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Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult

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She was a shitty writer who could sell books by giving a repressed Calvinism-inspired society permission to be dicks. Now that the little selfishness-orgy is coming to a close, we find ourselves feeling nauseated and sticky, while this woman's legacy is trying to convince us to keep pumping, instead of grabbing a shower and skulking away to do something productive in order to distract us from the shame.

"Rand + Greenspan = Bonnie + Clyde". All you closet Objectivists can now step up to the plate and have at it...

There is great irony here. Karl Marx envisioned Communism to deal with the abuses of Capitalism. But the Russian Immigrant Ayn Rand, fleeing the abuses of Communism, created an equally idealized scheme of Capitalism that became a part of Neoliberalism doctrine. And managed to take a part, by proxy via unforgettable Chairman Greenspan, in almost sinking the ship. Some recent Ayn Rand aficionados, like Mark Sanford, are simply fools. Alan Greenspan was not a fool. But he was an ideologue, and as such a very dangerous and destructive player. He genuinely thought our economy could tolerate the unregulated derivatives market, unregulated financial institutions, and practices that created huge, profitable financial bubbles. Those were ideology-driven “hunches” that went tragically wrong… Unlike Marx saying that the history repeats itself, first and tragedy, second as farce, the second time in this case was also a tragedy and countries ruined by neoliberalism and the lives destroyed are not difficult to count. So it not just a cult, it is a medieval cruel cult.

As Pope Francis noted "idolatry of money" is connected to the denial of primacy of human person (Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 2013):

No to the new idolatry of money

55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

It's interesting how close Ayn Rand teaching is both to national-socialism (via primitive assimilation of Nietzschean ideas and Bolshevism (both of her books are written in traditions and aesthetics of "Socialist realism"). It's interesting that like was the case with bolshevism she created a classic "cult of personality" environment typical for Bolsheviks leaders:

One of the closest to Rand was Nathaniel Branden, a young philosophy student who joined the Collective in the early days before Atlas Shrugged was published. In his autobiographical memoirs entitled Judgment Day (1989), Branden recalled: "There were implicit premises in our world to which everyone in our circle subscribed, and which we transmitted to our students at NBI." Incredibly, and here is where the philosophical movement became a cult, they came to believe that (pp. 255-256):

It is important to note that my critique of Rand and Objectivism as a cult is not original. Rand and her followers were, in their time, accused of being a cult which, of course, they denied. "My following is not a cult. I am not a cult figure," Rand once told an interviewer. Barbara Branden, in her biography, The Passion of Ayn Rand, recalls: "Although the Objectivist movement clearly had many of the trappings of a cult -- the aggrandizement of the person of Ayn Rand, the too ready acceptance of her personal opinions on a host of subjects, the incessant moralizing -- it is nevertheless significant that the fundamental attraction of Objectivism . . . was the precise opposite of religious worship" (p. 371). -[Bolsheviks would laugh at such an augmentation -- NNB]

And Nathaniel Branden addressed the issue this way: "We were not a cult in the literal, dictionary sense of the word, but certainly there was a cultish aspect to our world . . . . We were a group organized around a charismatic leader, whose members judged one another's character chiefly by loyalty to that leader and to her ideas" (p. 256).

But if you leave the "religious" component out of the definition, thus broadening the word's usage, it becomes clear that Objectivism was (and is) a cult, as are many other, non-religious groups. In this context, then, a cult may be characterized by:

The ultimate statement of Rand's absolute morality heads the title page of Nathaniel Brandon's book. Says Rand:
The precept: "Judge not, that ye be not judged" . . . is an abdication of moral responsibility: it is a moral blank check one gives to others in exchange for a moral blank check one expects for oneself.

There is no escape from the fact that men have to make choices; so long as men have to make choices, there is no escape from moral values; so long as moral values are at stake, no moral neutrality is possible. To abstain from condemning a torturer, is to become an accessory to the torture and murder of his victims.

The moral principle to adopt . . . is: "Judge, and be prepared to be judged."

The absurd lengths to which such thinking can go is demonstrated by Rand's pronounced judgments on her followers of even the most trivial things. Rand had argued, for example, that musical taste could not be objectively defined, yet, as Barbara Branden observed, "if one of her young friends responded as she did to Rachmaninoff . . . she attached deep significance to their affinity." By contrast, if a friend did not respond as she did to a certain piece or composer, Rand "left no doubt that she considered that person morally and psychologically reprehensible." Branden recalled an evening when a friend of Rand's remarked that he enjoyed the music of Richard Strauss. "When he left at the end of the evening, Ayn said, in a reaction becoming increasingly typical, 'Now I understand why he and I can never be real soul mates. The distance in our sense of life is too great.' Often, she did not wait until a friend had left to make such remarks" (p. 268).

With this set of criteria it becomes possible to see that a rational philosophy can become a cult when most or all of these are met. This is true not only for philosophical movements, but in some scientific schools of thought as well. Many founding scientists have become almost deified in their own time, to the point where apprentices dare not challenge the master. As Max Planck observed about science in general, only after the founders and elder statesmen of a discipline are dead and gone can real change occur and revolutionary new ideas be accepted.

In both Barbara's and Nathaniel Branden's assessment, then, we see all the characteristics of a cult. But what about deceit and sexual exploitation? In this case, "exploitation" may be too strong of a word, but the act was present nonetheless, and deceit was rampant. In what has become the most scandalous (and now oft-told) story in the brief history of the Objectivist movement, starting in 1953 and lasting until 1958 (and on and off for another decade after), Ayn Rand and her "intellectual heir" Nathaniel Branden, 25 years her junior, carried on a secret love affair known only to their respective spouses. The falling in love was not planned, but it was ultimately "reasonable" since the two of them were, de facto, the two greatest humans on the planet. "By the total logic of who we are--by the total logic of what love and sex mean--we had to love each other," Rand told Barbara Branden and her own husband, Frank O'Connor. It was a classic display of a brilliant mind intellectualizing a purely emotional response, and another example of reason carried to absurd heights. "Whatever the two of you may be feeling," Rand rationalized, "I know your intelligence, I know you recognize the rationality of what we feel for each other, and that you hold no value higher than reason" (B. Brandon, p. 258).

Unbelievably, both Barbara and Frank accepted the affair, and agreed to allow Ayn and Nathaniel an afternoon and evening of sex and love once a week. "And so," Barbara explained, "we all careened toward disaster." The "rational" justification and its consequences continued year after year, as the tale of interpersonal and group deceit grew broader and deeper. The disaster finally came in 1968 when it became known to Rand that Branden had fallen in love with yet another woman, and had begun an affair with her. Even though the affair between Rand and Branden had long since dwindled, the master of the absolutist moral double-standard would not tolerate such a breach of ethical conduct. "Get that bastard down here!," Rand screamed upon hearing the news, "or I'll drag him here myself!" Branden, according to Barbara, slunk into Rand's apartment to face the judgment day. "It's finished, your whole act!" she told him. "I'll tear down your facade as I built it up! I'll denounce you publicly, I'll destroy you as I created you! I don't even care what it does to me. You won't have the career I gave you, or the name, or the wealth, or the prestige. You'll have nothing . . . ." The barrage continued for several minutes until she pronounced her final curse: "If you have an ounce of morality left in you, an ounce of psychological health--you'll be impotent for the next twenty years!" (pp. 345-347).

Barry Ritholtz in his November 15, 2009 blog entry "Ayn Rand: The Boring Bitch is Back"

There is a substantial take-down of pedantic bore Ayn Rand in GQ. They tease it thusly:

2009’s most influential author is a mirthless Russian-American who loves money, hates God, and swings a gigantic dick. She died in 1982, but her spawn soldier on. And the Great Recession is all their fault.

I love that because it is both funny and touches upon so many subtle truths; Here is a longer, funnier excerpt:

“This is because there are boys and girls among us who have never overcome the Randian infection. The Galt speech continues to ring in their ears for years like a maddening tinnitus, turning each of them into what next year’s Physicians’ Desk Reference will (undoubtedly) term an Ayn Rand Asshole (ARA). They constitute a relatively small percentage of Rand readers, these ARAs. But they make their reading count. Thanks to them, the Rand Experience is no longer limited to those who have read the books. It’s metastasized. You, me, all of us, we’re living it. Because it’s the ARA Army of antigovernment-antiregulation puritans who have spent the past three decades gleefully pulling the cooling rods out of the American economy. For a while, it got very big and very hot. Then it popped. And now the rest of us have to spend the next decade scaling the slippery slopes of the huge suppurative crater that was left behind.

Feeling fisted by the Invisible Hand of the Market lo these past fifteen months? Lost a job lately? Or half the value of your 401(k)? Or a home? All three? Been wondering whence the too-long-ascendant political and economic ideas and forces behind Greenspanism, John Thainism, blind Wall Street plunder, bankruptcy, credit-default swaps, Bernie Madoff, and the ensuing Cannibalism in the Streets? Then you, sir, need to give thanks to Ayn Rand Assholes everywhere—as well as the steely loins from which they sprang.”

Brilliant.

I haven’t read Rand’s work for decades, but I do recall two things: A) It was a giant pedantic bore; 2) Debating it with people in College was always a hoot. The thing that struck me most was the lack of rigor in the arguments — it was more religion than logic, more wishful thinking than reality based observations of how humans actually behave.

You can the concentration of ARAs in a certain groupings. These are the folks who blame the CRA for the collapse of the economy; ARAs tend to be hardcore ideologues; many are rabidly partisan. All too many are deeply uninformed. They breathe cognitive dissonance they most people breathe oxygen. When confronted with facts, data, reality that challenge their ideology, they make up new facts.

I imagine that Freud would bluntly use Randian logic to note they inhabit a guise of superiority in part to compensate for vast and deeply felt inferiorities and insecurities. That’s right, those of you who feel compelled to talk about how big your junk is are typically are sporting selections from the wee person’s aisle.

Malcolm Gladwell is a guy who knows how to write compellingly readable stories. The takeaway in his book Outliers The Story of Success is quite unRandian — it is that luck plays an enormous factor in out-sized success. That is a factor the Randians prefer to ignore.

What I find so weird about Rand is that there are more than a few people I respect who gobbled up her work. These are not ARAs — but are otherwise rational folks who never quite went full tilt into ARA-hood. But they have a huge respect for her work. Me? I prefer “lessers” like Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson and John Maynard Keynes. I prefer John Stuart Mill’s Harm Principle of Liberty over Rand’s Objectivism.

Dangerous Minds contextualizes the pedantic bore portion of the Rand legend:

“It’s Rand’s dialogue that seals her reputation as an author you just can’t take seriously. To be fair, she was writing in her second language, but the problem with her books is that no one actually speaks to one another, they just make speeches at each other. Hectoring, long-winded speeches. It’s fine to read stuff like that as a teenager, but when I crack open one of her books today, I shake my head in disbelief at how bombastic and horrible her writing is.”

Bombastic and horrible? You are being too kind . . .

My actual problem with Rand — behind her blindingly horrific prose — is that she was pushing back against a totalitarian system in the Soviet Union, a corrupt and morally indefensible system she had every right to be infuriated by. But she applies that righteous fury and outrage to a Democracy, whose economy is Free Market based. Hence, rather than challenging the politburo, she challenges Unions. Cooperative behavior seems to be hard for her to grasp. One suspects she would have disliked Consumer Reports, or Zagats, or Amazon’s user ratings.

Worst of all, Rand’s Objectivism has become the rationale for all manner of morally repugnant behaviour. However, I did take one personal lesson from Atlas Shrugged to heart: Anytime I see a parked car with a John Galt bumper sticker, I like to knock off one of the sideview mirrors, and leave it on the hood. I include a note stating my selfish, random act made me feel good, and therefore should be a perfectly fine act in their world.

I assume the recipients miss the irony . . .


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[Apr 14, 2019] The social groups that support neoliberalism

Notable quotes:
"... These are the forms of White traditional British oriented American traitors, not racial or ethnic groups with historic envy, hatreds of our people. ..."
May 03, 2017 | www.unz.com

2) Trucklers – (LBJ) lower class White Americans who gain wealth and power by championing non White, minority causes just because it's a path to power, pleasing the elites who would otherwise dismiss them as hicks.

3) Pussyfooters (Bush Sr. Country Club Conservatives) White Americans who prefer their own safe life, don't hate their own people but rarely defend them – they don't like trouble, they're pussies. Alt Right has given them a new word "Cuckservatives".

4) Old Believers (Ron Paul, Pat Robertson) Sincere old guys who wish things could go back to the way things used to be when some systems supposedly worked for us when we were 90% White European American, before the Great Society, New Deal, feminism, etc

5) Proditors – (John Brown, Jane Fonda, SDS)

These are the forms of White traditional British oriented American traitors, not racial or ethnic groups with historic envy, hatreds of our people.

Do you have links to other Wilmot Robertson sites?

Svigor , December 2, 2016 at 3:19 am GMT
I really can't emphasize #2 strongly enough. The term "fog of war" is an apt one. People in a war generally don't know much at all about what's going on, at the time. They're lucky if they ever do. But in every single orthodox eye-witness account I've ever read, the storytellers know exactly what was going on, and why . Even when they shouldn't. They set off my skeptic alarms left and right.

Read some of the accounts critically, and see for yourself. They're mostly "everybody knows," "it is known," type stuff. Not credible at all. These are the bricks the orthodox narrative is made of.

[Apr 14, 2019] A Veblen Moment: Thorstein Veblen's Lessons from the First Gilded Age Even More Relevant Today

Apr 12, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on April 12, 2019 by Yves Smith Yves here. Karl Marx and Friedrich Englels, who documented the abuses of the early Industrial Revolution, are well remembered today, not just as activists but also as journalists. Oddly, Thorstein Veblen, who identified many of the pathologies of the rich of the Gilded Age, is vastly less well known. Was it because the robber barons of his age had amassed so much wealth and power that they were better able to create a veneer of legitimacy than Victorian era factory owners?

This post picks up some Veblen themes that are particularly germane today, such as the notion that businessmen often operate as rentiers and predators.

By Ann Jones, who is at work on a book about social democracy in Scandinavia (and its absence in the United States) and is the author of several books, including most recently They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America's Wars -- the Untold Stor y , a Dispatch Books original. Originally published at TomDispatch

Distracted daily by the bloviating POTUS? Here, then, is a small suggestion. Focus your mind for a moment on one simple (yet deeply complex) truth: we are living in a Veblen Moment.

That's Thorstein Veblen, the greatest American thinker you probably never heard of (or forgot). His working life -- from 1890 to 1923 -- coincided with America's first Gilded Age, so named by Mark Twain, whose novel of that title lampooned the greedy corruption of the country's most illustrious gentlemen. Veblen had a similarly dark, sardonic sense of humor.

Now, in America's second (bigger and better) Gilded Age, in a world of staggering inequality , believe me, it helps to read him again.

In his student days at Johns Hopkins, Yale, and finally Cornell, already a master of many languages, he studied anthropology, sociology, philosophy, and political economy (the old fashioned term for what's now called economics). That was back when economists were concerned with the real-life conditions of human beings, and wouldn't have settled for data from an illusory "free market."

Veblen got his initial job, teaching political economy at a salary of $520 a year, in 1890 when the University of Chicago first opened its doors. Back in the days before SATs and admissions scandals , that school was founded and funded by John D. Rockefeller, the classic robber baron of Standard Oil. (Think of him as the Mark Zuckerberg of his day.) Even half a century before the free-market economist Milton Friedman captured Chicago's economics department with dogma that serves the ruling class, Rockefeller called the university "the best investment" he ever made. Still, from the beginning, Thorstein Veblen was there, prepared to focus his mind on Rockefeller and his cronies, the cream of the upper class and the most ruthless profiteers behind that Gilded Age.

He was already asking questions that deserve to be raised again in the 1% world of 2019. How had such a conspicuous lordly class developed in America? What purpose did it serve? What did the members of the leisure class actually do with their time and money? And why did so many of the ruthlessly over-worked, under-paid lower classes tolerate such a peculiar, lopsided social arrangement in which they were so clearly the losers?

Veblen addressed those questions in his first and still best-known book, The Theory of the Leisure Class , published in 1899. The influential literary critic and novelist William Dean Howells, the "dean of American letters," perfectly captured the effect of Veblen's gleeful, poker-faced scientific style in an awestruck review. "In the passionless calm with which the author pursues his investigation," Howells wrote, "there is apparently no animus for or against a leisure class. It is his affair simply to find out how and why and what it is. If the result is to leave the reader with a feeling which the author never shows, that seems to be solely the effect of the facts."

The book made a big splash. It left smug, witless readers of the leisure class amused. But readers already in revolt, in what came to be known as the Progressive Era, came away with contempt for the filthy rich (a feeling that today, with a smug, witless plutocrat in the White House, should be a lot more common than it is).

What Veblen Saw

The now commonplace phrase "leisure class" was Veblen's invention and he was careful to define it: "The term 'leisure,' as here used, does not connote indolence or quiescence. What it connotes is non-productive consumption of time. Time is consumed non-productively (1) from a sense of the unworthiness of productive work, and (2) as an evidence of pecuniary ability to afford a life of idleness."

Veblen observed a world in which that leisure class, looking down its collective nose at the laboring masses, was all around him, but he saw evidence of something else as well. His anthropological studies revealed earlier cooperative, peaceable cultures that had supported no such idle class at all. In them, men and women had labored together, motivated by an instinctive pride in workmanship, a natural desire to emulate the best workers, and a deep parental concern -- a parental bent he called it -- for the welfare of future generations. As the child of Norwegian immigrants, Veblen himself had grown up on a Minnesota farm in the midst of a close-knit Norwegian-speaking community. He knew what just such a cooperative culture was like and what was possible, even in a gilded (and deeply impoverished) world.

But anthropology also recorded all too many class-ridden societies that saved upper-class men for the "honourable employments": governance, warfare, priestly office, or sports. Veblen noted that such arrangements elicited aggressive, dominant behavior that, over time, caused societies to change for the worse. Indeed, those aggressive upper-class men soon discovered the special pleasure that lay in taking whatever they wanted by "seizure," as Veblen termed it. Such an aggressive way of living and acting, in turn, became the definition of manly "prowess," admired even by the working class subjected by it. By contrast, actual work -- the laborious production of the goods needed by society -- was devalued. As Veblen put it, "The obtaining [of goods] by other methods than seizure comes to be accounted unworthy of man in his best estate." It seems that more than a century ago, the dominant men of the previous Gilded Age were, like our president, already spinning their own publicity.

A scientific Darwinian, Veblen saw that such changes developed gradually from alterations in the material circumstances of life. New technology, he understood, sped up industrialization, which in turn attracted those men of the leisure class, always on the lookout for the next thing of value to seize and make their own. When "industrial methods have been developed to such a degree of efficiency as to leave a margin worth fighting for," Veblen wrote, the watchful men struck like birds of prey.

Such constant "predation," he suggested, soon became the "habitual, conventional resource" of the parasitical class. In this way, a more peaceable, communal existence had evolved into the grim, combative industrial age in which he found himself: an age shadowed by predators seeking only profits and power, and putting down any workers who tried to stand up for themselves. To Veblen this change was not merely "mechanical." It was a spiritual transformation.

The Conspicuous Class

Classical economists from Adam Smith on typically depicted economic man as a rational creature, acting circumspectly in his own self-interest. In Veblen's work, however, the only men -- and they were all men then -- acting that way were those robber barons, admired for their "prowess" by the very working-class guys they preyed upon. (Think of President Trump and his besotted MAGA-hatted followers.) Veblen's lowly workers still seemed to be impelled by the "instinct for emulation." They didn't want to overthrow the leisure class. They wanted to climb up into it.

For their part, the leisured gents asserted their superiority by making a public show of their leisure or, as Veblen put it, their "conspicuous abstention from labour." To play golf, for example, as The Donald has spent much of his presidency doing, became at once "the conventional mark of superior pecuniary achievement" and "the conventional index of reputability." After all, he wrote, "the pervading principle and abiding test of good breeding is the requirement of a substantial and patent waste of time." In Donald Trump's version of the same, he displayed his penchant for "conspicuous consumption" by making himself the owner of a global chain of golf courses where he performs his "conspicuous leisure" by cheating up a storm and carrying what Veblen called a "conspicuous abstention from labour" to particularly enviable heights.

Veblen devoted 14 chapters of The Theory of the Leisure Class to analyzing every aspect of the life of the plutocrat living in a gilded world and the woman who accompanied him on his conspicuous outings, elaborately packaged in constricting clothing, crippling high heels, and "excessively long hair," to indicate just how unfit she was for work and how much she was "still the man's chattel." Such women, he wrote, were "servants to whom, in the differentiation of economic functions, has been delegated the office of putting in evidence their master's ability to pay." (Think POTUS again and whomever he once displayed with a certain possessive pride only to pay hush money to thereafter.)

And all of that's only from chapter seven, "Dress as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture." Today, each of those now-century-old chapters remains a still-applicable little masterpiece of observation, insight, and audacity, though it was probably the 14th and last chapter that got him fired from Rockefeller's university: "The Higher Learning as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture." How timely is that?

The (Re)tardiness of Conservatives

As both an evolutionary and an institutional economist (two fields he originated), Veblen contended that our habits of thought and our institutions must necessarily "change with changing circumstances." Unfortunately, they often seem anchored in place instead, bound by the social and psychological inertia of conservatism. But why should that be so?

Veblen had a simple answer. The leisure class is so sheltered from inevitable changes going on in the rest of society that it will adapt its views, if at all, "tardily." Comfortably clueless (or calculating), the wealthy leisure class drags its heels (or digs them in) to retard economic and social forces that make for change. Hence the name "conservatives." That (re)tardiness -- that time lag imposed by conservative complacency -- stalls and stifles the lives of everyone else and the timely economic development of the nation. (Think of our neglected infrastructure, education, housing, health care, public transport -- you know the lengthening list today.)

Accepting and adjusting to social or economic change, unfortunately, requires prolonged "mental effort," from which the leisured conservative mind quite automatically recoils. But so, too, Veblen said, do the minds of the "abjectly poor, and all those persons whose energies are entirely absorbed by the struggle for daily sustenance." The lower classes were -- and this seems a familiar reality in the age of Trump -- as conservative as the upper class simply because the poor "cannot afford the effort of taking thought for the day after tomorrow," while "the highly prosperous are conservative because they have small occasion to be discontented with the situation as it stands." It was, of course, a situation from which they, unlike the poor, made a bundle in an age (both Veblen's and ours) in which money flows only uphill to the 1%.

Veblen gave this analytic screw one more turn. Called a "savage" economist, in his meticulous and deceptively neutral prose, he described in the passage that follows a truly savage and deliberate process:

"It follows that the institution of a leisure class acts to make the lower classes conservative by withdrawing from them as much as it may of the means of sustenance and so reducing their consumption, and consequently their available energy, to such a point as to make them incapable of the effort required for the learning and adoption of new habits of thought. The accumulation of wealth at the upper end of the pecuniary scale implies privation at the lower end of the scale."

And privation always stands as an obstacle to innovation and change. In this way, the industrial, technological, and social progress of the whole society is retarded or perhaps even thrown into reverse. Such are the self-perpetuating effects of the unequal distribution of wealth. And reader take note: the leisure class brings about these results on purpose.

The Demolition of Democracy

But how, at the turn of the nineteenth century, had America's great experiment in democracy come to this? In his 1904 book The Theory of Business Enterprise , Veblen zoomed in for a close up of America's most influential man: "the Business Man." To classical economists, this enterprising fellow was a generator of economic progress. To Veblen, he was "the Predator" personified: the man who invests in industry, any industry, simply to extract profits from it. Veblen saw that such predators created nothing, produced nothing, and did nothing of economic significance but seize profits.

Of course, Veblen, who could build a house with his own hands, imagined a working world free of such predators. He envisioned an innovative industrial world in which the labor of producing goods would be performed by machines tended by technicians and engineers. In the advanced factories of his mind's eye, there was no role, no place at all, for the predatory Business Man. Yet Veblen also knew that the natural-born predator of Gilded Age America was already creating a kind of scaffolding of financial transactions above and beyond the factory floor -- a lattice of loans, credits, capitalizations, and the like -- so that he could then take advantage of the "disruptions" of production caused by such encumbrances to seize yet more profits. In a pinch, the predator was, as Veblen saw it, always ready to go further, to throw a wrench into the works, to move into the role of outright "Saboteur."

Here Veblen's image of the predatory characters who dominated his Gilded Age runs up against the far glossier, more gilded image of the entrepreneurial executive hailed by most economists and business boosters of his time and ours. Yet in book after book, he continued to strip the gilded cloaks from America's tycoons, leaving them naked on the factory floor, with one hand jamming the machinery of American life and the other in the till.

Today, in our Second Even-Glitzier Gilded Age, with a Veblen Moment come round again, his conclusions seem self-evident. In fact, his predators pale beside a single image that he himself might have found incredible, the image of three hallowed multi-billionaires of our own Veblen Moment who hold more wealth than the bottom 160 million Americans.

The Rise of the Predatory State

Why, then, when Veblen saw America's plutocratic bent so clearly, is he now neglected? Better to ask, who among America's moguls wouldn't want to suppress such a clear-eyed genius? Economist James K. Galbraith suggests that Veblen was eclipsed by the Cold War, which offered only two alternatives, communism or capitalism -- with America's largely unfettered capitalist system presenting itself as a "conservative" norm and not what it actually was and remains: the extreme and cruel antithesis of communism.

When the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, it left only one alternative: the triumphant fantasy of the "free market." What survived, in other words, was only the post-Veblen economics of John D. Rockefeller's university: the "free market" doctrines of Milton Friedman, founder of the brand of economics popular among conservatives and businessmen and known as the Chicago School.

Ever since, America has once again been gripped by the heavy hands of the predators and of the legislators they buy . Veblen's leisure class is now eclipsed by those even richer than rich, the top 1% of the 1%, a celestial crew even more remote from the productive labor of working men and women than were those nineteenth-century robber barons. For decades now, from the ascendancy of President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s to Bill Clinton's New Democrats in the 1990s to the militarized world of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to the self-proclaimed billionaire con man now in the Oval Office, the plutocrats have continued to shower their dark money on the legislative process. Their only frustration: that the left-over reforms of Veblen's own "Progressive Era" and those of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal still somehow stand (though for how long no one knows).

As Galbraith pointed out in his 2008 book The Predator State , the frustrated predators of the twenty-first century sneakily changed tactics: they aimed to capture the government themselves, to become the state. And so they have. In the Trump era, they have created a government in which current regulators are former lobbyists for the very predators they are supposed to restrain. Similarly, the members of Trump's cabinet are now the saboteurs: shrinking the State Department, starving public schools, feeding big Pharma with Medicare funds, handing over national parks and public lands to "developers," and denying science and climate change altogether, just to start down a long list. Meanwhile, our Predator President, when not golfing , leaps about the deconstruction site, waving his hands and hurling abuse, a baron of distraction, commanding attention while the backroom boys (and girls) demolish the institutions of law and democracy.

Later in life, Veblen, the evolutionary who believed that no one could foresee the future, nonetheless felt sure that the American capitalist system, as it was, could not last. He thought it would eventually fall apart. He went on teaching at Stanford, the University of Missouri, and then the New School for Social Research, and writing a raft of brilliant articles and eight more books. Among them, The Vested Interests and the Common Man (1920) may be the best summation of his once astonishing and now essential views. He died at the age of 72 in August 1929. Two months later, the financial scaffolding collapsed and the whole predatory system came crashing down.

To the end, Veblen had hoped that one day the Predators would be driven from the marketplace and the workers would find their way to socialism. Yet a century ago, it seemed to him more likely that the Predators and Saboteurs, collaborating as they did even then with politicians and government lackeys, would increasingly amass more profits, more power, more adulation from the men of the working class, until one day, when those very plutocrats actually captured the government and owned the state, a Gilded Business Man would arise to become a kind of primitive Warlord and Dictator. He would then preside over a new and more powerful regime and the triumph in America of a system we would eventually recognize and call by its modern name: fascism.


St Jacques , April 12, 2019 at 1:46 am

Thankyou for bringing up one of my all time favourite authors. Why is he neglected? Because he saw and wrote too clearly and he mocked the use of mathematical models, and the silly assumptions underlying them – oh so unscientifically unsound.

Anarcissie , April 12, 2019 at 12:35 pm

I think Veblen may be neglected because his observations do not comport well with what many others observe. For instance, in the quoted or paraphrased material in the article, he asserts that the upper classes are idly conservative. But if we have observed the development of cooperative agrarian societies into, first, instances of industrial capitalism, and later imperial-liberal or finance-capitalist warfare-welfare states, it is the capitalists who were the radical progressives, who shook things up, who 'moved fast and broke things', and the agrarian cooperators who were the conservatives or reactionaries. And Uncle Karl agrees with me, at least as of the Communist Manifesto : 'The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society .. All that is solid melts into air .' and so on.

Would that the rich were idle! But they are not. They labor ceaselessly to destroy the Earth, to turn it into nothing more than numbers written on a tablet. It is a mistake to underestimate and deride such people, even if their personalities are socially deficient.

Anthony Wikrent , April 12, 2019 at 1:05 pm

I think you need to look at the crucial distinction Veblen made between industry and business, which I find has much more analytical and prescriptive power than Marx.

Anarcissie , April 12, 2019 at 4:09 pm

I was thinking of the combination of business and industry, industry being the work of changing the material world to produce desired things, experiences, and circumstances, and business being the political organization of that work, which has evolved in various ways into contemporary capitalism. The large-scale practice of modern industry apparently requires a lot of political organization. In my observation and personal experience, business, so defined, is also hard work, since one is not dealing with inanimate things, but with human beings, who are often as unpredictable, crafty, greedy and treacherous as oneself. Hence not many actually want to or are able to do it. This poses an obvious problem for those who want to establish a more cooperative and egalitarian social order above the local or familial level, much less a sustainable economy. The rich are anything but idle, and they always want more.

WheresOurTeddy , April 12, 2019 at 1:30 pm

as a friend of mine likes to say, "America never had a ruling class disinterested in ruling or an intelligentsia that was truly intelligent."

Thomas P , April 12, 2019 at 3:07 am

The book is also available for free at project Gutenberg:
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/833
The leisure class hasn't been able to expand copyright to infinity yet.

johnf , April 12, 2019 at 3:42 am

They are trying. Project Gutenberg is presently blocking all German IP addresses after a publisher asserted copyright on 18 works from 1903–1920. I must content myself with reading H.L. Mencken's iconoclastic essay, "Professor Veblen".

diptherio , April 12, 2019 at 9:45 am

The Opera browser has a build-in VPN just sayin' ;-)

GramSci , April 12, 2019 at 9:58 am

Ah, yes! H.L. Mencken, social darwinist and proto-nazi, as was Veblen's first professor at Yale, William Graham Sumner, Phi Beta Kappa and Bonesman, who brought the teachings of Herbert Spencer to Yale and America as the new Science of "Sociology". Of course we no longer call such sociology "social darwinism" or "nazism". "Meritocracy" is a more polite term. Veblen would still call it "predatory".

James , April 12, 2019 at 7:20 am

Amazing post! As clear and succinct political manifesto and call to arms as any I've read. Looks like I've got some more essential reading to do now.

Eclair , April 12, 2019 at 7:58 am

Wow! I am reading this while sitting in the cafeteria of UPMC Presbyterian Hospital (where my husband's cousin, the farmer of whom I have written here before, hovers between life and death.) Pittsburgh, home of the planet's largest gothic phallus, the gargoyled tower at Carnegie Mellon U. Even the First Baptist Church is a mini-Notre Dame.

Walking the mile up to the hospital this morning, along the row of gracious mansions, now a designated Historic District, built from the blood and sweat of the Polish and Czech and Italian coal miners and steel workers, I wondered if their tenements had been declared an Historic District.

DJG , April 12, 2019 at 9:14 am

Eclair: All the best to you. Your posts here have evoked him so well–a life of hard work and care for the land.

Eclair , April 12, 2019 at 11:29 am

DJG, I wrote a think you post to you, with additional comments but it either got lost or delayed or my fat fingers consigned it to Oblivion. Typing on my phone is dangerous.

Trent , April 12, 2019 at 10:07 am

Upmc, the future of predatory healthcare. My great grandfather raised his family of eight Italians in one of those row houses in Oakland. Now it's probably rented out by a slumlord to college kids racking up debt.

Trent , April 12, 2019 at 10:54 am

Also the cathedral of learning is university of Pittsburgh

Alfred , April 12, 2019 at 11:16 am

Yes. Pittsburgh was once the real 'metropolis of tomorrow', and the Cathedral of Learning was the ultimate proof both of the city's arrival in the future and of just how conservative that future was going to look. One of the key American buildings of its time, it's a tenth 'malic mould' embodying not only the so-called 'skyward trend of thought' by which the predatory businessmen of the 1920s imagined themselves transported to 'impossible heights' but also -- inside -- a showcase of international culture that foreshadowed today's globalization. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral_of_Learning

a different chris , April 12, 2019 at 2:32 pm

My dad, and I assume most of the other Pitt graduates of at least that era, called it "The Tower Of Ignorance".

We aren't all suckers, even if we sit at desks and wear ties.

Eclair , April 12, 2019 at 11:17 am

Oops, you are correct, Trent! I don't know why I associated it with C-M. And it really is almost more beaux arts than gothic. But it is still an example of 'mine is much much bigger than yours.'

Trent , April 12, 2019 at 11:24 am

No worries, I'm a throwback that takes a bit of pride in the area my family has resided the past few hundred years. If you get bored you should read about the Mellon's. Very big players in the gilded age.

Eclair , April 12, 2019 at 11:24 am

So, not a designated 'Historic District,' I will bet. My grandparents raised their kids in brick mill housing, still standing. But not 'Historic.'. Just haunted by the ghosts of the still-born babies and tubercular adolescents.

Trent , April 12, 2019 at 11:28 am

It's only historic until someone can make a profit from it!

Mike , April 12, 2019 at 11:54 am

My condolences upon your presence in the Pittsburgh of capitalism and scalping. If you wish to see the contradictory nature of "historicism", Pittsburgh is THE place to follow.

Case in point: In the close-by tiny mill town of Millvale (aptly named, no?) sits the St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church, where once a Croatian artist named Maxo Vanka was allowed to paint beautiful murals upon its walls and ceilings, all of which commemorated and encapsulated the horrific struggles of mine and mill workers of the region. They are akin to, and in some ways exceed, the murals of Diego Rivera – passionately and class-reverently done.

The contradiction? Besides the religious basis for this socialist art, the current foundation trying to preserve and defend these paintings is begging for corporate donations and having $1000+ benefits (wine, cheese, hubris) so some retouching and repainting can occur under an umbrella of the threat to the art and the church posed by those selfsame corporations who would love to topple the structure and put up office space. Oh, to be able to say "Sic semper tyrannus "

Eclair , April 12, 2019 at 1:37 pm

So, Mike, I should make a pilgrimage to visit this church soon, before it is scraped, yeah?

Mike , April 12, 2019 at 4:01 pm

Fear not – the church still stands, and the professional class are scurrying about, waxing poetic and oozing dollars, so it will be there for you for at least as long as the fund-raisers do their work.

I would go soon, though, just to see how years of neglect can harm mural art, because the difference between the undone and finished restoration is something to note.

P.S.- easier to drive there if you have wheels. Public transport suffers by scarcity and slowness.

Mike , April 12, 2019 at 4:07 pm

P.P.S. – my best wishes to your cousin, as well.

Arizona Slim , April 12, 2019 at 1:58 pm

Sotte voce: When I lived in Pittsburgh, the planet's largest gothic phallus was called the Catheter of Learning. (It's real name is the Cathedral of Learning.)

You're soaking in it! , April 12, 2019 at 4:05 pm

Ok, but geez. Shouldn't there be a meet-up in here somewhere?

Norb , April 12, 2019 at 8:08 am

If the human condition is viewed as an endless spiritual crisis seeking out resolution, then everyones collective efforts begin to make more sense. Spiritual connections must be made in order to survive and this choice sets into motion a chain of events that approximate the future. Everyone must choose what life they want to live. They must choose what spirit they will follow. A passive choice supports the status quo/conservatives, while an active choice drives change in society.

How the current spiritual crisis is handled will determine our collective future. It is no coincidence that true, honest spirituality has also been corrupted by the predator class. Spiritual subversion is the essence of TINA. Education and spiritual growth are the foundations upon which a free and productive society rest- without that, as the author notes, society evolves into fascism. Fascism becomes the spirituality of the predator class. Fascism is freedom disguised.

If this is true, then it becomes imperative for all freedom loving people to do everything in their power to subvert such exploitation and purposeful suffering. The spirit must be without freedom for all there is, in reality, freedom for none. Society must be based on reducing suffering, not creating or perpetuating it.

At root, that is what civil disobedience is all about. Civil disobedience takes on many forms, including actively building parallel social structures to negate the damaging social conditions brought about by a predator class. The saboteurs are themselves subject to sabotage. This inevitable dynamic explains why foreigners and domestic dissenters are treated as enemies and terrorists by the ruling elite. Foreign and domestic enemies must be eliminated. When this dynamic becomes an issue, it proves all by itself that the ruling elite no longer hold their citizens to any regard, regardless of the propaganda they employ to prove otherwise. The society becomes more polarized and violent.

The follow up to this essay is to explore the people and communities that took Veblen insights to heart and acted accordingly. That would provide examples upon which to build and restore.

diptherio , April 12, 2019 at 10:03 am

Society must be based on reducing suffering, not creating or perpetuating it.

and yet, in the present arrangement of things, most of us can't even get around in the place where we live without someone, somewhere, drilling oil, and transporting it, and refining it, and transporting it some more using this computer required someone, somewhere to mine metal ore, and refine and process and transport it

The great tragedy of our situation is that we often choose to do things we know to be harmful in order to protect and provide for those we love. "I'd give up my car, but I need it for my job. I'd quit the job, but I've got kids to think about and plus, what happens if my kid gets hurt and needs to get to the hospital fast? So I can't give up the car, even though I know it's contributing to larger scale problems that will effect everyone negatively, and already effect some people extremely negatively."

Sound of the Suburbs , April 12, 2019 at 8:39 am

You feel you are doing well when you are doing better than your peers.

I've only got a Boeing 747, and he's got an Airbus A380.

His one is bigger than mine.

Mummy!

Sound of the Suburbs , April 12, 2019 at 8:45 am

The biggest threat to progress in the forwards direction is those that like progress in the reverse direction.

The Magna Carta was the first step in moving forwards from when wealth and power were concentrated with one person, the Absolute Monarch.

Progress is always a battle between those below and those at the top, who want to keep wealth and power as concentrated as it is now, or to move backwards to when it was more concentrated.

Royalty spent centuries trying to regain the power they lost with the Magna Carta and get back to where they were before.

It is a constant battle and many nations slide back to the beginning with dictators, where wealth and power are concentrated with one person, and where that wealth and power is inherited.

To progress from the Magna Carta to universal suffrage took 700 years. Within another 50 years those at the top looked to move backwards to when they had more wealth and power.

They sought to regain the economic freedom they used to have and roll back the welfare state.

They set the wheels in motion.

In 1947, Albert Hunold, a senior Credit Suisse official looked for a group of right wing thinkers to form the Mont Pelerin Society and neoliberalism started to take shape.

"Why Nations Fail" is a good book on this subject.

DSB , April 12, 2019 at 8:55 am

"In the passionless calm with which the author pursues his investigation," Howells wrote, "there is apparently no animus for or against a leisure class. It is his affair simply to find out how and why and what it is. If the result is to leave the reader with a feeling which the author never shows, that seems to be solely the effect of the facts."

If only this author had such a deft hand as Veblen. Aspiration.

Sound of the Suburbs , April 12, 2019 at 8:56 am

The University of Chicago forgot what they used to know.

Henry Simons was at the University of Chicago as he was a firm believer in free markets, but he had learned the lessons of the 1920s and 1930s.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." Irving Fisher 1929.

Irving Fisher was a neoclassical economist that believed in free markets and he knew this was a stable equilibrium.

He became a laughing stock and worked out where he had gone wrong.

What goes wrong with free markets?

Henry Simons and Irving Fisher supported the Chicago Plan to take away the bankers ability to create money, so that free market valuations could have some meaning.

The real world and free market, neoclassical economics would then tie up.

https://cdn.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/04/Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-13.52.41.png

1929 – Inflating the US stock market with debt (margin lending)
2008 – Inflating the US real estate market with debt (mortgage lending)

Bankers inflating asset prices with the money they create from loans.

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf

Sound of the Suburbs , April 12, 2019 at 9:08 am

Real science is evolutionary and new knowledge builds on past knowledge in a way that is self-correcting and improves over time. The old knowledge remains and anything that is wrong gets changed.

Thorstein Veblen recognised economics wasn't like that and this is why they keep forgetting stuff.

We had a new, scientific economics for globalisation.

Oh dear.

JBird4049 , April 12, 2019 at 3:54 pm

This explains why Milton Friedman is better known than Thorstein Veblen

I would not necessarily call something scientific even if it builds on previous knowledge. The key is the real effort at studying and understanding a subject.

"Economics," especially its propagandistic version Neoliberalism, is not at all scientific or even an attempt to study something. It is an effort to make opaque, not an attempt to clarify.

Political economy, like philosophy, metaphysics, psychology and sociology are themselves not "hard"science, but they were created, built upon, and maintain as usually honest attempts at understanding; Neoliberal Economics is as to Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations in Political Economy as Social Darwinism is to Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species is in evolutionary biology.

Sound of the Suburbs , April 13, 2019 at 4:58 pm

Take 1920s neoclassical economics and stick some more complex maths on top.

Voila.

A new, scientific economics.

ewmayer , April 12, 2019 at 7:07 pm

There is an underappreciated consumer-credit-boom-and-bust aspect to the Great Crash / Great Depression era – people often point out the contradictions in blaming margin lending for eveything, IMO it is the consumer-credit aspect that helps fill in the rest. Briefly, the 1920s saw the first great boom in consumer credit, as wage-suppressed workers saw the fabulous boom in wealth of the rentier and stock-speculator class and were misled to go into hock by the overall optimism thus engendered. The boom in installment-plan buying was the 1920s analog of the the late great mortgage-finance bubble. Here is a link, much more out there for those willig to look for it:

http://econc10.bu.edu/Ec341_money/Papers/Carroll_paper.htm

DJG , April 12, 2019 at 9:13 am

An interesting question:

Why, then, when Veblen saw America's plutocratic bent so clearly, is he now neglected? Better to ask, who among America's moguls wouldn't want to suppress such a clear-eyed genius? Economist James K. Galbraith suggests that Veblen was eclipsed by the Cold War, which offered only two alternatives, communism or capitalism -- with America's largely unfettered capitalist system presenting itself as a "conservative" norm and not what it actually was and remains: the extreme and cruel antithesis of communism.

I have a feeling that the rejection was going on earlier. I am reminded that Sinclair Lewis's career started with his first important novel in 1914–fifteen years after Theory of the Leisure Class, yet still before the shattering effects of World War I. Yet Sinclair Lewis has also been in decline, and his stories are the novelist's way of dealing with Veblen's ideas–especially the novel Dodsworth.

I have a feeling that something deeper in the culture pushes aside the observations that Americans are avaricious, conformist, and not particularly happy. It is so much chirpier to repeat Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. And it may be that the fear of falling in U.S. culture–dropping economically with the possible implication of turning black racially–means that the unproductivity of the upper classes is what Americans are fixated on and aspire to.

nycTerrierist , April 12, 2019 at 10:49 am

Very good to mention Sinclair Lewis here.
Highly recommended literary counterpart to Veblen, though Veblen was no slouch
as a stylist, among his many strengths.
Not only Dodsworth, but I would say all of Lewis' oeuvre exposes the predation, corruption
and injustice of various good ole 'murkan institutions: Elmer Gantry (venal ministers), Arrowsmith (careerism in medicine), Main Street (oppressive 'normality'), Gideon Parrish (the 'uplift' racket), Ann Vickers (womens prisons), The Job (women in the workplace) etc etc.
Lewis is hilarious and a truly prescient progressive.
Highly recommended!

Carolinian , April 12, 2019 at 11:13 am

Sinclair Lewis probably faded because the self satisfied American world he described took a nose dive in the great depression and satire became both superfluous and universal (any 1930s Hollywood depiction of the rich–i.e. A Night at the Opera).

In any case thanks for the good article above. It does lay on the Trump hate a little thick given that our Veblen moment has been going on at least since Reagan.

BlueMoose , April 12, 2019 at 11:42 am

Yes the trump hate was a bit thick.

Tony Wright , April 12, 2019 at 7:20 pm

Not really. Trump is the current and shameless torchbearer, even though he hypocritically purports to be the saviour of the "deplorables" callously abandoned by Hilary & Co.

nycTerrierist , April 12, 2019 at 11:32 am

Lewis was a gleeful unmasker of hypocrisy.

Makes some people uncomfortable!

jfleni , April 12, 2019 at 9:19 am

RE: Should we break up big tech?

Absolutely, start with ooindoze; years ago a Finn Linus Torwald
wrote a FREE replacement for Unix, cutting ATT off at the Internet; all he got for his trouble was the runaway monopoly of ooindoze. Now ooindoze is worth billions (ten plus at last count) .
The difference is BS and propaganda and the sleaziest possible merchandizing, YAHOO
MOUNTAIN DEW!!

diptherio , April 12, 2019 at 9:34 am

The irony of linking to a Veblen book on Amazon is well, it's a thing ironic anyway it's still early, you get what I'm saying. Here's a free version, as Thorstein would have wanted it:

http://elegant-technology.com/resource/Vested_Interests.pdf

human , April 12, 2019 at 10:41 am

Or a discount version from a small, out-of-copyright, publisher: https://doverpublications.ecomm-search.com/m?formSubmitted=true&keywords=Veblen&x=22&y=24

Gary , April 12, 2019 at 2:58 pm

Thanks, Diptherio, but, and I don't know why so many people forget about this, you could just go to your nearest public library. They'd be delighted to find it for you

diptherio , April 12, 2019 at 9:38 am

I think NC should adopt a quote from Theory of Business Enterprise as it's official (or unofficial) motto:

A definition by enumeration will often sound like a fault-finding.

That's from memory, so maybe not exactly verbatim, but close. Sounds like a pretty good description of every day on NC!

johnf , April 12, 2019 at 9:40 am

Thanks for the tip. In 1919, Mencken worked through all of Veblen's published works. Following his recommendation, I found copies of the two Mencken thought most essential: "What I found myself aware of, coming to the end, was that practically the whole system of Prof. Veblen was in his first book and his last [as of 1919] – that is, in "The Theory of the Leisure Class" and "The Higher Learning in America". I pass on the news to literary archeologists. Read these two, and you won't have to read the others. And if even two daunt you, then read the first. Once through it, though you will have have missed many a pearl and many a pain, you will have an excellent grasp of the gifted metaphysician's ideas." [Prejudices, First Series (1919), pp. 59-83]

GramSci , April 12, 2019 at 10:12 am

Umm, as I noted above, Mencken was hardly a fan of Veblen. See e.g. this link , vectored through a fan of Mencken, Tyler Cowen . . .

johnf , April 12, 2019 at 2:04 pm

My very modest knowledge of Veblen is through secondary sources, one of which is Mencken, who I never thought was a Veblen adulator. It is probably now a duty to read some of the primary sources.

ChrisAtRU , April 12, 2019 at 10:03 am

What a wonderful article with which to start my day!

Today's #MustRead IMO

Thank you!

chuck roast , April 12, 2019 at 10:11 am

Back in the day I bought one of those little Penguin Classics of Theory out of the university bookstore for a buck. The fact that it was still in print was sufficient testimony that curiosity continued to exist about the long dead discipline of Political Economics. I read a portion of it, but never came close to finishing it. That always bothered me. What happened to the little Penguin over the years I cannot say.

Anyway, a couple of years ago I had the public library exhume a copy for me out of their warehouse. Immediately upon reading it I recalled with great disappointment why I never finish the Penguin the prose style was both turgid and tortured. So, I guess you could say that I have always been pleased to read about Veblen and depressed with the actual reading.

My recommendation would be that a good translator translate Theory of the Leisure Class into say French or Italian and then another translator translate it back into English. Doubtless much of the drole and tongue planted firmly in cheek would be lost in the translation, but perhaps a much more readable book would ensue.

GramSci , April 12, 2019 at 10:16 am

Once one understands how censored publications were in that day ( plus ça change . . .) and one discovers the sarcasm veiled behind all that "turgid prose", The Theory of the Leisure Class becomes a joy to read.

ChiGal in Carolina , April 14, 2019 at 12:13 am

We read it in high school and I remember it being very witty, and hence enjoyable.

RenoRich , April 12, 2019 at 10:17 am

Am I a member of the leisure class if I like to read articles & comments on this site?

I have downloaded and started reading "The Theory of the Leisure Class". Perhaps I can answer my own question after reading several chapters

Phil in KC , April 12, 2019 at 10:26 am

My thanks as well for this post, which (ahem, everyone) deserves a wider audience. Sadly, my own college edjumacation glided over Veblen. This was in the early 70's, when Friedman and Co. Economists, Inc. were taking over economics. Suddenly, he's relevant again!

Now, we just need a Teddy Roosevelt progressive to initiate some reforms and a Franklin Roosevelt to make the right kind of enemies.

Mike , April 12, 2019 at 11:02 am

The Theory of the Leisure Class was my introduction to economics, reading it right after the Kennedy assassination, thus turning me from a right-wing parrot into a critical and still learning skeptic of all cheerleading about "our" government, "our" city on the hill. My father, a union founder and organizer as well as a solid drinker, would often go off on me about my "nazi" ideas before this turn, then wondered at the abrupt wheel. Ahhhh, once an outlier, always

The sad part is I (we?) are more "outliers" than ever before, thanks to the freedom exercised by many of our co-citizens to conform and obey to any media/government/corporate message with knee-jerk speed. Expected of the professional caste and their sponsors within the banking and corporate elite, it is sad to see its reach into levels of the working class, where it displays its total dysfunction.

nycTerrierist , April 12, 2019 at 11:04 am

Small quibble with this outstanding post.

In her quick gloss of our Predator-Enablers in Chief, from Reagan to Trump,
Teflon Obama gets a pass he does not deserve:

"For decades now, from the ascendancy of President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s to Bill Clinton's New Democrats in the 1990s to the militarized world of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to the self-proclaimed billionaire con man now in the Oval Office, the plutocrats have continued to shower their dark money on the legislative process. Their only frustration: that the left-over reforms of Veblen's own "Progressive Era" and those of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal still somehow stand (though for how long no one knows) ..

Similarly, the members of Trump's cabinet are now the saboteurs: shrinking the State Department, starving public schools, feeding big Pharma with Medicare funds, handing over national parks and public lands to "developers," and denying science and climate change altogether, just to start down a long list. Meanwhile, our Predator President, when not golfing, leaps about the deconstruction site, waving his hands and hurling abuse, a baron of distraction, commanding attention while the backroom boys (and girls) demolish the institutions of law and democracy."

