"Totally coup, yo."

Caigoy Shrugs, Part IV

Jan

16

by

BEAST philosopher-at-large Michael Caigoy reads Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, so you don’t have to


Part Four: Rand Vs. Nature

(read part one, two and three)

RANDMEN

It’s important in Atlas Shrugged to vilify Rearden’s wife, Lillian, so his betrayal can be rationalized. For an author like Rand, who has little interest in the pathos of female characters (Dagny hardly counts), shortcuts must be taken in undermining any sympathy the reader might develop. To this end, Rand picked through the literary trough and found frigidity — the gimmick wheeled out by Orwell to justify Winston’s separating from his wife, freeing him morally, to later bone Julia and brew coffee out in an old peeping-tom’s loft space.

No, fuck the Orwell reference. That’s too easy — libertarian easy. The irony of Nineteen Eighty-Four is its frequent use in reinforcing emotional narratives — the very purpose of the author’s own maligned Newspeak. So, fuck Orwell. His apocalyptic prophecies have been looming on the horizon since day one, and never come to fruition. He was talking about something specific (the spread of nationalization into western Europe and North America, and the development of an all-encompassing police state), and it didn’t fucking happen. Today’s tyranny is passive-aggressive and mundane. Deal with it, nutcases.

I’m getting distracted here. Stupid Orwell.

To celebrate Hank’s infidelity, he and Dags take a road trip to more of the middle states — only natural, since Rand and provincial xenophobes go together like metal and rape. Dagny wanted to take a side trip, as no good vacation is complete without an inexplicable visit to an abandoned factory.

Along the way, they rattled through some piss town, distressing the emotionally-taut Rearden. He all but sobs at the sight of it: a stretch of road without billboards.

Rearden: “I don’t like the looks of this.”

Dags: “I don’t either.” Then she smiled. “But think how often we’ve heard people complain that billboards ruin the appearance of the countryside.

Rearden: Well, there’s the unruined countryside for them to admire.”

And there’s your “second most influential book of the Twentieth century.” If you’ve ever used a VCR or TiVo to skip ads, you’ve made the list, as Dagny finally says of the billboard averse: “They’re the people I hate.”

Here, too, the evils of something — greenery — are too obvious for explanation. I have to ask, has anybody actually read this book?

In the hallowed factory ruins, the philanderer and the floozy find the remnants of a fabled motor powered by static electricity. Dagny goes on the hunt for the guy that built it — presumably in his garage, with a sweet welding montage.

She sniffs at the breadcrumb trail of previous owners, all of them corrupt and incompetent, of course! She asks them if they know anything about the original owners, engineers, etc. They uniformly reply that their ineptitude isn’t their own fault, that they care about the common man, that all people care about is money, that they’ve never made a profit, and that they love puppies. She asks the same question, they moan some more — ad nauseam.

This thread of non-sequiturs goes on for several paragraphs, with a procession of characters again too similar and nondescript to name.

For some reason, an exasperated Dagny ends up in a greasy spoon, where she observed a fry cook that impressed her with his poise, precision, and cognizant glare. It turned out he was the philosopher, Hugh Akston. The greatest of all time, Dagny gasped — and what a coincidence he sounded exactly like our lovely author! I glanced at the book in astonishment! (Get used to that phrase if you plan on reading this book. In which case, I wish you luck.)

Now, I’m not suggesting a lot of philosophers don’t end up fry cooks, but how metaphysical masturbation translates into a mastery of the spatula is a secret I’m not privy to.

Then Atlas Shrugged finally throws me for a loop; it said something not totally idiotic. It wasn’t an original idea, or even well-said, but it at least reminded me that at some point, before this marathon through neck-deep horseshit, I was once acquainted with remotely good ideas. Not just ones following a self-contained internal logic disconnected from reality.

Dagny talked up fair wages for Taggart Transcontinental’s engineers — specialists, in other words, not necessarily skilled at water polo and sexual assault. I’ll admit, I’m naively basing that assumption on reality rather than some explicit remark, which is at best a 1/99 bet against my being right. Dags hired on a Quentin Daniels to reverse engineer that static electricity-powered motor she plucked from the Twentieth Century Motor Co. ruins in Bumfuck, Wisconsin.

She wanted to pay him well for his task. It’s no small thing making a transportation company heiress, and professional delegator (not to mention a loyal S&M gimp) look irreplaceable. But, being a  righteous capitalist ascetic, he deferred compensation (none of the heroes in this book need money, remember?)… so he could later ream Dagny if he succeeded.

There’s no mention of the innumerable workers without whom neither starched suits like Dagny, nor their pious technical counterparts like Quentin, could realize practical applications — or even perform the research necessary to determine a product’s viability. The working class (you) evidently remain a faceless, silent, interchangeable, and expendable sludge bubble.

Still, it’s a conspicuous contrast that, here on planet Earth, Americans from all levels of education and qualification are feeling the economic decline. Businessmen long ago realized that fairly compensating even white collar employees, and making quality products, was but one way to enhance profit margins and competitiveness. In the short term, they decided it wasn’t even the best way, and that by undercutting the economic health of their native country through aggressive outsourcing, creative bookkeeping, lobbying, etc., their highest ranks could stuff their pockets more quickly, at the expense of everyone else.

Meaning that ultimately, no matter how antisocial Rand’s economic hallucinations were, her followers managed to fuck that up, too.

Or did they?

