Category Archives: Ayn Rand

Atlas Falls Cycle – Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, and the lessons of Donald Trump

As I transition to doing more research for the Atlas Falls cycle, which is a parody of Atlas Shrugged, I think that the current administration makes the work highly trenchant. Indeed, part of my research!

Part of my criticism of Objectivism is that it doesn’t work because people aren’t anything like the heroes or villains of Atlas Shrugged. What makes this highly apropos is the relationship between Rand-devotees in the Senate like Paul Ryan and Rand Paul with Donald Trump.

I have thought a long time to the extent that Trump shares the goals of Objectivism. While Trump is the kind of man that would be created by Objectivism, that’s because of its ideological idiocy – the idea that ruthless ambition has a limit, an idea that is verbally expressed in the novel but ignored in practice. But, in the end, Trump is one of Ayn Rand’s enemies: a crony capitalist who finessed government regulations to get taxpayers to foot the bill of his construction contracts, using tons of insider pull. In the parlance, Trump is a looter, raiding the public trust to subsidize his business ventures, succeeding more because of federal largesse and elaborate contacts than holding himself to the tenants of laissez-faire capitalism.

Yet, he is the President, and none of the government Randroids have the guts to call him what he is: a crony capitalist. Not only has Trump gotten one over on the disciples of Rand in the government, Ryan, in particular, has his tongue so far up Trump’s ass that he knows what Trump ate for dinner two minutes before Trump does.

When writing a parody of Atlas Shrugged, though, this dynamic between the followers of Rand and a man that Rand would consider an archenemy (if one consistently adhered to Objectivist philosophy) is fascinating.

I acknowledge that this is a lot of interpretation, in part because the characters of Atlas Shrugged don’t live up to Rand’s stated ideology. From murderous piracy of Ragnar Danneskjold to the intellectual property theft of Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden to innumerable breaches of contract (which are supposed to be the bedrock of Objectivist law and order), the characters of Atlas Shrugged don’t live Rand’s ideology. So, given the immense failure of the cast of Atlas Shrugged to live up to Objectivism, Trump is very much like a Randian hero as written.

You read Atlas Shrugged without understanding the supposed ideology of Objectivism, the lesson of the book is clear: it’s okay to do anything, to break any law, destroy any contract, to lie, to cheat, to steal, and to kill to get your way. In this regard, Trump is very much like Rand’s heroes, even down to the sexual abuse of women.

Which, ultimately, is a big part of what the Atlas Falls cycle will be about: how Rand’s heroes aren’t who they think they are, how they violate all the principles they claim to hold. That Paul Ryan and Rand Paul’s horror at Trump is simply the horror over the lessons of Atlas Shrugged.

The Origin of John Galt

statue-1515390_1920-1200x900Here’s another Atlas Shrugged fanfic from yours truly!  One of the fascinating things about these characters – now that I’ve got a little distance from the novel – is that Rand leaves them as nearly blank slates.  Even when some of the characters do having living family, like Hank Rearden, their family seems to have no real relationship with the character, evidenced by Hank’s mother’s name, in the novel, is literally “Hank’s mother.”  She has no proper name.  And while both Francisco and Dagny are obsessed with long dead ancestors, we learn almost nothing about their immediate family and nothing at all about their fathers.  Ayn Rand has daddy issues that burn so brightly that people are Jupiter are blinded by them.

Atlas Shrugged Reviews as Political Commentary

My finishing purge of Atlas Shrugged is to discuss the flaws in her political and social reasoning, as opposed to merely talking about why the book is a disaster artistically.  (And it is a disaster artistically, as close to objectively awful as a book gets.)

Ayn Rand, in Atlas Shrugged and elsewhere, isn’t just proposing a form of laissez-faire capitalism. She is proposing a system of ethics in which selfishness and greed are the dominant – maybe even sole – principles. To many people, this is absolutely terrifying, and Atlas Shrugged does a very good job of exposing the reason that’s terrifying, even though Rand doesn’t seem to notice it.

Continue reading Atlas Shrugged Reviews as Political Commentary

Why I’m Writing a Parody of Atlas Shrugged

I’m reading about Ayn Rand because I intend to write a parody of Atlas Shrugged, which takes the form of a novel that occurs immediately after the end of Rand’s novel (albeit changed enough to remove the threat of copyright infringement, and strengthen a fair use defense in case something weird happens). The purpose of the parody is to create a rejoinder to the political, philosophical, and economic principles that Ayn Rand lays out in the novel.

It is simply uncontroversial that Ayn Rand’s followers, particularly those at the Ayn Rand Institute, use the novel Atlas Shrugged to spread Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. In The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism A to Z, Atlas Shrugged is quote dozens if not hundreds of times to illustrate the philosophy of Objectivism. The Ayn Rand Institute has given hundreds of thousands of copies of Atlas Shrugged to schools with the express purpose of introducing new generations of readers to Objectivism. John Galt’s long speech in Atlas Shrugged is considered to be the first complete expression of Objectivist principles. It is also my personal experience that followers of Ayn Rand quote Atlas Shrugged the same way Christians quote the Bible – at nearly every turn for nearly any occasion.

