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The Political Surf on why Ayn Randís surging today
Standard.Net - The Political Surf ^ | 5-1-2009 | Doug Gibson

Posted on 05/01/2009 7:04:53 AM PDT by Red Badger

The number are in, and paleo-capitalist Ayn Rand’s hot again. “Atlas Shrugged” is selling at a pace not seen since the novel was published in 1957. Sales of her other major novel, “The Fountainhead,” are up as well. It’s clear that the recession and a very liberal political leadership have caused the renewed interest.

Economist Stephen Moore recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the Obama strategy mirrors the plot of “Atlas Shrugged. “The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you,” Moore said.

I recently re-read “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.” Both, particularly “Atlas Shrugged,” are maddeningly compelling polemics in novel forms. “Atlas” is about the world’s talented withdrawing from a dystopian society and the chaos that results. “Fountainhead” is about an architect hated because he won’t embrace a mediocre norm. In “Atlas” Rand articulated a belief, “objectivism,” which depicts personal happiness as man’s sole moral pursuit and reason as the only acceptable absolute. Pure capitalism, “objectivism” teaches, is the sole moral economic system. Anything else is a leech on society full of “second-handers.”

Rand’s novels — in 1991 “Atlas Shrugged” was judged the second-most influential novel in America — are very seductive and demagogic. Her ideas appeal to so many because the characters she creates are polar opposites. They are either perfect examples of reason and competence or corrupt, shallow, even homicidal parasites. As a writer, Rand deserves no censure for creating powerful polemics, but real life is more complex.

I am amused by the Rand adoration from many social — read religious — conservatives. Rand, and “objectivism,” detests religion and its call for individual sacrifice. In “Fountainhead,” the reader is urged to run away from any organization that urges sacrifice for others. When it comes to faith, Rand is more Bill Maher or Christopher Hitchens than Mitt Romney.

I have a great deal of respect for Ayn Rand, but it’s for her literary and polemical skills, not the rigidity of her economic beliefs. Who else can write a novel where a character, John Galt, speaks for 60 pages and you can’t stop reading. And I admire her life, where she escaped communism, lived life on her own terms and created an economic ideal.

But objectivism is not a practical ideology. Still doubt me? Read the late Whittaker Chambers’ devastating but on-target critique of Ayn Rand, published in the Dec. 28, 1957 edition of National Review. It’s at:

http://www.nationalreview.com/flashback


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government
KEYWORDS: atlasshrugged; aynrand; fountainhead; johngalt; objectivism; rand

1 posted on 05/01/2009 7:04:53 AM PDT by Red Badger
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To: Red Badger

Couldn’t locate my old copy, so I purchased a new one a few weeks ago. Soon as I finish reading Paine’s “Common Sense, Rights of Man, and Other Essential Writings”, it’s next on my list for a refresher...


2 posted on 05/01/2009 7:09:53 AM PDT by Hurricane Andrew (History teaches that wars begin when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.)
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To: Hurricane Andrew

I read it about two years ago. I’m trying to get my 22 year old daughter to read it, but she’s only interested in having fun.............


3 posted on 05/01/2009 7:11:51 AM PDT by Red Badger (If Keynesian economics worked, Zimbabwe would be a superpower.......................)
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To: Red Badger

“Who else can write a novel where a character, John Galt, speaks for 60 pages and you can’t stop reading.”

I skipped most of the romantic musings and this rant. I recall it 40 pages in the typeface of my copy, but I didn’t need the point driven home quite that much.


4 posted on 05/01/2009 7:14:07 AM PDT by WoofDog123
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To: Red Badger

My copy arrived yesterday. I’m going to get into it today. It’s all rainy and cold , keeping me from working on my garden. Good day to curl up with a good book. ;)


5 posted on 05/01/2009 7:14:17 AM PDT by AirForceMom (Locked and loaded, and sharpening wooden stakes.)
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To: AirForceMom

Don’t let the size of it intimidate you. It’s like Gone With the Wind with a plot..................


