure whi… er… capitalist paradise.

    "Like any person's work, it does not represent the alpha and the omega."

    I believe Rand would have disagreed with you on this evaluation of her work.

    "A lot of the trashing of Rand seems unnecessary and inaccurate."

    Seems? Who cares how things *seem*. Is any trashing *actually* unnecessary? Is any *actually* inaccurate?

    Reply
  • Jugo1502 says:

    1:14 pm

    Enough about Rand's novels and non-fiction. I recommend a foray into her stab at knee-slapping comedy. The Romantic Manifesto never ceases to draw forth a chuckle or two on a bad day.

    Reply
  • sherparick says:

    1:30 pm

    Rand's ideas have really do influence are current elite (just read the Washington Post's editorial page). It is why Wall Streeters feel no guilt about their huge, rent-seeking bonuses while official unemployment is at 10%. Whether they have read the books are not, as Keyness said, their heads are filled with ideas of a long dead, half-baked, writer.

    By the way, James Hill was a remarkable, if flawd, man who actually built and created wealth, in the 19th century, as opposed to today's wealth destroyers. But even he got some Government help, if not for the Great Northern, then for the railroad that became the Great Northern, the St. Paul and Pacific. "It connected with a Canadian Pacific branch from Fort Garry at St. Vincent, Minnesota in 1879. Canadian Pacific's transcontinental route was not completed yet so all traffic through Fort Garry had to use Hill's route. Hill received two million acres of land in the Minnesota Land Grant for completing the rail line on time."

    Reply
  • Greg says:

    1:32 pm

    Over the past 5 years, a few dozen US universities have accepted substantial grants from BB&T that require students to study Ayn Rand's books and her philosophy. Maybe that explains some of the revival of her reputation.

    See

    Reply
  • Stephanie says:

    1:33 pm

    Have not read Atlas Shrugged. Did read The Fountainhead, at the age of 14. Have not re-read it since. My impression at the time was that Roark seemed like a crappy businessman. Of course, in my mind the point of business being, I thought, to provide goods and services for which people were willing to pay, NOT to force one's artistic vision on customers and then whine when said customers didn't appreciate it. At least, I couldn't imagine how anyone would make money doing the later… and as I recall, Roark didn't (please correct me if I'm wrong) - but this was supposed to be some kind of tragedy of the system, not an indictment of Roark's narcissism. Maybe that was because Rand was able to successfully substitute narcissism for salesmanship in her own life?

    Reply
  • Eric L. Prentis says:

    1:48 pm

    I read all of Ayn Rand's novels and other works the year after I graduated from college and thought utopian Objectivism was "the true way." Implementing her naive ideas was however a complete fiasco for me, so, ironically, my egoism required rejecting her ideas. Rand's final denouement was my reading true philosophers, such as, Socrates, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Kierkegaard and Pascal who said, "The heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing," which Rand would--paradoxically--have intellectually rejected but would have had to agree with, since that is how Rand, disastrously, handled her Branden affair.

    Reply
  • JTFaraday says:

    4:45 pm

    The way I see it, Tom Paine ("government is a necessary evil" and whatever laws are devised to limit freedom, all are subjected to them equally) is a libertarian.

    The bankster class including Alan Greenspan, who inhabit every nook and cranny of government, either personally or through influence, in order to expand its powers and turn them exclusively to their own ends and personal benefit and to create loopholes that enable them (and them alone) to do whatever they want, are not libertarian. They are antinomian (anti-nomos, "against the law") totalitarians. (Dick Cheney too!)

    Those would be my points of contrast.

    As for Ayn Rand, maybe she'd willingly underwrite the Greenspan cohort's whole sense of self entitlement, irregardless of where it might lead them in life. I don't know, maybe crimes against the state that substantially deform the state because it's inhibiting the Greenspan cohort are just an objectively necessary evil.

    I can't say, I haven't read her.

    Reply
  • Benedict@Large says:

    8:05 pm

    Against overwhelming odds, a small band of the truly enlightened perevere, finally cleansing the world of their inferiors. In doing so, they succeed in creating a new and better society where the best can flourish unencombered by the weight of those who existed only by the grace of the honest labor and brains of others.

    Atlas Shrugged? Ayn Rand? No, The Turner Diaries, by William Pierce.

    Same story, different audience.

    Reply
  • MonkeyMuffins says:

    8:24 pm

    1) "Rand's influence lives on in her book and also in the watered down elements of her libertarian philosophy that has penetrated liberal political thinking."

    Should read:

    "Rand's influence lives on in her book and also in the watered down elements of her libertarian philosophy that have penetrated liberal political thinking"

    2) In High School I loved Rand and Rush; then I grew up.

    We live at the end of empire, during the century of contraction, in a culture of make believe.
    We are not going to grow, consume and indebt our way out of the problems of growth, consumption and debt.

  • [Feb 26, 2010] Ayn Rand, Hugely Popular Author and Inspiration to Right-Wing Leaders, Was a Big Admirer of Serial Killer

    She wasn't a sociopath. She was a psychopath! Much more evil!

    Ayn Rand, Hugely Popular Author and Inspiration to Right-Wing Leaders, Was a Big Admirer of Serial Killer By Mark Ames, AlterNet February 26, 2010 http://www.alternet.org/story/145819/

    There's something deeply unsettling about living in a country where millions of people froth at the mouth at the idea of giving health care to the tens of millions of Americans who don't have it, or who take pleasure at the thought of privatizing and slashing bedrock social programs like Social Security or Medicare. It might not be as hard to stomach if other Western countries also had a large, vocal chunk of the population who thought like this, but the US is seemingly the only place where right-wing elites can openly share their distaste for the working poor. Where do they find their philosophical justification for this kind of attitude?

    It turns out, you can trace much of this thinking back to Ayn Rand, a popular cult-philosopher who exerts a huge influence over much of the right-wing and libertarian crowd, but whose influence is only starting to spread out of the US.