Continue reading Why I’m Writing a Parody of Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged: Reviewed as Art

atlas4My agonies are done. I have finished reading Atlas Shrugged. I will have to go back to it, time and again in the coming months for research, but the worst is over. I no longer have to engage in the novel as a novel, but merely as a resource to drive my parody.

In this review, I’m going to talk about Atlas Shrugged as art. It is a book that is both philosophical and political, but I’m going to leave that for another review. This one is just about Ayn Rand’s art.

I can say with absolute certainty and clarity that this is the worst novel I’ve ever finished reading in terms of artistry. Atlas Shrugged is not I novel I dislike, it is a novel that is as close to objectively bad as can be written. I am going to write a numbered list – who on the Internet doesn’t like numbered lists? – that outline just some of the absurdities, bad research, and contradictions of Atlas Shrugged. Some will be general, others quite specific.  Their sheer number is so breath-taking, so overwhelming as to remove all doubt about the quality of this novel: it is garbage.  No, no, it is objectively and uncategorically garbage.

Continue reading Atlas Shrugged: Reviewed as Art

Criticism of John Galt’s Speech in Atlas Shrugged – I come not to praise Johnny the G, but bury him

statue-1515390_1920-1200x900I’ve just got done with John Galt’s long speech in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It’s part philosophy lecture and part insult-comic rant. It is bad at both. (Later on, in my general critique of Atlas Shrugged, I’ll cover the most serious of her flaws in regards to art, politics and economics. It would take a book-length critique to get them all, but there are several that are especially glaring, even to me.)

There are three primary philosophical sins in John Galt’s 36,000 word speech: the first is badly constructed syllogisms, the second is reliance on arguments from authority, the third is straw man arguments. I’m going to give an example of each, but just one, because the speech sixty-plus pages long and it would take forever to cover everything.

Continue reading Criticism of John Galt’s Speech in Atlas Shrugged – I come not to praise Johnny the G, but bury him

John Galt: Cult Leader

statue-1515390_1920-1200x900John Galt looks a lot like a cult leader.

After having read the first couple of chapters of part three of Atlas Shrugged, something started to look mighty familiar from my research for Simon Peter: John Galt has nearly every characteristic of a doomsday millenarian cult leader.

First, John Galt approaches people – or has them approached – when they’re psychologically vulnerable. He targets people who are in the midst of exceptional crises, in this case, generally the failure of their business or some other great professional failure.

Continue reading John Galt: Cult Leader

Why people like Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand’s philosophy

Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand

I believe I have figured out the appeal of Atlas Shrugged.

#1. Herbert Spencer’s defense of capitalism is flawed. Before there was Ayn Rand, the philosopher of the market was Herbert Spencer, who used a social Darwinism message to defend the unchecked accumulation of wealth. The argument ran: “Evolutionarily speaking, if you’ve got it and you can keep it, you deserve it, no matter the source.”

The immense flaw with this plan is that if, say, the Russian Revolution came along and reminded merchants that they were a bunch of wussy powderpuffs wholly dependent people capable and willing to kick ass to defend them from brutal thugs who would kick their middle classes asses in a hot minute, then the very philosophy they espoused was turned against them: unable to hold onto things, they did NOT deserve them, and now the communists do.

Continue reading Why people like Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand’s philosophy

Thoughts on the movie Atlas Shrugged: Part 1

We just saw the movie, Atlas Shrugged: Part 1, starring Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart and Grant Bowler as Hank Rearden.

Rotten Tomatoes gives it an 11% score. It is the highest rated of the Atlas Shrugged trilogy of movies, and the score is justified. It is not a good movie.

Still, I’m not here to damn the movie, exactly, but to discuss it, comparatively, to Part 1 of the novel.

Continue reading Thoughts on the movie Atlas Shrugged: Part 1

Reinterpreting Atlas Shrugged: Galt’s Gang

statue-1515390_1920-1200x900Apropos my previous, serious post about reinterpreting Atlas Shrugged, there’s something kicking around my head: how the actions of Galt’s guys are similar to the work stoppage. After all, if I say that people are doing work stoppages to prevent the US from benefiting the USSR, it is also clear that Galt and his guys are also contrary to the USSR.

No.  They’re not the same thing.

In many times of political crisis and chaos, bandits and warlords arise. The bandits are the enemy of both the invaders and the people – they aren’t motivated by a desire to see their country free of foreign influence, but their own personal profit.

Galt’s goons fit that description. America is going to hell in a hand basket, and what they’re worried about is how individual businessmen can’t make enormous piles of money. They take advantage of the weakened state, and further weaken it, to create the conditions where they can take profit from America’s misery.

That Galt’s goons have an ideology hastily pasted onto their terrorism is normal. Many bandits say that they’re looking out for people, or fighting an unjust system. The Shining Path rebels mouth Marx while shipping drugs, for instance. The Contras in Nicaragua said they wanted to “free” the people from socialist tyranny. The Taliban talks about creating a Caliphate. So what? Ideology doesn’t magically transform bandits into freedom fighters.

Galt and his associates are just bandits, terrorists, and criminals.