EVEN LESS IRRELEVANT THAN YOU THINK
. Checkmate? This is Three Dimensional Chess, Boss. I've got quantum strategy, while you're still reading old Newton's rulebook. You're playing in Flatland, and my knights can jump
You read Atlas
in high school, and you assume that because she presented her ideal man
in that book, then holing up while the rest of the world destroyed itself must have been her plan of action. How do you feel when your admirers read the Punk Testament that way? Seems like they're missing the point, doesn't it?
By your own admission
, you don't know her philosophy. The Rand quotes in my earlier essay would have been an invaluable crash course in the length and breadth of her thought, if you hadn't read the piece in a frothing rage. You would not only have learned where your own assessment detoured, but you would have gained some real insight as to why this mere "pop fiction writer" keeps getting underfoot.
If you're up to it, I'm still willing to set you straight. Because she is NOT going away. Even if you kick me off the site, she will continue to get underfoot. To paraphrase another persistent nuisance, this is not something I, Brizoni, made up to be eccentric. You need to know why
she's a thorn in your flesh, and why it matters. And why you're wrong. But that's less of a need and more of a bonus for me. Rarer than technetium.
As long as we're editing Galt, let's take another whack. Once more, here's the original.
I swear—by my life and my love of it—that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
Here's what I take that to mean.
I swear—by my life and my love of it—that I will not subordinate my life to anyone else's, nor subordinate anyone else's life to mine.
Do I really have to explain that "subordinate" is the extreme sense of the word here? This doesn't mean "never do anything for anyone." There were gaps in her system, but "never help your loved ones if it costs you anything" wasn't one of them. Here's proof I'm not just reading "a compassion that isn't there" into it, this time:
Concern for the welfare of those one loves is a rational part of one’s selfish interests. If a man who is passionately in love with his wife spends a fortune to cure her of a dangerous illness, it would be absurd to claim that he does it as a “sacrifice” for her sake, not his own, and that it makes no difference to him, personally and selfishly, whether she lives or dies.
Any action that a man undertakes for the benefit of those he loves is not a sacrifice if, in the hierarchy of his values, in the total context of the choices open to him, it achieves that which is of greatest personal (and rational) importance to him. In the above example, his wife’s survival is of greater value to the husband than anything else that his money could buy, it is of greatest importance to his own happiness and, therefore, his action is not a sacrifice.
Doesn't jibe with the Ayn Rand of your supposition, does it? For the more general love for fellow man, the other side of the compassion coin, let's hear Nathaniel Branden's take:
The respect and good will that men of self-esteem feel toward other human beings is profoundly egoistic; they feel, in effect: "Other men are of value because they are of the same species as myself." In revering living entities, they are revering their own life. This is the psychological base of any emotion of sympathy and any feeling of "species solidarity."
Rand echoed her then-acolyte's sentiments in similar language. You can find this "same species" rationale uncomfortably clinical, as I do. Among other things, it seems to have left out-- while still having room for
-- the joy we feel when, say, Norman Dale choses Shooter's self-esteem over his own career. In consequence, it fails utterly to apprehend that our joy is vicarious
, that we feel it because Dale himself feels it. It has even less
to say about how Dale's joy is itself
vicarious, his exultation not even a prideful reflection of the good he's
done his friend, but a celebration that his friend has received good
. (and is that joy worth the "sacrifice" of taking yet another piss on his professional rep? Rand would say "you bet.") But, callousness aside, the fact that the two major pioneers of Objectivism could conceive of compassion so lucidly, and instead of dismissing it as illogical emoting, defend it on such sober (overly so, yes) grounds, puts real strain on the usefulness of your "a kind of psychopathy" judgement. Their system as they gave it is a little inhumanly detached, I agree. Nothing we can't fix. But I'll get to that.
We ignorant children defend Ayn Rand because she has an impact you underestimate. Mental deliverance from collectivist doctrine is just the root. The trunk is the proposition that each man has the capacity to, under his own power, make sense of life (and isn't that the point of your proposed social contract
? What else could you have meant by "the simplicity of thought and analysis we find in our own minds as the basis for all aspiration and decision making"?). The fruit is liberty
. Specifically, the liberty to
make decisions for himself using his rational faculty. The branch, since you asked, is the right
to that liberty, stemming (does that botch the metaphor?) from the need
Maybe you got that idea, or the gist, from Christianity. If so, you were blessed. Anymore, it's a notion of morality young people aren't exposed to anywhere
else-- not in art, music, movies, any of the seven thousand TV channels, scarcely anywhere on the internet-- keep in mind the distractant of the constant Chinese water torture of internet pornography every brain born after 1992 has been subjected to since birth, and every brain born after 1979 has endured since some point in its puberty--, the nightclub, the bar, the classroom, and certainly not the pulpit. Nowhere but Rand.
And here, of course. But your vision of the universe is so different from the inherited metaphysics anyone under 50 is cursed with, they couldn't begin to understand you. To say nothing of their near-total ignorance of history, and their... well, you know the drill. One can have an education that barely qualifies one for a fast food job and still get Rand. That doesn't work with InstaPunk.
we hear from the pulpit? Piss like this
Christian faith: Calvinism is back
Dever acknowledges that people might well ask, "Why would God make anybody who is going to go to hell?" His answer captures the essence of New Calvinism. "I don't know," he says. "I didn't do this. I'm just trying to tell you what I think is true, not what I like." [DIE!]
What critics see as a grim and fatalistic doctrine, however, Calvin saw as good news: that God's purposes can be fulfilled despite man's sinful ways.
"To him, predestination was a liberating belief because it says that God can choose anyone, however humble, and use him to overturn the great men of this world," says Professor Bray. "It makes real change possible and puts ordinary people like you and me in charge of seeing it happen. What could be better news than that?" [you mean, other than "Man is worth saving and God isn't a capricious sadist"?]
Many followers agree, adding that Calvinism is not fatalism: You are responsible for you behavior.
Which barely deserves to be called lip-service. In a future foredetermined by an omnipotent God, what room is there for responsibility, accountability, or effort? None. That's only "liberating" in the sense that sleep is liberation from wakefulness, or death liberation from the senseless agony that is life on earth, as Bill Ashbless would have it (and what's stopping you, chap? You think God's gonna splash some holy water on you when you get to Heaven and BOOM, meaning? HOW EXACTLY DO YOU THINK MEANING WORKS? Seriously. I want an answer). If that isn't fatalism, there has never been any such thing as fatalism, ever. And we both know
that's a crock of urine.