After Constantine decided he needed support from the semi-literate multitudes, Christianity saw a rapid transition from the religion of hicks to a mainstream institution. And why not? Its followers were encouraged to shun worldly possessions, exhorted to deprive themselves of comfort and enjoyment. They considered poverty a virtue, strife a condition of salvation. They condemned themselves to hardship, and embraced a disenfranchised loserdom — which the powerful were more than happy to oblige.

Not only were the pious driven toward their paradise through a gauntlet of misery, but they were smug in the assurance that it was a reward of which their masters would be deprived. I’m sure the wealthy cried themselves to sleep, on their featherbeds, next to their mistresses.

It suits our modern ownership class that the average, the mediocre, should aspire to an opulence as distant and unlikely as a magical afterlife, while undercutting themselves and the rest of us in the interim. Affluence is the new Heaven, and for most it’s as much a fiction as the old.

Nietzsche recognized the problems of Judeo-Christian religions, and he wanted to reaffirm life. Rather than worrying about the substance of things hoped for (i.e. Jack squat), he brought focus back to the immediacy of things present; in the practicality of science, and the contentment of physical self-worth.

Materialism/monism is the antithesis of dualism, the latter of which posits an undemonstrated immaterial realm (AKA fuck all) as commonly accepted as it is inane and ontologically bankrupt.

Rand took “materialism” all literal and shit, conflating it with the materialism condemned by ridiculous hippies and other transcendental jerkoffs. In Atlas Shrugged, she doesn’t just portray it as a personal preference, but the only “rational” priority (as in, “no one comes to the Father but through Me”). The most “moral” characters in the Randverse find salvation through haplessly accumulating money they, by their own admission, don’t need — just to support principles consistent with her one-note precepts. They sound like the most wretched people in history, trying to make sense of the Objectivist vision of happiness.

Rand takes the derisive straw-man leveled against materialists by dualists and other spiritual rabble, and adopts it as a moral imperative. It’s like the difference between an atheist and a Satanist. One disregards religion, while the other accepts its premises, then deliberately sides with the comic relief. Rand’s materialism is pure slapstick.

In one episode, incompetent straw-man, Jim Taggart, dips into a shop and is mooned over by a transportation groupie (Cheryl Brooks). Hey, I can’t make this shit up. She goes home with Jim, and obligingly repeats the cant spurted in some variation across every other page of this porno-prop, about the morality of being a greedy refugee from an airbrushed Wehrmacht recruitment poster. She credits Jim with the implementation of an untested bridge design, built from an unproven material, and he doesn’t bother to dissuade her.

While the girl, Cheryl, is clearly gagging for it, Jim is distracted by his obligation to discredit himself for the Rand audience, and starts rambling about benefitting society or something, saying, All they think about is money, blah dee blah blah. I believe in a higher purpose, bleep blorpitty blop.

His sympathy for humanity ruins the moment, and she falters on her resolve to bang a railway executive. Yep, empathy is a turn-off in the Randverse. Bear in mind that none of the characters in this book seem to have, or mention children — outside of a pregnant hillbilly Dagny all but spat on during the road trip.

A perfunctory explanation of a courtship between the two whizzes past. It doesn’t involve rape, so as in the earlier Jim and Cheryl sequence, Rand opts for the convenience of neutering him altogether. He’s not driven by love, lust, etc., but a craving for the rare admiration the insecure chick lavishes. How this creepy master-slave relationship is different from Dagny’s commitment to being Hank’s submissive blow-up doll is Rand’s to know and mine to lose interest in.

At the Taggart wedding, there are more lectures. Jim takes a moment to rant about his spiritual nature, citing metaphysical fall guy, Dr. Pritchett; and thus combining vague religious allusions with epistemological nihilism. I once got into a drunken argument with a postmodernist at a Korean restaurant. It happens. They move the goalposts. So I understand the psychic trauma of dealing with radical relativism. It doesn’t explain why this marginal outlook looms so large among her shadowy antagonists. It’s not popular — like, at all.

Regardless, the lesser Taggart complains again about his sister, etc., being all about money, while he answers a call that evidently precludes any competence as a businessman.

“If I acknowledge their superiority in the material realm, why don’t they acknowledge mine in the spiritual?”

Jim Taggart delivers his appeal pre-digested. He’s already conceded the entire physical world. Presuppositions like these compose the false dichotomies so key in Rand’s conclusions — with which the reader is bludgeoned in literally every chapter. Material success and spirituality are mutually exclusive for Rand; this straw-man spirituality is then used to ridicule any desire for a fair society. Social justice is also caricatured; conveniently closing a gulf between basic welfare programs to keep people alive and off the streets, and a state of fully nationalized industries, where merit can neither be exercised nor rewarded.

It’s easy to draw a line between her views and a demographic unwilling to see the brutality of an American Social Darwinism in practice today.

Whatever the validity of spiritual ideas (i.e. little to none), it’s telling to see that Rand’s either too inattentive to present them accurately, or lacking the confidence to rebut any realistic portrayals of them. Which is odd, considering real spiritual arguments are self-parodying.

  • Jerold Tabbott

    caigoy,

    More mindless caigoy fantasies? Who can keep up with cleaning all your mental sludge?

    The better question is who’d want to waste their time.

    What self-indulgent, ignorant nonsense you write. Your mind’s obviously too far gone for any help.

  • http://bookspromiscuouslyread.blogspot.com/ Nullifidian

    Jerrold is the perfect little Randroid. If you don’t agree with Rand, then you’re not part of the Elect and nothing he can say can help bring you to salvation—erm, ‘rationality’. Randroids are the Calvinists of the political world.