6 posted on 05/01/2009 7:16:27 AM PDT by Red Badger (If Keynesian economics worked, Zimbabwe would be a superpower.......................)
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To: Red Badger
I am late to the dance. It was only about two years ago that I started reading Ayn Rand's material. I have not read Atlas Shrug, but I have read The Virtue of Selfishness and I am currently listening to an audio book by her student on Objectivism.
7 posted on 05/01/2009 7:19:03 AM PDT by Nosterrex
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To: Nosterrex

If you start reading A-S now, you will be amazed at what she wrote is actually happening in reality. You can practically name the characters’ real life personae............


8 posted on 05/01/2009 7:20:20 AM PDT by Red Badger (If Keynesian economics worked, Zimbabwe would be a superpower.......................)
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To: Red Badger
http://www.nationalreview.com/flashback/flashback200501050715.asp works better for the Chambers piece.

ML/NJ

9 posted on 05/01/2009 7:21:30 AM PDT by ml/nj
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To: Red Badger

I won’t. I love to read, used to get scolded by my siblings for always having my nose stuck in a book. Mom would tell them they could do some good picking up a book themselves. ;)


10 posted on 05/01/2009 7:24:36 AM PDT by AirForceMom (Locked and loaded, and sharpening wooden stakes.)
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To: Red Badger
I’m trying to get my 22 year old daughter to read it, but she’s only interested in having fun.............

Girls just wanna have fun.

ML/NJ

11 posted on 05/01/2009 7:25:51 AM PDT by ml/nj
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To: Red Badger

I read Atlas last year (finally got to the task). It is very scary to see the real world parallels. Henry Waxman, Barney Frank and others are lifted from the pages.


12 posted on 05/01/2009 7:27:03 AM PDT by jdsteel (CONGRESS: Take it again in twenty ten.)
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To: jdsteel

Reading Shrugged right now! Great book!


13 posted on 05/01/2009 7:28:41 AM PDT by Cheryllynn
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To: Red Badger
I am amused by the Rand adoration from many social — read religious — conservatives. Rand, and “objectivism,” detests religion and its call for individual sacrifice. In “Fountainhead,” the reader is urged to run away from any organization that urges sacrifice for others. When it comes to faith, Rand is more Bill Maher or Christopher Hitchens than Mitt Romney.

Rand was against coerced sacrifice not sacrifice given freely. Big difference.

14 posted on 05/01/2009 7:31:24 AM PDT by Donald Rumsfeld Fan (Sarah Palin "The Iron Lady of the North")
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To: Red Badger

I read Atlas Shrugged in one long day while holed up in a hotel room in a strange city waiting out a storm. It was one of a very few books that I can really call life-changing. Ayn Rand was not a particularly admirable person, and I have some problems with her critique of altruism, but her insight into the human economic condition stands alone. Her characters, the looters and moochers and noble industrialists, are admittedly two-dimensional, but perhaps this makes it easier to correlate them with figures in public life today.


15 posted on 05/01/2009 7:34:41 AM PDT by ccmay (Too much Law; not enough Order.)
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To: Red Badger

yeah, it’s scary isn’t it?


16 posted on 05/01/2009 7:36:31 AM PDT by henry_reardon
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To: ccmay

BO-Pelosi-Reid, et al are all ONE dimensional..................THIEVES!............


17 posted on 05/01/2009 7:59:35 AM PDT by Red Badger (If Keynesian economics worked, Zimbabwe would be a superpower.......................)
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To: Donald Rumsfeld Fan
You are correct. She spent some time explaining how a man might appear to be sacrificing for his family but his love for his family makes it no sacrifice at all. She opposed all types of guilt, pressure, coercion and other manipulations to force behavior against a person's free will.

A person who truly loves His God might act in ways that appears to be sacrificing but in reality there is no sacrifice at all.