(The article itself is thorough journalism, fairly presenting Calvinism's appeal, historical contribution, and theological defects. There is one glaring error: Throughout, Calvinism is consistently presented as a literal read of the Bible. Uh, 'fraid not
That's one of the two faces of Christianity presented to us. The other is the tacky Megachurch feel-good threadbare theology, which profers not even dregs to slake one's thirst for the profound, the significant, the real.
Imagine you were reared with a modern education (take a moment to shudder) (and now run to the bathroom and prostrate the toilet, spitting into it and moaning, managing only with all your will to keep your breakfast down) (take whatever time you need). Faced with the choice between either of two grotesque zombie Christianities, and a philosophy that convincingly proports to restore RATIONAL MORALITY to the human experience, which would you choose?
People do fill in the gaps of Rand's thought with an inherited (vestigial? I hope not) Christian compassion. I do it myself. Gladly. With Rand, I caulk as needed. She has no concept of redemption whatsover, fine. Her notion that a male's sexuality is the expression of his deepest moral values is naive to the point of catastrophe, big deal. Your amputation metaphor presumes I'm advocating a strict, to-the-letter Randism. I'm not. Because remember how I'm not stupid? Only the most intellectually bankrupt doormats-- or in Rand's terms, "second-handers"-- want to be Randroids, mindless defenders of the orthodoxy. Thus your bewilderment over why those of her admirers who in your eyes are otherwise sensible, including friends you know in the real-live flesh, prize her so highly. That should be a clue, not a maddening paradox. They take her not as an amputation, but as a graft
. They, too, didn't get a rational defense of liberty from Christianity.
But Rand spent her whole life defending liberty with her greatest weapon: her mind. She didn't bail on the world and try to establish a utopian meritocratic commune somewhere in Utah or Wyoming, as you suggest she logically must have. Whatever her personal faults or the gaps in her thinking, she fought for the principle of freedom until the day she died. Point of fact, the battle against creeping nanny facism sapped what strength she might have had to confront what flaws did exist in her philosophy, and ruined her as a human being for her last two decades on earth. That was her sacrifice. In the Christian sense. George Gilder said it best when he called her a "flawed but heroic woman, who bore the moral defense of capitalism on her back like Atlas for nearly two decades, and never shrugged."
Which is why-- as you failed to mention in your rebuttal-- the Tea Partiers are the ones holding up John Galt signs. Atlas
isn't even a fantasy. It's a demonstration. Of who keeps the world turning, and what would happen if they were to stop. The brilliance, the utter brilliance, of the Tea Party is their recognition that they themselves, the Forgotten Men
, even more than the innovators and the super-gifted, carry the earth on their shoulders. Is it any wonder that Rand's philosophy of rational self-interest speaks so much more clearly to these men? But sore as their backs are, they don't want to dump us into a never-ending Earth Hour
They don't want
to quit. Yet. Best believe there's a point when they will. They're fighting for America's soul, but they're also warning
everyone that they will only give so much of their
souls. And rightly so. Their happiness counts, too.
Boss, if I
didn't believe in fighting like hell, I wouldn't have posted a defense of Ayn Rand and the nobility of hopeful atheism on this site, of ALL places. You think I didn't know it'd stir up such a piss-storm?
Believe it or not, this is
the fight that matters. Not just the logistics of cleaning the mess, but how the mess got made. Not just "what is," but WHY "what is." The disaster that is modern times is Rationalizations 27.9
come home to roost. Philosophy-- as in an articulated, conscious
concept of life-- is the keystone of civilization. You know this. Or did you propose your new social contract as a lark? And since Ayn Rand is where people are turning to find a new keystone, she is where we too must start the discussion/fight (I know you hate the blank-slash-blank formulation, but it's 4 in the morning here. Some of us have to work for a living).
Instead of waiting until the eleventh hour to get down to brass tacks, let's duke this out now. At half past the tenth hour.
I know I haven't answered all your objections. Don't think I can't, sir. But do you want me to? Are we having that conversation/battle? Or do you just want me to shut up?
Eduardo's Rand Post
. This post has been a long time coming.
The reason it's taken extra long to finish is because the point kept
changing. Then the Brizoni
Rumble '10 stole a lot of my
thunder, and IP's many updates to his post kept adding more
But that's okay. Thanks to Simple Sol's wonderful link in the comments
(which was the 800th update to IP's post, I think) I managed to put the
entire puzzle together, of which I had about 85% before. Anyone who has
seen any comments I've made on related posts on this matter knows I
have been a big fan of Ayn Rand and have read much more than merely
Atlas Shrugged, so believe me when I say this, with full humility:
InstaPunk is right.
Listen up, fellow Rand apologists, because this post is meant mostly
for you. I'm urging you to be careful, as I now leave your ranks. This
one is a bit on the long side, but I ask you to stick with me to the
end. It's about more than just Rand.
When I read the last part of Capitalism: the
Unknown Ideal by Rand, I was greatly impressed by this passage
The most profoundly revolutionary achievement of the United
States of America was the
society to moral law.
The principle of man's individual rights represented the extension of
morality into the social system - as a limitation on the power
state, as man's protection against the brute force of the collective,
as the subordination of might
to right. The United
States was the first moral
society in history.
All previous systems [of government] had held that man's life belongs
to society, that society can dispose of him in any way it pleases, and
that any freedom he enjoys is his only by favor, by the permission of society, which may be
revoked at any time. The United States held that man's life is
his by right...and
There is only one fundamental
right...: a man's right to his own
life. Life is a process of
self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the
right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action - which
means: the freedom to take all the action required by the nature of a
rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and
the enjoyment of his own life.
I like that. A lot. But then a question occurred to
me: what was Rand's stance on abortion?
An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to
an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it
born. The living
take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).
Abortion is a moral right—which
her wish in the matter is
considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what
disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?
Never mind the vicious nonsense of claiming that an embryo has a
life.” A piece of protoplasm has no
rights—and no life in the human
the term. One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy,
essential issue concerns only the first three months. To equate
with an actual, is vicious; to advocate the sacrifice of the
latter to the
former, is unspeakable. . . . Observe that by ascribing
rights to the unborn,
i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the
living: the right of young people to
course of their own lives. The
raising a child is a tremendous, lifelong responsibility, which no one
undertake unwittingly or unwillingly. Procreation is not a duty:
are not stock-farm animals. For conscientious persons, an unwanted
a disaster; to oppose its termination is to advocate sacrifice,
sake of anyone’s benefit, but for the sake of misery qua misery, for
of forbidding happiness and fulfillment to living human beings.