    One reason why most countries don't find the time to embrace her thinking is that Ayn Rand is a textbook sociopath. Literally a sociopath: Ayn Rand, in her notebooks, worshiped a notorious serial murderer-dismemberer, and used this killer as an early model for the type of "ideal man" that Rand promoted in her more famous books -- ideas which were later picked up on and put into play by major right-wing figures of the past half decade, including the key architects of America's most recent economic catastrophe -- former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan and SEC Commissioner Chris Cox -- along with other notable right-wing Republicans such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Rush Limbaugh, and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

    The loudest of all the Republicans, right-wing attack-dog pundits and the Teabagger mobs fighting to kill health care reform and eviscerate "entitlement programs" increasingly hold up Ayn Rand as their guru. Sales of her books have soared in the past couple of years; one poll ranked "Atlas Shrugged" as the second most influential book of the 20th century, after The Bible.

    So what, and who, was Ayn Rand for and against? The best way to get to the bottom of it is to take a look at how she developed the superhero of her novel, Atlas Shrugged, John Galt. Back in the late 1920s, as Ayn Rand was working out her philosophy, she became enthralled by a real-life American serial killer, William Edward Hickman, whose gruesome, sadistic dismemberment of 12-year-old girl named Marion Parker in 1927 shocked the nation. Rand filled her early notebooks with worshipful praise of Hickman. According to biographer Jennifer Burns, author of Goddess of the Market, Rand was so smitten by Hickman that she modeled her first literary creation -- Danny Renahan, the protagonist of her unfinished first novel, The Little Street -- on him.

    What did Rand admire so much about Hickman? His sociopathic qualities: "Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should," she wrote, gushing that Hickman had "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people.'"

    This echoes almost word for word Rand's later description of her character Howard Roark, the hero of her novel The Fountainhead: "He was born without the ability to consider others."

    The Fountainhead is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's favorite book -- he even requires his clerks to read it.

    I'll get to where Rand picked up her silly Superman blather from later -- but first, let's meet William Hickman, the "genuinely beautiful soul" and inspiration to Ayn Rand. What you will read below -- the real story, details included, of what made Hickman a "Superman" in Ayn Rand's eyes -- is extremely gory and upsetting, even if you're well acquainted with true crime stories -- so prepare yourself. But it's necessary to read this to understand Rand, and to repeat this over and over until all of America understands what made her mind tick, because Rand's influence over the very people leading the fight to kill social programs, and her ideological influence on so many powerful bankers, regulators and businessmen who brought the financial markets crashing down, means her ideas are affecting all of our lives in the worst way imaginable.

    Rand fell for William Edward Hickman in the late 1920s, as the shocking story of Hickman's crime started to grip the nation. His crime, trial and case was a non-stop headline grabber for months; the OJ Simpson of his day:

    Hickman, who was only 19 when he was arrested for murder, was the son of a paranoid-schizophrenic mother and grandmother. His schoolmates said that as a kid Hickman liked to strangle cats and snap the necks of chickens for fun -- most of the kids thought he was a budding manic, though the adults gave him good marks for behavior, a typical sign of sociopathic cunning. He enrolled in college but quickly dropped out, and quickly turned to violent crime largely driven by the thrill and arrogance typical of sociopaths: in a brief and wild crime spree that grew increasingly violent, Hickman knocked over dozens of gas stations and drug stores across the Midwest and west to California. Along the way it's believed he strangled a girl in Milwaukee, and killed his crime partner's grandfather in Pasadena, tossing his body over a bridge after taking his money. Hickman's partner later told police that Hickman told him how much he'd like to kill and dismember a victim someday -- and that day did come for Hickman.

    One afternoon, Hickman drove up to Mount Vernon Junior High school in Los Angeles, and told administrators that he'd come to pick up "the Parker girl" -- her father, Perry Parker, was a prominent banker. Hickman didn't know the girl's first name, so when he was asked which of the two Parker twins -- Hickman answered, "the younger daughter." And then he corrected himself: "The smaller one." The school administrator fetched young Marion, and brought her out to Hickman. No one suspected his motive; Marion obediently followed Hickman to his car as she was told, where he promptly kidnapped her. He wrote a ransom note to Marian's father, demanding $1,500 for her return, promising that the girl would be left unharmed. Marian was terrified into passivity -- she even waited in the car for Hickman when he went to mail his letter to her father. Hickman's extreme narcissism comes through in his ransom letters, as he refers to himself as a "master mind [sic]" and "not a common crook." Hickman signed his letters "The Fox" because he admired his own cunning: "Fox is my name, very sly you know." And then he threatened: "Get this straight. Your daughter's life hangs by a thread."

    Hickman and the girl's father exchanged letters over the next few days as they arranged the terms of the ransom, while Marion obediently followed her captor's demands. She never tried to escape the hotel where he kept her; Hickman even took her to a movie, and she never screamed for help. She remained quiet and still as told when Hickman tied her to the chair -- he didn't even bother gagging her because there was no need to, right up to the gruesome end.

    Hickman's last ransom note to Marion's father is where this story reaches its disturbing: Hickman fills the letter with hurt anger over her father's suggestion that Hickman might deceive him, and "ask you for your $1500 for a lifeless mass of flesh I am base and low but won't stoop to that depth " What Hickman didn't say was that as he wrote the letter, Marion was already several chopped-up lifeless masses of flesh. Why taunt the father? Why feign outrage? This sort of bizarre taunting was all part of the serial killer's thrill, maximizing the sadistic pleasure he got from knowing that he was deceiving the father before the father even knew what happened to his daughter. But this was nothing compared to the thrill Hickman got from murdering the helpless 12-year-old Marion Parker. Here is an old newspaper description of the murder, taken from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on December 27, 1927:

    "It was while I was fixing the blindfold that the urge to murder came upon me," he continued, "and I just couldn't help myself. I got a towel and stepped up behind Marian. Then before she could move, I put it around her neck and twisted it tightly. I held on and she made no outcry except to gurgle. I held on for about two minutes, I guess, and then I let go. "When I cut loose the fastenings, she fell to the floor. "I knew she was dead. "Well, after she was dead I carried her body into the bathroom and undressed her, all but the underwear, and cut a hole in her throat with a pocket knife to let the blood out." Another newspaper account dryly explained what Hickman did next:

