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06-14-2011, 08:23 AM   #1
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Ayn Rand’s ‘Death of the Soul of Capitalism’

Paul Farrell sees the sun rising and spins it into the Earth burning up, is his pessimistic approach to all things... but the guy's provocative and interesting.

Ayn Rand?s ?Death of the Soul of Capitalism? Paul B. Farrell - MarketWatch

QuoteQuote:
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — “Atlas Shrugged” is Ayn Rand’s most popular work. A mysterious rebel leader John Galt saves America from economic ruin. But before we rise from the ashes, before the redemption, comes the blowup. And for that, let’s turn to my favorite, “The Fountainhead,” where Rand offers a subtle hint of capitalism’s eventual demise and self-inflicted death.

In “The Fountainhead” Howard Roark is the ultimate individualist, an idealistic architect and archetypal free-market capitalist. Enraged when second-rate competitors compromise the integrity of his plans for a modern building, Roark seeks revenge, takes the law into his own hands and, in a terrorist act, sneaks onto the construction site in the dark of night and dynamites the building — kaboom — destroying it.

Flash forward: You have a perfect metaphor for Rand’s extreme ideology, how today it is turning against America, blowing up capitalism, self-destructing as the excesses of a great ideology spin out of control, choking on the very dreams that fueled it for decades.

Yes, soon the commanding inner voice of Rand’s supercapitalism that’s imbedded itself deeply in America’s collective unconscious will trigger the suicide of capitalism, in a volley of excesses taking down the market, triggering a total economic collapse and profoundly altering America’s political destiny as the global superpower.

Rand’s terrorist solution: If you don’t like the system, blow it up Since “The Fountainhead” was published during WWII, Rand has been a driving force in America’s collective consciousness. Today she is the patron saint of conservatives and free-market capitalists in the ideology of the GOP and Tea Party, in the mind-set of Greenspan, Bernanke and Reaganomics, in the ranting of Beck, Palin and Limbaugh, in the Ryan plan to kill social programs.

The polarizing of all American politics has its strongest roots in her classic, “Atlas Shrugged,” where a capitalist elite engage in a perpetual cultural warfare for the soul of America, fighting society’s “moochers, looters and parasites,” anyone and everyone demanding government money to solve their problems. The elite see America degrading into a socialist welfare state and communism. Rand says capitalism must be free:

“When I say ‘capitalism,’ I mean a pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism, with a separation of economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as a separation of state and church.” Why? Because “capitalism is the only system that can make freedom, individuality and the pursuit of values possible in practice because capitalism demands the best of every man, his rationality, and rewards him accordingly. It leaves every man free to choose the work he likes, to specialize in it, to trade his product for the products of others, and to go as far on the road of achievement as his ability and ambition will carry him.”

Paradoxically Rand’s capitalist ideals have gone far off the course defined by Adam Smith, warping into an unwritten conspiracy binding conservative politicians and the egocentric excesses of Wall Street, Corporate CEOs, and the Forbes 400 Super Rich

Warning: Rand hates altruism, religion, social programs, average folks In a recent USA Today op-ed piece, “Ayn Rand and Jesus,” Stephen Prothero, a Boston University professor of religion and author of “God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World—And Why Their Differences Matter,” poses a serious challenge to Rand’s disciples: “Idolatry of the conservative icon should lead to some soul-searching within the GOP. After all, Christian morality has no place in an ‘Atlas Shrugged’ world.”

Prothero’s list of “Rand’s adoring acolytes” includes Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. But while “Ayn Rand is the GOP’s new savior, no one seems to be taking notice of just how opposed their two philosophies are.” For Rand, the war is not between “God vs. Satan, but individualism vs. collectivism. While Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the poor,’ she sings hosannas to the rich. The heroes of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ …are the captains of industry … The villains are the looters and moochers,” people who by hook (guilt) or by crook (government coercion) steal from the hard-won earnings of” rich capitalists.

Get it? Rand turns “traditional Christian morality” on its head: “Altruism is immoral and selfishness is good. Moreover, there isn’t a problem in the world that laissez-faire capitalism can’t solve if left alone to perform its miracles.” In Rand’s quixotic world, capitalists are the new saviors, capitalists are performing miracles.

...

Adam Smith’s capitalists have warped into egocentric narcissists
A recent Utne Reader quoted from Christopher Lasch’s groundbreaking “Culture of Narcissism,” published a generation ago at the dawn of Reaganomics: The economic man “has given way to the psychological man of our times — the final product of bourgeois individualism, which in its decadence has carried the logic of individualism to the extreme of a war of all against all, the pursuit of happiness to the dead end of a narcissistic preoccupation with the self.” There he “demands immediate gratification and lives in a state of restless, perpetually unsatisfied desire.”

Prothero reminds us that “real conservatism is also about sacrifice.” Today however, the new narcissists ruling conservatism and capitalism “will brook no such sacrifice. Serve yourself, she tells us, and save yourself as well. There is no higher good than individual self-satisfaction.”

And yet “one of the reasons we are in our current economic quagmire is that none of our leaders is willing to ask us to sacrifice. Democrats call for more spending and more taxes; Republicans call for lower taxes and less spending, and what we get is the most fiscally ruinous half of each: lower taxes and more spending.”

...

Tell Bogle ‘The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism’ has been lost
Future historians will see Ayn Rand as both the patron saint of the new narcissistic capitalism that has dominated conservatives and Reaganomics for the last generation. And her legacy will also include the “Death of Capitalism,” a demise Jack Bogle wrote about so eloquently six years ago in his “Battle for the Soul of Capitalism.”

Unfortunately, the new narcissistic capitalists are blind to this paradigm shift in America’s destiny. As Lasch puts it: “Impending disaster has become an everyday concern, so commonplace and familiar that nobody any longer gives much thought to how disaster might be averted. People busy themselves instead with survival strategies, measures designed to prolong their own lives, or programs guaranteed to ensure good health and peace of mind.” Get it? Deep inside we know it’s too late, so we give up.

Yes, this narcissism is metastasizing so rapidly Americans feel ever more helpless to solve our problems, making collapse a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yes, this toxic narcissistic virus has infected America’s soul, eating away at our core values while blinding us to both the problem and the solution.

We have lost the collective spirit that led 57 capitalists to risk their lives and fortunes signing of the Declaration of Independence. That’s dead. Today it’s “every man for himself” in a capitalist anarchy.





06-14-2011, 09:04 AM   #2
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Good article, although I think it overstates Rand's influence.
A relevant link:
American Values Network :: Christians Must Choose: Ayn Rand or Jesus

Last edited by causey; 06-14-2011 at 09:23 AM.
06-15-2011, 04:02 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
Paul Farrell sees the sun rising and spins it into the Earth burning up, is his pessimistic approach to all things... but the guy's provocative and interesting.

Ayn Rand?s ?Death of the Soul of Capitalism? Paul B. Farrell - MarketWatch
I've often thought that some of the talking point, doctrinaire types fueling the arguments should spend a few hours and actually read Adam Smith, rather than romanticizing Ayn Rand. I don't think Smith would have confused corporatism with capitalism.
06-15-2011, 04:14 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by causey Quote
Good article, although I think it overstates Rand's influence.
A relevant link:
American Values Network :: Christians Must Choose: Ayn Rand or Jesus
It is easy to overstate her influence when the adherents to that philosophy also overstate that influence.

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