Punchinello’s Chronicles

March 2, 2009

The Year that Atlas Shrugged

Filed under: View from the Bottom — Punchinello @ 6:50 pm
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Fifty years ago, Ayn Rand introduced a new view of philosophy, calling it Objectivism. Starting with fictional books, her view of philosophy was that any good philosophy ought to generate good and believable stories of life. Plato did this in The Republic, and Rand wanted to do the same thing. Alas Shrugged is the story of a world in which capitalism and industrialists are considered to be demons and monsters, destroying everything.

As the story works its way out, we learn that the population of America and the politicians leading those good citizens have come to believe that competence, creativity, entrepreneurship, business, and ownership of private property all have caused the ruin of the society. Years and years of legal and regulatory persecution have taken place, and suddenly John Galt is calling for the end of capitalism.

Nobody knows who this person John Galt is, and why he’s somehow taking over the airwaves. Everyone wonders at the strange thoughts and ideas being brought forth. Those ideas are what we today would call conservative thinking.

At the same time, Titans of industry and owners of large companies are mysteriously disappearing. They’re at work one day, then gone the next. Nobody knows where they’ve gone, nobody knows why they left. All anyone knows is that whenever a new invention, new patent, new company, or new idea is about to become a business, the person behind that idea vanishes.

People asked Rand why she only wrote fiction, and her response was that the underlying concepts and ideas of her novels were self-evident. But many people told her that no, the ideas weren’t self-evident. And so, after thinking about it and examining the world around her, Rand began also writing non-fiction books. Those books explicitly laid out the philosophy of Objectivism.

Capitalism — The Unknown Ideal was written in 1966, and presented the arguments in favor of laissez-faire capitalism. We recognize the term these days as free-market capitalism. In the book, Rand demonstrates the function of capitalism, the failure of greed, and the principles of rational self-interest in the development of a civilization. That self-interest rests on private ownership of property, and the rewards associated with the right to sell what one owns.

Over the past year (less than a year, actually), we’ve seen the stock markets plunge. Every new announcement by the Obama administration and totally liberal congress has pushed the numbers down. Wouldn’t you think that somewhere along the line the politicians and public would wonder? Wouldn’t people ask what’s wrong with all these plans if the markets are collapsing as a result?

No. Nobody cares. And worse than that, a majority of the population agrees with Washington that “it’s about time those greedy business owners and corporations got what’s coming to them!”

Exactly as was predicted 50 years ago.

In Atlas Shrugged, business owners took refuge in a physical community located in the Rocky Mountains. No such place exists (or could exist in the real world), but we see today a different destination. The micro-business sector, small-business sector, and e-commerce sector have become the refuge of the business owner. Even those refuges are under assault, and likely won’t withstand the massive attack by the government of the United States.

People everywhere are like the Islamic terrorist fundamentalists, dancing in the streets as the World Trade Towers collapsed. They watch the implosion of the financial markets, banking industry, and the collateral damage to the rest of the economy, and shout for joy. Nancy Pelosi, speaking about the end of tax cuts says that she would have done it faster.

The funny thing about reality is that it’s real. Reality has no mind, thoughts, conscience, sympathy, compassion, or anything. Reality simply is real. It exists. Millions upon millions of human beings could be wiped out in disaster upon disaster, and there wouldn’t be “compassion” or a “feeling of remorse.” That’s because each of us is responsible for our own lives, and that responsibility must take into account reality.

The reality is that without business, without invention, and without the rights of ownership, nothing at all will move the human race anywhere. That’s a “funny and stupid little thought” argued as irrelevant by modern-day progressives. Money “somehow” just happens, and no amount of power-grabbing or federalization of business will affect that money.

In fact, since money comes from printing presses, we don’t really need business. That’s how Washington thinks. That’s how half the population of America thinks. That’s how the Third World countries think. That’s how much of Europe thinks. Thinks? No, that’s how they feel!

And so, with each new plan, each new announcement, and each new dismemberment of the free markets, business people around the world react by leaving. They withdraw their money, stop their lending, cancel expansion projects, and shut down their efforts. The markets continue to tell Washington that without capitalists and business owners, nothing will happen.