  • matt

    you know, I’ve noticed that of all the posters on this article who disagree with your asessment have basically just resorted to name-calling and general invective, I’m not sure what that’s indicative of, but i know if someone made a four plus part hatchet job on one of my favorite works (Rand certainly doesn’t rank among them), I’d be sure to respond with something like “here’s where I think your wrong…” or “I see what you did there, but actually…” I wouldn’t just call you a Big Stupid Head. Either they haven’t read the book or they’re defending something indefensible (I’ve only read the Fountainhead, that was in high school, didn’t think much of it and moved on, so I’m just speculating here).

  • Laura

    I read the clift notes for atlas shrugged in high school because the book sucked so bad. As an adult I came across the libertarian crowd that took it serious and I laughed in their faces yet made it a point to learn about the outlandish objectivist philophies.

    And please don’t compare Rand to Orwell. Orwell was a journalists who wrote fiction and really if you think about it was the first Gonzo journalists (read “Homage to Catolina” and “Shooting an Elephant”). Ayn Rand was a screen play writer who was jaded because daddy lost his pharmacy and confused Stalinism with all forms of socialism. She was a dillusional person who was probably suffering from some form of PTS and that is why her writting doesn’t make sense.

    Also I heard Rand use to fuck Greenspan. I don’t know if it’s true though.

  • matt

    @Laura, they spent A LOT of time together, and those close to Greenspan generally say it’s like 95% probable. You are free to vomit now.

  • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

    +1 on Homage to Catalonia
    Jerold, just make yourself useful and show us your boobs already.

  • Jerold Tabbott

    All,

    Let’s face it. When one sees an article so utterly childish, so completely inaccurate, and so intentionally misrepresentative of anyone’s novel or philosophy, where does one even start to begin criticism.

    Caigoys pontifications were so self-indulgent and stupid that there is no reason to accord him any respect. That so many posters and, apparently, fans of this website seem to completely fail to see how utterly dishonest his blog is… only forces me to conclude that the general intelligence of people frequenting this site is very low.

    I would be very hard pressed to find even one intelligent argument made by caigoy that is even worthy of offering a defense to. His blog is such utter, puerile and literary crap. He says nothing intelligent. He just assumes that you will all just find him so clever, that he doesn’t care that he has absolutely no substance – only his fanciful interpretations to offer. And those fall far short of anything anyone with serious intelligence or honesty would read past the first few sentences. He elevates ignorance onto a pedestal, and asks you all to praise it.

    Of course, this is your site, and you are entitled to rot your minds with such mental drool if you so wish.

    Do you really want me to respond and point out the errors. It would take pages and pages, and probably days and days. There is hardly a post I’ve seen that couldn’t be quite simply ripped to shreds just on the pure absurdity of the comments.

    Let’s take matt’s last post as an easy example. matt says “and those close to Greenspan generally say it’s 95% probable (him having sex with Rand). Well, wow, matt… you must really have some insider information there. Please quote your secret source, because none of the recent independent biographies of Rand picked up even a hint of such a wildly improbable event, and none of those who were part of Ran’s inner circle – or even those who fell out with Rand – has ever made such an absurd presumptuous statement. Greenspan did attend, along with a close group of Rand’s friends in what could be described as a coffee clatch. A bunch of them gathered around regularly at her house and just talked philosophy, ideas, and probably politics.

    To put it more bluntly, almost everyone here seems to think that whatever absurd imaginings might spew out of their mouth is just as good as facts. I’m just telling you that they are not.

    This site appears only to be for those who do not want to take any responsibility to learn the facts or try to understand anything before spewing an opinion. Thus the quality of opinions found here is rather dismal. This site isn’t for encouraging intelligent discussion. It is just to provide a playpen for those too lazy to think.

    PS: those close to admin say it is 95% probable that admin is having oral sex with matt. Phew! Who would’ve guessed?

    • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

      TITS OR GTFO

  • admin

    Dear Jerold,

    Keep on raping that dolphin!

  • matt

    Its true, the Rand/Greenspan sexcapade thing was meant as a joke, and not a very good one. I know I don’t read the Beast for anything resembling thoughtful discourse, its a place where like minds can vent. When I want reasonable and well researched material, I’ll read David Foster Wallace or something. Plenty of able-minded people like to take a vacation from the high road and induldge HL Mencken or, in this site’s case, Ian Murphy.

  • Beast_Fan

    Dolphin rape? Does he hang out with Anthony Watts?

  • http://bookspromiscuouslyread.blogspot.com/ Nullifidian

    Here’s Jerrold’s problem as I see it: he’s a stupid person who has convinced himself that he’s a great intellectual because he hangs on the words of a woman who was also remarkably stupid, but styled herself as a great ‘philosopher’. She managed this feat by mangling or oversimplifying every philosophical concept she came across, until she convinced herself that she had constructed a perfectly self-consistent and comprehensive philosophical system. Then she formed a personality cult around herself that told her what a brilliant, incisive, and original thinker she was. And they were happy to oblige her, because the only thing more common than people who wildly overestimate their intellectual capabilities are those who know full well their intellectual limitations and want someone to provide them with the answers in a simple, easily digested format. Ayn Rand filled that need: the first advocate of “Philosophy for Dummies”.

