April 29, 2011
I haven’t seen the film version of Atlas Shrugged. I’ve read about the book in journal articles, heard people explain Objectivism, and generally learned of it through other people’s analysis. The film, though, is being pushed in Tea Party circles as the answer to liberal Hollywood. It’s supposed to show the rest of the country just what the Tea Party hopes to build.
Since the entire book makes Lord of the Rings look like a church pamphlet, let me explain the movie in less than 800,000 words.
A few years from now, the government is going to devolve into a group of petty politicians who only pass laws in order to serve their own self-interests. A cast of successful businessmen and women are trying to save their companies amidst this environment of repression even as the country’s most creative people are vanishing. To put it mildly, it’s like the Spill crew said. Just pretend Forbes Magazine made a movie.
I’m not going to review a movie I haven’t seen, but I am going to tell you why this movie is getting hyped so much by the Tea Party and Libertarians and why it’s bombing like Germany on Poland.
Oh, too soon?
If you’ve never read Ayn Rand or otherwise read about her philosophies, you’re in luck! It’s dumb. Well, it sounds good on the surface, which is why so many impressionable college students and dedicated men and women seem attracted to it.
And if there are any Randians out there who will instantly label me a close-minded zombie of the system who believes government is the key to all our problems… have you READ my site?
Here is the core of Objectivism, which is at the heart of Rand’s work: the pursuit of your own happiness is the most moral and only good thing in the world. It’s a little more complicated than that, but Rand believed that altruism and sacrifice for others are evil because they rob men and women of the ability to be happy for themselves. The most moral type of economics turns out to be a complete Laissez-faire capitalism in a society where the government’s only job is to protect the people from others robbing them of their happiness. Businesses should operate with zero oversight from the government. In the book, this gets to the point where characters talk about their workers and the conditions they are in (deplorable) as a GOOD SIGN that business is free.
Do you want to know who really likes Objectivism and Libertarianism? People who already have power and want to keep it. People like the Koch Brothers, the two paranoid wackos who helped fund the Tea Party. Yes, the Tea Party was started by billionaire industrialists as a front for their own political and social views. The Tea Party is not a grassroots movement. It’s a way for the uber-rich to get their message out through the people.
Yeah, it really is the Bond-like villain behind all this.
As for the core of Atlas Shrugged, Objectivism, let me say this…
Ayn Rand had no heart.
Think about it. Sacrifice for others, charity in all its forms, is evil. If someone is on the street, hungry after losing his or her job due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, it is evil to offer that person money for food or outline directions to the nearest homeless shelter to fend off the cold.
You also have no reason to love your family just because they are your family. If your boss screws you over for perfectly petty reasons, you have no say in the matter.
After all, YOUR happiness is all that matters.
It’s basically Satanism taken to its business extreme, but don’t misunderstand me. I actually agree with some (huge emphasis on “some”) of Rand’s ideas. I think government needs to stay out of our lives, but I also know that lack of regulation in a capitalist society breeds trouble. We’re in this financial mess because no one was making sure the bankers didn’t screw all of us over.
I agree that creativity and the pursuit of happiness are important for the development of a healthy society that accepts criticism and multiple points of view, but I don’t think that happiness needs to come at the expense of others’ happiness. This one is actually one that a lot of Randians have missed when they explain it, and from what I’ve read, Rand herself thought that sacrificing the happiness of others for your own benefit was evil. In that respect, it’s similar to the Wiccan Reede. The problem, though, is that the philosophy has a built-in barrier against helping others unless it somehow affects you.Which brings us to…
Captialism as a free-for-all is the worst idea in the world. It sounds good on paper, though. Let businesses do what they must in order to succeed and create jobs, innovate, and make sure that the world keeps on truckin’. On the other hand, capitalism has no internal monitoring system to make sure that basic human rights are not violated.
Does your boss need you to work for twelve hours a day for three dollars an hour? Hey, it’s a job, right? Need to work in unsafe conditions? Tough cookies. Were you discriminated against because of race, gender, or religious beliefs? Hey, it’s your fault for not believing in Sky God.
The entire idea behind the movie is that selfishness is good and the government can’t do anything but get in the way. Okay, I’ll grant that government is run by a bunch of children who think they have a really cool job because they get to tell other people what to do (I used to work for one of them), but government can be a place where we all come together and use our collective resources to actually do something productive. Until the time when we can all afford to take care of all of our own problems and needs, a central government is the best option we have.
Imagine one week without police, firefighters, Medicare, homeless shelters, student loans, or NASA.
This movie is tanking because people who actually known what Rand preached know better than to walk into a theater that serves as a ninety-seven minute infomercial.
The least they could have done was add some sex, explosions, and Michael Bay-like action. It’s really the only thing that can balance the bitterness and utter propaganda of Rand’s work. We actually need Michael Bay for this one. I feel sick.
Links! Quick! Before I puke!
- Do you want to type like a hacker in a mid-90’s thriller? Just go here, set your parameters, go to full screen, and amaze your friends with your 1337 skillz.
- I love looking at designs for things that look awesome but may never actually catch on due to their sheer weirdness. Check out this kitchen of the future complete with slime-based fridge.
- Ah-nold is aboard for a new Terminator movie. Now all he needs is a studio, cast, writer, and money. Oh, and someone who can justify him coming back after Terminator Salvation and Terminator 3.
- When did World War 11 happen?! And why did I miss it?!
- College Humor thinks there are stages to growing your hair out. From personal experience… it’s crap.
- If you need further proof that Twilight is not only God-awful in its story but also a crime against the English language, look no further.
- And finally, because I have to get dinner ready for my hunny bunny, let me leave you with some transcripts of The Jersey Shore as read by cast members of The Importance of Being Ernest. The full set of videos can be found here, but here’s the first one just to wet your appetite. Enjoy!