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PJ Shrugs
April 7, 2011 9:24 AM   Subscribe

Atlas Shrugged and so did I. PJ O'Rourke has seen Atlas Shrugged (the movie - part 1) and ...

I will not pan “Atlas Shrugged.” I don’t have the guts. If you associate with Randians—and I do—saying anything critical about Ayn Rand is almost as scary as saying anything critical to Ayn Rand. What’s more, given how protective Randians are of Rand, I’m not sure she’s dead. The woman is a force. But, let us not forget, she’s a force for good. Millions of people have read “Atlas Shruggged” and been brought around to common sense, never mind that the author and her characters don’t exhibit much of it.

Previously.
Previously.
Previously.
Previously.
posted by philip-random (201 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
This thread will either end well or take it's superhuman talents and move to a country that will appreciate it better.
posted by DU at 9:27 AM on April 7, 2011 [55 favorites]


Sounds like it'd make a good double feature with Battlefield Earth.
posted by me3dia at 9:28 AM on April 7, 2011 [36 favorites]


The rest of the movie’s acting is borrowed from “Dallas,” although the absence of Larry Hagman’s skill at subtly underplaying villainous roles is to be regretted.

God knows I have my beefs with P.J. O'Rourke, but anybody who can appreciate Larry Hagman wins a lot of points with me.
posted by COBRA! at 9:32 AM on April 7, 2011 [9 favorites]




Sounds like it'd make a good double feature with Battlefield Earth.

Might as well throw in The Ten Commandments and make it an overwrought religious movie tripleheader.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:32 AM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


They indicate that everything they say is important by not using contractions.

I knew it: they're aliens.
posted by brundlefly at 9:33 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


They indicate that everything they say is important by not using contractions.

I knew it: they're the same people who write the dialogue for Mark Trail.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:36 AM on April 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


...and this reminds me that I have made yet another cartoon with an Atlas Shrugged joke.
posted by COBRA! at 9:36 AM on April 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is the very definition of both having and eating one's cake. O'Rourke, who spent the 80s slobbering over Reagan, wants your snark dollars by calling Rand a crazy old bat, but follows up with how everything she says is true because Unfettered Capitalism, Yay!

I didn't buy O'Rourke's bullshit schtick 20 years ago and I don't buy it now.
posted by Legomancer at 9:39 AM on April 7, 2011 [67 favorites]


I hear a massive gobbling and slurping sound in the distance, a horde of randian fanboys licking their lips, preparing to once again to simul-suck her corpse's cock in a massive pseudo-intellectual bukkake, slavering over the chance to reiterate their imbecillic asocial, ahistorical, non-functional, privileged, proto-fascist bullshit position to everyone else yet again.......

posted by lalochezia at 9:40 AM on April 7, 2011 [40 favorites]


I predict this thread will declare smoking a moral obligation and yet die of heart failure.
posted by tommasz at 9:41 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Skinny pretty people versus craggy old people, the motion picture!

(At least, that's what I got from the trailer.)
posted by chasing at 9:41 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


But the 20th century was no joke. A hundred years, from Bolsheviks to Al Qaeda, were spent proving Ayn Rand right.

Well, ignoring all the parts that proved Ayn Rand wrong....
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:41 AM on April 7, 2011 [71 favorites]


So my reading of his review was Meh as a movie, Meh as a novel, Meh as a writer but Rand was really good at popularizing enlightened self-interest so it's all good.

Even if you buy into the "Capitalism is 110% Pure Distilled Awesome" why should we sit through this movie or worse read her books? I'm sure I can find another movie or book that popularizes capitalism as the optimal economic and ethical world system without having to slog through mediocre fiction masquerading as deep philosophy.

But he does seem to chip away at the Cult of Personality that the Randroids have assembled about her even if it's in a pretty minor way.
posted by vuron at 9:42 AM on April 7, 2011


I wonder if there was ever a time when PJ O'Rourke was funny. Because leaving aside the bullshit about Rand being a "force for good," this is unfunny and tedious.
posted by blucevalo at 9:45 AM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I, personally, can't wait. Because there is something in my completionist soul that begs for the self-flagellation that this bit of celluloid hell will provide; Rand will finally be purged with the last shoddy end of a franchise.

Then people will stop talking about it, right? Because there's nothing more to be said ... right?
posted by LD Feral at 9:45 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"...Rand was really good at popularizing enlightened ignorant self-interest..."

FTFY.
posted by daq at 9:45 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The other night, my girlfriend and I accidentally went to a bad italian food place based on Yelp reviews. The food sucked, but we were sitting next to two couples talking about Randian stuff who had four kids running around the restaurant.

It was truly surreal to listen the one guy talk about "rational self interest" bullshit, and then talk about how all the other people he works with bring him down, and that is why he isn't advancing. He was also wearing a "funny toy hat" that one of the children put on his head that I assume he fortgot he was wearing.

We both thought the conversation perfectly summed up Randians.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:46 AM on April 7, 2011 [36 favorites]


But, let us not forget, she’s a force for good...Ayn Rand, perhaps better than anyone in the 20th century, understood that the individual self-seeking we call an evil actually stands in noble contrast to the real evil of self-seeking collectives.

And with that single sentence, I hereby wish I could unread and unlike every word of P.J. O'Rourke's I have ever read or liked.
posted by vverse23 at 9:46 AM on April 7, 2011 [25 favorites]


I wonder if there was ever a time when PJ O'Rourke was funny. Because leaving aside the bullshit about Rand being a "force for good," this is unfunny and tedious.

I will always remember PJ O'Rourke as the humorless asshole who has the astounding capability of completely killing every episode of Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me that he appears on, regardless of who the other guests are.
posted by malthas at 9:47 AM on April 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


I look forward to the accusations of liberal bias when this movie is robbed of its clean sweep at the Oscars.
posted by brundlefly at 9:47 AM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Become An Objectivist in 10 Easy Steps.
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 9:47 AM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


The other, of course, involves orcs.
posted by localroger at 9:48 AM on April 7, 2011 [21 favorites]


O'Rourke's less political stuff for National Lampoon was fantastic. Things changed.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:49 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wait. "Self-seeking collectives" are evil? What the hell is a corporation, then?

Those railroads sure-as-fuck weren't built by a bunch of self-seeking individuals.
posted by chasing at 9:49 AM on April 7, 2011 [31 favorites]


I will always remember PJ O'Rourke as the humorless asshole who has the astounding capability of completely killing every episode of Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me that he appears on

You can kill something that's already dead?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:52 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Progressive Robin Hoods have turned their attention to robbing ordinary individuals. It’s the plain folks, not a Taggart/Rearden elite, whose prospects and opportunities are stolen by corrupt school systems, health-care rationing, public employee union extortions, carbon-emissions payola and deficit-debt burden graft. Today’s collectivists are going after malefactors of moderate means.

The ass, it is backwards.
posted by jokeefe at 9:52 AM on April 7, 2011 [17 favorites]


I wonder if there was ever a time when PJ O'Rourke was funny. Because leaving aside the bullshit about Rand being a "force for good," this is unfunny and tedious.

He has a single good quote, and that's the full extent of his worthwhile output as a human:

The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it.
posted by codacorolla at 9:53 AM on April 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


Wait. "Self-seeking collectives" are evil? What the hell is a corporation, then?

Collectives of poor people are evil. Collectives of rich people create all that is good and holy.
posted by DU at 9:53 AM on April 7, 2011 [54 favorites]


Awwww... I was hoping someone had made an Atlas Shrugged movie and openly, strongly portrayed Galt as a sociopath. It would make for a great study in over coming cognitive dissonance.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:54 AM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just as long as no one on this thread tries to tell me she's a liberal.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:54 AM on April 7, 2011


I think the idea is to bait liberals into saying "NO U" so that they look like the petulant ones.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:55 AM on April 7, 2011


I finally figured out what to say to those with "who is John Galt" bumper stickers on their cars.

"A fictional character!"
posted by notsnot at 9:56 AM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


But, let us not forget, she’s a force for good...Ayn Rand, perhaps better than anyone in the 20th century, understood that the individual self-seeking we call an evil actually stands in noble contrast to the real evil of self-seeking collectives.

And with that single sentence, I hereby wish I could unread and unlike every word of P.J. O'Rourke's I have ever read or liked.


Funny -- with that single sentence, I really want to start reading P.J. O'Rourke.
posted by eugenen at 9:57 AM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm glad we're having this Serious Adult Conversation (TM) as Rep. John Galt introduces Ayn Rand's own budget proposal.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:58 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I finally figured out what to say to those with "who is John Galt" bumper stickers on their cars.

