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Grover, Grover, gimme your ice cream.
September 15, 2009 2:55 PM   Subscribe

"What is so striking, and serves as the clearest mark of Rand’s lasting influence, is the language of moral absolutism applied by the right to these questions. Conservatives define the see-sawing of the federal tax-and-transfer system between slightly redistributive and very slightly redistributive as a culture war over capitalism, or a final battle to save the free enterprise system from the hoard of free-riders." John Chait on the debt modern conservatism owes to Ayn Rand.

"(The anti-government activist Grover Norquist has told a similar story from childhood, in which his father would steal bites of his ice cream cone, labelling each bite "sales tax" or "income tax." The psychological link between a certain form of childhood deprivation and extreme libertarianism awaits serious study.)"
posted by OmieWise (88 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. Grover Norquist's dad was an asshole.
posted by NoMich at 2:56 PM on September 15, 2009 [17 favorites]


I knew there was a reason Ayn Rand annoyed me even though I've never read her books...
posted by nathancaswell at 3:04 PM on September 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I just read that article. Nice analysis. I find it amusing to think that so many of those who are going around talking about Galt and all that are likely NOT part of the elite 1% which would be considered as übermensch by true Objectivism, and therefore are working to spread ideas and philosophy which advocates keeping themselves cut out and abandoned by the true Galts in the world.

The next Randian I talk to, I'm just going to start by asking what their income is. If they aren't making over $250K a year by themselves (not a household income), then I'll just walk away because they don't even understand their own ranting.
posted by hippybear at 3:05 PM on September 15, 2009 [18 favorites]


The tax was already taken out when the ice cream was purchased.
posted by borges at 3:06 PM on September 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


No wonder Norquist turned out to be such a tool.
posted by blucevalo at 3:08 PM on September 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I once pretended that I'd read Rand to impress a girl, but all she wanted to do was complain. I once pretended that I'd read Fanon to impress a girl and got to touch her breast.

Thus ever, I was a leftist.
posted by klangklangston at 3:09 PM on September 15, 2009 [60 favorites]


The tax was already taken out when the ice cream was purchased.

Not only that, but Grover Norquist's ice cream was paid for and given to him by his father. It wasn't even Grover's to begin with.
posted by deanc at 3:10 PM on September 15, 2009 [12 favorites]


Up until the day Grover bought an AK47, moved to rural Montana, and told his dad if he wanted his income tax he should come and get it.
posted by qvantamon at 3:10 PM on September 15, 2009


Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision. Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance – where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks – the case for the state’s helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong…

…Wherever communal action can mitigate disasters against which the individual can neither attempt to guard himself nor make the provision for the consequences, such communal action should undoubtedly be taken.
Friedrich Hayek, The Road To Serfdom (Chapter 9)
posted by empath at 3:12 PM on September 15, 2009 [21 favorites]


empath: what the hell, Hayek wrote that?
posted by boo_radley at 3:14 PM on September 15, 2009


You mention this woman's name and you're in for a very vigorous conversation.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:16 PM on September 15, 2009


Who is John Chait?
posted by Phssthpok at 3:19 PM on September 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ugh, the right is completely unhinged:

It's not so much the haves and the have-nots. It's those who are paying for government and those who are getting government. "

I assume when he said this Senator Jim DeMint intended "those who pay for government" to invoke the completely fictitious dashing American industrialist, instead of the Communist chinese government, which in reality is currently paying for our government.

None of us is paying our own way. We are collectively borrowing entire treasuries from other countries to support our drug Walmart habit. To the right wing: All that money spent on defense is basically white collar welfare. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people are engaged in conceiving, design, selling, constructing, repairing, scrapping and salvaging entire industries worth of equipment over decades that never actually gets used. It's wealth transfer and pork spending that is cleverly designed as patriotic. I'm not fooled. We need to give money to the poor to live for the same reason we need to keep Lockheed Martin building flying radar-invisible robots: it is part of our just and progressive rational society.

Secondly, to right-wing pundits: Ayn Rand hates you. You don't actually do anything - you aren't an inventive or creative Roark or Taggart. You can't call yourself a capitalist because you believe in capitalism, whatever that means, you are a capitalist if you own a means of production. One which actually, you know, fucking produces something.

See, Matt Haughey is a captialist. Metafilter is a means of production, and he owns it. Glenn Beck isn't. He doesn't own Fox, or a cable network, or a TV production studio. Glenn Beck and AEI are tools of people who are capitalists. He is there to say the things that they would never say and don't believe because it keeps a very important segment of the population, the white male middle class, consuming the shit that those capitalists produce. It's a very very subtle form of institutional advertising.

