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October 2, 2010 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Yogurt goes Galt. (With a little help from MeFi's own John Scalzi) Someone asked SF author John Scalzi for his thoughts on Atlas Shrugged. Things quickly got out of hand.
posted by Naberius (69 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Metafilter: Sociopathic idealized nerds collapse society because they don’t get enough hugs.
posted by Artw at 11:04 AM on October 2, 2010 [16 favorites]


Objectivism: the spongy white bread at the Great Buffet of Human Ideas

Please note the comic possibility for substituting Metafilter for Objectivism and the possibility that Scalzi got there first.
posted by warbaby at 11:06 AM on October 2, 2010


I enjoy Atlas Shrugged quite a bit, and will re-read it every couple of years when I feel in the mood. It has a propulsively potboilery pace so long as Ayn Rand’s not having one of her characters gout forth screeds in a sock-puppety fashion. Even when she does, after the first reading of the book, you can go, “oh, yeah, screed,” and then just sort of skim forward and get to the parts with the train rides and motor boats and the rough sex and the collapse of civilization as Ayn Rand imagines it, which is all good clean fun.

Though I personally disagree, I totally get where Scalzi's coming from on this, as it almost precisely describes my relationship with Battlefield Earth (the book, not the movie-- the movie I love unreservedly as the worst big-budget movie that will ever be made).

It's schlocky-but-entertaining pulp interspersed with easily-ignored sections of the writer's odious and preposterous personal philosphy.
posted by dersins at 11:08 AM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I enjoy Atlas Shrugged quite a bit, and will re-read it every couple of years when I feel in the mood. It has a propulsively potboilery pace so long as Ayn Rand’s not having one of her characters gout forth screeds in a sock-puppety fashion. Even when she does, after the first reading of the book, you can go, “oh, yeah, screed,” and then just sort of skim forward and get to the parts with the train rides and motor boats and the rough sex and the collapse of civilization as Ayn Rand imagines it, which is all good clean fun.

Precisely.

I was given a tattered paperback version the night Indira Gandhi was assassinated, just as the curfew was clamped down on the city I was in temporarily, and plowed through the book the first time. Only many years later did I come back to it again and again in times of too much upheaval for a balancing dose of "rationality and reason" - not to mention that over the years since I've fallen in love with Francisco first, then Reardon but Galt never really...
posted by The Lady is a designer at 11:20 AM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


And the warning in his first comment to his readers is classic:

Given the nature of this topic, I’ll note right off the bat that the Mallet of Loving Correction is pre-warmed and in play.
posted by nevercalm at 11:23 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I once had an idea for a short story called "Atlas Shrugged: The Lean Years," in which the island turns into a hell when all the so-called geniuses realize that they have to deal with serious labor-shortage problems and the difficulties that being in isolation creates. They decide to import labor (slavery), but this creates a stark social division that almost leads to a civil war. After having killed all the people that they forcefully imported, they eventually turn to cannibalism and their technology goes to ruin.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 11:24 AM on October 2, 2010 [21 favorites]


Needs more underwater genetic engineering.
posted by Artw at 11:33 AM on October 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Needs more underwater genetic engineering.

ha ha. I love the line on the game where someone says something like "we couldn't all have the best jobs, someone had to clean out the trash cans and fix the toilets."

I hold out hope that the game was not pro-objectivist, but you never can tell.
posted by djduckie at 11:40 AM on October 2, 2010


Wait, I thought Bioshock was obviously anti-Objectivist? I mean, the Objectivist "utopia" is filled with homicidal maniacs and such, and that's before all the infected people. I admit I never finished game (stolen XBox, no savegame backups, will try again one of these days) so I'm not sure if there's some pro-Objectivist twist at the end.
posted by kmz at 11:47 AM on October 2, 2010


good clean fun
This is an excellent post about Atlas Shrugged because it is at the heart, a very entertaining story, and it is perhaps one of the most fun books I have read.

I found Old Man's War by Scalzi to be a political novel of a different kind, where fairness and equality rule despite a constant alien threat, where science makes super-people, rather than their the characters themselves. John Perry's success seemed to me to be largely due to his social awareness rather than sheer will and effort. It was this political point of view that made Old Man's War interesting in the same way that I enjoyed Atlas Shurgged. Although sometimes I longed for the clarity that a Randian superhero would bring to the messy bureaucratic CDF forces.