This outraged me. This one issue crystallizes everything that is wrong
with Rand, as she throws all of her consistency and logical reasoning
out the window to kneecap her entire philosophy. As much
as I've enjoyed reading her works, they have always felt incomplete to
me. I have had to fill in the blanks along the way due to the
absurdity of her final conclusion of the goal of existence being to
chase pleasure. One need only look at the string of worthless, rotting,
mega-wealthy actors & musicians whose daily existence is spent on
nothing but self-indulgence to see what kind of an end that brings. I'm
also a Christian, which Rand would certainly not approve of.
Let me point out how egregiously Rand contradicts her own supposed
values by using a much smaller quote from her:
We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences
Sex is fun. No argument here. But sadly, that's not its purpose. The
purpose of sex, like it or not, is to make babies. Whatever your
religious beliefs, that's one o' them thar facts. The fact that it is
highly enjoyable is irrelevant. Rand's whole argument for abortion
evades the reality of the purpose of sex. I don't think, as the Pope
time you have sex you must do so with the intent of making a baby. What
I'm saying is that if you don't want a baby or aren't in a position to
take care of one, then you're rolling the dice if you choose to have
sex. If somebody gets pregnant, it's not the baby's fault. It's a
reality we can't evade. Except that for Rand it's an exception?
Rand says we're not farm animals. Really? Then why does she treat sex
like a foregone conclusion? Animals can't help themselves and bang each
other all the time. [ED. Most don't. They have a mating season; we get
.] Doesn't man, as a
rational being, have the choice not
to engage in sex as a
matter of putting responsibility over pleasure?
But, oh, what about those poor young people for whom a baby would be
"disastrous"? Uh, why were they having sex in the first place again?
For fun. Right. Hmm. And they'd need to kill the baby
because it would
screw up their lives and stuff, which are so very important and can't
be derailed. Thing is, I've known people like that. They carelessly got
pregnant and had to get abortions because of all their big plans. Guess
what? They haven't done shit with their lives. Just saying.
So here we have one of the most tired repetitions carried out by each
new generation of atheists, that of making yourself God in the absence
of God. Rand
God with abortion. A baby is not alive in its first three months of
because...well, because Ayn Rand said so. It's not really much of a
leap from there to partial birth or late term abortions. How do I know
this for the doubters out there? Facebook.
Now InstaPunk hates Facebook. I think he's
missing something because I find it fascinating, and not just for the
"which Sex in the City character are you?" quizzes. When you become a
fan of something on Facebook, you get little updates posted to your
news feed and people comment on them. I enjoy scanning through those
now and then to call Pittsburgh Penguins fans derogatory names, and
also because it's a little different than your standard,
anonymous comments section of 5,000 people, many of which could simply
be trolls. The commenters on Facebook are real, and the ones commenting
on fan pages are really fans. One of
these strings was from the Ayn Rand page and the topic had wandered
into abortion. It started with one of her objectivist minions talking
how Rand only supported abortions three months in and late term ones
were clearly a more complex issue. The very next comment was someone
saying they didn't have a problem with late term abortions and others
agreeing. Rand herself probably really thought it was okay, too,
dontcha know, or she certainly would now if she were still alive. And
there you have it. What objective
moral standard are these people going by now that Rand (God, that is)
isn't here anymore to tell them exactly what is right and wrong? What
if some Objectivists think the three month rule should still be
observed? How will they make their case to the other Objectivists who
think they know exactly what Rand meant?
I recently had an argument with an acquaintance about abortion in which
was called a
Bible-thumping, religious nut job for my views when my
argument had nothing at all to do with God, religion or the Bible and I
had invoked none of them in the discussion. What
my beliefs are rooted in is the logical observation that life begins at
conception and that it is wrong to snuff that life out for the sake of
convenience. A is A, as Rand is so fond of telling us, and life is
life. Period. What's the difference
between saying a
so-called piece of protoplasm isn't really alive to saying someone with
severe mental retardation isn't really alive and should be put down for
their own good? What's the difference between that and saying that Jews
should be rounded up and put into concentration camps?
Whoops, did I go too far by bringing up Nazis? Is talking about the
"holocaust of the unborn" hyperbole? What's the
tally on abortions, is it 30 million? More than that? And Hitler only
killed a paltry 6
million people [ED. 6 million Jews; many more than that in total]. Those
are a whole lot of lives snuffed out, people. And
let's not kid ourselves: we know the vast majority of those were done
purely for convenience by women who were too
or lazy to care about preventing a pregnancy. Rand likes to repeatedly
against totalitarianism, but few things, if any, are more totalitarian
than a mother ending a life inside of her just because she wants to.
And see, this is why abortion is one of those things I force myself not
to think about very often. Because I'm not exaggerating. It really is that
bad. It's horrendous. My view is almost universally panned and laughed
pro-abortionists, though, as nothing more than superstitious
brainwashing by the Catholic Church. Even though the Church truly has
nothing to do
with it and I am far from what you'd call a devout or dogmatic Catholic.
Which brings me to Brizoni's
. It starts off well enough and I
found myself nodding along for a few paragraphs. Brizoni has some very
nice quotes from Rand that demonstrate, as Guy T.
commented, that not everything Rand wrote was bad. I agree with this
and have had my own arguments with our gracious host in this respect.
There are many brilliant parts in Atlas
, and whatever else you
want to say about Rand, you can't deny that she had the Marxists'
number. She knew exactly what goes through their heads and you can see
the proof of that play itself out on a daily basis right now.
But you know what? IP's Die Hard
analogy really hit home, because
that's exactly right. My favorite parts of Atlas Shrugged
watching my favorite parts of an action movie. They get me pumped up
and excited. So much so that I want to give her a pass and say, as the
commenter George implied, that you have to divorce her personal life
from her writings, otherwise you're committing an ad hominem attack.
that's not entirely accurate in this case. Saying I don't like Rand
because she was Russian is an ad hominem attack. Inferring what
sort of person she was by strictly interpreting her invented philosophy
promising start, though, Brizoni goes off the rails and his post
becomes some sort of Bill Maherian HuffPo piece of condescension to
Christianity and it
the most spectacularly secular way possible, by inexplicably calling
St. Augustine a fag, which has nothing whatsoever
to do with anything. Just like Brizoni's view of life, the universe and
This secular line of achieving spiritual liberation by being
spiritually empty is
unoriginal and uninspired. You know what quite a lot of atheists and
agnostics are? Liberal, progressive Marxists. You know what they love?
