Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Day in Exquisite Insults of Objectivists

Fat Cat goes Galt


On February 11th of last year, Paul Krugman quoted Jonathon Chait, on the revelation that Paul Ryan is an Ayn Randite:
Ryan clearly has a passion for ideas and isn’t just interested in short-term positioning. It would be nice if the party had people like that who didn’t also happen to be loons.
The rest of Chait's post read as follows:
Last week, I called Republican budget sorta-kinda point man Paul Ryan "crazy but honest." Today, some of the intellectual influences behind the first half of that description are coming out. TPM reports that Ryan is a big fan of Ayn Rand and "Atlas Shrugged." The Daily Beast, interviewing Ryan, reports that he was influenced by Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism."

What do those works have in common? They're written by people who don't understand liberalism and the left at all, and are thus unable to present liberal ideas in terms remotely recognizable to liberals themselves. The specific lack of understanding lies in an inability to grasp the enormous differences between American liberalism and socialism or communism, seeing them as variants on the same basic theme. The historical reality is that the architects of American liberalism saw it as a bulwark against communism, and communists and socialists in turn viewed the liberals as in implacable enemy. (Yes, you can cherry pick a few data points of commonality, but these are the exceptions rather than the rule.) The result is a tendency to see even modest efforts to sand off the roughest edges of capitalism in order to make free markets work for all Americans as the opening salvo of a vast and endless assault upon the market system.
One of the commenters on Chait's piece posted the following about the comparison between Rand and Goldberg:
Jonah Goldberg is no Ayn Rand. Indeed, they are opposites. Ayn Rand's books are appealing (forget the politics), but her personality was nothing less than looney. Jonah Goldberg's personality is appealing (forget the politics), but his books are nothing less than looney.
Krugman also quoted the late Paul Samuelson on Alan Greenspan:
You can take the boy out of the cult but you can’t take the cult out of the boy.
We've seen this quote before. We've also seen the complete version of it in context.
And this brings us to Alan Greenspan, whom I've known for over 50 years and who I regarded as one of the best young business economists. Townsend-Greenspan was his company. But the trouble is that he had been an Ayn Rander. You can take the boy out of the cult but you can't take the cult out of the boy. He actually had instruction, probably pinned on the wall: 'Nothing from this office should go forth which discredits the capitalist system. Greed is good.'
While Krugman was done, his commenters weren't:

Jim S:
"I simply don't understand how all these morons want to create a Randian government. Of course all her ideas were proven right in her novels. It was a made-up world tailored to validate her ideals."

amark:
"Anyone who still champions "trickle down" economics, or thinks Ayn Rand is more than a utopian joke is delusional. Either that, or they are rich sociopaths with a gift for lying and immoral behavior."

Pluto Finnigan:
"Dr. K a closet gossip columnist. Who knew? But he's no pro as you can see from his use of the word Ayn Randite. Everybody knows they are called Randoids."

planetgroucho:
Mr. Chait sums it up exceptionally well, "What do [the works of Ayn Rand and Jonah Goldberg] have in common? They're written by people who don't understand liberalism and the left at all."

Marylin Ayn Nardollilo:
"I love the reference to the AR Cult, the Ayn Rand "philosophy," in "you can't take the boy out of the cult." Greenspan (though he was a co-author with Rand of her book, "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal") was a real economist, a professional forecaster and consultant who made millions consulting for investment firms; AR (Rand) was a propagandist, an extremely paranoid anticommunist campaigner, and she didn't know her economics first-hand. She kept her money in a savings bank. When Greenspan became an adviser to Ford, Reagan, Clinton, Bush et al., he knew he couldn't advance Rand's puristically laissez-faire ideals, he knew that actual capitalism is a mixed system of private sector industrial production, and of services, including public sector products like roads and public sector services like police, all kinds, and it bears no real relation to Rand's utopian daydream of laisse-faire, which he dismissed in about a sentence in his memoir: how would the government raise revenues to protect the populace in a purely laissez faire world?, he asked, and he threw up his hands. He was dealing with actual capitalism, not the unknown & platonic ideal of such. I met him for about a minute, he was a cool guy, really relaxed and gnomish, he loved talking with women, and he was also a serious dork, a bit awkward and alienated from everyday reality, totally into intellectual processing."
~ Maddy Nardolillo

Richard R. Schneider, MD:
"Having read Atlas Shrugged in 1968, I think what Ryan and other "Randians" miss is that in her world the protagonists are not only the creators of wealth, they are also imbued with unmitigatied honesty. In our world, these so called creators of weatlh are frequently so dishonest that they are in reality little more than thieves. As such, it is imperative that they be strictly controlled by the force of law. Laws by definition can only be created and enforced by government. This is the intrinsic fallacy that is part and parcel of so called "Randianism"."

Sean O'Donnell:
"As a Republican, I don't know why so many conservatives/Republicans like Ayn Rand. She was pro-choice, anti-religion, an atheist, and had little if any morals (she cheated on her husband with a man over 20 years her junior)."

Wild Clover:
"I'll confess to liking Ayn Rand's novels, though once I started on her non-fiction I soon figured out how bad for society her concepts are. I recently re-read The Fountainhead, and realized that the republican/right wing playbook is very much modeled not on her heroes, but on the modus operendi of the bad guys. Rush Limbaugh and Fox standing in for Ellswort Toohey and his quest to control. Go far enough right on the political spectrum, and it becomes the extreme left and visa versa. Rand's bad gutys were extreme left, but in essence seem very much where the right is heading, if not already there. George Bush and bonuses for failed CEO's is exactly the celebrating and rewarding of incompetance that occurs as an evil in her novels.

Now, how can progressives and liberals fight against misinformation and the love of the "common man" for the prominent idiot? I don't know. Reality shows whose premise seems to be taking the biggest idiots and parading them before the public are extremely popular...mostly so the lowest common denominator can feel superior to someone I would guess. Real news shows, history shows, etc. all fail miserably in the ratings war, while reality shows and the latest stupid stunt by the famous win big time. It is time, and past time, for the lowest common denominator to be lifed, rather than society sinking to its level.

Maybe my kid's generation will do better."
The above are all gems, but my personal favorite came from Jaap de Raad:
"Alan Greenspan, and anyone over the age of 20 who still is a Randite (or Randoid, if you prefer), is either naive, deluded, or has little contact with the real world. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas counts himself in that group.

From time to time everyone has a half-baked idea, but those of Ayn Rand never saw the inside of an oven."

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