[loved] Galt never really...
That's the weird thing about Atlas Shrugged. I don't really like Galt. Rearden and Francisco are great, but Galt is just an alien.

posted by niccolo at 11:50 AM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Great insight on Old Man's War, it resonates with me

and yes, Galt was just inhuman, remote, distant and a bit 'off' - perhaps she tried to make him too perfect/idealized? Frisco and Frank were hurting, loving human beings who were real

actually come to think of it, wasn't Roark as bad as Galt?
posted by The Lady is a designer at 12:00 PM on October 2, 2010


dersins: It's schlocky-but-entertaining pulp interspersed with easily-ignored sections of the writer's odious and preposterous personal philosphy.

The Gor books fulfilled that role for me as a young teen; they had some interesting science-fiction-meets-fantasy aspects, and did a decent job at world-building, but that whole "women just want to be enslaved by men" thing bothered me. Even as a nerdy young teen for whom girls were an alternately terrifying and fascinating different species, I was pretty sure that Women Didn't Work That Way.

outlandishmarxist:
I once had an idea for a short story called "Atlas Shrugged: The Lean Years," in which the island turns into a hell when all the so-called geniuses realize that they have to deal with serious labor-shortage problems


See also: Bob the Angry Flower.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:01 PM on October 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Just so you know what you're dealing with - I have a suit of armor in the basement, a reproduction bastard sword behind my closet door and in my driveway there is a trailer holding a medieval pavilion and some oak furniture (for camping out in the woods with).

I just wanted to say how proud I am that, as I read The High Crusade I found myself dissecting all the little things Anderson did to make his alien invaders weak against anyone armed with swords and arrows ("What, a piece of sharpened steel moving at only half the speed of sound? What harm could that represent?")and as much like the Roman Empire as humanly (well alienly) possible so that as they fell it made some kind of sense for feudalism to rise up in their wake (like in Europe from 400-800) rather than thinking, "Ooooo - this could really happen!"
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:05 PM on October 2, 2010


You sure you're in the right thread there, KidC?
posted by The Lady is a designer at 12:08 PM on October 2, 2010


Oh my god, that cup of yogurt wants to kill most of humanity to make a philosophical point! Somebody eat him quick!
posted by jason's_planet at 12:13 PM on October 2, 2010


Yep, because I'm walking exactly not the path of people who read Atlas Shrugged and DO think "Ooooo - this could really happen!" It just never occurred to me that way before I read Scalzi's essay.

I need to find another such litmus test and someone who will do the right thing and smother me with a pillow if I ever fail it.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:14 PM on October 2, 2010


Based on that description, I have to say The High Crusade sounds more interesting than Atlas Shrugged.
posted by longdaysjourney at 12:17 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Despite looking forward to it, when I finally got to try Bioshock recently, I felt like playing it for the anti-Objectivism was much like reading Atlas Shrugged for the "good clean fun": most of your time will instead just be spent fighting zombies.
posted by chortly at 12:17 PM on October 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


I’ve mentioned it in passing before, but...

I got cock-blocked by Atlas Shrugged.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:19 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait, I thought Bioshock was obviously anti-Objectivist? I mean, the Objectivist "utopia" is filled with homicidal maniacs and such, and that's before all the infected people. I admit I never finished game (stolen XBox, no savegame backups, will try again one of these days) so I'm not sure if there's some pro-Objectivist twist at the end.

I would like to think that as well, but i seem think that people that can stand atlas shrugged are objectivist and were just trying to find a way to include the objectivist teachings in a game, a game of course has all the trappings of having to have fights and such, so they just found a way to package them. I mean when we know Atlas as Atlas, he's our friend, the hero, and he's not the founder of Rapture. I could be wrong. It's a decent game.
posted by djduckie at 12:21 PM on October 2, 2010


*Chews thoughtfully and digestion process slowly begins*
posted by The Lady is a designer at 12:21 PM on October 2, 2010


On the whole, a fairer assessment of Rand's strengths and weaknesses as a writer than we usually get. But describing Galt as genocidal shows that he doesn't Get It.

Galt does not kill anyone. And when he is told by his captors that they will kill people if he refuses to coerced, he points out the fallacy of claiming that one's moral stature depends on the actions of another.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:22 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can we please stop using "Asperger's" as an insult? And maybe even "nerd," while we're at it?
posted by Xezlec at 12:24 PM on October 2, 2010 [9 favorites]


> It has a propulsively potboilery pace so long as Ayn Rand’s not having one of her characters gout forth screeds in a sock-puppety fashion.