Making their lives and everyone else's as miserable as possible and
rolling back the amazing standard of living we've achieved based on the
irrational belief that capitalism is causing the planet's climate to
change and will make things really hot (like hell?). They liberate
themselves from the fear of God and fall, without skipping a beat, into
the fear that the act of exhaling carbon dioxide is going to kill the
And let's not forget the "happy accident"
bullshit. The best way to think about that is to compare it with
Sisyphus, cursed to roll the boulder up
the hill for eternity (and I'm stealing this example, just so you
know). The Christian view teaches that there is an overall meaning to
existence with suffering along the way (about 99% of which is brought
about by our own actions or those of other humans). When you accept the
happy accident philosophy, though, the teaching changes to lots of
little meanings with no overall meaning or purpose. Roll the stone to
the top of the hill. Then what? Well, then maybe you can build a house.
Then what? Don't ask "then what?"; the house is its own purpose. Be
happy about that. Or maybe you'll never get the stone to the top of the
hill anyway, so who cares? The end. Very profound, no?
Well you know what? Fuck that, Brizoni. That and your juvenile Why
Heal Amputees insights. Just like the atheist who wins an
amputee over with their recycled Huck Finn praying for worms on the
fishing hook logic; where do they go from
there? Nowhere. The amputee is still an amputee.
In the end, atheists and agnostics have nothing to offer.
But what about Christians? What about that dusty, anachronistic old
book that mentions unimaginable things like all of us were created in
the image of our own divine creator? That creator who created life,
just as we ourselves can create life and all manner of other
things.What about our magnificent minds, the only ones on the planet,
that can invent things like prosthetic limbs? Even something as
crude as a hook or peg leg is something that no other species would
ever figure out. Why is that again? Oh yeah, the cosmic accident.
Maybe, just maybe, God didn't hand down all these horrible,
oppressive rules and things
to us because He wants us all to be unhappy. Maybe He did it to try and
help us. If you need a pop culture reference, I can't think of anything
than the third season of Dexter. For those of you who don't follow the
show, Dexter is a sociopathic serial killer who was adopted and raised
cop, ironically named Harry. Harry recognized the darkness in his son
and taught him a code to live by. A lot of it Dexter doesn't
emotionally connect with, but he still follows the code of Harry and
so he only kills bad people. In
the third season, though, he starts
to rebel big time. His father is dead, but Dexter still has visions of
him in which he is given advice. In this particular season, Dexter
decides he knows
more than pops and disregards the code, which very nearly leads to
disaster. Not because his dad's ghost got angry and cursed him somehow,
but because his dad actually did know better. There is a point, when
things are going to shit for Dexter, that a vision of his dad reminds
him the oldman didn't give
him to code to mess up his life; he gave it to him for his own good.
Is there no such thing as original sin, Brizoni? Well, answer me one
simple question, hoss: have you ever done anything that you thought was
wrong? I know the answer is yes, so tell me, why did you do still do
it? Afterward, did you feel bad about it or did you rewrite your
own moral code to declare that what you just did was actually okay?
Where Rand fails with her Original Sin reasoning is that
we're not robots; we choose
to sin. Our desires, vices or what have you get the better of us and we
give into them. Animals are the ones that live by instinct alone. Man
is the one with the mind. We choose
to do things like have unprotected sex that results in a pregnancy, and
then we choose
to kill the
baby to make our own lives easier. The real reason you're so excited
about the possibility of God not existing is because, as Aldous Huxley
admitted, you don't want the universe to have any meaning
because it frees you to do whatever you want. There's a word for that:
anarchy. How well does that work?
Even Nietzsche, in his Madman
The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes.
"Whither is God?" he cried; "I will tell you. We
have killed him---you and I. All of us are his murderers.
But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave
us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing
when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving
now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging
continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is
there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an
infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has
it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us?
Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing
as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do
we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too,
decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.
"How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?
What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned
has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off
us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals
of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not
the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves
not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?"
Whither is Rand's consistency going? Whither is the current objectivist
stance on abortion moving? Whither is the point of Brizoni's post
moving? They're all moving backward or sideways in all directions. Do
you understand what I'm saying?
Some of you might think I'm preaching to you. Really, I'm
not. I get uncomfortable talking about a lot of this because I'm not a
holy roller myself and I don't think I'm better than anyone else
(except for communists and hippies). I don't pronounce judgment on
who's going to hell and who's not. However, I still believe what I
believe. I believe there is a lot of truth in the Bible and it's there
no matter how much you want to ignore it or uh, "evade" it. I've
mentioned a time or two in the comments here that I've been reading the
Bible straight through for the first time ever, page by page. I've been
stuck in Psalms for quite a while now. Not because it's boring, but
because it's long and fascinating. How much of it was prophecy? How
much of it referred to Jesus? How much of it was simply David talking
his own personal situation? Could some parts also be referring
to present day or, as you deconstructionists out there would say, am I
just reading what I want into it? What does all of this have to do with
abortion? Well, I
came across this passage from Psalm 106:
36 And they served their
were a snare unto them.
37 Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils,
38 And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their
daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land
was polluted with blood.
39 Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with
their own inventions.
40 Therefore was the wrath of the LORD kindled against his people,
insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance.
41 And he gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated
them ruled over them.
42 Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into
subjection under their hand.
Here's the thing: abortion is the new human sacrifice, and these babies
are sacrificed not to Moloch or Quetzalcoatl, but to ourselves, who
ourselves God. We are the new idols that are being served. We may not
be scooping people's hearts out like the Aztecs -- "only fetuses out of
uteruses" -- but if an objective
moral law exists, there's no difference. What's most likely is that
this passage isn't prophecy of our country, but rather one of those
things that people revert to over and over again when they live without
God, no matter how many thousands of years go by, and how God feels
about that. But now technology is allowing us to kill at an
unprecedented rate. That's a hell of a lot of innocent blood to account
for, and that's another reason why I purposefully avoid thinking about
abortion, because I think that blood calls out for justice. And no,
Brizoni, I'm not afraid that the man in the clouds is going to fly
around hurling lightning bolts. In fact, no Christian I've ever met has
been worried about that. What I think is that God simply removes His
blessings and leaves us to our own devices, and even then it's because
the people have abandoned Him and don't ask for His help anymore.