I've mentioned this before, but: I often see this one car that says "Government IS the problem." Where do I see this car? Parked at the public library, every Saturday morning.
posted by DU at 9:58 AM on April 7, 2011 [46 favorites]


Ayn Rand and P.J. O'Rourke together in one FPP: Twice the MeFi hate in every post!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:00 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ayn Rand ruined my childhood. From Salon.
posted by jokeefe at 10:00 AM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


How Ayn Rand ruined my childhood
posted by delmoi at 10:01 AM on April 7, 2011


Someone should post that Salon article about how Ayn Rand ruined -- oh.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:02 AM on April 7, 2011 [41 favorites]


Tell me more FAMOUS MONSTER, were might I read that?
posted by oddman at 10:05 AM on April 7, 2011


Collectives of poor people are evil. Collectives of rich people create all that is good and holy.

When it's rich people, it's called a Club, which if you have to ask how to join, you're not really welcome.
posted by philip-random at 10:06 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I liked the part where Ayn Rand ruined their childhood.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:06 AM on April 7, 2011


Childhood, hell. Ayn Rand's going to ruin my retirement!
posted by jscalzi at 10:07 AM on April 7, 2011 [65 favorites]


I have never once regretted faking having read Rand in university seminars or grad school applications.

Turns out I wasn't waiting for the movie, either.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:10 AM on April 7, 2011


While other kids my age were going to Bible study, I took evening classes from the institute via phone. (I half-listened while clicking through lolcat photos.)

Ayn Rand ruined my not-feeling-olditude.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:10 AM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Millions of people have read “Atlas Shruggged” and been brought around to common sense

I thought he said he wasn't going to criticise her.
posted by emmtee at 10:10 AM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Millions of people have read “Atlas Shruggged” and been brought around to common sense, never mind that the author and her characters don’t exhibit much of it.

The best part about this line is how deliciously ambiguous it is. Is the common sense that Ayn Rand is a fountain of truth and wisdom, or that she spewed ridiculous, selfish ideologies that all except a certain class of sociopaths have shunned as shallow and self-serving?
posted by filthy light thief at 10:12 AM on April 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


vverse23: But, let us not forget, she’s a force for good...Ayn Rand, perhaps better than anyone in the 20th century, understood that the individual self-seeking we call an evil actually stands in noble contrast to the real evil of self-seeking collectives.

And with that single sentence, I hereby wish I could unread and unlike every word of P.J. O'Rourke's I have ever read or liked.

eugenen: Funny -- with that single sentence, I really want to start reading P.J. O'Rourke.


I have an experimental memory-swapper we could test out....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:12 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also regarding WHO IS JOHN GALT graffiti I suppose this seems as good a place as any for this.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:13 AM on April 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


While other kids my age were going to Bible study, I took evening classes from the institute via phone. (I half-listened while clicking through lolcat photos.)

I hope this kid can forgive me for spending the rest of the day giggling about htat line.
posted by ocschwar at 10:14 AM on April 7, 2011


"Who is John Galt?" "Who is sixteen years old?" is a good one, too.
posted by jokeefe at 10:15 AM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Don't servants create lunch?"
posted by infinitewindow at 10:20 AM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


He has a single good quote, and that's the full extent of his worthwhile output as a human

I disagree. O'Rourke was funny when he wrote for the Lampoon.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:23 AM on April 7, 2011


I still don't understand the difference between being an objectivist and being a sociopath.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 10:23 AM on April 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


I'm surprised nobody's done Jeopardy-inspired graffiti modification.

"This Ayn Rand character is a pretentious windbag and likely sociopath."
"Who is John Galt?"
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:23 AM on April 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


It's time to drop the political commentary from your schtick when even Bill Maher can clean your clock in about two seconds of mock-serious debate and reduce you to a mumbling admission that you don't know what you're talking about, as happened the last time Rourke was on Real Time.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:24 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love some of his little side quips during the review which make utterly no sense. Batman is an unRandian figure? Seems like Bruce Wayne is the paragon of John Galt status, with his giant fortune, skyscraper-topping abode, and willingness to fight all by his lonesome to set the world right. And his saying that people in hollywood aren't somehow creative and are only Takers... I guess it depends on what you call "creative", but they sure seem to be churning out product regularly.

I guess by his own standards, since he's not a manufacturing magnate, O'Rourke is also one of those non-creative people who deserve to be shunted aside by the Galts.
posted by hippybear at 10:25 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do wonder, if he'd written this piece for ANY paper other than WSJ, whether it would have had a different tone.
posted by hippybear at 10:25 AM on April 7, 2011


I have never once regretted faking having read Rand in university seminars or grad school applications.

wha? More details please. I read Atlas Shrugged one summer during an internship at university, so I could properly laugh at her zealots, and every single professor I saw said "What are you doing reading that shit?" when they saw it. Granted, this was in a science department.

Is she really taken seriously even in Economics departments? I can't imagine anyone saying Rand had a better thesis than Adam Smith. If grad school applications involved writing essays on a romance novelist, I'd be scared to accept. Were they asking you to debunk her?
posted by benzenedream at 10:26 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think the average Sociopath needs external justification for being self-interested, Objectivists seem to want an elaborate framework that lays out their selfishness as right and proper and that not being selfish is stupid and wrong.

I guess some people know that being selfish is wrong but want a way to justify it to themselves and others and other people just don't care.
posted by vuron at 10:28 AM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Batman is an unRandian figure?

Oh, absolutely. See, he's sacrificing his own interests to the interests of the collective (Gotham), who deserve what they get because they let the mobs run their cities and capitulate to threats instead of standing and dieing, like Free Men.

[Note: though the previous may read like a sarcastic answer -- and, in fact, is intended that way -- it's also IMO a pretty accurate analysis of Batman's moral place in a Randian universe.]
posted by lodurr at 10:30 AM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


The sad end to Ayn Rand: reality couldn't be held at bay forever. She died of lung cancer, after denying that cigarettes were carcinogenic; and she collected Social Security and Medicare payments under the name of Ann O'Connor (her husband was Frank O'Connor), after a life of claiming that such institutions would drag people down.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:30 AM on April 7, 2011 [54 favorites]


Remember that guy you knew in college who was kind of cool and funny, and then he got his nose stuck in a pile of cocaine and it turned him into a gargantuan asshole and a terminal bore?

That's O'Rourke. Except, in his case, the effect was apparently permanent.
posted by steambadger at 10:31 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rand would have thought that radiation was good for you.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:32 AM on April 7, 2011


What I love about this review -- and this is vintage O'Rourke, and something which for reasons I can't quite fathom seems to endear him to me -- is the way it basically amounts to saying "See this great foundational work of a movement? A movement of crazy people, led by a crazy person, who all together believed crazy, unworkable things? It's totally crap, and badly written crap at that, and by the way all those people are crazy. Oh, one more thing: It's all true."

I used to read his stuff for Car & Driver, and he used to do the equivalent when talking about cars, too.
posted by lodurr at 10:33 AM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


One of the fundamental problems with conservative identity politics subtly happens here. O'Rourke didn't like the movie, but as far as I can tell, one reason was because it wasn't Randian enough. Randian In Name Only.
posted by Xoebe at 10:35 AM on April 7, 2011


I do wonder, if he'd written this piece for ANY paper other than WSJ, whether it would have had a different tone.

P. J. O'Rourke? Oh, absolutely. You've heard him in Wait, Wait, right?

(It's not nobility -- it's tone-deafness.)
posted by lodurr at 10:35 AM on April 7, 2011


I want to see a circa-1960-style musical about the gods of the classical world, called "Atlas Frugged". But that is by the way.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:38 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I didn't buy O'Rourke's bullshit schtick 20 years ago and I don't buy it now.

True enough. One post on this schocky movie was enough ...

I wonder if there was ever a time when PJ O'Rourke was funny.

No.

O'Rourke's less political stuff for National Lampoon was fantastic.

We will have to agree to disagree. He's always seemed like an hippie who couldn't deal with the imperfections of that society and thus broke down and made the most of being an ironic foil for the hippies.