But if you cut out the sock-puppety screed gouting you're only left with 100 pages or so. Someone should do this; it would be like the Bizzaro World Jefferson Bible version of Atlas Shrugged.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:26 PM on October 2, 2010 [9 favorites]


Sociopathic idealized nerds collapse society because they don’t get enough hugs.

This explains Microsoft Windows.
posted by srboisvert at 12:34 PM on October 2, 2010 [10 favorites]



The Gor books fulfilled that role for me as a young teen; they had some interesting science-fiction-meets-fantasy aspects, and did a decent job at world-building, but that whole "women just want to be enslaved by men" thing bothered me. Even as a nerdy young teen for whom girls were an alternately terrifying and fascinating different species, I was pretty sure that Women Didn't Work That Way.


And I think the underlying fantasy here is the same as in the romantic subplots of Atlas Shrugged. "If you could tell what anyone wanted, just by watching them for a few minutes and sorting them into a clear-cut category.... well, wouldn't life be so much more fun?"

I dunno. It's easy to scoff at the idea. But at the same time, well, I think it would be more fun. It's a really common fantasy. Not just "I wish I knew how to make $HOT STRANGER take their $GARMENT off" but "I wish I could tell if this joke would be appropriate here" or "I wish I knew if my boss was mad at me" or "I wish I had the right words to cheer you up." Rand and John Norman and a lot of other fantasy authors with wooden characters are offering a world where you can answer those questions, instantly and infallibly, just by applying your native intelligence and powers of observation. And honestly, who doesn't wish they could do that, at least occasionally?
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:34 PM on October 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


Pretty much sums it up.
posted by mullingitover at 12:36 PM on October 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm waiting for the Jack Chick condensed version.
posted by warbaby at 12:37 PM on October 2, 2010


kmz: Wait, I thought Bioshock was obviously anti-Objectivist? I mean, the Objectivist "utopia" is filled with homicidal maniacs and such...
It was.

I believe I once read an interview with Bioshock creator Ken Levine in which he said that the plot of Bioshock (i.e., unmitigated disaster) was intended to illustrate what would happen if you were somehow able to set a Randian Utopia in motion with a population of real, flawed human beings and criminals, instead of cardboard paragons.

The interview was on-line, somewhere, but I can't find it now.
posted by Western Infidels at 12:40 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, Roark was pretty much as bad as Galt. And it never made sense to me, either, the whole "Galt is The One" thing. Francisco and Hank Reardon/Rearden (?) were much easier to fall a little in love with.

I really like Scalzi's take on Atlas Shrugged, in particular the bit about skipping the 100-page-polemics.
posted by bardophile at 12:57 PM on October 2, 2010


I worked on the Bioshock story with Ken, and am currently doing so for Bioshock Infinite.

This:

I believe I once read an interview with Bioshock creator Ken Levine in which he said that the plot of Bioshock (i.e., unmitigated disaster) was intended to illustrate what would happen if you were somehow able to set a Randian Utopia in motion with a population of real, flawed human beings and criminals, instead of cardboard paragons.

is essentially accurate.

Bioshock, like System Shock 2 (but perhaps more obviously so), was about the inevitable tragedy that accompanies extremist ideologies. Bioshock's example ideology was Objectivism, Shock 2's was Collectivism.
posted by Ryvar at 1:18 PM on October 2, 2010 [25 favorites]


Huh, I agree with him almost completely. I don't know if I'd call Galt "genocidal", just because the world of the book is so completely different from ours that it feels weird to apply our morals to the characters (just about as weird as it is to encounter someone applying the book's morals to real life!). But other than that, yeah, I thought the book was great trashy fun if you can avoid taking it seriously.

I hope they do finally make a movie one of these days. It could be a really fun movie if they do it right (i.e. just the right amount of campiness, plus beautiful Art Deco sets).
posted by equalpants at 1:20 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had an acquaintance in college who was an absolute Gor cultist, and having an actual S&M fetish of my own I had rather mixed feelings about the whole thing, thinking it kind of odd that these not very thinly veiled not very PC porno fantasies were right out there, occupying a good meter of shelf space in B.Dalton, with no shrink wrap and openly available to be purchased by and even actively marketed toward 12 year olds.

Now I find myself missing the days when that was possible, if not the Gor series itself.
posted by localroger at 1:25 PM on October 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is one of those polarizing issues that is actually useful for uncovering people's true motivations and world-view, especially the dark, oogie stuff they don't want you to see when you roll the log over. It's pretty obvious that...

