Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ayn Rand on Johnny Carson: Watch the full Tonight Show interview. (VIDEO)

Ayn Rand on Johnny Carson: Watch the full Tonight Show interview. (VIDEO):


Ayn Rand is a one trick pony and an effective marketer of snake oil. The key is that her alleged philosophy has only one premise that things would be so much better had humanity not strayed from the Path it was intended to be on. Whether it lies in the cruder readings of Marx and Engels and the vulgar literalism that overtakes the Religious Right, these are variations on the Fall from Grace trope. It is a simple paradigm, simply presented, that presents a powerful and seductive reason for why things are not perfect. It is a fantastically reductionist movement that, although Rand protests that no one, not even the State, may initiate force against another to compel him or her to act against their own judgment, Rand's dogma isn't workable, even in the most botched and disastrous application, unless the absolutist policies favorable to her ends find implementation in a manner that brutishly and none so subtly exclude an opposing view.

The inevitable result of her views and the views of her followers is to establish an authoritarian regime, with rights and privileges restricted to those with money, land, industry at their full disposal. Rand as much argued this in her writings. Now is the time for all of us to imagine the sheer hell an America governed by Randroids would be like. Bear in mind that I am talking about Rand's ideas and her followers and not about the Libertarian Movement in general. Rand has spent a good amount of her writings arguing who should have power and who should not, and regardless of the finer points of her grating prose, it comes down to that those with the business genius, which is to say downright ruthlessness, are the only ones who have the natural right to shape the world in which they live. Others are no consequence; it is implicit that others in the culture, the majority of us, must be subservient to those who build corporate edifices to their self-defined greatness. This comes across as authoritarian and calling it something else or claiming that it isn’t so does not change the matter that life for the rest of us, under Rand regime, would be Hobbesian nightmare, nasty , brutish and short.

It's fitting. Rand was nasty, brutish and short.

Ayn Rand continues to infuriate the left, because she clearly identified the basic and crucial political issue of our age: capitalism versus socialism, or freedom versus statism. “

Ayn Rand famously presented herself as an atheist in her desire to be branded an intellectual, and yet the diagnosis she presents as to what the defining and most crucial issue facing America as a country and culture,, "free vs. statism", is a trope she borrowed from the Bible and it's fables of end times, of the war between Heaven and Hell being fought here on earth through the human agents for God and Satan. This Manichean view demonstrates the laziness of her thinking. Not that this habit of borrowing particulars from the narrative template Christian orthodox places upon us is limited to rigidly Hard Right demagogues; erstwhile atheist philosopher Karl Marx foresaw the end of history as process where, after achieving through violent revolution the "dictatorship of the proletariat", the State would wither away and the world and the people within in would be restored to a pre-Capitalist state of naturalness. Among both their sets of codified ideas are a great many notions taken from other sources, and the presentation of their ideas into comprehensible arguments entails rummaging through the same stock of rhetorical devices and sleights of hand. The upshot of all this, of course, is that it feeds beautifully to a population that desires an answer to the over arching question that consists of When Did Things Go Wrong?

 You can find an answer for ever No one is arguing against property rights; rather one is arguing against a belief system that insists to the exclusion of all other evidence that it is morally wrong for property owners to be held accountable for what they do with their property, or that there should be enforceable standards and limits on what can be done with that property lest it seriously and dangerously conflict with --gasp!--the greater good. When the hack architect Keating in The Fountainhead breaks his promise to Roark and allows government bureaucrats to alter the design he (Roark) ghost-designed for him, Roark feels betrayed and personally violated by the forces he abhors and takes it upon himself, by reason of him being a self-motivated and self-contained creator, to ignore the Law and all shared sense of decency and avenge his hurt feelings by destroying the finished destruction of the public housing project. 

The shelter and elevated standard of living it would have provided the poor and needful was of no consequence--the solipsistic principles Roark lived by needed to be enforced over all else. Roark's long and one-note speech at the end of The Fountainhead is a fairly good outline of the Objectivist point of view, and with it Roark defends his action. There was a disturbance in the balance of things, much as it goes in classical tragedy, and only an act of severe violence, unmindful of what death might occur as a result, could put the balance right again. Roark here is conspicuously Rand's mouthpiece, a sock puppet peddling her peculiar brand of inverted morality; the implication is clear, conspicuous, very plain indeed: should the work of genius creators like Roark be interfered or changed, the creator reserves the right to become to rise above the petty, slave morality laws of common society and commit an act of TERRORISM to keep his point clear. This is not merely a fictional spiel intended to tie up loose plot threads, it is a serious if deluded argument meant to be taken seriously by the reader. Roark is very much a fictional creation whose example we are meant to be inspired by. ...more