The reality is that this capitalist socialist bullshit is a smokescreen for the real republican fear, that Americans will realize that they don't have to be consumers. If that happens, they will start to become educated, creative, and intellectual, and at that point all the media manipulation the right has relied upon to keep the masses dormant and working will fail.
posted by Pastabagel at 3:21 PM on September 15, 2009 [96 favorites]


"Interestingly, despite her [Rand's] general disdain for humanity, there were people she seemed to admire greatly, such as William Edward Hickman, whose credo, "What is good for me is right," she described in her Journals as, "The best and strongest expression of a real man's psychology I have heard." But Hickman was no simple expositor of personal greed and self-interest; no mere modern day libertarian; no pedestrian practitioner of excessive self-love. No indeed. He was a sociopathic murderer. In 1927 he kidnapped a 12-year old girl from a school in Los Angeles by the name of Marian Parker, chopped off her legs, cut our her internal organs, drained all of her blood and then spread parts of her body all over the city.

Of Hickman, this sick murderer, Rand had almost nothing but positive things to say."

Sociopathy on the Right: Ayn Rand and the Triumph of Conservative Cultism
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:23 PM on September 15, 2009 [14 favorites]


The next Randian I talk to, I'm just going to start by asking what their income is. If they aren't making over $250K a year by themselves (not a household income), then I'll just walk away because they don't even understand their own ranting.
posted by hippybear


But but but some day, some shining day they will make over $250k and on that day we will be their bitch. Their mom said they are special damnit!
posted by nola at 3:23 PM on September 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Atom Eyes, I saw that DK diary and homed in on the same thing. For someone whose whole philosophy was "fuck you I'm better than you," her writings are tinged with more than a hint of female masochism, with strong men nearly raping their swooning partners. I suspect that deep in the black full stop dot that was Rand's heart, she felt that to be selected by a monster like Hickman was the greatest honor the Universe could bestow on a girl.
posted by localroger at 3:28 PM on September 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


"For over half a century," writes Jennifer Burns in her new biography of this strange and rather sinister figure, "Rand has been the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right."

Interesting. It worked the other way for me. I was pretty conservative as a youngster. After reading The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged (which I both enjoyed reading), I realized that the selfish "libertarian" political position was amoral if not immoral, and I wanted no part of it. It took me a while to struggle through those concepts as a younger person, but I thank Rand for it.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:36 PM on September 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


How can you pay any heed to a guy called "Groover"? Sounds like some fish related to grouper.

Libertarians are simply conservatives who for GOP but don't want to be associated with that party publicly. Or they are, too, anarchists with bow ties.

My favorite Libertarian thing: one of their own wrote a book called How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World, in which he told readers to steer clear of all political activity because it was both useless to involve oneself and a herd thing to do. (Next year will mark the 35th anniversary of the publication of Harry Browne’s self-help classic, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. ) Then a few years later he ran as the Libertarian candidate for president of our nation.
posted by Postroad at 3:40 PM on September 15, 2009


If we spent twice as much on our military as any other nation on earth spends on theirs, we would have a budget surplus.
posted by Flunkie at 3:40 PM on September 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


what the hell, Hayek wrote that?

The Road to Serfdom also speaks favorably of the government providing a guaranteed minimum income.

(which makes sense from Hayek's perspective as it would be less distortive than means-tested assistance or particular subsidies)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:40 PM on September 15, 2009


One of the many, many things that pisses me off about this inane debate is the unquestioned assumption that it's the wealthy who are productive. Who actually does the work in this country? You know, that stuff you do where you get your hands dirty, spend all day in the hot sun, put your life at risk, bring to bear extensive knowledge of a craft or profession, take responsibility for things, provide crucial services, and just generally make sure that the entire society doesn't grind to a halt overnight? For the most part, it's the working class and the poor. If we really did stop taking money from the industrious and giving it to the lazy, Wal-mart workers would be pulling 22 bucks an hour. Meanwhile, Wall Street investment brokers would wear brightly colored polyester sports shirts and name tags and would work only for commissions and tips, which they would receive only when their clients' portfolios showed a profit.
posted by Clay201 at 3:41 PM on September 15, 2009 [11 favorites]


The AEI and Club for Growth had their turn at the wheel and damn near drove us off the cliff. Fuck those guys.

In addition to describing the rich as "hard-working," conservatives also have the regular habit of describing them as "productive."

My thinking on this was immensely clarified by understanding what wealth and the production of it really is -- wealth AFAICT being that which provides services that satisfy human needs and wants.

