Join 3,497 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


A not so uplifting work...
December 20, 2011 9:45 PM   Subscribe

David Brin on Atlas Shrugged, the book and movie
posted by Artw (66 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
I always found this to be a much more succinct argument against the whole thing as a philosophy, and if you strip out its usefulness as philosophy, all you've really got left is unreadable fiction.
posted by gracedissolved at 10:06 PM on December 20, 2011 [14 favorites]


I do not envy this man's inbox.
posted by selenized at 10:11 PM on December 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


It was probably about 80% dolphin porn to begin with.
posted by Artw at 10:13 PM on December 20, 2011 [13 favorites]


Huh. I really enjoyed some of Brin's books. I don't remember there being quite so many exclamation points in them.
posted by hippybear at 10:13 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Much as I love Bob the Angry Flower, my favorite single takedown of Rand is probably Scott Aaronson's the complement of Atlas Shrugged

Brin is an interesting dude. I've really loved three or four of his books. The Postman is an important entry in the post-apocalypse field, and there's something really joyful at the heart of the Uplift novels that I appreciate a lot. But the blog does get kind of preachy and unsubtle and laden with false-equivalency bullshit about Left and Right. Didn't mind his take here, though.
posted by brennen at 10:18 PM on December 20, 2011 [14 favorites]


TL; Still Read, trying to determine the actual argument Brin is making.

Although, the bit about Blockbuster was pretty funny.
posted by underflow at 10:20 PM on December 20, 2011


Yeah, he throws a little of that in here as well, almost as decoration - still thought it was interesting enough to be worth sharing regardless. Think of it as research into how things work in Rightiverse.
posted by Artw at 10:22 PM on December 20, 2011


You know, it never occurred to me that Atlas Shrugged is really a pro-union book. The central premise is a strike of creative workers.
posted by empath at 10:22 PM on December 20, 2011 [21 favorites]


I love a lot of Brin's work but I can never again think of him except as "the guy wot got Coke poured over his head by Jo Walton."
posted by Justinian at 10:33 PM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love a lot of Brin's work but I can never again think of him except as "the guy wot got Coke poured over his head by Jo Walton."

I think I want to know more about this.
posted by brennen at 10:34 PM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


strange that he refers to The Fountainhead as a 1950s movie.
posted by davidmsc at 10:35 PM on December 20, 2011


strange that he refers to The Fountainhead as a 1950s movie.

Psst. That's because there was one, starring Gary Cooper.

Well, 1949. Close enough.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:38 PM on December 20, 2011


I think I want to know more about this.

I believe the Coke Incident occurred at the Tor Books Party during Boskone 40. Jo and David Brin were engaged in a detailed and heated discussion about things like Tolkien and feudalism when she poured her glass of Coke over his head. Because he was supposedly being rather patronizing and possibly sexist. I wasn't there, though. In terms of whether he was being patronizing and sexist, I mean, the Coke thing definitely happened.
posted by Justinian at 10:41 PM on December 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, I see what you did there in the the post title Artw.
posted by Justinian at 10:42 PM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


In terms of whether he was being patronizing and sexist, I mean, the Coke thing definitely happened.

Well, good for her. Patronizing and sexist or not, he's full of shit about Tolkien.

Also Jo Walton is a pretty amazing writer.
posted by brennen at 10:47 PM on December 20, 2011


(Can someone define nanny state? And aren't most of the nanny-states in Europe doing better than we are?)
posted by maxwelton at 10:48 PM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


empath's interpretation is awe inspiring.

define nanny state

I believe it's a pure term of abuse. The only people who'd ever want any kind of a social safety net are whiny little babies who need to be mollycoddled, you see.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:01 PM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like many of Brin's books, a lot of them do tend to suffer near the end with huge grand deus ex machina that (to me) never quite jives with the rest of the story. But his world building is fantastic.

tbh there are very few writers, artists or musicians I care to know about their personal life or views, the warts often outshine the product, which is why I have never gotten into fandom I guess. Sometimes these people forcefully interject themselves (a la Card) and I always ALWAYS (well except for Pratchett and Gaiman, mostly) come away with a diminished view of them and their work.
posted by edgeways at 11:11 PM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


