2ndlook

Hit me with your best shot

Posted in America, Business, Desert Bloc, History, India, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on March 5, 2012

Is Ayn Rand the best, that the West can throw? Facing an existential crisis, the West seems clueless.

I wonder why words like karmic, disciple, wise hermit in the mountain type of Indian imagery is used to debunk Ayn Rand.  |  Cartoon source & courtesy - cartoonstock.com; credits embedded.

I wonder why words like karmic, disciple, wise hermit in the mountain type of Indian imagery is used to debunk Ayn Rand. | Cartoon source & courtesy – cartoonstock.com; credits embedded.

Love on Wall Street

Gary Weiss, the Wall Street writer (of the) comprehensive chronicle of Wall Street corruption in 2006 (Wall Street Versus America) charts a bold new course with the release of Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden Struggle for America’s Soul.

We did some further digging into the money cartel financing this “spontaneous” outpouring of campus and Tea Party interest in Rand, whose work is regularly considered to be mediocre and simpleminded.

Oil billionaire, Charles Koch, has been funneling tens of millions of dollars through his foundation into economic programs at public universities and mandating approval of faculty and curriculum in some instances. It has not been reported that a sweeping partnership in these programs has sprung up between Koch and the southern banking giant, BB&T, the latter corporation mandating that Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged is taught and distributed to students.

An email request to the Charles G. Koch Foundation for information on how this partnership evolved went unanswered, despite Koch’s claim to want to set the record straight on his past funding schemes.

Raising more eyebrows is the discovery that the so-called populous craze for Ayn Rand’s seminal work, Atlas Shrugged, is also being financed by a decidedly non-populist pact of deep-pocketed hedge fund operators.

Weiss piqued our curiosity when he mentions in his book that the Ayn Rand Institute based in Irvine, California is holding its annual gala fundraiser, not on the west coast, but at the swanky St. Regis hotel in Manhattan and charging $1500 a plate. We learn further from Weiss that Arline Mann, Managing Director and Associate General Counsel of the Board of Goldman, Sachs & Company is the Co-Chair of the Ayn Rand Institute. To move the money trail along, Weiss interviews Barry Colvin, Vice Chairman of a hedge fund, Balyasny Asset Management, who just up and decides to open a New York chapter of the Ayn Rand Institute and spearhead a fund drive.

Weiss attends the 2010 St. Regis event and was stuck at an ultraconservative press table, getting a sugar high on moelleux aux chocolat, coconut sorbet and berry chutney, as the mindless clap-trap of Objectivist theory drones into the microphone.

There are two simple words that sum up why hedge funds would be bankrolling the resurrection of a woman who’s been dead for thirty years: Dodd-Frank, the financial reform legislation that Wall Street is desperately trying to kill.

While the hedgies are financing the flood of books to high schools and campus, Koch and BB&T are taking care of business with the professors. (via Resurrecting Ayn Rand: How Corporate Money Pushes Economic Poison on Campus | Economy | AlterNet).

Ayn Rand's thin maya framework is blown by the first intrusion of reality. |  Cartoon by Peter Bagge of 2009  |  Source and courtesy - blog.partners-west.com  |  Click for larger image.

Ayn Rand’s thin maya framework is blown by the first intrusion of reality. | Cartoon by Peter Bagge of 2009 | Source and courtesy – blog.partners-west.com | Click for larger image.

Adversity does strange things

The reason why Ayn Rand is catching on with the young crowd (for a short while), is not because she is being pushed by Wall Street.

The pushing may be coincidental and opportune.

Sure.

But what about, for instance, pirated editions of her books that are sold on pavements in India, for the last 25 years – at least. There is a demand for her books.

Make no mistake.

The reason for Ayn Rand’s popularity is because she offers a sanitized, internally consistent Western framework that people can refer to.

But her framework crumbles the moment reality intrudes.

Capitalism golden age

For instance, according to Ayn Rand, the 19th century was the closest that the West came to capitalism.

Yes, she is right.

Capitalism was built in the 19th century. On a solid foundation of slavery, loot from the colonies, genocides in American and Australia. When slaves revolted in Haiti, West Indies, Cuba, capitalism collapsed. When there were no more victims left, genocide stopped in America and Australia. In Congo, it stopped short of extinction. It was massive extraction of raw minerals from earth, starting with gold, using slave labour that made the brilliant burst of capitalist fireworks of 19th century possible.

Of course Ayn Rand dismisses slavery, genocide and colonialism with ‘condemnation’ in a few sentences.

Instead Ayn Rand uses the common Desert Bloc trick – follow me now; and heaven can wait. Capitalism will make any country, the land of milk and honey. But it is always in the future.

Ayn Rand’s anti-family ideas are coming home to roost in America. Single-mothers are raising nearly a quarter of America’s children.

Every story is different, but when you examine the figures, actual single parent statistics may surprise you. According to Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2007, released by the U.S. Census Bureau in November, 2009, there are approximately 13.7 million single parents in the United States today, and those parents are responsible for raising 21.8 million children (approximately 26% of children under 21 in the U.S. today). (via Single Parent Statistics – Number of Kids With One Parent).

Without families, the few children that are born, will grow up in aging and shrinking societies. These societies will need to import labour – and that is what happened in Greece, Rome, and West for most of the last 500 years.

Labour was imported mostly as slaves – but lately, it is immi-grunts.

Ayn Rand main appeal seems to be teen-agers, juveniles and the young. At least in India.  | Cartoon source & courtesy - toonpool.com; artist credit embedded.   |  Click for image.

Ayn Rand main appeal seems to be teen-agers, juveniles and the young. At least in India. | Cartoon source & courtesy – toonpool.com; artist credit embedded. | Click for image.

Minimalist theme

Ayn Rand’s knowledge of history and economics was less than minimal.

Her imagery of indolent Indian rajas, counting gold coins, was neither history nor economics. Indian Rajas for longest never built palaces, mausoleums, edifying structures – even though they presided over the world’s most prosperous region. And most of the Indian gold that Ayn Rand talks of is in private hands – not in the hands of the State, as Ayn Rand proposes.

Ayn Rand’s support for the gold standard is sure recipe for giving birth to tyrants, dictators and war-mongers – which is what Western history is about.

And strangely, apart from tall tales, tyrants and dictators in India never lasted in India. Makes one think.

But thinking was never Ayn Rand’s strength.

Pulp fiction of capitalism

The second half of 20th century saw the end to dominant inputs for Western ‘success’. The Western world, faced a serious economic crises with the decline in: -

  1. Slavery in the Western world, due to many slave revolts, social disaffection due to unemployment
  2. Colonial exploitation was an ‘adequate’ replacement for slavery
  3. Genocide in the Americas, and Australia – and near annihilation in Africa.
  4. The wages of crime. Opium (forced production in India, forced trade with China), piracy, slave trading
Ayn Rand's version of society. Can Ayn Rand be the 'guiding light' at Cato Institute!  |  Libertarians and Civil Rights by Jim Day, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Ayn Rand’s version of society. Can Ayn Rand be the ‘guiding light’ at Cato Institute! | Libertarians and Civil Rights by Jim Day, Las Vegas Review-Journal

This ‘White-Wash’ job was taken up by professional Western propagandists. One such was a popular writer, waxing nostalgic for this ‘golden age’ – Ayn Rand.

Her books have become popular in the last 50 years. In India too, her popularity has created a demand for pirated prints of her books that are sold from pavements.

This then is the West, facing up to the biggest challenge the Western world has seen – I would say, in the last 500 years.

To go down, clutching Ayn Rand’s skirts, is pretty lame.


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