Marvin Gaye, Libertarian

Ta-Nehisi Coates has written this week's best piece of tongue-in-cheek music criticism:

I noticed that Marvin's politics were marked by a strong aversion to taxes ("natural fact is/Honey, that I can't pay my taxes" and "There's only three things that's for sure, taxes, death and trouble"), a disdain for foreign occupation ("Father, father we don't need to escalate"), and a strong belief in the right to privacy ("I want to get it on/You don't have to worry that it's wrong" or "There's nothing wrong with love/If you want good loving, just let yourself go").

Indeed there is way of listening to "Let's Get It On" as anthem for gay--or interracial--marriage. I mean think about lyrics like, "There's nothing wrong with me loving you/Giving yourself to me could never wrong, if the love is true." Give a good listen to "Right On" which has an almost laissez-faire acceptance of the natural order of things ("Some of us born with money to spend/Some of us were born with races to win/Some of us are aware that is good for us to care/Some of us feel the icy wind of poverty in the air"). At the end, Marvin addresses those who live "where peace is craved," those who "live a life surround by good fortune and wealth," those who are simply "enjoying ourselves" and those who "got crowned in the sea of happiness," with a simple "right on." Or think of the title cut to Trouble Man where Marvin says that "I come up hard, but that's OK/Trouble man, don't get in my way" or "I come up hard, but never cruel/I didn't make it sugar, playing by the rules." The song is clearly a meditation on the limits of the state and the power of individual will.

Speaking of tongue-in-cheek criticism: I submit, without comment, Brad Hicks' outline of Ayn Rand's unfinished novel, Atlas Shrugged 2: Shrug Harder.

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  • ||

    So John Galt discovered Fluid Karma?

  • robc||

    I dont think Brad Hicks was being tongue-in-cheek. I think he thinks he accurately described the plot of Atlas Shrugged.

  • x,y||

    There are commenters on the Hick's site who admit, and gleefully, that they didn't think it was a joke until the end.

  • robc||

    My point being, I think he could have made same commentary about the "2nd book" and still lead to the conclusion about Anthem being the 3rd in the trilogy, even with an accurate summation of Atlas Shrugged. And that would have been somewhat amusing (I kinda like the concept of the survivors killing the strikers and setting up an Anthem style civilization as a result - it fits human nature).

  • dr_dog||

    Marvin Gaye is also a closet economist:

    Inflation no chance/
    To increase finance



    And taking a page from Balko's book:

    Crime is increasing /
    Trigger happy policing

  • robc||

    x,y,

    There are commenters on the Hick's site who admit, and gleefully, that they didn't think it was a joke until the end.

    I saw that. It amused me more than the piece did. "You got me" on something like that is amazingly stupid.

  • Old Bull Lee||

    I think robc is right. It looks Hicks has made the same straw man mistake as a lot of Rand-bashers.

    I did find the Atlas-Anthem link clever and fun, though.

  • robc||

    I did find the Atlas-Anthem link clever and fun, though.

    Exactly. And you can do it with the real AS, the strawman one isnt necessary.

  • Old Bull Lee||

    robc - That's one reason I paid him the compliment, it works within the logic of the books. I don't even think Rand would disagree with it, except for the fact that she was against downer endings in fiction (We The Living notwithstanding).

  • Elemenope||

    Where's Ayn_Randian when you need him?!

  • ed||

    I don't think Ayn Rand was aware enough of the limitations of her philosophy for her to realize that the communo-primitivist dictatorship of Anthem, not a techno-libertarian utopia, would be the inevitable outcome of a genocide of almost the entire human race by techno-libertarians.

    Funny how Hicks somehow equates the withdrawal of a small group of people from the events of mankind as a "genocide." If only Himmler had thought of that, he could have saved a lot of gas. Hicks is a hack and a parasite.

  • ||

    Hicks also has a weird idea that people are basically slaves of the state and it is wrong for them to not "pay" the state back for their upbringing. Because, you know, their parents didn't pay taxes, right?

    I am not owned by the state, retard.

  • Old Bull Lee||

    That was what I meant by his straw man argument. The society left behind in Atlas can be as technologically advanced as they want, they just have to do it without the Galt's Gulch people.