Or he joined the hippies for the social liberation, then got bummed when no one wanted to get rich and buy cool cars and shit. He seems to be big on Spite. Definitely not my style.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:38 AM on April 7, 2011


I think O'Rourke was funny in the 70's. Then somewhere in the late 70's he switched from dope to bourbon and it's been downhill ever since.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:39 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I once read a remarkable parody of Atlas Shrugged, which I was really enjoying until I discovered it wasn't a parody.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:39 AM on April 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'm amazed he can stay married for more than a few months at a time, with all the nasty things he says about women & marriage.
posted by lodurr at 10:40 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ayn Rand and P.J. O'Rourke together in one FPP: Twice the MeFi hate in every post!

P.J hates bicyclists too. Three times!
posted by StrikeTheViol at 10:40 AM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have a hard time deciding on whether I like PJ O'Roarke the least of Wait, Wait's normal panel of comedians or whether Mo Rocca or Paula Poundstone irritate me more. All three of them seem to mix terminal unfunniness and smugness in equal portions.

When all three are on a show it's basically unlistenable.
posted by vuron at 10:42 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


mrgrimm, I like the hippy conjecture, and it reminds me of Thompson, of course. Personally I think Thomspon's output was mostly crap, but he had incredible potential and seems to have come to the path he was on out of really legitimate and hard-won disappointments. In your analogies, O'Rourke is kind of like the lazy rick-kid version of Hunter Thompson.
posted by lodurr at 10:42 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Coming next year: Atlas Shoggoth by (MO) C. Stross.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:48 AM on April 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


"every single professor I saw said "What are you doing reading that shit?" when they saw it. Granted, this was in a science department."

You'd get the same response in a philosophy department.
posted by oddman at 10:49 AM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


It took me a while to figure out what this movie reminded me of and then it hit me...

Dolemite!
posted by flyinghamster at 10:50 AM on April 7, 2011


Did you know my hull is 27% dolemite by mass?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:54 AM on April 7, 2011


Coming next year: Atlas Shoggoth by (MO) C. Stross.

That's nothing! Look for Azathoth Shrugged, where the ultimate individualist turns his back on the universe and lets it all burn. For untold aeons!
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:59 AM on April 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


Has anybody linked this cartoon yet? No? Ok then.
posted by mrgoat at 11:00 AM on April 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


Wow. I seriously felt a 2-minute hate coming on for this subject. Reading some of the links people have posted here just made me giggle uncontrolably for a good 5 minutes though, so the hate has passed and I'm left with a smug feeling of "man, I love knowing more than objectivists think they know."
posted by daq at 11:01 AM on April 7, 2011


I think O'Rourke was funny in the 70's. Then somewhere in the late 70's he switched from dope to bourbon and it's been downhill ever since.

I enjoyed O'Rourke until about the CEO of the Sofa era, when he moved from being quite happy to skewer the right when he thought they were full of shit to just becoming a bitter-sounding old man who'd fallen into line with whatever the party line was. He was happy to criticise Reagan on Marcos, and rip shit out of red state "Moscow on the Mississippi" spending, and then... something happened. Who knows? Anyway, he started ignoring his own rule of humour - that you must be funny first, and political second - and has become a sort of right-wing Ben Elton, with humour largely dependent on pointing and laughing at people he and the reader both dislike.
posted by rodgerd at 11:10 AM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


P.J hates bicyclists too.

Fuck his face. ^_^
posted by fleetmouse at 11:18 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


See, [Batman is] sacrificing his own interests to the interests of the collective (Gotham), who deserve what they get because they let the mobs run their cities and capitulate to threats instead of standing and dieing, like Free Men.

But isn't abolishing crime Bruce Wayne's primary interest? What is he sacrificing if he is using the resources at his disposal to achieve his goals? I think O'Rourke's claim that Batman is un-Randian points to the truth of Objectivism: it assumes that people don't derive any pleasure from helping others. Which I guess is true if you're a sociopath.
posted by turaho at 11:26 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sounds like it'd make a good double feature with Battlefield Earth.

Yeah, the Objectivists and Scientologists have the same shrill, cultish ring to their rhetoric. Actually both groups seems to espouse the core tenets of Satanism, which is just focusing solely on one own drive and impulses and not valuing others in the process.

Anon: "Satanism is the official religion of the American corporate boardroom."

http://www.religioustolerance.org/satanis1.htm
posted by thebestusernameever at 11:29 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bike lane advocates also claim that bicycles are environmentally friendly, producing less pollution and fewer carbon emissions than automobiles. But bicycle riders do a lot of huffing and puffing, exhaling large amounts of CO2. And whether a bicycle rider, after a long bicycle ride, is cleaner than the exhaust of a modern automobile is open to question.

My god what a hack.
posted by IjonTichy at 11:30 AM on April 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


I saw this online, possibly here, but I can't find it anywhere:
This guy would continuously drone on about objectivism and rational self-interest. Eventually I asked him whether he was telling me about objectivism for his benefit or mine.

"It's for your benefit!", he said.

"So, it's for altruistic reasons?"

That shut him up.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:35 AM on April 7, 2011 [65 favorites]


Yeah, the Objectivists and Scientologists have the same shrill, cultish ring to their rhetoric. Actually both groups seems to espouse the core tenets of Satanism, which is just focusing solely on one own drive and impulses and not valuing others in the process.

so, Satanism's for self-impressed idiots. I'll buy that.
posted by philip-random at 11:35 AM on April 7, 2011


Geeze...and I though Objectivists were humorless.
posted by Consult The Oracle at 11:36 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think O'Rourke's claim that Batman is un-Randian points to the truth of Objectivism: it assumes that people don't derive any pleasure from helping others.

It's not that people don't derive pleasure from helping others, it's that that pleasure is a lie and a sop designed to obstruct the Objectivist from their freedom. No one can tell whether one is expressing one's freedom by helping others or whether one is acting in servitude to a multitude of parasites, but since that multitude of parasites is emboldened by charity and thereby convinced to continue in their parasitical ways, it is either way a moral evil to encourage that behavior.

Basically, you shouldn't help people, for their own good. This is the same philosophy that insists A is A and altruism is a curse. It's actually pretty awesome when you think about it.
posted by Errant at 11:37 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


More like FATlas Shrugged, LOL.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:39 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Simul-sucking a corpse's cock in a massive pseudo-intellectual bukkake.
posted by ao4047 at 11:39 AM on April 7, 2011


I believe it is possible to argue that "come at me, bro" is the real message underpinning and expressed through Ayn Rand's works as a whole.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:40 AM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is there a version where I can see it performed in the original Ferengi?
posted by plinth at 11:46 AM on April 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


Zen Objectivist koan: "If you see a capitalist in the street, kill him."
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:49 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


But isn't abolishing crime Bruce Wayne's primary interest? What is he sacrificing if he is using the resources at his disposal to achieve his goals?

By that logic, Stalin was a Randian hero, since he used the resources at his disposal to achieve his goal of becoming an authoritarian dictator of a communist state. If someone's primary interest is counter to objectivist ideals, then pursuing it (even while being a selfish dick) doesn't really pull them in line with objectivism.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:50 AM on April 7, 2011


In “Atlas Shrugged” Rand set out to prove that self-interest is vital to mankind. This, of course, is the whole point of free-market classical liberalism and has been since Adam Smith invented free-market classical liberalism by proving the same point.

No he didn't. J.S. Mill, expanding on the work of Jeremy Bentham, argued this point, which confuses a lot of people.


It’s the plain folks, not a Taggart/Rearden elite, whose prospects and opportunities are stolen by corrupt school systems, health-care rationing, public employee union extortions, carbon-emissions payola and deficit-debt burden graft.

So nothing to do with banks, then. Or corporate tax-avoidance. Or an entrenched system of lobbying.


Hence the Tea Party, and Ayn Rand is invited.

Ayn Rand was a prejudiced old harpy who would have been horrified by the Tea Party.


Or maybe it’s a horror film set at my house, “Wife on Strike!”

Hoo-ah!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:52 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, at least Hollywood has come far enough that they won't portray the Liberals as Jews and Immigrants...

Oh, god.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:53 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


PJ O'Rourke has nothing on Andy Kaufman when it comes to objectivist comedy. Instead of striving to make other people laugh, you should be indifferent to your audience's enjoyment and create absurd or awkward situations out of your rational self interest in amusing yourself. You stand up for yourself, and yourself alone.

Also, to extend my theory, I guess that makes Tony Clifton John Galt.

I willfully misinterpret things, out of my own self-interest.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:57 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


"every single professor I saw said "What are you doing reading that shit?" when they saw it. Granted, this was in a science department."

You'd get the same response in a philosophy department.


