Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ayn Rand Rises Again

Who's next? Gordon Gekko?

As the economy crumbles, the usual cultural indicators of panic are on the rise--gun sales, survivalist talk and, of course, interest in the last century's loony goddess of selfishness.

"Ayn Rand," the Wall Street Journal reports, "died more than a quarter of a century ago, yet her name appears regularly in discussions of our current economic turmoil. Pundits including Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santelli urge listeners to read her books, and her magnum opus, 'Atlas Shrugged,' is selling at a faster rate today than at any time during its 51-year history."

The message of that turgid 1200-page opus, that money is the root of all good, has inspired those who need justification for extreme selfishness and for looking down at the rest of humanity as “looters” and “moochers.”

When it was first published, "Atlas Shrugged" was derided by both the right and left, but over the years, a few acolytes like Alan Greenspan and Ron Paul (who named his son Rand) have risen to prominence.

Now that Greenspan has helped devastate the economy, the president of the Rand Institute is proposing that only more of the same will save it:

"Why do we accept the budget-busting costs of a welfare state? Because it implements the moral ideal of self-sacrifice to the needy. Why do so few protest the endless regulatory burdens placed on businessmen? Because businessmen are pursuing their self-interest, which we have been taught is dangerous and immoral...

"The message is always the same: 'Selfishness is evil; sacrifice for the needs of others is good.' But Rand said this message is wrong--selfishness, rather than being evil, is a virtue."

For those who can tolerate such stuff, reading "Atlas Shrugged" is punishment enough. At least Gordon Gekko with his message of "Greed is good" in Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" was an entertaining son-of-a-bitch who did not offer himself as an exemplar of a higher morality.


Anonymous said...

Yeah I've been getting tired of Rand too - it's essentially a manifesto for justifying antisocial behavior and inflating one's ego. That's it.

Give me the Analects any time.

jackdoitcrawford said...

Ha Ha. There must be some reason why Atlas Shrugged is still selling 52 years after publication, better even than when Rand was alive. Even the haters and the cowards are promoting the book, while the lovers of it are eating it up. God, what a read it is.

Anonymous said...

Dishonest creep- why don't you include the rest of the quote?

"By this she did not mean exploiting others à la Bernie Madoff. Selfishness -- that is, concern with one's genuine, long-range interest -- she wrote, required a man to think, to produce, and to prosper by trading with others voluntarily to mutual benefit."

Think for yourselves people- dishonest people like this blogger are desperate to discredit Rand any way they cam- misrepresentation of her views being the first trick.