...wait, this is the Sigur Ros thread, isn't it?
posted by sidereal at 1:26 PM on October 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's schlocky-but-entertaining pulp interspersed with easily-ignored sections of the writer's odious and preposterous personal philosphy.

But... then, why bother? There's loads of schlocky-but-entertaining pulp out there that doesn't have all that odious crap strewn throughout.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:26 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Apparently principal shooting for the film version wrapped up in July, although there has been a minor setback for the production.
posted by hippybear at 1:26 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


How will the Orfolei and Weddilei react when they find out that the new superior race in this galaxy is made out of meat dairy product?
posted by autopilot at 1:38 PM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


to encounter someone applying the book's morals to real life!

I don't know if its morals per se, but I have found at least one set of values (or however you'd like to articulate it) to be useful for me personally since the mid eighties or whenever it crystalized into practice. Call it principle ... but that aspect of the key quotation viz.,

I swear by my life and my love of it, never to live for the sake of another man or ask another to live for my sake

I've interpreted it as "obligation or sacrifice or charity" i.e. I'd rather you sat across the table from me because you actually wanted to be there, in my company, than through any sense of obligation that you should be there or some such usually resentment causing guilt tripping emotion. Perhaps as a sanity device because my birth culture can be a high intensity dose of emotional blackmail, manipulation adn melodrama as any bollywood movie will demonstrate...
I call it fair trade, we are both here because we want to be, not because of any agenda or external pressure. Free choice? dunno, but it soothes my soul to make this bargain
posted by The Lady is a designer at 1:43 PM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


ok, well i guess i always just have to feel like i am the enemy. thanks for the info :)
posted by djduckie at 2:19 PM on October 2, 2010


What kind of HTML wizardry is this?

Load up the yogurt story page.... scroll down to the comments. Look at the comments from Scalzi himself, with the green boxes. Scroll up and down a bit so the box moved up and down the page. Notice the very faint photos (presumably of Scalzi) lurking the background? Notice that they don't appear ANYWHERE ELSE on the page?

How the fuck did he do that?
posted by hippybear at 2:34 PM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


No problem. These things are deliberately left open to a fair amount of interpretation - a matrix of vignettes and set pieces through which the player is prompted to sort out their own thoughts on a topic. If we've done our job correctly then different people can walk away with very different conclusions.

Ken's said in countless interviews that he finds some elements of Rand's ideas attractive, others less so. It'd be disingenuous to say that Bioshock isn't a critique of Objectivism at some level, but the authorial bias is far more focused on the folly of extremist ideology in general.
posted by Ryvar at 2:40 PM on October 2, 2010


There aren't enough pleasurable trashy bits in Atlas to make up for the really annoying parts, if you ask me. The Fountainhead is the only Rand novel that I can imagine ever wanting to read again and even that is unlikely. The ratio of remaining years to books unread is just too small.

King Yogurt was funny, though; I'll never look at Jamie Lee Curtis' Activia commercials the same way.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:42 PM on October 2, 2010


king yogurt? - my god, didn't anyone have a spoon?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:49 PM on October 2, 2010


Sociopathic idealized nerds collapse society because they don’t get enough hugs.

So Ayn Rand prophesied The Social Network?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:52 PM on October 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Could someone call out the page numbers where the rough sex parts are? Or maybe excerpt them somewhere? Thanks.
posted by telstar at 2:57 PM on October 2, 2010


hippybear: background-attachment: fixed
posted by nicwolff at 2:58 PM on October 2, 2010


And I think the underlying fantasy here is the same as in the romantic subplots of Atlas Shrugged. "If you could tell what anyone wanted, just by watching them for a few minutes and sorting them into a clear-cut category.... well, wouldn't life be so much more fun?"

As it happens, you can!
posted by The White Hat at 3:00 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


The trouble with pulpy stuff, even absent preachy parts, is that everyone likes different pulpy stuff. I like reading some truly dreadful fiction, I'll be the first to admit it. I even like reading truly dreadful fiction with politics rather radically different from my own (*cough*Honor Herrington*cough*).

But I couldn't get past the first ten pages of Atlas, the writing was bad, and bad in a way that didn't appeal to me.

Matter of taste in trash I suppose.
posted by sotonohito at 3:02 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


> What kind of HTML wizardry is this?

