The last sentence of Adam Kirsch’s review of “Ayn Rand and the World She Made” is quite possibly the most succinct indictment of the GOP and the conservative movement I have ever read:
[I]f there is one thing Rand’s life shows, it is the power, and peril, of unjustified self-esteem.
The thing that always makes me go gyarrggghhh about Republicans’ worship of Ayn Rand (and, indeed, Ayn Rand herself) is their refusal to recognize that they are the pro-parasite party. They’re so outraged by the thought that somewhere in America a poor person might be getting a few government crumbs – for free OMG – that they don’t notice or care that the GOP has been giving corporations taxpayer-funded turkey dinners for decades, long before Obama decided to keep Dubya’s gravy train rolling.
Nor do they notice or care that the people who work their asses off to actually produce things of value must endure layoffs, inadequate healthcare, and stagnant or decreasing wages, while the executives who profit off of them, and the Wall Street whizzes who produce nothing but financial time bombs, make millions and billions of dollars.
If these supposed captains of industry walked off the job like in “Atlas Shrugged,” would the country really grind to a halt? Manufacturing, services, and technology CEOs, maybe. But I think the country would survive quite nicely if all the geniuses behind derivatives, credit default swaps, and Enron accounting went away, never to be seen again.
And how many of the heroes of the conservative movement are truly extraordinary achievers? George W. Bush is a mediocre failure who used his daddy’s coattails to coast through life like the angel of fuckups. Sarah Palin is a narcissistic freeloading clown who can’t complete a term or a sentence – her life is the world’s tackiest reality show. I can’t even figure out what Not-Joe the Not-Plumber is famous for, other than not wanting his future millionaire self to pay taxes. And what do Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, Coulter and O’Reilly create or produce other than lies and hate?
On the flip side, how many of the people who depend on unemployment insurance or food stamps are really lazy underachievers, and how many of them are potentially productive, even extraordinary people who never got the benefit of a good education or family connections to open the right doors? Rand and her disciples all assume that our society is a darwinian meritocracy that automatically slots everyone into the position they deserve, but it takes about five minutes of C-SPAN, talk radio, or Fox News to see how wrong they are.
Conservatives are absolutely right that creative, independent, extraordinary people are at war against a corrupt political and economic system – they’re just dead wrong about which side they’re on.