One of my Randroid friends was begging and pleading for all the people he knew to go see this movie with him until I said, "Mobilization? Collective action? Seems pretty socialist to me." Then I had to hold in my trollface for a good 30 minutes while he ranted and raved at me.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:51 PM on December 20, 2011 [34 favorites]


Also to what edgeways was saying, I don't think I could forget when Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series veers off from a modestly-enjoyable middlin' fantasy series with some creeping weird sexual overtones into a full book of AYN RAND WORSHIP.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:52 PM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Interesting timing. Just in the past few days I've managed to wade into an extended Facebook debate with an objectivist. I've been thinking about Ayn Rand more than I'd like, lately.
posted by brundlefly at 12:13 AM on December 21, 2011


I always thought of Ayn Rand as the Pink Floyd of philosophy -- fascinating and important when you're misunderstood and sulking in your room at 15, a good launching point for those curious about other things at 20, but if that's what you're still holding onto at 30, then, well, I kinda feel sorry for you.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:26 AM on December 21, 2011 [21 favorites]


This is Brin's best point:

The squelching of entrepreneurial enterprise and the corruption of trade is always executed by villainous old-guard capitalists! Moguls who don’t want any rivalry from rambunctious newcomers.

Now think about that. Socialists do come under derision from Rand, but mostly as ninnie, do-gooder tools of the scrooge-oligarchs! In fact, this is where her followers get things right! Anyone who considers the long, lamentable epic of human history will recognize this as the ancient pattern, pervasive across 99% of cultures — with the most prevalent sub-version being feudalism.

What Randians never explain is how getting rid of constitutional-enlightenment government will prevent this ancient curse from recurring. (Were the oligarchs stymied in ancient China, Babylon or Rome, where liberal constitutions were absent?) Indeed, enlightenment governments are the only force that ever kept the feudal sickness partially in check!

posted by straight at 12:27 AM on December 21, 2011 [21 favorites]


I most often see the "nanny state" invoked when UK authorities ban schoolchildren form playing conkers or force adult to wear motorcycle helmets and such.
posted by Harald74 at 12:38 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


My problem with Rand has boiled down to the fact that she brought coals to Newcastle and thought she was some sort of visionary, as she would've been in her native Russia where her families wealth was decimated by the Communist revolution, but in this country that was already so steeped in the idea of ruggedness, and individualism, and doing one's own thing and worshiping one's own God and manifest destiny and the rest of that mythos, her philosophy boils down to one huge and extended handjob to the WASP oligarchs and industrialists who needed an excuse to feel superior too, and justified in exploiting workers and the middle class.

She basically brought this idea of anti-feudalism to neo-feudalists doing everything in their power to cement that power structure with their connections into Washington, and their crushing of the labor movement in the 20s, 30s, 40s etc.

Not too mention as Brin points out that all of Rand's heroes are Aryans at a time when the country is fighting off another misreading of the idea of an ubermensch and a master race.

And this is where we are today, with this plutocracy still using the warped pyramid of a master race/job creators/entrepreneurs who should have a special class status that allows them to have ongoing tax breaks and inordinate access to government, even while they do everything they can to destroy the mechanisms of government that should provide transparency.

And I take huge issue with Brin, calling Rand the truest heir of Plato. One could say she's influenced by his idea of programming a society with people having specific roles they're bred for as in Plato's Republic, but Plato was the mouthpiece and deepest student of Socrates, and with that underpinning I think he and his teacher, Socrates would be repulsed by Rand's superficiality and disrespect for the idea of bringing enlightenment to others and creating questioning and reasoned citizens who do in fact sacrifice everything for noble ideas of humanity and for others, as indeed Socrates did, who by example made the greatest sacrifice to his students, by sticking to his ideals and being sentenced to drinking hemlock. (The charge against him was that he was corrupting the youth of Athens with crazy ideas. cf: Phaedo)

Please, no more comparing Rand, who IMHO was an attention seeking ingratiating con-artist to Plato and by extension Socrates, Mr. Brin.

But Brin touches on the real Achilles heal in the Randian universe: There are no real family structures that have any bearing whatsoever in the narratives of her books. What do visionaries and ubermenchen do with their entitled children? And what happens to the old and infirmed when the can no longer take care of themselves or afford care.

