Ayn Rand

Boy, I Wonder How the Folks at Salon Feel About Ayn Rand

The troll-the-libertarians business model.

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This week in Salon's troll-the-libertarians business model:

Before I say anything about the interview, I should note that I think Ehrenreich is one of the better writers working on the left these days. I haven't spent any time with her most famous text, Nickel and Dimed—I'd rather read an actual poor person's account of her life, not a successful writer's Poor Like Me stunt book—but Dancing in the Streets, Fear of Falling, and For Her Own Good all have interesting ideas to impart, and I've heard good things about Bright-Sided. Within the world of people able to use the phrase "decade of greed" with a straight face, her work is worthier than most.

Click the panel to read the whole comic.
Peter Bagge

Furthermore, I've just said more nice things about Ehrenreich in one paragraph than I've ever said about Ayn Rand. Seriously: Looking back on a quarter century as a libertarian writer, I can recall only one occasion where I wrote something positive about Rand, way back in the '90s—and even that wasn't a case of me taking pleasure in her work so much as it was a case of me taking pleasure in the fact that it was now possible to read her in the former Communist bloc. I've never been a Randian, and when I take part in intra-libertarian debates about Rand, it's usually to criticize her.

I say all that just to make it clear that if any Reason writer might conceivably take pleasure in watching Barbara Ehrenreich attack Ayn Rand, it's probably me. But I can't watch Ehrenreich attack Rand, because despite the impression that Salon's headline might give, she never attacks. Frank has a lot to say about Rand, not all of it necessarily accurate, but Ehrenreich replies with a big (I paraphrase) "yeah, maybe, I never paid much attention to her." Somehow, this exchange occupies nearly 300 words of the interview and gives the piece its headline.

Here's the relevant part of the conversation:

Q: Reading about the teenage you, I kept thinking of Ayn Rand. And Ayn Rand is the preeminent philosopher of teenagers. They love her. She's huge when readers are in high school. And there's a strong whiff of Ayn Rand in the teenage Barbara. Think about it: the atheism, the primacy of reason, the horror of feeling responsibility for your fellow humans, which you describe very vividly. The solipsism, the complete selfishness. This is all her. And yet, you grow up and take it all in a very different direction.

A: I was not consciously that interested in Ayn Rand. I read a novel. I probably read "Atlas Shrugged"…

Q: Or "Fountainhead" maybe?

A: Yeah, one of those and [I thought], "I don't know, that's pretty interesting." But no, philosophically, I just thought of her as light entertainment.

Q: I think of your life story. You might not know this but the whole plot of "Atlas Shrugged" is a strike. It's a strike novel. The billionaires go on strike. Because they have agency and they are geniuses and the rest of us are subhuman. You're the anti-Ayn Rand.

Don't wear a suit to Butte, bud!

A: One strand in here is from my upbringing. The blue-collar roots and the lingering royalty [sic] to Butte (Montana) and all that it stood for. It was a very big principle in my upbringing that you should respect everybody's work. The street sweeper. Everybody. You should never look down on anybody for their work.

Q: Of course with Rand it's different. You respect engineers and geniuses…

A: Oh no. The whole Butte spirit was, you don't respect anybody in a suit, ever.

Q: So it's the opposite of Ayn Rand. It's exactly the opposite.

How lucky Salon is to have an interviewer as intrepid as Thomas Frank, a man who will go to such lengths to ferret out his feelings on a subject and to share his findings with the person he's interviewing.

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165 responses to “Boy, I Wonder How the Folks at Salon Feel About Ayn Rand

  1. You might not know this but the whole plot of “Atlas Shrugged” is a strike. It’s a strike novel. The billionaires go on strike. Because they have agency and they are geniuses and the rest of us are subhuman.

    I’ve read the book, and I didn’t know that was the plot either.

    1. I haven’t read the book, and I thought that’s what it was. I mean, not the geniuses vs. subhuman part, but the idea that the producers (Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders) just sort of… stop?

      1. but the idea that the producers (Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders) just sort of… stop?

        And Dagney’s trying to stop the disintegration, yes.

      2. Not all of “the producers” are rich though.

        1. Correct. By my count, most of them worked manual labor for most of the book. Except the worthless playboy and the naval tax collector.

          1. “naval tax collector”

            Gold.