And in the English Department, too, but with yelling attached. Ayn Rand was a god-awful writer.
posted by jokeefe at 12:02 PM on April 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Atlas Shrugged is the one where that guy made a really good hamburger sandwich, right?
posted by queensissy at 12:05 PM on April 7, 2011


Atlas Shrugged is the one where that guy made a really good hamburger sandwich, right?

No, it's the unauthorized biography of that dude who advertised a weight training program in comic books for all those decades.
posted by ocschwar at 12:08 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


She died of lung cancer, after denying that cigarettes were carcinogenic; and she collected Social Security and Medicare payments under the name of Ann O'Connor

That's hilarious, I'm sorry.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:11 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Holy fucking shit. The crazy dad from One Tree Hill as John Galt.
posted by something something at 12:20 PM on April 7, 2011


I don't think there's anything wrong with objectivists claiming benefits, as long as they're not more valuable than the taxes they paid for them.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:20 PM on April 7, 2011


The crazy dad from One Tree Hill as John Galt.

He also directed the movie.

Don't tell him that PJ O'Rourke says that nobody in Hollywood is creative and they're all Takers.
posted by hippybear at 12:22 PM on April 7, 2011


Not taking the payments would be contrary to her own self-interest so of course she took them.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 12:22 PM on April 7, 2011


She died of lung cancer, after denying that cigarettes were carcinogenic; and she collected Social Security and Medicare payments under the name of Ann O'Connor

That's hilarious, I'm sorry.


Not a Rand fan, but isn't it argued that she collected SS and Medicare payments because she payed (through force, I'm sure she and her followers would emphasize) into the system? Also, if they government is giving out free money, wouldn't taking it and running be the most self interested thing you could do in that situation? Lame, but maybe not so hypocritical....
posted by flamk at 12:27 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or what It's Never Lurgi said...
posted by flamk at 12:28 PM on April 7, 2011


StrikeTheViol: P.J hates bicyclists too.

That piece is AMAZING. Example paragraph:
The bicycle is a parody of a wheeled vehicle—a donkey cart without the cart, where you do the work of the donkey. Although the technology necessary to build a bicycle has been around since ancient Egypt, bikes didn't appear until the 19th century. The reason it took mankind 5,000 years to get the idea for the bicycle is that it was a bad idea. The bicycle is the only method of conveyance worse than feet. You can walk up three flights of stairs carrying one end of a sofa. Try that on a bicycle.
And cars have existed for less than 300 years because the Gods on High were holding onto the really kick-ass technology for their own selfish purposes.

Really, the piece is brilliant satire. Stop reading comments here, and read this piece now!
posted by filthy light thief at 12:30 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel like I read a completely different version of some of Ayn Rand's books. I am a fan of her work, but not in a rabid Ron/Rand Paul kinda way. I enjoy the stories, and I think that some parts of her philosophy are pretty A+ Double Good Okay. Wouldn't you like to live in a world where a man or woman who dedicated their life to producing art was viewed as someone producing their ideal representation of a facet of the human experience and not just some stupid art school hippie?

Of course, I understand that when you cherry pick bits and pieces of a philosophy, pretty much anything can be made to look good, and I won't argue that no one should logically live their life by Objectivism exactly as it is written (Which of course is the only Ayn Rand sanctioned way to look at it. Take it or leave it.)

BUT getting to my point, from having read The Virtue of Selfishness, is that Rand didn't view Altruism as a bad thing. Forced altruism is wrong, because it doesn't mean anything. Altruism that hurts the individual is wrong because why would any rational person help another at the expense of their own well being? That just doesn't make sense.

The message I got from the book was that Altruism is a great and wonderful thing, IF you have the desire to be altruistic. Altruism from guilt, coercion (financial or otherwise), and civic pressure is what she is opposed to, and I can stand behind that.

I guess this was kind of a wall of text for my first post, but I think that Ayn Rand's good ideas get an unfair shake because of her bad ideas and her crazy rabid fans. Really, I just feel like you can take some good things from her philosophy, as long as you don't make it another bible.
posted by dirtylittlecity at 12:34 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have a better idea for a movie.

Ayn Rand is somehow brought back to life in contemporary Detroit and gradually made to realize--by her witnessing the fallout in education, healthcare, infrastructure, etc. of people accepting her mythology wholeheartedly--that her entire philosophy is an extreme distortion of the goodness of the human spirit.

Then she sets out to make things right, becoming an erudite and thoughtful advocate for corporate taxation; public funding for infrastructure and real public transportation; education, housing and healthcare as basic human rights; encouraging a culture of safe and reasonable scientific and medical research; and basically anything else that would actually be good for the world.

I imagine this as sort of a coming of age story or a bildungsromangirl--the egocentric teenager learning through experience the simplicity and selfishness of her worldview, and responding positively by expanding and rethinking her outlook on life, thereby winning our sympathy and adoration by growing and becoming genuinely heroic without falling prey to the trap of not knowing when to stop being heroic.

The movie ends with her new philosophy just beginning to bloom, and she leaves us to it by vanishing into the sunset, al la Gilliam's Munchausen.

















Either that, or she teams up with a group of time traveling teenagers to fight the Lovecraftian nightmare monster who lives in the center of the earth and makes all of us act against our own self interest. That would be fun, too.
posted by byanyothername at 12:35 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"every single professor I saw said "What are you doing reading that shit?" when they saw it. Granted, this was in a science department."

You'd get the same response in a philosophy department.


In college, I was reading it, and my philosophy professor asked me, "why are you reading that?"

"Did you ever see the movie La Cage Aux Folles?"

He got the feeling I was going somewhere, so he let me lead. "Yes?"

"And the discussion as to why a gay man would have a son? Where his longtime gay lover asked why he had sex with a woman, and he replied, 'I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.'?"

He nodded, understanding, and I ended up getting extra credit for the paper I turned in about why 'ethical selfishness' is contrary to a positive societal philosophy.
posted by mephron at 12:38 PM on April 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


What did Rand say about Fiat money VS Gold?

(and then a man who sat at Rand's feet - Greenspan was pro-gold in 1967 and later was not when head of the fiat money system. It's like power can change your public position or something)
posted by rough ashlar at 12:43 PM on April 7, 2011


I guess this was kind of a wall of text for my first post, but I think that Ayn Rand's good ideas get an unfair shake because of her bad ideas and her crazy rabid fans. Really, I just feel like you can take some good things from her philosophy, as long as you don't make it another bible.

Yours was a good post. My overall impression of Rand is that she responded to the dangers of extreme collectivism by promoting extreme individualism, and my overall impression of that is that the latter carries a lot of the same dangers as the former, actually. My biggest criticism of followers of Rand or big libertarian types is that they understand positive liberty--freedom to--well enough, but don't seem to realize that negative liberty--freedom from--is equally important if we want to live in a society that isn't barbaric.
posted by byanyothername at 12:44 PM on April 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Is she really taken seriously even in Economics departments?

Greenspan is an Objectivist.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:44 PM on April 7, 2011


I wonder if a large dose of Tabernanthe iboga would cure objectivism.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 12:46 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


> "If drops in pollution and traffic congestion are wanted and if discomfort and inconvenience are the trade-offs, we should be packed into tiny circus clown cars. These fit neatly into bike lanes and provide more amusement to bystanders than bicycle wrecks."

I ride a bicycle to work and I thought this was funny.

Also, WWDTM with Mo Rocca, Paula Poundstone and Tom Bodette together flat out rocks!
posted by mmrtnt at 12:47 PM on April 7, 2011


I really don't much about O'Rourke or his work, beyond that my late poet mentor and dementia-addled antagonist once met on the dueling field over a lady love interest, in a two-man demolition derby. The cars were giant seventies monsters, the duel took forever (giant seventies monsters don't die easily), and the result was a draw, I think.

If this piece is an indicator of his skill as a humorist, I have to think there's a great injustice that my friend died broke and mostly unknown while O'Rourke seems to have cultivated an enduring following. All I can do is shrug.
posted by sonascope at 12:50 PM on April 7, 2011


BUT getting to my point, from having read The Virtue of Selfishness, is that Rand didn't view Altruism as a bad thing. Forced altruism is wrong, because it doesn't mean anything. Altruism that hurts the individual is wrong because why would any rational person help another at the expense of their own well being? That just doesn't make sense.

The message I got from the book was that Altruism is a great and wonderful thing, IF you have the desire to be altruistic. Altruism from guilt, coercion (financial or otherwise), and civic pressure is what she is opposed to, and I can stand behind that.