NotTimothyGeithner , April 12, 2019 at 12:13 pm

I think Obama's legacy is dismantling more lefty organizing venues and directing energy towards wasteful infighting as people who conned themselves into liking him hold onto bizarre beliefs to justify Obama's third and fourth Shrub terms such as how Obama "inherited" problems despite choosing to run for President. Ben Bernanke, Bob Gates, Larry Summers and Tim Geithner (or insert whatever monster you wish) were just the associates of the previous administrations at various levels. Though Obama may not have been from the "leisure class" but the higher level staff, he approached the Presidency as a luxury pursuit. Yes, Michelle opted for lesser known designers, but the people who mattered cut their teeth in the previous four administrations. Outsiders were not brought in. Liz Warren jumps out as an exception, and even now her Presidential run, she is almost completely separate from Obama despite her time in the administration creating her star.

Coolidge restored public confidence in the White House after the scandals of his predecessor's administration, and left office with considerable popularity.[3] As a Coolidge biographer wrote: "He embodied the spirit and hopes of the middle class, could interpret their longings and express their opinions. That he did represent the genius of the average is the most convincing proof of his strength".[4]

Scholars have ranked Coolidge in the lower half of those presidents that they have assessed. He is praised by advocates of smaller government and laissez-faire economics, while supporters of an active central government generally view him less favorably, though most praise his stalwart support of racial equality.[5] This is from the wiki on Calvin Coolidge. Does it sound like someone?

Except for Silent Cal stories and being an advocate of "white collies" (puppies that were often drowned because it was believed they were blind), he was a continuation of more of the same and has largely disappeared from the discourse outside of memorizing the Presidents. He was President until March 1929, and Hoover gets a lot of flak. The economic crisis came from somewhere.

Trump is particularly predatory and being current merits mention as the old leisure class not merely taking control of the government but turning it into their leisure pursuit. Obama much like his "soaring rhetoric" is almost entirely forgettable.

CarlH , April 12, 2019 at 2:13 pm

Thank you for mentioning this. The omission of Obama from that list jumped out at me as well. When I think of a "Banker's President" Obama is the first to come to mind.

Susan the other` , April 12, 2019 at 1:01 pm

Thank you for an introduction to Ann Jones. She is a beautiful writer and her subject is wonderful. No argument there. I enjoyed her jabs at Trump too. But in his behalf I'd just like to say it was refreshing to see him crash the gates for the sole reason that he shook up our very complacent Congress and they almost seem awake now. Trump is not an ideologue. He's a self promoter. So we can't expect him to have a vision. That's the big problem with him. He's got no compass. It isn't that he impulsively and inanely talks about things like "beautiful wonderful new health care" and other crap – it's that he doesn't have a clue about how to achieve anything. Except cooking books and money shuffling. And Jones' example of his cheating at golf – urban legend already – is his character in a nutshell. But that said, I blame malicious obstructionists like Pelosi and the very dreadful Mitch for preventing the progress we are dying for. Congress is MIA. Why do we even bother to elect it?

flora , April 12, 2019 at 2:25 pm

Great post. Thanks so much.

mauisurfer , April 12, 2019 at 2:42 pm

So, was Einstein a member of the "leisure class"?
At Princeton, he would take his little sailboat out on the lake when there was so little wind
that no other boats were out there with him.
He would get his boat just barely moving slowly steadily calmly.
And that is where he thought his deepest thoughts.
Personally, my deepest thoughts come in a leisurely hot bath.

Aloha , April 12, 2019 at 4:32 pm

A most enjoyable essay and it brings me full circle with what I have been researching this past week. The Counsel on Foreign Relations and what their many spinoff non profit organizations claim to do, and their membership list. Membership is by invitation only and there is enough history now to see who has been running the country since its inception in 1919. I could write a book on all of the corruption of each member on a global scale. Just pull up any 3 or 4 of the current members (no need to research all of the U.S. presidents, and yes they are all members, because we already know what they have done) and you will see how corrupt they all are. The members at the top are all white, male, .01%'s with international power. It seems really obvious to me that we lost the last of our rights on 9/11 and that we are now living in a communist country actually being run fairly quietly for now by the Chinese government. We have been taught to hate and kill anyone considered to be communist (Russia is in MSM all of the time) but where is the hatred for China in the media? Why has China been permitted to but up so much real estate here? I could to on and on but the bottom line is that I think that the international leaders of the world are all communists and that is why we have no democracy left. Before you disagree and call me crazy please do your research! That is all I ask.

berit , April 13, 2019 at 7:05 am

Thank you Excellent, comments included!! My copy of Thorstein Veblens Theory of the Leisure Class was lost somewhere along the way. I dutifully, as a fellow Norwegian, read it 50 years ago, working in New York, trying to like and acclimatize to an American way of life. This I saw first hand at the top, as part of staff of one of the richest, most famous banking families, then from the opposite level, clerk at Bell Telephone System in lower Manhattan. I've downloaded a free copy of Veblen, thanks, and shall reread it, as Norway seems to be on a trajectory not unlike the US, seemingly seeking the seat left open after UK's Tony Blair as US poodle one. NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg the successor, I think – most regretfully.

Phil King , April 13, 2019 at 7:32 pm

No comment needed:

"It is also a matter of common notoriety and byword that in offenses which result in a large accession of property to the offender he does not ordinarily incur the extreme penalty or the extreme obloquy with which his offenses would be visited on the ground of the naive moral code alone. The thief or swindler who has gained great wealth by his delinquency has a better chance than the small thief of escaping the rigorous penalty of the law and some good repute accrues to him from his increased wealth and from his spending the irregularly acquired possessions in a seemly manner. A well-bred expenditure of his booty especially appeals with great effect to persons of a cultivated sense of the proprieties, and goes far to mitigate the sense of moral turpitude with which his dereliction is viewed by them. It may be noted also -- and it is more immediately to the point -- that we are all inclined to condone an offense against property in the case of a man whose motive is the worthy one of providing the means of a "decent" manner of life for his wife and children. If it is added that the wife has been "nurtured in the lap of luxury," that is accepted as an additional extenuating circumstance. "

[Apr 13, 2019] Justice under neoliberalism

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Once one realizes 'justice' [under neoliberalism] is a monetized commodity, lawlessness becomes a viable [and justifiable] option. ..."
Apr 13, 2019 | www.unz.com

Daniel Rich , says: April 13, 2019 at 10:38 pm GMT

@annamaria

Once one realizes 'justice' [under neoliberalism] is a monetized commodity, lawlessness becomes a viable [and justifiable] option.

[Mar 18, 2019] College-entrance-exam cheating scandal exposes corrupt aristocracy (Video)

Mar 18, 2019 | theduran.com

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran's Alex Christoforou take a quick look at the college admissions scam revolving around William Rick Singer, who was running a for-profit college-counseling program, where according to federal prosecutors, has a goal focused on helping "the wealthiest families in the U.S. get their kids into school."

Arrest warrants for Hollywood stars, Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, were delivered on Tuesday following their alleged involvement in a college-entrance-exam cheating scandal.

According to CNN, the women were two of around 50 people who were the subject of federal indictment following an extensive FBI investigation named "Operation Varsity Blues."

Loughlin's husband, Mossimo Giannulli, was also implicated, and was arrested early on Tuesday morning.

TMZ reported that Huffman was arrested by seven armed FBI agents. Her husband, William H. Macy, has not been charged in connection to the case. Loughlin, Giannulli, and Huffman are all facing charges of felony conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Huffman is accused of spending $15,000 on an organization that allegedly helped her daughter cheat on her SATs. Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 to get their daughters into University of Southern California as recruits for the crew team for which neither of Loughlin's daughters rowed crew.

All three were recorded by the FBI on phone calls discussing their plans to alter or lie about their children's college applications.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/DCX35SWyrSU?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Via Zerohedge


Is there anything left in this country that has not been deeply tainted by corruption?

By now you have probably heard that dozens of people have been arrested for participating in a multi-million dollar college admissions scam. Enormous amounts of money were paid out in order to ensure that children from very wealthy families were able to get into top schools such as Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Texas and the University of Southern California. And as The Economic Collapse blog's Michael Snyder writes, we should certainly be disgusted by these revelations, but we shouldn't be surprised. Such corruption happens every single day on every single level of society in America. At this point our nation is so far gone that it is shocking when you run into someone that actually still has some integrity.

The "mastermind" behind this college admissions scam was a con man named William Rick Singer. He had been successfully getting the kids of wealthy people into top colleges for years using "side doors", and he probably thought that he would never get caught.

But he did.

There were four basic methods that Singer used to get children from wealthy families into elite schools. The first two methods involved bribes

Bribing college entrance exam administrators to allow a third party to facilitate cheating on college entrance exams, in some cases by posing as actual students,' is the first.

Bribing university athletic coaches and administrators to designate applicants as purported athletic recruits – regardless of their athletic abilities, and in some cases, even though they did not play the sport,' is the second.

Because many of these kids didn't even play the sports they were being "recruited" for, in some cases Photoshop was used to paste their faces on to the bodies of real athletes

In order to get non-athletic kids admitted to college as athletes, Singer often had to create fake profiles for them. Sometimes this involved fabricating resumes that listed them having played on elite club teams, but to finish the illusion Singer and his team would also use Photoshop to combine photos of the kids with actual athletes in the sport.

A number of college coaches became exceedingly wealthy from taking bribes to "recruit" kids that would never play once they got to school, but now a lot of those same coaches are probably going to prison.

The third and fourth methods that Singer used involved more direct forms of cheating

'Having a third party take classes in place of the actual students, with the understanding that the grades earned in those classes would be submitted as part of the students' application,' is the third.

The fourth was 'submitting falsified applications for admission to universities that, among other things, included the fraudulently obtained exam scores and class grades, and often listed fake awards and athletic activities.'

Of course the main thing that the media is focusing on is the fact that some celebrities are among those being charged in this case, and that includes Lori Loughlin from "Full House"

It was important to "Full House" star Lori Loughlin that her kids have "the college experience" that she missed out on, she said back in 2016.

Loughlin, along with "Desperate Housewives" actress Felicity Huffman, is among those charged in a scheme in which parents allegedly bribed college coaches and insiders at testing centers to help get their children into some of the most elite schools in the country, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Despite how cynical I have become lately, I never would have guessed that Lori Loughlin was capable of such corruption.

After all, she seems like such a nice lady on television.

But apparently she was extremely determined to make sure that her daughters had "the college experience", and so Loughlin and her husband shelled out half a million dollars in bribes

Loughlin and Giannulli 'agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team – despite the fact that they did not participate in crew – thereby facilitating their admission to USC,' according to the documents.

As bad as this scandal is, can we really say that it is much worse than what is going on around the rest of the country every single day?

Of course not.

We are a very sick nation, and we are getting sicker by the day.

William Rick Singer had a good con going, and he should have stopped while he was ahead

William "Rick" Singer said he had the inside scoop on getting into college, and anyone could get in on it with his book, "Getting In: Gaining Admission To Your College of Choice."

"This book is full of secrets," he said in Chapter 1 before dispensing advice on personal branding, test-taking and college essays.

But Singer had even bigger secrets, and those would cost up to $1.2 million.

But like most con men, Singer just had to keep pushing the envelope, and in the end it is going to cost him everything.

The ironic thing is that our colleges and universities are pulling an even bigger con. They have convinced all of us that a college education is the key to a bright future, but meanwhile the quality of the "education" that they are providing has deteriorated dramatically. I spent eight years in school getting three degrees, and so I know what I am talking about. For much more on all this, please see my recent article entitled "50 Actual College Course Titles That Prove That America's Universities Are Training Our College Students To Be Socialists" .

I know that it is not fashionable to talk about "morality" and "values" these days, but the truth is that history has shown us that any nation that is deeply corrupt is not likely to survive for very long.

Our founders understood this, and former president John Adams once stated that our Constitution "was made only for a moral and religious people"

Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Today, we are neither moral or religious.


What we are is deeply corrupt, and America will not survive if we keep going down this path.

[Mar 17, 2019] Bezos Admits His Fortune Is Due to Public Infrastructure....Even as He Fought Paying a Homeless Tax in Seattle, Shakes Down Cities for Subsidies

Mar 01, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Bezos : I've witnessed this incredible thing happen on the internet over the last two decades. I started Amazon in my garage 24 years ago -- drove packages to the post office myself. Today we have 600,000-plus people, millions and millions of customers, a very large company.

How did that happen in such a short period of time? It happened because we didn't have to do any of the heavy lifting. All of the heavy-lifting infrastructure was already in place for it. There was already a telecommunication network, which became the backbone of the internet. There was already a payment system -- it was called the credit card. There was already a transportation network called the US Postal Service, and Royal Mail, and Deutsche Post, all over the world, that could deliver our packages. We didn't have to build any of that heavy infrastructure.

An even more stark example is Facebook. Here's a guy who literally, in his dorm room, started a company -- Mark Zuckerberg started a company in his dorm room, which is now worth half a trillion dollars -- less than two decades ago.

NY Geezer , March 1, 2019 at 9:04 am

Jeff Bezos strikes me as an incredibly pompous hustler who is so much into himself that he has begun to believe that he is GOD. Before trying to hustle others into traveling to Mars, or any other space destination, he should show us that it is feasible by PERSONALLY going first, surviving 18 months of space travel (9 months each way to Mars) including a landing on and take off from Mars.

flora , March 1, 2019 at 7:27 am

Jeff reveals how he made his fortune using public infrastructure (read govt spending) and tax breaks. Now he's aiming for Pentagon riches.

In addition to Amazon's much-panned withdrawal from a "second headquarters" deal in New York City -- which had the New York Post comparing Bezos to ex-Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray for his inability to "take the kind of pressure New York can dish out" -- the Pez-headed tech giant's dreams of Pentagon riches are suddenly being thwarted.

The blow involves a surprise delay in the award of the so-called JEDI contract, a $10 billion (or more) prize for Pentagon cloud management that once seemed gift-wrapped for Amazon.

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/trump-bezos-war-799928/

Ape , March 1, 2019 at 7:48 am

Hmm, the internet already existed. In fact the WWW existed. He must know that -- so he's lying to minimize the amount of infrastructure he inherited. By 1994, everything was already there.

William Hunter Duncan , March 1, 2019 at 9:10 am

I am growing so very tired of the Cult of Bezos. That line about his garage is like an incantation to put his acolytes and sycophants into zombie mode. That argument that there can be no space Zuckerbergs sounds like subliminal messaging 'divert more public resources to ME! Only I can lead you to the stars!' He has zero intention of building his own space infrastructure. He wants us to build it for Him, our demigod, Bezos!

[Mar 17, 2019] As Hemingway replied to Scott Fitzgerald assertion The rich are different than you and me : yes, they have more money.

Highly recommended!
Human society is way to complex for alpha males to succeed unconditionally... Quite a different set of traits is often needed.
Notable quotes:
"... Superficially, Hemingway was correct. But on a deeper level, he missed the reality of the heightened sense of entitlement that the very rich possess, as well as the deference that so many people automatically show to them. ..."
"... Hemingway is saying: take away all that money and the behavior would change as well. It's the money (or the power in your example) that makes the difference. ..."
"... I feel Fitzgerald got the basic idea right ..."
"... Apparently Fitzgerald was referring specifically to the attitudes of those who are born rich, attitudes that Fitzgerald thought remained unaltered by events, including the loss of economic status. ..."
"... "They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different." ..."
"... "He thought they were a special glamorous race and when he found they weren't it wrecked him as much as any other thing that wrecked him." ..."
Dec 31, 2015 | nakedcapitalism.com

Carolinian December 29, 2015

As Hemingway replied to that alum: "yes, they have more money."

Vatch December 29, 2015 at 11:25 am

Superficially, Hemingway was correct. But on a deeper level, he missed the reality of the heightened sense of entitlement that the very rich possess, as well as the deference that so many people automatically show to them. The rich shouldn't be different in this way, but they are. In some other societies, such entitlement and deference would accrue to senior party members, senior clergymen, or hereditary nobility (who might not have much money at all).

MyLessThanPrimeBeef December 29, 2015 at 11:45 am

"Go with the winner." That is how it works for the alpha male (a chimp, an ape, or a gorilla) for most followers anyway. Some will challenge. If victorious, followers will line up (more go-with-the-winner). If defeated, an outcast.

Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Without a doubt Hemingway had a rather catty attitude toward his literary rival, but in this instance I think the debunking is merited. It's quite possible that rich people act the way we would act if we were rich, and that Fitzgerald's tiresome obsession with rich people didn't cut very deep. Hemingway is saying: take away all that money and the behavior would change as well. It's the money (or the power in your example) that makes the difference.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 1:58 pm

In my opinion, the fact that if they had less money would change the way they think, does not change the fact that, while they have more money, they think differently, and different rules apply to them.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Addendum: The fact that an Alpha Chimp would act differently if someone else was the Alpha Chimp does not change the fact that an Alpha Chimp has fundamentally different behavior than the rest of the group.

Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Sounds like you are saying the behavior of the rich is different -- not what F. Scott Fitzgerald said.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:F._Scott_Fitzgerald

"Hemingway is responsible for a famous misquotation of Fitzgerald's. According to Hemingway, a conversation between him and Fitzgerald went:

Fitzgerald: The rich are different than you and me.
Hemingway: Yes, they have more money.

This never actually happened; it is a retelling of an actual encounter between Hemingway and Mary Colum, which went as follows:

Hemingway: I am getting to know the rich.

Colum: I think you'll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money."

Just want to point out that that quote of Hemingways wasn't about Fitzgerald and wasn't even by Hemingway. Anyway I was more attacking the "rich have more money" thing than I was trying to defend Fitzgerald, but I feel Fitzgerald got the basic idea right

craazyman December 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm

I read somewhere, maybe a biography of one of them when I read books like that, that Hemingway actually said it and only said that F. Scott said it.

There are no heroes among famous men. I said that!

giantsquid December 29, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Here's an interesting take on this reputed exchange between Fitzgerald and Hemingway:

"The rich are different" The real story behind the famed "exchange" between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

http://www.quotecounterquote.com/2009/11/rich-are-different-famous-quote.html

Apparently Fitzgerald was referring specifically to the attitudes of those who are born rich, attitudes that Fitzgerald thought remained unaltered by events, including the loss of economic status.

"They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."

Hemingway suggested that Fitzgerald had once been especially enamored of the rich, seeing them as a "special glamorous race" but ultimately became disillusioned.

"He thought they were a special glamorous race and when he found they weren't it wrecked him as much as any other thing that wrecked him."

[Mar 09, 2019] The USA new class in full glory: rich are shopping differently from the low income families and the routine is like doing drags, but more pleasurable and less harmful. While workers are stuglling with the wages that barely allow to support the family, the pressure to cut hours and introduce two tire system

Notable quotes:
"... Buying beautiful clothes at full retail price was not a part of my childhood and it is not a part of my life now. It felt more illicit and more pleasurable than buying drugs. It was like buying drugs and doing the drugs, simultaneously."" ..."
"... "Erie Locomotive Plant Workers Strike against Two-Tier" [ Labor Notes ]. "UE proposed keeping the terms of the existing collective bargaining agreement in place while negotiating a new contract, but Wabtec rejected that proposal. Instead it said it would impose a two-tier pay system that would pay new hires and recalled employees up to 38 percent less in wages, institute mandatory overtime, reorganize job classifications, and hire temporary workers for up to 20 percent of the plant's jobs. ..."
"... Workers voted on Saturday to authorize the strike." • Good. Two-tier is awful, wherever found (including Social Security). ..."
Mar 09, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Guillotine Watch

"My Year of Living Like My Rich Friend" [ New York Magazine ].

"[S]hopping with T was different. When she walked into a store, the employees greeted her by name and began to pull items from the racks for her to try on. Riding her coattails, I was treated with the same consideration, which is how I wound up owning a beautiful cashmere 3.1 Philip Lim sweater that I had no use for and rarely wore, and which was eventually eaten by moths in my closet.

Buying beautiful clothes at full retail price was not a part of my childhood and it is not a part of my life now. It felt more illicit and more pleasurable than buying drugs. It was like buying drugs and doing the drugs, simultaneously.""

Indeed:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/dfO0TgcDUnI

Class Warfare

"Erie Locomotive Plant Workers Strike against Two-Tier" [ Labor Notes ]. "UE proposed keeping the terms of the existing collective bargaining agreement in place while negotiating a new contract, but Wabtec rejected that proposal. Instead it said it would impose a two-tier pay system that would pay new hires and recalled employees up to 38 percent less in wages, institute mandatory overtime, reorganize job classifications, and hire temporary workers for up to 20 percent of the plant's jobs.

Workers voted on Saturday to authorize the strike." • Good. Two-tier is awful, wherever found (including Social Security).

[Mar 09, 2019] The 1% vs the 0.1%

Mar 03, 2019 | stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com

Many of you might react to the FT's story about the "squeezed 1%" by getting out the world's smallest violin. I think this is a mistake. It reminds us that the damage done by inequality extends beyond the general social and economic harm. It hurts even those who are a long way up the income ladder.

First, some statistical context. Someone at the bottom of the top percentile of incomes is on about £120,000 a year. The top 0.1%, however, gets over £500,000. A very well-paid head-teacher, professor or NHS consultant might just get into the top 1%, but the top 0.1% comprises bankers, very successful entrepreneurs or bosses of big firms. As the IFS's Paul Johnson says , "someone 'only' at the top 1% is much more like the average person than they are like someone at top 0.1%."

This gulf between the 1% and 0.1% hurts the 1% in three ways.

One is simply that they are aware of it. For the poor, the rich are out of sight, out of mind: in fact, they grossly under -estimate just how much the rich make. The 1%, however, see it more clearly. We compare ourselves to people like us. And the 1% benchmark themselves against the 0.1%. They are often university contemporaries, so one might resent why the no-mark who was no smarter than him is earning five times as much. Or they might compare social utilities. A doctor covered in blood will wonder why he is paid so much less for saving somebody's life than a banker is paid for – well, what? And of course the 1% sees the 0.1% close up. Just as no man is a hero to his valet, so nobody in the 0.1% is a hero to his underling. Middle-managers have a lively awareness of the short-comings of senior managers, as professors do of the foibles of vice-chancellors.

All this naturally breeds resentment. Experiments (pdf) by Philip Grossman and Mana Komai have confirmed this. They split subjects into rich and poor groups and gave everybody the option of destroying another's wealth. They found that predations by the poor upon the rich were only a minority of attacks. Instead they found that the rich attacked other rich. This is consistent with reference group theory: we compare ourselves to those like us:

We find strong evidence of within class envy: the rich targeting the rich and the poor targeting the poor. Within the rich community, the target of envy is usually a wealthier subject whose wealth is close to that of the attacker; the attacker may possibly be trying to improve his/her relative ranking.

A second effect of the gap between the 0.1% and 1% is the subject of the FT's article. The very rich price the reasonably rich out of houses and schools: top private school fees have soared in recent years because they market themselves to the global rich. As Rick wrote :

The painful fact for many people is that their jobs no longer pay enough for them to enjoy what they had been brought up to think of as a middle-class lifestyle. They can't afford to live in the sort of house in the sort of street where they grew up. They can't afford to send their children to the schools they went to. And those nice leafy hospitals their parents used to go to, forget it. The super-rich can still afford these things, though, so the prices keep going up, well beyond the reach of the old middle-classes.

The difference between the 1% and the 0.1% doesn't, however, lie merely in what they can afford. There is perhaps an even bigger difference. A man (it's usually a man) on £500,000 can reasonably look forward to quitting work or downshifting unless he has arranged his affairs especially badly. Somebody on a low six-figure salary, however, cannot. Instead, they often face years of stress – exacerbated by managerialism's deprofessionalization of erstwhile professional jobs and to the fact that their inability to afford homes in central London condemns them to long and stressful commutes .

You will of course object here that this is also true for millions of workers far outside the 1%. You'd be bang right. And that's the point. Class is not merely another yet another identity. It is an objective fact about your relationship to the means of production – about whether this puts you in a position (pdf) of subordination or domination. In many cases – not all but many – even those on six-figure salaries are in subordinate and stressful positions. They are objectively working class, however posh they might fancy themselves to be.

Which is why we need class politics. Whereas identity politics risks splitting us into mutually hostile ghettos, proper class politics has the potential to unite us – well most of us. One of the great marvels of capitalism is that we are so incapable of seeing this.

March 03, 2019 | Permalink

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Comments

Scratch , March 03, 2019 at 04:55 PM

"They split subjects into rich and poor groups and gave everybody the option of destroying another's wealth. They found that predations by the poor upon the rich were only a minority of attacks. Instead they found that the rich attacked other rich. This is consistent with reference group theory:"

Heh. One presumes reference group theory has not been updated for the last 40-odd years.

Laurent GUERBY , March 03, 2019 at 05:42 PM
Looks like something for this blog about managerialism:

https://www.institutionalinvestor.com/article/b1db3jy3201d38/The-MBA-Myth-and-the-Cult-of-the-CEO

e , March 03, 2019 at 06:42 PM
Great post. Why we showcase any known instance of less than genteel behaviour (thought or deed) among a rank and file while also screeching about a middle class running the shop...you know, divide and rule.

Matthew Turner , March 03, 2019 at 08:52 PM
Are we sure (upper) middle class living has got more expensive? I'm sceptical about holidays (cited in that post you link to) and probably housing (I just don't see how the rich, even inc foreigners, could have bought so many). I suspect a lot of this is people being s bit lower down the distribution that their parents..

Toby , March 03, 2019 at 09:05 PM
Another terrific post. But I'm left with two questions:

1. Is the tension you cite between 1% and 0.1% not the same as between the 0.1% and the 0.01%?

2. Could you expand on why having the 1% identified as working class would help?

The class distinction serves to divide, and is recasting the boundary at the 0.1% level an effort to unite a greater proportion of the population (really very nearly everyone) different from saying that the idea of class politics is not useful after all? Or is it to just form a tougher coalition against the top 0.1%?

KevinCarson1 , March 03, 2019 at 09:21 PM
No sympathy at all. Most of the bottom nine-tenths of the top 1% are doing bullshit jobs -- bean-counting, guard labor, gatekeeping -- for the top tenth that wouldn't exist in a rational, egalitarian society. And the managerial stratum, as a whole, is an enormous suck on production workers' wages, whether or not its total income actually equals that of rentiers; simply returning managerial/supervisory salaries to the same share of total labor compensation they received in the '70s would alone raise production workers' pay by a quarter or more. The plantation overseers may not be as rich as the planters, but they're still parasites.

Brian , March 03, 2019 at 09:31 PM
Conversations I've overheard in the last couple of years:

"We're both barristers and we can't even afford a flat in Tooting".
"I went to Heathfield and my husband went to Eton. But no chance we can afford private schools for our children".
"Rich foreigners have bought up the houses in Kensington we should have been living in."

My friend, an accountant, says there has always been social churn. But this seems different to me. And at some point the foremen for the billionaire class, I hope, will say sod this for a game of checkers.

Scratch , March 03, 2019 at 10:15 PM
The one that shocks me is the professoriate. Casualising and impoverishing one's core ideological cadre strikes me as a little hubristic.

Then again they seem to be almost without exception devoted to feral liberalism which is presumably testament to the accuracy of the 0/1%'s analysis.

Matthew Turner , March 04, 2019 at 08:09 AM
"We're both barristers and we can't even afford a flat in Tooting".

So who is living in Tooting then?

georgesdelatour , March 04, 2019 at 10:34 AM
The 0.1% hurt the rest of us mainly because they're able to get governments to enact their policy preferences, not because their individual spending decisions heavily skew markets and strain public services. Ultimately there just aren't enough of them to make that much difference, except in highly localised areas; and anyway, they probably use "the commons" (public transport, state schools, the NHS) far less than the median citizen does.

For instance, the 0.1% may cause property bubbles in certain specific locations (Malibu, Manhattan, San Jose, Chelsea etc). But their individual property purchases aren't the main driver of the broader property/housing crisis. We're currently adding around a million people to the UK population every three years. That's 20 times more people than the entire 0.1%. It's got to have more of an effect on the elevated demand for homes, the elevated congestion on London's commuter trains and tubes, and the elevated demand for school places and NHS treatments; even if some of these new Britons come to work in construction, transport, education or health.

Adrian , March 04, 2019 at 11:02 AM
Or we are deep into a structural demographic pattern where an expanded and entitled 'Elite' are in serious competition for the lifestyles they are 'entitled' to.

This situation in history has created some of the most severe political crisis in the history of the west from civil war to bloody revolution, and there is no good reason to suspect that the continuing competition between the established and seeking elites, will ferment even further political and civil strife.

Brexit, an example of a punch up between these elite factions, is already causing severe political strife as the state attempts to reconcile and buy of these competing factions, by hollowing out the classes below to pay for the exercise.

The attempt by the French government to make the non-elite classes pay for the downside of elite supporting policies is not going well, and were is not for the endlessly phlegmatic English constitution and the appeal to ingrained xenophobia, that the non elite classes would be already violently engaged on the streets.

The only way - history says - to escape the effect of this structural position, aside from civil war or revolution to winnow the elite class, the predominate cause of this situation, is through lethal pandemic. Unlikely with modern medicine.

We are at the active beginning of this process, the main crisis is yet to unfold.

georgesdelatour , March 05, 2019 at 09:24 AM
@Adrian

Are you alluding to Peter Turchin's theory of "Elite Overproduction"? I think he's on to something.

Adrian , March 05, 2019 at 10:23 AM
@georgesdelatour

Absolutely. Structural Demographics in lockstep with serious crisis. We're in the middle, or at the serious start? The question is going to have to be, will the Elites roll over and allow taxation and redistribution to winnow the wealth, or refuse to budge and see violent breakdown?

Given that it's hard to defuse the crisis through the traditional weapon of inter-state war, because of nuclear weapons, that some form of new highly redistributive social contract will be the only way to avoid serious social dislocation.

However, the unfailing position of the elites to see themselves as the answer and not the problem, mitigates against a non-violent accord?

Given that historically the only way to defuse these crisis is to reduce the overpopulation issue in fairly short order, I can't see any easy way out.

But perhaps climate collapse and the affect on food supply and production might do that anyway?

[Feb 11, 2019] I would hardly call Europe's [neoliberal] elite liberals

Feb 11, 2019 | www.unz.com

IstvanIN , says: February 3, 2019 at 4:14 pm GMT

anarchyst says:
February 3, 2019 at 2:24 pm GMT • 300 Words
The debasement of European societies is deliberate. The elites want destruction, period they want their "New World Order"

Very true.

The intent of this article is to blame [neo]Liberals. I would hardly call Europe's [neoliberal] elite liberals. A liberal would defend freedom of expression and thought. A liberal would defend the right of an individual or group to express viewpoints that are unpopular.

Western Europe is hardly liberal. It is ... repressive when it comes to dissent, mildly totalitarian. Political leaders who advocate for the rights of indigenous Europeans in Europe are persecuted and imprisoned. Political parties are banned or bankrupted.

[Jan 11, 2019] There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect

Notable quotes:
"... The Travesty of Liberalism ..."
Jan 11, 2019 | www.bradford-delong.com

Possibly the finest thing I have read this year:

Frank Wilhoit : The Travesty of Liberalism :

"There is only conservatism. No other political philosophy actually exists; by the political analogue of Gresham's Law, conservatism has driven every other idea out of circulation. There might be, and should be, anti-conservatism; but it does not yet exist.

What would it be? In order to answer that question, it is necessary and sufficient to characterize conservatism. Fortunately, this can be done very concisely.

Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit:

There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect...

Continue reading "" "

[Nov 27, 2018] American capitalism could afford to make concessions assiciated with The New Deal because of its economic dominance. The past forty years have been characterized by the continued decline of American capitalism on a world stage relative to its major rivals. The ruling class has responded to this crisis with a neoliberal counterrevolution to claw back all gains won by workers. This policy has been carried out under both Democratic and Republican administrations and with the assistance of the trade unions.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The original "New Deal," which included massive public works infrastructure projects, was introduced by Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s amid the Great Depression. Its purpose was to stave off a socialist revolution in America. It was a response to a militant upsurge of strikes and violent class battles, led by socialists who were inspired by the 1917 Russian Revolution ..."
"... Since the 2008 crash, first under Bush and Obama, and now Trump, the ruling elites have pursued a single-minded policy of enriching the wealthy, through free credit, corporate bailouts and tax cuts, while slashing spending on social services. ..."
"... To claim as does Ocasio-Cortez that American capitalism can provide a new "New Deal," of a green or any other variety, is to pfile:///F:/Private_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/Historyromote an obvious political fiction." ..."
Nov 27, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Northern Star November 26, 2018 at 4:23 pm

As the New deal unravels:

"The original "New Deal," which included massive public works infrastructure projects, was introduced by Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s amid the Great Depression. Its purpose was to stave off a socialist revolution in America. It was a response to a militant upsurge of strikes and violent class battles, led by socialists who were inspired by the 1917 Russian Revolution that had occurred less than two decades before.

American capitalism could afford to make such concessions because of its economic dominance. The past forty years have been characterized by the continued decline of American capitalism on a world stage relative to its major rivals. The ruling class has responded to this crisis with a social counterrevolution to claw back all gains won by workers. This has been carried out under both Democratic and Republican administrations and with the assistance of the trade unions.

Since the 2008 crash, first under Bush and Obama, and now Trump, the ruling elites have pursued a single-minded policy of enriching the wealthy, through free credit, corporate bailouts and tax cuts, while slashing spending on social services.

To claim as does Ocasio-Cortez that American capitalism can provide a new "New Deal," of a green or any other variety, is to pfile:///F:/Private_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/Historyromote an obvious political fiction."

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/11/23/cort-n23.html

[Sep 16, 2018] Neoliberal nomenklatura

Sep 16, 2018 | crookedtimber.org

Stephen 09.16.18 at 4:11 pm

Peter T: contrariwise, if it is that as you say "There's surely a reasoned case to be made that hierarchies are essential to complex societies" and "someone has to be at the top and therefore someone else at the bottom", is it legitimate to suspect that a fair proportion (not all, of course) of those advocating progressive change believe that after the defeat of the evil conservative forces, there will still be an essential hierarchy, only they will be on top?

See nomenklatura, etc.


Sebastian H 09.16.18 at 5:27 pm ( 83 )

"is it legitimate to suspect that a fair proportion (not all, of course) of those advocating progressive change believe that after the defeat of the evil conservative forces, there will still be an essential hierarchy, only they will be on top?"

Usually yes, but they will be benevolent so we don't have to worry about them. That is why there are a lot of naïve progressive rule proposals that make me want to scream "what if someone less pure than the purest person you ever met gets a hold of it"? Though I usually just say "what if Ralph Nader were in charge ?", but that is admittedly trolling. For the most current example see the EU copyright rules. The same people who complain about conservative twitter mobs think that telling facebook, twitter, and google to automatically screen out copyright violations and somehow automatically allow fair use of copyright is going to work out well.
I suck at guessing at malignant uses of technology and I can already see the Russian copyright upload experts getting prominent left wing voices tied up in interminable litigation over political speeches. Or some troll reporting the entire internet as copyrighted in one paragraph increments. Or the speech censorship discussions. Dissolving free speech norms is 1000% more likely to be used against left wing voices than right wing ones if they get mainstreamed.

likbez 09.16.18 at 9:16 pm ( 84 )
@Lee A. Arnold 09.15.18 at 12:14 pm (66)

In our present moment, the "protection of aristocracy against the agency of the subordinate classes" has transmuted to "protection of the free market as a way for any subordinate person to ascend by personal effort into the modern open aristocracy."

That is a very deep observation. Thank you!

Protection of inequality as a "natural human condition" is the key to understanding both conservatism and neoliberalism. The corresponding myth of social mobility based on person's abilities under neoliberalism (as Napoleon Bonaparte observed "Ability is of little account without opportunity" and the opportunity is lacking under neoliberal stagnation -- the current state of neoliberalism ) is just icing on the cake.

As soon as you accept Hayek sophistry that the term "freedom" means "the freedom from coercion" you are both a neoliberal and a conservative. And if you belong to Democratic Party, you are a Vichy democrat ;-)

likbez 09.16.18 at 9:50 pm ( 85 )
@Stephen 09.16.18 at 4:11 pm (82)

"is it legitimate to suspect that a fair proportion (not all, of course) of those advocating progressive change believe that after the defeat of the evil conservative forces, there will still be an essential hierarchy, only they will be on top?"

In a way yes ;-)

Neoliberalism/conservatism means that the state enforces the existing hierarchy and supports existing aristocracy ("socialism for rich"). If you deny the existence of a flavor of the Soviet nomenklatura (aristocracy in which position in social hierarchy mainly depends on their role in the top management of government or corporations, not so much personal fortune) in the USA, you deny the reality.

So the question is not about hierarchy per se, but about the acceptable level of "corporate socialism" and inequality in the society.

The progressive change means the creation of the system of government which serves as a countervailing force to the private capital owners, curbing their excesses. I would say that financial oligarchy generally should be treated as a district flavor of organized crime.

The key issue is how to allow a decent level of protection of the bottom 90% of the population from excesses of unfettered capitalism and "market forces" and at the same time not to slide into excessive bureaucracy and regulation ("state capitalism" model).

For a short period after WWII the alliance of a part of state apparatus, upper-level management, and trade unions against owners of capital did exist in the USA (New Deal Capitalism). In an imperfect form with multiple betrayals and quick deterioration, but still existed for some time due to the danger from the USSR

Around 80th the threat from USSR dissipate, and the upper-level management betrayed their former allies and switched sides which signified the victory of neoliberalism and dismantling of the New Deal Capitalism.

After the USSR collapse (when Soviet nomenklatura switched to neoliberalism) the financial oligarchy staged coup d'état in the USA (aka "Quiet Coup") and came to the top.

We need depose this semi-criminal gang. Of course, the end of "cheap oil" will probably help.

Peter T 09.16.18 at 11:40 pm ( 86 )
Stephen

Some, but a "fair proportion"? Probably not. Advocacy of progressive causes usually involves punching up – an inherently more dangerous occupation than punching down. People forget that the older nomenklatura won their positions in World War II, when being a commissar meant leading from the front, being shot out of hand by the Germans, rallying the partisans in mountain villages to another desperate defence and similar. Survivor bias – we don't see the dead.

In more genteel times, the outspoken progressive will often face social ostracism, lack of promotion, attacks in the conservative press

Human motives are complex – no doubt there were confederates who genuinely believed the fight was for states rights, and no doubt there are libertarians who genuinely believe that the poor will have it much better in a free market utopia. I doubt the proportion, either counting individuals or in the swirl inside minds, is very large, but there's always some.

Faustusnotes 09.16.18 at 11:45 pm ( 87 )
Now we're making progress Thomas. The Berkowitz definition is sleazy, and sets up anyone not conservative as an amoral lump in need of guidance, or worse still as dangerous to society. Perhaps that's why Hayek (a supposedly type b conservative) had his opponents thrown out of helicopters. Or was that Friedman?

The appeal of conservatism and it's electoral success is easily explained. Because their real ideology is just treachery, theft and rape they need to hide these ideas from normal people, who already in general support the moral ideas fundamental to civilized society regardless of their politics. So they hide their true agenda through appeals to racism, or by cloaking themselves in the type b definition (isn't this robins point?!) In doing this they benefit from the work of yeomen like you, who insist that conservatism is a real moral project rather than banditry. In most countries they also only win when the left is divided, and only when their elite friends are pouring money into corrupt media. If they didn't have these advantages, these lies, and help from people like you they would never succeed.

I focus on Trump et Al because they are the leaders of your sect,the people who sell your ideas (manafort was a campaign manager ffs), and the people who turn the ideology into action. Didn't you learn in primary school to judge people by their actions, not their words? And why would I ignore these particular conservatives because they're "vulgar clowns"? You're all dangerous, vulgar clowns.

[Sep 12, 2018] If You Read This Book, It'll Make You a Radical A Conversation with Thomas Frank by John Siman

Notable quotes:
"... "Let us linger over the perversity," he writes in "Why Millions of Ordinary Americans Support Donald Trump," one of the seventeen component essays in Rendezvous with Oblivion : "Let us linger over the perversity. Left parties the world over were founded to advance the fortunes of working people. But our left party in America -- one of our two monopoly parties -- chose long ago to turn its back on these people's concerns, making itself instead into the tribune of the enlightened professional class, a 'creative class' that makes innovative things like derivative securities and smartphone apps ..."
"... And the real bad news is not that this Creative Class, this Expert Class, this Meritocratic Class, this Professional Class -- this Liberal Class, with all its techno-ecstasy and virtue-questing and unleashing of innovation -- is so deeply narcissistic and hypocritical, but rather that it is so self-interestedly parasitical and predatory. ..."
Sep 11, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Thomas Frank's new collection of essays: Rendezvous with Oblivion: Reports from a Sinking Society (Metropolitan Books 2018) and Listen, Liberal; or,Whatever Happened to the Party of the People? (ibid. 2016)

To hang out with Thomas Frank for a couple of hours is to be reminded that, going back to 1607, say, or to 1620, for a period of about three hundred and fifty years, the most archetypal of American characters was, arguably, the hard-working, earnest, self-controlled, dependable white Protestant guy, last presented without irony a generation or two -- or three -- ago in the television personas of men like Ward Cleaver and Mister Rogers.

Thomas Frank, who grew up in Kansas and earned his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, who at age 53 has the vibe of a happy eager college nerd, not only glows with authentic Midwestern Nice (and sometimes his face turns red when he laughs, which is often), he actually lives in suburbia, just outside of D.C., in Bethesda, where, he told me, he takes pleasure in mowing the lawn and doing some auto repair and fixing dinner for his wife and two children. (Until I met him, I had always assumed it was impossible for a serious intellectual to live in suburbia and stay sane, but Thomas Frank has proven me quite wrong on this.)

Frank is sincerely worried about the possibility of offending friends and acquaintances by the topics he chooses to write about. He told me that he was a B oy Scout back in Kansas, but didn't make Eagle. He told me that he was perhaps a little too harsh on Hillary Clinton in his brilliantly perspicacious "Liberal Gilt [ sic ]" chapter at the end of Listen, Liberal . His piercing insight into and fascination with the moral rot and the hypocrisy that lies in the American soul brings, well, Nathaniel Hawthorne to mind, yet he refuses to say anything (and I tried so hard to bait him!) mean about anyone, no matter how culpable he or she is in the ongoing dissolving and crumbling and sinking -- all his metaphors -- of our society. And with such metaphors Frank describes the "one essential story" he is telling in Rendezvous with Oblivion : "This is what a society looks like when the glue that holds it together starts to dissolve. This is the way ordinary citizens react when they learn that the structure beneath them is crumbling. And this is the thrill that pulses through the veins of the well-to-do when they discover that there is no longer any limit on their power to accumulate" ( Thomas Frank in NYC on book tour https://youtu.be/DBNthCKtc1Y ).

And I believe that Frank's self-restraint, his refusal to indulge in bitter satire even as he parses our every national lie, makes him unique as social critic. "You will notice," he writes in the introduction to Rendezvous with Oblivion, "that I describe [these disasters] with a certain amount of levity. I do that because that's the only way to confront the issues of our time without sinking into debilitating gloom" (p. 8). And so rather than succumbing to an existential nausea, Frank descends into the abyss with a dependable flashlight and a ca. 1956 sitcom-dad chuckle.

"Let us linger over the perversity," he writes in "Why Millions of Ordinary Americans Support Donald Trump," one of the seventeen component essays in Rendezvous with Oblivion : "Let us linger over the perversity. Left parties the world over were founded to advance the fortunes of working people. But our left party in America -- one of our two monopoly parties -- chose long ago to turn its back on these people's concerns, making itself instead into the tribune of the enlightened professional class, a 'creative class' that makes innovative things like derivative securities and smartphone apps " (p. 178).

And it is his analysis of this "Creative Class" -- he usually refers to it as the "Liberal Class" and sometimes as the "Meritocratic Class" in Listen, Liberal (while Barbara Ehrenreich uses the term " Professional Managerial Class ,"and Matthew Stewart recently published an article entitled "The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy" in the Atlantic ) -- that makes it clear that Frank's work is a continuation of the profound sociological critique that goes back to Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class (1899) and, more recently, to Christopher Lasch's The Revolt of the Elites (1994).

Unlike Veblen and Lasch, however, Frank is able to deliver the harshest news without any hauteur or irascibility, but rather with a deftness and tranquillity of mind, for he is both in and of the Creative Class; he abides among those afflicted by the epidemic which he diagnoses: "Today we live in a world of predatory bankers, predatory educators, even predatory health care providers, all of them out for themselves . Liberalism itself has changed to accommodate its new constituents' technocratic views. Today, liberalism is the philosophy not of the sons of toil but of the 'knowledge economy' and, specifically, of the knowledge economy's winners: the Silicon Valley chieftains, the big university systems, and the Wall Street titans who gave so much to Barack Obama's 2008 campaign . They are a 'learning class' that truly gets the power of education. They are a 'creative class' that naturally rebels against fakeness and conformity. They are an ' innovation class ' that just can't stop coming up with awesome new stuff" ( Listen, Liberal , pp. 27-29).

And the real bad news is not that this Creative Class, this Expert Class, this Meritocratic Class, this Professional Class -- this Liberal Class, with all its techno-ecstasy and virtue-questing and unleashing of innovation -- is so deeply narcissistic and hypocritical, but rather that it is so self-interestedly parasitical and predatory.

The class that now runs the so-called Party of the People is impoverishing the people; the genius value-creators at Amazon and Google and Uber are Robber Barons, although, one must grant, hipper, cooler, and oh so much more innovative than their historical predecessors. "In reality," Frank writes in Listen, Liberal ,

.there is little new about this stuff except the software, the convenience, and the spying. Each of the innovations I have mentioned merely updates or digitizes some business strategy that Americans learned long ago to be wary of. Amazon updates the practices of Wal-Mart, for example, while Google has dusted off corporate behavior from the days of the Robber Barons. What Uber does has been compared to the every-man-for-himself hiring procedures of the pre-union shipping docks . Together, as Robert Reich has written, all these developments are 'the logical culmination of a process that began thirty years ago when corporations began turning over full-time jobs to temporary workers, independent contractors, free-lancers, and consultants.' This is atavism, not innovation . And if we keep going in this direction, it will one day reduce all of us to day laborers, standing around like the guys outside the local hardware store, hoping for work. (p. 215).

And who gets this message? The YouTube patriot/comedian Jimmy Dore, Chicago-born, ex-Catholic, son of a cop, does for one. "If you read this b ook, " Dore said while interviewing Frank back in January of 2017, "it'll make y ou a radical" (Frank Interview Part 4 https://youtu.be/JONbGkQaq8Q ).

But to what extent, on the other hand, is Frank being actively excluded from our elite media outlets? He's certainly not on TV or radio or in print as much as he used to be. So is he a prophet without honor in his own country? Frank, of course, is too self-restrained to speculate about the motives of these Creative Class decision-makers and influencers. "But it is ironic and worth mentioning," he told me, "that most of my writing for the last few years has been in a British publication, The Guardian and (in translation) in Le Monde Diplomatique . The way to put it, I think, is to describe me as an ex-pundit."

Frank was, nevertheless, happy to tell me in vivid detail about how his most fundamental observation about America, viz. that the Party of the People has become hostile to the people , was for years effectively discredited in the Creative Class media -- among the bien-pensants , that is -- and about what he learned from their denialism.

JS: Going all the way back to your 2004 book What's the Matter with Kansas? -- I just looked at Larry Bartels's attack on it, "What's the Matter with What's the Matter with Kansas?" -- and I saw that his first objection to your book was, Well, Thomas Frank says the working class is alienated from the Democrats, but I have the math to show that that's false. How out of touch does that sound now?

TCF: [laughs merrily] I know.

JS: I remember at the time that was considered a serious objection to your thesis.

TCF: Yeah. Well, he was a professor at Princeton. And he had numbers. So it looked real. And I actually wrote a response to that in which I pointed out that there were other statistical ways of looking at it, and he had chosen the one that makes his point.

JS: Well, what did Mark Twain say?

TCF: Mark Twain?

JS: There are lies, damned lies --

TCF: [laughs merrily] -- and statistics! Yeah. Well, anyhow, Bartels's take became the common sense of the highly educated -- there needs to be a term for these people by the way, in France they're called the bien-pensants -- the "right-thinking," the people who read The Atlantic, The New York Times op-ed page, The Washington Post op-ed page, and who all agree with each other on everything -- there's this tight little circle of unanimity. And they all agreed that Bartels was right about that, and that was a costly mistake. For example, Paul Krugman, a guy whom I admire in a lot of ways, he referenced this four or five times. He agreed with it . No, the Democrats are not losing the white working class outside the South -- they were not going over to the Republicans. The suggestion was that there is nothing to worry about. Yes. And there were people saying this right up to the 2016 election. But it was a mistake.

JS: I remember being perplexed at the time. I had thought you had written this brilliant book, and you weren't being taken seriously -- because somebody at Princeton had run some software -- as if that had proven you wrong.

TCF: Yeah, that's correct . That was a very widespread take on it. And Bartels was incorrect, and I am right, and [laughs merrily] that's that.

JS: So do you think Russiagate is a way of saying, Oh no no no no, Hillary didn't really lose?

TCF: Well, she did win the popular vote -- but there's a whole set of pathologies out there right now that all stem from Hillary Denialism. And I don't want to say that Russiagate is one of them, because we don't know the answer to that yet.

JS: Um, ok.

TCF: Well, there are all kinds of questionable reactions to 2016 out there, and what they all have in common is the faith that Democrats did nothing wrong. For example, this same circle of the bien-pensants have decided that the only acceptable explanation for Trump's victory is the racism of his supporters. Racism can be the only explanation for the behavior of Trump voters. But that just seems odd to me because, while it's true of course that there's lots of racism in this country, and while Trump is clearly a bigot and clearly won the bigot vote, racism is just one of several factors that went into what happened in 2016. Those who focus on this as the only possible answer are implying that all Trump voters are irredeemable, lost forever.

And it comes back to the same point that was made by all those people who denied what was happening with the white working class, which is: The Democratic Party needs to do nothing differently . All the post-election arguments come back to this same point. So a couple years ago they were saying about the white working class -- we don't have to worry about them -- they're not leaving the Democratic Party, they're totally loyal, especially in the northern states, or whatever the hell it was. And now they say, well, Those people are racists, and therefore they're lost to us forever. What is the common theme of these two arguments? It's always that there's nothing the Democratic Party needs to do differently. First, you haven't lost them; now you have lost them and they're irretrievable: Either way -- you see what I'm getting at? -- you don't have to do anything differently to win them.

JS: Yes, I do.

TCF: The argument in What's the Matter with Kansas? was that this is a long-term process, the movement of the white working class away from the Democratic Party. This has been going on for a long time. It begins in the '60s, and the response of the Democrats by and large has been to mock those people, deride those people, and to move away from organized labor, to move away from class issues -- working class issues -- and so their response has been to make this situation worse, and it gets worse, and it gets worse, and it gets worse, and it gets worse! And there's really no excuse for them not seeing it. But they say, believe, rationalize, you know, come up with anything that gets then off the hook for this, that allows them to ignore this change. Anything. They will say or believe whatever it takes.

JS: Yes.

TCF: By the way, these are the smartest people! These are tenured professors at Ivy League institutions, these are people with Nobel Prizes, people with foundation grants, people with, you know, chairs at prestigious universities, people who work at our most prestigious media outlets -- that's who's wrong about all this stuff.

