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Monday, June 03, 2013

• • What It Takes 
,
Atlas Shrugged  | Last week, I quoted a European businessman who said the salvation of the American economy would be oil extracted from shale. A reader then sent me a slice of Atlas Shrugged, which I quote in today’s column. The character Ellis Wyatt says,

Oil shale. How many years ago was it that they gave up trying to get oil from shale, because it was too expensive? Well, wait till you see the process I’ve developed. It will be the cheapest oil ever to splash in their faces, and an unlimited supply of it, an untapped supply that will make the biggest oil pool look like a mud puddle. Did I order a pipe line? Hank, you and I will have to build pipe lines in all directions . . .
I’ve talked to enough people to know, or believe, that, if the government agrees to get out of the way, we’ll be splashin’ rich.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

• • What Conservatives Are For 
,
[In a Heritage Foundation speech, Sen Mike Lee said:] “This vision of America conservatives seek is not an Ayn Rand novel. It’s a Norman Rockwell painting, or a Frank Capra movie: a society of “plain, ordinary kindness, and a little looking out for the other fellow, too.” The great obstacle to realizing this vision today is government dysfunction. This is where our vision must inform our agenda. What reforms will make it easier for entrepreneurs to start new businesses? For young couples to get married and start new families? And for individuals everywhere to come together to bring to life flourishing new partnerships and communities?”

Monday, February 18, 2013

• • What Happens When You Spend the Weekend with 1,500 Anti-Government College Students? 
,
Atlas Shrugged  | What happens is you meet people like Michael Malice, who I mentioned briefly in my piece on the homepage today. Malice was born in the Soviet Union [...]. And in the Ayn Rand/William F. Buckley, Jr. tiff, he comes down squarely on the side of Rand — Malice tells me that one of his most prized possessions is a copy of Atlas Shrugged that he got NR’s founder to sign. Needless to say, it was an interesting weekend. 

Saturday, November 03, 2012

• • Obama Has Read Ayn Rand 

Paul Ryan  | From the new Rolling Stone: Have you ever read Ayn Rand? Sure.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

• • • The Closing of the Academic Mind 
,
It not enough for [Alan Wolfe] to say that Rand is largely ignored or some such. He goes further. He proclaims her a “non-person,” a formulation too close for comfort to 1984’s “unperson.” It’s not enough that Rand is overlooked; she must instead be, so to speak, actively forgotten, consigned to the memory hole. In a way, as Rand would have understood, that’s a compliment.

Friday, August 10, 2012

• • But What Shall We Do Together? 
,
Atheism  |Capitalism  |Individualism  |Paul Ryan  | No one would disagree with the specific things [the president] says, except perhaps the vague and strange “If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Who? But the president clearly thinks that some people do disagree with his more general point that everyone depends on society. It’s very evident from this passage and from a great deal of what he has to say about his opponents that Obama thinks he is running against a band of nihilistic Ayn Rand objectivists who champion complete and utter radical individualism. That weird notion is also behind the various attempts to link Paul Ryan to Rand, which are pretty amusing if you’ve followed Ryan (for what it’s worth, I would say Ryan thinks Ayn Rand is correct in her analysis of the left, which she believes has drawn the wrong lessons from the death of God, but is incorrect in many of her own prescriptions because she shares the left’s belief that God is dead, but that’s a story for another day…).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

• • • NPR on Ayn Rand’s Comeback 
,
Capitalism  |Paul Ryan  | To show the prevalence of Rand’s ideas on Capitol Hill, NPR’s Andrea Seabrook explains how Chairman Paul Ryan has read her books, and quotes Speaker Boehner (and a few others) talking about how the productive class is on strike. [....] I think it’s a stretch to say that her ideas are well-represented, though. It’s one thing to read a book and quite another to live according to the principles presented in it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

 Boehner on Jobs 
,
Atlas Shrugged  | My favorite [part of John Boehner’s speech to the Economic Club of Washington] is the Atlas Shrugged moment: “Job creators in America are essentially on strike.”

Thursday, August 18, 2011

• • ‘Egalitarian Socialism Backed by Fear of Death’ 
,
Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism  | [Gregory Paul] claims modern evangelicals reject their historical socialism because they’re in thrall to Ayn Rand. This is merely the strangest (and angriest) form of an argument sadly gaining increasing traction in evangelical circles, that Christianity compels redistributionist policies.

Friday, August 27, 2010

• • Atlas scratched his head 
,
If the choice is between Ayn Rand and “Not as Bad as Auschwitz,” then the saints haven’t a chance and we might as well all pack it up and just go have ourselves an Objectivist garden party or something.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

• • Re: Ayn Rand and Whittaker Chambers, cont’d 
,
Atlas Shrugged  | Most everything I care to say in reply to Richard Reinsch’s most recent remarks on Ayn Rand and Whittaker Chambers, I already said in my earlier post — so I will be happy to let him have the final substantive word. But I would like to clarify my position in relation to this statement of his: “Steorts says that ideology elevated to revelation ‘is hostile to the conditions of human flourishing,’ which suggests that both are equally problematic — which is to mischaracterize each.” I think he misunderstood my meaning here, though the fault is probably mine. I was not, in the sentence in question, using “ideology” in his and Chambers’s sense, but rather in a more workaday one; I meant political or philosophical ideas or systems of any sort. I intended the sentence as a neutral description of what Chambers was worried about.

• • Ayn Rand and Whittaker Chambers, cont’d 
,
Atheism  | To say that Rand’s ideas are fundamentally sound if “properly adhered to,” as Steorts puts it, ignores human complexity. Classical and Christianity philosophy are in agreement that man should resist the temptation to set his sights on godhood; so much for Randian self-sovereignty! In recognizing this ancient consensus and its deep communion with the human person, we are not citing mere “historical/psychological inevitability” arguments. We are in touch with Prometheus and with man himself. Self-sovereignty may be the most unpleasant affair of them all. The question is where does Rand’s atheist fanaticism and deep commitment to self-sovereignty leave her ideas, in light of the continued unraveling of the secular-modernist project? Worrying too much about Rand at this point may be to ignore the larger religious dimensions of human life that are again asserting themselves.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

• • • Re: Ayn Rand and Whittaker Chambers 
,
Atheism  |Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism  | Like Rand, Karl Marx desired for man to live in atomistic paradise free from the pains of Jerusalem and Athens. Marxists could never get beyond the means, however. For Rand, Man delivers himself through his labor and intellect from the burden of his own nature. This explains the centrality of the market to Rand. The market is not merely a process through which the variegated interests and desires of man can be peacefully directed; rather, the market solves man’s problem in full. He can become the Nietzschean superman Chambers intuitively described in [his Atlas Shrugged] review. One becomes the ideal man, as articulated by Rand, by being able to extricate one’s self from the bonds and needs of others, and also from one’s own body. Her total vision lurks here in the replacement of love, sacrifice, and humility with a rational and atomistic egoism. In Atlas Shrugged, sex is no longer the interplay of love and gift but the release of biological desires with those similarly situated on the sexual-marketability scale. There are no children.