The natural universe provides all of us with a baseline of wealth -- the sun, an atmosphere we can breathe, potable water falling out of the sky, and natural resources to dig up and form into products.

If you are involved in the production of wealth, you are contributing to society. But not all economic actors are producing wealth -- there are plenty of opportunities to operate as a parasite and not a producer. I first really saw this in the Bay Area ca. 2000, when landlords starting jacking up rents on apartments that should have been entirely paid off already, but back then I lacked the intellectual framework to distinguish between actual capitalism and the naked rentierism that often masquerades as capitalism.

I've probably written the above twenty times in various forms here over the years, so I'll leave it at that, but I do think it's a fatal flaw of Randites to root their fetish of economic purity on a moral basis with the above weakness. There is a better moral basis: man has a right to the fruits of his labor, nothing more, and that since man did not labor to create the sun, the earth, or natural resources, claiming ownership of these things is is a form of theft.

Analyzing policy without acknowledging the injustice of so much of the present natural wealth of the world controlled by "old money" is missing the central issue entirely, IMO.
posted by Palamedes at 3:43 PM on September 15, 2009 [11 favorites]


Also, regarding the "pseudo-genocidal fantasy" of Atlas Shrugged (per Atom Eyes' link), that was another thing that really turned me off Rand. She was supposed to be such an anti-Christian, but the "strike of the mind" was a clear parallel to the Christian Rapture for me.

It's almost like Objectivism/Randianism combines the chosen status and preferential treatment of Christianity with the do-the-fuck-whatever-you-want-regardless-of-who-gets-hurt-mentality of Satanism.

It's like two shitty things that go even shittier together.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:48 PM on September 15, 2009 [17 favorites]


...they will start to become educated, creative, and intellectual...

Which probably accounts for the overall war against public education in the US. Nothing like a good offense...
posted by Thorzdad at 3:49 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is a better moral basis: man has a right to the fruits of his labor, nothing more, and that since man did not labor to create the sun, the earth, or natural resources, claiming ownership of these things is is a form of theft.

Hear, hear, Palamedes! Let me introduce you to my friend Joe Dejacque. You're only one step away ...
posted by mrgrimm at 3:53 PM on September 15, 2009


Glenn Beck isn't. He doesn't own Fox, or a cable network, or a TV production studio. Glenn Beck and AEI are tools of people who are capitalists.

And said capitalists who are essentially Gail Wynand to Beck's Ellsworth Toohey ought to be thinking about the way that ended if they're particular students of Rand's work.

They're likely not. The Fountainhead is certainly ham-fisted and didactic on certain points, but it's got a number of subtleties including the one that Pastabagel points out that I find are generally lost on many people who've ostensibly read it.
posted by weston at 4:20 PM on September 15, 2009


The reality is that this capitalist socialist bullshit is a smokescreen for the real republican fear, that Americans will realize that they don't have to be consumers. If that happens, they will start to become educated, creative, and intellectual, and at that point all the media manipulation the right has relied upon to keep the masses dormant and working will fail.

lolwut.

I don't know whether I'm missing something but if we're all educated, creative and intellectual and refute our need to work to consume who would actually do work in the economy? And how would we get fed if everyone is too educated, creative and intellectual to want to farm on large scales because they have no need to gain money to consume other things?

Don't get me wrong I'm all in favour of less mindless consumption but this seems like the exact same tripe the right spits out but simply reversed.
posted by Talez at 4:20 PM on September 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


The next Randian I talk to, I'm just going to start by asking what their income is. If they aren't making over $250K a year by themselves (not a household income), then I'll just walk away because they don't even understand their own ranting.

Since only 1.93% of U.S. households earn $250,000 annually, you may have to ask a lot of Randians how much they earn before you come across such an individual.
posted by notreally at 4:21 PM on September 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Objectivism is not a philosophy, it's a personality disorder.
posted by mpbx at 4:29 PM on September 15, 2009 [17 favorites]


notreally: but surely the true Objectivists would not deign to think that their families deserve any of the fruits of THEIR individual labor! That would be helping the unworthy!

And yes, that is sort of my point. Objectivists claim all these big bold things, but mostly they're alienated little people who want to feel special, and have discovered a yardstick which even they do not measure up to, and go around touting it as if they understand what they're saying. Which they don't. All they think about is "here are some pretty stories about people who felt just as much an outsider as I do, and look how their stories ended up! I can be just like that."

It's sort of like telling the aggressive Xianists that, if they really believed what they preach, they would sell everything they have and go work at helping the poor and sick find comfort in the world. Just hold up a mirror which contains the yardstick they are ranting about, and see if they can find themselves measuring up. If not, walk away.