    Then he took a pocket knife and cut a hole in her throat. Then he cut off each arm to the elbow. Then he cut her legs off at the knees. He put the limbs in a cabinet. He cut up the body in his room at the Bellevue Arms Apartments. Then he removed the clothing and cut the body through at the waist. He put it on a shelf in the dressing room. He placed a towel in the body to drain the blood. He wrapped up the exposed ends of the arms and waist with paper. He combed back her hair, powdered her face and then with a needle fixed her eyelids. He did this because he realized that he would lose the reward if he did not have the body to produce to her father. Hickman packed her body, limbs and entrails into a car, and drove to the drop-off point to pick up his ransom; along his way he tossed out wrapped-up limbs and innards scattering them around Los Angeles. When he arrived at the meeting point, Hickman pulled Miriam's head and torso out of a suitcase and propped her up, her torso wrapped tightly, to look like she was alive--he sewed wires into her eyelids to keep them open, so that she'd appear to be awake and alive. When Miriam's father arrived, Hickman pointed a sawed-off shotgun at him, showed Miriam's head with the eyes sewn open (it would have been hard to see for certain that she was dead), and then took the ransom money and sped away. As he sped away, he threw Miriam's head and torso out of the car, and that's when the father ran up and saw his daughter--and screamed. This is the "amazing picture" Ayn Rand -- guru to the Republican/Tea Party right-wing -- admired when she wrote in her notebook that Hickman represented "the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul. Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should."

    Other people don't exist for Ayn, either. Part of her ideas are nothing more than a ditzy dilettante's bastardized Nietzsche -- but even this was plagiarized from the same pulp newspaper accounts of the time. According to an LA Times article in late December 1927, headlined "Behavioralism Gets The Blame," a pastor and others close to the Hickman case denounce the cheap trendy Nietzschean ideas that Hickman and others latch onto as a defense:

    "Behavioristic philosophic teachings of eminent philosophers such as Nietzsche and Schopenhauer have built the foundation for William Edward Hickman's original rebellion against society," the article begins.

    The fear that some felt at the time was that these philosophers' dangerous, yet nuanced ideas would fall into the hands of lesser minds, who would bastardize Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and poison the rest of us. Which aptly fits the description of Ayn Rand, whose philosophy developed out of her admiration for "Supermen" like Hickman. Rand's philosophy can be summed up by the title of one of her best-known books: The Virtue of Selfishness. She argues that all selfishness is a moral good, and all altruism is a moral evil, even "moral cannibalism" to use her words. To her, those who aren't like-minded sociopaths are "parasites" and "lice" and "looters."

    But with Rand, there's something more pathological at work. She's out to make the world more sociopath-friendly so that people like Ayn and her hero William Hickman can reach their full potential, not held back by the morality of the "weak," whom Rand despised.

    That's what makes it so creepy how Rand and her followers clearly get off on hating and bashing those they perceived as weak--Rand and her followers have a kind of fetish for classifying weaker, poorer people as "parasites" and "lice" who need to swept away. This is exactly the sort of sadism, bashing the helpless for kicks, that Rand's hero Hickman would have appreciated. What's really unsettling is that even former Central Bank chief Alan Greenspan, whose relationship with Rand dated back to the 1950s, did some parasite-bashing of his own. In response to a 1958 New York Times book review slamming Atlas Shrugged, Greenspan, defending his mentor, published a letter to the editor that ends: "Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should. Alan Greenspan."

    As much as Ayn Rand detested human "parasites," there is one thing she strongly believed in: creating conditions that increase the productivity of her Supermen - the William Hickmans who rule her idealized America: "If [people] place such things as friendship and family ties above their own productive work, yes, then they are immoral. Friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man's life. A man who places others first, above his own creative work, is an emotional parasite."

    And yet Republican faithful like GOP Congressman Paul Ryan read Ayn Rand and make declare, with pride, "Rand makes the best case for the morality of democratic capitalism." Indeed. Except that Ayn Rand also despised democracy, as she declared: "Democracy, in short, is a form of collectivism, which denies individual rights: the majority can do whatever it wants with no restrictions. In principle, the democratic government is all-powerful. Democracy is a totalitarian manifestation; it is not a form of freedom."

    "Collectivism" is another one of those Randian epithets popular among her followers. Here for example is another Republican member of Congress, the one with the freaky thousand-yard-stare, Michelle Bachman, parroting the Ayn Rand ideological line, rto explain her reasoning for wanting to kill social programs:

    "As much as the collectivist says to each according to his ability to each according to his need, that's not how mankind is wired. They want to make the best possible deal for themselves."

    Whenever you hear politicians or Tea Baggers dividing up the world between "producers" and "collectivism," just know that those ideas and words more likely than not are derived from the deranged mind of a serial-killer groupie. When you hear them threaten to "Go John Galt," hide your daughters and tell them not to talk to any strangers -- or Tea Party Republicans. And when you see them taking their razor blades to the last remaining programs protecting the middle class from total abject destitution -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- and brag about their plans to slash them for "moral" reasons, just remember Ayn's morality and who inspired her.

    Too many critics of Ayn Rand-- until I was one of them -- would rather dismiss her books and ideas as laughable, childish, hackneyed. But it can't be dismissed because Rand is the name that keeps bubbling up from the Teabagger crowd and the elite conservative circuit in Washington as The Big Inspiration. The only way to protect ourselves from this thinking is the way you protect yourself from serial killers: smoke the Rand followers out, make them answer for following the crazed ideology of a serial-killer-groupie, and run them the hell out of town and out of our hemisphere.

    Read more of Mark Ames at eXiledonline.com. He is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond. Posted by greathierophant@yahoo.com at 5:52 AM 1 comments

    Romancing the Stone-Cold Killer

    Recently I was rereading Scott Ryan's fascinating, albeit highly technical, critique of Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality, and getting a lot more out of it the second time, when I came across a fact culled from a posthumous collection of Rand's journal entries.

    In her journal circa 1928 Rand quoted the statement, "What is good for me is right," a credo attributed to a prominent figure of the day, William Edward Hickman. Her response was enthusiastic. "The best and strongest expression of a real man's psychology I have heard," she exulted. (Quoted in Ryan, citing Journals of Ayn Rand, pp. 21-22.)

    Ayn Rand: The Boring Bitch is Back By Barry Ritholtz

    November 15th, 2009

    There is a substantial take-down of pedantic bore Ayn Rand in GQ. They tease it thusly:

    2009's most influential author is a mirthless Russian-American who loves money, hates God, and swings a gigantic dick. She died in 1982, but her spawn soldier on. And the Great Recession is all their fault.