    2. That seems as good a one sentence plot summary as anything else. “Producers get tired of being demonized, go on strike.”

      1. Moby Dick: Dude goes nuts, chases whale, death in mutual combat, expressive of the human condition.

        1. The Red Badge of Courage: Some guy got shot.

          1. The Bible: Dude walks into town day after his burial.

            1. That would be just the New Testament; the Bible also includes the Old Testament.

              1. A lot of people get killed for fucked up reasons.

                1. Or…….God creates man. And everything man does gets God really angry.

            2. Hamlet: the Prince of Denmark has daddy issues.

      2. Cool, but the truth is they never get tired of making money, no matter how demonized. Income taxes were 70-90% in the time of IKE and yet those are the great times most people look back to as far as American exceptionalism.

        Which is why Ayn is a writer of fiction. I could write a novel about something which doesn’t reflect real life….if I did, would you “libertarians” create a religion around it?

        Why not use real life as your model as opposed to fiction? This is like using the Turner Diaries as your reason for violent revolution or The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a pretext for extermination of a race……

        1. Anyone who thinks people in the top income brackets actually paid 70-90% income tax under Ike is delusional.

          There were significantly more loopholes, deductions, and tax shelters available, and the IRS had almost no way of reliably tracking it all, especially compared to today.

          If there was a 90% tax bracket today, the IRS would absolutely be able to aggressively collect every single dime of that, which would be disastrous to the economy.

    3. People who haven’t read the book think it’s a manifesto against the evils of being poor.

      It’s a good litmus test for telling apart the bullshitters who pretend they know what the books is about.

      1. You mean like Thomas Frank?

    4. The subhuman part of the analysis is off, but otherwise it’s somewhat accurate. Although there are characters that are far from billionaires that go on strike as well, IIRC.

      Of course, the dickhead leaves out the fact that the billionaires (producers, actually) try and try and try to save humanity from their greed and avarice to the point that they finally reach their breaking point and refuse to give in to the takers.

      Sure, they go on strike, but only after giving 100% of themselves first.

      1. Although there are characters that are far from billionaires that go on strike as well, IIRC.

        Right, and that’s not a throwaway detail. It isn’t that “billionaires” have agency, it’s that everyone does, but only some realize it (and some of those are evil and take advantage of the masses who don’t)

        Remember the laborers hiding out in the countryside, working for cash off the books because they want to keep their earnings? They’re not scenery, they’re an important part of the argument, and if a modern reader only sees Dagny and Hank and thinks it’s about idolizing mansions and fast cars, then they are catastrophically missing the point.

        In fairness, Rand’s terr’ble clunky writing is greatly responsible for that issue.

        1. no it’s not. The reason people miss that point is because they want to miss that point. Want proof? Point out to a Rand-hater what you just said and they’ll just shut you out. You can’t blame “clunky writing” for 70 years of deliberate ignorance.

          1. I know people who like Rand’s ideas, and people who don’t, and plenty of both who couldn’t finish Atlas Shrugged. I’m not imagining the clunky writing. If people don’t read the book, they won’t get the ideas. They read Orwell, and they get his ideas, because he’s very readable. Christopher Hitchens (not a novelist, I know) convinced a lot of people when he was a socialist, and later convinced a lot of people when he veered right, because he was damn entertaining in print.

            It’s a shame about Rand, because there’s a lot in Atlas Shrugged and her other books that’s directly applicable to the times we live in today. And not just the obvious stuff. Think about how the public cheers for the government’s secret weapon, because they all assume it will be used on someone else.

          2. I thought it was awesome when she called Rand ‘light entertainment’. What a total fraud. Its philosophical work that often ignores the basic structure of storytelling to give lectures. Its conceptually dense.

            There is no universe in which Rand is ‘light entertainment’. That’s the exact opposite of what it is.

          3. I guarantee you there is no one on the face of the Earth who said, “I really loved the writing and the story of Atlas Shrugged but I just don’t agree with Rand’s message.”

            I read the whole book and it was a real struggle. As dystopian fiction it’s shockingly accurate–IIRC Obama almost quoted Wesley Mouch directly during his reelection campaign–but there’s this ridiculous romance novel embedded in it that made me want to vomit.

