[Note: The audio version of this will be available sometime soon on The Pod Delusion. Thanks to Salim Fahdley and James O’Malley for that.]
The impending release of the film version of Atlas Shrugged reminds me of one of the lowest, darkest and most desperate periods in my life. Actually reading Atlas Shrugged.
Looking back, I realize that I fit the social demographic perfectly – I was emotionally retarded. Just out of high school, friends with a lot of girls but with no girlfriend and having turned my back in mild defiance of Christianity, I desperately searched for some reason to explain why I always wound up on the losing end of things when I felt as if I gave so much. 21st century me now knows that I was simply an enabling co-dependent with low self-esteem and the solution lay in the halls of Al-Anon, a therapist’s office and perhaps some serotonin inhibitors.
20th century me, however, grabbed for the biggest, longest and most unwieldy book I could find to make me not feel stupid. At that point, it could have been any book, but it turned out to be Atlas Shrugged. During the summer of 1980 I devoured every line and possibly even masturbated to the image of sharp-featured, dominatrix Dagny Taggart. I knew nothing about objectivism or Ayn Rand or what a miserable human being she was. All I knew was that, finally, I found good, concise, well-reasoned reasons to tell the rest of the world to fuck off. I was, at last, better than everyone else.
And I’m terribly, terribly sorry for that.
If, for some unknown reason, you plan to see movie version of Atlas Shrugged, it’s important to arm yourself with this key fact – Rand was a loser who wrote books for losers. Objectivism isn’t so much about strength as it is about not being perceived as weak. It’s about BIG talk and BIG ideas and BIG actions that can only exist in a self-deluded world of fiction where silly things like “fact”, “logic” and “the laws of gravity do not exist.
Which is another way of saying it’s the perfect Republican bible. Or would be if Republicans didn’t already have a bible. But they do. And it’s called “The Bible”
And the two books simply cannot co-exist in the same philosophical space. Sorry. Just can’t happen. It’s like matter annihilating anti-matter – it ends in an explosion of stupidity and schizophrenia, which, now that I think about it, is the current definition of the Republican party.
If you’re unfamiliar with either books, here’s a brief synopsis.
The Bible: Book one – God makes everything. He tells the Jews they’re the chosen people and to obey him. They don’t.
The Bible: Book Two – God takes a different tack and decides to rule by guilt. He kills his son, a nice young man who tells us to love each other and help the poor, and condemns us to Hell if we don’t continually thank him for that. And then the world ends.
Atlas Shrugged – The world is going to hell, so all the smart people leave and set up their own cool kids club in a magical pristine canyon that nobody can find. They live happily ever after never having to care about poor people or clean up after the mess they helped create.
Notice any areas of dichotomy there?
Jesus – And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
John Galt – Fuck the poor
Jesus – Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me.
John Galt – Fuck the poor
Jesus – Gimme some loaves and fishes and everybody eats
John Galt – If you think you’re getting any of MY food, think again, leech.
This is why America is so totally screwed right now – Right-wing Christian teabagging Republicans have the ideological hots for an amphetamine-addicted, atheist adulteress. The party that damn near closed my government down because women shouldn’t have the right to abortion because God don’t like it reaches for the Viagra when they read Atlas Shrugged. The party that whines about gay marriage as an affront to God has no such problem when it comes to Ayn Rand. The party that spits on me because I’m not Christian swallows when it comes to Ayn Rand.
After all, I’m not the one that said “Faith is the worse curse of mankind, as the exact antithesis and enemy of thought.” That was Ayn Rand