    I love that because it is both funny and touches upon so many subtle truths; Here is a longer, funnier excerpt:

    "This is because there are boys and girls among us who have never overcome the Randian infection. The Galt speech continues to ring in their ears for years like a maddening tinnitus, turning each of them into what next year's Physicians' Desk Reference will (undoubtedly) term an Ayn Rand Asshole (ARA). They constitute a relatively small percentage of Rand readers, these ARAs. But they make their reading count. Thanks to them, the Rand Experience is no longer limited to those who have read the books. It's metastasized. You, me, all of us, we're living it. Because it's the ARA Army of antigovernment-antiregulation puritans who have spent the past three decades gleefully pulling the cooling rods out of the American economy. For a while, it got very big and very hot. Then it popped. And now the rest of us have to spend the next decade scaling the slippery slopes of the huge suppurative crater that was left behind.

    Feeling fisted by the Invisible Hand of the Market lo these past fifteen months? Lost a job lately? Or half the value of your 401(k)? Or a home? All three? Been wondering whence the too-long-ascendant political and economic ideas and forces behind Greenspanism, John Thainism, blind Wall Street plunder, bankruptcy, credit-default swaps, Bernie Madoff, and the ensuing Cannibalism in the Streets? Then you, sir, need to give thanks to Ayn Rand Assholes everywhere-as well as the steely loins from which they sprang."

    Brilliant.

    I haven't read Rand's work for decades, but I do recall two things: A) It was a giant pedantic bore; 2) Debating it with people in College was always a hoot. The thing that struck me most was the lack of rigor in the arguments - it was more religion than logic, more wishful thinking than reality based observations of how humans actually behave.

    You can the concentration of ARAs in a certain groupings. These are the folks who blame the CRA for the collapse of the economy; ARAs tend to be hardcore idealogues; many are rabidly partisan. All too many are deeply uninformed. They breathje co0gnitive dissonance they most people breathe oxygen. When confronted with facts, data, reality that challenge their ideology, they make up new facts.

    I imagine that Freud would bluntly use Randian logic to note they inhabit a guise of superiority in part to compensate for vast and deeply felt inferiorities and insecurities. That's right, those of you who feel compelled to talk about how big your junk is are typically are sporting selections from the wee person's aisle.

    Malcolm Gladwell is a guy who knows how to write compellingly readable stories. The takeaway in his book Outliers The Story of Success is quite unRandian - it is that luck plays an enormous factor in out-sized success. That is a factor the Randians prefer to ignore.

    What I find so weird about Rand is that there are more than a few people I respect who gobbled up her work. These are not ARAs - but are otherwise rational folks who never quite went full tilt into ARA-hood. But they have a huge respect for her work. Me? I prefer "lessers" like Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson and John Maynard Keynes. I prefer John Stuart Mill's Harm Principle of Liberty over Rand's Objectivism.

    Dangerous Minds contextualizes the pedantic bore portion of the Rand legend:

    "It's Rand's dialogue that seals her reputation as an author you just can't take seriously. To be fair, she was writing in her second language, but the problem with her books is that no one actually speaks to one another, they just make speeches at each other. Hectoring, long-winded speeches. It's fine to read stuff like that as a teenager, but when I crack open one of her books today, I shake my head in disbelief at how bombastic and horrible her writing is."

    Bombastic and horrible? You are being too kind . . .

    My actual problem with Rand - behind her blindingly horrific prose - is that she was pushing back against a totalitarian system in the Soviet Union, a corrupt and morally indefensible system she had every right to be infuriated by. But she applies that righteous fury and outrage to a Democracy, whose economy is Free Market based. Hence, rather than challenging the politburo, she challenges Unions. Cooperative behavior seems to be hard for her to grasp. One suspects she would have disliked Consumer Reports, or Zagats, or Amazon's user ratings.

    Worst of all, Rand's Objectivism has become the rationale for all manner of morally repugnant behaviour. However, I did take one personal lesson from Atlas Shrugged to heart: Anytime I see a parked car with a John Galt bumper sticker, I like to knock off one of the sideview mirrors, and leave it on the hood. I include a note stating my selfish, random act made me feel good, and therefore should be a perfectly fine act in their world.

    I assume the recipients miss the irony . . .

    The Insanity of Ayn Rand: The Fountain-Brain-Dead.

    Yikes, darlings!

    I watch a lot of old movies on TCM, mostly because TCM are my initials. (I'm Tallulah Clytemnestra Morehead) and I just finished watching a doozy of a terrible movie on TCM, one that has to be seen to be disbelieved: the ultra-hilarious piece of right-wing objectivist claptrap, the movie of Ayn Rand's ridiculous novel, The Fountainhead, starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal, as glamorous, sexy Fascists, I mean an architect and his best gal.

    I'm afraid Juliette's blowing up the H-Bomb on that island on Lost must have screwed up the Time-Space Continuum. This can't be Normal Reality, because this movie is the most absurd piece of twaddle I have sat through since the final season of Roseanne.

    Enormously well-hung Gary Cooper plays Howard Roarke, the most brilliant, unpopular, and egotistical architect in the world. The movie is all about how people are always trying to get Howard Roarke to design buildings just like the same ones everyone else designs, but Howard is too great to listen to anyone, even his clients. People are always telling him his designs are too outré, although his houses are all Frank Lloyd Wright rip-offs, and his office buildings are all rectangular glass and steel structures that look exactly like every souless office building clogging the downtowns of every major city in the world, the very style that Jacques Tati spent his great movie Playtime attacking. "We can't take a chance," they always say to him, as though they were gambling their lives building an office tower or a block of flats. Has the designer of Disney Hall in Los Angeles been lynched yet?

    The villain of the story is a newspaper architectural critic, who wields tremendous public power. He writes a column of architectural criticism, and his slightest word can bring the city to a halt. What planet is this? When the publisher fires the architectural critic, the staff walks out in support of the critic, and the paper buckles under to the critic, and the publisher shoots himself. Star Trek is more realistic.

    Howard does not consider architecture to be a collaborative art. Rather, it's the solitary work of a lone artist, toiling away in an attic somewhere. Making even the tiniest change in any of his designs is intolerable to Roarke.