I'm starting to think that a lot of us, or at least our children, will
be finding out what
it's like when Atlas really does shrug. And I'm not referring to John
We are the children and grandchildren of our
forebears, which is where all the guilt comes from. If they were good
and strong, we measure ourselves hopelessly against them because we're
woven from the same cloth in different seasons. If they were bad or
weak, then so must we be, a fatal flaw waiting to erupt. Through the
human genius for guilt, we tend to believe both of the above. They were
good and bad, and we are bad and worse or waiting to explode.
Is there a kinder interpretation? Perhaps. Maybe time is more a
variable than we suspect. Maybe what they survived in theirs would
shrivel them in ours.
We are engaged in a great battle for our country. My own forebears
faced similar threats in their times. But they were able to do so
privately, sometimes in uniform and sometimes wholly in the dark.
I know that I look at my father and grandfathers and am sure I don't
measure up. But they never faced the requirement to tell you about
them, as I, the lesser, lower generation must. In order to reach you, I
must tell you things they never would have shared. About my faith, my
heart, my lowest and highest loves, my most closely guarded passions,
my affectations, my failures, my sometimes most bitterly and
humiliatingly won lessons, my youthful illusions, my graying fears. I
guess it's a brand new kind of resistance. No epaulets, no medals, no
stiff regimental photos, no grave unchallenged orders from the rocking
All I can do is show you my mind and experience, unarmed but for my own
wit, and hope that they will turn the tide. I've wondered for a long
time why this is so hard, this blogging regimen, given that there is no
real risk involved. You can't really hurt me, and I have many masks to
hide behind. So why does it keep getting harder, this coming up to bat
each day? Why, after half a dozen years, is it less comfortable now
than it was when I started, with so much more unsaid, it seemed, than
seems still so urgently unpsoken today? No matter how much I share,
there's more I haven't yet had the courage to let you in on, about life
and what's most important in it. I keep falling farther behind the list
of what I should tell you, not because I am wiser but because you are
younger and I am slowly losing the common language that might speak to
you. How all old people die. Silent in their rooms. Not because they
have nothing to say but because there are no longer any words to say it
But it's just occurred to me, conveniently or truthfully, that they --
my father and grandfathers -- couldn't do what I do: spill out the
whole ungainly mess of a life's experience and hope that someone,
anyone, gets it. To an audience that holds the power of either vilfying
it or ignoring it. With either result being like swallowing broken
glass. What I'm saying in more flowery terms than necessary is that
they were stuffy. Most of what you've heard from me you would never
have heard from them. Intensely private, don't you know? Because they
had their standards and every day I speak to you I violate those
standards in ways big and small.
I'd trade places with them if I could. But I can't. They were better
suited to their time than I am to mine. But I'm also thinking there's
no way in hell they could ever have been InstaPunk, regardless of the
provocation. Funny how things work. I inherit both their disdain for
self-revelation and the honest compulsion to do what I can for those I
care about. But I also know I'm a rara avis, on the verge of becoming
extinct. I'm the Tasmanian Tiger of the Internet.
Yeah, Penny. The
truth will out. My ass is striped.
But my mouth is big. And my teeth are lo-o-o-ng.
I am what I am and
accountable to no one because my like does not exist anywhere else. No
matter how vicious I am. No matter how unclassifiable and endlessly
paradoxical I am. I'm the last of my breed. What they call a genetic
dead end. But I'll still be snarling when they put me down in my cage.
(Hopefully, they'll retain some footage...)
Friday, April 09, 2010
Tale of Two Ridiculous Deaths. Which is worse and why?
IS ONLY FASHION, RIGHT?
Back in 1927, the world was horrified by
the sudden death of Isadora
, an American celebrity who charmed Europe by doing modern
dance in the nude. You could think of her as the Madonna of her day.
For example, she was known chiefly by her first name and excelled at
glamorous promiscuity to riotous adulation. Anyhow. One day she went
for a ride in a Bugatti Type 35 (or 37 -- accounts differ),
nude, because her billowing scarf caught in the Bugatti's wheels and
broke her neck instantaneously.
Even today's uneducated press remembered this sad old event when they
reported on the sorry end of a young
in Australia who expired in a go-kart accident caused
by her burkha becoming caught in the kart's wheels.
Which is sad, to be sure, but also utterly ridiculous. I'm not going to
dwell on this, but as an older person I'm thinking one thing that's
sadder is the step-function dropoff in romanticism from then to now.
Isadora racing to her demise in one of the world's most beautiful cars
versus the poor woman done in while trying to have some amusement park
fun because her culture requires her to wear a death shroud while still
alive. Until it kills her.
Ridiculous, but not laughable. Ridiculous deaths call attention to
their circumstances, beg us to comment. Isadora's death was ridiculous
but it carried no particular message. She died the way she lived,
wanting more than she could have, and perished poetically of her own
insouciant disregard for reality. That's why it's romantic.
Today's death is
Ridiculous and nauseating. We tolerate cultures that physically entomb
half their population in garb that screens them from normal sensory
input, and then how do we react to the consequences of such systematic
and wanton cruelty? We laugh. I laughed. Why? Because a woman in a
burkha is not a woman but a burkha. Which
is the whole point of the custom
. Inside there, somewhere, was a
young woman who wanted to have some fun for once in her life. And she
died as a result. That's not romance, because romance is about life and
vitality and excess. It's tragedy instead. A sheer waste made
inevitable by human villainy. Made worse by the sheer ridiculousness of
We've advanced in our mentality since 1927, have we? O you politically
correct apologists for the great religion of peace, Islam: Have we?
I think not. I think the apologists are despicable, contemptible,
corrupt, complicit. Why couldn't this 24-year old woman have had Isadora's kind of
death? In beautiful clothes, a beautiful car, and an unapologetic zeal
for life and living? Instead of a small-time thrill on a kid ride that
turned deadly for someone too cocooned in modesty to be able to live at
all? If you ask me, 1927 was a better year for living and dying in than
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Golf. The Bengal
A pissed-off Eldrick can turn incredibly
violent. Just so you know.
IN A NAME?
