Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Looters and Other Irrational People

Like a lot of people (if you can believe the Amazon.com rankings) I read Atlas Shrugged last summer. I had heard a lot about Rand and read a bit about her philosophy. Obviously, I don't buy her philosophy (Objectivism); it seems to be some sort of weird, naive, "benevolent Nietzscheanism." And she is, of course, an atheist. She appears to take Adam Smith's "invisible hand" and his idea that each one pursuing his own enlightened self-interest being good for all to an extreme. People acting in their own self-interest without the moral restraint that comes from religion has never worked so far in history, however, and even Adam Smith would not have believed such a fairy tale.

But there is something to be gained from reading the novel and that is insight into what is going on all around us today. Rand paints an exaggerated picture of what big government, statist, socialism combined with crony capitalism looks like. She creates one dimensional characters who speak in cliches and express the same political beliefs many people espouse today, only in an extreme manner. I suspect that readers who encountered the book prior to 2008 would tend to find it over-wrought and unrealistic, while those who, like me, read it during the age of Obama find it frightening because its extremism is too close to the reality we are currently experiencing to be comfortable.

When you listen to the words of people like Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Ed Shultz, Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton and Paul Krugman, you feel like they are spouting lines from the book. When Obama trots out his standard issue, first-year university student, Marxist class warfare rhetoric it feels like the 19th century never ended. When they call duly elected members of congress "terrorists" and "hostage takers" for wanting to balance the budget and keep the country from going bankrupt, you have to wonder if they ever said a sincere word in their lives.

The liberals who control the Democratic Party are just "looters," to use Rand's term. They don't seem to care about the future or about the constitution or about national security. All they care about is spreading around more goodies for their friends and bribing voters with borrowed money. Even though the US government currently borrows 43 cents out of every dollar it spends, they want to increase spending and tax "the rich." How long can this go on before the country collapses? In Rand's dystopia, the United States is in the middle of a long, agonizingly slow, train wreck.

They are justly called looters because they don't think about producing, only about redistributing. They don't think in terms of saving, only spending. They are not into delayed gratification. They are, in the end, irrational because they are destroying the goose that laid the golden egg.

I read Terry Eagleton's defense of Marxism a while ago and what really struck me was the candid admission that Marxism is entirely parasitic upon capitalism. He admitted that Marxism is bad at creating wealth and can only succeed in an advanced capitalist society that already has created surplus wealth. Marxism can then redistribute this wealth.

Two things struck me when I read this. First, he is admitting that the whole movement of Third World socialism, which has tried to sell socialism to underdeveloped poor countries is a total and complete fraud. For most of the twentieth century, idealogues have captured one poor, third world country after another and imposed a dictatorship on it instead of allowing it to grow rich and develop through capitalism - and this is done in the name of social justice with the blessing of many Christians! Second, if Marxism cannot produce wealth what happens after all the wealth produced prior to the revolution is used up? It would seem that what happens next is what we saw with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia today is a sick, broken, dysfunctional country with a declining population, a declining life expectancy and a lowered standard of living. It is flirting with dictatorship, which may be the only way to maintain law and order as conditions worsen.

Europe is going the way of the Soviet Union and it would be premature to suppose that China will avoid the same fate unless it reject Communism. Only in the US does the will exist among a large portion of the population to fight back against the looters. The US is not quite ready yet to go quietly into that good night. In the US the will to live free still exists in defiance of the looters, the socialists, the big government liberals, the liberal media and the liberal Christian, "social justice" agitators.

Will the US be able to resist the Marxist disease that has felled most of the West and so many victim countries around the world? The providence of God is inscrutable but we should pray that it does for all our sakes.

1 comment:

Peter W. Dunn said...

Great post. Only you should have added John "how-high?" Boehner to this list.