JS: [quoting the title of David Halberstam's 1972 book, an excerpt from which Frank uses as an epigraph for Listen, Liberal ] The best and the brightest!

TCF: [laughing merrily] Exactly. Isn't it fascinating?

JS: But this gets to the irony of the thing. [locates highlighted passage in book] I'm going to ask you one of the questions you ask in Rendezvous with Oblivion: "Why are worshippers of competence so often incompetent?" (p. 165). That's a huge question.

TCF: That's one of the big mysteries. Look. Take a step back. I had met Barack Obama. He was a professor at the University of Chicago, and I'd been a student there. And he was super smart. Anyhow, I met him and was really impressed by him. All the liberals in Hyde Park -- that's the neighborhood we lived in -- loved him, and I was one of them, and I loved him too. And I was so happy when he got elected.

Anyhow, I knew one thing he would do for sure, and that is he would end the reign of cronyism and incompetence that marked the Bush administration and before them the Reagan administration. These were administrations that actively promoted incompetent people. And I knew Obama wouldn't do that, and I knew Obama would bring in the smartest people, and he'd get the best economists. Remember, when he got elected we were in the pit of the crisis -- we were at this terrible moment -- and here comes exactly the right man to solve the problem. He did exactly what I just described: He brought in [pause] Larry Summers, the former president of Harvard, considered the greatest economist of his generation -- and, you know, go down the list: He had Nobel Prize winners, he had people who'd won genius grants, he had The Best and the Brightest . And they didn't really deal with the problem. They let the Wall Street perpetrators off the hook -- in a catastrophic way, I would argue. They come up with a health care system that was half-baked. Anyhow, the question becomes -- after watching the great disappointments of the Obama years -- the question becomes: Why did government-by-expert fail?

JS: So how did this happen? Why?

TCF: The answer is understanding experts not as individual geniuses but as members of a class . This is the great missing link in all of our talk about expertise. Experts aren't just experts: They are members of a class. And they act like a class. They have loyalty to one another; they have a disdain for others, people who aren't like them, who they perceive as being lower than them, and there's this whole hierarchy of status that they are at the pinnacle of.

And once you understand this, then everything falls into place! So why did they let the Wall Street bankers off the hook? Because these people were them. These people are their peers. Why did they refuse to do what obviously needed to be done with the health care system? Because they didn't want to do that to their friends in Big Pharma. Why didn't Obama get tough with Google and Facebook? They obviously have this kind of scary monopoly power that we haven't seen in a long time. Instead, he brought them into the White House, he identified with them. Again, it's the same thing. Once you understand this, you say: Wait a minute -- so the Democratic Party is a vehicle of this particular social class! It all makes sense. And all of a sudden all of these screw-ups make sense. And, you know, all of their rhetoric makes sense. And the way they treat working class people makes sense. And they way they treat so many other demographic groups makes sense -- all of the old-time elements of the Democratic Party: unions, minorities, et cetera. They all get to ride in back. It's the professionals -- you know, the professional class -- that sits up front and has its hands on the steering wheel.

* * *

It is, given Frank's persona, not surprising that he is able to conclude Listen, Liberal with a certain hopefulness, and so let me end by quoting some of his final words:

What I saw in Kansas eleven years ago is now everywhere . It is time to face the obvious: that the direction the Democrats have chosen to follow for the last few decades has been a failure for both the nation and for their own partisan health . The Democrats posture as the 'party of the people' even as they dedicate themselves ever more resolutely to serving and glorifying the professional class. Worse: they combine self-righteousness and class privilege in a way that Americans find stomach-turning . The Democrats have no interest in reforming themselves in a more egalitarian way . What we can do is strip away the Democrats' precious sense of their own moral probity -- to make liberals live without the comforting knowledge that righteousness is always on their side . Once that smooth, seamless sense of liberal virtue has been cracked, anything becomes possible. (pp. 256-257).

[Aug 24, 2018] The priorities of the deep state and its public face the MSM

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Trump is being promoted by the MSM as the leader of the deplorables – an orange straw man. I support him to the degree that he is confounding the deep state elites and social engineering. ..."
Aug 24, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

PATIENT OBSERVER August 23, 2018 at 5:19 pm

Here is my take on the priorities of the deep state and its public face – the MSM:

  1. stopping the deplorable rebellion
  2. cutting off the head of the rebellion – perceived as Trump
  3. reinstating the Cold War in an effort to derail Rusisa's recovery and international leadership role
  4. bitch slapping China

The rest involves turning unsustainable debt into establishment of a feudal world comprised of elites living on Mount Olympus, legions of vassals and a vast sea of cerebrally castrated peasants to serve as a reservoir for any imaginable exploitation.

Won't happen, not even close.

PATIENT OBSERVER August 23, 2018 at 7:29 pm

Upon further reflection, Trump is being promoted by the MSM as the leader of the deplorables – an orange straw man. I support him to the degree that he is confounding the deep state elites and social engineering.

[May 31, 2018] Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent's Stealth Takeover of America by Lynn Parramore

Highly recommended!
This looks like Ann Rand philosophy: "The people who needed protection were property owners, and their rights could only be secured though constitutional limits to prevent the majority of voters from encroaching on them, an idea Buchanan lays out in works like Property as a Guarantor of Liberty (1993). MacLean observes that Buchanan saw society as a cutthroat realm of makers (entrepreneurs) constantly under siege by takers (everybody else) His own language was often more stark, warning the alleged "prey" of "parasites" and "predators" out to fleece them."
Notable quotes:
"... By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst, Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website ..."
"... The Limits of Liberty ..."
"... Property as a Guarantor of Liberty ..."
"... Brown v. Board of Education ..."
"... Calhoun, called the "Marx of the Master Class" by historian Richard Hofstadter, saw himself and his fellow southern oligarchs as victims of the majority. Therefore, as MacLean explains, he sought to create "constitutional gadgets" to constrict the operations of government ..."
"... She argues out that unlike even the most property-friendly founders Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Buchanan wanted a private governing elite of corporate power that was wholly released from public accountability. ..."
"... Suppressing voting, changing legislative processes so that a normal majority could no longer prevail, sowing public distrust of government institutions -- all these were tactics toward the goal. But the Holy Grail was the Constitution: alter it and you could increase and secure the power of the wealthy in a way that no politician could ever challenge. ..."
"... MacLean observes that the Virginia school, as Buchanan's brand of economic and political thinking is known, is a kind of cousin to the better-known, market-oriented Chicago and Austrian schools -- proponents of all three were members of the Mont Pelerin Society, an international neoliberal organization which included Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek. But the Virginia school's focus and career missions were distinct. In an interview with the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), MacLean described Friedman and Buchanan as yin and yang: "Friedman was this genial, personable character who loved to be in the limelight and made a sunny case for the free market and the freedom to choose and so forth. Buchanan was the dark side of this: he thought, ok, fine, they can make a case for the free market, but everybody knows that free markets have externalities and other problems. So he wanted to keep people from believing that government could be the alternative to those problems." ..."
"... Buchanan's school focused on public choice theory, later adding constitutional economics and the new field of law and economics to its core research and advocacy. The economist saw that his vision would never come to fruition by focusing on who rules. It was much better to focus on the rules themselves , and that required a "constitutional revolution." ..."
"... MacLean describes how the economist developed a grand project to train operatives to staff institutions funded by like-minded tycoons, most significantly Charles Koch, who became interested in his work in the '70s and sought the economist's input in promoting "Austrian economics" in the U.S. and in advising the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. ..."
"... With Koch's money and enthusiasm, Buchanan's academic school evolved into something much bigger. By the 1990s, Koch realized that Buchanan's ideas -- transmitted through stealth and deliberate deception, as MacLean amply documents -- could help take government down through incremental assaults that the media would hardly notice. The tycoon knew that the project was extremely radical, even a "revolution" in governance, but he talked like a conservative to make his plans sound more palatable. ..."
"... At the 1997 fiftieth anniversary of the Mont Pelerin Society, MacLean recounts that Buchanan and his associate Henry Manne, a founding theorist of libertarian economic approaches to law, focused on such affronts to capitalists as environmentalism and public health and welfare, expressing eagerness to dismantle Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare as well as kill public education because it tended to foster community values. Feminism had to go, too: the scholars considered it a socialist project. ..."
"... To put the success into perspective, MacLean points to the fact that Henry Manne, whom Buchanan was instrumental in hiring, created legal programs for law professors and federal judges which could boast that by 1990 two of every five sitting federal judges had participated. "40 percent of the U.S. federal judiciary," writes MacLean, "had been treated to a Koch-backed curriculum." ..."
"... Buchanan's role in the disastrous Pinochet government of Chile has been underestimated partly because unlike Milton Friedman, who advertised his activities, Buchanan had the shrewdness to keep his involvement quiet. With his guidance, the military junta deployed public choice economics in the creation of a new constitution, which required balanced budgets and thereby prevented the government from spending to meet public needs. Supermajorities would be required for any changes of substance, leaving the public little recourse to challenge programs like the privatization of social security. ..."
"... The Limits of Liberty ..."
"... MacLean is not the only scholar to sound the alarm that the country is experiencing a hostile takeover that is well on its way to radically, and perhaps permanently, altering the society. Peter Temin, former head of the MIT economics department, INET grantee, and author of The Vanishing Middle Class ..."
"... The One Percent Solution ..."
"... She observes, for example, that many liberals have missed the point of strategies like privatization. Efforts to "reform" public education and Social Security are not just about a preference for the private sector over the public sector, she argues. You can wrap your head around, even if you don't agree. Instead, MacLean contents, the goal of these strategies is to radically alter power relations, weakening pro-public forces and enhancing the lobbying power and commitment of the corporations that take over public services and resources, thus advancing the plans to dismantle democracy and make way for a return to oligarchy. The majority will be held captive so that the wealthy can finally be free to do as they please, no matter how destructive. ..."
"... MacLean argues that despite the rhetoric of Virginia school acolytes, shrinking big government is not really the point. The oligarchs require a government with tremendous new powers so that they can bypass the will of the people. This, as MacLean points out, requires greatly expanding police powers "to control the resultant popular anger." The spreading use of pre-emption by GOP-controlled state legislatures to suppress local progressive victories such as living wage ordinances is another example of the right's aggressive use of state power. ..."
"... They could, and have ..."
"... Getting it done ..."
"... Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative ..."
May 31, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
May 31, 2018 By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst, Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

Nobel laureate James Buchanan is the intellectual lynchpin of the Koch-funded attack on democratic institutions, argues Duke historian Nancy MacLean

Ask people to name the key minds that have shaped America's burst of radical right-wing attacks on working conditions, consumer rights and public services, and they will typically mention figures like free market-champion Milton Friedman, libertarian guru Ayn Rand, and laissez-faire economists Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises.

James McGill Buchanan is a name you will rarely hear unless you've taken several classes in economics. And if the Tennessee-born Nobel laureate were alive today, it would suit him just fine that most well-informed journalists, liberal politicians, and even many economics students have little understanding of his work.

The reason? Duke historian Nancy MacLean contends that his philosophy is so stark that even young libertarian acolytes are only introduced to it after they have accepted the relatively sunny perspective of Ayn Rand. (Yes, you read that correctly). If Americans really knew what Buchanan thought and promoted, and how destructively his vision is manifesting under their noses, it would dawn on them how close the country is to a transformation most would not even want to imagine, much less accept.

That is a dangerous blind spot, MacLean argues in a meticulously researched book, Democracy in Chains , a finalist for the National Book Award in Nonfiction. While Americans grapple with Donald Trump's chaotic presidency, we may be missing the key to changes that are taking place far beyond the level of mere politics. Once these changes are locked into place, there may be no going back.

An Unlocked Door in Virginia

MacLean's book reads like an intellectual detective story. In 2010, she moved to North Carolina, where a Tea Party-dominated Republican Party got control of both houses of the state legislature and began pushing through a radical program to suppress voter rights, decimate public services, and slash taxes on the wealthy that shocked a state long a beacon of southern moderation. Up to this point, the figure of James Buchanan flickered in her peripheral vision, but as she began to study his work closely, the events in North Carolina and also Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker was leading assaults on collective bargaining rights, shifted her focus.

Could it be that this relatively obscure economist's distinctive thought was being put forcefully into action in real time?

MacLean could not gain access to Buchanan's papers to test her hypothesis until after his death in January 2013. That year, just as the government was being shut down by Ted Cruz & Co., she traveled to George Mason University in Virginia, where the economist's papers lay willy-nilly across the offices of a building now abandoned by the Koch-funded faculty to a new, fancier center in Arlington.

MacLean was stunned. The archive of the man who had sought to stay under the radar had been left totally unsorted and unguarded. The historian plunged in, and she read through boxes and drawers full of papers that included personal correspondence between Buchanan and billionaire industrialist Charles Koch. That's when she had an amazing realization: here was the intellectual lynchpin of a stealth revolution currently in progress.

A Theory of Property Supremacy

Buchanan, a 1940 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University who later attended the University of Chicago for graduate study, started out as a conventional public finance economist. But he grew frustrated by the way in which economic theorists ignored the political process.

Buchanan began working on a description of power that started out as a critique of how institutions functioned in the relatively liberal 1950s and '60s, a time when economist John Maynard Keynes's ideas about the need for government intervention in markets to protect people from flaws so clearly demonstrated in the Great Depression held sway. Buchanan, MacLean notes, was incensed at what he saw as a move toward socialism and deeply suspicious of any form of state action that channels resources to the public. Why should the increasingly powerful federal government be able to force the wealthy to pay for goods and programs that served ordinary citizens and the poor?

In thinking about how people make political decisions and choices, Buchanan concluded that you could only understand them as individuals seeking personal advantage. In interview cited by MacLean, the economist observed that in the 1950s Americans commonly assumed that elected officials wanted to act in the public interest. Buchanan vehemently disagreed -- that was a belief he wanted, as he put it, to "tear down." His ideas developed into a theory that came to be known as "public choice."

Buchanan's view of human nature was distinctly dismal. Adam Smith saw human beings as self-interested and hungry for personal power and material comfort, but he also acknowledged social instincts like compassion and fairness. Buchanan, in contrast, insisted that people were primarily driven by venal self-interest. Crediting people with altruism or a desire to serve others was "romantic" fantasy: politicians and government workers were out for themselves, and so, for that matter, were teachers, doctors, and civil rights activists. They wanted to control others and wrest away their resources: "Each person seeks mastery over a world of slaves," he wrote in his 1975 book, The Limits of Liberty .

Does that sound like your kindergarten teacher? It did to Buchanan.

The people who needed protection were property owners, and their rights could only be secured though constitutional limits to prevent the majority of voters from encroaching on them, an idea Buchanan lays out in works like Property as a Guarantor of Liberty (1993). MacLean observes that Buchanan saw society as a cutthroat realm of makers (entrepreneurs) constantly under siege by takers (everybody else) His own language was often more stark, warning the alleged "prey" of "parasites" and "predators" out to fleece them.

In 1965 the economist launched a center dedicated to his theories at the University of Virginia, which later relocated to George Mason University. MacLean describes how he trained thinkers to push back against the Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate America's public schools and to challenge the constitutional perspectives and federal policy that enabled it. She notes that he took care to use economic and political precepts, rather than overtly racial arguments, to make his case, which nonetheless gave cover to racists who knew that spelling out their prejudices would alienate the country.

All the while, a ghost hovered in the background -- that of John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, senator and seventh vice president of the United States.

Calhoun was an intellectual and political powerhouse in the South from the 1820s until his death in 1850, expending his formidable energy to defend slavery. Calhoun, called the "Marx of the Master Class" by historian Richard Hofstadter, saw himself and his fellow southern oligarchs as victims of the majority. Therefore, as MacLean explains, he sought to create "constitutional gadgets" to constrict the operations of government.

Economists Tyler Cowen and Alexander Tabarrok, both of George Mason University, have noted the two men's affinities, heralding Calhoun "a precursor of modern public choice theory" who "anticipates" Buchanan's thinking. MacLean observes that both focused on how democracy constrains property owners and aimed for ways to restrict the latitude of voters. She argues out that unlike even the most property-friendly founders Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Buchanan wanted a private governing elite of corporate power that was wholly released from public accountability.

Suppressing voting, changing legislative processes so that a normal majority could no longer prevail, sowing public distrust of government institutions -- all these were tactics toward the goal. But the Holy Grail was the Constitution: alter it and you could increase and secure the power of the wealthy in a way that no politician could ever challenge.

Gravy Train to Oligarchy

MacLean explains that Virginia's white elite and the pro-corporate president of the University of Virginia, Colgate Darden, who had married into the DuPont family, found Buchanan's ideas to be spot on. In nurturing a new intelligentsia to commit to his values, Buchanan stated that he needed a "gravy train," and with backers like Charles Koch and conservative foundations like the Scaife Family Charitable Trusts, others hopped aboard. Money, Buchanan knew, can be a persuasive tool in academia. His circle of influence began to widen.

MacLean observes that the Virginia school, as Buchanan's brand of economic and political thinking is known, is a kind of cousin to the better-known, market-oriented Chicago and Austrian schools -- proponents of all three were members of the Mont Pelerin Society, an international neoliberal organization which included Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek. But the Virginia school's focus and career missions were distinct. In an interview with the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), MacLean described Friedman and Buchanan as yin and yang: "Friedman was this genial, personable character who loved to be in the limelight and made a sunny case for the free market and the freedom to choose and so forth. Buchanan was the dark side of this: he thought, ok, fine, they can make a case for the free market, but everybody knows that free markets have externalities and other problems. So he wanted to keep people from believing that government could be the alternative to those problems."

The Virginia school also differs from other economic schools in a marked reliance on abstract theory rather than mathematics or empirical evidence. That a Nobel Prize was awarded in 1986 to an economist who so determinedly bucked the academic trends of his day was nothing short of stunning, MacLean observes. But, then, it was the peak of the Reagan era, an administration several Buchanan students joined.

Buchanan's school focused on public choice theory, later adding constitutional economics and the new field of law and economics to its core research and advocacy. The economist saw that his vision would never come to fruition by focusing on who rules. It was much better to focus on the rules themselves , and that required a "constitutional revolution."

MacLean describes how the economist developed a grand project to train operatives to staff institutions funded by like-minded tycoons, most significantly Charles Koch, who became interested in his work in the '70s and sought the economist's input in promoting "Austrian economics" in the U.S. and in advising the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

Koch, whose mission was to save capitalists like himself from democracy, found the ultimate theoretical tool in the work of the southern economist. The historian writes that Koch preferred Buchanan to Milton Friedman and his "Chicago boys" because, she says, quoting a libertarian insider, they wanted "to make government work more efficiently when the true libertarian should be tearing it out at the root."

With Koch's money and enthusiasm, Buchanan's academic school evolved into something much bigger. By the 1990s, Koch realized that Buchanan's ideas -- transmitted through stealth and deliberate deception, as MacLean amply documents -- could help take government down through incremental assaults that the media would hardly notice. The tycoon knew that the project was extremely radical, even a "revolution" in governance, but he talked like a conservative to make his plans sound more palatable.

MacLean details how partnered with Koch, Buchanan's outpost at George Mason University was able to connect libertarian economists with right-wing political actors and supporters of corporations like Shell Oil, Exxon, Ford, IBM, Chase Manhattan Bank, and General Motors. Together they could push economic ideas to public through media, promote new curricula for economics education, and court politicians in nearby Washington, D.C.

At the 1997 fiftieth anniversary of the Mont Pelerin Society, MacLean recounts that Buchanan and his associate Henry Manne, a founding theorist of libertarian economic approaches to law, focused on such affronts to capitalists as environmentalism and public health and welfare, expressing eagerness to dismantle Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare as well as kill public education because it tended to foster community values. Feminism had to go, too: the scholars considered it a socialist project.

The Oligarchic Revolution Unfolds

Buchanan's ideas began to have huge impact, especially in America and in Britain. In his home country, the economist was deeply involved efforts to cut taxes on the wealthy in 1970s and 1980s and he advised proponents of Reagan Revolution in their quest to unleash markets and posit government as the "problem" rather than the "solution." The Koch-funded Virginia school coached scholars, lawyers, politicians, and business people to apply stark right-wing perspectives on everything from deficits to taxes to school privatization. In Britain, Buchanan's work helped to inspire the public sector reforms of Margaret Thatcher and her political progeny.

To put the success into perspective, MacLean points to the fact that Henry Manne, whom Buchanan was instrumental in hiring, created legal programs for law professors and federal judges which could boast that by 1990 two of every five sitting federal judges had participated. "40 percent of the U.S. federal judiciary," writes MacLean, "had been treated to a Koch-backed curriculum."

MacLean illustrates that in South America, Buchanan was able to first truly set his ideas in motion by helping a bare-knuckles dictatorship ensure the permanence of much of the radical transformation it inflicted on a country that had been a beacon of social progress. The historian emphasizes that Buchanan's role in the disastrous Pinochet government of Chile has been underestimated partly because unlike Milton Friedman, who advertised his activities, Buchanan had the shrewdness to keep his involvement quiet. With his guidance, the military junta deployed public choice economics in the creation of a new constitution, which required balanced budgets and thereby prevented the government from spending to meet public needs. Supermajorities would be required for any changes of substance, leaving the public little recourse to challenge programs like the privatization of social security.

The dictator's human rights abuses and pillage of the country's resources did not seem to bother Buchanan, MacLean argues, so long as the wealthy got their way. "Despotism may be the only organizational alternative to the political structure that we observe," the economist had written in The Limits of Liberty . If you have been wondering about the end result of the Virginia school philosophy, well, the economist helpfully spelled it out.

A World of Slaves

Most Americans haven't seen what's coming.

MacLean notes that when the Kochs' control of the GOP kicked into high gear after the financial crisis of 2007-08, many were so stunned by the "shock-and-awe" tactics of shutting down government, destroying labor unions, and rolling back services that meet citizens' basic necessities that few realized that many leading the charge had been trained in economics at Virginia institutions, especially George Mason University. Wasn't it just a new, particularly vicious wave of partisan politics?

It wasn't. MacLean convincingly illustrates that it was something far more disturbing.

MacLean is not the only scholar to sound the alarm that the country is experiencing a hostile takeover that is well on its way to radically, and perhaps permanently, altering the society. Peter Temin, former head of the MIT economics department, INET grantee, and author of The Vanishing Middle Class , as well as economist Gordon Lafer of the University of Oregon and author of The One Percent Solution , have provided eye-opening analyses of where America is headed and why. MacLean adds another dimension to this dystopian big picture, acquainting us with what has been overlooked in the capitalist right wing's playbook.

She observes, for example, that many liberals have missed the point of strategies like privatization. Efforts to "reform" public education and Social Security are not just about a preference for the private sector over the public sector, she argues. You can wrap your head around, even if you don't agree. Instead, MacLean contents, the goal of these strategies is to radically alter power relations, weakening pro-public forces and enhancing the lobbying power and commitment of the corporations that take over public services and resources, thus advancing the plans to dismantle democracy and make way for a return to oligarchy. The majority will be held captive so that the wealthy can finally be free to do as they please, no matter how destructive.

MacLean argues that despite the rhetoric of Virginia school acolytes, shrinking big government is not really the point. The oligarchs require a government with tremendous new powers so that they can bypass the will of the people. This, as MacLean points out, requires greatly expanding police powers "to control the resultant popular anger." The spreading use of pre-emption by GOP-controlled state legislatures to suppress local progressive victories such as living wage ordinances is another example of the right's aggressive use of state power.

Could these right-wing capitalists allow private companies to fill prisons with helpless citizens -- or, more profitable still, right-less undocumented immigrants? They could, and have . Might they engineer a retirement crisis by moving Americans to inadequate 401(k)s? Done . Take away the rights of consumers and workers to bring grievances to court by making them sign forced arbitration agreements? Check . Gut public education to the point where ordinary people have such bleak prospects that they have no energy to fight back? Getting it done .

Would they even refuse children clean water? Actually, yes.

MacLean notes that in Flint, Michigan, Americans got a taste of what the emerging oligarchy will look like -- it tastes like poisoned water. There, the Koch-funded Mackinac Center pushed for legislation that would allow the governor to take control of communities facing emergency and put unelected managers in charge. In Flint, one such manager switched the city's water supply to a polluted river, but the Mackinac Center's lobbyists ensured that the law was fortified by protections against lawsuits that poisoned inhabitants might bring. Tens of thousands of children were exposed to lead, a substance known to cause serious health problems including brain damage.

Tyler Cowen has provided an economic justification for this kind of brutality, stating that where it is difficult to get clean water, private companies should take over and make people pay for it. "This includes giving them the right to cut off people who don't -- or can't -- pay their bills," the economist explains.

To many this sounds grotesquely inhumane, but it is a way of thinking that has deep roots in America. In Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative (2005), Buchanan considers the charge of heartlessness made against the kind of classic liberal that he took himself to be. MacLean interprets his discussion to mean that people who "failed to foresee and save money for their future needs" are to be treated, as Buchanan put it, "as subordinate members of the species, akin to animals who are dependent.'"

Do you have your education, health care, and retirement personally funded against all possible exigencies? Then that means you.

Buchanan was not a dystopian novelist. He was a Nobel Laureate whose sinister logic exerts vast influence over America's trajectory. It is no wonder that Cowen, on his popular blog Marginal Revolution, does not mention Buchanan on a list of underrated influential libertarian thinkers, though elsewhere on the blog, he expresses admiration for several of Buchanan's contributions and acknowledges that the southern economist "thought more consistently in terms of 'rules of the games' than perhaps any other economist."

The rules of the game are now clear.

Research like MacLean's provides hope that toxic ideas like Buchanan's may finally begin to face public scrutiny. Yet at this very moment, the Kochs' State Policy Network and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that connects corporate agents to conservative lawmakers to produce legislation, are involved in projects that the Trump-obsessed media hardly notices, like pumping money into state judicial races. Their aim is to stack the legal deck against Americans in ways that MacLean argues may have even bigger effects than Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling which unleashed unlimited corporate spending on American politics. The goal is to create a judiciary that will interpret the Constitution in favor of corporations and the wealthy in ways that Buchanan would have heartily approved.

"The United States is now at one of those historic forks in the road whose outcome will prove as fateful as those of the 1860s, the 1930s, and the 1960s," writes MacLean. "To value liberty for the wealthy minority above all else and enshrine it in the nation's governing rules, as Calhoun and Buchanan both called for and the Koch network is achieving, play by play, is to consent to an oligarchy in all but the outer husk of representative form."

Nobody can say we weren't warned.

[Apr 23, 2018] On Rand and Nietzsche

Notable quotes:
"... Ayn Rand's mythology also included a very strong emphasis on personal honor, high integrity and principles, and remaining true to one's commitments and promises (or how else can businesspeople trust one another without recourse to the use of force?). ..."
"... Her aestheticization of capitalist accumulation as the expression of a great and noble soul, as opposed to the embarrassing compulsion of the avaricious soul, is what gives her protagonists the illusion of something like heroic gravitas. Just my opinion. ..."
"... Yes, brain washed foot soldiers of Ayn Rand's mythology and Milton Friedman's theory, MBAs, have destroyed North America with their idiotic cost-minimizing, short-term profit-maximizing approach! ..."
"... Could you comment on Ayn Rand receiving social welfare payments and going on Medicare to help support her during her treatment for lung cancer near the end of her life? ..."
"... There are also many rumours flying about on the Internet that in the 1920s Ayn Rand was impressed by the serial killer William E Hickman (who kidnapped a banker's 12-year-old daughter, killed her and disembowelled and dismembered her) to the extent that he became a model for an early character in an unfinished novel. ..."
Apr 23, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Apr 23, 2018 12:14:34 PM | 109

ralphieboy @108--

More specifically, it's the ascendency of Ayn Rand's mythology, its brainwashed economist priests and their politico allies while dumbing down and hypnotizing a majority of the citizenry that are responsible for quite a bit of the current malaise. But as I noted above, the seed was bad from the outset.

Charles R , Apr 23, 2018 1:56:43 PM | 116
Ayn Rand's mythology also included a very strong emphasis on personal honor, high integrity and principles, and remaining true to one's commitments and promises (or how else can businesspeople trust one another without recourse to the use of force?).

Her villains are not merely weak in terms of their personal and economic influence but morally weak in their character, which is why they take over the government's monopoly on force (and also symbolically why they tend to be physically described as amorphous, soft, and fleshy).

I think it's fair to acknowledge this in what she was arguing in her works. Perhaps a number of us will agree that the problems we often observe don't result from specific government systems but rather the pervasive ease with which humans across cultures and societies indulge in power, corruption, and short-sighted justifications of long-standing vices. And where humans hold one another accountable and work to support one another's moral development towards justice, peace, and mutually reinforced respect, it might matter less and less how we shape our governments.

Not really a Rand apologist, though. I'm always looking for ways of understanding similarities across worldviews.

WJ , Apr 23, 2018 2:26:26 PM | 119
Charles R @116,

The mythology of your first paragraph is not Rand's, but Nietzsche's; or rather, it is first of all Nietzsche's and is secondarily Rand's interpretation of Nietzsche. The difference between Nietzsche's "supermen" or "overmen" and "last men"--as allegorized in Thus Spake Zarathustra, eg.--is taken over nearly exactly into Rand's imaginary social world.

The main difference here is that for Rand the industrialist-tycoon was the paradigmatic instance of the overman we were all to aspire to become, whereas for Nietzsche such a tycoon represents simply the tumorous magnification of bourgeois individualism.

This is why Rand tries to depict her heroes as much as "artists"--in the romantic and to some extent Nietzschean sense of TSZ--as capitalists.

Her aestheticization of capitalist accumulation as the expression of a great and noble soul, as opposed to the embarrassing compulsion of the avaricious soul, is what gives her protagonists the illusion of something like heroic gravitas. Just my opinion.

ex-SA , Apr 23, 2018 2:49:58 PM | 121
@ ralphieboy | Apr 23, 2018 11:36:50 AM | 108 & karlof1 | Apr 23, 2018 12:14:34 PM | 109

Yes, brain washed foot soldiers of Ayn Rand's mythology and Milton Friedman's theory, MBAs, have destroyed North America with their idiotic cost-minimizing, short-term profit-maximizing approach!

Charles R , Apr 23, 2018 4:03:19 PM | 122
WJ, maybe you're on to something, but I'll also point out that the Luciferian and Promethean allusions throughout Atlas Shrugged themselves point to an older pattern of thinking about divine usurpation than Nietzsche, where the New Creators surpass the old, buried gods by bringing metal and oil and fire together into new forms of life. When Hank and Dagney finally embrace and reveal their passion for one another, they are deep in the engine room of the locomotive, with all its pistons and steam and heat and steel.

My point, though, was just to say that it's helpful to remember that even Rand encouraged justice and honor and personal integrity. You might say that Rand, given her admiration for the One True Philosopher in her reckoning -- Aristotle -- thought moral character important as something objective...

S , Apr 23, 2018 6:34:58 PM | 135
@WJ

Glad that people here see through Alisa Rosenbaum's bs.

Regarding Turkey, what they mean is that Turkey may deny the use of its airstrips to NATO forces (reneging on its NATO commitments), hence the need for an aircraft carrier as a (partial) replacement.

Jen , Apr 23, 2018 6:38:52 PM | 136
Charles @ 122:

Could you comment on Ayn Rand receiving social welfare payments and going on Medicare to help support her during her treatment for lung cancer near the end of her life?

http://www.openculture.com/2016/12/when-ayn-rand-collected-social-security-medicare.html

There are also many rumours flying about on the Internet that in the 1920s Ayn Rand was impressed by the serial killer William E Hickman (who kidnapped a banker's 12-year-old daughter, killed her and disembowelled and dismembered her) to the extent that he became a model for an early character in an unfinished novel. Could you comment on those rumours?

Why would Rand choose a serial killer (of all people) as a model for a "lone wolf" character at odds with conventional society?

[Oct 24, 2017] House Launches Probe Into Comeys Handling Of Clinton Email Investigation

The neoliberal "the new class" to which Clintons belong like nomenklatura in the USSR are above the law.
Notable quotes:
"... After months of inexplicable delays, the chairman of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), announced moments ago a joint investigation into how the Justice Department handled last year's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server. ..."
"... Oh goody, Trey Gowdy doing another investigation. Isn't he 0 for many on his investigations. 0 as in zero, nada, nill, squat, zippo. He is another political empty suit with a bad haircut. ..."
"... Well said. The Clinton network leads to the real money in this game. Any real investigation would expose many of the primary players. It would also expose the network for what it is, that being a mechanism to scam both the American people and the people of the world. ..."
"... Perhaps a real investigation will now only be done from outside the system (as the U.S. political system seems utterly incapable of investigating or policing itself). ..."
"... You're probably right, but there's a chance this whole thing could go sidewise on Hillary in a hurry, Weinstein-style. ..."
"... We already know Honest Hill'rey's other IT guy (Bryan Pagliano) ignored subpoenas from congress...twice. ..."
"... Another classic case of "the Boy that cried wolf" for the Trumpettes to believe justice is coming to the Clintons. The House Judiciary and Oversight committees, will turn up nothing, apart from some procedural mistakes. A complete waste of time and tax payer money. Only the Goldfish will be happy over another charade. Killary is immune from normal laws. ..."
"... Potemkin Justice. Not a damn thing will come of it unless they find that one of Hillary's aides parked in a handicapped spot. ..."
"... The TV showed me Trump saying, "She's been through enough" and "They're good people" when referring to Hillary and Bill Clinton. ..."
"... Stopped reading at "they do not recognize wealth, power, or social status." ..."
Oct 24, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Hillary's former IT consultant Paul Combetta who admitted to deleting Hillary's emails despite the existence of a Congressional subpoena, it seems as though James Comey has just had his very own "oh shit" moment.

After months of inexplicable delays, the chairman of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), announced moments ago a joint investigation into how the Justice Department handled last year's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server.

Among other things, Goodlatte and Gowdy said that the FBI must answer for why it chose to provide public updates in the Clinton investigation but not in the Trump investigation and why the FBI decided to " appropriate full decision making in respect to charging or not charging Secretary Clinton," a power typically left to the DOJ.

"Our justice system is represented by a blind-folded woman holding a set of scales. Those scales do not tip to the right or the left; they do not recognize wealth, power, or social status. The impartiality of our justice system is the bedrock of our republic and our fellow citizens must have confidence in its objectivity, independence, and evenhandedness. The law is the most equalizing force in this country. No entity or individual is exempt from oversight.

"Decisions made by the Department of Justice in 2016 have led to a host of outstanding questions that must be answered. These include, but are not limited to:

???? #BREAKING : @RepGoodlatte & @TGowdySC to investigate #DOJ decisions made in 2016 to ensure transparency and accountability at the agency. pic.twitter.com/EOm4pnHbTG

-- House Judiciary ? (@HouseJudiciary) October 24, 2017

Of course, this comes just one day after Comey revealed his secret Twitter account which led the internet to wildly speculate that he may be running for a political office...which, these days, being under investigation by multiple Congressional committees might just mean he has a good shot.

Finally, we leave you with one artist's depiction of how the Comey 'investigation' of Hillary's email scandal played out...

AlaricBalth -> Creepy_Azz_Crackaah , Oct 24, 2017 1:03 PM

"Our justice system is represented by a blind-folded woman holding a set of scales. Those scales do not tip to the right or the left; they do not recognize wealth, power, or social status. The impartiality of our justice system is the bedrock of our republic..."

Spewed coffee after reading this quote.

Ghost of PartysOver -> AlaricBalth , Oct 24, 2017 1:10 PM

Oh goody, Trey Gowdy doing another investigation. Isn't he 0 for many on his investigations. 0 as in zero, nada, nill, squat, zippo. He is another political empty suit with a bad haircut.

nope-1004 -> Ghost of PartysOver , Oct 24, 2017 1:12 PM

LAMP POST!

Live stream for all to witness.

macholatte -> nope-1004 , Oct 24, 2017 1:17 PM

It's nice publicity to hear that the Congress is "investigating". It's NOT nice to know that the DOJ is doing nothing. Probably 50 top level people at the FBI need to be fired as well as another 50 at DOJ to get the ball rolling toward a Grand Jury. Until then, it's all eyewash and BULLSHIT!

Thought Processor -> Chupacabra-322 , Oct 24, 2017 2:11 PM

Well said. The Clinton network leads to the real money in this game. Any real investigation would expose many of the primary players. It would also expose the network for what it is, that being a mechanism to scam both the American people and the people of the world.

Perhaps a real investigation will now only be done from outside the system (as the U.S. political system seems utterly incapable of investigating or policing itself). Though in time all information will surface, as good players leak the info of the bad players into the open. Which of course is why the corrupt players go after the leakers, as it is one key way they can be taken down. Also remember that they need the good players in any organization to be used as cover (as those not in the know can be used to work on legit projects). Once the good players catch on to the ruse and corruption it is, beyond a certain tipping point, all over, as the leaked information goes from drop to flood. There will simply be no way to deny it.

Ikiru -> Creepy_Azz_Crackaah , Oct 24, 2017 2:02 PM

You're probably right, but there's a chance this whole thing could go sidewise on Hillary in a hurry, Weinstein-style. If the criminal stench surrounding her gets strong enough, the rats will begin to jump ship. People will stop taking orders and doing her dirty work. She's wounded right now, if there was ever a time to finish her, it would be now. Where the fuck is the big-talking Jeff Sessions? I think they got to him--he even LOOKS scared shitless.

jimmy c korn -> Richard Chesler , Oct 24, 2017 1:28 PM

a blind-folded woman with a hand in their pockets.

chunga -> Max Cynical , Oct 24, 2017 1:00 PM

It's just not possible to have any respect for these politician people.

We already know Honest Hill'rey's other IT guy (Bryan Pagliano) ignored subpoenas from congress...twice. Remember Chaffetz "subpoenas are not suggestions"? Yeah, well they are. Chaffetz turned around and sent a letter about this to "attorney general" jeff sessions and he's done exactly shit about about it. (Look it up, that's a true story)

Then we've got president maverick outsider simply ignoring Julian Assange and Wikileaks while he squeals daily about fake news. Wikileaks has exposed more fraud than Congress ever has.

shovelhead -> DirtySanchez , Oct 24, 2017 12:57 PM

First we need to get a US Attorney. Our last one seems to have gone AWOL.

DirtySanchez -> shovelhead , Oct 24, 2017 1:05 PM

Sessions is the Attorney General. Give the man some credit. He recused himself from the Russia/Trump collusion, and this decision may very well save the republic.

If Sessions was actively involved, half the nation would never accept the findings, no matter the outcome. With Sessions voluntarily sidelined, the truth will eventually expose the criminal conspirators; all the way to the top.

Wikileaks and Assange have documented proof of criminal behavior from Obama, Lynch, Holder, Hillary, W. Bush, and more. This will be the biggest scandal to hit the world stage. Ever.

waterwitch -> DirtySanchez , Oct 24, 2017 1:18 PM

Bigger than the Awan Spy ring in Congress?

IronForge , Oct 24, 2017 12:36 PM

About Fracking Time. Toss that Evidence Eraser into Black Sites hot during the Summer and Cold during the Winter Months.

To Hell In A Ha... , Oct 24, 2017 12:40 PM

lol Another classic case of "the Boy that cried wolf" for the Trumpettes to believe justice is coming to the Clintons. The House Judiciary and Oversight committees, will turn up nothing, apart from some procedural mistakes. A complete waste of time and tax payer money. Only the Goldfish will be happy over another charade. Killary is immune from normal laws.

E.F. Mutton , Oct 24, 2017 12:37 PM

Potemkin Justice. Not a damn thing will come of it unless they find that one of Hillary's aides parked in a handicapped spot.

ToSoft4Truth , Oct 24, 2017 12:38 PM

The TV said Comey will be running for president in 2020.

Akzed -> ToSoft4Truth , Oct 24, 2017 12:39 PM

Well then it must be true.

ToSoft4Truth -> Akzed , Oct 24, 2017 12:51 PM

The TV showed me Trump saying, "She's been through enough" and "They're good people" when referring to Hillary and Bill Clinton. Holograms?

E.F. Mutton -> Gerry Fletcher , Oct 24, 2017 12:57 PM

The Blind Justice Lady is real, she just has a .45 at the back of her head held by Hillary. And don't even ask where Bill's finger is

mc888 -> BigWillyStyle887 , Oct 24, 2017 1:24 PM

Congress can't do shit without DOJ and FBI, which are both compromised and corrupt to the core.

That should have been Sessions' first order of business.

He can still get it rolling by firing Rosenstein and replacing him with someone that will do the job.They can strike down the Comey immunity deals and arrest people for violating Congressional subpeona.

They can also assemble a Grand Jury to indict Rosenstein and Mueller for the Russian collusion conspiracy to commit Espionage and Sabotage of our National Security resources. Half of Mueller's staff will then be indicted, along with Clinton, Obama, Lynch, Holder, and Comey.

Replacement of Rosenstein is the crucial first step.

Dead Indiana Sky , Oct 24, 2017 12:43 PM

Stopped reading at "they do not recognize wealth, power, or social status."

[Oct 24, 2017] Neoliberalism as [un]creative destruction by Andy Shi

Oct 24, 2017 | prezi.com

Transcript of Neoliberalism as creative destruction David Harvey: Neoliberalism as Creative Destruction
David Harvey argues that neo-liberalism is an ideological tool and economic formula used by the upper class to re-dominate lower class. Neo-liberalism is not a successful economic stimulant, but a destructive one. It had destroyed pre-existing organization and institution on a global scale. This is done through the usage of privatization, financialization, crisis management and state redistribution. Moreover, neo-liberalism took great effort and time to be implemented globally. It is detrimental to all aspect of life (i.e. social relation, social security, welfare, attachment to land, and way of thought).

Role of the State

State had active participation in advancing the neoliberal doctrine. From David Harvey's perspective, the nation-state is an instrument of the upper class. It was used to extend the interest of the upper class. The state have effective became the will of the transnational corporation. This is both a domestic(new york) and transnational effort. (Reagan and Thatcher's Chillean model).

His first argument is that neo-liberalism is "naturalized" by classical liberal values such as liberty and freedom. i.e. The values of freedom is under threat if government intervenes. Also opened up niche market (promotion of consumerism)

Example : Iraq

Failure of the Previous capitalistic Economy

Neo-liberalism occured as an answer to the failing capitalistic system. Capitalism is a system that survives on perpetuated growth. When growth stoped under social democracy, Capitalism began to crumble. David Harvey used statistic of wealth distribution to illustrate his point.
Pre-war, The top one percent shared 1 percent of the national income, after, they share
8 percent. After 1990 15%

Neoliberalism as Class Redomination

His is third argument is that neo-liberalism had fail to achieve what it claims to do. (Redistribution rather than generative) Instead, it is merely a scheme of destruction to restore class power. (Global Gdp steadily declining) This is done through privatization, financialization, crisis, and state policy. Media obscure facts and encourages social Darwinism. (Mexico as a success story)

Summary

Legitimization of the Neoliberal Doctrine

Discussion questions

1 Given the roles and the impact of the nation-state and TNCs, do you believe that TNCs will one day completely replace nation-states?

2 Examples of globalization and transnationalism can be seen in the increasing number of languages spoken around the world. Has acquiring language (or languages) become rationalized into the culture of capitalism? What are the potential benefits or problems with a selective processes of language acquisition?

3。Do you think Nation state have the ability to resist the globalization effect brought by the neo-liberalism regime? If so, how?

Structural Marxism

Perspective that posits the institutions of the state must function in such a way as to ensure ongoing viability of capitalism more generally. Another way that Marxists put this is that the institutions of the state must function so as to reproduce capitalist society as a whole. Neoliberal state reproduced the capitalistic society with academics.

(the chicago boys)

How did neoliberlism gain support?

In cooperation of Christian right, A insecure white middle class and the republican take over of congress in the 90's lead to a political base that supported their policies against their interest. Neoliberalism is extremely well adapted to utilizing crisis to threaten the public, forcing the public to make deal with the devil.
Chilean Model

In 1970, the democratic elected Marxist leader Allande was overthrown by military coup. The new leader Augusto Pinochet is a Neoliberalist which famously said 'to make Chile not a nation of proletarians, but a nation of proprietors' Lower wage, privatizing public property, decrease in welfare and social spending

[Oct 23, 2017] Neoliberalism as Creative Destruction David Harvey, 2007

This article is 10 year old but the analysis presented still remain by-and-large current.
You can read full article in Neoliberalism As Creative Destruction - David Harvey by Open Critique - issue
Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism is a theory of political economic practices proposing that human well-being can best be advanced by the maximization of entrepreneurial freedoms within an institutional framework characterized by private property rights, individual liberty, unencumbered markets, and free trade. ..."
"... Furthermore, if markets do not exist (in areas such as education, health care, social security, or environmental pollution), then they must be created, by state action if necessary. ..."
"... State interventions in markets (once created) must be kept to a bare minimum because the state cannot possibly possess enough information to second-guess market signals (prices) and because powerful interests will inevitably distort and bias state interventions (particularly in democracies) for their own benefit. ..."
"... State after state, from the new ones that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union to old-style social democracies and welfare states such as New Zealand and Sweden, have embraced, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes in response to coercive pressures, some version of neoliberal theory and adjusted at least some of their policies and practices accordingly. Post apartheid South Africa quickly adopted the neoliberal frame and even contemporary China appears to be headed in that direction. Furthermore, advocates of the neoliberal mindset now occupy positions of considerable influence in education (universities and many "think tanks"), in the media, in corporate board rooms and financial institutions, in key state institutions (treasury departments, central banks), and also in those international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) that regulate global finance and commerce. Neoliberalism has, in short, become hegemonic as a mode of discourse and has pervasive effects on ways of thought and political-economic practices to the point where it has become incorporated into the commonsense way we interpret, live in, and understand the world. ..."
"... Neoliberalization has in effect swept across the world like a vast tidal wave of institutional reform and discursive adjustment. While plenty of evidence shows its uneven geographical development, no place can claim total immunity (with the exception of a few states such as North Korea). Furthermore, the rules of engagement now established through the WTO (governing international trade) and by the IMF (governing international finance) instantiate neoliberalism as a global set of rules. All states that sign on to the WTO and the IMF (and who can afford not to?) agree to abide (albeit with a "grace period" to permit smooth adjustment) by these rules or face severe penalties. ..."
"... For any system of thought to become dominant, it requires the articulation of fundamental concepts that become so deeply embedded in commonsense understandings that they are taken for granted and beyond question. For this to occur, not any old concepts will do. A conceptual apparatus has to be constructed that appeals almost naturally to our intuitions and instincts, to our values and our desires, as well as to the possibilities that seem to inhere in the social world we inhabit. The founding figures of neoliberal thought took political ideals of individual liberty and freedom as sacrosanct -- as the central values of civilization. And in so doing they chose wisely and well, for these are indeed compelling and greatly appealing concepts. Such values were threatened, they argued, not only by fascism, dictatorships, and communism, but also by all forms of state intervention that substituted collective judgments for those of individuals set free to choose. They then concluded that without "the diffused power and initiative associated with (private property and the competitive market) it is difficult to imagine a society in which freedom may be effectively preserved." 1 ..."
"... The U.S. answer was spelled out on September 19, 2003, when Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, promulgated four orders that included "the full privatization of public enterprises, full ownership rights by foreign firms of Iraqi U.S. businesses, full repatriation of foreign profits . . . the opening of Iraq's banks to foreign control, national treatment for foreign companies and . . . the elimination of nearly all trade barriers." 4 The orders were to apply to all areas of the economy, including public services, the media, manufacturing, services, transportation, finance, and construction. Only oil was exempt. A regressive tax system favored by conservatives called a flat tax was also instituted. The right to strike was outlawed and unions banned in key sectors. An Iraqi member of the Coalition Provisional Authority protested the forced imposition of "free market fundamentalism," describing it as "a flawed logic that ignores history." 5 Yet the interim Iraqi government appointed at the end of June 2004 was accorded no power to change or write new laws -- it could only confirm the decrees already promulgated. ..."
"... The redistributive tactics of neoliberalism are wide-ranging, sophisticated, frequently masked by ideological gambits, but devastating for the dignity and social well-being of vulnerable populations and territories. The wave of creative destruction neoliberalization has visited across the globe is unparalleled in the history of capitalism. Understandably, it has spawned resistance and a search for viable alternatives. ..."
Oct 23, 2017 | journals.sagepub.com

Neoliberalism has become a hegemonic discourse with pervasive effects on ways of thought and political-economic practices to the point where it is now part of the commonsense way we interpret, live in, and understand the world. How did neoliberalism achieve such an exalted status, and what does it stand for? In this article, the author contends that neoliberalism is above all a project to restore class dominance to sectors that saw their fortunes threatened by the ascent of social democratic endeavors in the aftermath of the Second World War. Although neoliberalism has had limited effectiveness as an engine for economic growth, it has succeeded in channeling wealth from subordinate classes to dominant ones and from poorer to richer countries. This process has entailed the dismantling of institutions and narratives that promoted more egalitarian distributive measures in the preceding era.

Neoliberalism is a theory of political economic practices proposing that human well-being can best be advanced by the maximization of entrepreneurial freedoms within an institutional framework characterized by private property rights, individual liberty, unencumbered markets, and free trade. The role of the state is to create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate to such practices. The state has to be concerned, for example, with the quality and integrity of money. It must also set up military, defense, police, and juridical functions required to secure private property rights and to support freely functioning markets. Furthermore, if markets do not exist (in areas such as education, health care, social security, or environmental pollution), then they must be created, by state action if necessary. But beyond these tasks the state should not venture. State interventions in markets (once created) must be kept to a bare minimum because the state cannot possibly possess enough information to second-guess market signals (prices) and because powerful interests will inevitably distort and bias state interventions (particularly in democracies) for their own benefit.

For a variety of reasons, the actual practices of neoliberalism frequently diverge from this template. Nevertheless, there has everywhere been an emphatic turn, ostensibly led by the Thatcher/Reagan revolutions in Britain and the United States, in political-economic practices and thinking since the 1970s. State after state, from the new ones that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union to old-style social democracies and welfare states such as New Zealand and Sweden, have embraced, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes in response to coercive pressures, some version of neoliberal theory and adjusted at least some of their policies and practices accordingly. Post apartheid South Africa quickly adopted the neoliberal frame and even contemporary China appears to be headed in that direction. Furthermore, advocates of the neoliberal mindset now occupy positions of considerable influence in education (universities and many "think tanks"), in the media, in corporate board rooms and financial institutions, in key state institutions (treasury departments, central banks), and also in those international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) that regulate global finance and commerce. Neoliberalism has, in short, become hegemonic as a mode of discourse and has pervasive effects on ways of thought and political-economic practices to the point where it has become incorporated into the commonsense way we interpret, live in, and understand the world.

Neoliberalization has in effect swept across the world like a vast tidal wave of institutional reform and discursive adjustment. While plenty of evidence shows its uneven geographical development, no place can claim total immunity (with the exception of a few states such as North Korea). Furthermore, the rules of engagement now established through the WTO (governing international trade) and by the IMF (governing international finance) instantiate neoliberalism as a global set of rules. All states that sign on to the WTO and the IMF (and who can afford not to?) agree to abide (albeit with a "grace period" to permit smooth adjustment) by these rules or face severe penalties.