    The whole scam can only be maintained as long as one remains blissfully ignorant of the majority of philosophy and literature, which puts Rand’s windy, overblown screeds to shame. That’s why Rand constantly condemned authors and thinkers and encouraged her followers not to soil their “premises” with these hateful figures (who invariably happened to be deeper thinkers and better writers than her).

    That’s why you’ll find Randroids who say, in all seriousness, that if you dislike Rand you are cast out into the outer darkness of literature, fit only for reading Twilight or Dan Brown novels, because in their mind that is the only choice: Rand’s potboilers or other people’s potboilers. They have no conception of the richness and variety of world literature, except in the abstract. They don’t read it, and if they did read it they wouldn’t know what to do with it.

  • Jerold Tabbott

    Thank you, matt, for the first and only intelligent response I’ve seen on this site.

    And, nullifidian, I’ve always considered myself to be only of average intelligence. I only look much smarter because of the genuinely low intellect that has gravitated to this site. Besides which, truthfully, it is not what you have, but what you do with what you have that really defines a person. Learned that long ago.

    Finally, admin, you are simply amazing… la crud de la crud. One usually looks towards a website administrator as having some at least rudimentary responsibility and decency. Quite obviously, I have stumbled upon a website where there are none of those virtues to be found. How disgusting. You should put your names on the top of your own “loathsome list”, which btw, by its own existence, is loathsome and cheap. Grow a conscience, gain some self respect, and clean up your dismal website.

    Now, unless anyone here still demands more of my attention (i.e. wishes to respond and mouth off, trying again to sound clever…again), I will gladly exit this stinking, festering cesspool (or GTFO as Just Punting requests). A simple, unadorned GTFO will suffice to remove me from your midst. What say you, admin? Shall I GTFO?

  • admin

    Dearest Jerold Tabbot,
    I think Lionel Richie best expresses what I feel. This is dedicated to you:

    Please, Jerold, never leave us. And, besides, you have yet to offer one defense of AS or valid criticism of Caigoy’s spot-on review.

  • poopsquire

    its monday. i come here for the loathsome list. i dont get the loathsome list. i get part 4 in the “dolphin raper vs the world” series. what the fuck?

  • Jerold Tabbott

    Sigh!… Is it that ‘opposites attract’ thing, because sorry, I just don’t feel it. Perhaps it is just that desire to have something which you cannot attain yourself (self-respect, intelligence?). In any event, if it is so important to you, you-may-kiss-my-ass.

    And while you contemplate that, why don’t you read one of my earliest posts here which did discuss caigoy’s brown spot. Really, if one one you could make a serious, intelligent criticism, I’d consider elaborating more. Caigoy’s brown spot says nothing of merit that warrants the attention. I’m still amazed you print such drivel. Really says something (icky) about you, admin, but then again, so do your responses to my posts.

    How old are you? 14? Quit your mental masturbation, and the girl of your dreams will eventually show up.

  • admin

    Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Squire,
    Sit back, relax and enjoy the comedic stylings of Jerold Tabbot, and the smooth sounds of Lionel Richie. It’s going to be Monday for another 13 hours — 16 hours on the West Coast. Hang tough, little buddy. We’re working on it.

  • Jerold Tabbott

    poopsqire,

    What can I say. WTF -Admin has requested my continued presence. Take it up with them.

  • poopsquire

    that’s because he thinks it will fill in the gaps between the present and the arrival of the annual “great pumpkin”.

  • Jerold Tabbott

    admin,

    It’s not wise to get into a battle of wits when you’re unarmed.

    The only disadvantage I have is that I don’t really know just how despicable and scuzzy you are. Should I worry about that? Are you Tuscan crazy? 14 year old kid crazy?

  • Jerold Tabbott

    and, of course, your fans… how crazy are they? You certainly don’t attract the brightest of people. Are they just dumb, or are they dumb and dangerous? Both you and your fans are obviously aggressive. The only question is how much.

    Should I be worried about any more nastiness and aggression than I’ve observed so far?

    • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

      SHOW US YOUR TITS

  • admin

    Josh,
    I think we need to a gentler approach to woo simple Jerold:

    Now, Jerold, show us your tits. Or we shall go “Tuscan” crazy, whatever that means.

  • Jerold Tabbott

    LOL. Lionel Ritchie again!

    No, I think you’ve demonstrated my point. I won’t get an intelligent response from you. It was a wasted effort to try.

    Free at last, free at last, thank yada yada I’m free at last!

    • http://nanobotswillenslaveusall.wordpress.com/ Josh Bunting

      LOSE THE PANTS, TABBOTT

  • poopsquire

    you better believe im dangerous, dolphin raper! i will shit in a bag, place it on your front porch and light it on fire! when you come to stomp it out, you will get shit on your shoe, and then i will jump out from behind the bushes and hit you in the head with a bomb!

  • Jerold Tabbott

    See?

  • poopsquire

    of course i can see. the only thing i cant see is the new loathsome list.

  • Beast_Fan

    ” won’t get an intelligent response from you. It was a wasted effort to try.”

    You…tried?

  • http://bookspromiscuouslyread.blogspot.com/ Nullifidian

    And, nullifidian, I’ve always considered myself to be only of average intelligence. I only look much smarter because of the genuinely low intellect that has gravitated to this site.

    Yes. Yes, that’s exactly what I saying: first of all, that the average poster here is an idiot, and secondly, that you are by comparison a genius without peer. Congratulations. You have again successfully interpreted an interlocutor without the distorting effects of self-obsession and self-congratulation.