Perhaps, as in Sparta these individuals in Rand's world are thrown off a cliff??
posted by Skygazer at 1:24 AM on December 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Skygazer: No, like Ayn Rand herself, they just collect Medicare.
posted by Goofyy at 2:29 AM on December 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


Skygazer the nature of her novel of political fiction is also related to pre-revolution 1800s Russian literature so in an ironic way her aesthetic antecedents are the same of many communist era artists
posted by the mad poster! at 2:34 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Despite my low esteem of Ayn Rand’s simplistic dogma, I do rate THE FOUNTAINHEAD as by far her best book.

This is a textbook example of damning with faint praise.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:53 AM on December 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


The thing about David Brin is that he's of course just as big a kook as Ayn Rand herself, but in his case it mostly stays out of his novels [1] and manifests itself as those long, boring blog posts/essays about how some piece of popular entertainment is wrongthink. This time it's Rand, last time it was Frank Miller, a while back it was the Star Wars movies for not being republican enough.

Entertaining if you share his dislike of his current target, strange/annoying if you don't.


[1] his largely forgotten and dismissed novel Earth was remarkably prescient in describing contemporary society.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:20 AM on December 21, 2011


Heck, the left produces plenty of polemics just as turgidly tendentious. In fact, I just pretty much described The Handmaid’s Tale.

OK, Mr. Brin, I gotta say, this sort of "but the Left does it, too!" is pretty weak stuff. First, Atwood gets her story done in something like a quarter of the space, so, even if you don't like her story or philosophy, it hasn't imposed so much on your kind attention. Second, she gets her point across, not through long, long speeches, but through character and setting (which, is, you know, what a novel is supposed to do, generally speaking). Third, this is the go-to for pretty much every Right-wing commenter who wants to appear "fair" -- dude, two bads don't make a good (can't say right, here, right?), and, besides, it's like you are equating campus speech codes and HUAC -- a sign that bad faith is beginning. You should know better than that.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:45 AM on December 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


"all of Rand's heroes are Aryans"

Well that's not really true. Francisco D'Anconia was rather swarthy, and I do believe John Galt suffered from gingervitis.
posted by unigolyn at 5:11 AM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


The thing that stood out to me:

And there’s about ten minutes in ATLAS SHRUGGED when we get both, as the male and female leads ride their new super-train along shimmering rails made of miraculous metal, speeding across gorgeous Rockies and over a gasp-worthy bridge.

Has anybody seen the movie? Is it a toy CGI train? Or is it one of those modern trains made by those emasculated French with their 35 hour work-weeks and their 6 weeks of annual vacation?
posted by bukvich at 5:41 AM on December 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


it was the Star Wars movies for not being republican enough.

Link? The only criticism I saw from him of the Star Wars movies was that in Star Wars, the protagonists ultimately win because they were essentially "chosen" or "anointed" (which he drew in contrast to Star Trek, where people succeed because they are a bunch of smart people that work together).

I would be extremely surprised if Brin wanted Star Wars to be both more republican and more like a utopian fantasy where people win by cooperating.
posted by Jpfed at 5:43 AM on December 21, 2011


Jpfed, I think the idea is "republican" as opposed to "monarchist" not "Republican" as opposed to "Democrat".
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 5:50 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oops, you're probably right. Oh well.
posted by Jpfed at 5:53 AM on December 21, 2011


I enjoyed this a lot. Didn't really have a point, I guess, but a lot of keen observations. Though if Brin doesn't like The Handmaid's Tale, fair enough, but comparing it to Atlas Shrugged is just mean.
posted by Peevish at 6:32 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always thought of Ayn Rand as the Pink Floyd of philosophy -- fascinating and important when you're misunderstood and sulking in your room at 15, a good launching point for those curious about other things at 20, but if that's what you're still holding onto at 30, then, well, I kinda feel sorry for you.

I still like Pink Floyd :(
posted by empath at 6:44 AM on December 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


The thing about David Brin is that he's of course just as big a kook as Ayn Rand herself

We are all kooks to someone else. The stronger our ideas, the kookier some people will see us. To be a science-fiction author who doesn't just produce hacky potboilers, you generally have to have very strong ideas.
posted by JHarris at 6:46 AM on December 21, 2011


Ayn Rand as the Pink Floyd of philosophy

That is just not true. Ayn Rand is the Black Sabbath of philosophy.
posted by bukvich at 6:55 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought Ayn Rand was The Monkeys of philosophy. Why is everyone suddenly being so kind to her?
posted by Goofyy at 7:07 AM on December 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


I always thought of Ayn Rand as the Pink Floyd of philosophy -- fascinating and important when you're misunderstood and sulking in your room at 15, a good launching point for those curious about other things at 20, but if that's what you're still holding onto at 30, then, well, I kinda feel sorry for you.