The creation of this neoliberal system has entailed much destruction, not only of prior institutional frameworks and powers (such as the supposed prior state sovereignty over political-economic affairs) but also of divisions of labor, social relations, welfare provisions, technological mixes, ways of life, attachments to the land, habits of the heart, ways of thought, and the like. Some assessment of the positives and negatives of this neoliberal revolution is called for. In what follows, therefore, I will sketch in some preliminary arguments as to how to both understand and evaluate this transformation in the way global capitalism is working. This requires that we come to terms with the underlying forces, interests, and agents that have propelled the neoliberal revolution forward with such relentless intensity. To turn the neoliberal rhetoric against itself, we may reasonably ask, In whose particular interests is it that the state take a neoliberal stance and in what ways have those interests used neoliberalism to benefit themselves rather than, as is claimed, everyone, everywhere?

In whose particular interests is it that the state take a neoliberal stance, and in what ways have those interests used neoliberalism to benefit themselves rather than, as is claimed, everyone, everywhere?

The "Naturalization" of Neoliberalism

For any system of thought to become dominant, it requires the articulation of fundamental concepts that become so deeply embedded in commonsense understandings that they are taken for granted and beyond question. For this to occur, not any old concepts will do. A conceptual apparatus has to be constructed that appeals almost naturally to our intuitions and instincts, to our values and our desires, as well as to the possibilities that seem to inhere in the social world we inhabit. The founding figures of neoliberal thought took political ideals of individual liberty and freedom as sacrosanct -- as the central values of civilization. And in so doing they chose wisely and well, for these are indeed compelling and greatly appealing concepts. Such values were threatened, they argued, not only by fascism, dictatorships, and communism, but also by all forms of state intervention that substituted collective judgments for those of individuals set free to choose. They then concluded that without "the diffused power and initiative associated with (private property and the competitive market) it is difficult to imagine a society in which freedom may be effectively preserved." 1

Setting aside the question of whether the final part of the argument necessarily follows from the first, there can be no doubt that the concepts of individual liberty and freedom are powerful in their own right, even beyond those terrains where the liberal tradition has had a strong historical presence. Such ideals empowered the dissident movements in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union before the end of the cold war as well as the students in Tiananmen Square. The student movement that swept the world in 1968 -- from Paris and Chicago to Bangkok and Mexico City -- was in part animated by the quest for greater freedoms of speech and individual choice. These ideals have proven again and again to be a mighty historical force for change.

It is not surprising, therefore, that appeals to freedom and liberty surround the United States rhetorically at every turn and populate all manner of contemporary political manifestos. This has been particularly true of the United States in recent years. On the first anniversary of the attacks now known as 9/11, President Bush wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times that extracted ideas from a U.S. National Defense Strategy document issued shortly thereafter. "A peaceful world of growing freedom," he wrote, even as his cabinet geared up to go to war with Iraq, "serves American long-term interests, reflects enduring American ideals and unites Americas allies." "Humanity," he concluded, "holds in its hands the opportunity to offer freedom s triumph over all its age-old foes," and "the United States welcomes its responsibilities to lead in this great mission." Even more emphatically, he later proclaimed that "freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world" and "as the greatest power on earth [the United States has] an obligation to help the spread of freedom." 2

So when all of the other reasons for engaging in a preemptive war against Iraq were proven fallacious or at least wanting, the Bush administration increasingly appealed to the idea that the freedom conferred upon Iraq was in and of itself an adequate justification for the war. But what sort of freedom was envisaged here, since, as the cultural critic Matthew Arnold long ago thoughtfully observed, "Freedom is a very good horse to ride, but to ride somewhere." 3 To what destination, then, were the Iraqi people expected to ride the horse of freedom so selflessly conferred to them by force of arms?

The U.S. answer was spelled out on September 19, 2003, when Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, promulgated four orders that included "the full privatization of public enterprises, full ownership rights by foreign firms of Iraqi U.S. businesses, full repatriation of foreign profits . . . the opening of Iraq's banks to foreign control, national treatment for foreign companies and . . . the elimination of nearly all trade barriers." 4 The orders were to apply to all areas of the economy, including public services, the media, manufacturing, services, transportation, finance, and construction. Only oil was exempt. A regressive tax system favored by conservatives called a flat tax was also instituted. The right to strike was outlawed and unions banned in key sectors. An Iraqi member of the Coalition Provisional Authority protested the forced imposition of "free market fundamentalism," describing it as "a flawed logic that ignores history." 5 Yet the interim Iraqi government appointed at the end of June 2004 was accorded no power to change or write new laws -- it could only confirm the decrees already promulgated.

What the United States evidently sought to impose upon Iraq was a full-fledged neoliberal state apparatus whose fundamental mission was and is to facilitate conditions for profitable capital accumulation for all comers, Iraqis and foreigners alike. The Iraqis were, in short, expected to ride their horse of freedom straight into the corral of neoliberalism. According to neoliberal theory, Bremers decrees are both necessary and sufficient for the creation of wealth and therefore for the improved well-being of the Iraqi people. They are the proper foundation for an adequate rule of law, individual liberty, and democratic governance. The insurrection that followed can in part be interpreted as Iraqi resistance to being driven into the embrace of free market fundamentalism against their own will

It is useful to recall, however, that the first great experiment with neoliberal state formation was Chile after Augusto Pinochet s coup almost thirty years to the day before Bremers decrees were issued, on the "little September 11th" of 1973. The coup, against the democratically elected and leftist social democratic government of Salvador Allende, was strongly backed by the CIA and supported by U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. It violently repressed all left-of-center social movements and political organizations and dismantled all forms of popular organization, such as community health centers in poorer neighborhoods. The labor market was "freed" from regulatory or institutional restraints -- trade union power, for example. But by 1973, the policies of import substitution that had formerly dominated in Latin American attempts at economic regeneration, and that had succeeded to some degree in Brazil after the military coup of 1964, had fallen into disrepute. With the world economy in the midst of a serious recession, something new was plainly called for. A group of U.S. economists known as "the Chicago boys," because of their attachment to the neoliberal theories of Milton Friedman, then teaching at the University of Chicago, were summoned to help reconstruct the Chilean economy. They did so along free-market lines, privatizing public assets, opening up natural resources to private exploitation, and facilitating foreign direct investment and free trade. The right of foreign companies to repatriate profits from their Chilean operations was guaranteed. Export-led growth was favored over import substitution. The subsequent revival of the Chilean economy in terms of growth, capital accumulation, and high rates of return on foreign investments provided evidence upon which the subsequent turn to more open neoliberal policies in both Britain (under Thatcher) and the United States (under Reagan) could be modeled. Not for the first time, a brutal experiment in creative destruction carried out in the periphery became a model for the formulation of policies in the center. 6

The fact that two such obviously similar restructurings of the state apparatus occurred at such different times in quite different parts of the world under the coercive influence of the United States might be taken as indicative that the grim reach of U.S. imperial power might lie behind the rapid proliferation of neoliberal state forms throughout the world from the mid-1970s onward. But U.S. power and recklessness do not constitute the whole story. It was not the United States, after all, that forced Margaret Thatcher to take the neoliberal path in 1979. And during the early 1980s, Thatcher was a far more consistent advocate of neoliberalism than Reagan ever proved to be. Nor was it the United States that forced China in 1978 to follow the path that has over time brought it closer and closer to the embrace of neoliberalism. It would be hard to attribute the moves toward neoliberalism in India and Sweden in 1992 to the imperial reach of the United States. The uneven geographical development of neoliberalism on the world stage has been a very complex process entailing multiple determinations and not a little chaos and confusion. So why, then, did the neoliberal turn occur, and what were the forces compelling it onward to the point where it has now become a hegemonic system within global capitalism?

Why the Neoliberal Turn?

Toward the end of the 1960s, global capitalism was falling into disarray. A significant recession occurred in early 1973 -- the first since the great slump of the 1930s. The oil embargo and oil price hike that followed later that year in the wake of the Arab-Israeli war exacerbated critical problems. The embedded capitalism of the postwar period, with its heavy emphasis on an uneasy compact between capital and labor brokered by an interventionist state that paid great attention to the social (i.e., welfare programs) and individual wage, was no longer working. The Bretton Woods accord set up to regulate international trade and finance was finally abandoned in favor of floating exchange rates in 1973. That system had delivered high rates of growth in the advanced capitalist countries and generated some spillover benefits -- most obviously to Japan but also unevenly across South America and to some other countries of South East Asia -- during the "golden age" of capitalism in the 1950s and early 1960s. By the next decade, however, the preexisting arrangements were exhausted and a new alternative was urgently needed to restart the process of capital accumulation. 7 How and why neoliberalism emerged victorious as an answer to that quandary is a complex story. In retrospect, it may seem as if neoliberalism had been inevitable, but at the time no one really knew or understood with any certainty what kind of response would work and how.

The world stumbled toward neoliberalism through a series of gyrations and chaotic motions that eventually converged on the so-called 'Washington Consensus" in the 1990s. The uneven geographical development of neoliberalism, and its partial and lopsided application from one country to another, testifies to its tentative character and the complex ways in which political forces, historical traditions, and existing institutional arrangements all shaped why and how the process actually occurred on the ground.

There is, however, one element within this transition that deserves concerted attention. The crisis of capital accumulation of the 1970s affected everyone through the combination of rising unemployment and accelerating inflation. Discontent was widespread, and the conjoining of labor and urban social movements throughout much of the advanced capitalist world augured a socialist alternative to the social compromise between capital and labor that had grounded capital accumulation so successfully in the postwar period. Communist and socialist parties were gaining ground across much of Europe, and even in the United States popular forces were agitating for widespread reforms and state interventions in everything ranging from environmental protection to occupational safety and health and consumer protection from corporate malfeasance. There was. in this, a clear political threat to ruling classes everywhere, both in advanced capitalist countries, like Italy and France, and in many developing countries, like Mexico and Argentina.

Beyond political changes, the economic threat to the position of ruling classes was now becoming palpable. One condition of the postwar settlement in almost all countries was to restrain the economic power of the upper classes and for labor to be accorded a much larger share of the economic pie. In the United States, for example, the share of the national income taken by the top 1 percent of earners fell from a prewar high of 16 percent to less than 8 percent by the end of the Second World War and stayed close to that level for nearly three decades. While growth was strong such restraints seemed not to matter, but when growth collapsed in the 1970s, even as real interest rates went negative and dividends and profits shrunk, ruling classes felt threatened. They had to move decisively if they were to protect their power from political and economic annihilation.

The coup d'état in Chile and the military takeover in Argentina, both fomented and led internally by ruling elites with U.S. support, provided one kind of solution. But the Chilean experiment with neoliberalism demonstrated that the benefits of revived capital accumulation were highly skewed. The country and its ruling elites along with foreign investors did well enough while the people in general fared poorly. This has been such a persistent effect of neoliberal policies over time as to be regarded a structural component of the whole project. Dumenil and Levy have gone so far as to argue that neoliberalism was from the very beginning an endeavor to restore class power to the richest strata in the population. They showed how from the mid-1980s onwards, the share of the top 1 percent of income earners in the United States soared rapidly to reach 15 percent by the end of the century. Other data show that the top 0.1 percent of income earners increased their share of the national income from 2 percent in 1978 to more than 6 percent by 1999. Yet another measure shows that the ratio of the median compensation of workers to the salaries of chief executive officers increased from just over thirty to one in 1970 to more than four hundred to one by 2000. Almost certainly, with the Bush administrations tax cuts now taking effect, the concentration of income and of wealth in the upper echelons of society is continuing apace. 8

And the United States is not alone in this: the top 1 percent of income earners in Britain doubled their share of the national income from 6.5 percent to 13 percent over the past twenty years. When we look further afield, we see extraordinary concentrations of wealth and power within a small oligarchy after the application of neoliberal shock therapy in Russia and a staggering surge in income inequalities and wealth in China as it adopts neoliberal practices. While there are exceptions to this trend -- several East and Southeast Asian countries have contained income inequalities within modest bounds, as have France and the Scandinavian countries -- the evidence suggests that the neoliberal turn is in some way and to some degree associated with attempts to restore or reconstruct upper-class power.

We can, therefore, examine the history of neoliberalism either as a utopian project providing a theoretical template for the reorganization of international capitalism or as a political scheme aimed at reestablishing the conditions for capital accumulation and the restoration of class power. In what follows, I shall argue that the last of these objectives has dominated. Neoliberalism has not proven effective at revitalizing global capital accumulation, but it has succeeded in restoring class power. As a consequence, the theoretical utopianism of the neoliberal argument has worked more as a system of justification and legitimization. The principles of neoliberalism are quickly abandoned whenever they conflict with this class project.

Neoliberalism has not proven effective at revitalizing global capital accumulation, but it has succeeded in restoring class power.

Toward the Restoration of Class Power

If there were movements to restore class power within global capitalism, then how were they enacted and by whom? The answer to that question in countries such as Chile and Argentina was simple: a swift, brutal, and self-assured military coup backed by the upper classes and the subsequent fierce repression of all solidarities created within the labor and urban social movements that had so threatened their power. Elsewhere, as in Britain and Mexico in 1976, it took the gentle prodding of a not yet fiercely neoliberal International Monetary Fund to push countries toward practices -- although by no means policy commitment -- to cut back on social expenditures and welfare programs to reestablish fiscal probity. In Britain, of course, Margaret Thatcher later took up the neoliberal cudgel with a vengeance in 1979 and wielded it to great effect, even though she never fully overcame opposition within her own party and could never effectively challenge such centerpieces of the welfare state as the National Health Service. Interestingly, it was only in 2004 that the Labour Government dared to introduce a fee structure into higher education. The process of neoliberalization has been halting, geographically uneven, and heavily influenced by class structures and other social forces moving for or against its central propositions within particular state formations and even within particular sectors, for example, health or education. 9

It is informative to look more closely at how the process unfolded in the United States, since this case was pivotal as an influence on other and more recent transformations. Various threads of power intertwined to create a transition that culminated in the mid-1990s with the takeover of Congress by the Republican Party. That feat represented in fact a neoliberal "Contract with America" as a program for domestic action. Before that dramatic denouement, however, many steps were taken, each building upon and reinforcing the other.

To begin with, by 1970 or so, there was a growing sense among the U.S. upper classes that the anti-business and anti-imperialist climate that had emerged toward the end of the 1960s had gone too far. In a celebrated memo, Lewis Powell (about to be elevated to the Supreme Court by Richard Nixon) urged the American Chamber of Commerce in 1971 to mount a collective campaign to demonstrate that what was good for business was good for America. Shortly thereafter, a shadowy but influential Business Round Table was formed that still exists and plays a significant strategic role in Republican Party politics. Corporate political action committees, legalized under the post-Watergate campaign finance laws of 1974, proliferated like wildfire. With their activities protected under the First Amendment as a form of free speech in a 1976 Supreme Court decision, the systematic capture of the Republican Party as a class instrument of collective (rather than particular or individual) corporate and financial power began. But the Republican Party needed a popular base, and that proved more problematic to achieve. The incorporation of leaders of the Christian right, depicted as a moral majority, together with the Business Round Table provided the solution to that problem. A large segment of a disaffected, insecure, and largely white working class was persuaded to vote consistently against its own material interests on cultural (anti-liberal, anti-Black, antifeminist and antigay), nationalist and religious grounds. By the mid-1990s, the Republican Party had lost almost all of its liberal elements and become a homogeneous right-wing machine connecting the financial resources of large corporate capital with a populist base, the Moral Majority, that was particularly strong in the U.S. South. 10

The second element in the U.S. transition concerned fiscal discipline. The recession of 1973 to 1975 diminished tax revenues at all levels at a time of rising demand for social expenditures. Deficits emerged everywhere as a key problem. Something had to be done about the fiscal crisis of the state; the restoration of monetary discipline was essential. That conviction empowered financial institutions that controlled the lines of credit to government. In 1975, they refused to roll over New York's debt and forced that city to the edge of bankruptcy. A powerful cabal of bankers joined together with the state to tighten control over the city. This meant curbing the aspirations of municipal unions, layoffs in public employment, wage freezes, cutbacks in social provision (education, public health, and transport services), and the imposition of user fees (tuition was introduced in the CUNY university system for the first time). The bailout entailed the construction of new institutions that had first rights to city tax revenues in order to pay off bond holders: whatever was left went into the city budget for essential services. The final indignity was a requirement that municipal unions invest their pension funds in city bonds. This ensured that unions moderate their demands to avoid the danger of losing their pension funds through city bankruptcy.

Such actions amounted to a coup d'état by financial institutions against the democratically elected government of New York City, and they were every bit as effective as the military overtaking that had earlier occurred in Chile. Much of the city's social infrastructure was destroyed, and the physical foundations (e.g., the transit system) deteriorated markedly for lack of investment or even maintenance. The management of New York's fiscal crisis paved the way for neoliberal practices both domestically under Ronald Reagan and internationally through the International Monetary Fund throughout the 1980s. It established a principle that, in the event of a conflict between the integrity of financial institutions and bondholders on one hand and the well-being of the citizens on the other, the former would be given preference. It hammered home the view that the role of government was to create a good business climate rather than look to the needs and well-being of the population at large. Fiscal redistributions to benefit the upper classes resulted in the midst of a general fiscal crisis.

Whether all the agents involved in producing this compromise in New York understood it at the time as a tactic for the restoration of upper-class power is an open question. The need to maintain fiscal discipline is a matter of deep concern in its own right and does not have to lead to the restitution of class dominance. It is unlikely, therefore, that Felix Rohatyn, the key merchant banker who brokered the deal between the city, the state, and the financial institutions, had the reinstatement of class power in mind. But this objective probably was very much in the thoughts of the investment bankers. It was almost certainly the aim of then-Secretary of the Treasury William Simon who, having watched the progress of events in Chile with approval, refused to give aid to New York and openly stated that he wanted that city to suffer so badly that no other city in the nation would ever dare take on similar social obligations again. 11

The third element in the U.S. transition entailed an ideological assault upon the media and upon educational institutions. Independent "think tanks" financed by wealthy individuals and corporate donors proliferated -- the Heritage Foundation in the lead -- to prepare an ideological onslaught aimed at persuading the public of the commonsense character of neoliberal propositions. A flood of policy papers and proposals and a veritable army of well-paid hired lieutenants trained to promote neoliberal ideas coupled with the corporate acquisition of media channels effectively transformed the discursive climate in the United States by the mid-1980s. The project to "get government off the backs of the people" and to shrink government to the point where it could be "drowned in a bathtub" was loudly proclaimed. With respect to this, the promoters of the new gospel found a ready audience in that wing of the 1968 movement whose goal was greater individual liberty and freedom from state power and the manipulations of monopoly capital. The libertarian argument for neoliberalism proved a powerful force for change. To the degree that capitalism reorganized to both open a space for individual entrepreneurship and switch its efforts to satisfy innumerable niche markets, particularly those defined by sexual liberation, that were spawned out of an increasingly individualized consumerism, so it could match words with deeds.

This carrot of individualized entrepreneurship and consumerism was backed by the big stick wielded by the state and financial institutions against that other wing of the 1968 movement whose members had sought social justice through collective negotiation and social solidarities. Reagan's destruction of the air traffic controllers (PATCO) in 1980 and Margaret Thatchers defeat of the British miners in 1984 were crucial moments in the global turn toward neoliberalism. The assault upon institutions, such as trade unions and welfare rights organizations, that sought to protect and further working-class interests was as broad as it was deep. The savage cutbacks in social expenditures and the welfare state, and the passing of all responsibility for their well-being to individuals and their families proceeded apace. But these practices did not and could not stop at national borders. After 1980, the United States, now firmly committed to neoliberalization and clearly backed by Britain, sought, through a mix of leadership, persuasion -- the economics departments of U.S. research universities played a major role in training many of the economists from around the world in neoliberal principles -- and coercion to export neoliberalization far and wide. The purge of Keynesian economists and their replacement by neoliberal monetarists in the International Monetary Fund in 1982 transformed the U.S.-dominated IMF into a prime agent of neoliberalization through its structural adjustment programs visited upon any state (and there were many in the 1980s and 1990s) that required its help with debt repayments. The Washington Consensus that was forged in the 1990s and the negotiating rules set up under the World Trade Organization in 1998 confirmed the global turn toward neoliberal practices. 12

The new international compact also depended upon the reanimation and reconfiguration of the U.S. imperial tradition. That tradition had been forged in Central America in the 1920s, as a form of domination without colonies. Independent republics could be kept under the thumb of the United States and effectively act, in the best of cases, as proxies for U.S. interests through the support of strongmen -- like Somoza in Nicaragua, the Shah in Iran, and Pinochet in Chile -- and a coterie of followers backed by military assistance and financial aid. Covert aid was available to promote the rise to power of such leaders, but by the 1970s it became clear that something else was needed: the opening of markets, of new spaces for investment, and clear fields where financial powers could operate securely. This entailed a much closer integration of the global economy with a well-defined financial architecture. The creation of new institutional practices, such as those set out by the IMF and the WTO, provided convenient vehicles through which financial and market power could be exercised. The model required collaboration among the top capitalist powers and the Group of Seven (G7), bringing Europe and Japan into alignment with the United States to shape the global financial and trading system in ways that effectively forced all other nations to submit. "Rogue nations," defined as those that failed to conform to these global rules, could then be dealt with by sanctions or coercive and even military force if necessary. In this way, U.S. neoliberal imperialist strategies were articulated through a global network of power relations, one effect of which was to permit the U.S. upper classes to exact financial tribute and command rents from the rest of the world as a means to augment their already hegemonic control. 13

Neoliberalism as Creative Destruction

In what ways has neoliberalization resolved the problems of flagging capital accumulation? Its actual record in stimulating economic growth is dismal. Aggregate growth rates stood at 3.5 percent or so in the 1960s and even during the troubled 1970s fell to only 2.4 percent. The subsequent global growth rates of 1.4 percent and 1.1 percent for the 1980s and 1990s, and a rate that barely touches 1 percent since 2000, indicate that neoliberalism has broadly failed to

In what ways has neoliberalization resolved the problems of flagging capital accumulation? Its actual record in stimulating economic growth is dismal. Aggregate growth rates stood at 3.5 percent or so in the 1960s and even during the troubled 1970s fell to only 2.4 percent. The subsequent global growth rates of 1.4 percent and 1.1 percent for the 1980s and 1990s, and a rate that barely touches 1 percent since 2000, indicate that neoliberalism has broadly failed to stimulate worldwide growth. 14 Even if we exclude from this calculation the catastrophic effects of the collapse of the Russian and some Central European economies in the wake of the neoliberal shock therapy treatment of the 1990s, global economic performance from the standpoint of restoring the conditions of general capital accumulation has been weak.

Despite their rhetoric about curing sick economies, neither Britain nor the United States achieved high economic performance in the 1980s. That decade belonged to Japan, the East Asian "Tigers," and West Germany as powerhouses of the global economy. Such countries were very successful, but their radically different institutional arrangements make it difficult to pin their achievements on neoliberalism. The West German Bundesbank had taken a strong monetarist line (consistent with neoliberalism) for more than two decades, a fact suggesting that there is no necessary connection between monetarism per se and the quest to restore class power. In West Germany, the unions remained strong and wage levels stayed relatively high alongside the construction of a progressive welfare state. One of the effects of this combination was to stimulate a high rate of technological innovation that kept West Germany well ahead in the field of international competition. Export-led production moved the country forward as a global leader.

In Japan, independent unions were weak or nonexistent, but state investment in technological and organizational change and the tight relationship between corporations and financial institutions (an arrangement that also proved felicitous in West Germany) generated an astonishing export-led growth performance, very much at the expense of other capitalist economies such as the United Kingdom and the United States. Such growth as there was in the 1980s (and the aggregate rate of growth in the world was lower even than that of the troubled 1970s) did not depend, therefore, on neoliberalization. Many European states therefore resisted neoliberal reforms and increasingly found ways to preserve much of their social democratic heritage while moving, in some cases fairly successfully, toward the West German model. In Asia, the Japanese model implanted under authoritarian systems of governance in South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore also proved viable and consistent with reasonable equality of distribution. It was only in the 1990s that neoliberalization began to pay off for both the United States and Britain. This happened in the midst of a long-drawn-out period of deflation in Japan and relative stagnation in a newly unified Germany. Up for debate is whether the Japanese recession occurred as a simple result of competitive pressures or whether it was engineered by financial agents in the United States to humble the Japanese economy.

So why, then, in the face of this patchy if not dismal record, have so many been persuaded that neoliberalization is a successful solution? Over and beyond the persistent stream of propaganda emanating from the neoliberal think tanks and suffusing the media, two material reasons stand out. First, neoliberalization has been accompanied by increasing volatility within global capitalism. That success was to materialize somewhere obscured the reality that neoliberalism was generally failing. Periodic episodes of growth interspersed with phases of creative destruction, usually registered as severe financial crises. Argentina was opened up to foreign capital and privatization in the 1990s and for several years was the darling of Wall Street, only to collapse into disaster as international capital withdrew at the end of the decade. Financial collapse and social devastation was quickly followed by a long political crisis. Financial turmoil proliferated all over the developing world, and in some instances, such as Brazil and Mexico, repeated waves of structural adjustment and austerity led to economic paralysis.

On the other hand, neoliberalism has been a huge success from the standpoint of the upper classes. It has either restored class position to ruling elites, as in the United States and Britain, or created conditions for capitalist class formation, as in China, India, Russia, and elsewhere. Even countries that have suffered extensively from neoliberalization have seen the massive reordering of class structures internally. The wave of privatization that came to Mexico with the Salinas de Gortari administration in 1992 spawned unprecedented concentrations of wealth in the hands of a few people (Carlos Slim, tor example, who took over the state telephone system and became an instant billionaire).

With the media dominated by upper-class interests, the myth could be propagated that certain sectors failed because they were not competitive enough, thereby setting the stage for even more neoliberal reforms. Increased social inequality was necessary to encourage entrepreneurial risk and innovation, and these, in turn, conferred competitive advantage and stimulated growth. If conditions among the lower classes deteriorated, it was because they failed for personal and cultural reasons to enhance their own human capital through education, the acquisition of a protestant work ethic, and submission to work discipline and flexibility. In short, problems arose because of the lack of competitive strength or because of personal, cultural, and political failings. In a Spencerian world, the argument went, only the fittest should and do survive. Systemic problems were masked under a blizzard of ideological pronouncements and a plethora of localized crises.

If the main effect of neoliberalism has been redistributive rather than generative, then ways had to be found to transfer assets and channel wealth and income either from the mass of the population toward the upper classes or from vulnerable to richer countries. I have elsewhere provided an account of these processes under the rubric of accumulation by dispossession. 15 By this, I mean the continuation and proliferation of accretion practices that Marx had designated as "primitive" or "original" during the rise of capitalism. These include

(1) the commodification and privatization of land and me forceful expulsion or peasant populations {as in Mexico and India in recent times);

(2) conversion of various forms of property rights (common, collective, state, etc.) into exclusively private property rights;

(3) suppression of rights to the commons;

(4) commodification of labor power and the suppression of alternative (indigenous) forms of production and consumption;

(5) colonial, neocolonial, and imperial processes of appropriation of assets (including natural resources); (6) monetization of exchange and taxation, particularly of land;

(7) the slave trade (which continues, particularly in the sex industry); and

(8) usury, the national debt, and, most devastating of all, the use of the credit system as radical means of primitive accumulation.

The state, with its monopoly of violence and definitions of legality, plays a crucial role in backing and promoting these processes. To this list of mechanisms, we may now add a raft of additional techniques, such as the extraction of rents from patents and intellectual property rights and the diminution or erasure of various forms of communal property rights -- such as state pensions, paid vacations, access to education, and health care -- won through a generation or more of social democratic struggles. The proposal to privatize all state pension rights (pioneered in Chile under Augusto Pinochet s dictatorship) is, for example, one of the cherished objectives of neoliberals in the United States.

In the cases of China and Russia, it might be reasonable to refer to recent events in "primitive" and "original" terms, but the practices that restored class power to capitalist elites in the United States and elsewhere are best described as an ongoing process of accumulation by dispossession that grew rapidly under neoliberalism. In what follows, I isolate four main elements.

1. Privatization

The corporatization, commodification, and privatization of hitherto public assets have been signal features of the neoliberal project. Its primary aim has been to open up new fields for capital accumulation in domains formerly regarded off-limits to the calculus of profitability. Public utilities of all lands (water, telecommunications, transportation), social welfare provision (public housing, education, health care, pensions), public institutions (such as universities, research laboratories, prisons), and even warfare (as illustrated by the "army" of private contractors operating alongside the armed forces in Iraq) have all been privatized to some degree throughout the capitalist world.

Intellectual property rights established through the so-called TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement within the WTO defines genetic materials, seed plasmas, and all manner of other products as private property. Rents for use can then be extracted from populations whose practices had played a crucial role in the development of such genetic materials. Bio-piracy is rampant, and the pillaging of the worlds stockpile of genetic resources is well under way to the benefit of a few large pharmaceutical companies. The escalating depletion of the global environmental commons (land, air, water) and proliferating habitat degradations that preclude anything but capital-intensive modes of agricultural production have likewise resulted from the wholesale commodification of nature in all its forms. The commodification (through tourism) of cultural forms, histories, and intellectual creativity entails wholesale dispossessions (the music industry is notorious for the appropriation and exploitation of grassroots culture and creativity). As in the past, the power of the state is frequently used to force such processes through even against popular will. The rolling back of regulatory frameworks designed to protect labor and the environment from degradation has entailed the loss of rights. The reversion of common property rights won through years of hard class struggle (the right to a state pension, to welfare, to national health care) into the private domain has been one of the most egregious of all policies of dispossession pursued in the name of neoliberal orthodoxy.

The corporatization, commodification, and privatization of hitherto public assets have been signal features of the neoliberal project.

All of these processes amount to the transfer of assets from the public and popular realms to the private and class-privileged domains. Privatization, Arundhati Roy argued with respect to the Indian case, entails "the transfer of productive public assets from the state to private companies. Productive assets include natural resources: earth, forest, water, air. These are the assets that the state holds in trust for the people it represents. ... To snatch these away and sell them as stock to private companies is a process of barbaric dispossession on a scale that has no parallel in history." 16

2. Financialization

The strong financial wave that set in after 1980 has been marked by its speculative and predatory style. The total daily turnover of financial transactions in international markets that stood at $2.3 billion in 1983 had risen to $130 billion by 2001. This $40 trillion annual turnover in 2001 compares to the estimated $800 billion that would be required to support international trade and productive investment flows. 17 Deregulation allowed the financial system to become one of the main centers of redistributive activity through speculation, predation, fraud, and thievery. Stock promotions; Ponzi schemes; structured asset destruction through inflation; asset stripping through mergers and acquisitions; and the promotion of debt incumbency that reduced whole populations, even in the advanced capitalist countries, to debt peonage -- to say nothing of corporate fraud and dispossession of assets, such as the raiding of pension hinds and their decimation by stock and corporate collapses through credit and stock manipulations -- are all features of the capitalist financial system.

The emphasis on stock values, which arose after bringing together the interests of owners and managers of capital through the remuneration of the latter in stock options, led, as we now know, to manipulations in the market that created immense wealth for a few at the expense of the many. The spectacular collapse of Enron was emblematic of a general process that deprived many of their livelihoods and pension rights. Beyond this, we also must look at the speculative raiding carried out by hedge funds and other major instruments of finance capital that formed the real cutting edge of accumulation by dispossession on the global stage, even as they supposedly conferred the positive benefit to the capitalist class of spreading risks.

3. The management and manipulation of crises

Beyond the speculative and often fraudulent froth that characterizes much of neoliberal financial manipulation, there lies a deeper process that entails the springing of the debt trap as a primary means of accumulation by dispossession. Crisis creation, management, and manipulation on the world stage has evolved into the fine art of deliberative redistribution of wealth from poor countries to the rich. By suddenly raising interest rates in 1979, Paul Volcker, then chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, raised the proportion of foreign earnings that borrowing countries had to put to debt-interest payments. Forced into bankruptcy, countries like Mexico had to agree to structural adjustment. While proclaiming its role as a noble leader organizing bailouts to keep global capital accumulation stable and on track, the United States could also open the way to pillage the Mexican economy through deployment of its superior financial power under conditions of local crisis. This was what the U.S. Treasury/Wall Street/IMF complex became expert at doing everywhere. Volker s successor, Alan Greenspan, resorted to similar tactics several times in the 1990s. Debt crises in individual countries, uncommon in the 1960s, became frequent during the 1980s and 1990s. Hardly any developing country remained untouched and in some cases, as in Latin America, such crises were frequent enough to be considered endemic. These

debt crises were orchestrated, managed, and controlled both to rationalize the system and to redistribute assets during the 1980s and 1990s. Wade and Veneroso captured the essence of this trend when they wrote of the Asian crisis -- provoked initially by the operation of U.S.-based hedge funds -- of 1997 and 1998:

Financial crises have always caused transfers of ownership and power to those who keep their own assets intact and who are in a position to create credit, and the Asian crisis is no exception . . . there is no doubt that Western and Japanese corporations are the big winners. . . . The combination of massive devaluations pushed financial liberalization, and IMF-facilitated recovery may even precipitate the biggest peacetime transfer of assets from domestic to foreign owners in the past fifty years anywhere in the world, dwarfing the transfers from domestic to U.S. owners in Latin America in the 1980s or in Mexico after 1994. One recalls the statement attributed to Andrew Mellon: "In a depression assets return to their rightful owners." 18

The analogy to the deliberate creation of unemployment to produce a pool of low-wage surplus labor convenient for further accumulation is precise. Valuable assets are thrown out of use and lose their value. They lie fallow and dormant until capitalists possessed of liquidity choose to seize upon them and breathe new life into them. The danger, however, is that crises can spin out of control and become generalized, or that revolts will arise against the system that creates them. One of the prime functions of state interventions and of international institutions is to orchestrate crises and devaluations in ways that permit accumulation by dispossession to occur without sparking a general collapse or popular revolt. The structural adjustment program administered by the Wall Street/Treasury/ IMF complex takes care of the first function. It is the job of the comprador neoliberal state apparatus (backed by military assistance from the imperial powers) to ensure that insurrections do not occur in whichever country has been raided. Yet signs of popular revolt have emerged, first with the Zapatista uprising in Mexico in 1994 and later in the generalized discontent that informed anti-globalization movements such as the one that culminated in Seattle in 1999.

4. State redistributions

The state, once transformed into a neoliberal set of institutions, becomes a prime agent of redistributive policies, reversing the flow from upper to lower classes that had been implemented during the preceding social democratic era. It does this in the first instance through privatization schemes and cutbacks in government expenditures meant to support the social wage. Even when privatization appears as beneficial to the lower classes, the long-term effects can be negative. At first blush, for example, Thatchers program for the privatization of social housing in Britain appeared as a gift to the lower classes whose members could now convert from rental to ownership at a relatively low cost, gain control over a valuable asset, and augment their wealth. But once the transfer was accomplished, housing speculation took over particularly in prime central locations, eventually bribing or forcing low-income populations out to the periphery in cities like London and turning erstwhile working-class housing estates into centers of intense gentrification. The loss of affordable housing in central areas produced homelessness for many and extraordinarily long commutes for those who did have low-paying service jobs. The privatization of the ejidos (indigenous common property rights in land under the Mexican constitution) in Mexico, which became a central component of the neoliberal program set up during the 1990s, has had analogous effects on the Mexican peasantry, forcing many rural dwellers into the cities in search of employment. The Chinese state has taken a whole series of draconian measures through which assets have been conferred upon a small elite to the detriment of the masses.

The neoliberal state also seeks redistributions through a variety of other means such as revisions in the tax code to benefit returns on investment rather than incomes and wages, promotion of regressive elements in the tax code (such as sales taxes), displacement of state expenditures and free access to all by user fees (e.g., on higher education), and the provision of a vast array of subsidies and tax breaks to corporations. The welfare programs that now exist in the United States at federal, state, and local levels amount to a vast redirection of public moneys for corporate benefit (directly as in the case of subsidies to agribusiness and indirectly as in the case of the military-industrial sector), in much the same way that the mortgage interest rate tax deduction operates in the United States as a massive subsidy to upper-income home owners and the construction of industry. Heightened surveillance and policing and, in the case of the United States, the incarceration of recalcitrant elements in the population indicate a more sinister role of intense social control. In developing countries, where opposition to neoliberalism and accumulation by dispossession can be stronger, the role of the neoliberal state quickly assumes that of active repression even to the point of low level warfare against oppositional movements (many of which can now conveniently be designated as terrorist to garner U.S. military assistance and support) such as the Zapatistas in Mexico or landless peasants in Brazil.

In effect, reported Roy, "India's rural economy, which supports seven hundred million people, is being garroted. Farmers who produce too much are in distress, farmers who produce too little are in distress, and landless agricultural laborers are out of work as big estates and farms lay off their workers. They're all flocking to the cities in search of employment." 19 In China, the estimate is that at least half a billion people will have to be absorbed by urbanization over the next ten years if rural mayhem and revolt is to be avoided. What those migrants will do in the cities remains unclear, though the vast physical infrastructural plans now in the works will go some way to absorbing the labor surpluses released by primitive accumulation.

The redistributive tactics of neoliberalism are wide-ranging, sophisticated, frequently masked by ideological gambits, but devastating for the dignity and social well-being of vulnerable populations and territories. The wave of creative destruction neoliberalization has visited across the globe is unparalleled in the history of capitalism. Understandably, it has spawned resistance and a search for viable alternatives.

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Based on Peter Schweizer's bestselling book CLINTON CASH with Director commentary by Trump's chief of staff Steven Bannon.

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https://twitter.com/fuck_kaepernick

T , 4 weeks ago

Hillary named her book "What Happened" when it should have been named "My Lies About Clinton Cash". All her wealth came about for the Clintons when she stoled it from the people. Hard working people trying to make ends meet each and every day. Our taxes that we pay. She was around people who she could hit up for millions of $$$. She felt as though she was a Global Elitist, hit the Entertainment industry for all the cash she asks for to increase the funds for her Clinton Foundation. She hated America and was deeply involved with countries as Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and so much more. She was so good at what she did and running for President she had it down to a science with all her negative Rhetoric about us the conservatives, Republicans.
Larry Fisher , 2 weeks ago .
With information out there he is the BIG question. In 2008 Obama called Hillary out of touch and a liar. In 2016 he called Clinton the most qualified man or women to EVER run for the presidency of the US. WTF!!! We all know that they didn't have a good working relationship. Between 2008-2016 how many screw ups did she have? To many!

On January 23, 2013 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified to a Senate Committee investigating the death of Four Americans in Benghazi, Libya. These murders occurred on September 11, 2012, while she was Secretary of State (WHAT DID SHE DO TO GET THAT JOB)Clinton replies -"What's the difference?" Emails regarding this and the murder, yes murder of Gadaffi were deleted off her PRIVATE system.

Some Gadaffi emails were recovered though. http://www.politico.com/video/2016/07/obama-says-clinton-is-the-most-qualified-presidential-candidate-ever-059832 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGg0VNLIgWs

Matthew Panko , 3 weeks ago
Steve Jason Chaffetz said on Judge Jeanine last night that Jeff Sessions said he is not Prosecuting her for anything. Holder, Obama, Lynch, Comey and McCabe are not being Prosecuted either. Who got to Sessions or is he a part of the Swamp?
2conscious , 1 month ago

THE OPENING TO THIS DOCUMENTARY IS BRILLIANT. I HAVEN'T SEEN THIS, SINCE LAST SUMMER (2016). But, I love the way they start off with the mythology of the "Greatness" and "Noble acts" of the Clintons. And once you're lured in.....the numbers don't match.

P.S.: BARACK OBAMA DID THE SAME THING.

He slipped $700 MILLION to Islamic countries, and hundreds of millions to others....while Black and working-class/poor white communities suffered. Furthermore, the amounts his State Dept. claimed didn't match recent audits.

[Sep 11, 2017] Around 1970 corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests with capital owners and realigned themselves, abandoning working class and a large part of lower middle class (small business owners)

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... My observation is that the New Class (professionals, lobbyists, financiers, teachers, engineers, etc.) have ruled the country in recent decades. For much of the twentieth century this class was in some tension with corporations, and used their skills at influencing government policy to help develop and protect the welfare state, since they needed the working class as a counterweight to the natural influence of corporate money and power. However, somewhere around 1970 I think this tension collapsed, since corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests. ..."
"... This "peace treaty" between former rivals allowed the whole newly enlarged New Class to swing to the right, since they really didn't particularly need the working class politically anymore. And since it is the hallmark of this class to seek prestige, power and money while transferring risk away from themselves, the middle class and blue collar community has been the natural recipient. Free trade (well, for non-professionals, anyway), neoliberalism, ruthless private equity job cutting, etc., etc. all followed very naturally. The re-alignment of the Democratic Party towards the right was a natural part of this evolution. ..."
"... They also sense that organized politics in this country – being chiefly the province of the New Class – has left them with little leverage to change any of this. ..."
"... the New Class has very strong internal solidarity – and since somebody has to pay for these little mistakes, everyone outside that class is "fair game." ..."
"... So in that sense–to the extent that you define liberal as the ideology of the New Class (neoliberal, financial-capitalistic, big corporate-friendly but opposed to non-meritocratic biases like racism, sexism, etc.) is "liberalism", I think it is reasonable to say that it has bred resistance and anger among the "losers." As far as having "failed", well, we'll see: the New Class still controls almost all the levers of power. It has many strategies for channeling lower-class anger and I think under Trump we'll see those rolled out. ..."
"... Perhaps some evolution in "the means of production" or in how governments are influenced will ultimately develop to divide or downgrade the New Class, and break its lock on the corridors of power, but I don't see it on the horizon just yet. If anyone else does, I'd love to hear more about it. ..."
"... A little puzzled by the inclusion of teachers, alongside financiers and the like, in William Meyer's list of the New Class rulers. Enablers of those rulers, no doubt, but not visibly calling the shots. But then I'm probably just another liberal elitist failing to recognize my own hegemony, like Chris. ..."
"... I assume he meant certain professors [of economics]. Actually on @4, there's a good chapter on the topic in a Thomas Franks latest. ..."
Nov 14, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

William Meyer 11.13.16 at 9:40 pm 4

Obviously Mr. Deerin is, on its face, utilizing a very disputable definition of "liberal."

However, I think a stronger case could be made for something like Mr. Deerin's argument, although it doesn't necessarily get to the same conclusion.

My observation is that the New Class (professionals, lobbyists, financiers, teachers, engineers, etc.) have ruled the country in recent decades. For much of the twentieth century this class was in some tension with corporations, and used their skills at influencing government policy to help develop and protect the welfare state, since they needed the working class as a counterweight to the natural influence of corporate money and power. However, somewhere around 1970 I think this tension collapsed, since corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests.

Vive la meritocracy. This "peace treaty" between former rivals allowed the whole newly enlarged New Class to swing to the right, since they really didn't particularly need the working class politically anymore. And since it is the hallmark of this class to seek prestige, power and money while transferring risk away from themselves, the middle class and blue collar community has been the natural recipient. Free trade (well, for non-professionals, anyway), neoliberalism, ruthless private equity job cutting, etc., etc. all followed very naturally. The re-alignment of the Democratic Party towards the right was a natural part of this evolution.

I think the 90% or so of the community who are not included in this class are confused and bewildered and of course rather angry about it. They also sense that organized politics in this country – being chiefly the province of the New Class – has left them with little leverage to change any of this. Watching the bailouts and lack of prosecutions during the GFC made them dimly realize that the New Class has very strong internal solidarity – and since somebody has to pay for these little mistakes, everyone outside that class is "fair game."

So in that sense–to the extent that you define liberal as the ideology of the New Class (neoliberal, financial-capitalistic, big corporate-friendly but opposed to non-meritocratic biases like racism, sexism, etc.) is "liberalism", I think it is reasonable to say that it has bred resistance and anger among the "losers." As far as having "failed", well, we'll see: the New Class still controls almost all the levers of power. It has many strategies for channeling lower-class anger and I think under Trump we'll see those rolled out.

Let me be clear, I'm not saying Donald Trump is leading an insurgency against the New Class – but I think he tapped into something like one and is riding it for all he can, while not really having the slightest idea what he's doing.

Perhaps some evolution in "the means of production" or in how governments are influenced will ultimately develop to divide or downgrade the New Class, and break its lock on the corridors of power, but I don't see it on the horizon just yet. If anyone else does, I'd love to hear more about it.

Neville Morley 11.14.16 at 7:11 am ( 31 )

A little puzzled by the inclusion of teachers, alongside financiers and the like, in William Meyer's list of the New Class rulers. Enablers of those rulers, no doubt, but not visibly calling the shots. But then I'm probably just another liberal elitist failing to recognize my own hegemony, like Chris.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/14/are-you-a-sinister-filthy-elite-take-this-quiz-and-find-out-now?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Chris S 11.14.16 at 7:31 am

@29,

I assume he meant certain professors [of economics]. Actually on @4, there's a good chapter on the topic in a Thomas Franks latest.

[Sep 11, 2017] Around 1970 corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests with capital owners and realigned themselves, abandoning working class and a large part of lower middle class (small business owners)

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... My observation is that the New Class (professionals, lobbyists, financiers, teachers, engineers, etc.) have ruled the country in recent decades. For much of the twentieth century this class was in some tension with corporations, and used their skills at influencing government policy to help develop and protect the welfare state, since they needed the working class as a counterweight to the natural influence of corporate money and power. However, somewhere around 1970 I think this tension collapsed, since corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests. ..."
"... This "peace treaty" between former rivals allowed the whole newly enlarged New Class to swing to the right, since they really didn't particularly need the working class politically anymore. And since it is the hallmark of this class to seek prestige, power and money while transferring risk away from themselves, the middle class and blue collar community has been the natural recipient. Free trade (well, for non-professionals, anyway), neoliberalism, ruthless private equity job cutting, etc., etc. all followed very naturally. The re-alignment of the Democratic Party towards the right was a natural part of this evolution. ..."
"... They also sense that organized politics in this country – being chiefly the province of the New Class – has left them with little leverage to change any of this. ..."
"... the New Class has very strong internal solidarity – and since somebody has to pay for these little mistakes, everyone outside that class is "fair game." ..."
"... So in that sense–to the extent that you define liberal as the ideology of the New Class (neoliberal, financial-capitalistic, big corporate-friendly but opposed to non-meritocratic biases like racism, sexism, etc.) is "liberalism", I think it is reasonable to say that it has bred resistance and anger among the "losers." As far as having "failed", well, we'll see: the New Class still controls almost all the levers of power. It has many strategies for channeling lower-class anger and I think under Trump we'll see those rolled out. ..."
"... Perhaps some evolution in "the means of production" or in how governments are influenced will ultimately develop to divide or downgrade the New Class, and break its lock on the corridors of power, but I don't see it on the horizon just yet. If anyone else does, I'd love to hear more about it. ..."
"... A little puzzled by the inclusion of teachers, alongside financiers and the like, in William Meyer's list of the New Class rulers. Enablers of those rulers, no doubt, but not visibly calling the shots. But then I'm probably just another liberal elitist failing to recognize my own hegemony, like Chris. ..."
"... I assume he meant certain professors [of economics]. Actually on @4, there's a good chapter on the topic in a Thomas Franks latest. ..."
Nov 14, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

William Meyer 11.13.16 at 9:40 pm 4

Obviously Mr. Deerin is, on its face, utilizing a very disputable definition of "liberal."

However, I think a stronger case could be made for something like Mr. Deerin's argument, although it doesn't necessarily get to the same conclusion.

My observation is that the New Class (professionals, lobbyists, financiers, teachers, engineers, etc.) have ruled the country in recent decades. For much of the twentieth century this class was in some tension with corporations, and used their skills at influencing government policy to help develop and protect the welfare state, since they needed the working class as a counterweight to the natural influence of corporate money and power. However, somewhere around 1970 I think this tension collapsed, since corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests.

Vive la meritocracy. This "peace treaty" between former rivals allowed the whole newly enlarged New Class to swing to the right, since they really didn't particularly need the working class politically anymore. And since it is the hallmark of this class to seek prestige, power and money while transferring risk away from themselves, the middle class and blue collar community has been the natural recipient. Free trade (well, for non-professionals, anyway), neoliberalism, ruthless private equity job cutting, etc., etc. all followed very naturally. The re-alignment of the Democratic Party towards the right was a natural part of this evolution.

I think the 90% or so of the community who are not included in this class are confused and bewildered and of course rather angry about it. They also sense that organized politics in this country – being chiefly the province of the New Class – has left them with little leverage to change any of this. Watching the bailouts and lack of prosecutions during the GFC made them dimly realize that the New Class has very strong internal solidarity – and since somebody has to pay for these little mistakes, everyone outside that class is "fair game."

So in that sense–to the extent that you define liberal as the ideology of the New Class (neoliberal, financial-capitalistic, big corporate-friendly but opposed to non-meritocratic biases like racism, sexism, etc.) is "liberalism", I think it is reasonable to say that it has bred resistance and anger among the "losers." As far as having "failed", well, we'll see: the New Class still controls almost all the levers of power. It has many strategies for channeling lower-class anger and I think under Trump we'll see those rolled out.

Let me be clear, I'm not saying Donald Trump is leading an insurgency against the New Class – but I think he tapped into something like one and is riding it for all he can, while not really having the slightest idea what he's doing.

Perhaps some evolution in "the means of production" or in how governments are influenced will ultimately develop to divide or downgrade the New Class, and break its lock on the corridors of power, but I don't see it on the horizon just yet. If anyone else does, I'd love to hear more about it.

Neville Morley 11.14.16 at 7:11 am ( 31 )

A little puzzled by the inclusion of teachers, alongside financiers and the like, in William Meyer's list of the New Class rulers. Enablers of those rulers, no doubt, but not visibly calling the shots. But then I'm probably just another liberal elitist failing to recognize my own hegemony, like Chris.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/14/are-you-a-sinister-filthy-elite-take-this-quiz-and-find-out-now?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Chris S 11.14.16 at 7:31 am

@29,

I assume he meant certain professors [of economics]. Actually on @4, there's a good chapter on the topic in a Thomas Franks latest.

[Jun 08, 2017] What is the Last Man (Nietzsche) - Apotheosis Magazine

Jun 08, 2017 | www.apotheosismagazine.com
The glorious German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in Thus Spoke Zaratustra brought up the concept of the Last Man. Trawling through the internet you will hear about the Last Man constantly, but no accurate definition or statement about what a Last Man actually is. So this article will discuss the character traits of the Last Man – let's just hope that the Last Man does not remind you of yourself.

The Last Man is primarily characterized as the type of individual that is fat, lazy and falls asleep watching TV after over indulging in junk food. This clearly denotes the type of man that is content with living a life whose primary and only purpose is to exist in a perpetual state of comfort, security and pleasure. This is a value system that does not idealize or extol higher values, challenging circumstances or hard work.

Zarathustra after descending the mountains is trying to deliver a sermon to a crowd of people that are hanging around the marketplace. Individuals that normally hang around a marketplace are typically known as commoners – especially in Nietzsche's time – and their primary concern is grotesque entertainment, gossip, manners and commerce.