Anyone else getting tired of the
Woods saga? Well, I am. All that dudgeon. I think it's fine that
faithful men have this opportunity to take credit for their
faithfulness. But I never really thought that professional athletes
were particularly faithful men in the first place. Call me jaded. I
doubted, initially at least, that professional golfers were the way to be. I mean, think
about it. They play golf for a living
What are they going to do with the rest of their time? What with all
the travelling. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. And, of course, the
travelling. If Jack Nicklaus never did, good. Same with all the rest of
them. Good. I'm delighted to hear that only one golfer ever cheated on
his wife on the road. It reassures me that my counter-intuitive
decision to make them role models for my own private life was spot on.
Now, all I have to figure out is how much I can trust the dozens of
softball enthusiasts I've met over the years to be equally worthwhile
"role models." Cause I never did before. Somehow I always figured that
35 to 40 year old men who have to play softball every f___ing weekend
of their lives are just high school jerks who never grew up and would
probably screw anything that stayed still long enough in the dugout.
But that's just me. Everyone knows I'm
not to be trusted.
Good luck with all that public apology stuff, Eldrick. I mean it. Just
don't tell me you're taking up softball. That I couldn't take.
that I'm defending the Antichrist of Golf or anything... but I was
slightly amazed to hear that the PR czar of Augusta took the
opportunity to blast Tiger
to the press about his disrespect for the game of golf. Because I
actually watched all of this
, about the patron saint of Augusta National, Bobby Jones.
also had a problem with his temper.
Something about being the best. Some
Oh well. I'm sure Eldrick will figure out some way to placate the massed millions
of dudgeonated Nike consumers. And so it goes.
Right on schedule, another IP prediction comes true. Eldrick is winning
back his Nike fans by making himself the butt of more easy instant
than have ever been produced in 24 hours before. Another
record for the Wood Man.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
The Rand Thing Again
I promised you NSFW. I keep my
The pagan goddess who played
and wants to star in Atlas Shrugged. Dagny.
Excite you kids, does it? Please hold
RE BRIZONI'S BOWEL MOVEMENT
[FYI. She's not really naked. It's Beowulf CGI.]
. A tiresome subject that so many of you
are entranced with. Pardon my invective. These are not hard concepts.
You make them hard by over-thinking them. I'm going to make a few basic
points here and then determine if more is necessary based on your
Rand is a young man's (or woman's) philosopher. Hers is a statement of how
things could work if we lived in an ideal, rational world. The same
could be said of Marxism, by the way. Marx never intended for his ideas
to become an excuse for ruthless totalitarianism, mass imprisonment,
mass murder, and the total annihilation of personal freedom. They
became so because we do not live in an ideal, rational world.
Sadly, Rand is every bit the shallow intellectual Marx was. Which
shouldn't be too surprising because her ideas were a very direct
response to Marxism. That's one reason youngsters respond so favorably
to her. Like Freud, Marx has been discredited by history but his ideas
and language are still embedded in cultures that reject him for most
practical purposes. Kids grow up hearing about the collective good, the
bourgeoisie, the proletariat, etc, and if they're smart, they get
rebellious. It's liberating that the word "I" matters too. I get that.
I experienced it myself.
But there comes a time when a child must grow up and put away childish
things. Rand is one of those childish things. I call her a psychopath
because she has taken the fundamental component of Christian
psychology, the self as a sacred identity, and amputated from it the
reciprocal responsibilities it establishes between all human beings.
All people carry a divine spark. That is the basis of their rights and
their obligations. From my own readings, I do not see that Ayn Rand was
ever concerned about anyone other than her idealized 'Hero' conception
of her protagonists. I don't think the non-heroes were ever real to her
except as the dust beneath her chariot wheels. Isn't it arguably
psychopathic to idealize the concept of appetite and make it tantamount
to a secular religion?
Rand's objectivism could never be the organizing basis for any enduring
society. It would devolve just as rapidly as Marxism did to a
tyrannical state in which the bottom rung starves or becomes a slave
class. Any sense you have that it would be otherwise is due to the fact
that you haven't recognized objectivism's parasitism on traditional
Christian morality. We just assume
John Galt wouldn't let anyone starve to death in his rational utopia.
Why do we assume that? Because people are basically good (whatever that
might mean in the objectivist universe)? Or because all of Rand's
western audience -- including the most devout of atheists -- are the
inheritors of a Christian tradition far more complex and tolerant of
philosophical contradictions than anything to be found in Rand's tinker
toy model of society.
Tinker toy? Yes. Because it's based on static analysis. Just like
Marxism. And just like the leftist accounting we're getting from the
Obama congress and the CBO. Societal models that work, like the U.S.
Constitution, succeed for as long as they do because they subordinate
the machinery of cultural systems to the ineffable and unknowable
meanings behind the screen of human reality as we perceive it. They
allow for dynamism, the responses of human nature in all its
permutations. Our constitution was built squarely on the foundation of
Christianity, on which it depends in every critical instance. The
authors described a legal system. They never claimed it would result in
justice. Because no human contract can secure justice, which belongs to
God. That's why they countered every power they gave to men with limits
and oppositions that could, hopefully, be brought to bear against the
Remove God from this contract and you get what we are getting now; the
tyranny of the smarter, the more powerful, the more ruthless. God's
contribution can be summed up as human humility. That's the ultimate
balance of powers in the constitution. The recognition that we all have
rights and resorts and powers, whether we're smart or stupid, energetic
or lazy, rich and connected or poor and alone.
Which is why I have no particular time for all the crowing atheists.
They are the direct beneficiaries of a God, or Man's inspired belief in
Him, that gives them the luxury of declaring themselves heroic isolates
in a godless creation they nevertheless cannot explain. It's like a
passenger on a cruise ship who believes himself a talented sailor
because he can rumba without staggering on the Lido deck.
That's also why I say everything in life is about Christ. Even for the
atheists. Nothing about even the disbelievers would be what it is
without Him. Not your lives. Not the knowledge you boast of. Not even
the consciousness you conceive of as your heroic individuality. You'd
be livestock. As would Ayn Rand.
Brizoni thinks he scores a big point by declaring that Rand simply "evaded"
God. Brilliant. There is no cruise ship. I am dancing the rumba on a
Lido deck resting on the back of a giant turtle squatting on a...
Well, you get the picture.
I'm sorry I get angry. But people who continue to champion Rand past
their teenage years are, to me, somewhat arrested in their development.