            Then there’s the chapter-long (I exaggerate, but not by much) monologue John Galt delivers via radio, which the villains AT THE RADIO STATION are unable to bring themselves to turn off because they are so transfixed by the power of truth, or something. Not only is it an unbelievable moment in the story, but the speech is redundant and overlong to the point of distraction. It took Rand two years to write; it took me about a week to wade through it, because I’d make it a page or two and then go read a Discworld book.

            So, yeah, I can and do blame “clunky writing” in part for people not embracing Objectivism. People who go into Rand’s writing favorably disposed to her ideas will excuse any bad writing in order to get to her theses. People who are on the fence or hostile to her ideas will just see her as a less successful L. Ron Hubbard.

            1. ” which the villains AT THE RADIO STATION are unable to bring themselves to turn off because they are so transfixed by the power of truth, or something.”
              No he just broadcast over them, taking over the airwaves by sheer electronic brilliance. This is of course a weak, hackneyed way to have the good guys in a dystopian world get their message across. But it’s one shared by most dystopian works where the “good guys” win. There is the problem of how to explain how the good guys got to communicate with the masses when the bad guys have all the power. It wasn’t done any better in “The Hunger Games” or “V for Vendetta”.

    5. The biggest villains in AS–Jim Taggart and the Starns heirs–are also “billionaires”. You can be sure a smear is coming when self-styled Rand critiques ignore this and go for their favorite class warfare theme to discredit Rand’s work.

      By the way, libertarians that seem to want to establish their more sophisticated, grown-up cred by saying they out-grew Rand are indicating a phoniness and lack of philosophic seriousness as much as the smear-mongering leftists–IMHO. Ye, hardly know her, or you wouldn’t embarrass yourself with such comments.

      1. To be fair, Objectivism != libertarianism. And Rand herself was not a big fan of libertarians. Yes, Rand inspires (or at least is compatible with) a lot of libertarian philosophy, but you could say the same about Spooner, Hayek, or of course Rothbard.

        1. Say for example someone criticized Ludwig Von Mises Human Action or Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica without reading and understanding them. I would say the same thing about those critics–they don’t know what they are talking about. The greatness of these works and the persons who wrote them are historical.

          Atlas Shrugged is the greatest philosophically complete pieces of fiction written. The more you understand what the woman accomplished with this work, the more foolish offhand ad hominems of it sound. Criticisms of AS reflect volumes more about the person making the criticism than the object of the criticism.

    6. It isn’t. While several of the strikers are geniuses, several are quite poor. One of them is a truck driver, another a composer who sold the rights to his work and didn’t publish anything else for years, a third was ” a novelist on the outside who couldn’t get published because ‘she believed when you deal with words, you deal with the mind.’ “. These are not rich people. Compare this to people like Orren Boyle, James Taggart etc. who oppose the strikers. Those who claim “the rich” were the ones who went on strike is a lie repeated by those who refuse to consider anything they don’t already agree with.

  2. I have no particular love for Ayn Rand, but to claim she hated workers and thought they were subhuman is to admit to never having read her. What a clown. “This bitch had her hero pack his jury with blue-collar workers because he knows they’ll understand his motivations. She must hate workers!”

    1. I also have no particular love for Rand, but man, the lengths to which leftists will go to misrepresent everything about her into a retarded caricature of what they hate the most (yet is a surprisingly similar profile to themselves if you strip away their words and look at their actions…i.e., projection on a massive scale) is incredible. Like the Kochs, she has become a supernatural token to the animists, and invoking her name is like praying to Satan to them.

      1. If you ask one if they read anything by her, you’ll get an earful about how they wouldn’t waste their time on such obvious trash.

        It really is like those lynching parties that were certain the black guy they are about to hang must be rapist, because everyone knows that’s what black people do.

        1. Of course they haven’t read her. First of all, the types who do this are so uneducated that it’s scary. Secondly, they don’t give a fuck about truth or accuracy. All they know is that the TEAM says that Rand was horrible, the exact opposite of everything the TEAM stands for, and that you can use her name as a way of expressing that.

      2. Ayn Rand is Satan, isn’t she? “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”

        The other striking thing about clowns like this Thomas Frank dipshit is the lengths they’ll go to avoid thinking of their enemies* as rational. People who like Ayn Rand are just teenagers. The Tea Party is nothing but racists. The sneer substituted for an argument is worryingly mainstream, and reeks of the mob. I’m getting more and more convinced that John is correct that these people hate guns because they want mob violence.