After delivering his sermon about the Overman/Superman (or Ubersmensch) Nietzsche receives an apathetic and mocking response. One must imagine how extremely jarring this was for Zarathustra considering he has just descended from his sojourn in the mountains to proclaim this message. Rather comically, you can imagine Nietzsche's Zarathustra as the typical hobo you hear in the town centre raving about God or some other incoherent babble, whilst others walk past laughing, scared or neutral. Except this raving mystic is much more coherent than usual and is delivering some badass Nietzschean theory.

Nietzsche: " There they stand; there they laugh: they do not understand me; I am not the mouth for these ears They have something of which they are proud. What do they call it, that which makes them proud? Culture, they call it; it distinguishes them from the goatherds. They dislike, therefore, to hear of "contempt" of themselves. So I will appeal to their pride.
I will speak to them of the most contemptible thing: that, however, is the Last Man !"

Contempt here is being used in its typical notion, the feeling that something is worthless and should not be considered. Here, as suggested by the text, Nietzsche will appeal to their "pride" by talking to them about what he believes is the most contemptible thing – The Last Man . This Last Man is the embodiment of their culture. So, Nietzsche is clearly telling us that the Last Man is valueless and worthless.

What is the Last Man :

Nietzsche: "I tell you: one must still have chaos in oneself, to give birth to a dancing star. I tell you: you have still chaos in yourselves.
Alas! There comes the time when man will no longer give birth to any star. Alas! There comes the time of the most despicable man, who can no longer despise himself.
Lo! I show you the Last Man ."

The Last Man cannot despise himself. That is, he cannot feel or understand that his actions, values or decisions may under some or all circumstances be lacking in value. This is important. To not have the orientation that your actions may be lacking, be worthless or unsubstantial entails that you do not have any serious self-reflective capacity to evaluate your actions. The Last Man we can reasonably assume acts in a manner that is contemptible and embarrassing for a culture to promote. So the fact that the Last Man does not have the consciousness nor the insight to evaluate his actions as lacking value or real meaningful substance means that he is unable to change them in a positive manner and be something other than the Last Man . Only the Last Man can be the type of man that lacks insight to such degree that he finds it not only acceptable, content, but also agreeable to be the Last Man.

Nietzsche: "What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?" -- so asks the Last Man, and blinks. The earth has become small, and on it hops the Last Man, who makes everything small. His species is ineradicable as the flea; the Last Man lives longest."

The Last Man according to Nietzsche's rendering of him is the type of individual that does not care or even remotely try to answer the questions of his existence, those that profoundly affect and determine his life. The Last Man , by this characterization, is neither a romantic, a philosopher, a scientist or a poet.

And due to the unquestioning nature of this type of man, the world has been made small and manageable. According to this type of man, the striving, the ambition, the determination to battle against hardship and the desire to become more than we currently are is a deterrent to happiness.

Nietzsche: "The earth has become small, and on it hops the Last Man, who makes everything small. His species is ineradicable as the flea; the Last Man lives longest.

Yet despite all of this, the Last Man , due to his security, comfort and pleasure believes:

Nietzsche: ""We have discovered happiness" -- say the Last Men, and they blink."

Nietzsche goes on to discuss the herd-like collective behaviour and the smug mentality of this group that dogmatically and unquestionably believes the man of the present to better than the men of the past. If this is true, then the values and behaviors that instantiate the Last Man are, according to him, to be preferred over all other values. Once again, the Last Man is unwilling to question his values against any other lifestyle or generational values, due to their inability to evaluate values that should guide their or others' behaviour.

Nietzsche: "No shepherd, and one herd! Everyone wants the same; everyone is the same: he who feels differently goes voluntarily into the madhouse. Formerly all the world was insane," -- say the subtlest of them, and they blink.

Despite Zarathustra's attempt to shame the market crowd with a contemptible notion of their culture through the concept of the Last Man , the crowd continue to mock him by clamoring to become the Last Man . As we can see, they have truly misunderstood Nietzsche's message and this market crowd is the collective manifestation of the Last Man .

--

If you're interested in buying Thus Spoke Zarathustra please use the link below to support and improve Apotheosis Magazine

[May 19, 2017] The Great Realignment and the New class

May 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

point , May 19, 2017 at 04:12 PM

Paul says: May 19, 2017 at 04:12 PM

"...Republicans ... went all in behind Trump..."

Well, maybe for those with selective memories. There was plenty of consternation among Repubs about lining up behind the guy.

libezkova , May 19, 2017 at 04:41 PM
Here is part of an insightful comment by William Meyer in which he made an important point about "great realignment" of the "New Class" (aka "the USA nomenklatura") with capital owners which happened in 70th.

http://crookedtimber.org/2016/11/13/on-the-alleged-failure-of-liberal-progressivism/#comment-698333

William Meyer 11.13.16 at 9:40 pm 4

My observation is that the New Class (professionals, lobbyists, financiers, teachers, engineers, etc.) have ruled the country in recent decades. For much of the twentieth century this class was in some tension with corporations, and used their skills at influencing government policy to help develop and protect the welfare state, since they needed the working class as a counterweight to the natural influence of corporate money and power. However, somewhere around 1970 I think this tension collapsed, since corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests.

Vive la meritocracy. This "peace treaty" between former rivals allowed the whole newly enlarged New Class to swing to the right, since they really didn't particularly need the working class politically anymore. And since it is the hallmark of this class to seek prestige, power and money while transferring risk away from themselves, the middle class and blue collar community has been the natural recipient. Free trade (well, for non-professionals, anyway), neoliberalism, ruthless private equity job cutting, etc., etc. all followed very naturally. The re-alignment of the Democratic Party towards the right was a natural part of this evolution.

I think the 90% or so of the community who are not included in this class are confused and bewildered and of course rather angry about it. They also sense that organized politics in this country – being chiefly the province of the New Class – has left them with little leverage to change any of this. Watching the bailouts and lack of prosecutions during the GFC made them dimly realize that the New Class has very strong internal solidarity – and since somebody has to pay for these little mistakes, everyone outside that class is "fair game."

So in that sense–to the extent that you define liberal as the ideology of the New Class (neoliberal, financial-capitalistic, big corporate-friendly but opposed to non-meritocratic biases like racism, sexism, etc.) is "liberalism", I think it is reasonable to say that it has bred resistance and anger among the "losers." As far as having "failed", well, we'll see: the New Class still controls almost all the levers of power. It has many strategies for channeling lower-class anger and I think under Trump we'll see those rolled out.

Let me be clear, I'm not saying Donald Trump is leading an insurgency against the New Class – but I think he tapped into something like one and is riding it for all he can, while not really having the slightest idea what he's doing.
Perhaps some evolution in "the means of production" or in how governments are influenced will ultimately develop to divide or downgrade the New Class, and break its lock on the corridors of power, but I don't see it on the horizon just yet. If anyone else does, I'd love to hear more about it.

[May 16, 2017] America is still segregated. We need to be honest about why by Richard Rothstein

Notable quotes:
"... Growing inequality partly reflects a racial wealth gap. Middle-class white Americans are more likely to live in neighborhoods with rising home values (and thus, family equity) while their middle-class black counterparts are more likely to rent, or live in neighborhoods with stagnant values. ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Growing inequality partly reflects a racial wealth gap. Middle-class white Americans are more likely to live in neighborhoods with rising home values (and thus, family equity) while their middle-class black counterparts are more likely to rent, or live in neighborhoods with stagnant values.

Hostile, sometimes fatal confrontations between police and African American youth might be rarer if the poorest young people were not concentrated in neighborhoods lacking well-resourced schools, good jobs and transportation to better opportunities. In integrated neighborhoods with substantial middle class populations, police perform as public servants, not as an occupying force.

We've done little to desegregate neighborhoods, believing their racial homogeneity is "de facto", tied to private prejudice, personal choices, realtor discrimination or income differences that make middle-class suburbs unaffordable to most African Americans. Under our constitutional system, if neighborhoods are segregated by private activity, we can do little about it.

Only if neighborhoods are segregated "de jure", by explicit government policy, is remedial action permitted. Indeed, the constitution requires remedies for de jure segregation.

In truth, de facto segregation is largely a myth. As my new book, The Color of Law, recounts, racially explicit government policy in the mid-twentieth century separated the races in every metropolitan area, with effects that endure today.

The New Deal created our first civilian public housing, intended to provide lodging mostly for lower-middle class white families during the Depression. The Roosevelt administration built a few projects for black families as well, but almost always segregated. At the time, many urban neighborhoods were integrated because workers of both races lived in walking distance of downtown factories. The Public Works Administration (PWA) demolished many such integrated neighborhoods – deemed slums – to build segregated housing instead, creating segregation where it had never before existed.

In his autobiography, The Big Sea, the poet and novelist Langston Hughes described going to high school in an integrated Cleveland neighborhood where his best friend was Polish and he dated a Jewish girl. The PWA cleared the area to build one project for whites and another for African Americans. Previously integrated neighborhoods in Cambridge, Atlanta, St Louis, San Francisco and elsewhere also gave way to segregated public housing, structuring patterns that persisted for generations.

During the second world war, white and black Americans flocked to jobs in defense plants, sometimes in communities that had no tradition of segregated living. Yet the government built separate projects for black and white citizens, determining future residential boundaries. Richmond, California, was the nation's largest shipbuilding center. It had few African Americans before the war; by its end, some 15,000 were housed in a federal ghetto along the railroad tracks.

By the mid-1950s, projects for white Americans had many unoccupied units while those for African Americans had long waiting lists. The contrast became so conspicuous that all public housing was opened to African Americans. As industry relocated to suburbs, jobs disappeared and public housing residents became poorer. A program that originally addressed a middle-class housing shortage became a way to warehouse the poor.

Why did white housing projects develop vacancies while black ones had long waiting lists? It largely resulted from a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) program that guaranteed loans to builders of suburban subdivisions, on the explicit condition that black families be excluded and that house deeds prohibit resale to them. In the late 1940s, William Levitt could never independently have amassed capital to construct 17,000 houses in what became Levittown, east of New York City. He could do so only because the FHA relieved banks of risk in making development loans, provided homes were for whites only.

Urban public housing, originally for middle-class white Americans and later for lower-income African Americans, combined with FHA subsidized suburbanization of whites, created a "white noose" around urban black families that persists to this day.

In 1968, the Fair Housing Act permitted African Americans to access previously white neighborhoods. But it prohibited only future discrimination, without undoing the previous 35 years of government-imposed segregation. In suburbs like Levittown that sprouted nationwide in the 1940s and 50s, houses sold for about $100,000 (in today's currency), twice the national median income.

FHA-amortized mortgages were affordable for working-class families of either race, although only whites were allowed. Today, these houses sell for $400,000, seven times national median income, unaffordable to working-class families. Meanwhile, whites who suburbanized with federal protection gained $300,000 in equity to use for children's college tuition, care for aging parents, or medical emergencies. Black families remaining as renters gained no such security.

Our belief in "de facto" segregation is paralyzing. If our racial separation stems from millions of individual decisions, it is hard to imagine the millions of different choices that could undo it. But if we remember that residential segregation results primarily from forceful and unconstitutional government policy, we can begin to consider equally forceful public action to reverse it. Learning this history is the first step we can take.

[May 15, 2017] The explosive mixture of middle-class shrinking and dual economy in the West

This idea of two segregated societies within one nation is pretty convincing.
Notable quotes:
"... A book released last March by MIT economist Peter Temin argues that the U.S. is increasingly becoming what economists call a dual economy; that is, where there are two economies in effect, and one of the populations lives in an economy that is prosperous and secure, and the other part of the population lives in an economy that resembles those of some third world countries. ..."
"... The middle class is shrinking in the United States and this is an effect of both the advance of technology and American policies ..."
"... In the United States, our policies have divided us into two groups. Above the median income - above the middle class - is what I call the FTE sector, Finance, Technology and Electronics sector - of people who are doing well, and whose incomes are rising as our national product is growing. The middle class and below are losing shares of income, and their incomes are shrinking as the Pew studies, both of them, show. ..."
"... The model shows that the FTE sector makes policy for itself, and really does not consider how well the low wage sector is doing. In fact, it wants to keep wages and earnings low in the low wage sector, to provide cheap labour for the industrial employment. ..."
"... As already described , the middle-class, which has not collapsed yet in France, still has the characteristics that fit to the neoliberal regime. However, it is obvious that this tank of voters has shrunk significantly, and the establishment is struggling to keep them inside the desirable 'status quo' with tricks like the supposedly 'fresh', apolitical image of Emmanuel Macron, the threat of Le Pen's 'evil' figure that comes from the Far-Right, or, the illusion that they have the right to participate equally to almost every economic activity. ..."
"... The media promotes examples of young businessmen who have succeed to survive economically through start-up companies, yet, they avoid to tell that it is totally unrealistic to expect from most of the Greek youth to become innovative entrepreneurs. So, this illusion is promoted by the media because technology is automating production and factories need less and less workers, even in the public sector, which, moreover, is violently forced towards privatization. ..."
"... In the middle of the pyramid, a restructured class will serve and secure the domination of the top. Corporate executives, big journalists, scientific elites, suppression forces. It is characteristic that academic research is directed on the basis of the profits of big corporations. Funding is directed increasingly to practical applications in areas that can bring huge profits, like for example, the higher automation of production and therefore, the profit increase through the restriction of jobs. ..."
May 14, 2017 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr

The Pew Research Center, released a new study on the size of the middle class in the U.S. and in ten European countries. The study found that the middle class shrank significantly in the U.S. in the last two decades from 1991 to 2010. While it also shrank in several other Western European countries, it shrank far more in the U.S. than anywhere else. Meanwhile, another study also released last week, and published in the journal Science, shows that class mobility in the U.S. declined dramatically in the 1980s, relative to the generation before that.

A book released last March by MIT economist Peter Temin argues that the U.S. is increasingly becoming what economists call a dual economy; that is, where there are two economies in effect, and one of the populations lives in an economy that is prosperous and secure, and the other part of the population lives in an economy that resembles those of some third world countries.

globinfo freexchange

MIT Economist Peter Temin spoke to Gregory Wilpert and the The Real News network.

As Temin states, among other things:

The middle class is shrinking in the United States and this is an effect of both the advance of technology and American policies . That is shown dramatically in the new study, because the United States is compared with many European countries. In some of them, the middle class is expanding in the last two decades, and in others it's decreasing. And while technology crosses national borders, national policies affect things within the country.

In the United States, our policies have divided us into two groups. Above the median income - above the middle class - is what I call the FTE sector, Finance, Technology and Electronics sector - of people who are doing well, and whose incomes are rising as our national product is growing. The middle class and below are losing shares of income, and their incomes are shrinking as the Pew studies, both of them, show.

The model shows that the FTE sector makes policy for itself, and really does not consider how well the low wage sector is doing. In fact, it wants to keep wages and earnings low in the low wage sector, to provide cheap labour for the industrial employment.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/BRs4VcHprqI" name="I1"

This model is similar to that pursued in eurozone through the Greek experiment. Yet, the establishment's decision centers still need the consent of the citizens to proceed. They got it in France with the election of their man to do the job, Emmanuel Macron.

As already described , the middle-class, which has not collapsed yet in France, still has the characteristics that fit to the neoliberal regime. However, it is obvious that this tank of voters has shrunk significantly, and the establishment is struggling to keep them inside the desirable 'status quo' with tricks like the supposedly 'fresh', apolitical image of Emmanuel Macron, the threat of Le Pen's 'evil' figure that comes from the Far-Right, or, the illusion that they have the right to participate equally to almost every economic activity.

For example, even in Greece, where the middle class suffered an unprecedented reduction because of Troika's (ECB, IMF, European Commission) policies, the last seven years, the propaganda of the establishment attempts to make young people believe that they can equally participate in innovative economic projects. The media promotes examples of young businessmen who have succeed to survive economically through start-up companies, yet, they avoid to tell that it is totally unrealistic to expect from most of the Greek youth to become innovative entrepreneurs. So, this illusion is promoted by the media because technology is automating production and factories need less and less workers, even in the public sector, which, moreover, is violently forced towards privatization.

As mentioned in previous article , the target of the middle class extinction in the West is to restrict the level of wages in developing economies and prevent current model to be expanded in those countries. The global economic elite is aiming now to create a more simple model which will be consisted basically of three main levels.

The 1% holding the biggest part of the global wealth, will lie, as always, at the top of the pyramid. In the current phase, frequent and successive economic crises, not only assist on the destruction of social state and uncontrolled massive privatizations, but also, on the elimination of the big competitors.

In the middle of the pyramid, a restructured class will serve and secure the domination of the top. Corporate executives, big journalists, scientific elites, suppression forces. It is characteristic that academic research is directed on the basis of the profits of big corporations. Funding is directed increasingly to practical applications in areas that can bring huge profits, like for example, the higher automation of production and therefore, the profit increase through the restriction of jobs.

The base of the pyramid will be consisted by the majority of workers in global level, with restricted wages, zero labor rights, and nearly zero opportunities for activities other than consumption.

This type of dual economy with the rapid extinction of middle class may bring dangerous instability because of the vast vacuum created between the elites and the masses. That's why the experiment is implemented in Greece, so that the new conditions to be tested. The last seven years, almost every practice was tested: psychological warfare, uninterrupted propaganda, financial coups, permanent threat for a sudden death of the economy, suppression measures, in order to keep the masses subservient, accepting the new conditions.

The establishment exploits the fact that the younger generations have no collective memories of big struggles. Their rights were taken for granted and now they accept that these must be taken away for the sake of the investors who will come to create jobs. These generations were built and raised according to the standards of the neoliberal regime 'Matrix'.

Yet, it is still not certain that people will accept this Dystopia so easily. The first signs can be seen already as recently, French workers seized factory and threatened to blow it up in protest over possible closure . Macron may discover soon that it will be very difficult to find the right balance in order to finish the job for the elites. And then, neither Brussels nor Berlin will be able to prevent the oncoming chaos in Europe and the West.

Read also:

[May 08, 2017] Is the Silicon Valley Dynasty Coming to an End Vanity Fair

Notable quotes:
"... In just the past month, the Valley has seemed like it's happily living in some sort of sadomasochistic bubble worthy of a bad Hollywood satire. ..."
Apr 27, 2017 | www.vanityfair.com

It has been said that Silicon Valley, or the 50 or so square-mile area extending from San Francisco to the base of the peninsula, has overseen the creation of more wealth than any place in the history of mankind. It's made people richer than the oil industry; it has created more money than the Gold Rush. Silicon chips, lines of code, and rectangular screens have even minted more wealth than religious wars.

Wealthy societies, indeed, have their own complicated incentive structures and mores. But they do often tend, as any technological entrepreneur will be quick to remind you, to distribute value across numerous income levels, in a scaled capacity. The Ford line, for instance, may have eventually minted some serious millionaires in Detroit, but it also made transportation cheaper, helped drive down prices on countless consumer goods, and facilitated new trade routes and commercial opportunities. Smartphones, or any number of inventive modern apps or other software products, are no different. Sure, they throw off a lot of money to the geniuses who came up with them, and the people who got in at the ground floor. But they also make possible innumerable other opportunities, financial and otherwise, for their millions of consumers.

Silicon Valley is, in its own right, a dynasty. Instead of warriors or military heroes, it has nerds and people in half-zip sweaters. But it is becoming increasingly likely that the Valley might go down in history not only for its wealth, but also for creating more tone deaf people than any other ecosystem in the history of the world.

In just the past month, the Valley has seemed like it's happily living in some sort of sadomasochistic bubble worthy of a bad Hollywood satire. Uber has endured a slate of scandals that would have seriously wounded a less culturally popular company (or a public one, for that matter). There was one former employee's allegation of sexual harassment (which the company reportedly investigated); a report of driver manipulation ; an unpleasant video depicting C.E.O. Travis Kalanick furiously berating an Uber driver; a story about secret software that could subvert regulators ; a report of cocaine use and groping at holiday parties (an offending manager was fired within hours of the scandal); a lawsuit for potentially buying stolen software from a competitor; more groping ; a slew of corporate exits ; and a driverless car crash . (The shit will really hit the fan if it turns out that Uber's self-driving technology was misappropriated from Alphabet's Waymo; Uber has called the lawsuit "baseless.")

Then there was Facebook, which held its developer conference while the Facebook Killer was on the loose. As Mat Honan of BuzzFeed put it so eloquently: "People used to talk about Steve Jobs and Apple's reality distortion field . But Facebook, it sometimes feels, exists in a reality hole. The company doesn't distort reality-but it often seems to lack the ability to recognize it."

And we ended the week with the ultimate tone-deaf statement from the C.E.O. of Juicero, the maker of a $700 dollar-soon-reduced-to-$400 dollar juicer that has $120 million in venture backing. After Bloomberg News discovered that you didn't even need the $700-$400 juicer to make juice (there are, apparently, these things called hands ) the company's chief executive, Jeff Dunn , offered a response on Medium insinuating that he gets up every day to make the world a better place.

Of course, not everyone who makes the pilgrimage out West is, or becomes, a jerk. Some people arrive in the Valley with a philosophy of how to act as an adult. But here's the problem with that group: most of them don't vociferously articulate how unsettled they are by the bad actors. Even when journalists manage to cover these atrocious activities, the powers of Silicon Valley try to ridicule them, often in public. Take, for example, the 2015 TechCrunch Disrupt conference, when a reporter asked billionaire investor Vinod Kholsa -who evidently believes that public beaches should belong to rich people -about some of the ethical controversy surrounding the mayonnaise-disruption startup Hampton Creek (I can't believe I just wrote the words "mayonnaise-disruption"). Khosla responded with a trite and rude retort that the company was fine. When the reporter pressed Khosla, he shut him down by saying, "I know a lot more about how they're doing, excuse me, than you do." A year later and the Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into whether the company defrauded investors when employees secretly purchased the company's own mayonnaise from grocery stores . (The Justice Department has since dropped its investigation.)

When you zoom out of that 50-square-mile area of Silicon Valley, it becomes obvious that big businesses can get shamed into doing the right thing. When it was discovered that Volkswagen lied about emissions outputs, the company's C.E.O. was forced to resign . The same was true for the chief of Wells Fargo , who was embroiled in a financial scandal. In the wake of it's recent public scandal, United recently knocked its C.E.O. down a peg . Even Fox News, one of the most bizarrely unrepentant media outlet in America, pushed out two of the most important people at the network over allegations of sexual harassment. ( Bill O'Reilly has said that claims against him are "unfounded"; Roger Ailes has vociferously denied allegations of sexual harassment.) Even Wall Street can (sometimes) be forced to be more ethical. Yet Elizabeth Holmes is still C.E.O. of Theranos. Travis Kalanick is still going to make billions of dollars as the chief of Uber when the company eventually goes public. The list goes on and on .

In many respects, this is simply the D.N.A. of Silicon Valley. The tech bubble of the mid-90s was inflated by lies that sent the NASDAQ on a vertiginous downward spike that eviscerated the life savings of thousands of retirees and Americans who believed in the hype. This time around, it seems that some of these business may be real, but the people running them are still as tone deaf regarding how their actions affect other people. Silicon Valley has indeed created some amazing things. One can only hope these people don't erase it with their hubris.

E-commerce start-up Fab was once valued at $900 million, a near unicorn in Silicon Valley terms. But after allegedly burning through $200 million of its $336 million in venture capital, C.E.O. Jason Goldberg was forced to shutter its European arm and lay off two-thirds of its staff.

Fired in 2014 from his ad-tech firm RadiumOne following a domestic-violence conviction, Gurbaksh Chahal founded a new company to compete with the one he was kicked out of. But Gravity4, his new firm, was sued for gender discrimination in 2015, though that case is still pending, and former employees have contemplated legal action against him.

[May 08, 2017] Silicon Valley is the story of overthrowing entrenched interests through innovation. Children dream of becoming inventors, and scientists come to Silicon Valley from all over the world. But something is wrong when Juicero and Theranos are in the headlines, and bad behavior from Uber executives overshadows actual innovation by Matt Stoller

Apr. 19, 2017, | www.businessinsider.com

Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Open Markets Program at New America.

Silicon Valley is the story of overthrowing entrenched interests through innovation. Children dream of becoming inventors, and scientists come to Silicon Valley from all over the world. But something is wrong when Juicero and Theranos are in the headlines, and bad behavior from Uber executives overshadows actual innovation.

$120 million in venture funding from Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, for a juicer? And the founder, Doug Evans, calling himself himself Steve Jobs "in his pursuit of juicing perfection?" And how is Theranos's Elizabeth Holmes walking around freely?

Eventually, the rhetoric of innovation turns into .... a Google-backed punchline.

These stories are embarrassing, yes. But there's something deeper going on here. Silicon Valley, an international treasure that birthed the technology of our age, is being destroyed.

Monopolies are now so powerful that they dictate the roll-out of new technology, and the only things left to invest in are the scraps that fall off the table.

Sometimes those scraps are Snapchat, which managed to keep alive, despite what Ben Thompson calls ' theft ' by Facebook.

Sometimes it's Diapers.com , which was destroyed and bought out by Amazon through predatory pricing. And sometimes it's Juicero and Theranos.

It's not that Juicero and Theranos that are the problem. Mistakes - even really big, stupid ones - happen.

[Jan 22, 2017] Neoliberalism may have been in part so successful because it appeals to (and tries to explain many things in terms of) a narrative of competition (and assignment of reward and acknowedlgement) by merit

Neoliberals seem very concerned not to have a label. I posit this is because the founders of the malign ideology didn't want their victims be able to reliably identify them. The deliberately and misleadingly promote the view of the economy as an isolated scientific subject, like the interior of a test tube, and treat politics and policy as a sort of exterior force, that can be isolated from the world of the chemist and pushed off-to-one side. Neoclassic economists consistently and deliberately blinds itself to politics and the dynamics of power, despite the deep entanglement of politics with everything economic. "I look at politics and the economy and see one thing, not two things, and I am astonished at the extent to which economists focus on the part they like to play with intellectually, while deliberately looking away from what is probably the more important part. "
Notable quotes:
"... when left-wing people say that economists are defenders and supporters of the current order of things, they have a point: ignoring power relationships and their impact on the world supports the continued existence of those relationships. ..."
"... Neoliberalism may have been in part so successful because it appeals to (and tries to explain many things in terms of) a narrative of competition (and assignment of reward and acknowedlgement) by merit. ..."
"... Most people, esp. when young (still largely sheltered) or (still) successful, probably have an exaggerated assessment of their own merit (absolute and relative) - often actively instilled and encouraged by an "enabling" environment. ..."
"... It promises a lake Wobegon of sorts where everybody (even though not all!) are above average, and it is finally recognized. ..."
Jan 22, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

William Meyer, Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 12:49 PM

What Wren-Lewis misses, I think, is that something I've noticed in my roughly a decade of reading economic blogs on the Internet. Economists have blinkers on. They want to view the economy as an isolated scientific subject, like the interior of a test tube, and treat politics and policy as a sort of exterior force, that can be isolated from the world of the chemist and pushed off-to-one side. It seems fairly clear to me that the two elements--politics and the economy--are obviously continuously co-mingled, and have all sorts of feedback loops running between them.

The discipline really consistently and deliberately blinds itself to politics and the dynamics of power, despite the deep entanglement of politics with everything economic. Wren-Lewis admits that macroeconomists "missed" the impacts of very high financial sector leverage, but finds that now that economists have noticed it, and suggested remedies, that the power of bank lobby prevents those remedies from being enacted. But shouldn't the political power of the finance lobby been a part of economic analysis of the world along with the dangers of the financial sector's use of extreme leverage? Does he think the two phenomena are unrelated?

Shouldn't economics pay more attention to the ongoing attempts of various groups to orient government policy in their favor, just like they pay attention to the trade deficit and GDP numbers?

I look at politics and the economy and see one thing, not two things, and I am astonished at the extent to which economists focus on the part they like to play with intellectually, while deliberately looking away from what is probably the more important part. Its like economists obsessively focus on the part that can be studied via numbers (money) and don't' want to think about the part that is harder to look quantify (political policy). And there is a political issue there, which Mr. Wren-Lewis, keeps ignoring in his defense of "mainstream economics."

The neoclassical economics tendency of not looking at power relationships makes power imbalances and their great influence on economics seem like "givens" or "natural endowments", which is clearly an intellectual sin of omission.

Many people, even within the halls of mainstream economics, note economists are "uncomfortable" with distributional issues.

Whether they like the implication or not, economists need to acknowledge that this discomfort has a profoundly conservative intellectual bias, in the sense that it make the status quo arrangement of society seem "natural" and "normal", when it is obviously humanly constructed and not in any sense "natural." So when left-wing people say that economists are defenders and supporters of the current order of things, they have a point: ignoring power relationships and their impact on the world supports the continued existence of those relationships.

Mr. Wren-Lewis seems like a nice guy, but he needs to take that simple home truth in. I'm not sure why he seems to struggle so with acknowledging it.

KPl, January 21, 2017 at 11:37 PM

"...but failing to ignore their successes,..."

Oh you mean the success of being able to raise asset prices without the growth in wages, make education costly and unaffordable without student loans, not chargeable under bankruptcy, spruce up employment figures by not counting the people who have stopped look for jobs because they cannot find one, make people debt serfs, make savers miserable by keeping interest rates at zero and making them take risks that they may not want to take though it is picking pennies in front of a steamroller, keeping wages stagnant for decades and thus impoverishing people.

The list of successes is endless and you should be glad we are NOT talking about them. Because if we do, the clan called economists might well be torched.

cm -> cm... , January 22, 2017 at 08:40 AM
Neoliberalism may have been in part so successful because it appeals to (and tries to explain many things in terms of) a narrative of competition (and assignment of reward and acknowedlgement) by merit.

Most people, esp. when young (still largely sheltered) or (still) successful, probably have an exaggerated assessment of their own merit (absolute and relative) - often actively instilled and encouraged by an "enabling" environment.

A large part is probably the idea that "markets" are "objective" or at least "impartial" in bringing out and rewarding merit - also technology and "data driven" technocratic management, which are attributed "objectivity". All in the explicitly stated or implied service of impartially recognizing merit and its lack.

It promises a lake Wobegon of sorts where everybody (even though not all!) are above average, and it is finally recognized.

libezkova : , January 22, 2017 at 07:11 PM
"Neoliberalism may have been in part so successful because it appeals to (and tries to explain many things in terms of) a narrative of competition (and assignment of reward and acknowedlgement) by merit."

A very important observation. Thank you --

[Dec 05, 2016] New Class War

This is a very weak article from a prominent paleoconservative, but it is instructive what a mess he has in his head as for the nature of Trump phenomenon. We should probably consider the tern "New Class" that neocons invented as synonym for "neoliberals". If so, why the author is afraid to use the term? Does he really so poorly educated not to understand the nature of this neoliberal revolution and its implications? Looks like he never read "Quite coup"
That probably reflects the crisis of pealeoconservatism itself.
Notable quotes:
"... What do these insurgents have in common? All have called into question the interventionist consensus in foreign policy. All have opposed large-scale free-trade agreements. ..."
"... the establishment in both parties almost uniformly favors one approach to war, trade, and immigration, while outsider candidates as dissimilar as Buchanan, Nader, Paul, and Trump, and to a lesser extent Sanders, depart from the consensus. ..."
"... The insurgents clearly do not represent a single class: they appeal to eclectic interests and groups. The foe they have all faced down, however-the bipartisan establishment-does resemble a class in its striking unity of outlook and interest. So what is this class, effectively the ruling class of the country? ..."
"... The archetypal model of class conflict, the one associated with Karl Marx, pits capitalists against workers-or, at an earlier stage, capitalists against the landed nobility. The capitalists' victory over the nobility was inevitable, and so too, Marx believed, was the coming triumph of the workers over the capitalists. ..."
"... The Soviet Union had never been a workers' state at all, they argued, but was run by a class of apparatchiks such as Marx had never imagined. ..."
"... Burnham recognized affinities between the Soviet mode of organization-in which much real power lay in the hands of the commissars who controlled industry and the bureaucratic organs of the state-and the corporatism that characterized fascist states. Even the U.S., under the New Deal and with ongoing changes to the balance between ownership and management in the private sector, seemed to be moving in the same direction. ..."
"... concept popularized by neoconservatives in the following decade: the "New Class." ..."
"... It consists of a goodly proportion of those college-educated people whose skills and vocations proliferate in a 'post-industrial society' (to use Daniel Bell's convenient term). We are talking about scientists, teachers, and educational administrators, journalists and others in the communication industries, psychologists, social workers, those lawyers and doctors who make their careers in the expanding public sector, city planners, the staffs of the larger foundations, the upper levels of the government bureaucracy, and so on. ..."
"... I have felt that this 'new class' is, so far, rather thin gruel. Intellectuals, verbalists, media types, etc. are conspicuous actors these days, certainly; they make a lot of noise, get a lot of attention, and some of them make a lot of money. But, after all, they are a harum-scarum crowd, and deflate even more quickly than they puff up. On TV they can out-talk any of the managers of ITT, GM, or IBM, or the administration-managers of the great government bureaus and agencies, but, honestly, you're not going to take that as a power test. Who hires and fires whom? ..."
"... Burnham had observed that the New Class did not have the means-either money or manpower-to wield power the way the managers or the capitalists of old did. It had to borrow power from other classes. Discovering where the New Class gets it is as easy as following the money, which leads straight to the finance sector-practically to the doorstep of Goldman Sachs. Jerry Rubin's journey from Yippie to yuppie was the paradigm of a generation. ..."
"... Yet the New Class as a whole is less like Carl Oglesby or Karl Hess than like Hillary Clinton, who arguably embodies it as perfectly as McNamara did the managerial class. ..."
"... Even the New Class's support for deregulation-to the advantage of its allies on Wall Street-was no sign of consistent commitment to free-market principles ..."
"... The individual-mandate feature of Obamacare and Romneycare is a prime example of New Class cronyism: government compels individuals to buy a supposedly private product or service. ..."
"... America's class war, like many others, is not in the end a contest between up and down. It's a fight between rival elites: in this case, between the declining managerial elite and the triumphant (for now) New Class and financial elites. ..."
"... Donald Trump is not of the managerial class himself. But by embracing managerial interests-industrial protection and, yes, "big government"-and combining them with nationalistic identity politics, he has built a force that has potential to threaten the bipartisan establishment, even if he goes down to defeat in November. ..."
"... The New Class, after all, lacks a popular base as well as money of its own, and just as it relies on Wall Street to underwrite its power, it depends on its competing brands of identity politics to co-opt popular support. ..."
"... Marx taught that you identify classes by their structural role in the system of production. I'm at a loss to see how either of the 'classes' you mention here relate to the system of production. ..."
"... [New] Class better describes the Never Trumpers. Mostly I have found them to be those involved in knowledge occupations (conservative think tanks, hedge fund managers, etc.) who have a pecuniary interest in maintaining the Global Economy as opposed to the Virtuous Intergenerational Economy that preceded. Many are dependent on funding sources for their livelihoods that are connected to the Globalized Economy and financial markets. ..."
"... "mobilize working-class voters against the establishment in both parties. " = workers of the world unite. ..."
"... Where the class conflict between the Working and Knowledge Classes begins is where the Knowledge Class almost unilaterally decided to shift to a global economy, at the expense of the Working Class, and to the self-benefit of the Knowledge Class. Those who designed the Global Economy like Larry Summers of Harvard did not invite private or public labor to help design the new Globalist Economy. The Working Class lost out big time in job losses and getting stuck with subprime home loans that busted their marriages and created bankruptcies and foreclosures. The Knowledge Class was mostly unscathed by this class-based economic divide. ..."
"... Trump's distinguishing ideology, which separates him from the current elite, is something he has summed up many times – nationalism vs. Globalism. ..."
"... The financial industry, the new tech giants, the health insurance industry are now almost indistinguishable from the government ruling elite. The old left–represented by Sanders–rails against this as big money coopting government, even while conservatives are exasperated by the unholy cabal of big business and big government in cohoots in the "progressive" remake of America. Both are right in a sense. ..."
"... The hyperconcentration of power in Washington and a few tributary locations like Wall Street and Silicon Valley, elite academia and the media–call that the New Class if you like–means that most of America–Main Street, the flyover country has been left behind. Trump instinctively – brilliantly in some ways – tapped into the resentment that this hyperconcentration of wealth and government power has led to. That is why it cuts across right and left. The elites want to characterize this resentment as backwards and "racist," but there is also something very American from Jefferson to Jackson to Teddy Roosevelt that revolts against being lectured to and controlled by their would-be "betters." ..."
"... The alienation of those left out is real and based on real erosion of the middle class and American dream under both parties' elites. The potentially revolutionary capabilities of a political movement that could unite right and left in restoring some equilibrium and opportunities to those left out is tremendous, but yet to be realized by either major party. The party that can harness these folks – who are after all the majority of Americans – will have a ruling coalition for decades. If neither party can productively harness this budding movement, we are headed for disarray, civil unrest, and potentially the dissolution of the USA. ..."
"... . And blacks who cleave to the democrats despite being sold down the tubes on issues, well, for whatever reason, they just have thinner skin and the mistaken idea that the democrats deliver – thanks to Pres. Johnson. But what Pres. Johnson delivered democrats made a mockery of immediately as they stripped it of its intent and used for their own liberal ends. ..."
"... Let's see if I can help Dreher clear up some confusion in his article. James Burnham's "Managerial Class" and the "New Class" are overlapping and not exclusive. By the Managerial Class Burnham meant both the executive and managers in the private sector and the Bureaucrats and functionaries in the public sector. ..."
"... The rise of managers was a "revolution" because of the rise of modernization which meant the increasing mechanization, industrialization, formalization and rationalization (efficiency) of society. Burnham's concern about the rise of the managerial revolution was misplaced; what he should have focused on was modernization. ..."
"... The old left–represented by Sanders–rails against this as big money coopting government, even while conservatives are exasperated by the unholy cabal of big business and big government in cohoots in the "progressive" remake of America ..."
"... . Some 3 – 5% of the population facing no real opposition has decided that that their private lives needed public endorsement and have proceeded to upend the entire social order - the game has shifted in ways I am not sure most of the public fully grasps or desires ..."
"... There has always been and will always be class conflict, even if it falls short of a war. Simply examining recent past circumstances, the wealthy class has been whooping up on all other classes. This is not to suggest any sort of remedy, but simply to observe that income disparity over the past 30 years has substantially benefitted on sector of class and political power remains in their hands today. To think that there will never be class conflict is to side with a Marxian fantasy of egalitarianism, which will never come to pass. Winners and losers may change positions, but the underlying conflict will always remain. ..."
"... State governments have been kowtowing to big business interests for a good long while. Nothing new under the sun there. Back in the 80s when GM was deciding where to site their factory for the new Saturn car line, they issued an edict stating they would only consider states that had mandatory seat belt use laws, and the states in the running fell all over each to enact those. ..."
"... People don't really care for the actions of the elite but they care for the consequences of these actions. During the 1960's, per capita GDP growth was around 3.5%. Today it stands at 0,49%. If you take into account inflation, it's negative. Add to this the skewed repartition of said growth and it's intuitive that many people feel the pain; whom doesn't move forward, goes backwards. ..."
"... People couldn't care for mass immigration, nation building or the emergence of China if their personal situation was not impacted. But now, they begin to feel the results of these actions. ..."
"... I have a simple philosophy regarding American politics that shows who is made of what, and we don't have to go through all the philosophizing in this article: Anyone who believes in same sex marriage has been brainwashed and is un-American and unreliable. Anyone who puts Israeli interests above America's is un-American. ..."
"... Re: Anyone who believes in same sex marriage has been brainwashed and is un-American and unreliable. Anyone who puts Israeli interests above America's is un-American. ..."
"... The first has nothing whatsoever to do with American citizenship. It's just a political issue– on which, yes, reasonable people can differ. However no American citizen should put the interests of any other country ahead of our own, except in a situation where the US was itself up to no good and deserved its comeuppance. And then the interest is not that of any particular nation, but of justice being done period. ..."
"... A lot of this "New Class" stuff is just confusing mis-mash of this and that theory. Basically, America changed when the US dollar replace gold as the medium of exchange in the world economy. Remember when we called it the PETRO-DOLLAR. As long as the Saudis only accepted the US dollar as the medium of exchange for oil, then the American government could export it's inflation and deficit spending. Budget deficits and trade deficits are intrinsically related. It allowed America to become a nation of consumers instead of a nation of producers. ..."
"... It's really a form of classic IMPERIALISM. To maintain this system, we've got the US military and we prop up the corrupt dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya ..."
"... Yeah, you can talk about the "new class", the corruption of the banking system by the idiotic "libertarian" or "free market utopianism" of the Gingrich Congress, the transformation of American corporations to international corporations, and on and on. But it's the US dollar as reserve currency that has allowed it all to happen. God help us, if it ends, we'll be crippled. ..."
"... The Clinton Class mocks The Country Class: Bill Clinton, "We all know how her opponent's done real well down in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. Because the coal people don't like any of us anymore." "They blame the president when the sun doesn't come up in the morning now," ..."
"... That doesn't mean they actually support Hillary's policies and position. What do they really know about either? These demographics simply vote overwhelmingly Democrat no matter who is on the ticket. If Alfred E. Newman were the candidate, this particular data point would look just the same. ..."
"... "On the contrary, the New Class favors new kinds of crony finance capitalism, even as it opposes the protectionism that would benefit hard industry and managerial interests." This doesn't ring true. Hard industry, and the managers that run it had no problem with moving jobs and factories overseas in pursuit of cheaper labor. Plus, it solved their Union issues. I feel like the divide is between large corporations, with dilute ownership and professional managers who nominally serve the interests of stock fund managers, while greatly enriching themselves versus a multitude of smaller, locally owned businesses whose owners were also concerned with the health of the local communities in which they lived. ..."
"... The financial elites are a consequence of consolidation in the banking and finance industry, where we now have 4 or 5 large institutions versus a multitude of local and regional banks that were locally focused. ..."
Sep 07, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Since the Cold War ended, U.S. politics has seen a series of insurgent candidacies. Pat Buchanan prefigured Trump in the Republican contests of 1992 and 1996. Ralph Nader challenged the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party from the outside in 2000. Ron Paul vexed establishment Republicans John McCain and Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012. And this year, Trump was not the only candidate to confound his party's elite: Bernie Sanders harried Hillary Clinton right up to the Democratic convention.

What do these insurgents have in common? All have called into question the interventionist consensus in foreign policy. All have opposed large-scale free-trade agreements. (The libertarian Paul favors unilateral free trade: by his lights, treaties like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership are not free trade at all but international regulatory pacts.) And while no one would mistake Ralph Nader's or Ron Paul's views on immigration for Pat Buchanan's or Donald Trump's, Nader and Paul have registered their own dissents from the approach to immigration that prevails in Washington.

Sanders has been more in line with his party's orthodoxy on that issue. But that didn't save him from being attacked by Clinton backers for having an insufficiently nonwhite base of support. Once again, what might have appeared to be a class conflict-in this case between a democratic socialist and an elite liberal with ties to high finance-could be explained away as really about race.

Race, like religion, is a real factor in how people vote. Its relevance to elite politics, however, is less clear. Something else has to account for why the establishment in both parties almost uniformly favors one approach to war, trade, and immigration, while outsider candidates as dissimilar as Buchanan, Nader, Paul, and Trump, and to a lesser extent Sanders, depart from the consensus.

The insurgents clearly do not represent a single class: they appeal to eclectic interests and groups. The foe they have all faced down, however-the bipartisan establishment-does resemble a class in its striking unity of outlook and interest. So what is this class, effectively the ruling class of the country?

Some critics on the right have identified it with the "managerial" class described by James Burnham in his 1941 book The Managerial Revolution . But it bears a stronger resemblance to what what others have called "the New Class." In fact, the interests of this New Class of college-educated "verbalists" are antithetical to those of the industrial managers that Burnham described. Understanding the relationship between these two often conflated concepts provides insight into politics today, which can be seen as a clash between managerial and New Class elites.

♦♦♦

The archetypal model of class conflict, the one associated with Karl Marx, pits capitalists against workers-or, at an earlier stage, capitalists against the landed nobility. The capitalists' victory over the nobility was inevitable, and so too, Marx believed, was the coming triumph of the workers over the capitalists.

Over the next century, however, history did not follow the script. By 1992, the Soviet Union was gone, Communist China had embarked on market reforms, and Western Europe was turning away from democratic socialism. There was no need to predict the future; mankind had achieved its destiny, a universal order of [neo]liberal democracy. Marx had it backwards: capitalism was the end of history.

But was the truth as simple as that? Long before the collapse of the USSR, many former communists -- some of whom remained socialists, while others joined the right-thought not. The Soviet Union had never been a workers' state at all, they argued, but was run by a class of apparatchiks such as Marx had never imagined.

Among the first to advance this argument was James Burnham, a professor of philosophy at New York University who became a leading Trotskyist thinker. As he broke with Trotsky and began moving toward the right, Burnham recognized affinities between the Soviet mode of organization-in which much real power lay in the hands of the commissars who controlled industry and the bureaucratic organs of the state-and the corporatism that characterized fascist states. Even the U.S., under the New Deal and with ongoing changes to the balance between ownership and management in the private sector, seemed to be moving in the same direction.

Burnham called this the "managerial revolution." The managers of industry and technically trained government officials did not own the means of production, like the capitalists of old. But they did control the means of production, thanks to their expertise and administrative prowess.

The rise of this managerial class would have far-reaching consequences, he predicted. Burnham wrote in his 1943 book, The Machiavellians : "that the managers may function, the economic and political structure must be modified, as it is now being modified, so as to rest no longer on private ownership and small-scale nationalist sovereignty, but primarily upon state control of the economy, and continental or vast regional world political organization." Burnham pointed to Nazi Germany, imperial Japan-which became a "continental" power by annexing Korea and Manchuria-and the Soviet Union as examples.

The defeat of the Axis powers did not halt the progress of the managerial revolution. Far from it: not only did the Soviets retain their form of managerialism, but the West increasingly adopted a managerial corporatism of its own, marked by cooperation between big business and big government: high-tech industrial crony capitalism, of the sort that characterizes the military-industrial complex to this day. (Not for nothing was Burnham a great advocate of America's developing a supersonic transport of its own to compete with the French-British Concorde.)

America's managerial class was personified by Robert S. McNamara, the former Ford Motor Company executive who was secretary of defense under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. In a 1966 story for National Review , "Why Do They Hate Robert Strange McNamara?" Burnham answered the question in class terms: "McNamara is attacked by the Left because the Left has a blanket hatred of the system of business enterprise; he is criticized by the Right because the Right harks back, in nostalgia if not in practice, to outmoded forms of business enterprise."

McNamara the managerial technocrat was too business-oriented for a left that still dreamed of bringing the workers to power. But the modern form of industrial organization he represented was not traditionally capitalist enough for conservatives who were at heart 19th-century classical liberals.

National Review readers responded to Burnham's paean to McNamara with a mixture of incomprehension and indignation. It was a sign that even readers familiar with Burnham-he appeared in every issue of the magazine-did not always follow what he was saying. The popular right wanted concepts that were helpful in labeling enemies, and Burnham was confusing matters by talking about changes in the organization of government and industry that did not line up with anyone's value judgements.

More polemically useful was a different concept popularized by neoconservatives in the following decade: the "New Class." "This 'new class' is not easily defined but may be vaguely described," Irving Kristol wrote in a 1975 essay for the Wall Street Journal :

It consists of a goodly proportion of those college-educated people whose skills and vocations proliferate in a 'post-industrial society' (to use Daniel Bell's convenient term). We are talking about scientists, teachers, and educational administrators, journalists and others in the communication industries, psychologists, social workers, those lawyers and doctors who make their careers in the expanding public sector, city planners, the staffs of the larger foundations, the upper levels of the government bureaucracy, and so on.

"Members of the new class do not 'control' the media," he continued, "they are the media-just as they are our educational system, our public health and welfare system, and much else."

Burnham, writing in National Review in 1978, drew a sharp contrast between this concept and his own ideas:

I have felt that this 'new class' is, so far, rather thin gruel. Intellectuals, verbalists, media types, etc. are conspicuous actors these days, certainly; they make a lot of noise, get a lot of attention, and some of them make a lot of money. But, after all, they are a harum-scarum crowd, and deflate even more quickly than they puff up. On TV they can out-talk any of the managers of ITT, GM, or IBM, or the administration-managers of the great government bureaus and agencies, but, honestly, you're not going to take that as a power test. Who hires and fires whom?

Burnham suffered a stroke later that year. Although he lived until 1987, his career as a writer was over. His last years coincided with another great transformation of business and government. It began in the Carter administration, with moves to deregulate transportation and telecommunications. This partial unwinding of the managerial revolution accelerated under Ronald Reagan. Regulatory and welfare-state reforms, even privatization of formerly nationalized industries, also took off in the UK and Western Europe. All this did not, however, amount to a restoration of the old capitalism or anything resembling laissez-faire.

The "[neo]liberal democracy" that triumphed at "the end of history"-to use Francis Fukuyama's words-was not the managerial capitalism of the mid-20th century, either. It was instead the New Class's form of capitalism, one that could be embraced by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair as readily as by any Republican or Thatcherite.

Irving Kristol had already noted in the 1970s that "this new class is not merely liberal but truly 'libertarian' in its approach to all areas of life-except economics. It celebrates individual liberty of speech and expression and action to an unprecedented degree, so that at times it seems almost anarchistic in its conception of the good life."

He was right about the New Class's "anything goes" mentality, but he was only partly correct about its attitude toward economics. The young elite tended to scorn the bourgeois character of the old capitalism, and to them managerial figures like McNamara were evil incarnate. But they had to get by-and they aspired to rule.

Burnham had observed that the New Class did not have the means-either money or manpower-to wield power the way the managers or the capitalists of old did. It had to borrow power from other classes. Discovering where the New Class gets it is as easy as following the money, which leads straight to the finance sector-practically to the doorstep of Goldman Sachs. Jerry Rubin's journey from Yippie to yuppie was the paradigm of a generation.

Part of the tale can be told in a favorable light. New Left activists like Carl Oglesby fought the spiritual aridity and murderous militarism of what they called "corporate liberalism"-Burnham's managerialism-while sincere young libertarians attacked the regulatory state and seeded technological entrepreneurship. Yet the New Class as a whole is less like Carl Oglesby or Karl Hess than like Hillary Clinton, who arguably embodies it as perfectly as McNamara did the managerial class.

Even the New Class's support for deregulation-to the advantage of its allies on Wall Street-was no sign of consistent commitment to free-market principles. On the contrary, the New Class favors new kinds of crony finance capitalism, even as it opposes the protectionism that would benefit hard industry and managerial interests. The individual-mandate feature of Obamacare and Romneycare is a prime example of New Class cronyism: government compels individuals to buy a supposedly private product or service.

The alliance between finance and the New Class accounts for the disposition of power in America today. The New Class has also enlisted another invaluable ally: the managerial classes of East Asia. Trade with China-the modern managerial state par excellence-helps keep American industry weak relative to finance and the service economy's verbalist-dominated sectors. America's class war, like many others, is not in the end a contest between up and down. It's a fight between rival elites: in this case, between the declining managerial elite and the triumphant (for now) New Class and financial elites.

