Nel's New Day

April 28, 2014

Tea Party Follows Fallacies of Ayn Rand

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:26 PM
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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is once again on the campaign trail, trying to convince people that he has great concern for the poor—although it’s their fault if they live in an inner city. Ryan gets his ideas from Ayn Rand’s books, and Matt Yglesias has superbly summarized the Ryan policy to help the poor: “Rich people should pay lower taxes, middle class and working class people should pay more taxes, and poor people should get less food, medicine, and college tuition.”

It’s been over 50 years since I read Atlas Shrugged, but the book just won’t disappear, thanks to the irrational desires of white males to elevate Ayn Rand to sainthood. In a nutshell, Rand depicts corporate CEOs and one-percenters as the selfless heroes who will save society with all other people villains because they’re trying to drag down the rich instead of worshipping them in gratitude.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) required campaign staffers to read the book until he ran for president and felt he had to repudiate Rand’s atheism. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who drove the country into a recession, was part of Rand’s inner circle. His reason for opposition to regulation of financial markets came from her maxim that business greed protected the public, that old fairy tale that the wealthy are job-creators. After he left office, Greenspan admitted he got it all wrong before he tried to cover his tracks and give excuses for his damage to the country.

Adam Lee has provided ten lessons that Atlas Shrugged teaches:

All  good and trustworthy people are handsome, and all evil people are ugly. The heroes are distinctively Aryan with steely blue eyes and ash-blond hair.

A great businessman typically sneers at the idea of public safety. Heroic and decisive capitalists dive into dangerous situations and use only their gut for decisions. As heroine Dagny Taggart said, “When I see things, I see them.” Rand’s morality includes the success of bribing officials.

Democracy rewards bad guys, and violence rewards good guys. Members of Congress—the villains—voted for the Equalization of Opportunity Bill, forcing big companies to break up. The good guy, however, killed a state legislator before he could vote to pass a law stopping the good guy from finishing his railroad track and then threw a government official down three flights of stairs for offering him a loan.  Another Rand hero blows up his own oil fields because the government passed new regulations on rail shipping.

The government has never invented anything or done any good for anyone. Everyone who works for the government is a leech or bumbling incompetent. No mention of radar, space flight, nuclear power, GPS, computers, and the Internet brought about by government research.

Violent jealousy and degradation are signs of true love. Dagny’s first lover physically abuses and rapes her; her second one is a married man who leaves her bruised and bloody before he calls her a whore. Both men are Rand’s heroes; in her world, women are meant to be subservient to men. “The most feminine of all aspects [is] the look of being chained.” To Rand, a woman being the dominant partner in a relationship was “metaphysically inappropriate.”

All natural resources are limitless. To Rand, there is no end to land for homesteading, trees for cutting, coal for mining, and fossil fuels for drilling. Government bureaucrats invent environmental laws to punish and destroy successful businessmen. Fiction supercedes the laws of thermodynamics as Rand’s protagonists discover a motor that produces limitless energy for free because it runs on “atmospheric static electricity.”

Pollution and advertisements are beautiful; wilderness is ugly and useless. Rand describes New York City as cradled in “sacred fires” from the surrounding smokestacks and heavy industrial plants. In the pristine wilderness of Wisconsin, Rand’s hero says, “What I’d like to see is a billboard.”

Crime doesn’t exist, even in areas of extreme poverty. The only violence in Atlas Shrugged is government employees’ stealing the wealth of the rich at gunpoint to give to the poor. No burglary, no muggings, no bread riots, no street crime—although society circles down into poverty and economic depression. None of the wealthy worries about personal safety while the members of the elite mysteriously disappear.

The only thing that matters is success at making money.

“There’s nothing of any importance in life — except how well you do your work. Nothing. Only that. Whatever else you are, will come from that. It’s the only measure of human value. All the codes of ethics they’ll try to ram down your throat are just so much paper money put out by swindlers to fleece people of their virtues. The code of competence is the only system of morality that’s on a gold standard.”