        *His kind of fanatic doesn’t have opponents, they have enemies.

        1. “The sneer substituted for an argument is worryingly mainstream”

          Yes!

        2. I thought that was Aleister Crowley’s motto.

      3. Epi–

        Usually like your comments, so I would be interested in why you have no particular love for Rand. My only critique of her was her underlying anger.

        But the more I read about what she live through, and what she was trying to do as a result, the more I came to admire her. How would you feel if the country you immigrated to and assumed had already adopted all your ideals was in the process of giving up those ideals and adopting the same nihilistic crap that destroyed the country you just escaped? She was very angry and with good reason, but her philosophy supports the heroic, the best that is in all of us. She was trying to reverse what now seems like the inevitable decline of an ideal she loved.

    2. Huh. I wonder why she had John Galt having been a draftsman and just about everybody having worked their way up through the ranks.

      1. And her scathing disdain for the wealthy moochers like James Taggart.

    3. Right. And the Eddie Willers character was supposed to be an example of a capable guy that wasn’t anything special but worked hard and was good at his job. And wasn’t John Galt working as a laborer in the train station or something?

      1. No, he was an engineer at the Twentieth Century Motor Company.

        1. Until he quit. Then he worked in the train station, creeping on Dagny.

        2. He had been an engineer at the motor company, but for most of the book he works at Taggart Transcontinental as a laborer. He’s the nameless guy Eddie Willers sometimes takes his meals with.

          1. Track-cleaner/wiper, as I recall?

            1. Track-walker. I have no idea what a track walker does, but it doesn’t sound all that skilled or well-paid.

    4. I haven’t read Atlas Shrugged, but I know from here and elsewhere that Rand wrote blue collar characters that were treated with respect, precisely because they did their job well. Which does not sound like the opposite of this:

      It was a very big principle in my upbringing that you should respect everybody’s work. The street sweeper. Everybody. You should never look down on anybody for their work.

      1. For your own benefit, read Atlas Shrugged. Find out what all the stir is about if for no other reason.

      2. That’s exactly right. As much as I disliked the writing and the pacing, one of the many laudable themes in Atlas Shrugged is that ALL labor is important. Out of context, it can seem on the surface that Rand is preferring the “bosses” over the proletariat, but in some ways Atlas Shrugged is an argument against Marxism’s disdain for capitalists, industrialists, and managers.

        She’s basically saying, yes, all workers are important, but that includes the guy who could afford to start the company AND the guy who comes up with the ideas AND the foreman AND the bosses. The entrepreneur needs the janitor to help keep the company running smoothly, and the janitor needs the entrepreneur to keep the company running so he has a place to work. And while both people are hopefully good at their jobs, the janitor probably isn’t capable of starting his own company (for the sake of argument at least) whereas the entrepreneur is capable of working as a janitor, but, by doing so, his potential is wasted and everyone is worse off as a result.

    5. It just reinforces my contention that the ranks of the progressives must be thinned.

  3. They can only troll you if you pay attention to them. It’s Salon, not something like WaPo that tends to suck, but occasionally is good. Come on.

    1. Agreed. Trolls only have the power that you give them. Salon and Slate are built on trolling for clicks. Even quoting their content gives it far more credit than it deserves.

  4. “yeah, maybe, I never paid much attention to her.” Somehow, this exchange occupies nearly 300 words of the interview and gives the piece its headline.

    So, is this kind of what Nick Gillespie wrote about Rolling Stone in how they get people like Bob Dylan into interviews and then goad them into aping some kind of progressive talking point like, “Isn’t global warming just the worst, Bob?”

  5. Ayn Rand’s thesis wasn’t that billionaires where better than workers, it was that the moochers were exploiting producers and that the producers should go on strike.

    It just happens that if you are an exceptionally good producer, you have a very good chance of becoming rich.

    I get the sense that Thomas Frank’s opinion of Ayn Rand’s writings is about as well informed as Santorum’s opinions on homosexuality.

    1. Are you saying Santorum doesn’t have first-hand experience?

      1. I’d say he has both-hand experience.

  6. “But enough about me. How did you like my concert?”
    – Attributed to Arthur Rubinstein

  7. It was a very big principle in my upbringing that you should respect everybody’s work.

    […]

    Oh no. The whole Butte spirit was, you don’t respect anybody in a suit, ever.