Sure, but how can you tell which is which? Doesn't altruism that emanates from free expression look exactly the same, benefit the same people at the same cost to the actor, as altruism coerced through oppressive social controls or obstructive philosophy? Isn't an altruistic act, by its nature, costing the actor in order to reward the recipient?

So the Objectivist says, sure, altruism is fine as long as it comes from pure intent and doesn't cost anything, but since we all live in a sick and coercive collectivist society there can't be pure intent that aligns with the will of that society, and also the altruist by their very action is not acting in their own interest but in the interest of others, which is a personal immorality to match the social immorality. What an Objectivist might call "acceptable altruism" does not actually resemble altruism at all.
posted by Errant at 12:53 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Batman fights crime violently to preserve the status quo of Gotham, to preserve the environment in which Bruce Wayne prospers in business. Bruce Wayne is an honorable, rational individualist who achieves his wealth and power without needing to exert violent force, however, Batman can do it for him in the shadows of the night. But even he is strictly a loner in this endeavor, and also must do it in spite of the evil yet incompetent government police force.
posted by thefool at 12:56 PM on April 7, 2011


dirtylittlecity: Wouldn't you like to live in a world where a man or woman who dedicated their life to producing art was viewed as someone producing their ideal representation of a facet of the human experience and not just some stupid art school hippie?

Sure. But that's not the world Ayn Rand wants to make. It's pretty clear to me that she has specific ideas about what constitutes "good" artistic expression, and if you didn't conform to those ideas, you'd be regarded as a decadent parasite.

Take another look at The Fountainhead. There's a really pretty specifically utilitarian-functionalist ideal being fronted there that has more or less no tolerance for anything decorative -- unless it's something Rand likes, of course, which is where you realize that there's actually no consistency in the aesthetic system at all.
posted by lodurr at 12:58 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


jscalzi She's going to ruin my retirement.

You're going to get to retire?

Jealous (SLYT, Creepy-Chan)
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:02 PM on April 7, 2011


byanyothername: ... but don't seem to realize that negative liberty--freedom from--is equally important if we want to live in a society that isn't barbaric.

This is a really strong formulation. I've heard it before, and it bears repetition.
posted by lodurr at 1:03 PM on April 7, 2011


So the Objectivist says, sure, altruism is fine as long as it comes from pure intent and doesn't cost anything, but since we all live in a sick and coercive collectivist society there can't be pure intent that aligns with the will of that society, and also the altruist by their very action is not acting in their own interest but in the interest of others, which is a personal immorality to match the social immorality. What an Objectivist might call "acceptable altruism" does not actually resemble altruism at all.

Ah, but Ayn Rand posits a non-constructed concept of reality, which exists a priori to those within it. She also argues for a self that exists independently of the conditions of its formation. To her, the superior "objective" being can understand the conditions that surround him and the true nature of his own existence, and can separate the his motives from the coercive forces that surround him. Thus can evaluate the altruistic nature of his actions for himself, and weigh them against his own needs and desires. It's a sort of poorly thought-out Hegelianism, and very susceptible to the kind of justificatory logic often found in fourteen-year-olds.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:08 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


"A hundred years, from Bolsheviks to Al Qaeda, were spent proving Ayn Rand right."

Or, at least, that there's multiple ways to be wrong, and that Ayn may have found a few more.
posted by Reverend John at 1:14 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let's also not forget that the self-interest philosophy comes freighted with the idea that for women, it's in their self-interest to submit to sexually-violent control by men, e.g.:
She felt a moment's rebellion and a hint of fear. He held her... his hand moving over her breasts as if he were learning a proprietor's intimacy with her body, a shocking intimacy that needed no consent from her, no permission. ... She knew that fear was useless, that he would do what he wished, that the decision was his, that he left nothing possible to her except the thing she wanted most - to submit.
[courtesy JoeBeese, since I don't want to look this shit up]
Never been quite sure what the rationale was for that one, though I have to say the "trail of bruises" that's perpetually getting left on Dagny's skin tended to creep me out a bit even as a sex-mad teenage virgin.
posted by lodurr at 1:14 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sounds like it'd make a good double feature with Battlefield Earth.

Yes, well at least the Scientology, to its credit, and it's only redeeming aspect, has the decency to declare itself a religion and not present itself as a rigorous philosophy of self that need infect a nation with a cult that sees the economy and the Free Market as an expression of that self (a collective self, gasp!) that borders on witchdoctors and tea leaves and the anthropomorphizing of Capital.
posted by Skygazer at 1:15 PM on April 7, 2011


Forced altruism is wrong, because it doesn't mean anything. Altruism that hurts the individual is wrong because why would any rational person help another at the expense of their own well being? That just doesn't make sense.

The point of forced altruism is to ensure that people who need help get help, not to "mean something." One of the reasons Rand's heroes seem insane is that they focus entirely on these sorts of issues around meaning and completely ignore any real world consequences or utilitarian ethics. For example, in The Fountainhead the hero blows up a public housing project building that he designed because the design was modified slightly without his consent. On a philosophical level it's fine to argue about intellectual property and the integrity of artistic vision, but on a practical level the character comes off as a crank who cares significantly more about minor architectural details than helping poor people.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:21 PM on April 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


To her, the superior "objective" being can understand the conditions that surround him and the true nature of his own existence, and can separate the his motives from the coercive forces that surround him.

Yeah, this is the catch I was trying to get at. The "objective" being perfectly understands their own motives; so do other objective beings. They also perfectly comprehend each other's motives. So what happens when "objective" beings disagree? Well, objectively, they couldn't disagree, because there's one true reality which is not subject to interpretation. So one of them must be misapprehending, therefore less objective than the other and thus not objective at all. Who's wrong? Probably the person who isn't Ayn Rand. If Ayn Rand says, in practice, that your motives are poison from the collective fruit, then they are, because she's objective. The Scientology parallels become almost unavoidable at this point.
posted by Errant at 1:22 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


discussion of Rand and Objectivism always ends up reminding me that "The Perfect Is The Enemy Of The Good" is not just an over-used catch-phrase. It's actually quite relevant as a fundamental critique of pretty much any ideology.

As for Rand, the one thing I can take from her writing is that there is great value in meritocracy, and we reject it at our peril ... at least with regard to those tasks that MUST be done with maximum skill and professionalism (going to War, managing large groups of people, maintaining critical infrastructure, surgery, etc). The flip of it is that most jobs out there don't need to done perfectly and it becomes quite annoyingly comical when someone decides that they must. My dad and maintenance of his lawn comes to mind.
posted by philip-random at 1:31 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The "objective" being perfectly understands their own motives; so do other objective beings. They also perfectly comprehend each other's motives. So what happens when "objective" beings disagree?

This dawned on me last night while I reading a philosophy book that had an excerpt on Rand. Why some philosophy books include Rand at all is beyond me. What I finally got to was that her philosophy is so shoddy, she actually had to sandwich what she could into a monomyth just to get people interested.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:37 PM on April 7, 2011


I will confess that I actually rather liked We, the Living. Only years later did I recognize its suspicious parallels with Doctor Zhivago.
posted by lodurr at 1:39 PM on April 7, 2011


I come not to bury Ayn Rand, but to praise her. We have people to do the burying. (They're illegal immigrants who work harder than any of us in the thread, and who are closer to the ideal of the American Dream than we'll ever be.)

Ayn Rand is like Batman except that the reason HER PARENTS ARE DEEAAAAAAAD is Communists (Bolsheviks, really).
posted by Eideteker at 1:40 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm beginning to wonder if O'Rourke didn't just stumble upon Colbert's schtick before Colbert.
posted by mmrtnt at 1:41 PM on April 7, 2011


...I mean, a more nuanced version of Colbert's schtick.

One in which he takes money from both sides - from the Right who thinks he agrees with them and makes them laugh about silly "liberals" and from the Left who are "in on it" and realize his humor is an aggrandizement of Right-wing hyperbole.

Brilliant, actually.
posted by mmrtnt at 1:47 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


As for Rand, the one thing I can take from her writing is that there is great value in meritocracy, and we reject it at our peril ... at least with regard to those tasks that MUST be done with maximum skill and professionalism (going to War, managing large groups of people, maintaining critical infrastructure, surgery, etc).

It's great in theory, but in practice I find that those who preach the loudest about meritocracy are those who fight the hardest to stay in their positions when they've already been proven incompetent.
posted by hippybear at 1:48 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I will confess that I actually rather liked We, the Living.

