Sunday, March 08, 2009

Nursery Niestzsches

NB: The title comes from a review of Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's novel The Illuminatus Trilogy and is as good a description of devotees of Randian objectivism as I can imagine.

Some of the lesser lights of the right are threatening the rest of us. They believe it is time, as the current phrase puts it, to "go Galt". For the uninformed (blessedly, I could add), this refers to the protagonist of Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged, who, in a speech toward the end of the novel (a speech that seems to take up most of the novel, and also seems the sole reason Rand wrote it) decided to refuse to participate in society anymore. Because his greatness was not recognized, and mediocrity (in his opinion) was continually rewarded, he would, as the title of the novel puts it, shrug off the weight of the world he was carrying. Even now, at the remove of decades since I first laughed at this silly attempt at pseudo-philosophizing, I cannot imagine the appeal of such drivel.

Yet, for some reason, Rand appeals. Alan Greenspan, along with being a jazz clarinetist, was also a follower of the Russian immigrant. There is a very vocal Randian organization, the leader of which published an op-ed in the Richmond Times Dispatch one year on Christmas Day that read like parody, and was even funnier when I realized the guy was quite serious.

The ones who are braying loudest about "going Galt", however, are not the types to which Rand was referring. As Hilzoy points out they are, in fact, a combination of public university professors (parasites living off the public dole, whose sole claim to fame is a blog of limited intellectual merit even for a blog), racist screechers who would be thought overachievers if one called them mediocrities. Even a member of Congress, certainly parasitic on our money.

Now, to give Rand her due, she was speaking of creative types. Galt was an architect. Certainly, should those who create, either wealth or beauty or both, simply decided to cease creation because they were not being given their due respect, the world would be a poorer place. Yet, there has never been a time when true creators, either of wealth or beauty, would surrender their need to create out of some sense of abandonment by society. Indeed, it seems to me that such an act - refusing to create in order to punish all those lesser lights who do not understand the transcendence inherent in creation - is a sign of mediocrity rather than genius or cunning. It is a Great Pout, a hissy fit of epic proportions.

So, please, all you who insist it is time to "go Galt", please do so. For all our sakes.

Virtual Tin Cup

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