    1. It’s easy for them to square this circle: the people in suits don’t “work” they just exploit people.

      1. Or you could respect the work without respecting the person?

    2. They respect their work, just not their fashion sense.

  8. : Reading about the teenage you, I kept thinking of Ayn Rand. And Ayn Rand is the preeminent philosopher of teenagers. They love her. She’s huge when readers are in high school. And there’s a strong whiff of Ayn Rand in the teenage Barbara. Think about it: the atheism, the primacy of reason, the horror of feeling responsibility for your fellow humans, which you describe very vividly. The solipsism, the complete selfishness.

    So. Does this remind anyone of anyone who likes to post here? Anyone who is perhaps not well-loved here? Maybe anyone who likes to stop taking their medication and then post lots of posts here under lots of names and get banned constantly?

    /just asking hard questions
    /posting answers on youtube

    1. I don’t think this has anything to do with Epi.

      1. Well, it sort of does.

        1. But I thought you were committed to taking all your meds?

          1. Cocaine is a medicine, right?

            1. Yeah, but only if you’re in bed with FedGov, otherwise, it’s satan salt.

          2. But they make me feel foggy!

  9. The people most likely to wear a suit are:
    a) engineers
    b) geniuses
    c) politicians

    1. You forgot pimps and morticians.

      1. Game show host
        News anchor

        1. Job applicant.

          1. Criminal defendant

            1. A suit can’t overcome a neck tattoo.

      2. Government agents.

    2. Also, hit men! Not that I’ve ever seen one in person…

    3. Investment bankers and hockey players.

      1. What do you call a hockey player in a suit?

        The defendant.

    4. Swimmers and divers! Oh wait…

  10. Officer Barbrady: Yes, at first I was happy to be learning how to read. It seemed exciting and magical, but then I read this: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I read every last word of this garbage, and because of this piece of s**t, I am never reading again.

  11. What kind of job is genius? Did he mean genie? In addition to suits, don’t even think about wearing sheer silk in Butte.

    1. Genie-ass. All the rage these days. One in every bottle. Didn’t have them back in Aladdin’s day, which is why his genie was so damn blue.

  12. I had to read Nickeled and Dimed as part of my freshmen orientation at UNC. From what I remember it was pretty shallow and unconvincing if you had a brain. The only thing I learned was to never hire a maid if you want your house to actually be clean.

    Oddly, no one in my discussion group of about 7 students believed her. I’m sure 4 years of liberal arts turned most of them to only feel not think.

    1. Haven’t read it, but read a couple of reviews of it. Ehrenreich is a communist and her book about being a poor women never discusses how if she got married and had a two income family it would make a big difference.

      I think about the time her book came out there was another book by a kid out of college who moved to a city with no connections and money and got a job and worked his way up to success just to see if he could do it. But I guess he was white and male, so it doesn’t count.

      1. Yeah, but when he got there, he still used a family connection to get that job in the company mail room. And, he also had sex with his aunt Vera and snuck around the office pretending to be a new executive and ultimately negotiated a hostile takeover of his uncle’s business.

        And he did all of this while being the only non-Asian male at the company that was shorter than 5’3″ while arousing zero suspicion, which is the really amazing part.

        1. Fuck you people. It’s rare that a Secret Of My Success door opens on here, yet you just ignore it.

          Kiss my ass.

        2. Is that before or after he knocks up the girl who works in the mailroom and then murders her by drowning her in a lake, so he can marry the bosses daughter?

          1. Good movie.

            And no, the guy I’m thinking of took blue collar jobs like Ehrenreich to make it. Not some mail room in an agents office.

          2. A tragedy that could happen in America, I guess.

          3. I ought to punch you for bringing Dreiser into a Michael J Fox conversation.

            1. I thought we were talking about A Kiss Before Dying, or maybe A Place in the Sun…(cue that Clash song).

              1. I thought it was A Place in the Sun as well. I’ve always despised that movie.

      2. Scratch Beginnings – own it though I have yet to actually read it (but it was well received, IIRC):

        http://www.amazon.com/Scratch-…..0061714275

      3. “Haven’t read it, but read a couple of reviews of it. Ehrenreich is a communist and her book about being a poor women never discusses how if she got married and had a two income family it would make a big difference.