    In reality, you don’t strike me as smarter than the average person. In fact, you strike me as a complete dumbass, but one with an overweening belief in his own competence.

    Besides which, truthfully, it is not what you have, but what you do with what you have that really defines a person. Learned that long ago.

    Great. So what are you doing with what you have? Wow us with your accomplishments, please.

    Really, if one one you could make a serious, intelligent criticism, I’d consider elaborating more.

    Here’s another thing Randroids fail to understand: making judgments about people is a two-way street. We aren’t obligated to bow down to your standards of what constitutes a “serious, intelligent criticism” unless you first show that you have some capacity for grasping and responding to intelligent argument. So far, by your abject failure to present anything resembling an intelligent argument, the rest of us have concluded that it’s not worth wasting the time on you to go haring after your undefined standards of “serious” and “intellectual”. If you were to first show where Caigoy’s arguments fails, then we would have a basis from which to begin a discussion. But just sitting back and saying “I’m not satisfied so I’ll stand up and spew a lot of invective in place of reasoned argument” isn’t going to do jack shit for the rest of us.

  • Ozinator

    I think you all sound like you are from the Rand fan dating site…I’m sure whatever I write sounds the same because to us clever folks, it’s all about bluffing and hoping, right? Right? What a fucking coke spoon party this dive is

    (please keep it going…heheh)

  • Tom Brady’s Pinache

    Loathsome list?

    Liar Liar panties on fire.

  • Obsequious Non Sequitur

    Not sure what’s funnier – Caigoy’s anti-Randian blitzkrieg, or Herrold’s attempted-riposte/awful-little-cul-de-sac-/cubbyhouse-of-shit/intellectual-timeshare-agreement he seems to have determinedly constructed for himself out of some very flimsy material indeed.

  • http://thefishshow.com/Archive/WATCHMEN%20UNMASKED.htm Avenging World

    Ayn Rand drove Steve Ditko mad and drove Neil Peart to write some really bad rock lyrics -
    both were far greater talents than she, who deserved to be left in peace.

  • TrollofReason

    Aw, I think I feel cheated. I was going to call him [Jerold] a verbose, lazy fuckwit for not showing those critical thinking skills he [Jerold "I Like Flipper" Tabbott] so obviously possesses.

  • HiggsBossman

    I have read Ayn Rand along with a substantial array of other philosophers. I do not completely agree with her ideals, but she makes some valid arguments. That being said, this simple statement alone illustrates the fact that you clearly do not understand her philosophy which is so clearly and repeatedly stated….

    “The most “moral” characters in the Randverse find salvation through haplessly accumulating money they, by their own admission, don’t need”

    As you have mentioned, this book is tedious and repeats itself endlessly. Therefore, it should have been easy for you to understand that for Rand, man’s highest moral purpose is productive/creative achievement. Whether it makes money or not has nothing to do with it. It is understandable how you could miss such an obvious exclamation however. Considering you have probably never achieved anything productive, nor creative.

    Your misdirection through clever links and irrelevant tangents were very effective though, I will give you that. Unfortunately for any astute reader the strategy is transparent.

    Alright everyone, insult away. Too bad I won’t be back to read it.

    PS. I heard lots of “Show your tits.” So…where are all the tits?

  • Laura

    “Who is John Galt? Blah blah blah! To be selfish drives humanity, blah blah! Man’s greatest achievements are driven by greed and selfishness.” That sums up Randian philosphies.

    Ok fastforward to a post Randian society were we have been driven by greed and selfishness. Bam the housing bubble then burst! Bam wallstreet sets us up for failure and still encourages us to keep up with the jones’.

    -From the average idiot..

  • Terrified

    idiot is right.

  • Trevindor

    What a brilliant series. What a great service to anyone considering reading this book.

    Alas, it is too late for me, having waded through it in my teens. It is, after all, teen fiction. So much wasted youth…

    I am particularly impressed with Caigoy’s suggestion that Rand confused Nietzsche’s “materialism” with today’s shop-til-you-drop connotation of the word. It really would explain quite a bit. If it was a case of a Russian misreading an English translation of a German work, it might even be an honest mistake. Imagine: an entire cult based on a reading comprehension gaffe.

  • Falling Up

    Dear Mr. Tabbott,

    “Your argument is too stupid for me to bother to try and counter it” is not a counter-argument. It’s a cop out, and a particularly lame one at that. NO argument is too stupid to form a well-educated counter-argument against, and neither yours, nor Caigoy’s, is an exception to this. Kindly get off your soapbox, pull the ten-foot pole out of your ass, and at least give us some kind of an AMUSING “your argument is invalid because…”. (PROTIP: try ending that sentence with something OTHER than “you’re stupid”.)

    Here, look, I made one for you: http://tinyurl.com/48wgocw

    Sincerely yours,
    ~Falling Up

  • Pingback: Michael Caigoy reads Atlas Shrugged so you don’t have to | jemery.com

  • TrollofReason

    –Therefore, it should have been easy for you to understand that for Rand, man’s highest moral purpose is productive/creative achievement. Whether it makes money or not has nothing to do with it.–

    Then why, in the story weren’t they all like the unnamed static-powered-engine inventor? Oh, right, he sold out. Or rather he gave away/sold the rights to his wonder invention to a series of corrupt incompetents… who weren’t at all acting upon a rational, Objectivist (what is good for me is right) agenda to keep industrial and economic power within the status quo. Oh, not at all. They were all described as being too stupid for that. And probably in mind-numbing detail.