I agree, it's actually pretty good, especially as a direct reaction to the Russian Revolution. It has multidimensional characters and moral ambiguity, two things never found again in her work.
posted by COBRA! at 1:50 PM on April 7, 2011


Is there any way at all that we can get something about Cory Doctrow intertwined into this thread? Because the comments would be awesome.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:56 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is there any way at all that we can get something about Cory Doctrow intertwined into this thread? Because the comments would be awesome.

Or perhaps circumcision.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:58 PM on April 7, 2011


well, I could inquire in all open eyed innocence (because I have no position on Doctrow, never even consciously read anything by him) ...

What's the deal with Doctrow, positive or negative?
posted by philip-random at 1:59 PM on April 7, 2011


What's the deal with Doctrow, positive or negative?

He advocates circumcision and declawing of obese cats.
posted by benzenedream at 2:05 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let's just say he doesn't like Apple products, and leave it at that.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:06 PM on April 7, 2011


O'Rourke's less political stuff for National Lampoon was fantastic. Things changed.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 5:49 PM on April 7 [1 favorite +] [!]


Eponysterical!

I never really understood O'Rourke. As a drug-using conservative, he always brought to mind a turkey, voting for Christmas.

But perhaps he just understood earlier than the rest of us that the USA's drug laws only really apply to black people and poor people?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:13 PM on April 7, 2011


Terry Pratchett made Ayn Rand into a character in one of his novels (no spoilers), basically his version of Rand suffers an inverted version of what happened to Rand as a child, and winds up spending her life trying to help gain rights for workers. I thought that was a very interesting device.
posted by Grimgrin at 2:14 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Zen Objectivist koan: "If you see a capitalist in the street, kill him."

Really, just a good idea in general actually.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:14 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not a Rand fan, but isn't it argued that she collected SS and Medicare payments because she payed (through force, I'm sure she and her followers would emphasize) into the system? Also, if they government is giving out free money, wouldn't taking it and running be the most self interested thing you could do in that situation? Lame, but maybe not so hypocritical....

She was a hypocrite, because her decision to collect social insurance payouts legitimizes the very reasons those programs were created for, in the first place. If she had the courage of her convictions, she would have rather died than allow the government to tax her wealth in the first place, let alone collect government checks at the end.

Nah, Rand was a hypocrite of the first order. It's pretty damn hilarious, on the scale of Lee Atwater-finding-Jesus funny.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:19 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I recall that some time in pre-internet days my brother described Atlas Shrugged to me and I liked the idea. However, his description featured scientists and engineers fed up with being exploited by capitalists and hiding away in a deserted valley to prove that it was education and intelligence that were important in making society work. It took quite a while for me to make the connection between his description and the book itself, and I really do hope he had never read the book himself, else he got it just a little bit wrong.
posted by Jehan at 2:19 PM on April 7, 2011


Progressive Robin Hoods have turned their attention to robbing ordinary individuals. It’s the plain folks, not a Taggart/Rearden elite, whose prospects and opportunities are stolen by corrupt school systems, health-care rationing, public employee union extortions, carbon-emissions payola and deficit-debt burden graft. Today’s collectivists are going after malefactors of moderate means.

What. Planet. Does. This. Person. Live. ON?
posted by jnnla at 2:33 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by RakDaddy at 2:43 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Grow a pair O'Rourke. If she were alive today I'd spitting in her fucking face. Fuck Rand and Fuck John Gault.
posted by djduckie at 2:57 PM on April 7, 2011


Ayn Rand is like Batman except that the reason HER PARENTS ARE DEEAAAAAAAD is Communists (Bolsheviks, really)

Yes, good point, but European socialists and the American Labor movement did not. And whereas her ideology and deep loathing for collective action makes sense in land where one's parents are killed by Bosheviks and there is a context for her beliefs. In this country she was basically carrying coals to Newcastle for one thing, unable to see the societal corrective that the labor movement and the positive outcomes of collective action against well organized Capital and industry, in providing a baseline of progress and prosperity for a country as a whole and giving solace and credibility to plutocrats and oligarchs, and the whole American New fashioned Neo-aristocracy and elite, who never hesitated it would seem in most cases to destroy a family or slowly kill an employee, if it meant more money in their pockets.

Thing is she, realized these people needed some sort of raison d'etre beyond the simply ideology of what this country was founded on and she was like the steroidal hysterical proof for their convictions and to justify their unjustifiable bullshit. And it lives with us to this day.

Lesson: Tell wealthy people what they want to hear, to give their lives the depth and meaning they're unable to provide themselves, and give them a way to justify their worst tendencies that has a superficial connection to nationalism and God, and you will be made popular, wealthy, and more succesful beyond your wildest dreams.

Really, they should just make Ayn Rand the Second Coming of the Industrialist Plutocratic Christ and get on with building her a great big Cathedral somewhere.
posted by Skygazer at 3:05 PM on April 7, 2011


@Errant, it doesn't have to not cost anything. It just has to be such that the cost paid out is less than or equal to the benefit that the altruist gives. In so far as I understand Rand, altruism is a good and wonderful thing, provided that the giver WANTS to give. The Randian altrust is giving not because the government forces them to, or society pressures them to, but because they get a benefit out of giving some of their wealth/time (same thing) to someone less fortunate. That benefit can be as simple as "I felt like it, and it made me feel good." But it has to come from the desire to create that contract between two agents.
posted by dirtylittlecity at 3:14 PM on April 7, 2011


I Shrugged.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 3:16 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really, they should just make Ayn Rand the Second Coming of the Industrialist Plutocratic Christ and get on with building her a great big Cathedral somewhere.

They did, kind of. Then Rand tore it down herself just to spite Branden.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:22 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe it’s a sci-fi thriller where the Internet has gone on strike and mankind must face a post-apocalyptic world without Twitter. 

Cracked has a serial like this.
Even when I disagree with him O'Rourke is a fun writer.
There was a very short adaptation of Anthem at a sci-fi film festival a few years ago. I booed it, which wasn't nice.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:28 PM on April 7, 2011


I always act in my own self interest. Since I have no useful skills it's in my own interest to mooch off government healthcare.
And I hate how people hate O'Rourke because they disagree with his politics. He's funny.
I'm pretty sure I would watch a movie that's all speechs, shadows and trains.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:42 PM on April 7, 2011


Remember that guy you knew in college who was kind of cool and funny, and then he got his nose stuck in a pile of cocaine and it turned him into a gargantuan asshole and a terminal bore?

That's O'Rourke. Except, in his case, the effect was apparently permanent.


This is pretty much spot on. When I was in junior high I liked his stuff in the Lampoon, but then, I was in junior high. He's a perfect example of the 'me decade' folks of the 70s effortlessly morphing into Reaganite yuppie pricks. And, part of me still hates him for depoliticizing the humour in the Lampoon and making it more frat boy boobs and beer when he took over.

And I do like these Rand threads, very good work all around mefites. Makes a feller feel less crazy in the current political climate it does.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 3:44 PM on April 7, 2011


Is there any way at all that we can get something about Cory Doctrow intertwined into this thread? Because the comments would be awesome.

Ayn Rand : sociopathic self-interest :: Cory Doctorow : sociopathic self-promotion
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:45 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Randian Philosophy's acceptance is very useful in society today. Those who speak highly of it can be easily identified as evil people who will cheat you and steal from you at every opportunity, therefore you should never pay them money for any goods or services and demand payment up front for any goods or services you provide them.

Meanwhile, LIB's growth as a major MeFi troll moved another big step forward when he used the totally nonsensical phrase "mooch off government healthcare". First off, the only literally "government healthcare" that exists in the U.S. is provided by Army and Veterans Hospitals, and secondly, after five years on Social Security Disability and Medicare, I can prove conclusively that getting government-paid healthcare requires significantly less burdensome effort than private-insurance healthcare, but can absolutely NOT be acquired by "mooching".
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:04 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


In so far as I understand Rand, altruism is a good and wonderful thing, provided that the giver WANTS to give. The Randian altrust is giving not because the government forces them to, or society pressures them to, but because they get a benefit out of giving some of their wealth/time (same thing) to someone less fortunate.

Sort of the whole point of altruism as classically conceived is that benefit to the actor is irrelevant and frequently doesn't exist. This argument is basically saying, "well, no act is truly altruistic, because the actor gains esteem/honor/whatever from acting, so it's a self-interested transaction with a slightly different economy." In Objectivism there actually isn't anything like altruism, Rand just talks about altruism a bit to get people in the door, because collectivist "selflessness" is so embedded in the culture.