        I think about the time her book came out there was another book by a kid out of college who moved to a city with no connections and money and got a job and worked his way up to success just to see if he could do it. But I guess he was white and male, so it doesn’t count.”

        I don’t know about a book, but a young guy fitting that description was on Stossel.

        She looked really stupid on that show.

    2. The only thing I learned was to never hire a maid if you want your house to actually be clean.

      Ours does a good job, best marital investment ever. I don’t know about other places, but here in Houston there is plenty of competition so you can easily find another if they do a shitty job. Hell there were 4-5 who advertised in our apartment complex alone and competed on price, didn’t even need to look around further.

      1. +1. We had to go through a couple before we found the right one. Definitelyworth every dime.

        1. Did you put them dimes
          On a ten ninety nine?

  13. A: I was not consciously that interested in Ayn Rand. I read a novel. I probably read “Atlas Shrugged”…

    Oh bullshit. You’d know damn well if you read it or not, it’s like 1100 pages.

    1. I read AS cover-to-cover twice, and significant excerpts for two more classes. Other than the rape-sex scene and those idiots not understanding that a train engine is always going to win in a competition with people for oxygen, I don’t remember much. Oh and Reardon Steel.

      1. The sexy rape sex scene is in The Fountainhead. You objectively anti-life objective moron.

        1. See? The Fountainhead was a far superior book.

        2. I thought both books had sexy ‘forceful’ scenes?

        3. They had at least two in AS, both Francisco and Rearden take Dagny by force. Not that she actually resists.

      2. Rearden… open the book one more time.

    2. I know, right? That’s like saying “I read a religious book. I probably read the Christian bible…”

      1. Or Dianetics — you’d remember that use of your time. I bet a friend he couldn’t read in a year and won easily. Not because it’s difficult or long, but because it’s inane.

        1. Not because it’s difficult or long, but because it’s inane.

          You could strategically add an ‘s’ to this sentence and it would still work just fine.

        2. The Book of Mormon is pretty inane but worth it for the lulz.

          1. It should be named the Book of Morons. Couldn’t get past the first couple of pages. It’s funny, but not funny enough to waste my time.

          2. Really? I’ve heard it called “Chloroform in print”.

    3. To be fair, if she didn’t read it, she wouldn’t know that.

  14. I always thought her best work was We the Living.

    1. Definitely. Of course the love story part of it made me wish for the sexy rape love of fountainhead.

  15. Oh god, this is like that Bob Dylan interview in Rolling stone all over again! I think it was late 2012, but 5 of the 8 pages of interview was the RS interviewer pleading with Bob Dylan to say something mean about Republicans and to be effervescent about Obama. He was polite, but accurate by saying “yeah, but the other side hated Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Nixon, and they’ll hate the next guy too.” RS couldn’t stand it. He also wasn’t buying into it at all that race relations are just as bad today.

    Instead, Dylan had nothing to do with it any of it. After the 30th rephrasing of “So Bob, how racist are Republicans and how great is Obama?” it finally ended with Bob saying “What the fuck is it you want me to say!” (I can’t believe they left that part of his response in).

    1. Thanks for the tip. I read the interview and you’re spot on. The interviewer was practically trying to fellate the desired response out of him.

      “Don’t you hate pants??”

    2. If you got a slave master or Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.

      Bob Dylan is crazy. Like senile old man crazy. And I think a little racist, too, unless you actually believe that the coloreds can smell ancestral Klan membership like a Spidey-Sense.

  16. I dislike Ayn Rand as a stylist, and I also have problems with her statements against what she called “altruism.” But I mostly agree with her, and a lot of people on the Left outright lie about her books.

    1. Most of them have not actually read them, and then tend to filter against contrary opinion, so their opinion of her books is basically shaped by liberal echo-chamber distortions.

    1. The conservative sandwich-heavy portfolio pays off for the hungry investor!

  17. You might not know this but the whole plot of “Atlas Shrugged” is a strike. It’s a strike novel. The billionaires go on strike. Because they have agency and they are geniuses and the rest of us are subhuman.

    A: […] You should never look down on anybody for their work.

    Q: Of course with Rand it’s different. You respect engineers and geniuses…

    One gets the impression that Tom Frank has never actually read Atlas Shrugged. He has just overheard comments made by people who read about plot and never actually read the book either. I’m not saying he has to like the book, but misunderstanding the novel that badly requires ignorance or idiocy.