    So, to recap with (slight) brevity: The only guy who ascribes to your exceptionalist interpretation to yet another of Rand’s morally bankrupt, vapidly materialist philosophies turns out to be, in the end, a spectacular failure. It is only through a chance encounter (and a tremendously contrived one, at that) that reawakens the age of the static motor.

    That was fun! Get part 5 up, Caigoy. If there is more to harp on, of course.

  • PC

    I read Atlas Shrugged when I was in college. At that point, I had no idea who Ayn Rand was. I didn’t know anything about Objectivism. I’d always heard it was a good book and I decided I’d give it a try.

    I was absolutely shocked at how such a wretched piece of trash could be termed “literature.”

    To call the shallow, one-dimensional mouthpieces in this book “characters” is an insult to that term. Dagny is one of the most blatant examples of misogyny in literary history.

    Atlas Shrugged is not a novel. A novel has characters and plot. This is a mammoth-sized rant by a narcissist.

  • adrian

    maybe the monotonous repetition within rand’s book demonstrates to her followers the only way to attempt a defense of her ideas. here in the comments section, Jerold simply repeats the same nothings over and over, not unlike rand’s characters, as described by Caigoy.

    when i was small, i liked to believe that saying something enough might make it true. but i grew up, and i realized that people who thought that were small.

  • mattc

    Jerrold, good god you sound like a pretentious twat.

    Do you enjoy the attentiion you’re getting you dirty attention-slut you? you filthy stinky cam-whore. You foul venereal disease ridden, basement-dwelling randroid Troll?

    Yeah you like that don’t you? people sitting here wallowing through that popinjay-sounding twaddle you’re typing? ooh yeah, beg for it! Beg us for it, you slut!!!

    In all seriousness though, no one is going to bring up Bioshock, only the most awesome video game series of the past 5 years, and one of the best takedowns of Ayn Rand’s stupid ideologies ever.

    Also, Caijoy has given examples of the flaws in her ideology, just not in this part. Jobs, Edison, etc. Rand has an archetype for business magnates she developed, that does not exist anywhere outside of her severely stunted mind.

  • Terrified

    You are all so quick to criticize her work (which definitely has it’s flaws), but what right have you? What have you contributed or accomplished? It is a hell of a lot easier to trash someone else’s work then it is to try and create your own. That goes for Jerold as well in regards to Caijoy’s “work.”

    You have nothing better to do then abuse some dead russian? I couldn’t understand this much energy and activity if you enjoyed her writing.

  • Glass Daughter

    Hello all,

    Thought you could use another Rand fan’s perspective, as you all seem to have run out of new and creative things to call Jerold. Although I do agree with many of the comments here about the actual writing in Atlas shrugged (the characters are one-dimensional, the plot gets caught up in minutia, there is a black and white dichotomy between the ‘producers’ and everyone else), criticizing the literary style and criticizing the philosophy presented therein should be separated.

    Overall, to me it sounded like Caigoy simply didn’t understand or chose not to understand the underlying principles of objectivism. Yes, A is A seems a bit basic, but she was starting from scratch (and no she wasn’t saying that the arbitrary letter/symbol A is the same arbitrary symbol… she was using it as a variable to represent and physical thing or metaphysical concept- sorry if this seems too obvious, but I can’t tell if the statement misunderstanding A is A was a joke).

    And Nietzsche and Rand are extremely similar- I wouldn’t even call rand a simplification (so if Nietzsche is valid, so is Rand). Where Nietzsche argues that you should do whatever you want, just because it makes you arbitrarily happy in the moment, Rand argues that you should do whatever is best for you. Although you can (and many objectivists like to) help others, you do not have a moral obligation to do so. Your only moral obligation is to, within the confines of a rational and scientific universe, produce and be creative to the best of your abilities. Basically, live as long and good of a life as possible.

    The basic immorality presented in Rand’s system occurs when anyone uses force to take advantage of others. This is why we are not currently living in anything close to an objectivist utopia, despite what some commenters have said. Every example previous posters have given of the evils of capitalism and why a laissez faire economy wouldn’t work are intrinsic problems with the government how it is currently. Right now, the government props up fraudulent/inept businesses with tax dollars that it took from hard working americans. This is what causes corrupt businesses. In a Randian society, there would be only minimal taxes (to support a defensive military and defensive police force), and the only laws governing economics would be to prevent fraud. If you, as the consumer, thought that a business was corrupt, don’t support them or buy their products. If that business continues to succeed without relying on fraud, it isn’t anyones fault but the stupid majority of the american public.

    In an objectivist society, it also wouldn’t just be the multi-billionaires who were ethical producers. Anyone who has any skill and uses that for production of anything, while not forcing anyone else to live for their sake, is perfectly abiding by objectivist tenets.

    To respond to TrollofReason, John Galt left society because he could be more productive elsewhere, where others weren’t demanding that his efforts be only for the sake others. All the other characters in the book (however unrealistic) are also productive and not exerting force on others, so they too are following Rand’s moral code.

    To respond to the comment about Bioshock- that game is amazing, however, andrew ryan’s society failed, not from objectivist principles, but from the attempts to control everything. (ie, banning bibles, having an army of plasmid dudes, etc). Ayn Rand, however atheistic she is, would never ban bibles.

    I don’t have time to elucidate more right now, and I may not be back on this site, but feel free to find the holes that are probably still in my writing… I haven’t had time to look back over it.