I can simultaneously say that I still really like Floyd and that the shine is gone. I don't often listen to them, unless they happen to be on the radio.

OTOH, people make statements like yours all the time about Zeppelin.
And those people can go *#&$ themselves.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:25 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


We are all kooks to someone else. The stronger our ideas, the kookier some people will see us. To be a science-fiction author who doesn't just produce hacky potboilers, you generally have to have very strong ideas.

I think Brin's problem isn't that his ideas are too strong, but that they're too glib. To be glib myself, he has the same problem as Seth Godin or Malcolm Gladwell -- he's convinced a sizable audience that his oversimplifications are insights, and that protects his ideas from the kind of scrutiny and subtlety they need to actually be useful. The glib-contrarian-insight style lends itself to a reinforcing cycle of self-congratulation and loss of actual insight, which is a shame because these authors really are gifted people under all the glib.

Earth, at least as I remember it, rose above that trap. Brin painted a great near-future world (and like MartinWisse said, did a pretty respectable job of predicting how the internet would reshape society) because he wasn't just promoting a viewpoint, but extrapolating all kinds of trends and creating space for his contrarian characters to bounce off of each other. I wish his nonfiction work rose to that level.

(Caveat: since I got turned off before reading much from any of those authors, they may have better work I'm not aware of.)

I did like Brin's observation here that the best part of the Fountainhead is its hero's struggle to bring art into the world according to his internal truth. The idea that there's something heroic in trying to create what you were born to create, whatever the cost ... that's the part that resonated with me as an alienated fourteen-year-old, and that I hung on to when it became obvious that the rest of it was scary nonsense. (Of course even that has to be moderated with the idea that other people are worth caring about. Please don't buy paint instead of food for your kids on my account.)
posted by Honorable John at 7:35 AM on December 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Witness Europe, mired in nanny-state entitlements, eight week vacations and a “right to retire” as young as 55.

When I first read this I thought he was being sarcastic, but maybe he isn't, because he doesn't like eight week vacations. Maybe we do need that sarcasm tag.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:40 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Any Rand is the Chumbawamba of philosophy. One non-sensical song repeated ad nauseum so you can't get it out of your head, and when you learn anything more about the group, you find it's a bunch of brainless, cultish kooks.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:42 AM on December 21, 2011 [10 favorites]


There is an interesting video interview with Martha Nussbaum (link) where she effectively punctures the baloon of that "nanny state" idea. It has been awhile since I watched it, so my paraphrase is not an exact quote; it's something like there is absolutely nothing wrong with the idea that the society cares for the people who live in it.
posted by bukvich at 8:08 AM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


The problem with the Bob the Angry Flower link is that it doesn't really convey the utter unreality of Rand's universe. Based on what I read of Atlas Shrugged, Rand's heroes could create an army of robots within three weeks (in a cave! with a box of scraps!) and, because they're automatically proficient in anything they try, would be doing just fine punching elk to death or something until then. Rand's work was obviously a distillation and exaggeration of how she thought the world worked, but the thing is that Atlas Shrugged only has relevance if the world is actually that exaggerated, divided perfectly between well-born ubermensch and grasping, incompetent parasites. It's about as convincing as that Damon Knight book where he posits anarcho-syndicalism as a natural system of government...as long as we all get our brains rewritten by aliens.

Brin did hit on something that bothered me particularly about Atlas Shrugged: The idea that the free market sets accurate prices for all goods, but that 99% of people are worthless idiots who buy junk for the wrong reasons. All her heroes are deservedly (in her world) wealthy because wealth = good, but then Rand goes on extended tangents about how nobody appreciates them and how the things that are popular right now are all terrible. There are a few deserving everymen in Galt's Gulch, but Rand seems to be arguing for an economic system where a few smart people need to have all the money so they can spend it on Rearden Metal and Richard Halley concertos.
posted by Tubalcain at 8:25 AM on December 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


Based on what I read of Atlas Shrugged, Rand's heroes could create an army of robots within three weeks (in a cave! with a box of scraps!) and, because they're automatically proficient in anything they try, would be doing just fine punching elk to death or something until then.