This is where the trap of "rational self-interest" starts to close its jaws, because in Objectivism it is constructed as a tautology; it is logically identical to A is A. How do you know if someone is rational? They act in their self-interest. How do you then know if someone isn't rational; how would they act? Well, if reason requires self-interest, then what does selflessness signify? Is that not essentially acting outside of one's self-interest, and therefore acting irrationally? How then can one act selflessly and still be considered rational? How can a broader culture that does not prize self-interest above all else be considered rational, if rationality is logically identical to self-interest? I'm going to put the whole system on trial!

In theory, in a perfect Objectivist system, Rand allows for the possibility of "self-interested altruism". Self-interested altruism is not possible outside of that system, though, because the social pressure and government interference you describe taint any attempt at Randian altruism with collectivist forces. If I give to charity, even as a perfect expression of my individual freedom, I still prop up a collectivist structure/ideal and donate to an institution bound up in collective taxation. If I claim that donation for tax exemption, I have not given out of perfect freedom but instead in alignment with governmental pressure designed to evoke action counter to self-interest; if I don't claim that donation, I am clearly acting counter to my own self-interest by paying more tax than I could. So long as collectivist forces exist, there can never be an Objectivist altruism in practice; it is only possible in an unadulterated Objectivist system.

Of course, in that perfect Objectivist system, there would be no parasites and thus there would be no need to aid the less fortunate, because no one's less fortunate than they ought to be; everyone exists precisely at the level of their capacity and adherence to market morality. So, as soon as Objectivist altruism is possible, it simultaneously becomes obsolete. Pretty neat, isn't it?
posted by Errant at 4:04 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Millions of people have read “Atlas Shruggged” and been brought around to common sense"

W?
T?
F?

Yeah, O'Rourke is one of those rare individuals who is like a broken clock. He isn't even right twice a day.
posted by clvrmnky at 4:04 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the Objectivists and Scientologists have the same shrill, cultish ring to their rhetoric. Actually both groups seems to espouse the core tenets of Satanism, which is just focusing solely on one own drive and impulses and not valuing others in the process.

Satanism (or at least Anton LaVey's Satanism) is largely cribbed from Nietzsche and Ayn Rand. As for Scientology, didn't Hubbard have some (tenuous) connection to Aleister Crowley? (Possibly having stolen a mistress from the aging Beast towards the end of his life or something?)
posted by acb at 4:18 PM on April 7, 2011


So, if Batman is a Randian hero, I think the Joker isn't that great a nemesis. I mean, at least fight a DC-style copy of the Borg or something. Or, heck, fight Captain Planet. He's the product of an international team of teenagers working together to stop pollution, often from enemies who clearly represent industry. And all the global warming science comes from parasite scientists working at collectivist universities getting grants from the government!

Also, something something is not a man entitled to Baman Piderman?
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:25 PM on April 7, 2011


Meanwhile, LIB's growth as a major MeFi troll moved another big step forward when he used the totally nonsensical phrase "mooch off government healthcare". First off, the only literally "government healthcare" that exists in the U.S. is provided by Army and Veterans Hospitals, and secondly, after five years on Social Security Disability and Medicare, I can prove conclusively that getting government-paid healthcare requires significantly less burdensome effort than private-insurance healthcare, but can absolutely NOT be acquired by "mooching".

Er, I'm not being nonsensical. I live in Australia. The main reason I stay here and don't move back to America is because it's in my own self-interest to live in a place where the government can support me. I still work, obviously, but if something goes wrong it's easier to live in a place where I can mooch off the dole.
I was never into Rand but i went through a brief period as a 'An it harm none, do as thou wilt' style Satanist.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:34 PM on April 7, 2011


filthy light thief: "The sad end to Ayn Rand: reality couldn't be held at bay forever."

The typewriter story in that link is untrue. Personal letters indicate she used the name Rand as early as 1926, while living in Russia. The Rand company did not emerge in Chicago until 1927.


Blazecock Pileon: "She died of lung cancer, after denying that cigarettes were carcinogenic; and she collected Social Security and Medicare payments under the name of Ann O'Connor

That's hilarious, I'm sorry
"

Do you often find a protracted, painful death hilarious?
posted by Gin and Comics at 4:41 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a sort of poorly thought-out Hegelianism, and very susceptible to the kind of justificatory logic often found in fourteen-year-olds.

The fact that Ayn Rand rises with the Tea Party is proof of our overall inability to engage in real discourse. The purile arguments of libertairians, objectivists and free markers who ignore externality have made any rational adult conversation impossible.
posted by thebestusernameever at 4:47 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not wishing to crash anyone's joke or righteous indignation, but I'm pretty sure she survived lung cancer - she had surgery early in the 70s, and died years later of a heart attack.

I don't know if she recanted her claim that cigarettes didn't cause cancer, or that objectivists should smoke because cigarettes represented mans victory over cancer, but she did seem to quit after the surgery.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:50 PM on April 7, 2011


“Social Security is a government program with a constituency made up of the old, the near old and those who hope or fear to grow old. After 215 years of trying, we have finally discovered a special interest that includes 100 percent of the population. Now we can vote ourselves rich.”

If you don't find that at least a little funny, you might be taking your politics too seriously.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:18 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nancy Kress (whose Beggars in Spain is sometimes interpreted as a novelistic critique of objectivism*) has astutely pointed out that there's no place for children in Objectivism:
... pushed to it's really logical conclusion,
objectivism, Ayn Rand's philosophy, lacks all compassion, and even more
fundamental, it lacks recognition of the fact that we are a social species
and that our society does not exist of a group of people only striving for
their own ends, which is what she shows, but groups of people co-operating
for mutual ends, and this means that you don't always get what you want and
your work does not always benefit you directly. We had a panel earlier today
on the importance of children in literature and how portraying
children makes literature more real. One of my profound disagreements
with Ayn Rand is that not only are there no children in Atlas Shrugged,
there is no provision for them, because if she put them in, she would have
to contradict her own views, which is that everybody's life essentially
belongs to you and your only obligation is to strive for yourself. Those of
us who are parents very often sacrifice our own well-being, short term or
long term, for those of somebody else, in order that the race can continue,
and if you really take objectivism and push it to it's ultimate
question, you have to conclude, from her philosophy, that society as a whole
does not have a responsibility for all of its children.
--
*Not entirely wrongly. She's made clear it was in her head as she worked on it. But it was apparently at least as much inspired by Bruce Sterling's criticism of her economic worldbuilding as anything else.
posted by lodurr at 5:21 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The point of forced altruism is to ensure that people who need help get help, not to "mean something."

Bit chilling, that, in a variety of ways.

Bit of a romantic, me, but the other hand says that there's a genuine social benefit for people to dig into their own wallets rather than to rely on a third party whether we liked it or not. It's something I'm trying to teach the child Jones. Pretty much the point of the lesson of the widow's mite.

One of my profound disagreements with Ayn Rand is that not only are there no children in Atlas Shrugged,

How about geriatrics? (Never read the books, you see.)
posted by IndigoJones at 5:26 PM on April 7, 2011


In Atlas Shrugged, I don't recall a single person who's non-productive due to youth or infirmity. There may be references to elderly people, but the only one who gets significant screen time, as it were, is the old philosophy professor.

He's the guy who makes a really good hamburger sandwich.

Seriously.
posted by lodurr at 5:29 PM on April 7, 2011


... meant to add: No elderly people at all in Anthem (presumably they're useless eaters in the socialist hell that book requires to make its plot work), and the only worthwhile person is the superhuman protagonist (who invents science all by herself by the light of stolen candles, while working a few hours a night in an abandoned building).

In We, the Living -- which is quite, quite different from the other books (it's basically a grim romance novel set against the aftermath of the revolution) -- there are a bunch of old and unproductive people who have to be taken care of. I don't remember a lot of details, but they're there, just like they're there in any messy human situation. Children, too. But Randians never talk about that book, because it's very philosophically messy (meaning, it has as someone put it up-thread three-dimensional characters with believable motives and actions).
posted by lodurr at 5:35 PM on April 7, 2011


"Altruism that hurts the individual is wrong because why would any rational person help another at the expense of their own well being? That just doesn't make sense."

Not familiar with the parent-child relationship?
posted by oddman at 5:49 PM on April 7, 2011


I will always remember PJ O'Rourke as the humorless asshole who has the astounding capability of completely killing every episode of Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me that he appears on, regardless of who the other guests are.

