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View Diary: Was Bowe Bergdahl "going Galt"? (Cue Teapublican heads exploding.) (188 comments)

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  •  Urm. (64+ / 0-)

    If you read Atlas Shrugged, that's exactly the point of going galt. Denying your presence as a superman to the untermenschen who will starve without you because they're stupid and incapable parasites.

    Not my thoughts, but Rands.

    Denying your presence is the purpose of going galt in that damned book.

    Which I finally finished.


    An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail.

    by OllieGarkey on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 02:03:19 AM PDT

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    •  Why. WHY would you do that to yourself. (17+ / 0-)

      "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

      by raptavio on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 08:08:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Know your enemy. (25+ / 0-)

        That's why I finally slogged through The Fountainhead last summer and will get around to Atlas Shrugged sooner rather than later.

      •  I'm considering writing a novel in response. (8+ / 0-)

        With maglevs and everything. Some colony world goes into a time of economic chaos and the local "we think we're supermans" crowd takes over. What happens next is where things get ideologically interesting.

        But no author filibuster, because seriously, that book turned from "Who is John Galt" to "When will John Galt shut the hell up?!"

        Basically, my novel will set out to ask and answer the question: What would the world look like after a Randist revolution.

        I'm pretty critical of the character of Ragnar Danneskjold. He makes no fucking sense. None whatsoever. Not from a Randist perspective.

        "I'm going to do a lot of hard, dangerous work attacking government shipping with no expectation of reward and simply give the produce of my work to other people."


        The only parallel example I can give is what the Japanese thought of WWII when they were fighting it.

        It's laid out very clearly in the movie Emperor (Alternate title: A love letter to MacArthur, who should totes have been prez). In the scene I'm quoting, Hirohito is talking to General MacArthur:

        Yes, we seized territory in China, but did not Great Britain, even Portugal, precede us? Yes, we took Singapore and the Malaya, but we took it from the British. We did not take the Philippines from the Filipinos, but from the Americans, who themselves took it from the Spanish. If it is an international crime to take territory by force, who convicted the British, French, Dutch, and American leaders?


        And what is different with Japan?


        You see, General, we are simply following your fine example.

        Or as a very right-wing friend of mine who lives in Japan once said about Japan's thinking at the time: "China, India, The Philippines, Malaysia, the only two nations that weren't colonized at the time were us, and Thailand. Japan and Thailand were next. So we thought 'If Asia is going to be colonized, it damn well better be colonized by Asians, not by Europeans who have no business being there in the first place.'"

        That's how a character like Ragnar would likely think if he were a person and not a randbot sent to do the will of rand because WHO IS JOHN GALT.

        But there isn't a single person in the entire book who says "The world is broken, so fuck the rules, I'm going to do what I want to do, and everyone is too incompetent to stop me."

        There's no place for realism in Rand's world, and there's no one in the entire books who is actually motivated by self interest. They're all motivated by devotion to a particular set of political ideals.

        As some guy on the internet once said:

        Libertarianism is like Leninism: a fascinating, internally consistent political theory with some good underlying points that, regrettably, makes prescriptions about how to run human society that can only work if we replace real messy human beings with frictionless spherical humanoids of uniform density.
        What happens when rand's pretty libertarian system comes in contact with real, messy human beings who have motives other than economic growth and monetary profit?

        What happens if some of those people are radical political ideologues of a different philosophy? What happens when some of them are complete monsters? What happens when some of them are so culturally different as to function with a blue/orange morality system that throws your black/white metrics for a spin?

        And what happens when a Randist government that "Opposes Force" actually attempts to rule that kind of hot mess?

        What happens when these folks take power and expect everything to work out perfectly because libertarianism = utopia?

        In order to understand how to respond, I need to understand what I'm responding to.

        An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail.

        by OllieGarkey on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 12:08:55 PM PDT

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      •  because, one section aside, it is a good SF novel (0+ / 0-)

        One I reread every now and then.

        Rand was a quite decent writer with some brilliant ability to plot.  See Night of Jan 16th or a murder short story I can't recall the title of.

    •  You know... (6+ / 0-)

      self-flagellation would have been easier and less painful. I've picked up that book dozens of times and can't get past the first few pages.

      As private parts to the gods are we, they play with us for their sport. - Black Adder "Chains"

      by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:36:27 AM PDT

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    •  Untermenschen wiki: (5+ / 0-)

      Untermensch (German for under man, sub-man, sub-human; plural: Untermenschen) is a term that became infamous when the Nazis used it to describe "inferior people" often referred to as "the masses from the East"
    •  As I usually like to point out during this topic (8+ / 0-)

      Most of the right fancies themselves to be John Galt or Dagny Taggart when in fact they are Jim Taggart or something even less.