If anyone writes an Objectivism on Minecraft treatise, I don't want to hear about it.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:29 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait.

Blockbuster?

I had to check the date on the entry.

Blockbuster.

Huh.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:18 AM on December 21, 2011


...Blockbuster?

Let’s set aside the pathetic storytelling, crappy direction and limp drama to appraise the film on its own, intended merits. On what it tried to be. A work of polemical persuasion.

Given the concessions there every comment I've ever made is a work of genius.

To see this danger expressed far better – and more succinctly – than Rand ever managed, read the terrific Kurt Vonnegut story: Harrison Bergeron.

Money quote right there.
What makes stories good is that they're metaphors for reality using fantastic tools of imagination not diatribes attempting to assert the metaphor AS the reality.

So, yeah, Vonnegut good.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:28 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


his largely forgotten and dismissed novel Earth was remarkably prescient in describing contemporary society.

Forgotten and dismissed? I recommend it to everyone I know...
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:23 AM on December 21, 2011


Rush are the Ayn Rand of music.
posted by Artw at 10:34 AM on December 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


[1] his largely forgotten and dismissed novel Earth was remarkably prescient in describing contemporary society.

While it certainly did suffer near the end with huge grand deus ex machina that (to me) never quite jives with the rest of the story, he was one of the few who wrote anything envisioning the internet, no doubt, because he was on it before it was the internet, ore or less, and thought about its implications. And his prediction of the Transparent Society is coming to pass, more or less.

And I'll bet whoever came up with the introduction to Person of Interest had read the book, with all the street scenes of individuals walking with little boxes around or near their heads with text overlaid, which are not far from the, ahem, true-vue sensu-record goggles, with net access,that anyone in Earth, with $8.50 to spare, could buy and then wear to get the skinny on whomever they met.
posted by y2karl at 11:01 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Huey Lewis and the News are the Ayn Rand of music.
posted by Skygazer at 11:45 AM on December 21, 2011


Huey Lewis played harmonica on Thin Lizzy's Alive and Dangerous, a greater contribution to Western civilization than all of Rand's work combined.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:57 AM on December 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Huey Lewis played harmonica on Thin Lizzy's Alive and Dangerous, a greater contribution to Western civilization than all of Rand's work combined.
posted by BitterOldPunk


Holy shit, you just retroactively vindicated my uncle Lyle for insisting that "Huey's a stud" back in 1984.
posted by COBRA! at 11:59 AM on December 21, 2011


Heck, the left produces plenty of polemics just as turgidly tendentious. In fact, I just pretty much described The Handmaid’s Tale.

ಠ_ಠ
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:06 PM on December 21, 2011


Huey Lewis played harmonica on Thin Lizzy's Alive and Dangerous
Whilst at about the same time, the rest of his band were backing Elvis Costello on My Aim is True
posted by Grangousier at 12:17 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


define nanny state

I believe it's a pure term of abuse. The only people who'd ever want any kind of a social safety net are whiny little babies who need to be mollycoddled, you see.


It goes further than that. In fact, you'll often hear the term from liberals over this or that issue.

The nanny state is one in which you are commanded to do something "for your own good." Some examples:

* It's ridiculous that seatbelts are required in a world where motorcycles are legal. Yet the nanny state requires me to wear one.
* I can drive my car (which spews toxins into the air constantly) or wear gallons of perfume (which stinks to high heaven) but I'm forbidden by law to smoke outdoors many places in the U.S.
* I can't buy and consume raw milk the way I used to because the government decided it might be bad for me.
* All drug laws result from the nanny state: "You cannot engage in this behavior, because we don't think it's right (but can't be bothered to prove that its wrong, or that its prohibition will be much worse than legaliztion)."
posted by coolguymichael at 12:30 PM on December 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


When I read The Fountainhead as a teenager, there was one detail that kept bothering me: the fact that it was published in 1943. At such a time, how could Rand possibly imagine the ultimate human evil to be a left-wing newspaper critic? Atlas continues the willful obliviousness to real events, like (say) World War II or the Cold War. And yet—just like when she removes family, personality, culture, evolution, and so on from the picture—Rand clearly wants us to apply the lessons from her pared-down, stylized world to this world. Which raises an obvious question: if her philosophy is rich enough to deal with all these elephants in the room, then why does she have to avoid mentioning the elephants while writing thousands of pages about the room’s contents?