The container the comment is in has a background image via CSS. When the page is scrolled, Javascript moves the position of the background image.
posted by christonabike at 3:02 PM on October 2, 2010


Fantastic analysis in the second link - the only part that I think is wrong is Asperger's thing. As far as I know, people with Asperger's have a kind of blindness or benign indifference to people's reactions to them, but this is the exact opposite of the typical Randian hero, who is obsessed with how they are perceived, demanding to be recognized as superior, effectively demanding to be envied by others. They withdraw from society only so they can turn around and see the rest of us suffer which would make us recognize their supposed superiority. This is also what makes them false individualists - they're traumatized by the fact that their self-identity is not reflected in others' eyes, where a true individualist isn't dependent on what other people think.

Ryvar: Bioshock, like System Shock 2 (but perhaps more obviously so), was about the inevitable tragedy that accompanies extremist ideologies.

Ah, it makes me sad to hear that. It means Levine is essentially a defender of the status quo, a post-ideological Fukuyamaist who believes we've arrived at the end of history. I think it's possible to argue Levine against Levine here: isn't the point of Bioshock that the protagonist has this same post-ideological cynical distance to overt utopian ideologies, and yet still winds up as it's tool? Post-ideology as the tool of ideology. You can even find something close to the Althusserian notion of ideological interpellation - the true moment of indoctrination as a subject of ideology isn't the official speeches, it's in the moment of recognition of the benign request "Would you kindly..." So, maybe Bioshock can be read in a more radical way.
posted by AlsoMike at 3:17 PM on October 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


When the page is scrolled, Javascript moves the position of the background image.

Nope. As nicwolff mentioned above, no JS needed for that.
posted by kmz at 3:29 PM on October 2, 2010


The container the comment is in has a background image via CSS. When the page is scrolled, Javascript moves the position of the background image.

Javascript doesn't come into play at all. This is a static CSS attribute (background-attachment: fixed) designed to achieve exactly the effect seen when the browser renders it. More commonly seen in use for an entire page though, as on most Twitter homepages.
posted by spitefulcrow at 3:37 PM on October 2, 2010


AlsoMike: Speaking for myself (and only myself, I should emphasize at this point) - the notion that avoiding ideological extremism constitutes defense of the status quo is absurd; one can favor a progressive ideology and strive for a better future without crying for revolution or demanding isolation from society.

Human history is a litany of failed attempts by groups and individuals to shove the clock sharply forward or arrest its motion, nearly always resulting in tragedy for the participants and a substantial number of bystanders. In the background, progress ticks onward at a steady pace that is often unsatisfactory within the context of our brief lives. None of this suggests an end to history, just an observation that impatience consistently destroys lives regardless of whether your cause has merit.

As to the player character in Bioshock - you were always a tool, literally crafted for a very specific purpose. In the confrontation scene Ryan is fully corrupt and delusional, making the classic assertion of any creator whose work has outgrown them (if I cannot control it, I will destroy it). Having set himself on that course and certain of his impending death, he spends the short remainder of his life demonstrating the player character's defining attribute: complete lack of agency.
posted by Ryvar at 4:25 PM on October 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


Could someone call out the page numbers where the rough sex parts are? Or maybe excerpt them somewhere?

Part I, Chapter V - "The Climax of the D'Anconias" - pg. 106

[As teenagers, Dagny and Francisco are walking through the woods.]

He seized her, she felt her lips in his mouth, felt her arms grasping him in violent answer, and knew for the first time how much she had wanted him to do it.

She felt a moment's rebellion and a hint of fear. He held her, pressing the length of his body against hers with a tense, purposeful insistence, 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 tried to pull herself away, but she only leaned back his arms long enough to see his face and his smile, the smile that told her she had given him permission long ago. She thought that she must escape; instead, it was she who pulled his head down to find his mouth again.

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. She had no conscious realization of his purpose, her vague knowledge of it was wiped out, she had no power to believe it clearly, in this moment, to believe it about herself, she knew only that she was afraid - yet what she felt was as if she were crying to him: Don't ask me for it - oh, don't ask me - do it!


But when people assoicate Rand with rape, they're usually thinking about The Fountainhead - where Dominique does use that word to describe her first night with Roark, but which Rand justly described in an interview as "rape by engraved invitation".
posted by Joe Beese at 4:48 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


she felt her lips in his mouth,

what is this i don't
posted by dersins at 4:57 PM on October 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: rape by engraved invitation
posted by localroger at 5:01 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


[[she felt her lips *in* mouth]]

what is this i don't


Could have been a typo for "on". But with Rand, all bets are off.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:01 PM on October 2, 2010


Part I, Chapter V - "The Climax of the D'Anconias" - pg. 106...