That disappoints me. Her philosophy is called objectivism
. Think about that.
Forget about knowing any objectivists, of which there are exactly none.
You don't know anyone who's truly objective either. Christianity could,
I suppose, be called Subjectivism/Objectivism -- Or Rational Irrationalism. Which would be far less
beautiful names, but they would also highlight the half of everything
Rand knew nothing of. Because she was a psychopath.
The beat goes on. Nobody challenged my arguments except by implication
and general grumpiness. I'm still trying to forestall a prolonged
derailment of more important issues. So here is my one response to a
commenter, which I hope you will agree is both polite and to the point.
Welcome. You said...
"Rand didn't write about "what is." She
wrote about "what could be" if we all lived honourably, worked hard,
and supported ourselves.
"In Christianity, we ask "What would Jesus do?" In Objectivism, our
question is, "What would John Galt stop doing?"
"Perhaps some consider it a philosophy for the young because as we get
older we realize the cold, hard truth:most people are not honourable,
do not work hard, and live off the rest us while hurling insults and
"I'd rather aspire to Rand's vision of Utopia than anything else that's
been presented to me so far."
I'm aware that I'll never change your mind about Rand. Obviously you
have a right to admire people who have inspired you. However, you've
said some things I disagree with because they are either wrong or
misrepresent the reality. So I'll respond to those.
You say that Rand didn't write about "what is" but "what could be."
That's true. She's a utopian philosopher, which you concede (without acknowledging that utopian philosophies killed more people in the 20th century than the total human population before that century). Then you
go on to imply that the same is true of Christianity by quoting "What
would Jesus do?" as if the "would" in this modern bit of bumper sticker
or junk jewelry cant is somehow definitive of Christianity as another
speculative philosophy. It isn't.
The most fundamental attribute of Christianity is that it's so
intensely focused on "what is." The concept of Original Sin is not the
species-wide death wish today's technocrats have turned it into. It's
wiser than that. It represents a warts-and-all view of the human
condition. What is. The branding of us as sinners is not really some
weird religious judgment invented by a deranged scripture writer. It's
who we are. We all have appetites, lusts, hurtful and potentially
lethal emotions and impulses. Christianity, as defined by the gospels
and the elaborations of the apostles, is a way of dealing with what is,
from the inside out. No one of us can end poverty, war, disease,
heartbreak, betrayal, crime, injustice, or even unfairness. What we can
do is change ourselves, govern our worst impulses, promote our better
ones, and accept that there may be no reward in this life.
Christianity is all about how to live in whatever world and
circumstances we are born into. However you choose to interpret
apocalyptic scriptures like Revelation, Christianity is not a utopian
religion. It does not specify a government or organizing process that
will eliminate all the ills flesh is heir to. When Christ says "Render
unto Caesar what is Caesar's," he is expressly eschewing the disastrous
theology we see in Islam which synonymizes a belief system with
mechanisms of government. Christ's mission is the education of
individual souls, not social engineering of the culture.
That committed Christians have subsequently and repeatedly sought to
embed Christian principles in governance is, however failure ridden,
not utopian either but conscience-driven. It is flawed by the same
flaws which afflict individuals. To date it has reached its apogee in
the United States Constitution, which is the basis of American
Exceptionalism precisely because it is the system of government that
does the most to accommodate human nature as it is. Its multi-century
succcess at this is all the proof anyone could need that Christianity is
infinitely wiser, more subtle, more complex, and more adaptable than
the pure top-down meritocracy espoused by Ayn Rand.
I understand that she is a pleasing read, like Lord of the Rings
fantasies. But there's also something dark at its core which you
reflected in your own brief comments:
"In Christianity, we ask "What would
Jesus do?" In Objectivism, our question is, "What would John Galt stop
"Perhaps some consider it a philosophy for the young because as we get
older we realize the cold, hard truth:most people are not honourable,
do not work hard, and live off the rest us while hurling insults and
The second observation is why you see no problem in the first. Most people are not honourable, do
not work hard, and live off the rest of us
... Really? Not my
experience, to tell you the truth. I think most
people work very hard to
provide for their families and behave pretty honorably on the whole. On
the other hand, many of them do not agree with my politics. A lot of them (but not most)
belong to grabby unions who think nothing of going out on strike to
feather their own nests at my distinct expense as a taxpayer and
devoted capitalist. What should I do in response? Excuse me. What
should I stop
what John Galt would stop doing, apparently, is exactly what Tea
Partiers are doing right now: FIGHT. For the soul of his country, the
legacy of his ancestors, the sacrifices of those who gave their lives
that ours might be better than theirs. No. The HONORABLE position,
apparently, is to go on strike. Really?
But it's all a tempest in a teacup. Atlas
is a fantasy. There's no "Hole in the Wall" hideout in
Colorado where the "best" people can run each other out of business in
bloodless, casualty-free competition while puffing themselves up in
quasi-divine self-righteousness. I mean, have you ever actually given
any thought to that particular chimera of utopianism?
I know it all sounds so good in a cartoony sort of way. Brizoni gave me
an advance glimpse of the hook he intends to hang his hat on:
I swear—by my life and my love of
it—that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask [NOR
FORCE] another man to live for mine. [ea]
From his bolding I gather he sees tremendous moral authority in the
second half of the statement. Big of him. Maybe if we reversed the
I swear—by my life and my love of
it—that I will never ask [or force] another man to live his life for
mine, nor will I live my life for the sake of another man.
Better? Well, maybe not. The statement might work better without the
second half. Mightn't it? That half was always the weak sister, wasn't
it, given cover by the implied generosity of the other.
I'm not denouncing you from the pulpit. I'm only highlighting things
you know intrinsically but have chosen not to see because "Atlas
Shrugged" is kind of the Die Hard
of intellectual fiction. An exciting adrenalin rush that just makes you
feel good. Except that John McClane didn't quit when the odds got
prohibitively long. He defied Brizoni's great moral principle by
deciding to live (or die) for a bunch of others, only one of whom he
I apologize for comparing fiction to fiction. I leave you the obvious
out that McClane's wife was a hostage. But I couldn't resist. Because I
knew you'd think of it and then of all the millions and millions of real
human beings who have lived
(and died) for the sake of other men's and women's lives without even
the prospect of a dollar (or kopek, ruble, franc, or mark) of profit on
the table. And how many of them could we agree became greater not lesser in the process? I mean we could start with Christ, but there have been others before and after, from Socrates to Abraham Lincoln and millions of not so famous giants in between. Who never went on strike.
