Friday, November 18, 2011

Collapse is all there in the Objectivist manual

Fat Cat goes Galt


I concluded yesterday's post with the following.
Objectivism is a philosophy that is contributing to our problems. Worse yet, it is becoming a response to our problems, making them even worse.

What, you say, Objectivism causes collapse? Yes. It's all there in the manual. But that's the subject of Part II.

Stay tuned.
More quotes tomorrow.
Time to follow through.

Brad Hicks on LiveJournal had the following to say about "Atlas Shrugged."
Atlas Shrugged, for those of you who never read it, can be summarized entirely fairly as follows. Unknown to our viewpoint characters at first, an inventor named John Galt has invented a "free energy" machine, a motor that runs on ambient static electricity and the Earth's own inertia and puts out enough electricity in a fairly small unit to power almost anything, including vehicles, force field generators, energy weapons, even an invisibility cloak if you use a big enough unit. He invented this while working at a company where his contract gave them rights to stuff he invented on the clock, like most professional engineers and inventors, but he assumed that as the inventor, he was entitled to all of the profits from this fabulous new invention. The company's management and other employees, though, saw just how much resentment would happen if one company owned the monopoly on an invention this valuable, and started making plans for how to invest some of the profits into charitable ventures, so they wouldn't get the whole thing taken away from them via eminent domain. John Galt, outraged that anybody would even suggest that he or the company he worked for owed anything to the nation that provided his education, protected him from infectious disease outbreaks, protected him from Communist invasion, built the roads that got him to work each day, provided the police that kept him safe, and provided the court system that protected his property rights at all, sabotaged the Galt Engine, so nobody could have it.

Then he went further and, in a fit of offended pique, promised to "stop the motor of the world," to kill 90% or so of Earth's population by intentionally wrecking the economy. Which he then did. How? By finding every other competent engineer or manager in the US and persuading them to be just as selfish as him, just as unwilling to pay back or protect their country; he declared a covert "strike of the mind," as he called it. He hid them all in a secretive compound in the Rocky Mountains, protected by force field and invisibility cloak, and waited for the US economy to collapse, which, obligingly, it did -- because John Galt had carefully sabotaged the bridges and railroads that made it possible for fuel and seeds to make it from the coastal cities to inland farms, and make it possible for food grown on inland farms to make it to the coastal cities. And as chaos was breaking out, he and his fellow inventors hijacked every radio transmitter in the US to broadcast his manifesto: You all deserve to die, for asking us to pay you back even one nickel, because we are all so selfish we don't consider any of the things you all paid for out of your taxes and that you did with your labor to have been at all helpful to us as entirely self-sufficient brilliant inventors and managers. So die.
I told you. Deliberately engineered collapse in the service of Objectivist goals is all there in the manual. Furthermore, John Galt, the mastermind behind this plan, is someone that Objectivists think is a hero. Lovely.

Furthermore, George Monbiot noted that efforts to prevent collapse, especially environmental collapse, absolutely enrage Objectivists.
A new movement, most visible in North America and Australia, but now apparent everywhere, demands to trample on the lives of others as if this were a human right. It will not be constrained by taxes, gun laws, regulations, health and safety, especially environmental restraints. It knows that fossil fuels have granted the universal ape amplification beyond its Palaeolithic dreams. For a moment, a marvellous, frontier moment, they allowed us to live in blissful mindlessness.

The angry men know that this golden age has gone; but they cannot find the words for the constraints they hate. Clutching their copies of Atlas Shrugged, they flail around, accusing those who would impede them of communism, fascism, religiosity, misanthropy, but knowing at heart that these restrictions are driven by something far more repulsive to the unrestrained man: the decencies we owe to other human beings.
Furthermore, they have elite help as Stranded Wind stated on Daily Kos.
How did we get here? You’ll find the Friedmanite free market ideology, lacking in merit for many of the situations to which it has been applied, yet its followers continuing howling that we ought to let the market decide, marketwide credit constipation be damned. The handmaiden of this foolishness, Rand’s objectivism, provides the ideological zombie virus that created many of the Freidmanite ideology’s true believers.
I'm in the middle of reading Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine," in which Milton Friedman's free market ideology plays a starring, albeit villainous, role, so I found the juxtaposition of Friedman and Rand particularly striking. When I finish the book, I promise to blog about it. I just hope it doesn't take seven months.

Of course, what comes around goes around. One of the quotes collected on Mike Huben's site comes from Bob Black, "Smokestack Lightning" and is most apt.
As it happens there is light to be shed on the libertarian position on breathing. Ayn Rand is always inspirational and often oracular for libertarians. A strident atheist and vehement rationalist -- she felt in fact that she and three or four of her disciples were the only really rational people there were -- Rand remarked that she worshipped smokestacks. For her, as for Lyndon LaRouche, they not only stood for, they were the epitome of human accomplishment. She must have meant it since she was something of a human smokestack herself; she was a chain smoker, as were the other rationals in her entourage. In the end she abolished her own breathing: she died of lung cancer.
Enough seriousness. Time for some fun tomorrow.

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