Veni.
posted by codswallop at 6:22 PM on October 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


[[she felt her lips *in* mouth]]

what is this i don't


she accidentally the whole thing
posted by hippybear at 6:32 PM on October 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Ryvar: the notion that avoiding ideological extremism constitutes defense of the status quo is absurd

Is it? I think your use of the clock metaphor has some quite conservative connotations - the ticking is orderly and regular, change is predictable and don't disrupt things too much. The idea is that we already have a mechanism in place that will gradually solve the problems that we face, and that's what I mean by the status quo. What could this mechanism be but global capitalism? I know that people in the US who hold this view also want some modest social democratic reforms - more tolerance, a slightly stronger social safety net, a more progressive tax code, green energy, greater humanitarian efforts for impoverished nations, etc. But they believe these can be achieved within the existing order, and that's why the left is always on the defense, they're defending the status quo, trying to prevent the right from dismantling what's left of the social safety net. And you know, as much as today's progressive left wants to distance themselves from Soviet communism, the only reason we have the social programs that we do have, however limited, is because the elites were scared of the threat of real communism and decided they needed to make some concessions, and with the decline of communism, predictably those concessions are being rolled back. Not that I'm defending Stalinism, but I think it points to the limits of social democracy to actually make progress by itself. None of our freedoms came for free, they were paid for in blood. You warn of the dangers of destroying lives by revolution; yes, but what about the hundreds of millions of lives destroyed through poverty, hunger, disease and the ongoing enslavement of billions? I think in the process of repudiating revolutionary violence, you end up being forced to endorse a much more pervasive background of violence and exploitation that's necessary to sustain the proper functioning of the current system. The ideology of Bioshock is that there's another non-violent, non-exploitative, democratic, post-ideological free society that exists above the waves of Rapture, that is threatened in the final scenes when the splicers, metaphorically infected by ideological passion, penetrate the barrier of the sea surface. Isn't this society an even more utopian fantasy than Ryan's?

That's not to say I think there is an alternative - there's not and anyone who thinks there is is an idiot - but this post-ideological meme attempts to suppress even the possibility of an alternative. Well-intentioned, but maybe it's the wrong idea.
posted by AlsoMike at 7:28 PM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


she accidentally what, hippybear?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:16 PM on October 2, 2010


this is what gets people horny? this is worse than a cheap knock-off of a harlequin novel. this is bad in a "omfg this is really bad" sort of way but still BAD.
posted by liza at 8:44 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe: um....
posted by hippybear at 9:18 PM on October 2, 2010


Ryvar: thanks for your insight here. As a hater of both most video games and all objectivism, I loved watching my old roomates play bioshock 1 and 2. It is truly one of the only video games I can say is a work of real art--on par with brave new world or farenheit 451.

I wish this was a bioshock thread.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:17 PM on October 2, 2010


it points to the limits of social democracy to actually make progress by itself

If you look at Europe, social democracy looks pretty strong. There's some pushback from the privileged elite, for example right now there's an attempt to use the economic crisis to impose "austerity measures" on the working people, but it seems to be holding out. The higher the level of social democracy in a country, in fact, the less it was hurt by the crisis.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:41 PM on October 2, 2010


XKCD should do one of the graph comics about the likelihood of Ayn Rand, Bioshock (and now Yoghurt!) being mentioned in the same internet discussion.

Call it 'Galt's Law'.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:10 AM on October 3, 2010


Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of Objectivism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.
posted by warbaby at 7:29 AM on October 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you look at Europe, social democracy looks pretty strong.

Two weeks ago: "The crash of Sweden's long-ruling Social Democrats to their worst defeat since 1914 highlights the decline of socialist parties in much of Europe, drained by social change, economic crisis and the rise of new issues."
posted by AlsoMike at 9:57 AM on October 3, 2010


The Social Democrats are a party. I'm doubtful that the concept of social democracy as a philosophy of government in Europe is failing. Hell, even the Conservative Party in England practices it.

Like I said, the more highly SD countries have done better in the crisis, so even though the rich bastards don't like it and are trying to use the crisis as an excuse to scale it back, I don't see it disappearing.

Frankly, our own economic crises have always followed reductions in the degree of social democracy in our government. The current one is a perfect example, and typically, our rich bastards are claiming that it means we have to do even more of the stuff that got us into it.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:11 PM on October 3, 2010


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