Most conservative Christians would agree with Rand that too many churches manipulate behavior rather than fomenting a relationship with God that ends up changing the person.

Rand's professed atheism was certainly not something I admired about her. But her insight into human nature (base and noble) and the need for moral absolutes stand in stark contrast to today's pablum that everything is relative and there is no objective right or wrong.

18 posted on 05/01/2009 8:45:34 AM PDT by Truth is a Weapon (Truth, it hurts soooo good!)
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To: Red Badger

“You will be AMAZED at “ Wrong. You will be SCARED OUT OF YOUR MIND when you realize that what Rand wrote is truly happening now. Step by step by step. Yes, one can read Atlas and mentally change the names as per today’s headlines. The same “ideals”. The same “hopes”. The same hypocracy. The same lies etc etc etc. The times are dangerous and people don’t see it.


19 posted on 05/01/2009 9:08:55 AM PDT by CaptainAmiigaf (NY Times: We print the news as it fits our views)
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To: Red Badger
Chambers on AS from the old NR article:
Its story is preposterous. It reports the final stages of a final conflict (locale: chiefly the United States, some indefinite years hence) between the harried ranks of free enterprise and the "looters." These are proponents of proscriptive taxes, government ownership, labor, etc., etc. The mischief here is that the author, dodging into fiction, nevertheless counts on your reading it as political reality.
I guess, about as wrong as one could have been.

ML/NJ

20 posted on 05/01/2009 10:00:17 AM PDT by ml/nj
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To: ml/nj

Too bad he ain’t around to eat his words................


21 posted on 05/01/2009 10:08:38 AM PDT by Red Badger (If Keynesian economics worked, Zimbabwe would be a superpower.......................)
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To: Truth is a Weapon

“You are correct. She spent some time explaining how a man might appear to be sacrificing for his family but his love for his family makes it no sacrifice at all. She opposed all types of guilt, pressure, coercion and other manipulations to force behavior against a person’s free will.
A person who truly loves His God might act in ways that appears to be sacrificing but in reality there is no sacrifice at all.

Most conservative Christians would agree with Rand that too many churches manipulate behavior rather than fomenting a relationship with God that ends up changing the person.

Rand’s professed atheism was certainly not something I admired about her. But her insight into human nature (base and noble) and the need for moral absolutes stand in stark contrast to today’s pablum that everything is relative and there is no objective right or wrong.”

Agreed. I’m a very conservative, Bible believing Christian but I adore reading Miss Rand’s work and listening to her interviews while rejecting her atheism. I really wish she had come to Christ during her lifetime because she would’ve been a brilliant apologist for the faith. Her love for intellectual integrity, rational thought and objective truth contrast sharply with the post-modern, hypersubjectivity, emotionalism and irrationalism that we’re drowning in today.


22 posted on 05/02/2009 2:04:17 PM PDT by ReformationFan
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To: Red Badger
I bought Atlas Shrugged as an audio book and listened to it in my car while traveling on a long trip. I found the characters realistic. I have worked with people just like them. It is good to know that stupidity was not invented in my generation. I had to endure listening to the nauseating romantic parts, but her economic principles are valid and substantial.
It is true that there is no room for God in Rand's epistemology or ethics, but there is no such thing as Christian economics. In this case, it is better to be a practical atheist, not a philosophical atheist. Well meaning people have done more to hurt the poor than those that understand the principles of economics. Feel good economics will kill you every time.
23 posted on 05/07/2009 12:58:30 PM PDT by Nosterrex
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To: Nosterrex

Why do people make such a big thing of her atheism? It has nothing to do with her economic principles. Would they discredit her if she were a Hindu or a Muslim or a Taoist? If she were a Christian, they’d be even harder on her as a “right wing extremist”................


24 posted on 05/08/2009 5:13:44 AM PDT by Red Badger (If Keynesian economics worked, Zimbabwe would be a superpower.......................)
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