Money quote from the 'complement' link posted above.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:32 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Huey Lewis played harmonica on Thin Lizzy's Alive and Dangerous -BitterOldPunk

Whilst at about the same time, the rest of his band were backing Elvis Costello on My Aim is True -Grangoiser


Sheesh, you guys...


So, Huey Lewis and the News, as deconstructed and rhapsodized about, at length by Patrick Bateman, the serial killer Wall Street Yuppie, in Bret Easton Ellis's novel, American Pscyho, is the Ayn Rand of music.

Too wordy right?

K, how about: Weird "Al" Yankovic is the Ayn Rand of music.
posted by Skygazer at 12:47 PM on December 21, 2011


Atlas Shrugged is now available on Netflix! Can't wait for this to be the selection of my terrible movie film club...
posted by armacy at 1:05 PM on December 21, 2011


Skygazer, OUR FRIENDSHIP HAS NEVER BEEN SO ENDANGERED
posted by straight at 1:09 PM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Nanny state" is a term of pure derision, but honestly, there is also a lot of complaining from people who have not thought their complaints through. To wit, to respond to coolguymichael's complaints:
* It's ridiculous that seatbelts are required in a world where motorcycles are legal. Yet the nanny state requires me to wear one.

So, I shouldn't have to wear a seatbelt because motorcycles can be ridden? It's all or nothing, all seatbelts and no motorcycles, or no seatbealts and yes motorcycles? That's called a non-sequitur. One does not actually have to do with the other.

Outdoor smoking bans are more problematic, certainly, but the fact does remain that cars are still a necessary part of life for many people. (I don't know what perfume has to do with any of this -- the objection over smoking in public places is mainly medical.) Raw milk you have a better case for, provided such milk is clearly labeled, however it should be noted that pasturization is not really all that bad a thing. Public health has been so generally good for a long while that we've reached a state of decadence, where we're forgotten that the world used to be a lot worse before many laws that some people would be decry as being of a "nanny state" were enacted.

* All drug laws result from the nanny state: "You cannot engage in this behavior, because we don't think it's right (but can't be bothered to prove that its wrong, or that its prohibition will be much worse than legaliztion)."

But this is what I really want to respond to. There are certainly drug laws that are good and important. It's not a bad thing that we don't have opium dens anymore. The "war on drugs" might have gone too far in some respects, what with ludicrously high sentences, how it's become a primary target of law enforcement, how it punishes people caught with relatively little amounts of relatively benign substances and how it has made it much more difficult to obtain even legal over-the-counter drugs. But complete radical legalization of all drug-like substances isn't really an option. There are far worse drugs out there than mere pot, and it's generally a good thing that people can't just go and get those at the supermarket.
posted by JHarris at 1:12 PM on December 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Firsthand account of the Coke story: Well, OK. I did pour coke on David Brin's head at the Tor party.
posted by clavicle at 2:16 PM on December 21, 2011


It's not a bad thing that we don't have opium dens anymore.

What, safe places where people can take opiates, with supervision? Sound good to me. Beside, opium dens were largely a product of the tabloid press of the 19th Century anyway. Yellow Peril! Foreigners weakening the White Race! There were guided tours in London.
posted by alasdair at 4:24 PM on December 21, 2011


My problem with Rand has boiled down to the fact that she brought coals to Newcastle and thought she was some sort of visionary

My problem with Rand is that like Stalin and Hitler, she wants nothing less than the extermination of an enemy class who are holding back the master beings; her vision is almost the exact opposite of Stalin, who mass-murdered the farmers to control them; in Rand's world, the farmer-class equivalent eliminate every member of society who will not bow down to them.

Brin? Well, I'd have more time for his criticism of anything if he didn't just make shit up (see: 8 weeks holiday). His critique of Tolkien, the centrepiece of which is that it's a paen to the aristocracy, could only have been written by a functional illiterate who looked at the words but didn't actually read them, or didn't even bother with that and just made up an imaginary novel to accord with his prejudices anyway.
posted by rodgerd at 11:33 PM on December 21, 2011


« Older "Flavor networks and the principles of food pairin...  |  Are field goals easier in Denv... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments