Today, many libertarians and conservatives recommend that we read Rand’s ATLAS SHRUGGED to understand the true meaning of freedom, individualism, American values, and capitalism. They argue that our society is burdened by big government and an elite that simply does not appreciate the power of capital, enterprise, ambition, risk-taking, and innovation. You’d think that American society is divided into big government socialists on the one side and individualist capitalists on the other. We have this impression of unimaginative and resentful socialists, liberals, leftists, and government bureaucrats manipulating resentment of the masses in order to undermine the Promethean greatness of the enterprising capitalist class. Perhaps, this was closer to reality back in the days of Rand when much of the capitalist class was none to happy with the New Deal and less burdened with the culture of social and historical guilt. . But, this hasn’t been the case for quite some time. The problem today is not the absence of Randians–as there is no shortage of super-capitalists–but, the nature of the capitalist elite.
In practice, economic competition is as ruthless as it had always been. The best students still strive to enter into top universities. Even if most of them play by the rules–as they should–they want to get ahead of the pack. They don’t want to be like the rest-of-humanity. And, once they get into top schools, they want to get all A’s. They want to graduate with honors. They want to be better than their peers. Out of college, they look for the best jobs that offer the most money, power, prestige, influence, pleasure and/or whatever that they find most fulfilling. They want to come up with the new idea or technology that will earn them not only millions but billions. The point is today’s creme de la creme never practice egalitarianism. Some of them may see themselves as promoting or fighting for equality or ‘social justice’ but want to do so from above. Among those really interested in money, there is brutal competition. These are not ‘nice guys’ but ruthless competitors. Being ruthless doesn’t necessarily mean one is unethical or evil, but it does mean that one is hungry, even mad, for power. So, there is no lack of Randians in our society. Just look at business, government, and other endeavors, and they are filled with people who want more money, power, influence, prestige, honor, etc. They are all Randians in practice.
If so, why is the majority of the most successful people in the US liberals or left-leaning? It’s because Randianism isn’t fulfilling as a professed philosophy. It’s one thing to go after great power, money, fame, honor, and etc, but it doesn’t feel noble to claim such self-obsession. The more convenient way to feel morally satisfied and good about oneself is to claim compassion for mankind. So, we have Angelina Jolie who obviously loves being glamorous, rich, narcissistic, making millions per movie, being on magazine covers all the time, and so on–and is utterly ruthless in the Randian school about it. Yet, she’s also holding and kissing African babies and acting like Mother Teresa. It’s not Atlas Shrugged as much as Atlas Hugged. Contrary to what conservatives think, many liberals and leftists are not sheepish or dorky tree huggers or people too beset with guilt to compete and rise in the world. Indeed, the smartest liberals often tend to be far more ambitious, ruthless, cutthroat, driven, power-mad, and money-crazy than most conservatives. A good many conservatives may love guns, rugged outdoors, and manly stuff, but they are no match to the likes of Rahm Emanuel who’s one of the most ruthless operators around. Rahm will do anything to win. He’s no liberal softie. Or, look at Bill Gates or all those liberals in Hollywood or Silicon Valley. You can’t get any more cutthroat or blood than they.
Sure, they say ‘nice’ things and appear ‘soft’ in public–at times anyway–but, they love power and money and have done anything and everything to get it. If we judge people by what they do than what they say, Randianism is alive and well among the liberal elite.
Sure, there are many wimpy gimpy liberals, but they are not the successful ones. The successful liberals often have bigger balls than most conservatives. Conservatives may love to hunt, but that’s easier than what some liberals like to do–mountain climb, cross an entire continent on a bicycle, and travel all around in dangerous countries. Notice that some of the most daring and big-balled journalists have been leftists and liberals. Conservative journalists generally like to stay close to home and spout opinions. Liberal and leftist journalists like to venture into the jungle world of international politics with heavy equipment. It’s no wonder that liberals and leftists dominate the way we see the world. They got the balls to go where most of us will not.
Woodward and Bernstein had big balls. And, look at some of the most daring artists in the modern era. We may hate Oliver Stone, but the fact is he had the balls to go to Vietnam, see the reality up front, and then go to film school and fight his way up the ladder to make the films he wants to make. In practice, he’s been one helluva a Randian even if his politics is closer to Marx. Conservatives and libertarians talk of how daring, free, and gutsy they are, but in practice, the toughest and most badass people in business, technology, arts, media, and etc have been liberals and leftists. Consider the fact that many liberal bitches have the balls to do something wild, daring, and crazy. They’ll travel the world, climb mountains, go to places where even most of us guys will not dare go, and so on. In contrast, your average conservative girl would rather stay home, watch tv, and hug her bible. Who’s more Randian in practice? Of course, not all liberal women are like this. A good many of them are sheep–reasonably successful but not daring or original. And, they have very naive understanding of society since they don’t come in contact with real reality. But, this is true of most conservative women too.
Anyway, there is a ballsy and gutsy side to liberal and leftist Randians–in practice. Many conservatives think liberals and leftists are for internationalism and trans-nationalism largely of white guilt. There is something to this, but it’s equally true that leftists and liberals–the successful ones anyway–support the dissolution of national borders because they figure they’ll always be #1. They figure they are so smart and so great that no matter what happens to America, they will looking down on all of us. In contrast, it is conservative Americans who are insecure and afraid. Conservatives feel that, as middle Americans, they’ll have to compete with newcomers and would prefer not to since most of them don’t have the brains, talent, or balls to rise above the rabble. In contrast, Randian liberals and leftists feel that they and their kids–blessed with higher IQ genes and good schooling–will always be #1. Come to think of it, I don’t think Rand was ever an American patriot. It was not America–its flag, people, heritage, etc–that inspired her as how America could be used as her pet ideological project. She wanted America to lead the way with super-capitalism but she saw it as something for ALL mankind. Her main loyalty was not to America but to her ideological concept of America which was not only radical individualist but radical universalist. It was a blueprint for the whole world. She though Great Men everywhere should be primarily committed to their own supremacy than to their country and people. And, liberals and leftist billionaires feel this way, live this way, and think this way. Of course, what they say is something different. (In a way, she was no more American than she was Russian. Compare her with Solzhenitsyn who had suffered under the communist system a 1000x more. He too came to America, but he always felt a great love and devotion to Russia despite all he had suffered under the communist system. He was born, lived, and died a Russian patriot. Rand felt no love or nostalgia for Russia though she’s been born there. As an American, she tried to impose HER idea of what American should be on all of us than try to learn what America really was. Rand tried to remake America as much as Lenin tried to remake Russia. Lenin tried to remake Russia into a post-national socialist state, and Rand tried to remake America into a post-national playground for her mythic individualist-capitalists. Granted, her ideology was bound to be far less dangerous because it didn’t seek to gain total state power)
So, the dichotomy that libertarians have in their silly minds is all wrong. The world is really not split between the freedom loving, masterful, competitive individualists AND dull, unimaginative, and jealous socialists and their mass followers. Rather, today’s Randians are the ‘socialists’.
But, this is nothing new since rich and powerful people in the West have been Christians for most of European and American history. The rich and powerful are like you and me in this regard–they wanna have the cake and eat it too. They want all the power and money yet they wanna hog the morality and compassion too. When Bill Gates made his billions in the 80s and 90s, people just saw him as the Rich Guy. That wasn’t enough for him so he set up a mega-foundation to dole out money to this cause, that cause, and buy the respect and appreciation of mankind. He makes his money the Randian way but uses it the socialist way. That way, he can be rich/powerful and noble/caring. Of course, acting the savior-of-mankind is just another way to win power and influence. Powerful liberals in government are less likely to inspect his dirty ass, and leftists are less criticize and condemn everything he does. It’s one way of buying off the opposition.
But, I don’t doubt Gates’s ideological sincerity since everyone gets their view of the world from people who write books and the news. And, who controls the mind of the nation? Mostly liberals and leftists, a good many of them Jews. Since Jews are intelligent, even their falsehoods, distortions, exaggerations, and fantasies have a way of sounding true or brilliant. It’s no wonder that so many of the smartest people in the world were taken in by people like Trotsky. They admired Trotsky and favored him over Stalin not so much because Trotsky was less of a radical but simply because he sounded more intellectual and smarter than the ruffian-like Stalin. It’s the cult/conceit of brilliance. Jared Diamond, for instance, is a very brilliant Jew. He’s a lying leftist ideologue and lowlife asshole, but his book "Guns, Germs, and Steel" was provocative and seemingly profound. People like Gates read it–and the books of Jeffrey Sachs–and found a convenient explanation of the world–why parts of it work, parts of it don’t.
On a related subject, one should consult here: