So, this morning, I tweeted the following quip:

Immediately thereafter, @GrimestTrigger tweeted this post that he'd written on his blog, Hints And Hunches.

I've read a lot of Ayn Rand debunkers in my time, many of them quite good, but many others grossly overwrought with tortured liberal prose trying to impress the reader with a smug condescension toward all those wayward 9th graders who are still in impressed by the objectivist queen of mean.

Grimest has avoided all of that, yet still nailed the essence of the fallacies in her world view, which has transcended its meager literary beginnings by poking a big stick in the eye of her linchpin character, John Galt, from her annoyingly popular novel, "Atlas Shrugged."  Over the past 50 years, with no small help from conservative book buying clubs and foundations trying to force her convenient beliefs on an intellectually sloppy planet, Shrugged, and her other greedy epistles, like The Fountainhead, have mushroomed into a religion of rancorous rhetoric that underpins that culture of selfishness that is subsuming America's politics, and perhaps the very future of our planet as well. 

Please show it every 9th grader you know, and everyone still thinking like one. It's another example of the kinds of primers I feel that liberals must make a conscious effort to share more of as widely as possible. It took conservatives half a century to teach Americans to think like they do, with no small help from false prophets like Ayn Rand.  It will take us at least that long to help teach a more just and sustainable world view for the human race to live by.

Note: I've been collecting these kinds of works,and plan to share them very soon in an interesting new way. If you have some Rand debunkers or interesting essays about her works or influence, please share them in the comments and I will consider them for possible inclusion in my compendium when it drops!

The Myth of John Galt

by Patrick Doyle (@GrimestTrigger)

“We never think entirely alone: we think in company, in a vast collaboration; we work with the workers of the past and of the present. [Across] the whole intellectual world, each one finds in those about him the initiation, help, verification, [and] encouragement that he needs”

Antoine Sertillanges, La vie intellectuelle, 1920
No one knows who it was that first discovered iron, but legend has it that a man named Magnes who lived in an area of Greece called Magnesia was the first to notice the phenomena of magnetism. His dog was probably named ‘Maggie’.
Less legendary are the writings of Lucretius and Pliny the Elder[i]. Later, it was Hans Oersted who showed that magnetism was related to electricity, and it was left to Maxwell to codify the phenomena and establish the basis for the electromagnetic theory.
From there, it was a whole cast of actors, over many years, each making their own contribution, that lead to the innovation of the electric motor[ii]. John Galt, hero of Ayn Rand’s second-rate work of fiction, Atlas Shrugged, ‘took’ these ideas and incorporated them into his ‘static motor’.
The same dynamic occurred with respect to machine bearings, without which any motor would be worthless.
Henry Timken is credited with the invention of the roller bearing, and was awarded patent number 606635 by the United States patent office[iii]. But roller bearings were actually invented thousands of years before Timken was even a twinkle in his mother’s eyes.
The first use of roller bearings was by the ancient Egyptians, to build the pyramids. And even they couldn't’t have made use of the idea without the invention of trees, and there’s no consensus who invented them.
One can now extrapolate this theme of continuity to the invention of Reardenite.
The point of all this is that no one stands alone in space and time, no solitary figure changes the course of history. And, when there is a need, someone will step in to fill that need.
Rand, who claims to espouse values that can only be derived through logic and observation, fails to notice the continuity of the innovative dynamic: one person improves upon another’s work; one person sees the possibilities that others overlook, or one person combines the work of several others and ends up with an entirely new product.
In each case, as it is in reality, one adds to what’s already there, made possible only because that previous person did the same thing. Collectively (that word!) this is called history, which is a function of reality, unlike Galt, which is not.
None of this would matter if not for the many acolytes of this fantasy. Too many of our current policy makers and influencer's read the silliness that is Atlas Shrugged (usually while at a young age, more susceptible flights of fancy) and decided that she’s right. And worse. Among many of Ayn’s acolytes are those who cherry-pick aspects of her worldview, discarding the very threads of logic that would otherwise make it whole. 
In the same way that the flu spreads from one person to another, so has Rand’s self-defeating philosophy spread, and the result is that today we have many people in our society who fancy themselves as clones of Galt, who espouse her philosophy.
Paul Ryan fits this bill. This man is in a position to affect every person in the country, yet demonstrates no abilities that would legitimately place him there. Sure, he’s graduated college, but he parasitically used his father’s Social Security benefits to so. And, true, he has managed to get himself elected to congress. So did Gopher, from The Love Boat. So, no bragging allowed.
The personal independence that the philosophy embraces would not be possible without the sacrifices and hard work of those who came before, in many cases the sacrifice of others was a product of altruism, a despised activity in her constructed universe.
Never mind that many of these same people have never accomplished anything on their own, at the time the book was read by them, and therefore had no real-life experience to compare the fiction to. For someone such as Ayn Rand, who repudiates the philosophy she’s invented through the sheer implausibility of the notion of the ‘independent man’, to inspire others to a pretended state of independence, the irony of it all is invisible and therefore unreal.
Just like John Galt.

The Original Text 



It's a little confusing, who wrote what in this post, but I kind of enjoy that tension between the academic analysis of our options, and Sara Robinson's spin on them.  At least I think they are her spin on them.  For me, the takeaways are all toward the end, where she gets to the crux of the matter: do we wait (for or push for) revolution, or nurture an organic evolution toward a new, sustainable economic model. I favor the latter, but I can sure as hell understand the emotions of those who think the former is almost inevitable.  Evolution takes time. We may be running out of that.

Changing the status quo is always a bitch. It just doesn't want to change because we need or want it to. It protects itself, and the people who benefit from it most. The include such people as the Koch brothers, every working hedge fund manager, and the many thousands of rich and aspiring people who work for them and their ilk, directly or indirectly.

All of the above discussions are also being informed by an evolving understanding of how transformative social change happens.

As long as most people assume that market capitalism is sustainable,  they'll focus on reforming it — cleaning it up around the edges, rewriting regulations, making it work in the public interest, and so on. Many Americans, in fact, still hope that this is all it will take– that technology, political reform and market forces, working in some magic combination, will be enough to save us from ourselves.

Robinson then reminds us here that Revolutions are messy, and they have consequences:

Others among us are holding out for a full-on revolution that overthrows the whole system in one massive push, clearing the way for something entirely new. Revolutions are tricky, though: historically, a lot of them have gone sideways when the revolutionaries couldn't hang on through the chaotic aftermath of what they'd wrought. They often get swept away by some other force that's better organized, and thus better equipped to step in and take over. Anything can happen in the wake of a revolution, and all too often, it's not the thing you hoped for.

The alternative ot revolution is evolution. But can people who still think Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church really support anything with that word in it?  Wait…do those people even matter? Yeah, they do. At least until we vote in enough sane politicians who marginalize them by no longer pandering to them, as they have for the past 40 years.

Gar Alperovitz offers "evolutionary reconstruction" as a better alternative to either reform or revolution. Visionaries from Gandhi to Buckminster Fuller have agreed with him. This model focuses our change energy on building new parallel institutions that will, in time, supplant the old ones. Don't fight the existing system, this strategy argues. Instead, just sidestep it entirely and create a new one. As the old system collapses under its own decay, yours will gradually fill in the gaps until it becomes the new dominant paradigm.

My favorite part, where Robinson points out that evolution has already worked. It was just evolved by the wrong people, and for the wrong reasons:

America's right wing has used this model very successfully to take control of our culture over the past 40 years. Starting in the 1970s, they invested in a wide range of parallel education systems, media outlets, professional organizations, government watchdog groups, and so on. These groups groomed a new generation of leaders, while also developing the intellectual, policy and cultural basis for the change they wanted to create. As time passed, they took advantage of opportunities to insert people and ideas from these alternative institutions into the mainstream ones. The result was that 90 percent of the conservative revolution took place almost entirely under the radar of most Americans. One day, we simply looked up to find them in charge of everything that mattered.

 Read the entire post


The Rise of the New Economy Movement, Gar Arperovitz 


It’s time to restore corporate power to the people by blasting through the myths about how corporations should be run, and for whom.

This article, by an economist who specializes in corporate wealth, with two talented journalists sitting-in, absolutely destroys one of the most enduring and rapacious myths to be found anywhere: that public corporations are market-driven examples of "free enterprise" at work.

I was planning on doing a kind of explainer site on just this topic this year, so this article landed at just the right time, and in just the right place: my laptop. It's absolutely required reading for anyone who has never fully understood just why "public" corporations behave like private ones, and are so beholden to their shareholders, board members and senior management, many of whom live way up there atop that cherished 1%, and mostly at the expense of all of the rest of us.

Unfortunately, while chock full of important facts and historical sound bites,like so many other articles of its type, it is fatally flawed in the remedy department. Such works do a reasonably good job of diagnosing a problem, but any attempt at even guessing about remedies is relegated to afterthought; something left to those mysterious "other voices" we never seem to hear much from.  The authors toss in a smattering of events or movements like May Day and Occupy Wall Street as things we can do to fight back against this contemptible state of corporate hegemony run amok. All of them romantic, perhaps, but ridiculously timid when not already proven to be woefully ineffectual. Perhaps the authors are writing a book and saving the juice for later.

Since authors of their caliber can't afford to spend too much time truthtelling, we really need to find a way to crowd-source intelligent discourse about our problems.The cost of producing human knowledge is high, and the cost of distributing that knowledge is even higher. All the free Internet in the world won't provide the promotion and awareness of the important words and ideas that need widespread exposure.

And so long as nothing is doing that, the people who profit from our collective ignorance and inaction will thrive. At least until the entire system breaks down completely. And that, I fear, is a day not too long in coming if we don't find ways to channel our anger into effective social action that can do even the simplest of complicated things. Things like regulating about 900 massive Public corporations to reduce their self-serving ways as they are so well described in this article. It would be a nice start. And we need a nice start. No, I mean we really need a nice start.

Please retweet this post. It's a story we all need to be telling and talking about. Thanks