And yes, I take your point about the households.
posted by hippybear at 4:30 PM on September 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


After reading The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged (which I both enjoyed reading), I realized that the selfish "libertarian" political position was amoral if not immoral, and I wanted no part of it. It took me a while to struggle through those concepts as a younger person, but I thank Rand for it.

Yeah, me too. I actually really like The Fountainhead quite a bit for this reason. It really made me think about a number of issues, particularly and naturally the hammered theme of individual vs collective values, but also what makes something art, what personal and even spiritual integrity is, what a rewarding life is, and all kinds of other things. I rejected many of her answers but appreciated the encounter with the questions.

And that story. She does a really interesting job of posing questions about these things through her characters. I think much like C.S. Lewis would say that in creating a mythology that has resonance with people, even someone like Pullman who's apparently attempting to be an anti-Lewis will end up working at things Lewis would find to be spiritual verities, Rand created a mythology of characters in that book which to some extent transcend her apparent ideology. There's no getting around the individualist diatribe, but you can't take the book seriously and come away with the idea that the pursuit of money and power are worthwhile endeavors for their own sake, and given some of her other statements, I've often wondered if she meant to do that.
posted by weston at 4:30 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Obligatory links:

Archives of Forum 3000

Objectivism Mockery Page

Objectivist Pick Up Lines
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:31 PM on September 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks – the case for the state’s helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong…

And with this statement, Hayek joins the ranks of dirty socialists such as Milton Friedman, who actually promoted the idea of a negative income tax for the poor. If that's not redistributive and commie, what is, right?
posted by weston at 4:32 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Libertarians are simply conservatives who for GOP but don't want to be associated with that party publicly. Or they are, too, anarchists with bow ties.

dude, the only anarchists with bow ties were the mighty granite cutters of Barre, VT - and they would kick yr dang ass up & down the fair green hills if you sought to equate them with such Randian simpletons (oxymoron)

call it what you will, but Barre-style Iyetalian socialist-stylin' anarchism? it was an ETHOS!
posted by jammy at 4:32 PM on September 15, 2009


Libertarians are simply conservatives who for GOP but don't want to be associated with that party publicly. Or they are, too, anarchists with bow ties.

Well, which is it? This has all the fake-intellectual appeal of calling all people on the left socialists or all people on the right fascists. Libertarians existed long before 2001 - you can agree or disagree with particular things that many libertarians support, but to just say "hurf durf pot-smoking Republicans" really undermines any legitimate criticism made in the same chain of arguments.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 4:45 PM on September 15, 2009


The anti-government activist Grover Norquist has told a similar story from childhood, in which his father would steal bites of his ice cream cone, labelling each bite "sales tax" or "income tax."

True story -- one Halloween when I was about 10 years old, I came home with my stash and my father insisted on having a couple of pieces of candy just to make sure that nobody tried to poison me. I was a pretty gullible kid, but even I knew that this was just an excuse to get some candy from me. And my father knew I knew it.

Now if I were Grover Norquist, I would have developed a political philosophy based on the idea that I had to be eternally vigilant about being poisoned by strangers.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 4:58 PM on September 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


One guy I met was a big fan of Rand. Why? He said she had given him permission to not care what his family thought.

I gave myself that permission at age 16. Sooner or later, you have to start living life like your parents are dead, and I didn't need someone who testified before HUAC to tell me that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:04 PM on September 15, 2009


I don't know. I tend to agree with people like Angelina Jolie and Christina Ricci.
http://www.motherjones.com/media/2009/07/im-rand
posted by cnjnctvsynth at 5:15 PM on September 15, 2009


The next Randian I talk to, I'm just going to start by asking what their income is. If they aren't making over $250K a year by themselves (not a household income), then I'll just walk away because they don't even understand their own ranting.

A concurrent philosophy with capitalism that runs very deep in America and deeper on the right and really deep among libertarians is the winner-take-all hope. Maybe a conservative or a libertarian doesn't make over $250,000 today, but if you just keep playing by the rules and work hard and move up the ladder to the crows nest then, by George, I'll make it there eventually. Just the idea of being rich and powerful is highly, highly motivating. Of course, it's been pointed out some, namely by Malcolm Gladwell in "Outliers", that the myth of the self-made man is just that--a myth. With very few exceptions, the people who make it to "the top" generally have a LOT of help along the way.