"Our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." Many of the same
people who remember and admire this pledge by the founders, and the
very real risks and sacrifices it entailed, will also stand up on their
hind legs and tell me that Ayn Rand is a philosopher for the
ages. I'm just not buying it. And it has nothing whatever to do
with her private life, about which I know virtually nothing.
So I accept that she's a beguiling fantasy and I don't begrudge you
that. Any of you. But fantasy she is, and that's why I get tired of the
Here's the Rand
of competition. "I will live for the sake of no other man."
Behold heroic Randian Man.. Or did I miss the 30-page exegesis on compassion, mercy, and respectable blue-collar bonds that preceded John Galt's elitist radio gush?
And here's the Christian, American view. A disgraced coach, a flawed
last-chance father, a bunch of small town losers, and something nowhere
mentioned in Rand's writings: redemption. (btw: Godspeed Dennis
, who also knew something about redemption.)
But he's dead now, so who cares? His window of productivity is done.
Weakness is its own reward. Can you see her in the first row, cheering
the champion? Faugh. Defend your goddam pagan all you want. If you
as your dashboard
totem, be my guest. I know you're better than she was. Every single one
of you. Why all the truculent crap? Adolescent nostalgia? Glamorous wishful
thinking? Get over it. (Here's your replacement
. I love her too. But please note the static Stalinist
monumentality as you drool.) We're all getting older. Life is not to
the swift and sculpturally ideal. It's to the living.
All right. Perhaps this isn't a trivial difference or a distraction. In which
case you have all misunderstood me all along. I'm not who you thought I
was. You're not who I thought you were. And I have to rethink
everything. Now I have to consider the possibility that you obdurately
believe in some sort of utopia yourselves. If only we could get rid of them
Well, I used to think I had the smartest commenters. But I have to inform you
there is no them
we could get
rid of that would solve our problems. What we're staring into the face
of is the problems of the future. You know. A global
economy. Transforming technological leaps. Energy issues. Biological challenges. Hatreds that can be transmitted at light speed across the
Internet, no matter how ancient and irrational they are. There is no
'formula,' no atavistic backward thrust that can fix everything. And I
keep stubbing my toe on this Ayn Rand nonsense.
Here's the deal. No one has ever been here before. Not to this point in
time. There are useful historical parallels but none of them precise
or predictive. Whatever his other faults, Obama is at least brave if
he's not feckless. He's trying to chart a course he thinks makes sense.
I don't think it makes sense. So I oppose him tooth and claw. But I am
also looking at the future, not the past. There is no paradise we can
return to. Or make up because it seems like it might be preferable to
As I contemplate this whole bizarre discussion of Ayn Rand, I'm
reminded of a post I did about healthcare
long ago. Which got no substantive responses at the time, only
persiflage. Because it suggested there really is a problem we have to
solve. Interest? Not much.
THERE IS NO GOING BACK. Which reminds me of a joke I made about
Brizoni's putative next response -- that it would involve masturbation.
I was right. But stupidly, thick-headedly AFTER the fact. Everything
that doesn't deal with the reality we presently face is after the fact,
nostalgia, bullshit, more bullshit, and, uh, masturbation in memory of
a past paradise that never existed.
That's why I'm so furious about Ayn Rand. She's irrelevant. Utterly.
Completely. Impossibly. How could any of you spare any time to defend a
pop fiction writer who wrote novels that are too long to read unless
you're a nerd? Did you also read all the novels about the
Illuminati written by Taylor Caldwell? They were cool too. And even
anticipated the Kennedy assassination.
BUT. Our country is facing the greatest threat to its existence ever.
Via forces from within and without. What do you want? An easy
explanation? That it's somebody's fault? I get especially irate when
people I respect take the position that it's somehow "okay" to take the
easy way out and say "It's not my problem. People are stupid. I am
Talk to me, people. Tell me you're still able to fight, not just
scavenge the past for reasons to quit.
I AM SO DISAPPOINTED.
But I plan to keep fighting. Dumb as I am. Uninformed as I am. Clueless
as I am. I love this country and I intend to be the last man slain in
the battle for her soul.
Do you think Ayn Rand would join me at the last barricade. Or do you
think she'd slide away in a Gulfstream with her latest above-it-all
Talk to me.
As I said, I no longer believe this discussion is irrelevant. But if
what you want is permission to quit, please go elsewhere. You won't get it here.
A commenter gives us this link
a review of a Rand biography. It's mostly news to me, but it's also
consistent with what I have inferred. Read it, please, before you write
off. He knows the other
sides of Rand I haven't researched -- the personal side, yes, but more
importantly the Russian side. Here's an excerpt:
Her unequivocal admiration bordering on
worship of industrialization and the size of human construction as a
mark of progress is profoundly Stalinist. Where Stalinist iconography
would plant a giant chimney belching black smoke, Randian iconography
would plant a skyscraper. (At the end of The Fountainhead, Roark
receives a commission to build the tallest skyscraper in New York, its
height being the guarantor of its moral grandeur. According to this
scale of values, the Burj Dubai would be man’s crowning achievement so
far.) Industrialists are to Rand what Stakhanovites were to Stalin:
Both saw nature as an enemy, something to be beaten into submission.
One doesn’t have to be an adherent of the Gaia hypothesis to know where
this hatred of nature led.
Finally, Rand’s treasured theory of literature, what she called
Romantic Realism, is virtually indistinguishable from Socialist Realism:
Since my purpose is the presentation of
an ideal man, I had to define and present the conditions which make him
possible and which his existence requires. I had to define and present
the kinds of premises and values that create the character of an ideal
man and motivate his actions.
Zhdanov could have written that, and it is hardly surprising that, as a
result, Rand’s heroes are not American but Soviet. The fact that they
supposedly embody capitalist values makes no difference. Rand fulfilled
Stalin’s criterion for the ideal writer: she tried to be an engineer of
Truthfully, I can't tell you when I've read a better written review of
anything. That doesn't mean he's right, but I can assure you that the
man is an intimidating scholar and an absolutely superb writer. I can't
find anything wrong with any
of his sentences, diction, or punctuation. That is without precedent in
my last few decades of experience. Not since The New Yorker
was the most
carefully (well, yeah, beautifully
written and edited periodical in the land. For what it's worth.
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