    He means it. When a block of flats he designed are built while he is on a vacation with Patricia Neal, with changes made at the orders of the people paying for it to be built, Roarke dynamites it. He stands trial for blowing up this building he didn't own, in the middle of Manhattan, without so much as a blasting permit. It's a wildly illegal, irresponsible, dangerous, negligent act of overwhelming egotism, an SMD: a Snit of Mass Destruction.

    He's found innocent, and the jury and the whole courtroom erupts into applause at this horrific miscarriage of justice. He has admitted committing the crime on the stand. His defense was that he has way better taste than the pigs who paid for it, so he should be able to blow it up. The jury buys this idiocy. The movie paints him as a hero.

    The first clue that Howard Roarke has something weirdly wrong with him comes early on. He's going out of business. A friend offers him a loan, and he refuses it. Okay. He has too much pride to take help. That's fine. But he says, "I never ask for nor give help."

    What? He never "gives help"? He never helps anyone?

    Yup. That's exactly what he means. He's anti-helping his fellow man. In his trial summation, six minutes of Gary Cooper giving a completely unhinged, turgid speech, he actually says, "The world is perishing in an orgy of self-sacrifice ."

    Whatever finishes off mankind, it won't be an excess of self-sacrifice. The movie is pro-selfishness and egoism (which is just egotism misspelled), and anti-altruism. It preaches, at length and in a superior tone, that Altruism is Bad. And it means it.

    The "love" story subplot is a scream. Patricia Neal is an architect's daughter who hates anything that makes her happy, because her taste is too supurb, and the masses with their bad taste will destroy anything she likes, so she deliberately throws out any stuff she has that she likes (We first meet her dropping a lovely nude statue down an airshaft), and she refuses to marry the man she loves, and instead marries a man she finds creepy, to avoid being happy, so happiness can't be taken from her. She'd rather be miserable, than be happy, and risk being made miserable by the masses. If you can find any sense in that, let me know.

    So she's vacationing in a lovely home that adjoins a marble quarry where they dynamite rock all day, every day. Let me repeat this: she is intentionally vacationing in a house next door to a site that is blasting rocks with dynamite all day long, every day. You can't get more relaxing than that.

    Her idea of sight-seeing is riding her horse to the quarry and then wandering around, drooling over the hunky, muscular workmen driving pickaxes into walls of granite. This is, in my opinion, the only sensible thing in the whole movie. And her favorite workman is Howard Roarke, who is working there after driving himself out of business with his too-high standards of taste. She first sees him holding a jackhammer, drilling away into into solid rock. She is turned on by the ever-so-subtle sexual implication of his drilling into rock with a jackhammer. She must imagine she has a marble hymen.

    Now she can't get him out of her mind. She rides around on her horse, imagining Howard and his drill while she's being jostled in the saddle. At one point she rides up to him and slashes him across the face with a riding crop, which makes him grin, and the unforgettable final shot of the film is her riding up over 100 stories in an outdoor elevator (No elevator can go that far. It takes three to get to the top of the Empire State Building.) to where Howard is standing, on top of his not-yet-finished "Tallest building in the world." The shot tracks in on his crotch as he stands astride his masterpiece, the world's-biggest-phallic symbol.

    The movie was written by the novelist-nutball, Russian-American, writer-philosopher Ayn Rand. She promoted a form of highly-anti-communist philosophy called "Objectivism," probably because it is so objectionable.

    Being virulently anti-Communism-and-Socialism, she believed that ownership and rights of property were sacrosanct, although when Howard Roarke, her Ideal Man, blows up other people's property because he doesn't like it, it's a righteous act, not a violation of other people's rights of property. Ayn was a hypocrite.

    Ayn wrote every word of dialogue, and forbade a word of it to be changed. She was the Howard Roarke of screenwriters. What she was not was a good writer of dialogue, none of which sounds like human speech, and all of which sounds like a lecture from a Fox News lunatic.

    Ayn insisted that Gary Cooper say every damn word of her summation speech, which is utterly nuts from beginning to end. Jack Warner, no slouch in the anti-Commie department himself, ended up cutting it down a little. It's still six minutes of Gary Cooper standing in one place, making a completely insane-yet-boring speech, in praise of selfishness, condemning altruism, and stating that there are only two types of humans: "Creators" and "Parasites." That's it. No shades of gray. No middle-management.

    When Ayn learned that some slight cuts had been made to her speech, she squawked and hollered, but she did not blow up Warner Brothers, nor set fire to the negative and all prints, nor even beat Jack Warner into paste with a poker (Damn!), which makes her a raging hypocrite. It's what Howard Roarke would have done. It's what Bette Davis would have done.

    Ayn is having a small vogue right now (very small, as the country is becoming far less happy with rightwing nutballs), because her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, an insane novel that makes The Lord of the Rings seem like a speedy short story, is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary just now. This means that the people who began reading it the day it came out, are nearly through it by now, those that haven't hanged themselves.

    Ayn believed in a woman looking up to The Ideal Man, and Howard Roarke is Him. And Ayn claimed she wrote it for Gary Cooper, so he's her sexual ideal. Well, at least she's left Hugh Jackman for me.

    Have you ever seen a photograph of Ayn Rand? For a woman who wants strong muscular men to drill her like a jackhammer, Ayn went to a lot of trouble to look like a Bloomsbury literary Lesbian. In fact, she looked rather like a young Rosa Klebb, only not as sexy.

    Ayn died the day after John Belushi died, although I don't think she did so to cheer us up again.

    Life is too short to spend any of it reading the insane horrors which are the writings of Ayn Rand. Read my book instead.

    I'll be back Monday darlings, with my review of The Tony Awards. Until then, Cheers darlings.

    To read more of Tallulah Morehead, go to
    The Morehead the Merrier.

    SERIOUSLY, FUCK AYN RAND

    ginandtacos.com
    I used to think Ayn Rand was the bomb but I outgrew it. You know, when I turned 12.

    We all know that liberalism is for the (naive, inexperienced, foolish) young while conservatism is a natural byproduct of aging, maturing, and gaining experience with the world, right? Conventional wisdom gets it wrong yet again. The surge in popularity of objectivism and libertarianism on campus underscores how right wing ideology, not pie-in-sky liberalism, is the real fantasyland for kids who have absolutely no experience in the real world.