It's the same thinking that drives lotteries and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and the like. Part of the landscape of our culture, one so ingrained I don't see that changing anytime soon.
posted by zardoz at 5:16 PM on September 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


woops

posted by cnjnctvsynth at 5:19 PM on September 15, 2009


Gee, ya think?
posted by carping demon at 5:19 PM on September 15, 2009


the see-sawing of the federal tax-and-transfer system between slightly redistributive and very slightly redistributive

Um,

yeah.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:28 PM on September 15, 2009


Not that I'm going to defend it on any other level, but The Fountainhead is actually a fun read. It's a trashy potboiler, with lots of stock speeches added. When I read it as a teenager, that's exactly what I thought, and I didn't come down with even a mild case of Objectivism.

Seems like the best way not to raise an ideologue is to avoid random ideologically motivated deprivations of your kid. Whichever way he turns out, he's going to use that lesson for evil.

I wandered in here to post the tidbit about Hickman that Atom Eyes has already related. I learned that after googling Hickman's name, because his crime had absolutely gutted me when I read about it. Hickman* wasn't even motivated by the kind of sexual demons or desire for revenge we would associate with such a crime; he was just an utter sociopath. And that is the man Rand daydreamed of.

----
* Factoid: this is why American schools started to demand identification from persons claiming that they needed to pick up schoolchildren in the middle of the day. Hickman abducted the girl by telling the school office that there had been an accident and she needed to come home right away.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:12 PM on September 15, 2009


Who actually does the work in this country? You know, that stuff you do where you get your hands dirty, spend all day in the hot sun, put your life at risk, bring to bear extensive knowledge of a craft or profession, take responsibility for things, provide crucial services, and just generally make sure that the entire society doesn't grind to a halt overnight?

Hispanics?
posted by fleacircus at 6:21 PM on September 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I had not said anarchists wore bow ties. I said many libertarians are anarchists (like them) bnut sport bow ties. In short: similar in outlook but different in externals.
posted by Postroad at 6:27 PM on September 15, 2009


OK, so I'm thinking about the debt modern conservatism owes to Ayn Rand. Debt? Rand and the conservatives are like characters in a cheesy teensploitation drama. Ayn is the mouthy girlfriend who has boasted beyond all reason and the conservatives are the boyfriend who goes on to do something stupid to prove his manhood and dies horribly (typically in a fiery crash).

That being said, though, given how aggressively they've been digging the hole they're currently standing in, I'm not sure it's fair to blame anyone who's been dead for 25 years. If you can't see that "going Galt" is really equivalent to putting on your space helmet, and setting off with a globe, your stuffed tiger and backpack full of peanut butter sandwiches your mom made for you, your life is going to have some rocky moments.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:47 PM on September 15, 2009


empath: what the hell, Hayek wrote that?

Yes, I have that part bookmarked in my copy of The Road To Serfdom specifically so that I can bust it out the next time some idiot conservative appeals to Hayek's authority. The Road To Serfdom is a work of its time, and there is a lot more to it and to Hayek himself than what the ignoramuses would have you believe. In particular, you have to realise that Hayek hated totalitarianism and criticised collectivist policies he thought would foster it. In that he is the mirror image of his mindless quoters, who begin by hating all collective policy and want to scare you with the notion that it must end in totalitarianism.

Incidentally I think that when someone on the other side gets as far as winning a Nobel Prize it's important to read some of what they wrote and see whether it's of value to you.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:57 PM on September 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


I read The Fountainhead as an adolescent, and I came away thinking that, when faced with a decision, none of her protagonists would do what any rational person would do.

I also thought that her sex scenes were rather unrealistic.

This tainted my views of her philosophies.

Years later, I read Why People Believe Stupid Things by Michael Shermer. He summarized her philosophy: (Objective = Morality) = fail.
posted by ovvl at 7:30 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The most recent Tank Riot podcast offers an interesting take on Rand.
posted by drezdn at 7:47 PM on September 15, 2009


I once pretended that I'd read Fanon to impress a girl and got to touch her breast. Thus ever, I was a leftist.

This is what passes as "leftism" in America. This is what pisses me off about hippies and hipsters.
posted by orthogonality at 8:06 PM on September 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is what pisses me off about hippies

Well, if THAT is all you find to get upset about with hippies, we'll be holding a music fest in your backyard this weekend. Thanks for only hating us for our literature and proclivity for breast touching.

Well, some of us are breast touchers. Personally, not so much.
posted by hippybear at 8:09 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The anti-government activist Grover Norquist has told a similar story from childhood, in which his father would steal bites of his ice cream cone, labelling each bite "sales tax" or "income tax."

Someone should point out to Grover that his "sales tax" and "income tax" got him a roof over his head, food on his plate and, at that age, most likely the ice cream in the first place.

