Atlas Summer…it begins!


I go into “Atlas Summer” knowing Ayn Rand only by reputation.  I know the titles of Rand’s books and their basic plots (there’s a lot of rape, right? and trains?) as well as the overall thrust of her weltenschauung.  I also know more than I wish I did about Ayn Rand’s personal life: idolizing serial killers, starting a cult of personality/stud farm, popping uppers like they were Pez…Most of all, I know her by her influence on three generations of self-regarding white guys, from Alan Greenspan to Ron Paul, and the philosophical fuel she provided for neoliberalism’s deregulatory steamroller that paved the way for housing bubbles and derivatives clusterfuckery.

The Randian garden gnome who helped destroy the economy.

Ron Paul: Randian and creation of the Children’s Television Workshop.

Amazingly, interest in Rand, particularly her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, skyrocketed just after an economy powered by Randian precepts collapsed, discrediting both her and her followers.  The Apostle of Deregulation himself, Alan Greenspan, essentially admitted to a congressional committee that his entire worldview was defective!  Yet, when centrist Democrats attemped mild Keynesian stimulus (while cutting taxes), it prompted up every Rand follower in and outside of government to take to the ramparts, dog-eared copy of Atlas Shrugged in hand, rather than doing what basic human decency demanded: begging the world’s forgiveness, then committing ritual suicide with a sharpened copy of Galbraith’s Affluent Society.

The penalty for supporting the Gramm-Leach Act: ten Hail Marys and twenty pages of Krugman.

What mystical force must be contained in such a volume?  This is a book that not only has the power to convert an army of computer science majors to its author’s cause, but to hold acolytes in its thrall no matter how much evidence piles up revealing it as utter twaddle!  The only comparable work I can think of is the Bible, and at least that book offers up the enticing promise of eternal life and Heaven everlasting.

Offer of Eternal Life not valid for Jews, Muslims, Randians or Richard Dawkins.

Perhaps Rand offers a secular equivalent: the prospect of life lived without the chains of oppressive conscience, a terrestrial utopia more indulgent, more personalized, and, most importantly, more realizable than the dreary “worker’s paradise” promised by Marx.

Roadmap to Utopia: No Looters Allowed!

Or maybe (gulp), Atlas Shrugged is just really, really well written.  There’s truly only one way to find out…

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