    Yes, Ayn Rand is making a comeback among the college-aged. Objectivism is even getting some mainstream press in light of Commissar Obama frog-marching the nation toward hardcore Communism. Heroic individualists are threatening to "go galt" now that Obama has completely eliminated all incentive for anyone to work ever again, re-enacting their own version of the "producers' strike" in Atlas Shrugged.

    I've gotten a little more mellow in recent years, believe it or not, less keen to argue and more able to see middle ground. But there is no middle ground here, no way for us to meet halfway in intellectual compromise: If you are an Objectivist, you are retarded. This is a judgment call, and I just made it. Grow up or fuck off. Those are your two options.

    Atlas Shrugged

    Atlas Shrugged

    17 Jan 2009

    river walker

    This article appeared in the Wall Street Journal the other day.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123146363567166677.html

    The author observes that conditions are very much like they were in the book's fictional time period He then happily jumps to the conclusion that "enemies of profits, capital and creativity," such as you know--you and me--are the ones who have caused the problem. Some quotes:

    Quote:

    Many of us who know Rand's work have noticed that with each passing week, and with each successive bailout plan and economic-stimulus scheme out of Washington, our current politicians are committing the very acts of economic lunacy that "Atlas Shrugged" parodied in 1957, when this 1,000-page novel was first published and became an instant hit.

    In the book, these relentless wealth redistributionists and their programs are disparaged as "the looters and their laws." Every new act of government futility and stupidity carries with it a benevolent-sounding title. These include the "Anti-Greed Act" to redistribute income (sounds like Charlie Rangel's promises soak-the-rich tax bill) and the "Equalization of Opportunity Act" to prevent people from starting more than one business (to give other people a chance). My personal favorite, the "Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act," aims to restrict cut-throat competition between firms and thus slow the wave of business bankruptcies. Why didn't Hank Paulson think of that?

    The current economic strategy is right out of "Atlas Shrugged": The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you. That's the justification for the $2 trillion of subsidies doled out already to keep afloat distressed insurance companies, banks, Wall Street investment houses, and auto companies -- while standing next in line for their share of the booty are real-estate developers, the steel industry, chemical companies, airlines, ethanol producers, construction firms and even catfish farmers. With each successive bailout to "calm the markets," another trillion of national wealth is subsequently lost. Yet, as "Atlas" grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate "windfalls."

    Ultimately, "Atlas Shrugged" is a celebration of the entrepreneur, the risk taker and the cultivator of wealth through human intellect. Critics dismissed the novel as simple-minded, and even some of Rand's political admirers complained that she lacked compassion. Yet one pertinent warning resounds throughout the book: When profits and wealth and creativity are denigrated in society, they start to disappear -- leaving everyone the poorer.

    17 Jan 2009 - 20:09 19851

    SnoopDopeyDogg

    Atlas Mugged

    "When profits and wealth and creativity are denigrated in society, they start to disappear -- leaving everyone the poorer. "

    It isn't that "profits and wealth and creativity are denigrated in society", it's that a few greed pigs having ALL the "profits and wealth in society" is being denigrated, and that they have caused the current economic crisis. Rand was merely one of many sell-outs and flacks who found that kissing corporate ass brought untold wealth and fortune. The corporate-government-propaganda foundation named after her continued her wealth and discovered that more of the same corporate shilling brought more of the same corporate/oligarchic payola.

    Anyone bestowing Greek god mythological status on the band of thieving greed pigs and criminal robber barons who raped America deserves the same respect as those who heap celebrity status upon serial killers. While the Wall Street Journal of Robber Baron Worship NOW claims that we are rewarding 'failures', they are spinning the fact that the robber barons at the top of the greed food chain got there by 'winning' with the lack of rules established by their fellow greed piggies and hegemons in business and at the Journal, joined at the hip, of course, with the politicians they owned. Strangely, they were heralded as 'winners' then by the very same WSJ.

    Naturally, after the failure of allowing the oligarchs free reign failed magnificently (again) under its new banner of "Supply Side Economics" ("Trickle Down Economics" when it failed under Hoover), VooDoo by its detractors proven right, a new breed of corporate and oligarchic ass-kisser has emerged from the sewers to begin a new and desperate round of hegemon asskissing.
    What the Rand neocon apologists (a polite way of saying fascists, or nazis, which is EXACTLY what they are) are trying to do is to blame the current blowback against their hegemon masters for the recession caused by the greed and excess of those they took it up the tailpipe for so many years.

    The cause of the current crisis is the ignored plight of the REAL Joe the Plumbers, Main Street, i.e., the tens of millions of routinely stereotyped and ignored masses upon whose collective wealth all of Wall Street's is based, not the alleged mistreatment of a small cadre of Madoff neoCONs. While the hegemons were engaged in an unregulated orgy of unbridled speculative greed, the various tools of their enrichment were being devalued by the forgotten ultimate source of their wealth. No matter how complex the shell game may be, with derivatives using impenetrable (and false) physics formulas as the prime example, it is still a shell game hiding the pea of the original source of all speculation. If that pea withers and dies, the shell game is over. Let the hegemons leave and go to the islands as Rand threatens, but make those islands Alcatraz and Gitmo (not an island, I know).

    As faceless everymen that no hegemon gave a damn about sunk under the bankruptcy sea due to larcenous medical expenses, rigged exorbitant gas prices, and other constantly advancing consumer prices unmatched by non-existent wage increases, multiplied by rising unemployment and unforgiving debt designed to suck every last cent of expendable income from the victim, the cries for help went unheeded. But once the massive weight of their collective carcasses affected Wall Street, a call to action went out throughout the land! To Arms! To Arms! Save our hegemons! was the embarrassing and criminal plea shouted from the bodies of their ignored supply-side victims. So, even after getting fat welfare checks, Rand's neocon "Atlas" hegemons still couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again. What's a Hegemon-worshipping neocon nazi shill to do?

    __________________
    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." -Upton Sinclair

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." – Voltaire


    Last edited by SnoopDopeyDogg (17 Jan 2009 - 20:18)

    Blood Red Sun

    Bodice Rippin' Good

    Ayn Rand was a romance novelist pretending to be a political philosopher of deep profundity. She certainly piled it deep. Purple prose like "Her bosom heaved. He stared at her heaving bosom wantonly. They kissed passionately. Oh Dagny. Oh Howard." Danielle Steele for republicans and libertarians.

