Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Coldhearted Crackpot

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." — Kung Fu Monkey.
Despite the massive push by the Heritage Foundation and Freedom Works, the film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged is seeing dismal ticket sales. Perhaps all the Teabaggers who worship at the altar of the selfish, coldhearted crackpot, Ayn Rand, really went Galt this time? Or couldn't part with their gold coins for a movie ticket maybe? Or the movie simply sucks?

The far-right's love affair with Ayn Rand is odd in some ways and quite fitting in others. On the one hand, she was an atheist and believed in abortion rights. According to Rand, "One method of destroying a concept is by diluting its meaning. Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living." The capitalist Randians try to keep this quote hidden from the Christian Randians.

But Rand's philosophic justification of greed is quite fitting to the Republicans. Altruism is immoral. Social goals are for suckers. Self-interest is the only acceptable motivation in society. Life and love are earned through productivity.

In other words, most of us are blood-sucking parasites. This Randian definition would, of course, encompass the soccer moms, Joe the plumbers, and every teabagger out there... but don't tell them that. Their great delusions keep them believing that they are the "better class" that Rand speaks of.

And as self-proclaimed members of this "better class," they can believe any pseudo-intellectual justifications for the growing inequality of wealth in this country.
Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today. The justification they came up with was called “marginal-productivity theory.” In a nutshell, this theory associated higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Evidence for its validity, however, remains thin. The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance). Those who have contributed great positive innovations to our society, from the pioneers of genetic understanding to the pioneers of the Information Age, have received a pittance compared with those responsible for the financial innovations that brought our global economy to the brink of ruin.
This greed-is-good mentality, disdain for humanity and economic disparity are all related. No man (or woman) is an island -- not even a selfish, coldhearted crackpot.

1 comment:

nunya said...

She was a twisted one, wasn't she?