    I've been explaining this to people a lot when I tell them if I was an oil company, I would just stop selling gas altogether so they couldn't complain about the prices anymore.

  • ||

    Hilarious, including some of the entirely predictable comments here so far!

    SweetN'Low-The state not only provided services in the past, it does so to any person in the here and now and in the future. And people pay for services. The nature of many of those services (I don't argue all since of course the government does things it probably should not) is such that you can't leave it up to each person to decide which services to pay for and which "really" benefit him or her, because things like free rider problems come up and then the service doesn't benefit anyone.

    You get a say, the same say as every other recipient of those services, as to which services will be provided and where the revenue will come from.

    "somehow equates the withdrawal of a small group of people from the events of mankind as a "genocide"

    Is blowing up bridges a withdrawal?

  • ||

    Atlas Shrugged 3: "Shrug Hard With a Vengeance";
    "Live Free or Shrug Hard";
    "John Galt vs. Alien/Predator", etc

  • ||

    I can just hear Rand's fans thinking "Yes, I'm one of these valuable people surrounded by stupid parasites! God how I've wanted to see those worthless parasites fucking humbled! If only the hated government and do-gooders weren't always protecting them and propping them up then they would GET THEIRS! One day though those of us valuable and productive folks are going to finally get the adulation and praise and voluntarily consenting child hookers we deserve and those parasites will pay, pay pay."

    It reminds me of fundamentalists getting their rocks off thinking about those sinners burning in the Lake of Fire...Rand's works are bizarre revenge fantasies for would be Uber-men.

    And other than We the Living they are god-awfully written. But of course most novels with such a heavy political agenda usually are terrible as art (Uncle Tom's Cabin, the Jungle, etc).

  • Naga Sadow||

    Is Hicks being serious? I can't tell.

  • Elemenope||

    Atlas Shrugged 3: The Search for Spock.

    Hmm...

  • robc||

    Is blowing up bridges a withdrawal?

    Someone want to help me here? I dont remember the strikers blowing up bridges. The only one I remember blowing up was when the sound weapon was set off and destroyed most of the midwest, including the Mississippi River Bridge. But that wasnt the strikers fault.

  • the innominate one||

    Atlas Shrugged 2: Electric Shruggaloo would have been better

  • Paul||

    John Galt, outraged that anybody would even suggest that he or the company he worked for owed anything to the nation that provided his education, protected him from infectious disease outbreaks, protected him from Communist invasion, built the roads that got him to work each day, provided the police that kept him safe, and provided the court system that protected his property rights at all



    I like this. It's hard not to let these kinds of things go without commenting, but it seems to eternally elude people that I pay for all of this. The government doesn't give me any of it.

  • ||

    Very winning, innominate one.

    I like your idea, too. LMNOP. It leaves the series open for Atlas Shrugged VI: The Undiscovered Country.

  • ||

    And much as I dislike Rand (and boy, that's a lot) her detractors are so idiotic most the time, I wind up defending her. She is the worst parody of my beliefs, and yet somehow they manage to take it a little farther.

    The deliberate equation of Rand and modern libertarian beliefs is the blood libel of our philosophy.

  • Cool Cal||

    Let me just say this ... an aversion to taxes does not make one a libertarian. Almost every liberal I know hates paying taxes ... except my sister, who says she feels really good when she sees her paycheck's deductions or some such bullshit.

  • ||

    The deliberate equation of Rand and modern libertarian beliefs is the blood libel of our philosophy.

    Yet, I am somewhat embarrassed to have never read her work.*

    *I'd probably read We The Living or something. Atlas Shrugged looks like it could beat a fella into submission.

  • Old Bull Lee||

    But won't that lead to Atlas Shrugged V: The Final Frontier?

    "Why does God need a motor that runs on static electricity?"

  • ||

    except my sister, who says she feels really good when she sees her paycheck's deductions or some such bullshit.

    Whoa, that's weird. My attitude's 'mainstream' to the extent that I think taxes are a necessary evil.

  • ed||

    I dont remember the strikers blowing up bridges.