    Thanks,
    GlassDaughter

  • Alex

    Fun read. Looking forward to the next installments.

    You know what would be great? If we could take a province or state of some country, move all the reasonable people out, have all the Randians of the world move there, and let them try their utopia. Then, after a year or two, when the destitute masses for whom no jobs miraculously fell from the sky either have succeeded with their hunger revolt or have all been shot by the increasingly fascist government that would be needed to keep them down, we can finally strike that ideology off the list of potentially useful ideas, just like most of us did with “have every shop and farm run by the state” and “the firstborn of the current head honcho becomes the new head honcho, no matter how incompetent he is”.

    Of course, to the real ideologue, not even that experiment would be convincing. Like the remaining Trotzkyists, they would simply say that this or that detail should have been done differently, then it would have worked. But they should finally become fewer.

  • Trevindor

    Hoo boy. On top of everything else, we have Ayn Rand: parasitic, mooching hypocrite.

  • ohhh billy

    this is a troll reverse gangbang. the first of its kind?

    i bleed money.

  • Ahab

    First off, libertarianism is as much a form of ideological extremism as is Marxism. If one didn’t work, I don’t have much faith for the other. Second, there is no such thing as the objective – only cameras and scanners see life without the veil of perception. Third, the philosophy’s two biggest fatal flaws are the assumption that innovation occurs from great solitary heroes pondering endlessly in their den-fortresses, working toward some great “aha!” moment, from which the riches may flow, instead of what it actually is – a never-ending, continuous process of collaborative mutation, with occasional people getting caught at the occasional center of attention. How much has been written about Edison in comparison of the many thousands, without which he would have had no foundation for his work – and the thousands that followed, relegating his few contributions to the great collaboration on lighting, electricity, etc., to the dustbin of obsolescence?
    The other is the opposite of the base fallacy that was largely the downfall of Marxism – while the Marxist believes in the viability of a society in which there is no selfishness and inequality, The Randian believes in the viability of a society in which there is no altrusim or equality, and is still more evidence that Randian Libertarianism is the fundamentalist extremist edge of political philosophy, not altogether dissimilar from the modern jihadist.

    The third is the philosophy’s disconnection of the great heroic ubermenchen and ubermachden from the fact that their entire existence is founded upon the millions of man-hours and billions of dollars spent by the people they come to view with scorn and contempt. It is here that Randianism falls into the same logical extremity of Nietzsche – that the vast majority of humankind does not deserve to live, other than to be cattle for an inherently predetermined elite because empathy and positive reciprocity tend to make us want to work together, rather than spend our lives isolated, concerned only with dominating and raping one another, both physically, mentally and economically.

    The fourth is the assumption that the working masses and underclasses are all starting on even keel, and therefore any meritocratic shortcomings are entirely the fault of the individuals in lesser positions. This is one of the greatest fallacies perpetuated by those whose gains are made many times through luck, exploitation of collaboration (mostly by taking credit for all of it – Would Galt have built the motor, [which did sound cool] without the collaboration on all the science of static electricity, thermodynamics or materials science? Why are the thousands whose fruits Galt would have to had eaten to understand enough to build the motor not credited?) or inheritance – that because everyone has a shot, it’s their fault.

    This is where the idea that Randianism and libertarianism are mechanisms to prevent forcing one’s will upon another fall apart – since Rand’s ideology is based largely on Nietzsche’s idea of the ubermensch and the common man’s relationship with the superhuman, which has at its very basis of the use of force, marginalization and violence to oppress those who don’t have the will-zur-macht to bring about even more violence, oppression and marginalization to dominate and rape the ubermensch. This is the most common validation of the numerous human, civil and environmental rights abuses perpetuated by economic self-described ubermenschen: “it is our right as those in a position of power to use that power to abuse, exploit oppress and marginalize all under us, because the only social truth is if you’re not on top, you’re on bottom.” Rand’s philosophy is the greatest driving force of the very force and looting and oppression of producers she exclaims against.

    And here then is the core fallacy of all of it – hero worship. Heroes are a fictional entity for a reason – they only exist as a highlighted point of a much larger structure, the picture of a cross-section of a system at work. There are far fewer heroes in reality than in fiction, Atlas Shrugged included. Most celebrity personalities, such as scientists, politicians, and business titans, are those who understand how to game the media machine for maximum trolling.

    However, I am prepared to grant many of the points of this largely obsolete philosophical framework the benefit of the doubt – mostly because the fallicies on which Rand’s, Nietzsche’s and most individualist’s works are based on – namely that we all rise, fall and work in our own little causal vacuums, and that empathy and altrusim are not real – have largely been proven false by cognitive neuroscience, game and system theory and observational experimentation. We are a species designed to demonstrate reciprocity and empathy; the myriad problems in intellectual and emotional perturbations we have are largely the result of having the most plastic brains of all the animal kingdom – including that of sociopathy, which is what her philosophy approaches.

    Randianism, like libertarianism, and indeed many economic and political models (like Marxism, anarchism, and many idealistic “green” collaborations – i’m not just picking on Randiansim here) falls prey to the same weakness the arguments of the classical Greeks: their arguments were largely deductive, rather than empirical, and cared little of how much or little the causal interactions of life actually lined up with these spiritual models of perfection. Indeed, Rand’s attempt at monism is cut short precisely by her philosophy’s deductive dualism.

