Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way to your underground lair

Obviously, I've been unable to blog for a while as life has intruded, but I simply couldn't let this hilarious post by the world's stupidest professor's wife (via Sadly, No!) and subsequent idiotic discussion go without comment. She writes:
Do you ever wonder after dealing with all that is going on with the economy and the upcoming election if it's getting to be time to "go John Galt." For those of you who have never read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, the basic theme is that John Galt and his allies take actions that include withdrawing their talents, 'stopping the motor of the world', and leading the 'strikers' (those who refuse to be exploited) against the 'looters' (the exploiters, backed by the government.
Now Gavin at Sadly No! focuses on the pretty obvious hate for America in "Dr. Ole Missus Professor's" post. He's right, of course. If you love Atlas Shrugged, you are expressing hate for America and it's ideals (and the Ole Professor clan loves them some America-hating authors); you are, as the conservative writer Whittaker Chambers wrote in 1957, embracing a novel in which Utopia has "embarrassing similarities between Hitler's National Socialism and Stalin's brand of Communism..."; and you are, in the end, declaring hatred for all religion.

But there are also a couple of very basic problems with the Atlas Shrugged fantasy of the right--and I have found them funny since the first time I read the damn book at 17.

First, there are damn few real industrial geniuses around to run off and make a right-wing, economically laissez-faire Shangri-La in the mountains. Rather, the folks running the companies today are basically MBA-types with good connections who couldn't build a popsicle-stick birdhouse if their lives depended on it. Can anyone picture WorldCom's Bernie Ebbers or Tyco's Dennis Kozlowski decked out in plaid in some Rocky Mountain hideaway, waiting patiently for the time they can return to rule the world?

Second, if these people had even a basic common sense understanding of the rules of supply and demand, they'd realize that putting all the billionaires in one place could only lead to one thing: localized inflation. In other words, if they really ran off to the woods to found their commune of greed, they'd only end up paying their local 7-11 a thousand bucks for a gallon of milk and God only knows how much for gas.

In the end, the "John Galt" fantasy is basically a right-wing version of the stoner classic, "Why do we need money anyway?" It'll never go away because, just like some people gotta get high, some people gotta be dumb.


Blogger jameswbales said...

Atlas Shrugged is, of course, a novel, which means that what happened in the novel was limited only by Rand's imagination.

The ending (those who embrace objectivism run off and hide in a canyon deep in the mountains demonstrates that Rand could not imagine even one remotely plausible method for her philosophy to win out in the marketplace of ideas.

Given that Objectivism's founder considered it so weak that hiding was its only recourse, I see no urgency to embrace it myself!

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