If anything Grover appears to be a welfare queen complaining about the "gubmit taxing me too much".

But that's what I took from that. YMMV
posted by Talez at 8:20 PM on September 15, 2009


ARI Watch written by one or more Randians I'd rather hear more from.
posted by wobh at 8:24 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, some of us are breast touchers. Personally, not so much.
posted by hippybear


Oh, cmon. Not even the furry ones?
posted by Floydd at 8:25 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


You guys are giving the average Republican voter waaaay too much credit if you think they read, much less read a specific book.

You know, besides the Bible, I mean.

As a funny man once said:

Guys like us, we're not some brainiacs on the nerd patrol. We're not members of the factinista. We go straight from the gut. Right, sir? That's where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. Now, I know some of you are going to say, "I did look it up, and that's not true." That's 'cause you looked it up in a book. Next time, look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that's how our nervous system works.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:26 PM on September 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, Wall Street investment brokers would wear brightly colored polyester sports shirts and name tags

OK ...

and would work only for commissions and tips, which they would receive only when their clients' portfolios showed a profit.

Still working on that one ...
posted by krinklyfig at 8:58 PM on September 15, 2009


This is what pisses me off about hippies

Square.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:13 PM on September 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


...I first really saw this in the Bay Area ca. 2000, when landlords starting jacking up rents on apartments that should have been entirely paid off already...
...There is a better moral basis: man has a right to the fruits of his labor, nothing more...


Assuming owning an investment property was the fruit of the landlord's labour, isn't collecting a market rent (to spend on his enjoyment) his due? Or should the fruits of labour not be allowed to be spent on a capital investment? If so, where will the renters live?
Should you not be allowed to gain interest on money you save at the bank?
I'm not a landlord, or a conservative, but I'm not sure what you are proposing.
posted by bystander at 9:26 PM on September 15, 2009


Floydd: *laugh* *eek*

Okay, maybe "breast" isn't always a synonym for "mammary glands". When not, then perhaps. :)
posted by hippybear at 9:34 PM on September 15, 2009


Also, regarding the "pseudo-genocidal fantasy" of Atlas Shrugged (per Atom Eyes' link), that was another thing that really turned me off Rand. She was supposed to be such an anti-Christian, but the "strike of the mind" was a clear parallel to the Christian Rapture for me.

One thing that really confuses me about a lot of conservative individuals is that they have somehow reconciled in their minds Rand and Christianity, even though the former was not a big fan of the latter. I guarantee you that a lot of the teabagger types running around with "Who is John Galt" are also churchgoers.
posted by naoko at 9:36 PM on September 15, 2009


Sheesh, I feel like such a failure, a conservative who hasn't read either of her most famous books.

So, without further ado, which one to read? The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged?
I'm sure my taxpayer-funded library must have a copy or two!
posted by madajb at 9:47 PM on September 15, 2009


I haven't decided which is more ridiculous. There is the strange veneration of a dessicated lump of woman, its flesh long since turned to the paper of giallo sex scenes and comic books, its heart off in a golden jar. But then there is this anti-cult, the scholar who drags the thing up and says this, this is what's killing us.

The real heroes of this story, the entanged vice and virtue of greed and self-reliance, predate the name Ayn Rand, and they predate Emerson, and Nietzsche, and all the atom-splitting arguments that have tried to pry them apart, or revert them to an earlier state. There is nothing earlier. The tension between individual and social was old when the Stoics (against whom Rand committed the double crime of stealing and still getting it wrong) posed for their statues and when the Cynic first raised the lantern to them. And without ransacking every dead language I have on hand, I can assure you that cognate words for these ideas go back about far as written language itself.

Ayn Rand is not the electric Prometheus of Anthem or the chained one of the Romantics. She is, at times, something as weird as Nietzsche for Dummies, Satanism for Christians; kitsch. At other times, she's about as good a skewer for the collectivist utopia as mentioning all the times they tried erecting new Jerusalems (religious, Hegelian, whatever) and it always came out graveyards.

Anyways, if we're off to burn books, you know what pisses me off? Dale Carnegie; the self-making salesman culture. This idea that words are to be used to cultivate appreciation and the dreaded calls to action, rather than to light fires and shake out truths. The salesman is the anti-Socrates, the patron saint of all those too slick to ever say anything worth dying for. At least Ayn Rand put mediocre ideas down in good faith; half of the self-involved disciples this article (and this thread) ascribe to her tutelage are I think the product of the modern sales and self-help culture. Glen Beck didn't stop to read Atlas any more than he did to read Thomas Paine or the Bill of Rights. He was weaned on a steady diet of Seven Pillars of Highly Effective blahblahblah. How that section of the bookstore continues to grow. We've reaped a generation of cold callers.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:48 PM on September 15, 2009 [14 favorites]


"This is what passes as "leftism" in America. This is what pisses me off about hippies and hipsters."