The New Class plays a priestly role in its alliance with finance, absolving Wall Street for the sin of making money in exchange for plenty of that money to keep the New Class in power. In command of foreign policy, the New Class gets to pursue humanitarian ideological projects-to experiment on the world. It gets to evangelize by the sword. And with trade policy, it gets to suppress its class rival, the managerial elite, at home. Through trade pacts and mass immigration the financial elite, meanwhile, gets to maximize its returns without regard for borders or citizenship. The erosion of other nations' sovereignty that accompanies American hegemony helps toward that end too-though our wars are more ideological than interest-driven.

♦♦♦

So we come to an historic moment. Instead of an election pitting another Bush against another Clinton, we have a race that poses stark alternatives: a choice not only between candidates but between classes-not only between administrations but between regimes.

Donald Trump is not of the managerial class himself. But by embracing managerial interests-industrial protection and, yes, "big government"-and combining them with nationalistic identity politics, he has built a force that has potential to threaten the bipartisan establishment, even if he goes down to defeat in November.

The New Class, after all, lacks a popular base as well as money of its own, and just as it relies on Wall Street to underwrite its power, it depends on its competing brands of identity politics to co-opt popular support. For the center-left establishment, minority voters supply the electoral muscle. Religion and the culture war have served the same purpose for the establishment's center-right faction. Trump showed that at least one of these sides could be beaten on its own turf-and it seems conceivable that if Bernie Sanders had been black, he might have similarly beaten Clinton, without having to make concessions to New Class tastes.

The New Class establishment of both parties may be seriously misjudging what is happening here. Far from being the last gasp of the demographically doomed-old, racially isolated white people, as Gallup's analysis says-Trump's insurgency may be the prototype of an aggressive new politics, of either left or right, that could restore the managerial elite to power.

This is not something that conservatives-or libertarians who admire the old capitalism rather than New Class's simulacrum-might welcome. But the only way that some entrenched policies may change is with a change of the class in power.

Daniel McCarthy is the editor of The American Conservative .

[Sep 16, 2016] Glamorisation of the rich as alpha males under neoliberalism and randism

Human society is way to complex for alpha males to succeed unconditionally... Quite a different set of traits is often needed.
Dec 31, 2015 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 10:51 am

As Hemingway replied to that alum: "yes, they have more money."

Vatch December 29, 2015 at 11:25 am

Superficially, Hemingway was correct. But on a deeper level, he missed the reality of the heightened sense of entitlement that the very rich possess, as well as the deference that so many people automatically show to them. The rich shouldn't be different in this way, but they are. In some other societies, such entitlement and deference would accrue to senior party members, senior clergymen, or hereditary nobility (who might not have much money at all).

MyLessThanPrimeBeef December 29, 2015 at 11:45 am

"Go with the winner."

That is how it works for the alpha male (a chimp, an ape, or a gorilla) for most followers anyway.

Some will challenge. If victorious, followers will line up (more go-with-the-winner). If defeated, an outcast.

Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Without a doubt Hemingway had a rather catty attitude toward his literary rival, but in this instance I think the debunking is merited. It's quite possible that rich people act the way we would act if we were rich, and that Fitzgerald's tiresome obsession with rich people didn't cut very deep. Hemingway is saying: take away all that money and the behavior would change as well. It's the money (or the power in your example) that makes the difference.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 1:58 pm

In my opinion, the fact that if they had less money would change the way they think, does not change the fact that, while they have more money, they think differently, and different rules apply to them.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Addendum: The fact that an Alpha Chimp would act differently if someone else was the Alpha Chimp does not change the fact that an Alpha Chimp has fundamentally different behavior than the rest of the group.

Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Sounds like you are saying the behavior of the rich is different–not what F. Scott Fitzgerald said.

Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:F._Scott_Fitzgerald

"Hemingway is responsible for a famous misquotation of Fitzgerald's. According to Hemingway, a conversation between him and Fitzgerald went:

Fitzgerald: The rich are different than you and me.
Hemingway: Yes, they have more money.
This never actually happened; it is a retelling of an actual encounter between Hemingway and Mary Colum, which went as follows:

Hemingway: I am getting to know the rich.
Colum: I think you'll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money."

Just want to point out that that quote of Hemingways wasnt about Fitzgerald and wasnt even by Hemingway. Anyway I was more attacking the "rich have more money" thing than I was trying to defend Fitzgerald, but I feel Fitzgerald got the basic idea right

craazyman December 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm

I read somewhere, maybe a biography of one of them when I read books like that, that Hemingway actually said it and only said that F. Scott said it.

There are no heroes among famous men. I said that!

giantsquid December 29, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Here's an interesting take on this reputed exchange between Fitzgerald and Hemingway:

"The rich are different" The real story behind the famed "exchange" between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

http://www.quotecounterquote.com/2009/11/rich-are-different-famous-quote.html

Apparently Fitzgerald was referring specifically to the attitudes of those who are born rich, attitudes that Fitzgerald thought remained unaltered by events, including the loss of economic status.

"They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."

Hemingway suggested that Fitzgerald had once been especially enamored of the rich, seeing them as a "special glamorous race" but ultimately became disillusioned.

"He thought they were a special glamorous race and when he found they weren't it wrecked him as much as any other thing that wrecked him."

[Dec 04, 2014] annotated-ayn-rand Geoffrey Raymond, New York Stock Exchange

May 18, 2011 | zerohedge.com

It is no secret that Geoffrey Raymond, the author of the infamous "Annotated ____" series, is one of Zero Hedge's favorite artists, in no small part due to the crowdsourced method of artistic creation. Indeed, it was only last summer that a copy of the Annotated Cramer (who can forget that prominent third nipple) was sold to a mysterious collector for a stately sum after it was annotated (in addition to the comments from the usual disgruntled suspect scribbling directly on the canvas) with comments compiled from our own post revealing this masterpiece. And once again, just as it should be, Zero Hedge and it's readers get the last word.

Prior to shipping his portrait of Ayn Rand to its new buyer, Geoffrey Raymond has invited ZH readers to submit a final round of comments, which he will then transcribe, more or less verbatim, onto the painting. He painted The Annotated Rand to coincide with last month's release of the Atlas Shrugged movie (a truly terrible flick, we are told) and the annotations inscribed in black were taken outside the premiere, then later at theaters around NYC. The blue comments were taken at his usual stomping grounds outside the NYSE.

The Raymond market, as we've predicted here before, remains hot, with prices for this best work now flirting with six figures. Might make sense to go to www.annotatedpaintings.blogspot.com and pick up a choice one while they still cost just a little more than a handful of gold coins in CME-adjusted terms. Regarding the Rand painting, our favorite annotation is "Rand + Greenspan = Bonnie + Clyde". All you closet Objectivists can now step up to the plate and have at it...

Take it away.

john39:

may have something to do with the fact that she is a racist zionist, but that's just a guess.

downwiththebanks:

Don't forget she's also a HUAC Snitch.

Eternal Student:

What, that free unregulated markets always end in disasters or monopolies? Or that the current economic disaster, which was brought to us under the banner of free unregulated markets (kicked off by Ronald Reagan) has its roots in Ayn Rand and delivered by her Libertarian poster boy Alan Greenspan?

That may be your Godmother. It isn't mine. Alan Greenspan must be your Godfather too.

McPoopypants:

She was a shitty writer who could sell books by giving a repressed Calvinism-inspired society permission to be dicks. Now that the little selfishness-orgy is coming to a close, we find ourselves feeling nauseated and sticky, while this woman's legacy is trying to convince us to keep pumping, instead of grabbing a shower and skulking away to do something productive in order to distract us from the shame.

eff that shit.

YHC-FTSE:

Folks who have been suckling at Aynd Rand's whithered teat never realize that it's not rich milk but diseased pus they are ingesting.

If you constantly visit Zerohedge, and believe this website stands for Aynd Rand/Rosenbaum/O'Connor, then you misunderstand everything including objectivism. The woman was a halfwit with half good ideas that appealed to egomaniacal twits with delusions of grandeur about themselves. In other words, a good paperback fiction writer.

Guy Fawkes Mulder:

http://i.imgur.com/wYaew.jpg

Because that book was full of business executives and bankers who were trying to build a world empire of megacorporate oligopolies and rigged crony captial controls. Just like current events.

Read Ayn Rand's description of Midas Mulligan. You will see that even in her magnum opus, she did not understand capitalism as run by capitalists.

Everything that occurred after the magnum opus was a miscarriage and mismanagement of the spirit of the novel. The current state of Atlas Shrugged leadership is now just an ivory tower think tank that gets paid in FRNs and produces such wonderful shilling as this:

http://blog.aynrandcenter.org/vindicating-standard-oil-100-years-later

Guy Fawkes Mulder:

You need to relax. It's clouding your judgement and your rationality and your ability to understand me.

My point was that Midas Mulligan is a totally imaginary character. In no way does he resemble any real banker. The book was very unrealistic in its portrayal of executives, particularly Mulligan. The real Fortune 500 executives and chieftains of finance in this world are not doing the morally right thing -- getting away from the immoral society and making a just one with their own abilities and alliances with moral people. In fact they all seem to be complicit in the construction of a neo-feudal world order involving resource wars of conquest and police state domestic control grids.

Standard Oil was anti-freedom. It was a monopoly octopus. It bullied out competitors. It cannot be vindicated by any one who truly believes in economic freedom.

It's just very obtuse to believe that Rockefeller-style capitalism is a good thing. It's very obtuse to say "look prices went down, thanks to Rockefeller". That's ignoring the fact that he squeezed out the competition with ruthless grafting, bribery, intimidation, and corruption.

It may be disingenuous too, but I'm going to give the "objectivism" think tanks a break and assume that they merely have their heads up their asses, and are not intentionally writing this stuff up to mislead people.

Anyway... please relax...

eureka:

Ms. Rand considered herself not just a fiction writer/entertainer, but a philosopher...

well, so much for that; her blind spots could fill the black holes in Wall Street's cooked books.

I'm sure she's discussing it with Jesus right now - correlating her super-human ideals to Greenspan's flip-flop on the gold-standard.

harlanaladd:

You pretty much captured what I was going to offer:

"World's best author. When you're 16."

Pladizow:

How about:

"The Maestro's Mistress?"

brian0918:

How about "The Maestro's Betrayal":

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/alan-greenspan-betrayed-ayn-...

hedgeless_horseman:

The bad news is ray-shielded mountain valleys are a fantasy, and looters are real. Login or register to post comments by The Alarmist on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 17:20 #1288899

Are you sure? Look up what is in and around Denver.

Login or register to post comments by hedgeless_horseman on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 17:39 #1288923

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kind of OT, but too funny...

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=105x2093328

Good liberal towns in Colorado?

"We're considering selling our house in LA [too many minorities] and moving someplace a little cheaper [lower taxes] for awhile. Looking at Portland, Seattle and Kalispell area. My husband also wants to consider Colorado.

Is Boulder a liberal city? [Have the tax payers and businees all left yet?] Does anyone have any recommendations? [Where are the mostly white schools?]

Login or register to post comments by velobabe on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 17:50 #1289027

boulder is the biggest hypocritical city in amerika. you are moving because of too many minorities. damn lady, you want minorities in and around you. you will just get so bored at looking at these white liberals in boulder. it probably has the highest per capital homeless population in amerika. i am so tired of just looking at these sorry assed white prius driving liberals. god i can't even go out for a walk on a perfect day any more and looked at these clueless people. men woman and the young people are void of any emotion, thought or action. the beauty of the environment is hard to not yearn, so see what kind of balance you can obtain, in a liberal town such as boulder colorado. colorado is the epicenter of the globalists.

brian0918:

"Who's this Anne Rand, anyway?"

VyseLegendaire:

'Atlas Sharted'

NotApplicable:

Greenspan did nothing contrary to her personal views (which are very different from her writings). She was actually proud that her boy got selected by Pres. Ford.

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/08/02/business/02bbt_CA0.ready.html

See how they're all smiling?

Anybody that can spout the incoherent ideology that a strong centralized state is required to safeguard individual liberty is no true friend to liberty, or to coherent ideology.

The "Bonnie and Clyde" label fits these two to a tee. They are nothing but agent provacateurs in service of power. If she believed what she wrote originally, she quickly abandoned it in exchange for the cult of personality she gained once she hit the big time.

Objectivism was created as a dead-end street for those who thought it was putting her words into action. Luckily for many of us, Rothbard quickly figured her game out and told anyone who would listen.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard23.html

Login or register to post comments by NotApplicable on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 17:55 #1289032

LOL, I just noticed that Greenspan's mother was named Goldsmith.

Oh, the irony.

Shock and Aweful:

That woman represents nothing more than an unrealistic philosophy for unrealistic people I'd say.

Somewhere between the cold, un-empathetic ideology that she espoused and the 1984-esq nightmare we live in today is what we should strive for.

Ayn Rand and other Libertarian thinkers have some good ideas about personal responsibility and what makes a strong nation and people...but taken literally and to their logical conclusions just don't seem to really be practical

Same goes for the progressivism / socialist idology. There is something admirable about wanting to create a society where equality abounds....but implementing it on a large scale and in a way that works (and without creating an entire class of people who abuse and exploit the government assistance) has been very elusive.

How about, instead of running our political / social systems based on an ideology or a philosophy....we have a political/economic and social order that is based on common sense and common purpose.

Oh fuck it....nevermind....there ain't any money in that!

That will never do.

Aquiloaster :

Agreed. Rand's objectivism is an economic footnote to social Darwinism (the biological facet would be eugenics). The equilibrium/equality she sees is gained by everyone pulling for himself as hard as he can in a 300,000,000-way tug of war. Not my idea of utopia. In fact, it is neither efficient, harmonious, nor the most productive way. A liaisez-faire fantasy by a wannabe great philosophical economist. Rather, she acheived the status of long-winded novelist writing about two-dimensional characters with a transparent agenda.

AgShaman:

May she (Ayn R. and the new movie) inspire new generations of clueless college/univ. educated idiots....longing for the trappings of fictional future-worlds...and a serious lack of "T-shirt syle".

Whatever nausea may result from her silk screened homage...would still be a healthy break from the mass commercialism of Che Guevara

buzzsaw99:

John Galt works for the gubbermint now.

downwiththebanks:

Actually, the gubbermint works for Galt.

Always did. Always will.

Rand doesn't get that. And that's what makes her work fiction.

Use of Weapons :

"Everyone I fucked betrayed me; making it into a philosophy made me rich".

"I might have been the original sociopathic cougar and loved the drugs, but Objectively, history remembers me for turgid prose and simplistic idealism".

"My philosophy champions rationalism; I fucking destroyed anyone with heavenly fire who didn't agree with me. And then purged the fuckers out of my cult. And I spit on their graves".

"When you see the murals of Ben Gold, you see my innermost fantasies".

"I was too stupid to read Nietzsche or Kant"

"Objectivism: Or what I did for the KGB against the useful idiots"

Um. Wait.

You want positive comments?

"Ayn Rand: A six-foot floral arrangement in the shape of a dollar sign was placed near her casket when she died, showing her true love. Then again, McDonalds made millions selling shit to the masses as well - and fiat dollars aren't a good score card".

[No, really. Hateful old hack, and not very bright. For a champion of rationalism, her brain wasn't up to the iconic role. Junk away, but she was one ugly soul, and her legacy is currently destroying the USA. Ironic, no? Or KGB deep mole planning *shrug*]

>>Cliff Notes:

#1 Misunderstood Darwin, as have others - social adaptation / altruism have very specific cost/benefit returns, and are fundamental to a functioning society. Predators should stop being so bloody self-absorbed [thanks Ayn, tool, for making them so] and realise that symbiosis works, and predator<->prey relations in ecology are hugely complex. The current crowd make me shudder, because they mould to fit their limitations, they don't grow to meet complexity. For this crime, they need purging; mostly maladaptive mutants with obvious flaws.

#2 Misunderstood business, as have others - greed is good, if you have a something to spend it on. This does not mean purely material goods; why else would the 0.01% masturbate over 'charity' and 'bequeathing a legacy'. Top tip - complexity is a function of the market; if you leave the market more complex [rich in information] then you are a benefit. If you do not, you are not a capitalist, you are a parasite. Now stop with the bollocks and start building infrastructure again, because without it, you all die. Fucking tools.

#3 Judgement of emotions. Behaviourism is a stupid, and "nice for the masses" thought processes. Yes, I'm looking at you, proponents of 'behavioural economics' and 'nudges'. Top fucking tip: You do NOT WANT a society where people do not notice the "context hidden" nudges or psychological guides, UNLESS you want slaves. If you want slaves, then do the decent thing & split homo sapiens into two breeds, a la H G Wells. Stop being so hypocritical about your self-indulgent morality. When I have custody over other species, I relate to them QUA species. Canine qua canine. Equine qua equine. Homo Sapiens qua Homo sapiens. Anthropomorphism is stupid, dull and egotistical to the point of insanity.

In ending - killing the oceans was also dumb. For 'rationalists' you'd have been better off preventing over-fishing than anything else. I find little to recommend the short sighted and foolish nature of my species.

p.s.

Yay, junked!

If you want a sensible answer: she was a smaller copy of Karl Popper, for an American overly Religious market. Try reading the original first.

Misean:

Who is Ayn Rand?

downwiththebanks:

Just a shitty fiction writer.

She did testify before HUAC as a snitch.

bobola:

If Rand Paul married Ayn Rand, he would be Rand Rand.

MachoMan:

A few for the background:

"I hope that comb-over man cunt straps one on and ass fucks greenspan for eternity in hell" [you nailed the hair btw, although a hitler mustache might be a nice addition]

"My estate thanks the FED and the Federal Government for loose money policies that allowed Hollywood enough wherewithal to trash my writings with visual and audio vomit"

"If I were still alive, I would have fucked DSK and maybe that midget Roubini who reminds me of a drug crazed Billy Crystal hit with a wiffle ball bat doing an impression of a sex crazed foreigner"

feel free to paraphrase

magpie:

"For the main Design of the Fable, (as it is briefly explain'd in the Moral) is to shew the Impossibility of enjoying all the most elegant Comforts of Life that are to be met with in an industrious, wealthy and powerful Nation, and at the same time be bless'd with all the Virtue and Innocence that can be wish'd for in a Golden Age; from thence to expose the Unreasonableness and Folly of those, that desirous of being an opulent and flourishing People, and wonderfully greedy after all the Benefits they can receive as such, are yet always murmuring at and exclaiming against those Vices and Inconveniences, that from the Beginning of the World to this present Day, have been inseparable from all Kingdoms and States that ever were fam'd for Strength, Riches, and Politeness, at the same time."

Whittaker Chambers Versus Ayn Rand By Cass R. Sunstein

Nov 5, 2013 Bloomberg

Whittaker Chambers and Ayn Rand are two of the most important American conservative icons. Both abhorred collectivism and spoke on behalf of individual freedom. Chambers' autobiography, "Witness," is one of the defining conservative documents of the 20th century. Rand's most influential novel, "Atlas Shrugged," continues to inspire and orient conservative and libertarian thought.

Here's what history has largely forgotten: Chambers utterly despised Rand's novel. Their differences were fundamental, and they involved both substance and sensibility. Those differences have continuing importance, because they tell us a great deal about divisions within contemporary conservatism. (Yes, there are analogous divisions on the liberal side, but that's a tale for another day.)

Chambers' devastating essay on "Atlas Shrugged," published in the National Review, begins by acknowledging common ground: "A great many of us dislike much that Miss Rand dislikes, quite as heartily as she does." For Chambers, the problem is that Rand "deals wholly in the blackest blacks and the whitest whites," depicting a world in which "everything, everybody, is either all good or all bad, without any of those intermediate shades which, in life, complicate reality and perplex the eye that seeks to probe it truly."

Notice Chambers' use of the verb "perplex." Whatever Rand was, she wasn't perplexed. Whatever she thought of reality, she didn't believe it to be complicated.

Fairy Tale

In Chambers' account, Rand created a fairy tale, "the old one known as: The War between the Children of Light and the Children of Darkness." Rand's Children of Darkness are caricatures of identifiable figures on the left, especially familiar to "those who think little about people as people, but tend to think a great deal in labels and effigies." Because "Atlas Shrugged" doesn't deal with people as people, Chambers believed that it "can be called a novel only by devaluing the term."

Chambers goes so far as to link Rand with Karl Marx. Both, he says, are motivated by a kind of materialism, in which people's happiness lies not with God or with anything spiritual, and much less with an appreciation of human limitations, but only with the use of their "own workaday hands and ingenious brain."

Chambers connects Rand's arrogance with her contempt, even rage, against those who reject her message. Thus Chambers' final indictment: "From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding, 'To a gas chamber -- go!'"

These are strong words, to say the least. If they are taken literally, they aren't exactly fair. Rand certainly objected to them. William F. Buckley Jr., the founder and then-editor of the National Review, reported that after Chambers' review was published, "her resentment was so comprehensive that she regularly inquired of all hosts or toastmasters whether she was being invited to a function at which I was also scheduled to appear, because if that was the case, either she would not come; or if so, only after I had left; or before I arrived."

If Chambers' gas chamber comment wasn't an accurate reading of anything that Rand actually prescribed, it nonetheless captured some of the anger and violence that simmers in her text. (Compare Rand's cartoonish and sometimes brutal depictions of romantic passion with Chambers' account in "Witness," at once tender and thunderstruck, of falling in love with his wife, Esther.)

In his review of "Atlas Shrugged," in "Witness," and in countless other places, Chambers' work is closely connected with an important and enduring strand in conservative thought -- one that distrusts social engineering and top-down theories, emphasizes the limits of human knowledge, engages with particulars, and tends to favor incremental change. This is the conservatism of Edmund Burke, Michael Oakeshott and Friedrich Hayek.

Different Breed

It endorses the view of Judge Learned Hand, who said at the dawn of World War II that the "spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right." No political figure wholly stands for this strand of conservatism, but during his presidency, Ronald Reagan sometimes embraced it, and Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah often captures its essence.

Rand was an altogether different breed. Armed with a top-down theory, and wielding a series of abstractions and a priori truths, she did not see humility as a virtue. Ted Cruz is just starting his career in the Senate, but both his content and his tone are sometimes reminiscent of Rand. He is apparently a fan, having read from "Atlas Shrugged" during his September filibuster on Obamacare. He began with the words, "Now let me encourage any of you who have not read 'Atlas Shrugged,' go tomorrow, buy 'Atlas Shrugged,' and read it."

Senators are certainly entitled to offer book recommendations, but here's a better one, meant for conservatives and liberals alike: Go tomorrow, buy "Witness," and read it.

(Cass R. Sunstein, the Robert Walmsley University professor at Harvard Law School, is a Bloomberg View columnist. He is the former administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the co-author of "Nudge" and author of "Simpler: The Future of Government.")

How Ayn Rand's Idiotic Worldview Makes the Wealthy Feel Good About Themselves

Alternet

November 16, 2013 Sorry, but making a profit off something that's useless to society is not morally superior to helping others.

For those who haven't had the great misfortune of reading "Atlas Shrugged," the book is premised on the idea that if the world's "creative leaders," businessmen, innovators, artists (i.e., the "makers") went on strike, our entire society would collapse. These strikers hide out in a utopian compound in the mountains of Colorado while the rest of us despondently wail and gnash our teeth and beg for them to once again bestow their creativity upon us.

The book mirrors in many ways the more lefty "Elysium," where to escape the environmental degradation they have wrought, the wealthiest go off to form their own society in the sky. The rest of the human population remains mired in slum-like conditions, because the only thing standing between humanity and savagery is Bill Gates. But have no fear! Rather than collectively solving our problems, humanity needs a salvific "Jesus" in the form of (who else?) Matt Damon to make us citizens of Elysium and thereby save humanity. These two, very disparate tales of woe both have common elements (what I will call the "Randian vision"): society relies on the wealthy; collective action through government is either meaningless or detrimental; and a few individuals ("great men") should be the center of social change and innovation. But all of these assumptions are false.

The appeal of the Randian vision to today's wealthy is obvious: it puts them back at the center of economic life. They long ago realized that rather than being the beneficent "makers" they had always imagined themselves to be, they were the parasitical "takers" they so despised. Their wealth, which was once a symbol that God praised their work, became an instrument for social change (Carnegie, Rockefeller) and eventually good in itself (Gates, Jobs). Social Darwinism, the idea that the economy is a "survival of the fittest" competition where the superior end up on top, exults the businessman as superior and deserving. But as Henry George noted of Herbert Spencer (the founder of Social Darwinism): "Mr. Spencer is like one who might insist that each should swim for himself in crossing a river, ignoring the fact that some had been artificially provided with corks and other artificially loaded with lead." F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thorstein Veblen ridiculed the idea that the wealthy were in any way superior. Social Darwinism has resurged in conservative thought, supplementing the Randian vision to fortify a social order in which a minuscule proportion of society reaps its rewards.

Because the wealthy are no longer willing to use their wealth for good, they have decided to glorify the wealth itself as good, thus, Harry Bingswanger writes in Forbes,

Imagine the effect on our culture, particularly on the young, if the kind of fame and adulation bathing Lady Gaga attached to the more notable achievements of say, Warren Buffett. Or if the moral praise showered on Mother Teresa went to someone like Lloyd Blankfein, who, in guiding Goldman Sachs toward billions in profits, has done infinitely more for mankind. (Since profit is the market value of the product minus the market value of factors used, profit represents the value created.)

...As E.F. Schumacher observed about capitalism, "Call a thing immoral or ugly, soul-destroying or a degradation to man, a peril to the peace of the world or to the well-being of future generations: as long as you have not shown it to be 'uneconomic' [unprofitable] you have not really questioned its right to exist, grow, and prosper." To justify their wealth, the titans of industry must make themselves the center of economic progress and society, but the dirty little secret is that they aren't; they're just along for the ride. As Richard Hofstadter observed about American capitalism, "Once great men created fortunes; today a great system creates fortunate men."

... The Human Genome Project cost the government $3.8 billion but generated $796 billion in economic gains. The project is expected to bring about returns of 140 to 1 to the public. Research by Kenneth Flam finds that, "eighteen of the twenty five most important breakthroughs in computer technology between 1950 and 1962 were funded by the government, and in many cases the first buyer of the technology was also the government." The Randian vision praises hedge fund managers, even though most hedge funds underperform the market.

[May 25, 2013] Ayn Rand was a Sociopath

YouTube

She was mentally ill person weather her fans want to admit it or not.

[May 25, 2013] Ralph Nader on Ayn Rand

[May 25, 2013] Hitchens Destroys the Cult of Ayn Rand

YouTube

Christopher Hitchens from the lecture "The Moral Necessity of Atheism" given on February 23, 2004 at Sewanee University

[Jun 10, 2012] How Ayn Rand and L. Ron Hubbard Came Up With Their Big Ideas

Cracked.com

josap

ac wrote:

Didn't L. Ron Hubbard joke about creating a sci-fi religion before he actually did it?

Yes, he planned it out before hand. At least that is the story per Sprag DeCamp, who knew Hubbard well. But then there was lots of bad blood between Sprag and the followers of Dianetics, dead cats on doorsteps etc.

[Jun 10, 2012] Confessions of a recovering Objectivist | Victoria Bekiempis

guardian.co.uk

Thankfully, I grew out of that phase. Not surprisingly, but a few years of minimum-wage work cleaning up cat faeces, without benefits, and other thankless, unstable odd jobs made me question Objectivism's foundations and rekindled an earlier interest in anarcho-syndicalism.

[Nov 30, 2011] Hitchens Destroys the Cult of Ayn Rand - YouTube

[May 18, 2011] annotated-ayn-rand

Geoffrey RaymondNew York Stock Exchange

It is no secret that Geoffrey Raymond, the author of the infamous "Annotated ____" series, is one of Zero Hedge's favorite artists, in no small part due to the crowdsourced method of artistic creation. Indeed, it was only last summer that a copy of the Annotated Cramer (who can forget that prominent third nipple) was sold to a mysterious collector for a stately sum after it was annotated (in addition to the comments from the usual disgruntled suspect scribbling directly on the canvas) with comments compiled from our own post revealing this masterpiece. And once again, just as it should be, Zero Hedge and it's readers get the last word. Prior to shipping his portrait of Ayn Rand to its new buyer, Geoffrey Raymond has invited ZH readers to submit a final round of comments, which he will then transcribe, more or less verbatim, onto the painting. He painted The Annotated Rand to coincide with last month's release of the Atlas Shrugged movie (a truly terrible flick, we are told) and the annotations inscribed in black were taken outside the premiere, then later at theaters around NYC. The blue comments were taken at his usual stomping grounds outside the NYSE. The Raymond market, as we've predicted here before, remains hot, with prices for this best work now flirting with six figures. Might make sense to go to www.annotatedpaintings.blogspot.com and pick up a choice one while they still cost just a little more than a handful of gold coins in CME-adjusted terms. Regarding the Rand painting, our favorite annotation is "Rand + Greenspan = Bonnie + Clyde". All you closet Objectivists can now step up to the plate and have at it...

Take it away.

john39:

may have something to do with the fact that she is a racist zionist, but that's just a guess.

downwiththebanks:

Don't forget she's also a HUAC Snitch.

Eternal Student:

What, that free unregulated markets always end in disasters or monopolies? Or that the current economic disaster, which was brought to us under the banner of free unregulated markets (kicked off by Ronald Reagan) has its roots in Ayn Rand and delivered by her Libertarian poster boy Alan Greenspan?

That may be your Godmother. It isn't mine. Alan Greenspan must be your Godfather too.

McPoopypants:

She was a shitty writer who could sell books by giving a repressed Calvinism-inspired society permission to be dicks. Now that the little selfishness-orgy is coming to a close, we find ourselves feeling nauseated and sticky, while this woman's legacy is trying to convince us to keep pumping, instead of grabbing a shower and skulking away to do something productive in order to distract us from the shame.

eff that shit.

YHC-FTSE:

Folks who have been suckling at Aynd Rand's whithered teat never realize that it's not rich milk but diseased pus they are ingesting.

If you constantly visit Zerohedge, and believe this website stands for Aynd Rand/Rosenbaum/O'Connor, then you misunderstand everything including objectivism. The woman was a halfwit with half good ideas that appealed to egomaniacal twits with delusions of grandeur about themselves. In other words, a good paperback fiction writer.

Guy Fawkes Mulder:

http://i.imgur.com/wYaew.jpg

Because that book was full of business executives and bankers who were trying to build a world empire of megacorporate oligopolies and rigged crony captial controls. Just like current events.

Read Ayn Rand's description of Midas Mulligan. You will see that even in her magnum opus, she did not understand capitalism as run by capitalists.

Everything that occurred after the magnum opus was a miscarriage and mismanagement of the spirit of the novel. The current state of Atlas Shrugged leadership is now just an ivory tower think tank that gets paid in FRNs and produces such wonderful shilling as this:

http://blog.aynrandcenter.org/vindicating-standard-oil-100-years-later

Guy Fawkes Mulder:

You need to relax. It's clouding your judgement and your rationality and your ability to understand me.

My point was that Midas Mulligan is a totally imaginary character. In no way does he resemble any real banker. The book was very unrealistic in its portrayal of executives, particularly Mulligan. The real Fortune 500 executives and chieftains of finance in this world are not doing the morally right thing -- getting away from the immoral society and making a just one with their own abilities and alliances with moral people. In fact they all seem to be complicit in the construction of a neo-feudal world order involving resource wars of conquest and police state domestic control grids.

Standard Oil was anti-freedom. It was a monopoly octopus. It bullied out competitors. It cannot be vindicated by any one who truly believes in economic freedom.

It's just very obtuse to believe that Rockefeller-style capitalism is a good thing. It's very obtuse to say "look prices went down, thanks to Rockefeller". That's ignoring the fact that he squeezed out the competition with ruthless grafting, bribery, intimidation, and corruption.

It may be disingenuous too, but I'm going to give the "objectivism" think tanks a break and assume that they merely have their heads up their asses, and are not intentionally writing this stuff up to mislead people.

Anyway... please relax...

eureka:

Ms. Rand considered herself not just a fiction writer/entertainer, but a philosopher...

well, so much for that; her blind spots could fill the black holes in Wall Street's cooked books.

I'm sure she's discussing it with Jesus right now - correlating her super-human ideals to Greenspan's flip-flop on the gold-standard.

harlanaladd:

You pretty much captured what I was going to offer:

"World's best author. When you're 16."

Pladizow:

How about:

"The Maestro's Mistress?"

brian0918:

How about "The Maestro's Betrayal":

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/alan-greenspan-betrayed-ayn-...

hedgeless_horseman:

The bad news is ray-shielded mountain valleys are a fantasy, and looters are real. Login or register to post comments by The Alarmist on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 17:20 #1288899

Are you sure? Look up what is in and around Denver.

Login or register to post comments by hedgeless_horseman on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 17:39 #1288923

http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/Revenue/REVX/1176842266433

http://www.colorado.gov/PEAK/services-programs.html

http://www.unions.org/unions/colorado/6

http://www.scc-asp.org/american_socialist_party_colorado.html

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kind of OT, but too funny...

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=105x2093328

Good liberal towns in Colorado?

"We're considering selling our house in LA [too many minorities] and moving someplace a little cheaper [lower taxes] for awhile. Looking at Portland, Seattle and Kalispell area. My husband also wants to consider Colorado.

Is Boulder a liberal city? [Have the tax payers and businees all left yet?] Does anyone have any recommendations? [Where are the mostly white schools?]

Login or register to post comments by velobabe on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 17:50 #1289027

boulder is the biggest hypocritical city in amerika. you are moving because of too many minorities. damn lady, you want minorities in and around you. you will just get so bored at looking at these white liberals in boulder. it probably has the highest per capital homeless population in amerika. i am so tired of just looking at these sorry assed white prius driving liberals. god i can't even go out for a walk on a perfect day any more and looked at these clueless people. men woman and the young people are void of any emotion, thought or action. the beauty of the environment is hard to not yearn, so see what kind of balance you can obtain, in a liberal town such as boulder colorado. colorado is the epicenter of the globalists.

brian0918:

"Who's this Anne Rand, anyway?"

Alans father:

Alans father!

VyseLegendaire:

'Atlas Sharted'

NotApplicable:

Greenspan did nothing contrary to her personal views (which are very different from her writings). She was actually proud that her boy got selected by Pres. Ford.

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/08/02/business/02bbt_CA0.ready.html

See how they're all smiling?

Anybody that can spout the incoherent ideology that a strong centralized state is required to safeguard individual liberty is no true friend to liberty, or to coherent ideology.

The "Bonnie and Clyde" label fits these two to a tee. They are nothing but agent provacateurs in service of power. If she believed what she wrote originally, she quickly abandoned it in exchange for the cult of personality she gained once she hit the big time.

Objectivism was created as a dead-end street for those who thought it was putting her words into action. Luckily for many of us, Rothbard quickly figured her game out and told anyone who would listen.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard23.html

NotApplicable:

LOL, I just noticed that Greenspan's mother was named Goldsmith.

Oh, the irony.

Shock and Aweful:

That woman represents nothing more than an unrealistic philosophy for unrealistic people I'd say.

Somewhere between the cold, un-empathetic ideology that she espoused and the 1984-esq nightmare we live in today is what we should strive for.

Ayn Rand and other Libertarian thinkers have some good ideas about personal responsibility and what makes a strong nation and people...but taken literally and to their logical conclusions just don't seem to really be practical

Same goes for the progressivism / socialist idology. There is something admirable about wanting to create a society where equality abounds....but implementing it on a large scale and in a way that works (and without creating an entire class of people who abuse and exploit the government assistance) has been very elusive.

How about, instead of running our political / social systems based on an ideology or a philosophy....we have a political/economic and social order that is based on common sense and common purpose.

Oh fuck it....nevermind....there ain't any money in that!

That will never do.

Aquiloaster :

Agreed. Rand's objectivism is an economic footnote to social Darwinism (the biological facet would be eugenics). The equilibrium/equality she sees is gained by everyone pulling for himself as hard as he can in a 300,000,000-way tug of war. Not my idea of utopia. In fact, it is neither efficient, harmonious, nor the most productive way. A liaisez-faire fantasy by a wannabe great philosophical economist. Rather, she acheived the status of long-winded novelist writing about two-dimensional characters with a transparent agenda.

AgShaman:

May she (Ayn R. and the new movie) inspire new generations of clueless college/univ. educated idiots....longing for the trappings of fictional future-worlds...and a serious lack of "T-shirt syle".

Whatever nausea may result from her silk screened homage...would still be a healthy break from the mass commercialism of Che Guevara

buzzsaw99:

John Galt works for the gubbermint now.

downwiththebanks:

Actually, the gubbermint works for Galt.

Always did. Always will.

Rand doesn't get that. And that's what makes her work fiction.

Use of Weapons :

"Everyone I fucked betrayed me; making it into a philosophy made me rich".

"I might have been the original sociopathic cougar and loved the drugs, but Objectively, history remembers me for turgid prose and simplistic idealism".

"My philosophy champions rationalism; I fucking destroyed anyone with heavenly fire who didn't agree with me. And then purged the fuckers out of my cult. And I spit on their graves".

"When you see the murals of Ben Gold, you see my innermost fantasies".

"I was too stupid to read Nietzsche or Kant"

"Objectivism: Or what I did for the KGB against the useful idiots"

Um. Wait.

You want positive comments?

"Ayn Rand: A six-foot floral arrangement in the shape of a dollar sign was placed near her casket when she died, showing her true love. Then again, McDonalds made millions selling shit to the masses as well - and fiat dollars aren't a good score card".

[No, really. Hateful old hack, and not very bright. For a champion of rationalism, her brain wasn't up to the iconic role. Junk away, but she was one ugly soul, and her legacy is currently destroying the USA. Ironic, no? Or KGB deep mole planning *shrug*]

>>Cliff Notes:

#1 Misunderstood Darwin, as have others - social adaptation / altruism have very specific cost/benefit returns, and are fundamental to a functioning society. Predators should stop being so bloody self-absorbed [thanks Ayn, tool, for making them so] and realise that symbiosis works, and predator<->prey relations in ecology are hugely complex. The current crowd make me shudder, because they mould to fit their limitations, they don't grow to meet complexity. For this crime, they need purging; mostly maladaptive mutants with obvious flaws.

#2 Misunderstood business, as have others - greed is good, if you have a something to spend it on. This does not mean purely material goods; why else would the 0.01% masturbate over 'charity' and 'bequeathing a legacy'. Top tip - complexity is a function of the market; if you leave the market more complex [rich in information] then you are a benefit. If you do not, you are not a capitalist, you are a parasite. Now stop with the bollocks and start building infrastructure again, because without it, you all die. Fucking tools.

#3 Judgement of emotions. Behaviourism is a stupid, and "nice for the masses" thought processes. Yes, I'm looking at you, proponents of 'behavioural economics' and 'nudges'. Top fucking tip: You do NOT WANT a society where people do not notice the "context hidden" nudges or psychological guides, UNLESS you want slaves. If you want slaves, then do the decent thing & split homo sapiens into two breeds, a la H G Wells. Stop being so hypocritical about your self-indulgent morality. When I have custody over other species, I relate to them QUA species. Canine qua canine. Equine qua equine. Homo Sapiens qua Homo sapiens. Anthropomorphism is stupid, dull and egotistical to the point of insanity.

In ending - killing the oceans was also dumb. For 'rationalists' you'd have been better off preventing over-fishing than anything else. I find little to recommend the short sighted and foolish nature of my species.

p.s.

Yay, junked!

If you want a sensible answer: she was a smaller copy of Karl Popper, for an American overly Religious market. Try reading the original first.

Misean:

Who is Ayn Rand?

downwiththebanks:

Just a shitty fiction writer.

She did testify before HUAC as a snitch.

bobola:

If Rand Paul married Ayn Rand, he would be Rand Rand.

MachoMan:

A few for the background:

"I hope that comb-over man cunt straps one on and ass fucks greenspan for eternity in hell" [you nailed the hair btw, although a hitler mustache might be a nice addition]

"My estate thanks the FED and the Federal Government for loose money policies that allowed Hollywood enough wherewithal to trash my writings with visual and audio vomit"

"If I were still alive, I would have fucked DSK and maybe that midget Roubini who reminds me of a drug crazed Billy Crystal hit with a wiffle ball bat doing an impression of a sex crazed foreigner"

feel free to paraphrase

magpie:

"For the main Design of the Fable, (as it is briefly explain'd in the Moral) is to shew the Impossibility of enjoying all the most elegant Comforts of Life that are to be met with in an industrious, wealthy and powerful Nation, and at the same time be bless'd with all the Virtue and Innocence that can be wish'd for in a Golden Age; from thence to expose the Unreasonableness and Folly of those, that desirous of being an opulent and flourishing People, and wonderfully greedy after all the Benefits they can receive as such, are yet always murmuring at and exclaiming against those Vices and Inconveniences, that from the Beginning of the World to this present Day, have been inseparable from all Kingdoms and States that ever were fam'd for Strength, Riches, and Politeness, at the same time."

[Jan 29, 2011] Ayn Rand Railed Against Government Benefits, But Grabbed Social Security and Medicare When She Needed Them Tea Party and the Right

January 29, 2011 | AlterNet

Ayn Rand was not only a schlock novelist, she was also the progenitor of a sweeping "moral philosophy" that justifies the privilege of the wealthy and demonizes not only the slothful, undeserving poor but the lackluster middle-classes as well.

Her books provided wide-ranging parables of "parasites," "looters" and "moochers" using the levers of government to steal the fruits of her heroes' labor. In the real world, however, Rand herself received Social Security payments and Medicare benefits under the name of Ann O'Connor (her husband was Frank O'Connor).

As Michael Ford of Xavier University's Center for the Study of the American Dream wrote, "In the end, Miss Rand was a hypocrite but she could never be faulted for failing to act in her own self-interest."

Her ideas about government intervention in some idealized pristine marketplace serve as the basis for so much of the conservative rhetoric we see today. "The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand," said Paul Ryan, the GOP's young budget star at a D.C. event honoring the author. On another occasion, he proclaimed, "Rand makes the best case for the morality of democratic capitalism."

"Morally and economically," wrote Rand in a 1972 newsletter, "the welfare state creates an ever accelerating downward pull."

Journalist Patia Stephens wrote of Rand:

[She] called altruism a "basic evil" and referred to those who perpetuate the system of taxation and redistribution as "looters" and "moochers." She wrote in her book "The Virtue of Selfishness" that accepting any government controls is "delivering oneself into gradual enslavement."

Rand also believed that the scientific consensus on the dangers of tobacco was a hoax. By 1974, the two-pack-a-day smoker, then 69, required surgery for lung cancer. And it was at that moment of vulnerability that she succumbed to the lure of collectivism.

Evva Joan Pryor, who had been a social worker in New York in the 1970s, was interviewed in 1998 by Scott McConnell, who was then the director of communications for the Ayn Rand Institute. In his book, 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand, McConnell basically portrays Rand as first standing on principle, but then being mugged by reality. Stephens points to this exchange between McConnell and Pryor.

"She was coming to a point in her life where she was going to receive the very thing she didn't like, which was Medicare and Social Security," Pryor told McConnell. "I remember telling her that this was going to be difficult. For me to do my job she had to recognize that there were exceptions to her theory. So that started our political discussions. From there on – with gusto – we argued all the time.

The initial argument was on greed," Pryor continued. "She had to see that there was such a thing as greed in this world. Doctors could cost an awful lot more money than books earn, and she could be totally wiped out by medical bills if she didn't watch it. Since she had worked her entire life, and had paid into Social Security, she had a right to it. She didn't feel that an individual should take help."

Rand had paid into the system, so why not take the benefits? It's true, but according to Stephens, some of Rand's fellow travelers remained true to their principles.

Rand is one of three women the Cato Institute calls founders of American libertarianism. The other two, Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel "Pat" Paterson, both rejected Social Security benefits on principle. Lane, with whom Rand corresponded for several years, once quit an editorial job in order to avoid paying Social Security taxes. The Cato Institute says Lane considered Social Security a "Ponzi fraud" and "told friends that it would be immoral of her to take part in a system that would predictably collapse so catastrophically." Lane died in 1968.

[Nov 07, 2010] Times Higher Education - The devil inside by Barbara Oakley

November 30, 2007

Are some people innately duplicitous, self-serving and evil? Based on the latest developments in neuroscience - and the experience of her own unscrupulous sister - Barbara Oakley argues that they are.

My sister stole my mother's boyfriend. It wasn't as if the boyfriend, Ted, was any great catch. At 85, he trundled about with a nose tube and oxygen tanks, hacking and snorting as he nursed his emphysema. Then there was the age gap - Ted was 40 years older than my sister. So what was the attraction? As it turned out, it was the gift Ted had planned for my mother - the Parisian vacation she had always dreamt of.

On hearing that my mother was planning a trip to Paris, my sister Carolyn suddenly realised that she, too, had always wanted to go to France. And what my sister wanted, she had a way of getting. When Carolyn clicked her spotlight on Mum's boyfriend, he was dazzled. Soon, my sister was tucked beside Ted and his breathing apparatus en route to Paris. Apres Paris, of course, Carolyn dropped Ted like a hot rock.

My mother withdrew, shamed and saddened by this ultimate humiliation. Not long after, she passed away.

Manipulative, hurtful people such as my sister can't help but draw our wonder even as we agonise over the pain they cause. Perhaps we remember working for an arrogant, tyrannical supervisor - a charismatic man who wowed upper management with his flashy presentations and witty wordplay during golf. Or perhaps we never mention our pillar-of-the-community father - a kindly Santa Claus of a man who no one would believe had a sinister flip side. Or we learnt too late that a seemingly perfect wife is in reality a deceitful manipulator who has no qualms about using the children as tools to get her way.

Looking outside our circle of relatives, friends and acquaintances, we've all wondered about the larger-than-life characters. How could a man as unrelentingly evil as Hitler ever rise to the top? And what about the "Butcher of the Balkans", Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic? Or Uganda's despot Idi Amin, who kept a freezer full of human heads? Shouldn't people have noticed early on that these leaders were a little, well, strange? Were these dictators merely extensions of a normal range of human evil (assuming human evil can ever be thought to be normal)? Or were they a different psychological species altogether?

It turns out that, over the past five years, an extraordinary revolution has taken place in our understanding of how malevolent minds function. I set out the remarkable breakthroughs scientists are making in my new book, Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend . As I explain, science is finally beginning to home in on some of the sources of human evil.

For example, you may know someone who lies so often, and so unnecessarily, that you are convinced there is something pathological going on. And indeed there may be. One study has shown that pathological liars have volumes of "white matter" in the brain, a sort of scaffolding for neurons, roughly a quarter more than the rest of us. You may think that the person you know is consciously deciding to lie - and in a sense they are. But in another sense, if your or my brain were wired in a similar way, we would in all probability be doing the same thing.

Psychopaths - those amoral monsters who are responsible for some of humanity's worst actions - have been found to have significant differences in the layout and functioning of their brains. Their limbic system, for example - the seat of our emotions - responds only feebly to emotionally charged words such as "blood" or "rape". Other parts of the brain respond more actively than usual, as if the psychopath were attempting to cope with their dysfunction by using alternate neural pathways. And the corpus callosum - the superhighway that connects the two halves of our brain - is weirdly shaped and elongated.

Even for seemingly normal people, it turns out that our neurological underpinnings play a far stronger role in the flavour of our decision- making and interactions with others than we had previously realised. Have you ever shaken your head at the impossibility of reasoning with someone of a different political persuasion? In fact, it appears that political partisans of any party (yours included) often do not reason logically in relation to candidates and issues. Instead, emotional circuits are activated that provide a momentary dollop of limbic ecstasy when a way is found to prove the other side wrong.

Environment, as we know, is crucial in the formation of our personalities. For evidence, one need only point to the abandoned Romanian orphans, some of whom have suffered from lifelong problematic personalities because of their lack of early care. In this situation, the environmental influence was so strong that it overrode genetics.

But research is uncovering the fact that, in more normal circumstances, virtually every facet of our personality - including impulsiveness, ability to focus, narcissism, religiosity and degree of altruism - is also affected, sometimes quite significantly, by genetics. Dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of genes play a role in shaping any one trait, and these genes also interact with the environment to form a complex tango of causes. Sometimes, seemingly "evil" genes can help underpin conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. But, surprisingly, some of those same genes, when mixed with others, can help underpin some of our best traits - including intelligence, sense of self-worth and exuberance.

Just as environmental conditions can occasionally override any set of genetics, we find that genetics can sometimes override any given environment. Essi Viding of King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry and her colleagues have shown that if one identical twin has psychopathic-like traits, it is extremely likely that the other twin will have them. Fraternal twins do not share this propensity. This indicates that psychopathy, at least in some cases, is genetically based. In other words, some people really are born with a genetic propensity to be bad, rather than being bent sinister by their environment. Sadly, at present, medicine has no way of fixing these unfortunates.

The implications of these and other recent findings are profound. They mean that some people - though, thankfully, just a tiny percentage - are innately duplicitous, self-serving and deceitful. These malevolents are not necessarily in prison and can sometimes rise quite high in social hierarchies. (After all, they cheat.) Just as important to understand is that such people cannot be reasoned with - even though they may appear at times to be rational, reasonable actors. The quintessential example of this is Hitler. Before people finally realised what kind of person he really was, many took him at his word as a man of peace. After all, when diplomats met and were charmed by him, he gave his personal promise that the conditions he demanded would solve the problems that might have led to war. Yet as soon as each condition was met, of course, his demands just expanded.

Perhaps being aware of the latest results from neuroscience can help us to avoid the pitfalls of history. Those who believe it is best to reason, trusting discourse with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for example, might do well to look past his charming, Hitlerian facade. After watching his bizarre recent announcement at Columbia University that Iran has no homosexuals, do we really believe that he might genially allow himself to be convinced otherwise? By heeding the hints of science, we can more easily accept that his call for Israel to be "wiped off the map" may not be some flight of fanciful rhetoric but a real, horrific intention, as with Hitler's explanation of his plans in Mein Kampf.

Perhaps the deepest significance of these new scientific findings is the personal empowerment they give us. Although it is disheartening to learn that a small percentage of people may be neurologically inclined to take advantage of or even hurt us, this awareness allows us more easily to recognise people who may not mean us well. This, in turn, helps us to establish boundaries to avoid being hurt or used. It also allows us, perhaps surprisingly, not to take terrible treatment quite so personally. After all, such treatment is a result of their pathology, related to how they are wired. If they weren't picking on us, they'd find someone else to treat the same way. Knowledge of these cutting-edge scientific results can also help us be a little less hard on ourselves - our own seemingly negative emotions of frustration and anger are often simply evolution's way of protecting us from people who do not mean us well.

Both my loving, caring parents were devastated by the emotional wreckage my sister Carolyn left at nearly every twist of her life. They wondered until their dying days how someone could make the kinds of hurtful choices she made. I think it would have helped my parents to know what science is telling us: that some of us, through the luck of the environmental and genetic draw, have our choices constrained by fate. And that, with a few tweaks of our genome and our lives, Carolyn lies within each of us.

Barbara Oakley is associate professor of engineering at Oakland University in Maryland. Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend is published by Prometheus Books at £20.99.