    That's because they didn't. The whole point of the novel was a fictionalized projection of what would happen if productive people went on strike. Not your typical '30s Ford plant strike, where hoodlums break windows, overturn cars and beat "scabs" with baseball bats, but a nonviolent withdrawal. After reading Hicks' masturbatory performance art and some of the comments, I have to wonder if he or any of his peanut gallery have actually read the novel. More likely, they've read reviews that mirror their own worldview. How else to explain such ignorance?

  • ||

    Almost every liberal I know hates paying taxes...

    Once again, my prescription for making the world a better place:

    Hypocrisy should be a fatal disease.

  • ||

    How else to explain such ignorance?

    Government schooling?

  • ||

    Hypocrisy should be a fatal disease.

    Would you bury the mountains of corpses?

  • Naga Sadow||

    Damn Hicks! He's started a Star Trek naming convention in here!

  • Elemenope||

    Once again, my prescription for making the world a better place:

    Hypocrisy should be a fatal disease.


    Congratulations, jackass. You just wiped out the Human Race.

  • robc||

    Art-POG,

    Start with Anthem (Or Atlas Shrugged 3: Anthem). Short and easy to read. Also very good.

  • robc||

    ed,

    That's because they didn't.

    Thanks, I just wanted to make sure my memory was correct before calling Mr. Nice Guy a lying asshole.

  • ||

    You just wiped out the Human Race.

    So my mother was right. I was the end of us all.

  • ||

    robc
    I haven't read Shrugged (except bits and pieces for shits and giggles), the bridges are mentioned in the Hicks piece.

    Art-I can't imagine after reading Anthem you'd want to read anything else, so yes that is a good place to start. We the Living is quite good though (ironically it's the guy character who becomes so "degenerate" living under the Soviets that I found to be the most interesting).

  • ||

    "After reading Hicks' masturbatory performance art"

    That's ballsy. If anything is masturbatory its Rand's work. The reader is supposed to identify with the productive near faultless demi-god of a hero and enjoy it when they put those parasites in their place (without overt violence, of course).

    ed, I'm sure you are one of the uber-productive members of society. We couldn't make it without ya.

  • robc||

    MNG,

    I haven't read Shrugged (except bits and pieces for shits and giggles), the bridges are mentioned in the Hicks piece.


    did you not see the 6000 (note: hyperbole) references to Hicks making shit up? You believed Hicks obvious bullshit over the posters on this site? I pull back the "lying" claim then. But are you really that stupid?

  • robc||

    MNG,

    That's ballsy. If anything is masturbatory its Rand's work.

    Considering you havent read AS and considering Hicks piece is completely bullshit (in its summary of AS), I think the masturbation is Hicks. And yours. You want to believe Hicks. Nice fantasy you got going there.

  • robc||

    MNG,

    I can't imagine after reading Anthem you'd want to read anything else

    I read Anthem first. I wasnt sure I wanted to read Atlas Shrugged (length). Anthem was nice and short. After finished Anthem, I almost immediately started on AS. Despite disagreeing with Rand on a lot, other than the gawdawful soliloqueys, I like Rand's writing style.

  • Elemenope||

    robc --

    I *have* read most of Rand's fiction work, and it is fairly ideologically masturbatory. And aesthetically uneven in ways that put to shame a metaphorical comparison to the Himalayas.

    Sure, she had some decent ideas, but it is sometimes excruciating to read how self-evidently impressed she is with her own ideas. That and most of her characters are either Mary Sues or minor demons.

  • ed||

    Hicks can say anything he wants. He may have genuinely mistaken one of the characters destroying his own property (oilman Ellis Wyatt) as blowing up a public bridge, but I'm guessing he, like many of Rand's detractors, simply hasn't read the material. So as an entertainer he's as funny as a heart attack, and as a critic he has all the veracity of Sean Hannity.

  • ||

    robc
    I was just asking someone upthread if blowing up bridges, as mentioned in the Hicks article, could still be considered as just a case of withdrawal.

    As to her writing, It's the soliloqueys that got me, and the "most of her characters are either Mary Sues or minor demons" problem.