    Also, to everyone else – THE FUCKING ARTICLE IS SATIRE AND CAIGOY IS A SATIRIST. IT IS NOT A CAREFUL, BALANCED CRITICISM OF ATLAS SHRUGGED. It is meant to be humorous and thought-provoking at the same time, a bit of philosophical popcorn to lighten up the afternoon. It just goes to show how easily butthurt you damn culture warriors are.

    Toodles!

  • Glass Daughter

    First off thanks for replying… I actually really enjoy philosophical debates (even though this is a really awful place to attempt one).

    To address your first point, yes, objectivism is a form of ideological extremism. That does not, however, make it inherently bad. It is, in fact, the polar opposite of Marxism, so I don’t see how the failing of one would have anything to do with the other. Objectivism being ‘extremist’ just means that it doesn’t make compromises. As a system (once you understand it), it is entirely internally consistent. There are no weird logical things such as ‘well this is true in one situation but not another.’ Everything is either true or false. It’s like everything in the world suddenly falls into place. ‘Extreme’ as a word has been co-opted to mean bad in today’s society, because extremism of a concept that is fundamentally bad is much worse than a compromise between good and bad. However, extremism of something good is much better than any compromise.

    And yes, I do realize that everything we as humans sense is subject to our perceptions. This doesn’t mean that there is no such thing as the objective, it just means that it is elusive and must be worked for. Objectivism is the search for objective truths about the world.

    As to the common conception that Objectivism states that all important discoveries are made by a single person, who, starting from scratch, discovered everything themselves- although it happens this way in Atlas Shrugged, Objectivists realize that in most situations it doesn’t happen like that. The confusing thing is the way Ayn Rand states things. She says (paraphrasing) that ‘every discovery is made by a single man. Not a group of men.’ That may sound like she’s saying that, for instance, a single person is responsible for the invention of the computer. Instead, what she means is that since people can’t actually think with a group mind, every good idea came from a single man. So one person thought of the concept, one thought of a possibility for implementation, another came up with a new material to use for it, one had a great idea for a manufacturing process, one designed a machine to make part of it, one figured out a way to make it faster… and on and on. Yes, thousands of people are behind most large discoveries, and each should be credited with the good ideas that they came up with. Each one of them has the potential to be Randian hero material.

    Also, please don’t use jihadism as an example of what Objectivism is like. A real objectivist would never kill anyone or restrict their freedom in any way, so please don’t imply otherwise.

    To your next point, I don’t know why you think that Rand has ubermenchen. In Objectivism, every single person deserves to live. Every sentient being has an inalienable right to life and freedom. That’s basically the point of objectivism. So in Nietzsche’s philosophy the best and brightest may have a right to abuse and dominate others, those in Objectivism definitely do not.

    Also, you seem to use ‘positive reciprocity’ as an example of something that isn’t present in Rand’s philosophy. In fact, much of her philosophy is based on it. In Objectivism, everyone is a free trader that is free to make any arrangement with others that is mutually beneficial. Isn’t that the definition of positive reciprocity? You help someone out with the belief that in the future they will help you. What Rand’s philosophy is against is being obligated to help others when you don’t want to and when they would never help you back.

    You have two completely different points in the next paragraph. The one I think more important is about the meritocratic shortcomings. It’s one of the most common misconceptions about objectivism- that every objectivist believes that all shortcomings are entirely the fault of the person, and have nothing to do with society. That isn’t true. Any intelligent Objectivist could tell you that not everyone starts out on even footing. Many poor people are that way simply because of bad luck, just as many wealthy people are that way just by being born into a wealthy family. The point of Objectivism, however, is not to even everyone out and put them on the same footing. Objectivism’s point is that no matter what your reasoning, it is immoral to force anyone to do anything without their consent. This includes the taxes that would be necessary in order to have the poor and the rich start out at the same point. The only ethical and moral thing to do is to give everyone complete freedom over their own lives and to allow them to make their own choices. So if you do happen to be rich, and you want to make a difference, it is entirely your choice to find disadvantaged but intelligent or capable young people and to give them the tools they would need to succeed. It is your choice. It is not, however, an obligation, or something that an all-powerful government will force you to do. In objectivism, altruism exists- it is just a choice, rather than a moral necessity. If it would make you happy to invest money in capable people who need it, then by all means go for it. Just never ever force anyone else to do the same.

    Yes, I agree. Hero worship is extremely silly. Rand doesn’t advocate it- her books are based around an ideal man who is wealthy because of his superior abilities. However most people who are famous in today’s world have no special abilities whatsoever, except perhaps being charismatic.

    I may have already said this but I feel like I need to say it again. Objectivism has no Ubermensch, and no one, no matter what their ability, would be allowed to dominate others or force them to do things against their will. In a libertarian society, one of the few things that is illegal is the use of force for any reason except self defense.

    And yes, Rand’s philosophy is deductive, which is one of the best things about it. It makes logical sense. It aims for moral truth. Just because an objective society doesn’t currently exist, and most people don’t think it would work does not meant that it isn’t the most moral system.

    I don’t actually care too much about the actual content of Caigoy’s article. What I’m mainly against is that people have such HUGE misconceptions about Objectivism. If people are going to reject it as a philosophy, I want them to at least understand it first. So many self-described libertarians and objectivists are just social conservatives or sociopaths who spew misinformation and don’t know what they’re talking about.

    If you’ve read this far, thanks :)
    GlassDaughter

    P.S. For all those interested in the darker side of dolphin sexual behavior, you’ll find an exemplary dissertation in Volume 39 of the Journal for Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences

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