THIS BLOG COMMENT KILLS FASCISTS
posted by klangklangston at 10:17 PM on September 15, 2009


Assuming owning an investment property was the fruit of the landlord's labour

"To prove a legal title to land one must trace it back to the man who stole it" -- David Lloyd George

isn't collecting a market rent (to spend on his enjoyment) his due? Or should the fruits of labour not be allowed to be spent on a capital investment?

It's all about profiting from what you have vs. have not created. Modern economics has intentionally conflated land with capital in two-factor analysis. I prefer to see land as a separate factor of production. As did others, back in the day.
posted by Palamedes at 10:28 PM on September 15, 2009


Sheesh, I feel like such a failure, a conservative who hasn't read either of her most famous books.

So, without further ado, which one to read? The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged?


Is that meant to be as funny as it is?

You couldn't spend the effort to read TWO books, I suppose? I presume that'd be socialism, or something?

(if I've missed some exquisite sarcasm, please memail me...)
posted by pompomtom at 11:56 PM on September 15, 2009


Whilst the Internet has been a source of much mind-broadening information about distant lands and strange cultures for me, I can't thank it for making me aware of Ayn Rand and Objectivism. I read all sorts of political writing growing up in the UK (where libertarianism is largely used to refer to left communism and anarchism) and had never heard of either; from what I gave been exposed to of it since (and admit I've not bothered with her books) seems like a second-rate Stirner with a less appealing intellect. Nothing I ever hear of Rand from people who have given her the time tempts me to learn more.
posted by Abiezer at 12:11 AM on September 16, 2009


You couldn't spend the effort to read TWO books, I suppose? I presume that'd be socialism, or something?

(if I've missed some exquisite sarcasm, please memail me...)

Well, I am very busy being a capitalist...

But, yes, I could read two books, but I might as well try the one people think is better first.
posted by madajb at 1:05 AM on September 16, 2009


She was a selfish harridan, and nothing more. Not a philosopher, not even a novelist. Just a huge fucking asshole.
posted by trondant at 1:32 AM on September 16, 2009


Atlas Shrugged is epic polemic. The "good" characters exist to monologue on the themes and ideas which define Rand's Objectivism. The "bad" characters exist to be parasites of the hard-working and ingenious monologgers.

I hadn't read very much of The Fountainhead but it did seem different in tone and general approach, more character centered and "literary." I wouldn't say it was more subtle or nuanced than the other, but it is shorter.
posted by wobh at 1:34 AM on September 16, 2009


What I took away from Rand's books was that good, objectivist men forced themselves on women who took it and liked it.

Suddenly, the conservative movement makes sense now.

(In all honesty, I think they would have been better if she'd been able to keep her kink out of her writing. (There's nothing wrong with rape fantasies, but to show them as the best, the only way for men to interact with women correctly, well, that does bother me. Your kink is cool as long as you don't try to impose it on others) I don't know why her sexual themes seem to dominate for me. Perhaps because I was 16 when I read her books. I can't remember John Galt's speech (well, I skipped most of it), but I remember how Roark is described while he rapes what's her face- the girl who eventually marries him.)

No matter how you felt about Atlas Shrugged, you should skim through (at least- it's actually a really fun read) the Illuminatus! trilogy and read the bits of Telemachus Sneezed. Who is John Guilt?
posted by Hactar at 2:35 AM on September 16, 2009


Ayn Rand was a selfish piece of garbage and so are everybody who loves her philosophy. It's the philosophy of me, mine. Just think Daffy Duck, "mine, mine, mine, mine, mine...."
posted by caddis at 4:14 AM on September 16, 2009


Give Rand her due: without her there would be no 2112.
posted by Scoo at 4:52 AM on September 16, 2009


Bob The Angry Flower - Atlas Shrugged 2: One Hour Later
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:52 AM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Give Rand her due: without her there would be no 2112.

You know, you say that, and I know that RUSH themselves have stated that 2112 was based on Rand, but I just don't see the parallels very well. Oppressive theocratic society is threatened by outsider who discovers suppressed electric guitar music, is killed, and then the theocrats are overthrown by the return of spacefarers who left generations ago? Just doesn't seem like a John Galt kind of fable.
posted by hippybear at 7:21 AM on September 16, 2009


I have written extensively on Rand, and concluded that taking Atlas Shrugged seriously inevitably leads to your being offered blowjobs by skanks out in the parking lot of your AC/DC tribute band's show.
posted by COBRA! at 7:58 AM on September 16, 2009


2112 was inspired by Rand's Anthem
posted by Scoo at 8:11 AM on September 16, 2009


...That's 'cause you looked it up in a book. Next time, look it up in your gut...