Smoking is good for you. Like Rand, most of the novels’ heroes smoke, for good reason, according to a cigarette vendor:

“I like cigarettes, Miss Taggart. I like to think of fire held in a man’s hand. Fire, a dangerous force, tamed at his fingertips … When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire alive in his mind—and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a cigarette as his one expression.”

A heavy smoker, Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged before she developed lung cancer and had a lung removed with the help of government funding.  Worth today’s equivalent of $1.2 million when she died, she still took Social Security and Medicare because she needed the system for help.

In Business Insider, Max Nisen pointed out ways in which businessmen shouldn’t hold up Atlas Shrugged as a model:

Return to the gold standard: Ben Bernanke, former chair of the Federal Reserve, said that the wild fluctuations in inflation would return under the gold standard because it is unstable and bad for business.

The belief that successful people are inherently superior and frequently victims: Helping people achieve instead of looking down on them is true leadership.

Suggestion that people can and should be motivated only by money or trade: Many people are better motivated by doing something they consider worthwhile, including giving help to people. Any business owner who fails to understand this will lose talented employees.

A contemptuous view of customers: Rand promotes the idea that anyone who takes assistance is contemptible and should be avoided at all costs, not a good business model.

The perception of government as antagonist: Like the rest of the novel, government is a caricature. Good businessmen know that their success depends on infrastructure and property laws, especially intellectual property laws. That’s what they get from government.

A new generation will now be introduced to the third part of Atlas Shrugged as a new movie, including Rob Morrow, is scheduled to be released on September 12 of this year. The producer hopes “to draw a connection between the political implications in Atlas to the midterm elections and use the film as an opportunity to show their support for Atlas’ message of freedom and the rights of the individual.” Because the first two parts did badly at the box office, the movie had to be partially funded by donations from the general public.

A close attachment to Rand, however, may be awkward for conservatives. She was pro-abortion, supporting sexual freedom, and, worst of all for conservatives, an atheist. Her rejection of self-sacrifice included the idea of a god to whom a person should be subservient. The concept of Original Sin requires guilt, mandating atonement by attending to the “rotting sores” of others. To Rand, all altruism is evil. Rand described Jesus’ teachings as “the best kindergarten for Communism.”

The problem with Rand’s books, other than the fact that they are badly written, is that they are not balanced. Individual freedom and equality are prized by Western democracies but not at the cost of creating a huge gulf in equality. Large disparity in power eliminates individual freedom and equality because there is no longer ability for everyone to act freely.

Rand’s form of libertarianism and objectivism acts as a cult because it requires power differentials between leader and follower. No one is allowed to criticize. Libertarians claim “Reason,” using the term so that anyone who disagrees is “unreasonable.” Objectivism is simply a form of hedonism, not an objective approach. Both are absolute, allowing no possibility for thinking and change.

People love Rand’s polemics because they can behave selfishly without guilt. Following Rand, however, would only lead to the crumbling of the nation’s entire infrastructure and the destruction of the planet because the wealthy and the corporations only want the instant gratification of making more and more money. In truth, they are the leeches on the rest of us because they take everything from the people who actually work. Generally, the role of government, no matter how much some people hate it, is to keep the rich from taking everything from everyone else.

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3 Comments »

  1. Shame on you! I’m sure if you went through the trouble to present Objectivism truthfully you would find plenty to complain about. Instead you have thrown all intellectual honesty out the window. What possible satisfaction can you gain through lying about someone’s ideas and then calling them wrong? Shame!

    Like

    Comment by Mike Saenz — April 29, 2014 @ 6:16 PM | Reply

  2. This an almost perfect communist refutation of Ayn Rand.

    Like

    Comment by Curtis Plumb — April 29, 2014 @ 5:49 PM | Reply

  3. Superb conclusion.

    Like

    Comment by Lee Lynch — April 29, 2014 @ 12:57 AM | Reply


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