[Nov 07, 2010] normblog Writer's choice by Barbara Oakley

Barbara Oakley is an associate professor of engineering at Oakland University in Michigan. She is the author of the first seriously funny book about evil, Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend. (Her sister really did steal her mother's boyfriend, and far more besides.) Barbara has worked as a translator on Soviet trawlers, a radio operator at the South Pole Station in Antarctica, a teacher in China and an Army officer in Germany, among other adventures. She is at work on her next book, which will also provide an unusual take on people. Here she writes about Ayn Rand, objectivism and Atlas Shrugged.

Barbara Oakley on Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

I was tipsy by the time I got around to asking about what had bothered me for months. 'Did you know,' I said, thrusting a chin toward the picture of Stalin, 'that he was responsible for the death of twenty million?'

'Well,' sniffed one of my Soviet tablemates, 'everybody makes mistakes.'

Nobody laughed.

In the early 1980s, I spent several fishing seasons working aboard Russian trawlers - then technically part of the 'Evil Empire' of the Soviet Union. Ultimately, I found that inefficiency, incompetence, and a blasé attitude toward hardship were the least of communism's problems. It was the all-pervasive fear that made the system so horrific. Overall, the Soviet Union, I knew, hadn't changed much since 1926, when 20-year-old Alisa Rosenbaum heard, the evening before she slipped out of the country: 'Tell them that Russia is a huge cemetery, and that we are all dying slowly.' Rosenbaum was later to rename herself Ayn Rand, and become an internationally renowned philosopher and best-selling novelist.

Communism, with its creed of 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,' sounds so much nicer than the seemingly greedy approach of capitalism. But communism takes little account of naturally nasty sorts who believe that their needs are far more important than anyone else's. Without direct personal experience such as my own, which avoided the glorious, brittle façade of communism presented to journalists and tourists, it's difficult to understand how awful the system turns out to be in actual practice.

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is her master work, and a profound and wise refutation of communism. It was meant to be a novel that explained her philosophy of objectivism - a sort of anti-communism - through a compelling fictional narrative. Indeed, objectivism has much to recommend it: it emphasizes old-school values such as integrity, logical thinking, and the importance of working hard. But objectivism also prizes some characteristics that are at odds with the Judeo-Christian tradition, such as the importance of pride and self-interest, and the unhealthiness of altruism. Many who read Rand's works are put off by these latter ideas, as well as by her one-dimensional characters, tendentious writing, and sex scenes involving domination and pain. How on earth, a reader might wonder, could anyone come up with such a strange pastiche of a philosophy?

Objectivists often feel that Rand's personal life should have no bearing on her philosophy. I suspect this may be because objectivists like to feel that Rand's philosophy is so insightful and complete that it doesn't matter where it came from. But to understand Rand's philosophy, how it was created, and how some of its seeming flaws actually provide its strongest merits, I think it's important to understand not only the communist system that originally shaped Rand's thinking, but also certain aspects of Rand's unusual personality.

Modern neuroscience is beginning to reveal that some individuals can have severe personality dysfunction, yet never come in for treatment. This appears to have been the case with Rand, whose brilliant, yet bizarre behavior worsened as she grew older. Rand's hypnotic charisma - noted by almost everyone she met - led her to convince her leading disciple, Nathaniel Brandon, to begin a sexual affair with her despite the fact that he was 25 years younger. Rand also convinced her long-suffering husband Frank, as well as Brandon's wife Barbara, to 'happily' go along with the weekly trysts.

The ultimate of temperamental narcissists, Rand basked in the attention as her fame grew. She charmed the public with her lectures. Brief exposure showed her at her very best - few had any idea of her paranoid, controlling, manipulative, emotionally impulsive side, which placed the blame for any problems she created on others. Rand almost invariably drove off anyone who became close to her. Yet she herself insisted that she had never had an emotion that clashed with reason. As one ex-friend, Edith Ephron, noted, 'There is no way to communicate how crazy she was.'

In fact, Rand's overall pattern of behavior showed every sign of what is now known as borderline personality disorder - a disorder characterized by differences in the shape and functioning of many areas of the brain. It's interesting to note that another characteristic of borderline personality disorder is magical thinking - a strong belief that one can will something, often something completely improbable, into reality. Although Rand derisively rejected such thinking in others, it was her own magical thinking - she would become a famous novelist - that allowed the penniless, heavily accented unknown to become one of the English-speaking world's best-selling authors. Let's be clear here - without Rand's dysfunction, no one would have ever even heard of her ideas, good, bad, or indifferent.

But there's more. Rand's focus on the importance of self-interest seems, well, selfish. But she was right to note that, bad as the trait might seem, it forms a crucial part of the individualism that underlies Western notions of freedom. Rand knew the consequences of communism, where people can suffer terribly when self-interest, that most natural of human traits, is denied. After all, why even bother to work hard to bring in the crops if the harvest doesn't belong to you?

How did Rand unravel the importance of self-interest, when it went against the very grain of Judeo-Christian cultural traditions, and those around her during her formative years marched uniformly to the tune of communism? Rand's dysfunction, this time in the form of her narcissism, again appears to have played a powerful role. She was apparently 'wired' to believe that she herself was extraordinarily important, so a philosophy emphasizing self-importance would certainly have seemed more natural. And Rand had also seen how notions of altruism could be used by the shiftless to mooch off the lives of others. (Rand was not against generosity, for example, helping a hard-working but penniless young man to get his footing after he first arrived as an immigrant.) Finally, without other traits often seen in borderline personality disorder, such as inflexibility and a dogmatic conviction that she was right, Rand could never have been so assertive in standing up to the many who disagreed with her.

Again, let's be clear. Rand's 'dysfunction' appears to have helped her perceive reality very differently from others without her neural quirks. Even her brilliance, it seems, came at a price: some genes associated with intelligence are also associated with the neuroticism that so afflicted Rand.

In fact, it appears Rand's ideas, both good and bad, were shaped by her neurochemistry - something Rand herself would have vehemently denied. Her conviction that her perceptions and resulting conclusions were based on objective reality went to extremes. For example, when she suffered from medication-induced hallucinations during a hospitalization, Rand insisted they must have been real. After all, she reasoned, she had seen what she had seen with her own seemingly objective eyes. When a friend insisted on the illusional nature of what she had seen, Rand ended the friendship. And, as writer Daniel Flynn states, 'What Randians considered "objective" were in fact personal tastes - that is, Ayn Rand's eclectic tastes.'

Perhaps most importantly, Randians - the ultimate libertarians - believe everyone has equally free will to decide how to live their lives. If Rand's husband chose, for example, to stay with her despite being cuckolded, who are we to judge? But it appears everyone does not have equally free will. Borderlines, for example, are eminently capable of breaking down people's psychological defences, leaving them to 'choose' a life of physical and mental abuse. Rand's husband Frank, a kind, gentle, rather spineless individual even when she first met him, became Rand's virtual puppet, unable to leave despite his tremendous unhappiness.

In actuality, our free will is often far more constrained and shaped by our genetically pre-programmed and environmentally conditioned personality traits than we might ever realize. Psychopaths, for example, some of whom appear to have been formed by an unfortunate confluence of genetics, consciously understand the right thing to do. They often instead choose the wrong thing, however, because it seems they don't have the neural apparatus to make them feel uncomfortable when they do the wrong thing. Of course their free will leads them to stumble around 'purposefully' making wrong choices.

Communism and objectivism provide differing strategies for explaining and living our lives. Each strategy mischaracterizes, ignores, or oversimplifies various important human attributes. But in the end, it's perhaps most important to recognize that objectivism has long served an important role in upholding the sanctity of the individual - a sanctity ignored by communist icons Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, whose psychological dysfunction far surpassed Rand's. And it also serves a critical role in exposing problems with Judeo-Christian apologists whose altruism can enable the lazy and corrupt. In short, objectivism and Atlas Shrugged, birthed from Ayn Rand's deeply dysfunctional personality, have played a crucial balancing role for modern society. (I would like to thank objectivist Doug Basberg for his generosity in commenting on earlier drafts of this essay.)

[Nov 06, 2010] Happy 105th Birthday, Ayn Rand! - Hit & Run by Katherine Mangu-Ward

February 2, 2010 | Reason Magazine

Ayn Rand: She's hot. She's sexy. She's dead. But if she wasn't, she'd be 105 years old today! Over a century after Alisa Rosenbaum was born in St. Petersburg, she's bigger than ever.

A Twitter meme today suggests celebrating her birthday by "kicking a homeless person in her honor." But that's totally unfair to Rand, since even the people who only read the dirty bits in The Fountainhead know, Rand would prefer that we celebrate by kicking the person who most perfectly embodies Objectivist values:

For a more G-rated option (well, PG-13 anyway) why not enjoy a sampling from Reason's Rand archive in her honor?:

Watch "Rand-O-Rama: The Long Shelf Life of Ayn Rand's Legacy" below:

Go here to Reason.tv's entire series "Radicals for Capitalism: Celebrating the Legacy of Ayn Rand."

[May 09, 2010] The Unlikeliest Cult in History

From Skeptic vol. 2, no. 2, 1993, pp. 74-81.

The following article is copyright © 1993 by the Skeptics Society, P.O. Box 338, Altadena, CA 91001, (818) 794-3119. Permission has been granted for noncommercial electronic circulation of this article in its entirety, including this notice.

THE UNLIKELIEST CULT IN HISTORY

BY MICHAEL SHERMER

Contents: Freudian projection is the process of attributing one's own ideas, feelings, or attitudes to other people or objects--the guilt-laden adulterer accuses his spouse of adultery, the homophobe actually harbors latent homosexual tendencies. A subtle form of projection can be seen in the accusation by Christians that secular humanism and evolution are "religions"; or by cultists and paranormalists that skeptics are themselves a cult and that reason and science have cultic properties. For skeptics, the idea that reason can lead to a cult is absurd. The characteristics of a cult are 180 degrees out of phase with reason. But as I will demonstrate, not only can it happen, it has happened, and to a group that would have to be considered the unlikeliest cult in history. It is a lesson in what happens when the truth becomes more important than the search for truth, when final results of inquiry become more important than the process of inquiry, and especially when reason leads to an absolute certainty about one's beliefs such that those who are not for the group are against it.

The story begins in 1943 when an obscure Russian immigrant published her first successful novel after two consecutive failures. It was not an instant success. In fact, the reviews were harsh and initial sales sluggish. But slowly a following grew around the novel, word of mouth became the most effective marketing tool, and the author began to develop what could, with hindsight, be called a "cult following." The initial print-run of 7,500 copies was followed by multiples of five and 10,000 until by 1950 half a million copies were circulating the country. The book was The Fountainhead and the author Ayn Rand. Her commercial success allowed her the time and freedom to write her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957 after ten years in the making. It is a murder mystery, not about the murder of a human body, but of the murder of a human spirit. It is a broad and sweeping story of a man who said he would stop the ideological motor of the world. When he did, there was a panoramic collapse of civilization, with its flame kept burning by a small handful of heroic individuals whose reason and morals directed both the fall and the subsequent return of culture.

As they did to The Fountainhead, reviewers panned Atlas with a savage brutality that, incredibly, only seemed to reinforce followers' belief in the book, its author, and her ideas. And, like The Fountainhead, sales of Atlas sputtered and clawed their way forward as the following grew, to the point where the book presently sells over 300,000 copies a year. "In all my years of publishing," recalled Random House's owner, Bennett Cerf, "I've never seen anything like it. To break through against such enormous opposition!" (Branden, 1986, p. 298). Such is the power of an individual hero . . . and a cult-like following.

What is it about Rand's philosophy that so emotionally stimulates proponents and opponents alike? Before Atlas Shrugged was published, at a sales conference at Random House a salesman asked Rand if she could summarize the essence of her philosophy, called Objectivism, while standing on one foot. She did so as follows (1962):

  1. Metaphysics: Objective Reality
  2. Epistemology: Reason
  3. Ethics: Self-interest
  4. Politics: Capitalism
In other words, nature exists independent of human thought. Reason is the only method of perceiving this reality. All humans seek personal happiness and exist for their own sake, and should not sacrifice themselves to or be sacrificed by others. And laissez-faire capitalism is the best political-economic system for the first three to flourish, where "men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit," and where "no man may initiate the use of physical force against others" (p. 1). Ringing throughout Rand's works is the philosophy of individualism, personal responsibility, the power of reason, and the importance of morality. One should think for one's self and never allow an authority to dictate truth, especially the authority of government, religion, and other such groups. Success, happiness, and unrestrained upward mobility will accrue to those who use reason to act in the highest moral fashion, and who never demand favors or handouts. Objectivism is the ultimate philosophy of unsullied reason and unadulterated individualism, as expressed by Rand through her primary character in Atlas Shrugged, John Galt:
Man cannot survive except by gaining knowledge, and reason is his only means to gain it. Reason is the faculty that perceives, identifies and integrates the material provided by his senses. The task of his senses is to give him the evidence of existence, but the task of identifying it belongs to his reason, his senses tell him only that something is, but what it is must be learned by his mind (p. 1012).

In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours (p. 1069).

How, then, could such a philosophy become the basis of a cult, which is the antithesis of reason and individualism? A cult, however it is defined, depends on faith and deindividuation--that is, remove the power of reason in followers and make them dependent upon the group and/or the leader. The last thing a cult leader wants is for followers to think for themselves and become individuals apart from the group.

The cultic flaw in Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism is not in the use of reason, or in the emphasis on individuality, or in the belief that humans are self motivated, or in the conviction that capitalism is the ideal system. The fallacy in Objectivism is the belief that absolute knowledge and final Truths are attainable through reason, and therefore there can be absolute right and wrong knowledge, and absolute moral and immoral thought and action. For Objectivists, once a principle has been discovered through reason to be True, that is the end of the discussion. If you disagree with the principle, then your reasoning is flawed. If your reasoning is flawed it can be corrected, but if it is not, you remain flawed and do not belong in the group. Excommunication is the final step for such unreformed heretics.

If you find it hard to believe that such a line of reasoning could lead a rational, well-intentioned group down the road to culthood, history demonstrates how it can happen. The 1960s were years of anti-establishment, anti-government, find-yourself individualism, so Rand's philosophy exploded across the nation, particularly on college campuses. Atlas Shrugged became the book to read. Though it is a massive 1,168 pages long, readers devoured the characters, the plot, and most importantly, the philosophy. It stirred emotions and evoked action. Ayn Rand clubs were founded at hundreds of colleges. Professors taught courses in the philosophy of Objectivism and the literary works of Rand. Rand's inner circle of friends began to grow and one of them, Nathaniel Branden, founded the Nathaniel Branden Institute (NBI), sponsoring lectures and courses on Objectivism, first in New York, and then nationally.

As the seminars increased in size and Rand's popularity shot skyward, so too did the confidence in her philosophy, both for Rand and her followers. Hundreds of people attended classes, thousands of letters poured into the office, and millions of books were being sold. Movie rights for Atlas were being negotiated (The Fountainhead had already been made into a film). Her rise to intellectual power and influence was nothing short of miraculous, and readers of her novels, especially Atlas Shrugged, told Rand it had changed their lives and their way of thinking. Their comments ring of the enthusiasm of the followers of a religious cult (Branden, 1986, pp. 407-415):

There are thousands more just like these, many from people who are now quite successful and well-known, and give credit to Rand. But to the inner circle surrounding and protecting Rand (in ironic humor they called themselves the "Collective"), their leader soon became more than just extremely influential. She was venerated as their leader. Her seemingly omniscient ideas were inerrant. The power of her personality made her so persuasive that no one dared to challenge her. And her philosophy of Objectivism, since it was derived through pure reason, revealed final Truth and dictated absolute morality.

One of the closest to Rand was Nathaniel Branden, a young philosophy student who joined the Collective in the early days before Atlas Shrugged was published. In his autobiographical memoirs entitled Judgment Day (1989), Branden recalled: "There were implicit premises in our world to which everyone in our circle subscribed, and which we transmitted to our students at NBI." Incredibly, and here is where the philosophical movement became a cult, they came to believe that (pp. 255-256):

It is important to note that my critique of Rand and Objectivism as a cult is not original. Rand and her followers were, in their time, accused of being a cult which, of course, they denied. "My following is not a cult. I am not a cult figure," Rand once told an interviewer. Barbara Branden, in her biography, The Passion of Ayn Rand, recalls: "Although the Objectivist movement clearly had many of the trappings of a cult--the aggrandizement of the person of Ayn Rand, the too ready acceptance of her personal opinions on a host of subjects, the incessant moralizing--it is nevertheless significant that the fundamental attraction of Objectivism . . . was the precise opposite of religious worship" (p. 371). And Nathaniel Branden addressed the issue this way: "We were not a cult in the literal, dictionary sense of the word, but certainly there was a cultish aspect to our world . . . . We were a group organized around a charismatic leader, whose members judged one another's character chiefly by loyalty to that leader and to her ideas" (p. 256).

But if you leave the "religious" component out of the definition, thus broadening the word's usage, it becomes clear that Objectivism was (and is) a cult, as are many other, non-religious groups. In this context, then, a cult may be characterized by:

The ultimate statement of Rand's absolute morality heads the title page of Nathaniel Brandon's book. Says Rand:
The precept: "Judge not, that ye be not judged" . . . is an abdication of moral responsibility: it is a moral blank check one gives to others in exchange for a moral blank check one expects for oneself.

There is no escape from the fact that men have to make choices; so long as men have to make choices, there is no escape from moral values; so long as moral values are at stake, no moral neutrality is possible. To abstain from condemning a torturer, is to become an accessory to the torture and murder of his victims.

The moral principle to adopt . . . is: "Judge, and be prepared to be judged."

The absurd lengths to which such thinking can go is demonstrated by Rand's pronounced judgements on her followers of even the most trivial things. Rand had argued, for example, that musical taste could not be objectively defined, yet, as Barbara Branden observed, "if one of her young friends responded as she did to Rachmaninoff . . . she attached deep significance to their affinity." By contrast, if a friend did not respond as she did to a certain piece or composer, Rand "left no doubt that she considered that person morally and psychologically reprehensible." Branden recalled an evening when a friend of Rand's remarked that he enjoyed the music of Richard Strauss. "When he left at the end of the evening, Ayn said, in a reaction becoming increasingly typical, 'Now I understand why he and I can never be real soul mates. The distance in our sense of life is too great.' Often, she did not wait until a friend had left to make such remarks" (p. 268).

With this set of criteria it becomes possible to see that a rational philosophy can become a cult when most or all of these are met. This is true not only for philosophical movements, but in some scientific schools of thought as well. Many founding scientists have become almost deified in their own time, to the point where apprentices dare not challenge the master. As Max Planck observed about science in general, only after the founders and elder statesmen of a discipline are dead and gone can real change occur and revolutionary new ideas be accepted.

In both Barbara's and Nathaniel Branden's assessment, then, we see all the characteristics of a cult. But what about deceit and sexual exploitation? In this case, "exploitation" may be too strong of a word, but the act was present nonetheless, and deceit was rampant. In what has become the most scandalous (and now oft-told) story in the brief history of the Objectivist movement, starting in 1953 and lasting until 1958 (and on and off for another decade after), Ayn Rand and her "intellectual heir" Nathaniel Branden, 25 years her junior, carried on a secret love affair known only to their respective spouses. The falling in love was not planned, but it was ultimately "reasonable" since the two of them were, de facto, the two greatest humans on the planet. "By the total logic of who we are--by the total logic of what love and sex mean--we had to love each other," Rand told Barbara Branden and her own husband, Frank O'Connor. It was a classic display of a brilliant mind intellectualizing a purely emotional response, and another example of reason carried to absurd heights. "Whatever the two of you may be feeling," Rand rationalized, "I know your intelligence, I know you recognize the rationality of what we feel for each other, and that you hold no value higher than reason" (B. Brandon, p. 258).

Unbelievably, both Barbara and Frank accepted the affair, and agreed to allow Ayn and Nathaniel an afternoon and evening of sex and love once a week. "And so," Barbara explained, "we all careened toward disaster." The "rational" justification and its consequences continued year after year, as the tale of interpersonal and group deceit grew broader and deeper. The disaster finally came in 1968 when it became known to Rand that Branden had fallen in love with yet another woman, and had begun an affair with her. Even though the affair between Rand and Branden had long since dwindled, the master of the absolutist moral double-standard would not tolerate such a breach of ethical conduct. "Get that bastard down here!," Rand screamed upon hearing the news, "or I'll drag him here myself!" Branden, according to Barbara, slunk into Rand's apartment to face the judgment day. "It's finished, your whole act!" she told him. "I'll tear down your facade as I built it up! I'll denounce you publicly, I'll destroy you as I created you! I don't even care what it does to me. You won't have the career I gave you, or the name, or the wealth, or the prestige. You'll have nothing . . . ." The barrage continued for several minutes until she pronounced her final curse: "If you have an ounce of morality left in you, an ounce of psychological health--you'll be impotent for the next twenty years!" (pp. 345-347).

Rand's verbal attack was followed by a six-page open letter to her followers in her publication The Objectivist (May, 1968). It was entitled "To Whom It May Concern." After explaining that she had completely broken with the Brandens, Rand continued the deceit through lies of omission: "About two months ago . . . Mr. Branden presented me with a written statement which was so irrational and so offensive to me that I had to break my personal association with him." Without so much as a hint of the nature of the offense Rand continued: "About two months later Mrs. Branden suddenly confessed that Mr. Branden had been concealing from me certain ugly actions and irrational behavior in his private life, which was grossly contradictory to Objectivist morality . . . . " Branden's second affair was judged immoral, his first was not. This excommunication was followed by a reinforcing barrage from NBI's Associate Lecturers that sounds all too ecclesiastical in its denouncement (and written out of complete ignorance of what really happened): "Because Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden, in a series of actions, have betrayed fundamental principles of Objectivism, we condemn and repudiate these two persons irrevocably, and have terminated all association with them . . . . " (Branden, 1986, pp. 353-354).

Confusion reigned supreme in both the Collective and in the rank-and-file membership. Mail poured into the office, most of it supporting Rand (naturally, since they knew nothing of the first affair). Nathaniel received angry responses and even Barbara's broker, an Objectivist, terminated her as his client. The group was in turmoil over the incident. What were they to think with such a formidable condemnation of unnamed sins? The ultimate extreme of such absolutist thinking was revealed several months later when, in the words of Barbara, "a half-demented former student of NBI had raised the question of whether or not it would be morally appropriate to assassinate Nathaniel because of the suffering he had caused Ayn; the man concluded that it should not be done on practical grounds, but would be morally legitimate. Fortunately, he was shouted down at once by a group of appalled students" (p. 356n).

It was the beginning of the long decline and fall of Rand's tight grip over the Collective. One by one they sinned, the transgressions becoming more minor as the condemnations grew in fierceness. And one by one they left, or were asked to leave. In the end (Rand died in 1982) there remained only a handful of friends, and the designated executor of her estate, Leonard Peikoff (who presently carries on the cause through the Southern California based Ayn Rand Institute, "The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism"). While the cultic qualities of the group sabotaged the inner circle, there remained (and remains) a huge following of those who choose to ignore the indiscretions, infidelities, and moral inconsistencies of the founder, and focus instead on the positive aspects of the philosophy. There is much in it from which to choose, if you do not have to accept the whole package. In this analysis, then, there are three important caveats about cults, skepticism, and reason:

  1. Criticism of the founder of a philosophy does not, by itself, constitute a negation of any part of the philosophy. The fact that Christians have been some of the worst violators of their own moral system does not mean that the ethical axioms of "thou shalt not kill," or "due unto others as you would have them do unto you," are negated. The components of a philosophy must stand or fall on their own internal consistency or empirical support, regardless of the founder's personality quirks or moral inconsistencies. By most accounts Newton was a cantankerous and relatively unpleasant person to be around. This fact has nothing at all to do with his principles of natural philosophy. With thinkers who proffer moral principles, as in the case of Rand, this caveat is more difficult to apply, but it is true nonetheless. It is good to know these things about Rand, but it does not nullify her philosophy. I reject her principles of final Truth and absolute morality not because Rand had feet of clay, but because I do not believe they are either logically or empirically tenable.
  2. Criticism of part of a philosophy does not gainsay the whole. In a similar analogy as above, one may reject parts of the Christian philosophy while embracing others. I might, for example, attempt to treat others as I would have them treat me, while at the same time renounce the belief that women should remain silent in church and be obedient to their husbands. One may disavow Rand's absolute morality, while accepting her metaphysics of objective reality, her epistemology of reason, and her political philosophy of capitalism (though Objectivists would say they all follow from her metaphysics). Which leads me to the third caveat.
  3. The critic of part of a philosophy does not necessarily repudiate the whole philosophy. This is a personal caveat to Objectivists and readers of Skeptic alike. Rand critics come from all political positions--left, right, and middle. Professional novelists generally disdain her style. Professional philosophers generally refuse to take her work seriously (both because she wrote for popular audiences and because her work is not considered a complete philosophy). There are more Rand critics than followers. I am not one of them. Ayn Rand has probably influenced my thinking more than any other author. I have read all of her works, including her newsletters, early works, and the two major biographies. I have even read the Brobdingnagian Atlas Shrugged no less than three times, plus once on audio tape for good measure. Thus I am not a blind critic. (Some of Rand's critics have attacked Atlas without ever reading it, and Objectivism, without ever knowing anything about it. I have encountered many of these myself. Even the pompously intellectual William Buckley spoke of the "desiccated philosophy" of Atlas, "the essential aridity of Miss Rand's philosophy," and the tone of Atlas as "over-riding arrogance," yet later confessed: "I never read the book. When I read the review of it and saw the length of the book, I never picked it up." Nothing could be more irrational.) I accept most of Rand's philosophy, but not all of it. And despite my life-long commitment to many of Rand's most important beliefs, Objectivists would no doubt reject me from their group for not accepting all of her precepts. This is ultimately what makes Objectivism a cult.
I believe (and here I speak strictly for myself and not for the Skeptics Society or any of its members) that reality exists and that reason and science are the best tools we have for understanding causality in the real world. We can achieve an ever-greater understanding of reality but we can never know if we have final Truth with regard to nature. Since reason and science are human activities, they will always be flawed and biased. I believe that humans are primarily driven to seek greater happiness, but the definition of such is completely personal and cannot be dictated and should not be controlled by any group. (Even so-called selfless acts of charity can be perceived as directed toward self-fulfillment--the act of making someone else feel good, makes us feel good. This is not a falsifiable statement, but it is observable in people's actions and feelings.) I believe that the free market--and the freer the better--is the best system yet devised for allowing all individuals to achieve greater levels of happiness. (This is not a defensible statement in this forum. I am just setting the stage for my critique of Rand.) I believe that individuals should take personal responsibility for their actions, buck up and quit whining when facing the usual array of life's problems, and cease this endless disease-of-the-month victimization. Finally, I wholeheartedly embrace Rand's passionate love of the heroic nature of humanity and of the ability of the human spirit to triumph over nature.

So far so good. I might have even made it into the Rand inner circle. But I would have been promptly excommunicated as an unreformed heretic (the worst kind, since reformed heretics can at least be retrained and forgiven), with my belief that no absolute morality is scientifically or rationally tenable, even that which claims to have been derived through pure reason, as in the case of Rand. The reason is straightforward. Morals do not exist in nature and thus cannot be discovered. In nature there are just actions--physical actions, biological actions, and human actions. Human actors act to increase their happiness, however they personally define it. Their actions become moral or immoral when someone else judges them as such. Thus, morality is a strictly human creation, subject to all the cultural influences and social constructions as other such human creations. Since virtually everyone and every group claims they know what right and wrong human action is, and since virtually all of these moralities are different from all others to a greater or lesser extent, then reason alone tells us they cannot all be correct Just as there is no absolute right type of human music, there is no absolute right type of human action. The broad range of human action is a rich continuum that precludes its pigeonholing into the unambiguous yeses and noes that political laws and moral codes require.

Does this mean that all human actions are morally equal? No. Not any more than all human music is equal. We create standards of what we like and dislike, desire or not, and make judgments against these standards. But the standards are themselves human creations and not discovered in nature. One group prefers classical music, and so judges Mozart to be superior to the Moody Blues. Similarly, one group prefers patriarchal dominance, and so judges male privileges to be morally honorable. Neither Mozart nor males are absolutely better, only so when compared to the group's standards. Thus, male ownership of females was once moral and is now immoral, not because we have discovered it as such, but because our society has realized that women also seek greater happiness and that they can achieve this more easily without being in bondage to males. A society that seeks greater happiness for its members by giving them greater freedom, will judge a Hitler or a Stalin as morally intolerable because his goal is the confiscation of human life, without which one can have no happiness.

As long as it is understood that morality is a human construction influenced by human cultures, one can become more tolerant of other human belief systems, and thus other humans. But as soon as a group sets itself up to be the final moral arbiter of other people's actions, especially when its members believe they have discovered absolute standards of right and wrong, it is the beginning of the end of tolerance and thus, reason and rationality. It is this characteristic more than any other that makes a cult, a religion, a nation, or any other group, dangerous to individual freedom. This was (and is) the biggest flaw in Ayn Rand's Objectivism, the unlikeliest cult in history. The historical development and ultimate destruction of her group and philosophy is the empirical evidence to support this logical analysis.

What separates science from all other human activities (and morality has never been successfully placed on a scientific basis), is its belief in the tentative nature of all conclusions. There are no final absolutes in science, only varying degrees of probability. Even scientific "facts" are just conclusions confirmed to such an extent it would be reasonable to offer temporary agreement, but never final assent. Science is not the affirmation of a set of beliefs but a process of inquiry aimed at building a testable body of knowledge constantly open to rejection or confirmation. In science, knowledge is fluid and certainty fleeting. That is the heart of its limitation. It is also its greatest strength.

Bibliography

Branden, B. 1986. The Passion of Ayn Rand. New York: Doubleday.
Branden, N. 1989. Judgment Day: My Years With Ayn Rand. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Rand, A. 1943. The Fountainhead. New York: Bobbs-Merrill.
_____. 1957. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Random House.
_____. 1962. "Introducing Objectivism." Los Angeles Times, June 17.

[May 09, 2010] How Ayn Rand caused the GFC

SO GOLDMAN Sachs, the world's greatest and smuggest investment bank, has been sued for fraud by the American Securities and Exchange Commission. Legally, the case hangs on a technicality.

Morally, however, the case may turn into a final referendum on the greed-is-good ethos that conquered America in the '80s - and in the years since has aped other horrifying American trends in spreading across the Western world like a venereal disease.

When the globe was engulfed in the flood of defaults and derivative losses that emerged from the collapse of the US housing bubble two years ago, few understood that the crash had its roots in the lunatic greed-centred objectivist religion, fostered in the '50s and '60s by ponderous emigre novelist Ayn Rand.

Outside America, Russian-born Rand is probably best known for being the unfunniest person Western civilisation has seen since maybe Goebbels or Jack the Ripper, but inside America she is upheld as an intellectual giant. Her ideas are worshipped even by people who've never heard of her. The right-wing Tea Party movement is just one example of an entire demographic that has been inspired to mass protest by Rand without even knowing it.

Last year I wrote a brutally negative article about Goldman Sachs for Rolling Stone (I called the bank a ''great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity'') that sparked a heated debate. On one side were people who believed that Goldman is little better than a criminal enterprise that bilks the market, the government, and even its own clients in a bewildering variety of complex financial scams.

On the other were those who argued Goldman wasn't guilty of anything except being ''too smart'' and really good at making money. This was based almost entirely on the Randian belief system, under which the leaders of Goldman Sachs appear not as the cheap swindlers they look like to me, but idealised heroes, the saviours of society.

In the Randian ethos, called objectivism, the only real morality is self-interest, and society is divided into groups who are efficiently self-interested (the rich) and the ''parasites'' who wish to take their earnings through taxes. Rand believed government had virtually no natural role in society. She conceded police were necessary, but refused to accept any need for economic regulation.

Rand's fingerprints are all over the Goldman story. The case involves a hedge fund financier, John Paulson, who went to Goldman with the idea of a synthetic derivative package pegged to risky US mortgages, for use in betting against the mortgage market. Paulson would short the package and Goldman would then sell the deal to suckers. The SEC's contention is that Goldman committed a crime when they failed to tell the suckers about the vulture betting against them on the other side of the deal.

The instruments in question - collateralised debt obligations and credit default swaps - fall into the category of derivatives, which are virtually unregulated in the US thanks in large part to the effort of former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, a staunch Randian. In the late '90s, Greenspan lobbied hard for a law that deregulated the sort of interest-rate swaps Goldman used in its now-infamous dealings with Greece.

In the Paulson deal the suckers were European banks such as ABN-Amro and IKB, which were never told the stuff Goldman was selling to them was, in effect, designed to implode; in the Greece deal, Goldman used exotic swaps to help the country mask its financial problems, then bet against Greece by shorting the debt.

Confronted with public outrage, the leaders of Goldman will often appear genuinely confused. It's not an act. There have been a lot of greedy financiers and banks in history, but what makes Goldman stand out is its truly bizarre cultist/religious belief in the rightness of what it does.

The point was driven home in England last year, when Goldman's international adviser, sounding exactly like a character in Atlas Shrugged, said ''The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest.''

Even if he stands to make a buck at it, your average used-car salesman won't sell some working father a car with wobbly brakes, then buy life insurance policies on that customer and his kids. But this is done almost as a matter of routine in the financial services industry, where the attitude after the inevitable pileup would be that that family was dumb for getting into the car in the first place. Caveat emptor, dude!

This Randian mindset is now ingrained in the American character.

This debate is going to be crystallised in the Goldman case. Much of America is going to reflexively insist that Goldman's only crime was being better at making money than IKB and ABN-Amro, and that the meddling government (in the American narrative, always the bad guy) should get off Goldman's Armani-clad back. Another side is going to argue that Goldman winning this case would be a rebuke to the whole idea of civilisation - which, after all, is really just a collective decision by all of us not to screw each other over even when we can.

It's an important moment in the history of modern global capitalism: whether or not to move forward into a world of greed without limits.

GUARDIAN

[Apr 26, 2010] Satyajit Das Rand World by Satyajit Das

naked capitalism

Jennifer Burns (2010) "Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right" Oxford University Press

One of the strange by-products of the publishing boom around the global financial crisis is the revival of the Ayn Rand's reputation. The sales of her books, such as "The Fountainhead" and especially "Atlas Shrugged", the 1957 novel that for libertarians is the marker for the rise and failure of collectivism, has risen sharply outperforming most living writers and most recent contributions.

The spike is neither unexpected nor surprising. The rise in fortune coincides directly with massive state intervention in the economy following market failures in the fallout from the financial crisis. As one recently formed group on the social networking site, Facebook, expressed it: "Read the news today? It's like 'Atlas Shrugged' is happening in real life". The writer just forgot to add the "Oh boy!" at the end of "Read the news today?" to complete the nostalgia.

For some, the future predicted and feared by Rand is coming true. Alan Greenspan's downcast admission in Congress about the failure in his view of the world echoed similar admissions by the character, Robert Stadler, the gifted physicist in "Atlas Shrugged", who had betrayed his faith cravenly in exchange for political favour. The fact that Alan Greenspan was once a member Rand's circle merely added to the parallels.

Ayn Rand was a trenchant critic of the popular collectivism movements of the twentieth century. Her view was always resolutely pro-individual and anti-government. Rand helped shape the libertarian self image – the gifted individual restricted, brought down and in permanent conflict with power hungry bureaucrats, officials and the untalented 'second handers' who populate life.

Born Alisa Rosenbaum, Rand, a Russian Jew, had first hand experience of the Communist revolution and it effects on her native land. It shaped a philosophy that was fervently anti-communist and devoted to the rights and liberty of the individual.

An experienced scriptwriter, Rand shaped her two major novels less as literary works and more as vehicles for her polemic. In her time, the academic establishment found her views to be shallow and limited. Perhaps one reason was her strident criticism of everybody including people whose views were not dissimilar to her own, such as Hayek. She, it seemed, found it impossible to agree with anybody even if they agreed with her.

Her writing never rose to high standards. The stereotyped characters in her novels were poor caricatures. These weaknesses did not detract from a unique popular appeal.

In "Goddess of the Market", Jennifer Burns identifies the source of her appeal. The very shallowness of her thinking that intellectuals dismissed was inherently attractive to a certain sensibility, especially adolescents. Her absolute values and intolerance are attractive to those who prefer a Manichean worldview. Rand's popularity also derives from her correct insight that thriving societies are not possible without freedom, entrepreneurial abilities and innovation. This fact is most evident in China's embrace of market economics to some degree.

Rand's popularity is also in no small part driven by her greatest talent – creating mystique and self-promotion. Rand anticipated the cult of "celebrity thought leadership" (practised by Richard Gere, Madonna, Bono, Bob Geldorf and others) even before the terms existed.

Her power came from her greatest creation – Ayn Rand herself. Highly deliberate, Rand cultivated a distinctive image. She had a glare according to a magazine profile that "could wilt a cactus". She wore a broach in the shape of a dollar sign.

As Ms Burns writes, her personal life completed the imagery. Her long-suffering husband had to wear a bell on his shoe to ensure that Rand could hear him approach. She informed both her husband and Mrs Branden of the arrangement whereby she met and had sex with her leading acolyte, Nathaniel Branden, twice a week.

Ms Burns identifies the internal contradictions of Rand. Within her inner circle (known ironically as "the collective"), the promoter of individual liberty could not tolerate dissent of any kind. Her stifling worldview encompassed everything from politics to interior design and dancing. Despite her following, Rand never succeeded in creating a lasting legacy or political movement. The collective fell apart when she fell out with Branden.

In "Goddess of the Market", Jennifer Burns, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Virginia, provides an insightful and, at times, entertaining perspective of Ayn Rand and her thinking. Ms. Burns has fashioned an interesting portrait of one of the twentieth century's most fascinating and yet Quixotic figures. Rand's influence lives on in her book and also in the watered down elements of her libertarian philosophy that has penetrated liberal political thinking

Important Weekend Read, Jeremy Grantham (Scott's Investments, 4/24/10)

Soros Warns Those Throwing Money Into the Stock Market: We are Facing A Big Bubble and Bigger Boo... (Shocked Investor, 4/15/10)

El-Erian: Greek bailout will cause global risk aversion (Investment Postcards from Cape Town, 4/24/10)

16 Comments:
  • Tom Stone:

    Gee, the musing of a woman with narcissistic and sadomasochistic tendencies who glorified sociopathic behavior became popular? I wonder why…

  • john:

    Ayn Rand was a sociopath who idolized serial killers:

    http://www.alternet.org/books/145819/ayn_rand,_hugely_popular_author_and_inspiration_to_right-wing_leaders,_was_a_big_admirer_of_serial_killers

    It's no surprise that she and her ideas would in turn be idolized by Wall Street banksters.

  • Walker:

    As Rogers so aptly put:

    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged.

    Jojo :

    Bah! We don't need more Ayn Rand pap. In contrast, I'll submit:

    Stephen Colbert and the "Rand Illusion"
    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/221335/march-11-2009/the-word–rand-illusion

    -AND-

    THE UNLIKELIEST CULT IN HISTORY
    http://www.2think.org/02_2_she.shtml

  • K Ackermann says:

    2:19 am

    And her views on native American Indians…

    I found it ironic that a railroad were used in Atlas Shrugged. It was the government who donated the lands and supplied the capital to build railroads.

  • attempter :

    Ayn Rand was a trenchant critic of the popular collectivism movements of the twentieth century.

    Really? I'm aware that she was an aggressive, obnoxious critic. I've read plenty of examples of that. But I've never once seen a "trenchant" criticism from her.

    Rand helped shape the libertarian self image – the gifted individual restricted, brought down and in permanent conflict with power hungry bureaucrats, officials and the untalented 'second handers' who populate life.

    In other words, she wrote the gospel for precisely these untalented parasites to see themselves as heroes, since those who exalt her almost invariably are such parasites.

    Her writing never rose to high standards. The stereotyped characters in her novels were poor caricatures. These weaknesses did not detract from a unique popular appeal.

    That's better for that purpose. For a novel to have real literary qualities only gets in the way of the polemic. Chernyshevsky's equally influential What Is To Be Done? was also badly written in that sense.

    Rand's popularity also derives from her correct insight that thriving societies are not possible without freedom, entrepreneurial abilities and innovation. This fact is most evident in China's embrace of market economics to some degree.

    This is of course absurd on its face, and betrays either complete and absolute ignorance of history, or complete and absolute disingenuousness. It's true only if you define "thriving" and "freedom" as "thriving according to Rand's nightmare vision of what freedom and a society should be". So it's a Humpty Dumpty tautology and nothing more.

    BTW, the fact that her heroes were architects and such, who required Stalinist gigantism for their "dreams" to be realized, is a tip-off to the totalitarian code in which she was writing. She was really saying, we need the direct dictatorship of big corporations, while the people should be reduced to a slave mass to be mined for the corporate projects and profits of we elites.

    If that's not what she really meant, if her ideal were really the gifted individual, then why weren't her heroes poets and painters who didn't need or want material things but merely the time and freedom to create?

  • purple:

    Rand is popular (particularly with the adolescent set), because the reader can imagine they are the SuperMan who is being frustrated by the ignorant masses. Her novels feed a certain level of narcissism ; we all identify with the genius protagonist. But this is strange considering the context of her novels, that the masses cannot understand genius.

    Most of us grow out of the Rand phase, but some do not.

  • Toby:

    What I don't understand is why her philosophy justifies unrestrained self-interest with appeals to morality and fairness. Morality and fairness are both social phenomena. If life's all about me and my desires, why should I give a shit about justifications, or appeals to morality, or benefiting society generally? Also, you need a language, a tool which can only be created organically by a collective, in order to come up with and then teach this philosophy of anti-collective, objective morality. Furthermore, language can only ever be imperfect, which renders the chance of objectivity null, as far as I can make out. The whole thing seems self-delusional to me.

  • DownSouth:

    ► "Born Alisa Rosenbaum, Rand, a Russian Jew, had first hand experience of the Communist revolution and it effects on her native land. It shaped a philosophy that was fervently anti-communist and devoted to the rights and liberty of the individual."

    Life's trials and tribulations destroy some people. Others they make stronger. Ayn Rand was one of those whom they destroyed.

    We can find the antithesis of Ayn Rand in individuals such as Martin Luther King, Jr. It would have been so easy for MLK to end up hating white people, just like Rand hated the proletariat, whome she perceived as having wronged her. But he didn't.

    Here's how MLK explained it:

    Due to my involvement in the struggle for the freedom of my people, I have known very few quite days in the past few years. I have been arrested five times and put in Alabama jails. My home has been bombed twice. A day seldom passes that my family and I are not the recipients of threats of death. I have been the victim of a near fatal stabbing….

    As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways that I could respond to my situation: either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into creative force. I decided to follow the latter course. Recognizing the necessity for suffering I have tried to make of it a virtue. If only to save myself from bitterness, I have attempted to see my personal ordeals as an opportunity to transform myself and heal the people involved in the tragic situation which now obtains.
    -Martin Luther King, "Suffering and Faith," Christian Century, 27 April 1960

  • john alt says:

    8:44 am

    Rand made a career of selling narcissism as a virtue to mostly privileged white boys at the moment their privileges came most under attack.

    As the Reagan Revolution sought to restore those privileges Rand's narcissism got the validating imprimatur of official power as the militant right made a complete irony of "conservatism" with their radicalism.

    These so called conservatives now make the best approximation of a collective in the US and have managed to get the rest of us to fund their privileges as they enforce their intolerant doctrine in economics and law.

    Reply
  • craazyman says:

    8:54 am

    Bells on her husbands shoes???? ROTFLMAO. Holy Pussy Whip Batman! This woman wouldn't last five minutes with a real man, somebody who never pays more than $15 for a haircut, makes up his own mind about things, and pumps iron before NFL football starts at 1 pm. Ha ha ha.

    Any Rand. "An Naydr" says the anogram. Darkness visible.

    Boowaha ahhah ahaha hahah. Panem et Circenses.

    I wonder how he got roped into the bells. Maybe it was a long process of step-by-step rationalizations, you know, the kind that lead to . . . well . . . NINJA loans and AAA CDOs. Ecce Homo said Fred. ha ha ha.

    Reply
  • DownSouth says:

    8:56 am

    Rand's Jewishness also presents another great irony. It makes the similarities between her ideology and the racial ideologies of the National Socialists all the more glaring, since they both glorified "strength" and lambasted "weakness."

    Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that he felt "the obligation in accordance with the Eternal Will that dominates this universe to promote the victory of the better and stronger, and to demand the submission of the worse and the weaker."

    Of course in Hitler's world the "worse and the weaker" were the mentally and physically handicapped, the Gypsies, the Negroes, homosexuals, and especially the Jews.

    "The large mass of Jews is as a race culturally unproductive," Hitler proclaimed in 1938 at the national Party meeting.

    "The National Socialists were masters at inventing and imposing stereotyped concepts," Peter Adam observed, and summarizes the Manichean worldview of the National Socialists as follows:

    The opposite of the shining Aryan was the dark Jew. Uncreative, driven only by commercial thoughts, the Jew was the archenemy of culture, the parasite, bare of any idealism, without cultural roots.
    –Peter Adam, Art of the Third Reich

    "The new age of today is at work on a new human type," wrote the Nazi propagandist Walter Benjamin. "Men and women are to be more healthy, stronger: there is a new feeling of life, a new joy in life."

    "He who would win the great masses must know the key which opens the door to their hearts," Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf. "It's name is not…weakness, but will power and strength. One can only succeed in winning the soul of a people if, apart from positive fighting for one's own aims, one also destroys at the same time the supporter of the contrary."

    "Hitler's notions…appealed to popular taste and prejudice," Peter Adam went on to explain, "and could therefore count on solid support. Here suddenly was a man who had the answer to everybody's problems. Everything was going to be different in this brave new world." Painters and sculptors, infected by this new spirit, abandoned their "softer and more naturalistic style" for the "steely renderings of men from the SS and SA."

    As Adam goes on to explain, the Great Depression set the stage for the National Socialists:

    World depression hit Germany harder than most countries. Hitler understood how to fire up the dissatisfied masses when unemployment reached the 6 million mark. A nation weighted down by anxiety and poverty, filled with resentment…was an easy target for a party that promised change and renewed pride…

    Hitler came to power on January 31, 1933. The National Socialists lost no time in putting their cultural politics into practice… They began with a number of demonstrations of strength. They set about eliminating what they rejected…

    For the opening of the 1938 "Great German Art Exhibition," Hitler gave one of his famous speeches. In it he summed up once more the National Socialist theory and repeated the same old clichés. Hitler stressed again and again that the German people have a new affirmation of life. They are filled with admiration for the "strong and beautiful, the healthy and those capable of surviving"--all thoughts that aligned the arts theory with the theory endorsing the annihilation of the sick and the "racially inferior."

    Perhaps the commonalities between the ideologies of Ayn Rand and those of the National Socialists can best be summed up in the word "parasite," which they both deployed with great frequency.

    Reply
  • Melanchthon says:

    9:12 am

    Well, Ayn Rand's influence is limited to the United States. She's almost unknown in most European countries…

    Reply
  • skippy says:

    9:35 am

    Master-slave morality: Master morality weighs actions on a scale of good or bad consequences unlike slave morality which weighs actions on a scale of good or evil intentions.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master-slave_morality

    Rand a Homeric hero with a skirt…ha ha ha.

    Skippy…DS these guys are still very popular in your hemisphere…wounder why.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTYsElEGswc&feature=channel

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxaIGvI6Y8Q&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCNBObnj5QI&feature=channel

    Reply
  • In Hell's Kitchen says:

    9:42 am

    Rand's "philosophy" is conclusively shown to be a fraud in Nyquist's
    book discussed here:

    http://aynrandcontrahumannature.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  • Douche inspector says:

    10:51 am

    They are fucking books. Fiction. I enjoyed them. Some don't. Fine. Quit making such a big goddamn deal of trivial opinions. I don't give a flying fuck of your opninion on the books, or my opinion of the books or your opinion of my opinions. The people who bash Rand are as bad as the people who worship her. I find no clear distinction in the two groups. Cheerio!

    Douche Inspector #23

    Reply
  • Jesse says:

    11:04 am

    I think we are entering the 'hysteria' phase, in which scapegoats are sought and delivered by those inside the fraud which caused the crisis to deflect their own guilt.

    Those who have lost money are looking for retribution, and those who seek power feed the mob. We have some way to go yet, before they start burning books. And if there is no reform, no justice, then the madness returns.

    And you will never believe it until it has taken a firm grasp of your hands.

    Reply
  • Derrick says:

    11:41 am

    Who is John Galt?

    Reply
  • itzybitter says:

    11:44 am

    The common threads between Rand, libertarianism, and neoliberalism are what interest me. I can best characterize it both as glorification of the omnipotent adolescent, with the attendant struggle with human grief, the acceptance of the necessary life losses. At its heart is deep and dysfunctional pathology.

    Cynicism is one of its most obvious manifestations, the inability to emotionally deal with our ultimate fragility. The libertarian thus must define the terms of every engagement, vainly seeking to empower himself.

    Reply
  • In Hell's Kitchen says:

    11:46 am

    >The people who bash Rand are as bad as the people who worship her.
    >I find no clear distinction in the two groups.

    except those who "bash" her didn't get to almost cause the 2nd Great
    Depression with their actions which they base on Rand's "theory" of
    economics.

    Nobody remembers Greenspan's mea culpa ?

    Reply
  • Froggy says:

    12:52 pm

    Ayn Rand is a starting point for a framework of libertarian thought. Her philosophies are unimplementable and fantastical, but she properly constructs and characterizes (if hyperbolicaly) the agents at work in an ideal free capitalist society. She does however, miss a key element and protagonist in her theory, the moral person. Rand is amoral and coldly calculating and humans are not this way and could therefore never create or live in Galt's Gulch. Her expositions on bureaucrats and government are on balance quite adept. Their false motives of altruism (which gives her amorality its structure) used to "loot" are the visages that we see today in Obamacare et al. It is that kernel of her vision that did come true. She could never see people for what they were as individuals, but she could see organizations with perfect clarity.

    Reply
  • Valissa says:

    1:06 pm

    What is all this collective projection of all kinds of good & evil intentions onto Ayn Rand really all about? I have to say that I don't understand why the Libertarians, Conservatives or Liberals gets so worked up about her one way or another. I read Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead when I was 13-14 years old. I read Stranger in a Strange Land when I was 14 also, and I have to say that Robert Heinlein's(a different sort of Libertarian) book had a much greater impact on me. Why more Libertarians don't point to "The Moon is Harsh Mistress" for inspiration is another thing I don't understand… although TANSTAAFL, a phrase from that book is a popular economic meme and probably the first economics I ever learned.

    Back to Rand… I outgrew most of her ideas by the time I got to college. In today's world, I find it hugely entertaining that she has become an iconic or archetypal intellectual figure for people to project all kinds of ideology onto. Goddess of the Market? How New Agey and ridiculous can you get? She is not even a primary or original thinker (perhaps a 'derivative' thinker?), she was merely reflecting a certain type of intellectual approach of her historical time period and acting as an intellectual "brand" of sorts. This has brought her both followers and haters… who can now enjoy arguing about her, what she said and what she represented. Just another ideology war for those who like that sort of thing.

    Reply
  • The Barefoot Bum says:

    1:09 pm

    "I don't understand why it has to be either-or with Rand."