    It is sad that a supposedly responsible leader like alan greenspan would use these trash novels as a guide for managing the economy. It is no great wonder there was a train wreck. Sort of like bushjunior using Tom Clancy as a blueprint for managing politics and war.

    chlorocardium

    And Fountainhead was a decent book... about Architecture. Bad Modern Architecture.

    I'd say read From Bauhaus to Our House instead. And then William McDonough.

    __________________
    And they thought it couldn't happen here ~ Frank Zappa

    Will you tell us when to live, will you tell us when to die? ~ Cat Stevens

    road

    Dagny was a scion.

    She and the rest of the one percent took refuge in a remote area where they could avoid the masses and just be rich together, to paraphrase Fitzgerald.

    Wonder if Paraguay could be today's valley?

    For sheer puke value, visit www.johngaltgifts.com.

    __________________
    "Even our dogs and cats have learned that elections matter." -- Al Gore

    river walker

    Yep.

    Blood Red Sun, your observation of Ayn Rand's writing was very good (and funny!), but also, as you said, it's very sad that policy makers base their decisions on what she wrote. I've read a little about her life--she didn't exactly live her life with the "integrity" she's tried to fob off on others. Don't you just wish that our leaders would base their decisions on what's happening in the real world instead of working off of the untried and untested utopian fantasies of Rand, Milton Friedman and others?

    18 Jan 2009 - 16:32 19864
    MizzGrizz

    Joined: 05 Sep 2006

    the trouble with Rand followers...
    ..is that usually they become acquainted with her ideas in early adolescence, around fourteen or fifteen, when they are using every and any tool they can find to help make sense of the world.

    As a novelist, Ayn Rand was cluttered, verbose,incoherent.As an essayist--read ''For The New Intellectual''---she was far more articulate and she even got some good points across, especially about the Ralph Nader and Bill Clinton types she abhorred.

    In her personal life, referred to above by Riverwalker, she suffered that special hell of the strong woman writer--she wanted a life like a romance novel and it never worked out that way for her.One wonders if her political and social views, like those of many right-wingers, were colored by that sense of disapppointment.

    18 Jan 2009 - 19:03 19866
    Sky Captain

    Joined: 07 Sep 2006

    I'd never thought I'd say this, but here it is:

    Ayn Rand was a piece of shit and her books should be burned.

    19 Jan 2009 - 00:10 19867
    Gerard Pierce

    Joined: 30 Dec 2006

    Philosophy
    Ayn Rand's solutions and her "philosophy" were mostly a bad joke, but her criticisms of the system were very often dead on.

    A large number of people who profess to revere her ideas are people she would have called "moochers" and "looters".

    A lot of people who hate her ideas have never figured out that she hated the greed-heads worse than they do. (Of course she wasn't too consistent or logical in her approval or disapproval).

    The quoted wsj article made a few good points: "The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you."

    or

    "Yet, as 'Atlas' grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate "windfalls."

    You can't use her ideas to run a government - or an economy -, but you sure as hell can use her ideas to recognize the looters and second-raters who steal from the rest of us.

    Try the 1970s when the oil embargo was imposed. There were some US companies who had signed contracts that guaranteed delivery at a premium price. Congress came up with a noble sounding bill that required the smart guys to share their oil with the dum-dums.

    In the early 1980s, thousands of small companies were searching for new domestic sources of oil. Congress passed a "windfall profits" tax that brought the boom to an end. The productive leases that the small companies had located were then bought up by the major oil companies.

    The looters will always be with us, but I wish we would stop electing them to office.

    __________________
    We are all guilty of the good we did not do. - Voltaire


    Last edited by Gerard Pierce (19 Jan 2009 - 00:19) Reason: add title - article by original poster now appears under my name ???
    19 Jan 2009 - 09:18 19872
    Agent Smith

    Joined: 07 Jun 2008

    Quote Gerard Pierce:
    Ayn Rand's solutions and her "philosophy" were mostly a bad joke, but her criticisms of the system were very often dead on.

    A large number of people who profess to revere her ideas are people she would have called "moochers" and "looters".

    Wanna bet?

    In her play NIGHT OF JANUARY 16TH, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_January_16th) the "hero" is a man whose business is initially successful, but who soon runs into financial problems (since it's all hype and no money). To get the funds necessary to continue, he marries a rich man's daughter. He then finds that his father-in-law wants complete control of his business. He then determines to fake his own death, change his name and fly off to a new life with suitcases full of money.

    You and I would call such a character a "moocher" (marrying to gain money!) and "looter" (not a thought for the employees who would suffer as a result of his mismanagement!)

    Yet to Ayn Rand, this character is a hero. (Based on a real-life swindler, Ivan Kreuger, no less.)

    If she were writing today, she'd be creating narratives that romanticized Ken Lay.

    19 Jan 2009 - 15:10 19874
    river walker

    Joined: 04 Apr 2008

    Gerard, you make a good point.

    Quote:

    You can't use her ideas to run a government - or an economy -, but you sure as hell can use her ideas to recognize the looters and second-raters who steal from the rest of us.

    Gerard, that's exactly what struck me about this article, and why I posted it. Rand saw the looters as part of the corrupt "collectivist" or "altruistic" government that had been part of her experience. The author of this article recognizes that the looters are with us, but he's blind to the fact that they are part of the run-amock capitalistic system we're in right now. All he gets from Rand is that collectivism is the problem. He sees the looting that's going on now but blames the left for the problem--that huge disconnect from our reality--from what's going on today.

    And you're right--looters will always be with us and will find the weaknesses in any system.

    19 Jan 2009 - 15:22 19875
    Gerard Pierce

    Joined: 30 Dec 2006

    not exactly accurate
    Agent Smith:

    I hadn't ever read the play, but a brief examination of the reviews indicates that her hero wasn't the crooked business man, but the mistress who was on trial for killing him.

