Wednesday, July 05, 2017

John Galt Come To Life

Jill Abramson writes that we are witnessing the final stage of Baby Boomer dominance, which has been defined by the ascendancy of Ayn Rand. Rand's fingerprints are over the Senate health care bill:

It should be called The John Galt Bill after the hero of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, the doorstopper of a novel that is akin to the Bible for certain conservative politicians, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who hands out copies of the book to newly elected Members (The House version of the health care bill is even more Galtian than the Senate’s). It’s the only book I’m aware of that Donald Trump claims to have read.

Keep in mind that at her funeral in New York in 1982, “Ayn Rand’s body lay next to the symbol she had adopted as her own - a six-foot dollar sign,” according to Susan Chira who covered the service for the Times. A few years ago, The Atlas Society, which keeps the Rand flame alive, urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to “unleash our inner John Galt.” They must be celebrating because even they could not have come up with a more hard-hearted piece of legislation.

There are none who are the more Galtian than Donald Trump and his party. And the Galtians are having their revenge:

Since modern American politics is always a revenge cycle, one way to look at the Republican health repeal measures is as payback to Chief Justice John Roberts, who infuriated Republicans in 2012 when he sided with the US Supreme Court’s four liberals to uphold the Affordable Care Act. He finessed his decision by defining the individual mandate as a tax, citing congressional power to levy taxes. Now McConnell & Co are using that same power to repeal them and make the billionaires richer.

And Galtian influence is spreading beyond the shores of the United States:

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates bully Qatar into bending to their will, as the Kurds forge on with their independence drive, both selfish moves that don’t even consider how they may destabilize the rest of the region. Pulling out of multi-lateral treaties, like the Paris and Trans-Pacific accords, because Trump says they don’t put US interests first is also supremely selfish, as Ignatius rightly points out. 

A significant number of us bought into what Rand called Objectivism. Others of us saw that the term was Orwellian. It was all about subjectivity. The ego was supreme. The term, like the lady herself, was a fraud.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump is John Galt come to life.

Image: Proud Producers


Toby said...

To those of us who read Rand with a critical eye, John Galt was the bad guy.

Owen Gray said...

He was no hero, Toby. Unfortunately, devotees of Rand saw him as one.

Anonymous said...

I've always had the impression that Rand was desperately trying to convince herself of something. Who knows what.

What sort of individual not living in an alternate reality signs on to something like this?

Perhaps the same types who walk around statues of Cornwallis toting Red Ensigns.


Owen Gray said...

The guys in Halifax may not know much about Ayn Rand, JM. But they are her unwitting disciples.

Anonymous said...

There are two "l"s in initialled. Let us not become American before our time!

Ayn Rand and her load of rubbish is what has led to the right wing BS about rugged individualism, ideal for the super rich. When you can convince the people to be individual, then hey presto, no unions. It's the "I'm all right, Jack" syndrome writ large. Then all social programs can be ditched and each serf has to look after itself no matter the personal crisis. In America they still believe it's the only place where a lowly peon can become rich all on their lonesome, but then anything but domestic navel-gazing has long been an American trait.

Surveying croissants of a Paris morning 45 years ago when I was backpacking during a break in graduate studies in London, Americans were stunned that what they regarded as a real breakfast was not available. Interest in foreign culture did not rank highly, so Micky D's have since been installed all over the world so that obese Yanks can guzzle grease for brekkie, lunch and dinner while scoffing at the natives backward culture. A more incurious people I have not met.

Last week, I helped a very beautiful pregnant woman lug a huge load of plates, cups and other detritus to her SUV from a store, because carts were not available. She protested mightily that I need not help, but really, I mean to say, there were two obstreperous doors that tried to continually close on her as she slid four very heavy boxes across the floor. So I demurred, and just got on with it. At the vehicle she said, "Halifax isn't like Texas! Nobody would ever help there!" I was stunned. "Are things that bad there?" She replied in the affirmative. So I welcomed her to civilization. I am 70 so not just some young buck eager to impress. Surely what I did is normal? Can we expect Alberta to gradually turn into an uncaring wasteland if Kenney gets his way? I surely hope not.


Owen Gray said...

One hopes that Texas is not in our future, BM. The world needs only one Lone Star State. British spelling noted.

Dana said...

All of which simply reminds me of one of my favourite films, Bill Forsyth's 1983 gem "Local Hero".

Townsman: Are you sure there are two l's in 'dollar', Gideon?
Gideon: Yes! An' are there two g's in 'bugger off'?

Owen Gray said...

Spelling -- like dialect -- follows geography, Dana. When I went to North Carolina to study for a graduate degree in English, there were two of us from Canada in class. We got our first essays back, with barely passing marks, because of our atrocious spelling. We both went to see the professor -- whose PhD was from LSU -- after class. When we told him that in Britain and Canada we used these spellings, he simply said, "You're not in Canada anymore."

Dana said...

So you're saying your professor was an American asshole...they've been around for a long, long time.

Mark Richard Francis said...

I managed to read Atlas Shrugged by pretending it was satire.

Oh. You can get the novel online for free.

John B. said...

I'm not going to connect the Halifax Five to the situational rugged individualists yet, although I'm sure somebody is working on forging that, yet another, coalition of the scatterbrained. For now I just want to see where they go with the freedom of speech and expression twaddle. Maybe the template is somewhere in whatever it was that was used to inspire the right-to-work-for-less freedom fighters.

Owen Gray said...

No, Dana. In other ways, he was fair and honest. But his rule was an old one: "When in Rome . . . " Rules change with geography, too. It would, of course, have been better if his vision had been wider and deeper. But width and depth does not come easily.

Owen Gray said...

Rugged individualism has been around for a long time, John. I do not expect it to disappear. It's malevolent individualism which is a threat to everyone's health.

Owen Gray said...

Can you find it at Gutenberg Galaxy, Mark?

Dana said...

As always when dealing with Americans, irrespective of geographical location, it is the non-Americans who do the accommodating.

Owen Gray said...

I admit the truth of that observation, Dana. As Justin's father famously said, it's not easy sleeping with an elephant. Americans suffer from the illusion that all of the globe's geography is theirs to deal with as they please.