    And what I mean by "mastubatory" is that it is self-pleasure or self-congrats in the sense of inviting the reader to say "I'm so great just like this hero, the world is a bunch of parasites that would like to hold me down but I'm the productive engine of the world and could make them pay if I wanted to, and this is describing it so good 'm getting off on it" theme and tone of her work. I think that's what other people using that phrase in reference to her work mean, but I could be wrong.

    As I said I really liked We the Living. But I think when she got so political and a following things went in a strange direction. Granted sme f the political point she was was trying to make were ones I find abhorrent, so we will probably differ here.

  • robc||

    lmnop,

    I was comparing to Hicks piece. On an absolute scale, sure Rand is masturbatory. But compared to Hicks or MNG?

  • robc||

    MNG,

    I was just asking someone upthread if blowing up bridges, as mentioned in the Hicks article, could still be considered as just a case of withdrawal.


    Thats not what you asked. You asked if blowing up bridges, as in Atlas Shrugged, is a withdrawal.

    It was clear that your untyped clause was referring to AS, not to Hicks piece. Thats because you thought it was true. In that same post you also wrote "And other than We the Living they are god-awfully written" despite the fact you havent read the others (or at least not Atlas Shrugged). If you had just accepted that Hicks piece was a complete strawman like said before your post, instead of parrotting him, you would have been better off. Also, not commenting on novels you havent actually read. I dont comment on Rand's non-fiction, for example, because I havent read it. No interest either.

  • ||

    You know, there are various categories of commentators here at _H&R_. And Jesse just ruined what could have been an interesting Marvin Gaye thread by throwing in an Ayn Rand reference. It's like he made a rookie mistake.

    Anon

  • ||

    The reader is supposed to identify with the productive near faultless demi-god of a hero and enjoy it when they put those parasites in their place (without overt violence, of course).

    Okay, after about the fourth time you've made this point, I have to respond.

    The reader does not need to identify with any of the protagonists to side with them. Indeed, if that were the case, the book would not be the seller it is since the protagonists of the capability described within are a slim slice of the population.

    You can enjoy the book, comprehend the philosophy, stomach the soliloquies, and still think you are not some uberproducer fighting the unterparisites. Rather, you can simply believe that the world is better when the highly productive people in it are allowed to produce and to reap their just rewards -- that you yourself as well as society as a whole are better off because of them.

  • robc||

    I agree with MikeP.

    Personally, I thought Eddie Willers was the most interesting character.

  • Old Bull Lee||

    If I had a nickel for every time Rand's heroes are criticized for being too perfect...

    Rand's characters are not intended to be ultra-realistic. They work better if you read them as moral superheroes. You don't need to "identify" with Superman, but it's no less compelling when he rescues a kid from a burning building or stops Lex Luthor.

    If anything, they are representations of ideals to aspire to.

  • Elemenope||

    MikeP --

    Your theory requires the psychologically unlikely corollary that people are good judges of their own abilities to be true.

    It's shades of the American Dream: everyone thinks they could be a millionaire, and are only being temporarily prevented from achieving such by [personal|social|political bugaboo of the moment].

    Most people identify with John Galt that read the book precisely in the way that MNG suggests. I don't agree with much of the rest of his analysis, but that part he got right. It is one of the most wrenchingly nauseous parts of Ayn Rand's writing that she invites all people to behave as if they were giants being crushed down by the world, and yet to not even stoop to pity (never mind *care about*) those who do not achieve greater stature.

  • Elemenope||

    You don't need to "identify" with Superman, but it's no less compelling when he rescues a kid from a burning building or stops Lex Luthor.

    Yes, it is. Superman is a shitty superhero precisely because he is so far removed from the human experience. He's the poster child of the '50s, a time of forcibly sanitized morals (pay no attention to the segregated darkies and the world-wide imperialism).

    Interesting superheroes are essentially human and flawed, from Batman and Spiderman all the way to V and Sin City's various anti-heroes.

  • Old Bull Lee||

    Oh great, another "only superheroes I can relate to are any good" comic fan. Where's your sense of fantasy?

  • ||

    Your theory requires the psychologically unlikely corollary that people are good judges of their own abilities to be true.

    Most people identify with John Galt that read the book precisely in the way that MNG suggests.