    __________________
    We are all guilty of the good we did not do. - Voltaire

    19 Jan 2009 - 17:24 19876
    SnoopDopeyDogg

    Joined: 10 Dec 2007

    Failure of the Will
    "While the Wall Street Journal of Robber Baron Worship NOW claims that we are rewarding 'failures', they are spinning the fact that the robber barons at the top of the greed food chain got there by 'winning' with the lack of rules established by their fellow greed piggies and hegemons in business and at the Journal, joined at the hip, of course, with the politicians they owned. Strangely, they were heralded as 'winners' then by the very same WSJ….What the Rand neocon apologists (a polite way of saying fascists, or nazis, which is EXACTLY what they are) are trying to do is to blame the current blowback against their hegemon masters for the recession caused by the greed and excess of those they took it up the tailpipe for so many years. "

    Rand didn't "foretell" that the Atlases whose asses she was kissing would BE "the looters and second-raters who steal from the rest of us". No, the Rand Nazis warned about the bullshit circumstances that would befall us if we would NOT allow the hegemons to have their way with us. The supply-siders often quoted Rand, as did the neocon nazis, and Rand was a supply-sider. Rand's hegemons were given free reign, and they drove us into the sewer. True, Rand ass-kissers NOW call the 'hegemons' they formerly worshipped as losers (Bernie Madoff is a stellar example), but they were ALL at the top of the hegemon-worshipping fascist food chain at one time:

    "While the Wall Street Journal of Robber Baron Worship NOW claims that we are rewarding 'failures', they are spinning the fact that the robber barons at the top of the greed food chain got there by 'winning' with the lack of rules established by their fellow greed piggies and hegemons in business and at the Journal, joined at the hip, of course, with the politicians they owned. Strangely, they were heralded as 'winners' then by the very same WSJ."

    The Randists are merely trying to salvage their failed attempt to transliterate fascism by blaming the 'untermensches' for the failures of their gods. It COULDN'T be that their gods failed.
    Like many who have spent a lifetime in a cult only to find out that it was, well, a cult, the initial reaction to the trauma of finding out that their life's philosophy is so much horseshit is denial.

    The delusional followers of the Rand cult naturally also blame the "wealth re-distributors" as the cause of the problem, while the rational know that the "wealth re-distributors" are merely reacting to the massive failures caused by Nietzsche's "Lords of the Earth", or Rand's "Atlases", or the neocons' hegemons, or Hitler's ubermensches, all the exact same objects of fascism's worship of the elite.

    __________________
    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." -Upton Sinclair

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." – Voltaire

    19 Jan 2009 - 22:59 19882
    nightgaunt

    Joined: 30 Oct 2007

    Atlas Shrugged and the economy collapses--"Greed is good," isn't.
    The world of alturistic greed [by accident]is the unworkable Ayn Randian philosophy that is part of the credo of the fascists. The same ones who believe they are God's chosen because they are rich. Because they are rich they are God's chosen. A tautology they can live with in their compartmentalized minds. A self referent 'truism' that is bouyed by its very preposterousness. [Such are the benefits of magical thinking---anything is possible within the mind of Man.] Any who are not and aren't aspiring to be like them are therefor not of God's chosen and are then automatically condemned because of it.They believe they are the 'elect' because they will do anything to get it. The rationalization of the psychopath if there ever was one. Rand was a narcissist big time and needed such group and individual reinforcement of her parasitical personality. One can be a narcissist without being a psychopath. Psychopaths in general consider themselves 'superior' to the rest of us because they don't feel any emotion to any other person. many of them can lie and will do it. Some are smart enough to lie convincingly to others who would trust them. Such concepts certain is self generating and feed back to support their depredations on the one hand and stave off the majority that see the harm it causes to the general population on the other.

    What we are experiencing what happens when the Randians and their ilk get their freedom to plunder others. What do they say for it? They blame those who would not have allowed this in the first place for it. They also demand that even more freedoms be elided to them to plunder us more with the free market. Everything needs to be governed whether it is cell growth or the economy. A balance of forces always or hell breaks loose. In biology if the life span and cell division limits are removed they become cancer and kill the host. We are being killed by an economic cancer right now. Where it is the cancer that is writing the rules we are to think and live by.

    A few quotes from F. W. Nietzsche for SnoopDopeyDog. Taken from the "Basic Writings of Nietzsche" 'Part 4 Epigrams and Interludes':
    67- Love of one is a barbarism; for it is exercised at the expense of all others. The love of God, too.
    76- Under peaceful conditions a warlike man sets upon himself.
    97- What? A great man? I always see only the actor of his own ideal.
    153- Whatever is done in the name of love is beyond good and evil.

    __________________
    I am sorry for this I misplaced the previous password.

    The Word - Rand Illusion

    March 11th

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    1. Sumo Vita commented | 13 months ago

      Rand was the queen of straw men. Rather than overcome the selfish promptings of her diseased little mind, she sought instead to create a fantasy world in her books where selfishness was "courageous" and narcissistic wretches such as herself were heroes. From the comments, clearly there's no shortage of simpering clones only too eager to embrace her "me first" drivel so that they too can pass off their self-centeredness as "noble". Please do keep buying her pathetic books - thoughts of what that money might otherwise be used for is truly frightening.

    1. dailysearch commented | 13 months ago

      I've read everything by Ayn Rand (once believing everything by her) and years and experience have shown me that Miss Rand greatly oversimplifies the world, capitalism, philosophy, psychology, art, etc. Her philosophy is basically a highly developed formulation of her mere personal preferences. I regard her and her movement more than anyone as responsible for the blind hero worship of the rich corporate fat-cats leading up to the current economic crisis. Her ideas ARE an illusion that people unfortunately buy into pushing them (mostly the right) further into that illusion and making it harder for those of us on the opposite of the political spectrum to untangle the mess she and her philosophy have made of her adherents minds. Her philosophy can be described as a very attractive maze at first and the deeper you go into the maze the harder it gets for people on the outside to snap you out of it. I can say with the experience of being on the inside of it, it really is a cult. Capitalism is not as perfect as she would have us believe - it has serious flaws i think anybody with their head not in the sand can see now. Non objective art is not as nearly as horrendous as Rand would want you to believe - some of its practitioners are quite talented...It goes on and on and on...It's just her personal preferences driven to enormous extremes. Her philosophy is entirely based on HER experiences and she forgets that other people have different experiences and therefore different preferences (needs for survival). And of course, she completely ignores how unregulated capitalism leads to abuses. And never touches the glaring contradiction of the free market which is that you have a producer who wants to get as much money in return for their product at odds with a consumer who wants to pay as little as they can for something. And in the employment realm the relationship is corrupted in the same way but in reverse. But you won't see that conflict mentioned, let alone resolved, in any of her books because it can't be under an unregulated market.

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