And Washington continues to tell the ignorant savages of a feelings-based lifestyle that “finally” we’re going to get rid of all those greedy, selfish, disgusting, racist business people. At last we’ll have Nirvana, a paradise on Earth. And the people rejoice, raising a toast to the new Administration.

This is the year that Atlas shrugs. This is the year the business owners and capitalists are being shut down. This is the time when business and private ownership finally are being wiped out. And, as reality demonstrates, ALL of us will have the opportunity to sit back and watch the results.

No politician in the history of existence has ever produced a single thing of value. No socialist government has ever succeeded. Jobs don’t grow out of “job seeds.” Companies, corporations, and businesses don’t spring up out of the ground. Human minds, effort, reason, inspiration, creativity, and the desire for a joyful life have been the engine of progress and civilization throughout history.

And that’s exactly what Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the whiz kids in Washington want to stop in its tracks. How they believe they’ll continue to get their millions of dollars to maintain their houses and parties, yachts and private jets nobody with a mind could tell you. And yet, the politicians point to the stock markets flying into a mountain and tell us it’s the best thing that could ever happen!

Do you agree? Are you gleefully rubbing your hands together, mumbling about how wonderful it’s going to be when the corporations and businesses get what’s comin’ to them? If so, then you’re about to get what you’ve dreamed about for years.



  1. […] the rest here:  The Year that Atlas Shrugged Tagged with: […]

    Pingback by The Year that Atlas Shrugged — March 2, 2009 @ 8:30 pm | Reply

  2. Yeah, it is scary the way things are happening. I understand the concept behing Atlas Shrugged, but it seems to me like the current economic crisis has multiple roots.

    The first is government interference, primarily in the form of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    The second root was politicians using these quasi-private businesses into political tools to place people in homes to enhance their own prospects of re-election.

    The third is lack of common-sense regulation in the mortgage industry. There is no way many of these mortgages should have ever been issued. These ridiculous mortgages were then bundled into virtually untraceable securities.

    This brings me to the fourth root of the problem: the greed of the masses coupled with weak-hearted leaders of financial companies. Investors had an unquenchable appetite for increased exponential growth year after year. Financial leaders gave into this blood-lust and gambled on what is now known as “toxic assets.” Because of this, stock prices rose to unsustainable PE ratios and the housing bubble continued to swell. This was all fine and good as long as prices continued to rise on all fronts. However, it was unsustainable and suddenly the whole tower of cards had to fall. When it did, it tore off the mask that the over-leveraged financial companies had placed over the landfill and suddenly people went from trusting everything to trusting nothing.

    I would say that there is one additional root behind this, of which I have heard nothing mentioned. That is ineffective anti-trust laws. Capitalism was not built on the backs of giant corporations. Capitalism is built on competition. The goal of all companies is to produce incredible profits. They eliminate competition at all costs in order to increase those profits. The banks are “too big too fail” because of lack of regulation. Our anti-trust laws have not been enforced and we are now faced with oligopolies on almost all fronts.

    Of course, the current administration simply views this as a way to cement their base of power and push through their agenda, but it is not the sole cause of the current failure of our economic system. Obama’s push for bigger government is a shameless abuse of power and will create enormous obstacles which we will need to overcome in the all-too-near future. Rahm Emmanuel definitely spoke the truth when he said that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste and Obama plans to take full advantage of it.

    Comment by jayhays — March 2, 2009 @ 9:17 pm | Reply

  3. In Capitalism—the Unknown Ideal, Rand makes the case that anti-trust laws were ineffective at the time, and would remain so until reality itself demonstrated the point. From a philosophic perspective, Rand wasn’t professionally interested in how long that would take. Her argument only was that anti-trust laws inevitably would fail.

    Similarly, it was clear that communism would also inevitably fail. It has built-in flaws that must lead to collapse and failure. In some ways, the US Constitution also has some built-in flaws, and Rand pointed out why those would “likely” (not inevitably) lead to a failure. It took some hard work, a long time, and serious dedication to bringing down the country, but it’s been accomplished.

    People have a right to pursue happiness. That’s not the same thing as having a right to happiness. With such tiny semantic arguments, whole philosophies and ideologies are formed.

    Comment by Punchinello — March 3, 2009 @ 12:38 am | Reply

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