I don't think he's humorless; O'Rourke certainly thinks of himself as downright hilarious. But he just isn't, at least, not on camera (I haven't read much of his writing). For some unknown reason Bill Maher likes O'Rourke and every random time I tune in Real Time, there he is, cracking lame "jokes". Virtually every one of his comments falls utterly flat, the audience certainly doesn't get him, and Maher has to rescue him every time.
posted by zardoz at 6:16 PM on April 7, 2011


I find O'Rourke funny, but I grew up on Dave Barry. i've got a very Dad sense of humor
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:17 PM on April 7, 2011


It's pretty clear to me that she has specific ideas about what constitutes "good" artistic expression, and if you didn't conform to those ideas, you'd be regarded as a decadent parasite.

Here, as everywhere, the parallels between objectivism and Soviet communism are startling.
posted by steambadger at 6:31 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


there's a genuine social benefit for people to dig into their own wallets rather than to rely on a third party whether we liked it or not. It's something I'm trying to teach the child Jones. Pretty much the point of the lesson of the widow's mite.

Um... Isn't the parable of the widow's mite the one where people are donating money to the church? And this woman gives her last two coins to the temple treasury?

Not really sure that's a story about self-sufficiency. It's more a story about sacrifice to a larger cause.
posted by hippybear at 6:50 PM on April 7, 2011


zardoz: you should watch Real Time more often. O'Rourke is really only on once a season, tops.
posted by hippybear at 6:51 PM on April 7, 2011


Wow, O'Rourke is witty, but full of shit.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:14 PM on April 7, 2011


I never really understood O'Rourke. As a drug-using conservative, he always brought to mind a turkey, voting for Christmas.

But perhaps he just understood earlier than the rest of us that the USA's drug laws only really apply to black people and poor people?


This is pretty close, actually. He's a hedonist libertarian, more or less. As a young man, PJ played hippie because he really liked drugs and free love. (His best work - some of his Lampoon stuff and his debauched war correspondent schtick for Rolling Stone in the '80s - worked in large part because he was satirizing himself to some extent.)

There was never any doubt he was inevitably going to drift toward money and power, though - he's more hedonist than anything else, he wants to indulge - and because the bar's so low for Republican humour, it was an easy, lucrative gig to slide into once he got too old to be charming as the highest and drunkest guy in the room.

These days, he phones in his stuff from Lazybunkport and cashes the fat cheques to pay for his third home and presumably lies to himself about how he so often winds up in the same room with frothing zealots like Palin and Rand Paul, pretends they're in on the joke somehow or it's all a rich hedonistic free market party or something. Fucking shameless, though - he has demonstrated he is in fact smarter than this.
posted by gompa at 9:39 PM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here, as everywhere, the parallels between objectivism and Soviet communism are startling.

Well, sure. Both involve a yearning for the liquidation of the class of persons who opress those of true value, a parallel that can be found in any number of apocalyptic victomologies.
posted by rodgerd at 11:51 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oops. Objectivists should smoke because cigarettes represented mans victory over cancer of course should read objectivists should smoke because cigarettes represented mans victory over fire. Even crazier, but less inconsistent.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:04 AM on April 8, 2011


Surely Objectivists should smoke because it might trim the numbers a bit.
posted by Grangousier at 1:39 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


objectivists should smoke because cigarettes represented mans victory over fire.

Is this seriously a thing?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:04 AM on April 8, 2011


I can't imagine that any movie portrayal of Rand's philosophy could outdo Bioshock.

whimsicalnymph: I still don't understand the difference between being an objectivist and being a sociopath.

Funny you should say that. Romancing the Stone-Cold Killer: Ayn Rand and William Hickman. (Warning: describes a murder and mutilation in great detail.) By Michael Prescott, a former Objectivist.
posted by russilwvong at 9:07 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this seriously a thing?

Yes.
posted by lodurr at 12:38 PM on April 8, 2011


so, assuming a Darwinian influence on their beliefs, how would they reconcile this conspicuously stupid way of deliberately killing themselves off?
posted by philip-random at 6:42 PM on April 8, 2011


The short answer would be to say that denial is a powerful tool in reconciling the cost of a self-harming practice.

It's also more fair to say it was a thing, before the link between cancer and smoking was made so plain that they had to retroactively correct the prophet. During her life, Rand herself mostly just refused to acknowledge the link because she was so deeply in love with her own metaphor.

But that infatuation with certain nigh-literalized metaphors absolutely is a thing with Objectivists, as far as I can see. They're addicted to it -- their whole system falls apart without assiduous application of metaphoric rationalization. I suppose that's true of all relgions.
posted by lodurr at 4:58 AM on April 9, 2011


That's a neat metaphor, actually, and might go some way to explaining the aura of coolness around cigs. I don't smoke, though sometimes I do litter as a symbolic protest against the Earth and death. So I get the 'literalized metaphor' thing.

It sounds like I'd like Objectivisim on an aesthetic level, but I disagree with the philosphy and what it's done to America.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:03 AM on April 9, 2011


Um... Isn't the parable of the widow's mite the one where people are donating money to the church? And this woman gives her last two coins to the temple treasury?

Not really sure that's a story about self-sufficiency. It's more a story about sacrifice to a larger cause.


Quite so, and I apologize if I was not clear. I was responding to the comment that enforced charity efficient and therefore needed no further justification. Leaving aside the question of efficiency (on which I have my doubts), my point was that charity taken metaphorically at gun point does nothing for the soul of either giver or receiver, that it blesseth neither him that gives nor him that takes.

But that's just me.

The P.J. O'Rourke as funny, yes, well, often not, but then constant humor is hard and a lot of his is juvenile. That said, I wonder if some of the vitriol here would change to perfume if he had been goring liberal oxes for the last thirty years. Me, I distrust any humor that depends on your sharing the political views of the jokerster. I see most jabs at Nixon or Obama in the same category as fart jokes - cheap and easy and bound to get a laugh from those who hate Nixon or Obama or who think that farts are funny.

That said, O'Rourke at the top of his game does actually employ genuine wit, can create original and striking imagery, understands the uses of paradox. Which is a lot more than can be said of most political humorists, or indeed, humorists at all.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:37 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


What struck me the other day about O'Rourke's humor is that it's fundamentally dishonest.

Consider the bicycle bit cited up-thread: He cherry picks the worst things about cycling to argue something that's fundamentally and demonstrably untrue (cycling is an inferior form of walking), because it suits the gag. Sure, it makes teh funneh, but: [a] it's a lie, and [b] other, better humorists can cherry-pick the worst bits to argue something dishonest, then admit they were being dishonest by pointing out what they missed, and not only still be funny, but be funnier than they would have been if they'd left it at the lie.

People I've heard (just off the top of my head) regularly use the latter approach as a part of their arsenal, with great success: Jon Stewart, Julia Sweeney, Tom Bodett, Dave Barry, Andrei Codrescu.
posted by lodurr at 9:12 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't smoke, though sometimes I do litter as a symbolic protest against the Earth and death.

Your protest has been noted. The Earth and death will both be abolished, simultaneously, next Wednesday. We hope you enjoy an eternity spent floating in space. Bring a blanket!
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:29 PM on April 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Bring a blanket towel!

Sorry, but misinformation like that can be dangerous. I mean, what if somebody actually brought a blanket instead of a towel?
posted by lodurr at 8:17 AM on April 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I enjoy the stories, and I think that some parts of her philosophy are pretty A+ Double Good Okay.

I originally read this as 'A doubleplus good okay,' and it took on an entirely different subtext.
posted by vckeating at 11:02 AM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what other way there is to take it than as a reference to Newspeak, which makes it either intentionally or unintentionally ironic.
posted by lodurr at 12:31 PM on April 10, 2011


I don't smoke, though sometimes I do litter

Ironic, as the worst behavior of smokers is littering their butts.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:44 PM on April 11, 2011


Mainstream critics don't seem to think much of it.
posted by octothorpe at 7:38 AM on April 15, 2011


It could have been done better but I liked it. It's worth seeing on the big screen for the gorgeous landscape backdrops to the train scenes.

Most of the flaws (awkward dialogue, heavy-handed ideological message) are from the source material, not the adaptation. The "bad" wooden acting is actually just the actors being true to the characters as written -- all of Ayn Rand's protagonists are basically super-geniuses with Aspergers.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:39 AM on April 16, 2011


LA Times: 'Atlas Shrugged' producer: 'Critics, you won.' He's going 'on strike.'
posted by zarq at 2:52 PM on April 27, 2011


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