You know, I adore Monsieur Colbert, but actually I think you do have more nerve endings in your gut than in your head. I don't think you have nerve endings in your central nervous system at all... that's why they can do brain surgery without anesthesia, for instance. Perhaps that's just semantic, but it's a kind of interesting light into how misunderstandings can develop.
posted by mdn at 8:48 AM on September 16, 2009


Give Rand her due: without her there would be no 2112.


Or Bioshock, let's not forget Bioshock. I actually consider her influence on Bioshock to be Rand's finest achievement.
posted by Ndwright at 9:27 AM on September 16, 2009


2112 was inspired by Rand's Anthem

And now MeFi has taught me a new thing today! Yay!
posted by hippybear at 10:11 AM on September 16, 2009


A good, somewhat guilty anti-Randian pleasure is Matt Ruff's Sewer, Gas, & Electric. There's a simulacrum of Ayn Rand who gets her just deserts.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:25 AM on September 16, 2009


You know, I adore Monsieur Colbert, but actually I think you do have more nerve endings in your gut than in your head. I don't think you have nerve endings in your central nervous system at all... that's why they can do brain surgery without anesthesia, for instance. Perhaps that's just semantic, but it's a kind of interesting light into how misunderstandings can develop.

Um, one doesn't have nocireceptors in their brain, but there are quite a few nerve endings there. Trillions of them, in fact.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 12:09 PM on September 16, 2009


well, I said it could be semantic. By at least some definitions, nerve endings are only part of the peripheral nervous system. Completely unimportant and perhaps there are other ways of defining the terminology, just thought it was funny.
posted by mdn at 12:58 PM on September 16, 2009


I have written extensively on Rand, and concluded that taking Atlas Shrugged seriously inevitably leads to your being offered blowjobs by skanks out in the parking lot of your AC/DC tribute band's show.

You're not making it sound terrible, dude.
posted by Amanojaku at 1:10 PM on September 16, 2009


I actually consider her influence on Bioshock to be Rand's finest achievement.

You're right, beating Objectivists with a wrench is definitely an excellent message to bring home, in any medium...
posted by FatherDagon at 1:40 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thank you, mrgrimm. Reading the summation of Rand in Sewer, Gas, & Electric saved me valuable days, if not weeks, of reading the original.
posted by stannate at 2:47 PM on September 16, 2009


Thanks mrgrimm - found a copy of Sewer, Gas & Electric, provided a wry smile...
posted by FerociousTurnip at 8:41 PM on September 17, 2009


If we really did stop taking money from the industrious and giving it to the lazy, Wal-mart workers would be pulling 22 bucks an hour. Meanwhile, Wall Street investment brokers would wear brightly colored polyester sports shirts and name tags and would work only for commissions and tips, which they would receive only when their clients' portfolios showed a profit.

Er, now look dude. It is great and all to get wrapped up in the nobility of the poor but at some point one should realize that the fantasy just isn't true. The vast majority of the working class act at their jobs the exact same way that Wall-Street Financiers/Oil Executives/Whatever do at theirs: do as little as possible at their jobs as they can without getting fired. Now, in many cases this means your working class heroes have to do more work, as there's greater oversight, but it doesn't change the basic fact that if they worked on Wall Street instead of Wal-Mart you would probably see the exact same amount of laziness, fucking around, and actual hard work.

It is a semantic difference that is pretty damn important.
posted by schroedinger at 8:29 AM on September 19, 2009


What's interesting about the right's apparent embrace of Rand and objectivism is that Rand was a near-militant atheist, and objectivism is a rather anti-religious framework. That seems to reflect the split-personality that the current conservative movement seems to suffer from. One the one hand they repeated say they are 'just working class people', yet champion the cause of the super-wealthy. They say jesus, yet follow rand.

Also interesting is the ongoing argument over who deserves what. In the words of the immutable William Munny, "Deserves got nothing to do with it". The endless argument of who leaches from whom has no answer by virtue of its definition. Each needs the other, and cannot do without the other. So any declaration of how one is in any way more deserving than the other is really not useful at all. Knowing that each cannot do without the other allows those in each arena to make more insightful decisions than the thinking that the two are somehow independent in a way that allows for relative merit to be assigned.
posted by bithead at 7:34 AM on September 22, 2009


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