    And you know what the majority of readers of a best-selling book think because...?

    Did irony actually drip onto your keyboard as you wrote these sentences?

  • Jesse Walker||

    Jesse just ruined what could have been an interesting Marvin Gaye thread by throwing in an Ayn Rand reference.

    It's not too late to combine the topics. Imagine a different climax for Atlas Shrugged: John Galt commandeers the nation's airwaves and sings "Sexual Healing." Discuss.

  • Old Bull Lee||

    "I swear that I will never get that feeling for another man or ask another man to get that feeling for me."

  • robc||

    everyone thinks they could be a millionaire

    Its really not that hard. Compound interest is a wonderful thing. Not everyone can do it, but 90% of americans should* end up as millionaires eventually (even without continued devaluation of the dollar).

    *they wont

  • Elemenope||

    Oh great, another "only superheroes I can relate to are any good" comic fan. Where's your sense of fantasy?

    I'm sorry, but when the superhero is invulnerable except for exactly one weakness, it not only makes him god-like and therefore boring, it also makes the stories (and his villain's actions) really fucking predictable.

    And you know what the majority of readers of a best-selling book think because...?

    ...they are pretty up-front about it on fan-boards, message boards, comment threads, and book "reviews".

    I'll grant that "majority" is an exaggeration. Probably a majority of those who read "Atlas Shrugged" probably couldn't get through the crappy soliloquies and cardboard characters, and didn't think twice about it. And before you get all whiny about that, I'd note that that places Atlas Shrugged in good company: The Bible.

  • Elemenope||

    robc --

    I forgot to compensate for the rapidly declining fortunes of the US dollar. Make it multi-millionaire.

    And you're right, compound interest is awesome.

  • robc||

    Make it multi-millionaire.

    Lower my 90% to 85%.

  • ||

    # Elemenope | July 9, 2008, 12:18pm | #
    # Atlas Shrugged 3: The Search for Spock.

    # Hmm...

    Atlas Shrugged II: The Wrath of Keynes

    Also, I disagree with "Live Free or Shrug Harder." For me, it would be, "Live Free or Die Shrugging." Just my personal taste.

  • ||

    MNG: The state not only provided services in the past, it does so to any person in the here and now and in the future. And people pay for services. The nature of many of those services (I don't argue all since of course the government does things it probably should not) is such that you can't leave it up to each person to decide which services to pay for and which "really" benefit him or her, because things like free rider problems come up and then the service doesn't benefit anyone.

    Right. TV and radio broadcasts can't work because of all those free riders who watch and don't buy anything advertised.

    We can't have totally private schools, because without government education some kids will wind up not getting much of an education. *cough cough Detroit public school system *

    The current governmental system is loaded with free riders who pay little or nothing in taxes and get loot taken from productive citizens. In fact, the point of most government programs is to create free riders who will then repay the politicians supporting those programs with votes.

  • robc||

    prolefeed,

    Technically, if they are paying with votes, they arent free riders. :)

    The medium of exchange doesnt have to be money.

  • Elemenope||

    Atlas Shrugged II: The Wrath of Keynes

    Nicely done, sir.

  • russ||

    Lessee:

    Believed in an objective reality.
    Believed that people should be rational.
    Believed that people own their lives and property and should be the ones to decide how those are used.
    Believed that the initiation of violence was universally wrong.
    Believed that only voluntary social interactions among peaceful individuals were proper.
    Believed that art should uplift rather then degrade the human spirit.

    Yup. What a horrible person AR was to believe and promote such sick ideas. And what idiots so many people are for accepting such nonsense.

    Yup.

    Right.

  • ||

    Hmm...Ayn Rand +Comics makes me think of The Dark Knight Strikes Again, wherein The Question responds vociferously to a talk-show host with "I'm no Ayn Rander! She didn't go nearly far enough!" I thought that shit was really funny, FWIW.

  • ||

    My bad, it wasn't a talk-show host, it was the "Marxist" Green Arrow.

    Frank Miller is a genius.

    Speaking of which, I should probably read Marx and Engel's classic (on second thought, I tried that once and it was pretty much unreadable).

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