      AS is really an odd utopian piece (or dystopia I guess if you are one of the excluded parasites), because hardly anyone in power acts the way the heroes do. As an aside, she sure is great at creating and destroying those poor strawmen.

      Misconduct by the government is by definition NOT a government secret.

      by Doug in SF on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 10:44:11 AM PDT

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      •  I've been saying that for years. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nancyjones, OllieGarkey, trillian

        Those "Randian" Wall Street VC douchebags are Jim Taggart, not Galt.

        But then I actually read the damn book :-)  

        The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

        by raboof on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 02:52:07 PM PDT

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        •  I read it, too (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          trillian, Jahiegel

          which is why I rarely if ever join in the "discussions" on this site about her writing.  Her work was far more intelligent than the cartoonish commentary I read widely here.  I choose to believe that the commenters have not read her work or, like someone said above, read it so grudgingly that they will never forgive her the 7 or 8 hours of their life they spent reading.  

          I pity people like that... I find it pathetic that anyone who is disappointed with their own choice in how to spend their free time would blame such disappointment on anything other than their own poor choice.  

          I never finished Moby Dick.  I did finish All the Kings Men but resented every minute (I read it for a grade in school.) I hate both books, they do nothing for me, and I have no wish to waste my time reading then.  I don't blame Melville or Warren for wasting the time I spent trying to like it, I chose to read them, I take full responsibility for that choice. Nor do I despise people who read them all the way through and love or hate them .  In fact, I defer to them.Having never finished reading Moby Dick and having resented reading All the King's Men, I have no standing to comment on either's efficacy.  

          With regard to Rand's work, I have read much of it, many books more than once.  It is clear that some who comment here have, too, and I frequently find their points of view interesting and thought provoking.  For the most part, though, it seems to me that the large majority of people who post here about Rand's work (and the Bible, too, for that matter) have never seriously read it and are just jumping on the "Ayn Rand is evil incarnate, yeah, she's the mother of all tea partiers" bandwagon.  And that's just as boring as Benghazi.

          If you don't like it, attack the message, not the messenger. The former may convince me that I am wrong, but the latter will always convince that I am right.

          by nancyjones on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 05:32:12 PM PDT

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          •  I respectfully disagree. (0+ / 0-)
            Her work was far more intelligent than the cartoonish commentary I read widely here.
            I have to disagree with this in the strongest terms.

            None of her characters are remotely human, at all. I can understand not liking Melville or All the Kings Men (the latter of which I haven't finished and need to find so that I can finish it, thanks for remind me.)

            There is not a single character who behaves as a human being would. Directive "Directive 10-289" is the most moronic thing that has ever been put to paper.

            I have never in my life as a leftist heard anyone advocate a single viewpoint remotely close to what Ayn Rand believes the left actually thinks.

            Her characters are inherently contradictory. We are told that they act primarily in their own self interest, when to the contrary, they universally act for the benefit of a particular political worldview. But Ragnar as the prime example gains nothing from his actions. He is putting his life in danger, routinely, and does not profit from it. Characters who wished to act in their own self interest would not be beholden to Ayn's philosophies in their actions, they would not behave as political paragons.

            They would behave as people. Messy, conflicted, people, instead of like neutered Nietzschean Übermenschen.

            And that's my main contention with Rand.

            She's in love with Nietzsche to a point, but thinks he goes too far. Where Nietzsche's Übermensch rules because he by definition must rule, (because all life exists to discharge its strength, and as a definitional result of life, the Übermensch will come to power) Rand removes the will to power from her characters, and creates a soft, genteel rightness to their actions. They are not the dominant force of life destroying that which lies between them and their destiny, they are the victims of a cruel, socialist world.

            As if Nietzsche's Übermensch would allow his or herself to become a victim in the first place.

            And that's what Rand is. She's an Emo Neitzsche who can't write human characters with realistic motivations, not someone whose work has any particular value.

            What Nietzsche says is the foundation of Rand's thinking. But there is one argument of Nietzsche's that I think sweeps all of Rand's work away, as it came before Rand and continues to be a more powerful expression of Rand's own point of view:

            Psychologists should bethink themselves before putting down the instinct of self-preservation as the cardinal instinct of an organic being. A living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength—life itself is will to power; self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent results thereof.
            .  .  .
            Die Physiologen sollten sich besinnen, den Selbsterhaltungstrieb als kardinalen Trieb eines organischen Wesens anzusetzen. Vor Allem will etwas Lebendiges seine Kraft auslassen – Leben selbst ist Wille zur Macht –: die Selbsterhaltung ist nur eine der indirekten und häufigsten Folgen davon.
            Yet her self-interested Nietzsche inspired supermen do not act in their own interests, they do not discharge their strength, (except for Ragnar who discharges his in the service of others rather than for himself.)