    It doesn't *have* to be either-or, it just happens to be the case that Rand is either trivial or completely wrong.

    "[Rand] made brilliant, prophetic points about government. Credit where credit is due."

    Seriously? Name one. Having read a considerable amount of her work, I've yet to stumble on any brilliant prophetic points about anything, much less government. It is, however, possible I've missed something.

    "Objectivism and Atlas Shrugged is an incomplete and partly flawed defense of the concept that the nature of man is to yearn to be free."

    It boggles my mind that anyone could read Atlas Shrugged and come away with the image of Hank Rearden, Dagny Taggart or John Galt groaning under the lash of their brutal oppressor.

    Rand's work in a defense of the concept that the nature of the *superior* man is to be free from the presence of the inferior man. The characters in Atlas Shrugged are not rebelling against any form of enslavement; they rebel only against having to share their air with lesser men, and the only remedy is to literally kill them all leaving a pure whi… er… capitalist paradise.

    "Like any person's work, it does not represent the alpha and the omega."

    I believe Rand would have disagreed with you on this evaluation of her work.

    "A lot of the trashing of Rand seems unnecessary and inaccurate."

    Seems? Who cares how things *seem*. Is any trashing *actually* unnecessary? Is any *actually* inaccurate?

    Reply
  • Jugo1502 says:

    1:14 pm

    Enough about Rand's novels and non-fiction. I recommend a foray into her stab at knee-slapping comedy. The Romantic Manifesto never ceases to draw forth a chuckle or two on a bad day.

    Reply
  • sherparick says:

    1:30 pm

    Rand's ideas have really do influence are current elite (just read the Washington Post's editorial page). It is why Wall Streeters feel no guilt about their huge, rent-seeking bonuses while official unemployment is at 10%. Whether they have read the books are not, as Keyness said, their heads are filled with ideas of a long dead, half-baked, writer.

    By the way, James Hill was a remarkable, if flawd, man who actually built and created wealth, in the 19th century, as opposed to today's wealth destroyers. But even he got some Government help, if not for the Great Northern, then for the railroad that became the Great Northern, the St. Paul and Pacific. "It connected with a Canadian Pacific branch from Fort Garry at St. Vincent, Minnesota in 1879. Canadian Pacific's transcontinental route was not completed yet so all traffic through Fort Garry had to use Hill's route. Hill received two million acres of land in the Minnesota Land Grant for completing the rail line on time."

    Reply
  • Greg says:

    1:32 pm

    Over the past 5 years, a few dozen US universities have accepted substantial grants from BB&T that require students to study Ayn Rand's books and her philosophy. Maybe that explains some of the revival of her reputation.

    See

    Reply
  • Stephanie says:

    1:33 pm

    Have not read Atlas Shrugged. Did read The Fountainhead, at the age of 14. Have not re-read it since. My impression at the time was that Roark seemed like a crappy businessman. Of course, in my mind the point of business being, I thought, to provide goods and services for which people were willing to pay, NOT to force one's artistic vision on customers and then whine when said customers didn't appreciate it. At least, I couldn't imagine how anyone would make money doing the later… and as I recall, Roark didn't (please correct me if I'm wrong) - but this was supposed to be some kind of tragedy of the system, not an indictment of Roark's narcissism. Maybe that was because Rand was able to successfully substitute narcissism for salesmanship in her own life?

    Reply
  • Eric L. Prentis says:

    1:48 pm

    I read all of Ayn Rand's novels and other works the year after I graduated from college and thought utopian Objectivism was "the true way." Implementing her naive ideas was however a complete fiasco for me, so, ironically, my egoism required rejecting her ideas. Rand's final denouement was my reading true philosophers, such as, Socrates, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Kierkegaard and Pascal who said, "The heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing," which Rand would--paradoxically--have intellectually rejected but would have had to agree with, since that is how Rand, disastrously, handled her Branden affair.

    Reply
  • JTFaraday says:

    4:45 pm

    The way I see it, Tom Paine ("government is a necessary evil" and whatever laws are devised to limit freedom, all are subjected to them equally) is a libertarian.

    The bankster class including Alan Greenspan, who inhabit every nook and cranny of government, either personally or through influence, in order to expand its powers and turn them exclusively to their own ends and personal benefit and to create loopholes that enable them (and them alone) to do whatever they want, are not libertarian. They are antinomian (anti-nomos, "against the law") totalitarians. (Dick Cheney too!)

    Those would be my points of contrast.

    As for Ayn Rand, maybe she'd willingly underwrite the Greenspan cohort's whole sense of self entitlement, irregardless of where it might lead them in life. I don't know, maybe crimes against the state that substantially deform the state because it's inhibiting the Greenspan cohort are just an objectively necessary evil.

    I can't say, I haven't read her.

    Reply
  • Benedict@Large says:

    8:05 pm

    Against overwhelming odds, a small band of the truly enlightened perevere, finally cleansing the world of their inferiors. In doing so, they succeed in creating a new and better society where the best can flourish unencombered by the weight of those who existed only by the grace of the honest labor and brains of others.

    Atlas Shrugged? Ayn Rand? No, The Turner Diaries, by William Pierce.

    Same story, different audience.

    Reply
  • MonkeyMuffins says:

    8:24 pm

    1) "Rand's influence lives on in her book and also in the watered down elements of her libertarian philosophy that has penetrated liberal political thinking."

    Should read:

    "Rand's influence lives on in her book and also in the watered down elements of her libertarian philosophy that have penetrated liberal political thinking"

    2) In High School I loved Rand and Rush; then I grew up.

    We live at the end of empire, during the century of contraction, in a culture of make believe.
    We are not going to grow, consume and indebt our way out of the problems of growth, consumption and debt.

  • [Feb 26, 2010] Ayn Rand, Hugely Popular Author and Inspiration to Right-Wing Leaders, Was a Big Admirer of Serial Killer

    She wasn't a sociopath. She was a psychopath! Much more evil!

    Ayn Rand, Hugely Popular Author and Inspiration to Right-Wing Leaders, Was a Big Admirer of Serial Killer By Mark Ames, AlterNet February 26, 2010 http://www.alternet.org/story/145819/

    There's something deeply unsettling about living in a country where millions of people froth at the mouth at the idea of giving health care to the tens of millions of Americans who don't have it, or who take pleasure at the thought of privatizing and slashing bedrock social programs like Social Security or Medicare. It might not be as hard to stomach if other Western countries also had a large, vocal chunk of the population who thought like this, but the US is seemingly the only place where right-wing elites can openly share their distaste for the working poor. Where do they find their philosophical justification for this kind of attitude?

    It turns out, you can trace much of this thinking back to Ayn Rand, a popular cult-philosopher who exerts a huge influence over much of the right-wing and libertarian crowd, but whose influence is only starting to spread out of the US.

    One reason why most countries don't find the time to embrace her thinking is that Ayn Rand is a textbook sociopath. Literally a sociopath: Ayn Rand, in her notebooks, worshiped a notorious serial murderer-dismemberer, and used this killer as an early model for the type of "ideal man" that Rand promoted in her more famous books -- ideas which were later picked up on and put into play by major right-wing figures of the past half decade, including the key architects of America's most recent economic catastrophe -- former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan and SEC Commissioner Chris Cox -- along with other notable right-wing Republicans such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Rush Limbaugh, and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

    The loudest of all the Republicans, right-wing attack-dog pundits and the Teabagger mobs fighting to kill health care reform and eviscerate "entitlement programs" increasingly hold up Ayn Rand as their guru. Sales of her books have soared in the past couple of years; one poll ranked "Atlas Shrugged" as the second most influential book of the 20th century, after The Bible.

    So what, and who, was Ayn Rand for and against? The best way to get to the bottom of it is to take a look at how she developed the superhero of her novel, Atlas Shrugged, John Galt. Back in the late 1920s, as Ayn Rand was working out her philosophy, she became enthralled by a real-life American serial killer, William Edward Hickman, whose gruesome, sadistic dismemberment of 12-year-old girl named Marion Parker in 1927 shocked the nation. Rand filled her early notebooks with worshipful praise of Hickman. According to biographer Jennifer Burns, author of Goddess of the Market, Rand was so smitten by Hickman that she modeled her first literary creation -- Danny Renahan, the protagonist of her unfinished first novel, The Little Street -- on him.

    What did Rand admire so much about Hickman? His sociopathic qualities: "Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should," she wrote, gushing that Hickman had "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people.'"

    This echoes almost word for word Rand's later description of her character Howard Roark, the hero of her novel The Fountainhead: "He was born without the ability to consider others."

    The Fountainhead is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's favorite book -- he even requires his clerks to read it.

    I'll get to where Rand picked up her silly Superman blather from later -- but first, let's meet William Hickman, the "genuinely beautiful soul" and inspiration to Ayn Rand. What you will read below -- the real story, details included, of what made Hickman a "Superman" in Ayn Rand's eyes -- is extremely gory and upsetting, even if you're well acquainted with true crime stories -- so prepare yourself. But it's necessary to read this to understand Rand, and to repeat this over and over until all of America understands what made her mind tick, because Rand's influence over the very people leading the fight to kill social programs, and her ideological influence on so many powerful bankers, regulators and businessmen who brought the financial markets crashing down, means her ideas are affecting all of our lives in the worst way imaginable.

    Rand fell for William Edward Hickman in the late 1920s, as the shocking story of Hickman's crime started to grip the nation. His crime, trial and case was a non-stop headline grabber for months; the OJ Simpson of his day:

    Hickman, who was only 19 when he was arrested for murder, was the son of a paranoid-schizophrenic mother and grandmother. His schoolmates said that as a kid Hickman liked to strangle cats and snap the necks of chickens for fun -- most of the kids thought he was a budding manic, though the adults gave him good marks for behavior, a typical sign of sociopathic cunning. He enrolled in college but quickly dropped out, and quickly turned to violent crime largely driven by the thrill and arrogance typical of sociopaths: in a brief and wild crime spree that grew increasingly violent, Hickman knocked over dozens of gas stations and drug stores across the Midwest and west to California. Along the way it's believed he strangled a girl in Milwaukee, and killed his crime partner's grandfather in Pasadena, tossing his body over a bridge after taking his money. Hickman's partner later told police that Hickman told him how much he'd like to kill and dismember a victim someday -- and that day did come for Hickman.

    One afternoon, Hickman drove up to Mount Vernon Junior High school in Los Angeles, and told administrators that he'd come to pick up "the Parker girl" -- her father, Perry Parker, was a prominent banker. Hickman didn't know the girl's first name, so when he was asked which of the two Parker twins -- Hickman answered, "the younger daughter." And then he corrected himself: "The smaller one." The school administrator fetched young Marion, and brought her out to Hickman. No one suspected his motive; Marion obediently followed Hickman to his car as she was told, where he promptly kidnapped her. He wrote a ransom note to Marian's father, demanding $1,500 for her return, promising that the girl would be left unharmed. Marian was terrified into passivity -- she even waited in the car for Hickman when he went to mail his letter to her father. Hickman's extreme narcissism comes through in his ransom letters, as he refers to himself as a "master mind [sic]" and "not a common crook." Hickman signed his letters "The Fox" because he admired his own cunning: "Fox is my name, very sly you know." And then he threatened: "Get this straight. Your daughter's life hangs by a thread."

    Hickman and the girl's father exchanged letters over the next few days as they arranged the terms of the ransom, while Marion obediently followed her captor's demands. She never tried to escape the hotel where he kept her; Hickman even took her to a movie, and she never screamed for help. She remained quiet and still as told when Hickman tied her to the chair -- he didn't even bother gagging her because there was no need to, right up to the gruesome end.

    Hickman's last ransom note to Marion's father is where this story reaches its disturbing: Hickman fills the letter with hurt anger over her father's suggestion that Hickman might deceive him, and "ask you for your $1500 for a lifeless mass of flesh I am base and low but won't stoop to that depth " What Hickman didn't say was that as he wrote the letter, Marion was already several chopped-up lifeless masses of flesh. Why taunt the father? Why feign outrage? This sort of bizarre taunting was all part of the serial killer's thrill, maximizing the sadistic pleasure he got from knowing that he was deceiving the father before the father even knew what happened to his daughter. But this was nothing compared to the thrill Hickman got from murdering the helpless 12-year-old Marion Parker. Here is an old newspaper description of the murder, taken from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on December 27, 1927:

    "It was while I was fixing the blindfold that the urge to murder came upon me," he continued, "and I just couldn't help myself. I got a towel and stepped up behind Marian. Then before she could move, I put it around her neck and twisted it tightly. I held on and she made no outcry except to gurgle. I held on for about two minutes, I guess, and then I let go. "When I cut loose the fastenings, she fell to the floor. "I knew she was dead. "Well, after she was dead I carried her body into the bathroom and undressed her, all but the underwear, and cut a hole in her throat with a pocket knife to let the blood out." Another newspaper account dryly explained what Hickman did next:

    Then he took a pocket knife and cut a hole in her throat. Then he cut off each arm to the elbow. Then he cut her legs off at the knees. He put the limbs in a cabinet. He cut up the body in his room at the Bellevue Arms Apartments. Then he removed the clothing and cut the body through at the waist. He put it on a shelf in the dressing room. He placed a towel in the body to drain the blood. He wrapped up the exposed ends of the arms and waist with paper. He combed back her hair, powdered her face and then with a needle fixed her eyelids. He did this because he realized that he would lose the reward if he did not have the body to produce to her father. Hickman packed her body, limbs and entrails into a car, and drove to the drop-off point to pick up his ransom; along his way he tossed out wrapped-up limbs and innards scattering them around Los Angeles. When he arrived at the meeting point, Hickman pulled Miriam's head and torso out of a suitcase and propped her up, her torso wrapped tightly, to look like she was alive--he sewed wires into her eyelids to keep them open, so that she'd appear to be awake and alive. When Miriam's father arrived, Hickman pointed a sawed-off shotgun at him, showed Miriam's head with the eyes sewn open (it would have been hard to see for certain that she was dead), and then took the ransom money and sped away. As he sped away, he threw Miriam's head and torso out of the car, and that's when the father ran up and saw his daughter--and screamed. This is the "amazing picture" Ayn Rand -- guru to the Republican/Tea Party right-wing -- admired when she wrote in her notebook that Hickman represented "the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul. Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should."

    Other people don't exist for Ayn, either. Part of her ideas are nothing more than a ditzy dilettante's bastardized Nietzsche -- but even this was plagiarized from the same pulp newspaper accounts of the time. According to an LA Times article in late December 1927, headlined "Behavioralism Gets The Blame," a pastor and others close to the Hickman case denounce the cheap trendy Nietzschean ideas that Hickman and others latch onto as a defense:

    "Behavioristic philosophic teachings of eminent philosophers such as Nietzsche and Schopenhauer have built the foundation for William Edward Hickman's original rebellion against society," the article begins.

    The fear that some felt at the time was that these philosophers' dangerous, yet nuanced ideas would fall into the hands of lesser minds, who would bastardize Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and poison the rest of us. Which aptly fits the description of Ayn Rand, whose philosophy developed out of her admiration for "Supermen" like Hickman. Rand's philosophy can be summed up by the title of one of her best-known books: The Virtue of Selfishness. She argues that all selfishness is a moral good, and all altruism is a moral evil, even "moral cannibalism" to use her words. To her, those who aren't like-minded sociopaths are "parasites" and "lice" and "looters."

    But with Rand, there's something more pathological at work. She's out to make the world more sociopath-friendly so that people like Ayn and her hero William Hickman can reach their full potential, not held back by the morality of the "weak," whom Rand despised.

    That's what makes it so creepy how Rand and her followers clearly get off on hating and bashing those they perceived as weak--Rand and her followers have a kind of fetish for classifying weaker, poorer people as "parasites" and "lice" who need to swept away. This is exactly the sort of sadism, bashing the helpless for kicks, that Rand's hero Hickman would have appreciated. What's really unsettling is that even former Central Bank chief Alan Greenspan, whose relationship with Rand dated back to the 1950s, did some parasite-bashing of his own. In response to a 1958 New York Times book review slamming Atlas Shrugged, Greenspan, defending his mentor, published a letter to the editor that ends: "Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should. Alan Greenspan."

    As much as Ayn Rand detested human "parasites," there is one thing she strongly believed in: creating conditions that increase the productivity of her Supermen - the William Hickmans who rule her idealized America: "If [people] place such things as friendship and family ties above their own productive work, yes, then they are immoral. Friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man's life. A man who places others first, above his own creative work, is an emotional parasite."

    And yet Republican faithful like GOP Congressman Paul Ryan read Ayn Rand and make declare, with pride, "Rand makes the best case for the morality of democratic capitalism." Indeed. Except that Ayn Rand also despised democracy, as she declared: "Democracy, in short, is a form of collectivism, which denies individual rights: the majority can do whatever it wants with no restrictions. In principle, the democratic government is all-powerful. Democracy is a totalitarian manifestation; it is not a form of freedom."

    "Collectivism" is another one of those Randian epithets popular among her followers. Here for example is another Republican member of Congress, the one with the freaky thousand-yard-stare, Michelle Bachman, parroting the Ayn Rand ideological line, rto explain her reasoning for wanting to kill social programs:

    "As much as the collectivist says to each according to his ability to each according to his need, that's not how mankind is wired. They want to make the best possible deal for themselves."

    Whenever you hear politicians or Tea Baggers dividing up the world between "producers" and "collectivism," just know that those ideas and words more likely than not are derived from the deranged mind of a serial-killer groupie. When you hear them threaten to "Go John Galt," hide your daughters and tell them not to talk to any strangers -- or Tea Party Republicans. And when you see them taking their razor blades to the last remaining programs protecting the middle class from total abject destitution -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- and brag about their plans to slash them for "moral" reasons, just remember Ayn's morality and who inspired her.

    Too many critics of Ayn Rand-- until I was one of them -- would rather dismiss her books and ideas as laughable, childish, hackneyed. But it can't be dismissed because Rand is the name that keeps bubbling up from the Teabagger crowd and the elite conservative circuit in Washington as The Big Inspiration. The only way to protect ourselves from this thinking is the way you protect yourself from serial killers: smoke the Rand followers out, make them answer for following the crazed ideology of a serial-killer-groupie, and run them the hell out of town and out of our hemisphere.

    Read more of Mark Ames at eXiledonline.com. He is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond. Posted by greathierophant@yahoo.com at 5:52 AM 1 comments

    Romancing the Stone-Cold Killer

    Recently I was rereading Scott Ryan's fascinating, albeit highly technical, critique of Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality, and getting a lot more out of it the second time, when I came across a fact culled from a posthumous collection of Rand's journal entries.

    In her journal circa 1928 Rand quoted the statement, "What is good for me is right," a credo attributed to a prominent figure of the day, William Edward Hickman. Her response was enthusiastic. "The best and strongest expression of a real man's psychology I have heard," she exulted. (Quoted in Ryan, citing Journals of Ayn Rand, pp. 21-22.)

    Ayn Rand: The Boring Bitch is Back By Barry Ritholtz

    November 15th, 2009

    There is a substantial take-down of pedantic bore Ayn Rand in GQ. They tease it thusly:

    2009's most influential author is a mirthless Russian-American who loves money, hates God, and swings a gigantic dick. She died in 1982, but her spawn soldier on. And the Great Recession is all their fault.

    I love that because it is both funny and touches upon so many subtle truths; Here is a longer, funnier excerpt:

    "This is because there are boys and girls among us who have never overcome the Randian infection. The Galt speech continues to ring in their ears for years like a maddening tinnitus, turning each of them into what next year's Physicians' Desk Reference will (undoubtedly) term an Ayn Rand Asshole (ARA). They constitute a relatively small percentage of Rand readers, these ARAs. But they make their reading count. Thanks to them, the Rand Experience is no longer limited to those who have read the books. It's metastasized. You, me, all of us, we're living it. Because it's the ARA Army of antigovernment-antiregulation puritans who have spent the past three decades gleefully pulling the cooling rods out of the American economy. For a while, it got very big and very hot. Then it popped. And now the rest of us have to spend the next decade scaling the slippery slopes of the huge suppurative crater that was left behind.

    Feeling fisted by the Invisible Hand of the Market lo these past fifteen months? Lost a job lately? Or half the value of your 401(k)? Or a home? All three? Been wondering whence the too-long-ascendant political and economic ideas and forces behind Greenspanism, John Thainism, blind Wall Street plunder, bankruptcy, credit-default swaps, Bernie Madoff, and the ensuing Cannibalism in the Streets? Then you, sir, need to give thanks to Ayn Rand Assholes everywhere-as well as the steely loins from which they sprang."

    Brilliant.

    I haven't read Rand's work for decades, but I do recall two things: A) It was a giant pedantic bore; 2) Debating it with people in College was always a hoot. The thing that struck me most was the lack of rigor in the arguments - it was more religion than logic, more wishful thinking than reality based observations of how humans actually behave.

    You can the concentration of ARAs in a certain groupings. These are the folks who blame the CRA for the collapse of the economy; ARAs tend to be hardcore idealogues; many are rabidly partisan. All too many are deeply uninformed. They breathje co0gnitive dissonance they most people breathe oxygen. When confronted with facts, data, reality that challenge their ideology, they make up new facts.

    I imagine that Freud would bluntly use Randian logic to note they inhabit a guise of superiority in part to compensate for vast and deeply felt inferiorities and insecurities. That's right, those of you who feel compelled to talk about how big your junk is are typically are sporting selections from the wee person's aisle.

    Malcolm Gladwell is a guy who knows how to write compellingly readable stories. The takeaway in his book Outliers The Story of Success is quite unRandian - it is that luck plays an enormous factor in out-sized success. That is a factor the Randians prefer to ignore.

    What I find so weird about Rand is that there are more than a few people I respect who gobbled up her work. These are not ARAs - but are otherwise rational folks who never quite went full tilt into ARA-hood. But they have a huge respect for her work. Me? I prefer "lessers" like Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson and John Maynard Keynes. I prefer John Stuart Mill's Harm Principle of Liberty over Rand's Objectivism.

    Dangerous Minds contextualizes the pedantic bore portion of the Rand legend:

    "It's Rand's dialogue that seals her reputation as an author you just can't take seriously. To be fair, she was writing in her second language, but the problem with her books is that no one actually speaks to one another, they just make speeches at each other. Hectoring, long-winded speeches. It's fine to read stuff like that as a teenager, but when I crack open one of her books today, I shake my head in disbelief at how bombastic and horrible her writing is."

    Bombastic and horrible? You are being too kind . . .

    My actual problem with Rand - behind her blindingly horrific prose - is that she was pushing back against a totalitarian system in the Soviet Union, a corrupt and morally indefensible system she had every right to be infuriated by. But she applies that righteous fury and outrage to a Democracy, whose economy is Free Market based. Hence, rather than challenging the politburo, she challenges Unions. Cooperative behavior seems to be hard for her to grasp. One suspects she would have disliked Consumer Reports, or Zagats, or Amazon's user ratings.

    Worst of all, Rand's Objectivism has become the rationale for all manner of morally repugnant behaviour. However, I did take one personal lesson from Atlas Shrugged to heart: Anytime I see a parked car with a John Galt bumper sticker, I like to knock off one of the sideview mirrors, and leave it on the hood. I include a note stating my selfish, random act made me feel good, and therefore should be a perfectly fine act in their world.

    I assume the recipients miss the irony . . .

    The Insanity of Ayn Rand: The Fountain-Brain-Dead.

    Yikes, darlings!

    I watch a lot of old movies on TCM, mostly because TCM are my initials. (I'm Tallulah Clytemnestra Morehead) and I just finished watching a doozy of a terrible movie on TCM, one that has to be seen to be disbelieved: the ultra-hilarious piece of right-wing objectivist claptrap, the movie of Ayn Rand's ridiculous novel, The Fountainhead, starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal, as glamorous, sexy Fascists, I mean an architect and his best gal.

    I'm afraid Juliette's blowing up the H-Bomb on that island on Lost must have screwed up the Time-Space Continuum. This can't be Normal Reality, because this movie is the most absurd piece of twaddle I have sat through since the final season of Roseanne.

    Enormously well-hung Gary Cooper plays Howard Roarke, the most brilliant, unpopular, and egotistical architect in the world. The movie is all about how people are always trying to get Howard Roarke to design buildings just like the same ones everyone else designs, but Howard is too great to listen to anyone, even his clients. People are always telling him his designs are too outré, although his houses are all Frank Lloyd Wright rip-offs, and his office buildings are all rectangular glass and steel structures that look exactly like every souless office building clogging the downtowns of every major city in the world, the very style that Jacques Tati spent his great movie Playtime attacking. "We can't take a chance," they always say to him, as though they were gambling their lives building an office tower or a block of flats. Has the designer of Disney Hall in Los Angeles been lynched yet?

    The villain of the story is a newspaper architectural critic, who wields tremendous public power. He writes a column of architectural criticism, and his slightest word can bring the city to a halt. What planet is this? When the publisher fires the architectural critic, the staff walks out in support of the critic, and the paper buckles under to the critic, and the publisher shoots himself. Star Trek is more realistic.

    Howard does not consider architecture to be a collaborative art. Rather, it's the solitary work of a lone artist, toiling away in an attic somewhere. Making even the tiniest change in any of his designs is intolerable to Roarke.

    He means it. When a block of flats he designed are built while he is on a vacation with Patricia Neal, with changes made at the orders of the people paying for it to be built, Roarke dynamites it. He stands trial for blowing up this building he didn't own, in the middle of Manhattan, without so much as a blasting permit. It's a wildly illegal, irresponsible, dangerous, negligent act of overwhelming egotism, an SMD: a Snit of Mass Destruction.

    He's found innocent, and the jury and the whole courtroom erupts into applause at this horrific miscarriage of justice. He has admitted committing the crime on the stand. His defense was that he has way better taste than the pigs who paid for it, so he should be able to blow it up. The jury buys this idiocy. The movie paints him as a hero.

    The first clue that Howard Roarke has something weirdly wrong with him comes early on. He's going out of business. A friend offers him a loan, and he refuses it. Okay. He has too much pride to take help. That's fine. But he says, "I never ask for nor give help."

    What? He never "gives help"? He never helps anyone?

    Yup. That's exactly what he means. He's anti-helping his fellow man. In his trial summation, six minutes of Gary Cooper giving a completely unhinged, turgid speech, he actually says, "The world is perishing in an orgy of self-sacrifice ."

    Whatever finishes off mankind, it won't be an excess of self-sacrifice. The movie is pro-selfishness and egoism (which is just egotism misspelled), and anti-altruism. It preaches, at length and in a superior tone, that Altruism is Bad. And it means it.

    The "love" story subplot is a scream. Patricia Neal is an architect's daughter who hates anything that makes her happy, because her taste is too supurb, and the masses with their bad taste will destroy anything she likes, so she deliberately throws out any stuff she has that she likes (We first meet her dropping a lovely nude statue down an airshaft), and she refuses to marry the man she loves, and instead marries a man she finds creepy, to avoid being happy, so happiness can't be taken from her. She'd rather be miserable, than be happy, and risk being made miserable by the masses. If you can find any sense in that, let me know.

    So she's vacationing in a lovely home that adjoins a marble quarry where they dynamite rock all day, every day. Let me repeat this: she is intentionally vacationing in a house next door to a site that is blasting rocks with dynamite all day long, every day. You can't get more relaxing than that.

    Her idea of sight-seeing is riding her horse to the quarry and then wandering around, drooling over the hunky, muscular workmen driving pickaxes into walls of granite. This is, in my opinion, the only sensible thing in the whole movie. And her favorite workman is Howard Roarke, who is working there after driving himself out of business with his too-high standards of taste. She first sees him holding a jackhammer, drilling away into into solid rock. She is turned on by the ever-so-subtle sexual implication of his drilling into rock with a jackhammer. She must imagine she has a marble hymen.

    Now she can't get him out of her mind. She rides around on her horse, imagining Howard and his drill while she's being jostled in the saddle. At one point she rides up to him and slashes him across the face with a riding crop, which makes him grin, and the unforgettable final shot of the film is her riding up over 100 stories in an outdoor elevator (No elevator can go that far. It takes three to get to the top of the Empire State Building.) to where Howard is standing, on top of his not-yet-finished "Tallest building in the world." The shot tracks in on his crotch as he stands astride his masterpiece, the world's-biggest-phallic symbol.

    The movie was written by the novelist-nutball, Russian-American, writer-philosopher Ayn Rand. She promoted a form of highly-anti-communist philosophy called "Objectivism," probably because it is so objectionable.

    Being virulently anti-Communism-and-Socialism, she believed that ownership and rights of property were sacrosanct, although when Howard Roarke, her Ideal Man, blows up other people's property because he doesn't like it, it's a righteous act, not a violation of other people's rights of property. Ayn was a hypocrite.

    Ayn wrote every word of dialogue, and forbade a word of it to be changed. She was the Howard Roarke of screenwriters. What she was not was a good writer of dialogue, none of which sounds like human speech, and all of which sounds like a lecture from a Fox News lunatic.

    Ayn insisted that Gary Cooper say every damn word of her summation speech, which is utterly nuts from beginning to end. Jack Warner, no slouch in the anti-Commie department himself, ended up cutting it down a little. It's still six minutes of Gary Cooper standing in one place, making a completely insane-yet-boring speech, in praise of selfishness, condemning altruism, and stating that there are only two types of humans: "Creators" and "Parasites." That's it. No shades of gray. No middle-management.

    When Ayn learned that some slight cuts had been made to her speech, she squawked and hollered, but she did not blow up Warner Brothers, nor set fire to the negative and all prints, nor even beat Jack Warner into paste with a poker (Damn!), which makes her a raging hypocrite. It's what Howard Roarke would have done. It's what Bette Davis would have done.

    Ayn is having a small vogue right now (very small, as the country is becoming far less happy with rightwing nutballs), because her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, an insane novel that makes The Lord of the Rings seem like a speedy short story, is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary just now. This means that the people who began reading it the day it came out, are nearly through it by now, those that haven't hanged themselves.

    Ayn believed in a woman looking up to The Ideal Man, and Howard Roarke is Him. And Ayn claimed she wrote it for Gary Cooper, so he's her sexual ideal. Well, at least she's left Hugh Jackman for me.

    Have you ever seen a photograph of Ayn Rand? For a woman who wants strong muscular men to drill her like a jackhammer, Ayn went to a lot of trouble to look like a Bloomsbury literary Lesbian. In fact, she looked rather like a young Rosa Klebb, only not as sexy.

    Ayn died the day after John Belushi died, although I don't think she did so to cheer us up again.

    Life is too short to spend any of it reading the insane horrors which are the writings of Ayn Rand. Read my book instead.

    I'll be back Monday darlings, with my review of The Tony Awards. Until then, Cheers darlings.

    To read more of Tallulah Morehead, go to
    The Morehead the Merrier.

    SERIOUSLY, FUCK AYN RAND

    ginandtacos.com
    I used to think Ayn Rand was the bomb but I outgrew it. You know, when I turned 12.

    We all know that liberalism is for the (naive, inexperienced, foolish) young while conservatism is a natural byproduct of aging, maturing, and gaining experience with the world, right? Conventional wisdom gets it wrong yet again. The surge in popularity of objectivism and libertarianism on campus underscores how right wing ideology, not pie-in-sky liberalism, is the real fantasyland for kids who have absolutely no experience in the real world.

    Yes, Ayn Rand is making a comeback among the college-aged. Objectivism is even getting some mainstream press in light of Commissar Obama frog-marching the nation toward hardcore Communism. Heroic individualists are threatening to "go galt" now that Obama has completely eliminated all incentive for anyone to work ever again, re-enacting their own version of the "producers' strike" in Atlas Shrugged.

    I've gotten a little more mellow in recent years, believe it or not, less keen to argue and more able to see middle ground. But there is no middle ground here, no way for us to meet halfway in intellectual compromise: If you are an Objectivist, you are retarded. This is a judgment call, and I just made it. Grow up or fuck off. Those are your two options.

    Atlas Shrugged

    Atlas Shrugged

    17 Jan 2009

    river walker

    This article appeared in the Wall Street Journal the other day.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123146363567166677.html

    The author observes that conditions are very much like they were in the book's fictional time period He then happily jumps to the conclusion that "enemies of profits, capital and creativity," such as you know--you and me--are the ones who have caused the problem. Some quotes:

    Quote:

    Many of us who know Rand's work have noticed that with each passing week, and with each successive bailout plan and economic-stimulus scheme out of Washington, our current politicians are committing the very acts of economic lunacy that "Atlas Shrugged" parodied in 1957, when this 1,000-page novel was first published and became an instant hit.

    In the book, these relentless wealth redistributionists and their programs are disparaged as "the looters and their laws." Every new act of government futility and stupidity carries with it a benevolent-sounding title. These include the "Anti-Greed Act" to redistribute income (sounds like Charlie Rangel's promises soak-the-rich tax bill) and the "Equalization of Opportunity Act" to prevent people from starting more than one business (to give other people a chance). My personal favorite, the "Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act," aims to restrict cut-throat competition between firms and thus slow the wave of business bankruptcies. Why didn't Hank Paulson think of that?

    The current economic strategy is right out of "Atlas Shrugged": The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you. That's the justification for the $2 trillion of subsidies doled out already to keep afloat distressed insurance companies, banks, Wall Street investment houses, and auto companies -- while standing next in line for their share of the booty are real-estate developers, the steel industry, chemical companies, airlines, ethanol producers, construction firms and even catfish farmers. With each successive bailout to "calm the markets," another trillion of national wealth is subsequently lost. Yet, as "Atlas" grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate "windfalls."

    Ultimately, "Atlas Shrugged" is a celebration of the entrepreneur, the risk taker and the cultivator of wealth through human intellect. Critics dismissed the novel as simple-minded, and even some of Rand's political admirers complained that she lacked compassion. Yet one pertinent warning resounds throughout the book: When profits and wealth and creativity are denigrated in society, they start to disappear -- leaving everyone the poorer.

    17 Jan 2009 - 20:09 19851

    SnoopDopeyDogg

    Atlas Mugged

    "When profits and wealth and creativity are denigrated in society, they start to disappear -- leaving everyone the poorer. "

    It isn't that "profits and wealth and creativity are denigrated in society", it's that a few greed pigs having ALL the "profits and wealth in society" is being denigrated, and that they have caused the current economic crisis. Rand was merely one of many sell-outs and flacks who found that kissing corporate ass brought untold wealth and fortune. The corporate-government-propaganda foundation named after her continued her wealth and discovered that more of the same corporate shilling brought more of the same corporate/oligarchic payola.

    Anyone bestowing Greek god mythological status on the band of thieving greed pigs and criminal robber barons who raped America deserves the same respect as those who heap celebrity status upon serial killers. While the Wall Street Journal of Robber Baron Worship NOW claims that we are rewarding 'failures', they are spinning the fact that the robber barons at the top of the greed food chain got there by 'winning' with the lack of rules established by their fellow greed piggies and hegemons in business and at the Journal, joined at the hip, of course, with the politicians they owned. Strangely, they were heralded as 'winners' then by the very same WSJ.

    Naturally, after the failure of allowing the oligarchs free reign failed magnificently (again) under its new banner of "Supply Side Economics" ("Trickle Down Economics" when it failed under Hoover), VooDoo by its detractors proven right, a new breed of corporate and oligarchic ass-kisser has emerged from the sewers to begin a new and desperate round of hegemon asskissing.
    What the Rand neocon apologists (a polite way of saying fascists, or nazis, which is EXACTLY what they are) are trying to do is to blame the current blowback against their hegemon masters for the recession caused by the greed and excess of those they took it up the tailpipe for so many years.

    The cause of the current crisis is the ignored plight of the REAL Joe the Plumbers, Main Street, i.e., the tens of millions of routinely stereotyped and ignored masses upon whose collective wealth all of Wall Street's is based, not the alleged mistreatment of a small cadre of Madoff neoCONs. While the hegemons were engaged in an unregulated orgy of unbridled speculative greed, the various tools of their enrichment were being devalued by the forgotten ultimate source of their wealth. No matter how complex the shell game may be, with derivatives using impenetrable (and false) physics formulas as the prime example, it is still a shell game hiding the pea of the original source of all speculation. If that pea withers and dies, the shell game is over. Let the hegemons leave and go to the islands as Rand threatens, but make those islands Alcatraz and Gitmo (not an island, I know).

    As faceless everymen that no hegemon gave a damn about sunk under the bankruptcy sea due to larcenous medical expenses, rigged exorbitant gas prices, and other constantly advancing consumer prices unmatched by non-existent wage increases, multiplied by rising unemployment and unforgiving debt designed to suck every last cent of expendable income from the victim, the cries for help went unheeded. But once the massive weight of their collective carcasses affected Wall Street, a call to action went out throughout the land! To Arms! To Arms! Save our hegemons! was the embarrassing and criminal plea shouted from the bodies of their ignored supply-side victims. So, even after getting fat welfare checks, Rand's neocon "Atlas" hegemons still couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again. What's a Hegemon-worshipping neocon nazi shill to do?

    __________________
    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." -Upton Sinclair

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." – Voltaire


    Last edited by SnoopDopeyDogg (17 Jan 2009 - 20:18)

    Blood Red Sun

    Bodice Rippin' Good

    Ayn Rand was a romance novelist pretending to be a political philosopher of deep profundity. She certainly piled it deep. Purple prose like "Her bosom heaved. He stared at her heaving bosom wantonly. They kissed passionately. Oh Dagny. Oh Howard." Danielle Steele for republicans and libertarians.

    It is sad that a supposedly responsible leader like alan greenspan would use these trash novels as a guide for managing the economy. It is no great wonder there was a train wreck. Sort of like bushjunior using Tom Clancy as a blueprint for managing politics and war.

    chlorocardium

    And Fountainhead was a decent book... about Architecture. Bad Modern Architecture.

    I'd say read From Bauhaus to Our House instead. And then William McDonough.

    __________________
    And they thought it couldn't happen here ~ Frank Zappa

    Will you tell us when to live, will you tell us when to die? ~ Cat Stevens

    road

    Dagny was a scion.

    She and the rest of the one percent took refuge in a remote area where they could avoid the masses and just be rich together, to paraphrase Fitzgerald.

    Wonder if Paraguay could be today's valley?

    For sheer puke value, visit www.johngaltgifts.com.

    __________________
    "Even our dogs and cats have learned that elections matter." -- Al Gore

    river walker

    Yep.

    Blood Red Sun, your observation of Ayn Rand's writing was very good (and funny!), but also, as you said, it's very sad that policy makers base their decisions on what she wrote. I've read a little about her life--she didn't exactly live her life with the "integrity" she's tried to fob off on others. Don't you just wish that our leaders would base their decisions on what's happening in the real world instead of working off of the untried and untested utopian fantasies of Rand, Milton Friedman and others?

    18 Jan 2009 - 16:32 19864
    MizzGrizz

    Joined: 05 Sep 2006

    the trouble with Rand followers...
    ..is that usually they become acquainted with her ideas in early adolescence, around fourteen or fifteen, when they are using every and any tool they can find to help make sense of the world.

    As a novelist, Ayn Rand was cluttered, verbose,incoherent.As an essayist--read ''For The New Intellectual''---she was far more articulate and she even got some good points across, especially about the Ralph Nader and Bill Clinton types she abhorred.

    In her personal life, referred to above by Riverwalker, she suffered that special hell of the strong woman writer--she wanted a life like a romance novel and it never worked out that way for her.One wonders if her political and social views, like those of many right-wingers, were colored by that sense of disapppointment.

    18 Jan 2009 - 19:03 19866
    Sky Captain

    Joined: 07 Sep 2006

    I'd never thought I'd say this, but here it is:

    Ayn Rand was a piece of shit and her books should be burned.

    19 Jan 2009 - 00:10 19867
    Gerard Pierce

    Joined: 30 Dec 2006

    Philosophy
    Ayn Rand's solutions and her "philosophy" were mostly a bad joke, but her criticisms of the system were very often dead on.

    A large number of people who profess to revere her ideas are people she would have called "moochers" and "looters".

    A lot of people who hate her ideas have never figured out that she hated the greed-heads worse than they do. (Of course she wasn't too consistent or logical in her approval or disapproval).

    The quoted wsj article made a few good points: "The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you."

    or

    "Yet, as 'Atlas' grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate "windfalls."

    You can't use her ideas to run a government - or an economy -, but you sure as hell can use her ideas to recognize the looters and second-raters who steal from the rest of us.

    Try the 1970s when the oil embargo was imposed. There were some US companies who had signed contracts that guaranteed delivery at a premium price. Congress came up with a noble sounding bill that required the smart guys to share their oil with the dum-dums.

    In the early 1980s, thousands of small companies were searching for new domestic sources of oil. Congress passed a "windfall profits" tax that brought the boom to an end. The productive leases that the small companies had located were then bought up by the major oil companies.

    The looters will always be with us, but I wish we would stop electing them to office.

    __________________
    We are all guilty of the good we did not do. - Voltaire


    Last edited by Gerard Pierce (19 Jan 2009 - 00:19) Reason: add title - article by original poster now appears under my name ???
    19 Jan 2009 - 09:18 19872
    Agent Smith

    Joined: 07 Jun 2008

    Quote Gerard Pierce:
    Ayn Rand's solutions and her "philosophy" were mostly a bad joke, but her criticisms of the system were very often dead on.

    A large number of people who profess to revere her ideas are people she would have called "moochers" and "looters".

    Wanna bet?

    In her play NIGHT OF JANUARY 16TH, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_January_16th) the "hero" is a man whose business is initially successful, but who soon runs into financial problems (since it's all hype and no money). To get the funds necessary to continue, he marries a rich man's daughter. He then finds that his father-in-law wants complete control of his business. He then determines to fake his own death, change his name and fly off to a new life with suitcases full of money.

    You and I would call such a character a "moocher" (marrying to gain money!) and "looter" (not a thought for the employees who would suffer as a result of his mismanagement!)

    Yet to Ayn Rand, this character is a hero. (Based on a real-life swindler, Ivan Kreuger, no less.)

    If she were writing today, she'd be creating narratives that romanticized Ken Lay.

    19 Jan 2009 - 15:10 19874
    river walker

    Joined: 04 Apr 2008

    Gerard, you make a good point.

    Quote:

    You can't use her ideas to run a government - or an economy -, but you sure as hell can use her ideas to recognize the looters and second-raters who steal from the rest of us.

    Gerard, that's exactly what struck me about this article, and why I posted it. Rand saw the looters as part of the corrupt "collectivist" or "altruistic" government that had been part of her experience. The author of this article recognizes that the looters are with us, but he's blind to the fact that they are part of the run-amock capitalistic system we're in right now. All he gets from Rand is that collectivism is the problem. He sees the looting that's going on now but blames the left for the problem--that huge disconnect from our reality--from what's going on today.

    And you're right--looters will always be with us and will find the weaknesses in any system.

    19 Jan 2009 - 15:22 19875
    Gerard Pierce

    Joined: 30 Dec 2006

    not exactly accurate
    Agent Smith:

    I hadn't ever read the play, but a brief examination of the reviews indicates that her hero wasn't the crooked business man, but the mistress who was on trial for killing him.

    __________________
    We are all guilty of the good we did not do. - Voltaire

    19 Jan 2009 - 17:24 19876
    SnoopDopeyDogg

    Joined: 10 Dec 2007

    Failure of the Will
    "While the Wall Street Journal of Robber Baron Worship NOW claims that we are rewarding 'failures', they are spinning the fact that the robber barons at the top of the greed food chain got there by 'winning' with the lack of rules established by their fellow greed piggies and hegemons in business and at the Journal, joined at the hip, of course, with the politicians they owned. Strangely, they were heralded as 'winners' then by the very same WSJ….What the Rand neocon apologists (a polite way of saying fascists, or nazis, which is EXACTLY what they are) are trying to do is to blame the current blowback against their hegemon masters for the recession caused by the greed and excess of those they took it up the tailpipe for so many years. "

    Rand didn't "foretell" that the Atlases whose asses she was kissing would BE "the looters and second-raters who steal from the rest of us". No, the Rand Nazis warned about the bullshit circumstances that would befall us if we would NOT allow the hegemons to have their way with us. The supply-siders often quoted Rand, as did the neocon nazis, and Rand was a supply-sider. Rand's hegemons were given free reign, and they drove us into the sewer. True, Rand ass-kissers NOW call the 'hegemons' they formerly worshipped as losers (Bernie Madoff is a stellar example), but they were ALL at the top of the hegemon-worshipping fascist food chain at one time:

    "While the Wall Street Journal of Robber Baron Worship NOW claims that we are rewarding 'failures', they are spinning the fact that the robber barons at the top of the greed food chain got there by 'winning' with the lack of rules established by their fellow greed piggies and hegemons in business and at the Journal, joined at the hip, of course, with the politicians they owned. Strangely, they were heralded as 'winners' then by the very same WSJ."

    The Randists are merely trying to salvage their failed attempt to transliterate fascism by blaming the 'untermensches' for the failures of their gods. It COULDN'T be that their gods failed.
    Like many who have spent a lifetime in a cult only to find out that it was, well, a cult, the initial reaction to the trauma of finding out that their life's philosophy is so much horseshit is denial.

    The delusional followers of the Rand cult naturally also blame the "wealth re-distributors" as the cause of the problem, while the rational know that the "wealth re-distributors" are merely reacting to the massive failures caused by Nietzsche's "Lords of the Earth", or Rand's "Atlases", or the neocons' hegemons, or Hitler's ubermensches, all the exact same objects of fascism's worship of the elite.

    __________________
    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." -Upton Sinclair

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." – Voltaire

    19 Jan 2009 - 22:59 19882
    nightgaunt

    Joined: 30 Oct 2007

    Atlas Shrugged and the economy collapses--"Greed is good," isn't.
    The world of alturistic greed [by accident]is the unworkable Ayn Randian philosophy that is part of the credo of the fascists. The same ones who believe they are God's chosen because they are rich. Because they are rich they are God's chosen. A tautology they can live with in their compartmentalized minds. A self referent 'truism' that is bouyed by its very preposterousness. [Such are the benefits of magical thinking---anything is possible within the mind of Man.] Any who are not and aren't aspiring to be like them are therefor not of God's chosen and are then automatically condemned because of it.They believe they are the 'elect' because they will do anything to get it. The rationalization of the psychopath if there ever was one. Rand was a narcissist big time and needed such group and individual reinforcement of her parasitical personality. One can be a narcissist without being a psychopath. Psychopaths in general consider themselves 'superior' to the rest of us because they don't feel any emotion to any other person. many of them can lie and will do it. Some are smart enough to lie convincingly to others who would trust them. Such concepts certain is self generating and feed back to support their depredations on the one hand and stave off the majority that see the harm it causes to the general population on the other.

    What we are experiencing what happens when the Randians and their ilk get their freedom to plunder others. What do they say for it? They blame those who would not have allowed this in the first place for it. They also demand that even more freedoms be elided to them to plunder us more with the free market. Everything needs to be governed whether it is cell growth or the economy. A balance of forces always or hell breaks loose. In biology if the life span and cell division limits are removed they become cancer and kill the host. We are being killed by an economic cancer right now. Where it is the cancer that is writing the rules we are to think and live by.

    A few quotes from F. W. Nietzsche for SnoopDopeyDog. Taken from the "Basic Writings of Nietzsche" 'Part 4 Epigrams and Interludes':
    67- Love of one is a barbarism; for it is exercised at the expense of all others. The love of God, too.
    76- Under peaceful conditions a warlike man sets upon himself.
    97- What? A great man? I always see only the actor of his own ideal.
    153- Whatever is done in the name of love is beyond good and evil.

    __________________
    I am sorry for this I misplaced the previous password.

    The Word - Rand Illusion

    March 11th

    ColbertNation.com
    1. Sumo Vita commented | 13 months ago

      Rand was the queen of straw men. Rather than overcome the selfish promptings of her diseased little mind, she sought instead to create a fantasy world in her books where selfishness was "courageous" and narcissistic wretches such as herself were heroes. From the comments, clearly there's no shortage of simpering clones only too eager to embrace her "me first" drivel so that they too can pass off their self-centeredness as "noble". Please do keep buying her pathetic books - thoughts of what that money might otherwise be used for is truly frightening.

    1. dailysearch commented | 13 months ago

      I've read everything by Ayn Rand (once believing everything by her) and years and experience have shown me that Miss Rand greatly oversimplifies the world, capitalism, philosophy, psychology, art, etc. Her philosophy is basically a highly developed formulation of her mere personal preferences. I regard her and her movement more than anyone as responsible for the blind hero worship of the rich corporate fat-cats leading up to the current economic crisis. Her ideas ARE an illusion that people unfortunately buy into pushing them (mostly the right) further into that illusion and making it harder for those of us on the opposite of the political spectrum to untangle the mess she and her philosophy have made of her adherents minds. Her philosophy can be described as a very attractive maze at first and the deeper you go into the maze the harder it gets for people on the outside to snap you out of it. I can say with the experience of being on the inside of it, it really is a cult. Capitalism is not as perfect as she would have us believe - it has serious flaws i think anybody with their head not in the sand can see now. Non objective art is not as nearly as horrendous as Rand would want you to believe - some of its practitioners are quite talented...It goes on and on and on...It's just her personal preferences driven to enormous extremes. Her philosophy is entirely based on HER experiences and she forgets that other people have different experiences and therefore different preferences (needs for survival). And of course, she completely ignores how unregulated capitalism leads to abuses. And never touches the glaring contradiction of the free market which is that you have a producer who wants to get as much money in return for their product at odds with a consumer who wants to pay as little as they can for something. And in the employment realm the relationship is corrupted in the same way but in reverse. But you won't see that conflict mentioned, let alone resolved, in any of her books because it can't be under an unregulated market.

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    [Nov 27, 2018] American capitalism could afford to make concessions assiciated with The New Deal because of its economic dominance. The past forty years have been characterized by the continued decline of American capitalism on a world stage relative to its major rivals. The ruling class has responded to this crisis with a neoliberal counterrevolution to claw back all gains won by workers. This policy has been carried out under both Democratic and Republican administrations and with the assistance of the trade unions. Published on Nov 27, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

    [Aug 24, 2018] The priorities of the deep state and its public face the MSM Published on Aug 24, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

    [May 31, 2018] Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent's Stealth Takeover of America by Lynn Parramore Published on May 31, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    [Sep 11, 2017] Around 1970 corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests with capital owners and realigned themselves, abandoning working class and a large part of lower middle class (small business owners) Published on Nov 14, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

    [Sep 11, 2017] Around 1970 corporate managers and professionals realized that they shared the same education, background and interests with capital owners and realigned themselves, abandoning working class and a large part of lower middle class (small business owners) Published on Nov 14, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

    Sites

    Video



    Etc

    Society

    Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy

    Quotes

    War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes

    Bulletin:

    Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law

    History:

    Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

    Classic books:

    The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

    Most popular humor pages:

    Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

    The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D


    Copyright © 1996-2018 by Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov. www.softpanorama.org was initially created as a service to the (now defunct) UN Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) in the author free time and without any remuneration. This document is an industrial compilation designed and created exclusively for educational use and is distributed under the Softpanorama Content License. Original materials copyright belong to respective owners. Quotes are made for educational purposes only in compliance with the fair use doctrine.

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    Last modified: March 20, 2019