            I don't know if you enjoy Rand and agree with her, or if you're lamenting the lack of quality literary criticism of her, or both.

            But if you enjoy Rand, I implore you to read Nietzsche if you have not already. Read Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and Beyond Good and Evil. He's far better than she is, as his ideas are what she built her work on. And while many who stand on the shoulders of giants provide something new and interesting, I don't think she ever surpassed him with a single piece of her work.

            An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail.

            by OllieGarkey on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 10:14:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Enjoying Rand (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              OllieGarkey, Doug in SF

              and simply saying don't be too dismissive are two different things. There is a reason we are talking about her and that her books have been so widely sold and are regarded as so influential.

              She actually has some good points which clearly resound with some people and we would do well to understand why they are wrong and frankly make some hay out of where they are right. But it is hard to believe that the folks who dismiss her (or become slavish admirers) because they think her philosophy is simply Greed is Good have read the books.

              Yes, her ideology is deeply flawed because, as you pointed out, people are a hot mess. We are not rational actors sensibly pursuing self preservation. What we really want is to be able to have what we want, when we want it, as often as we want it, and to worry about the consequences later, by which we mean never - unless the chickens come home to roost for us personally.

              But none of us like to believe that about ourselves. We like to believe that we are the exception...good, virtuous, sensible, rational...always acting in our own and therefore everyone else's long term best interests.

              If you want something other than the obvious to happen; you've got to do something other than the obvious. Douglas Adams

              by trillian on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 05:17:46 AM PDT

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              •  I have actually (0+ / 0-)

                enjoyed Rand where I agreed with her and disenjoyed her where I didn't.  I appreciate the way her work made me struggle with important ideas when I was a teenager and often the only female enrolled in my engineering classes at my previously all-male university.

                If you don't like it, attack the message, not the messenger. The former may convince me that I am wrong, but the latter will always convince that I am right.

                by nancyjones on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 08:54:58 PM PDT

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            •  I'm glad I read your comment to the end (0+ / 0-)

              After the title, the quote, and the first sentence I got interested.  I've read Nietzsche.  In fact, one of the proudest mommy moments of my life was when my then seventeen-year-old son birthday-gifted me with an original air-brushed t-shirt created by a friend of his.  Black shirt, white airbrushing.  On the front were four images of Nietzsche, two squares on top, two on bottom, one big square comprised of four smaller square images.

              On the back, centered across the shoulder blades, in white letters of unremarkable but large font are the words..

              Nietzsche is dead.

              About kidney level and slightly left justified in the same unremarkable and smaller but still very readable font it says..


              I agree Nietzsche's work is more substantial than Rands, but I still hold to my opinion that Rand's work is more intelligent than most of the comments I read about it on this site (and any other site I've seen it mentioned, for that matter)

              Thanks for your remarks, I personally can find much that's human in Dagny Taggart and I never took Atlas Shrugged as suggesting I was a Jim Taggart because I'm a liberal.  The fictional Dagny effectively ran a railroad when women didn't DO that.  The unfictional me was a power plant superintendent in Texas (am pretty sure I was the first one) when women didn't DO that (and to be honest, they still don't for the most part.)  So maybe the reason you didn't find humanity in the characters is that you were looking at the wrong ones?  Or you had no basis for comparison?  

              If you don't like it, attack the message, not the messenger. The former may convince me that I am wrong, but the latter will always convince that I am right.

              by nancyjones on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 08:49:51 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  That's why Jesus went back to Heaven ??? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Leaving the Untermenschen to their native violence and ignorance.

      And to cults that twist The Revelation of St. John the Divine backward, so's the Rider on the White Horse is a savior instead of being the Final Anti-Christ.

      Not the promise of the Second Coming.

      Just going, going, gone. Taking His marbles with Him.

      "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- after Paul "False Prophet" Ryan

      by waterstreet2013 on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 11:11:10 AM PDT

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    •  That's my take on it. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      No wonder it appeals to young geeks so much.  "Those airhead jocks don't appreciate us sensitive intelligent guys in the AV club.  We should go Galt and make them run the projectors.  Boy, would that teach them a lesson!"

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