    A: […] It was a very big principle in my upbringing that you should respect everybody’s work. The street sweeper. Everybody. You should never look down on anybody for their work. […] Oh no. The whole Butte spirit was, you don’t respect anybody in a suit, ever.

    The mental contortions of liberals never ceases to entertain.

  18. This is ridiculous. Rand herself went out of her way to point out that she was not elitist about this. She lectured and wrote countless times about how it was reaching the pinnacle of your own abilities, regardless of how high that took you, that she was encouraging and praising. It’s only those who either have a shallow understanding of what she actually wrote and said or who have an agenda and lie about her on purpose to advance that agenda who do things like this. It is Salon, after all. It gets pretty tiresome seeing so many who just don’t get what she was really saying about things like selfishness and honoring those who produce speak out with either less than a complete understanding or outright lie. It’s not our fault you don’t get it.

    1. That’s why these collectivist dickholes always mischaracterize her works and her later writings. They want people to rely on the collective and they hate people striving to outshine others with equal/similar abilities. They strive for everyone to be satisfied with doing well enough to get by because they abhor competition.

      I’d be willing to bet that Tom Frank has never played a sport in his life where they kept score. I’d also be willing to bet that he never took a test where only those with the top (X) results were promoted/accepted/honored.

      1. I’d also be willing to bet that he never took a test where only those with the top (X) results were promoted/accepted/honored.

        The roller bearing plant I worked in through much of college had a system in place that put you on probation if your performance rating was in the bottom 10%. If you were in the bottom 10% and already on probation it was automatic dismissal. You can imagine my gawping face when my supervisor was automatically fired the week after I started.

      2. That’s why these collectivist dickholes always mischaracterize her works and her later writings.

        I agree, but she and Objectivists in general make it a lot easier for collectivists to do that, sometimes. A key example is the insistence that certain words mean something other than their common meanings — sacrifice, altruism, selfishness are the primary ones that come to mind. As a result, sometimes she/they say things that mean something different to other people, and almost-willfully misconstrue what other people say.

        For example, a few years ago Rush Limbaugh said something along the lines of “we should be thankful for the sacrifices earlier generations of Americans made for us.” The online Objectivists went through the roof. To any normal person, it’s obvious that Limbaugh meant that we should be thankful that previous generations valued our freedom, well-being, prosperity, etc., and were willing to risk or give up things in their lifetimes so we could have such things in ours. Objectivists, however, couldn’t get past their insistence that “sacrifice” means “giving up something you value for something you value less, or not at all” — a definition that I’ve never heard anyone else use.

  19. What do you expect from people that think money is the root of all evil?

    When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion?when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing?when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors?when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you?when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice?you may know that your society is doomed

    Of course, the moochers and the looters are “anti-Rand”.

  20. Except that’s totally not what Ayn Rand wrote in Atlas Shrugged. Yeah, she admired the industrialists and engineers. But she makes a point of saying that a job well done is admirable no matter what the job is. Even a burger flipper or a cigarette girl who did what they did expertly were worthy of admiration.

    1. Thus Hugh Akston, PhD. running a diner. A favorite scene in the book.

    2. Anyone who performs their chosen job expertly is worthy of admiration.
      Conversely, anyone who is sloppy or lazy, is worthy of nothing but contempt.

  21. One thing that I caught was that they both seem to think growing up rural = blue collar.

    Also it seems weird to claim that growing up rural and therefor growing up blue collar leads one to be progressive.

    Demographically that would be the exception not the rule.

    1. I never heard Ehrenreich’s background – guess she grew up in Butte, but what were her parents? Doubt they were sodbusters.

      She ain’t blue collar just because she worked as a maid so she could write a book.

      1. They were most likely employed either at the Berkeley Pit or perhaps are old enough to have worked at the Anaconda Copper Mine.

        “Butte-America”, as the locals call it, is the only town where literacy is likely to get you popped in the face.

    2. That’s the Leftist/Progressive/Socialist thing, though. It’s not that they think being blue collar is good, it’s that they think it’s good for other people. Throughout history, and I’m talking from Marx forward, no socialist or progressive has ever opted to leave the ranks of the pampered intelligentsia in order to actually be a worker.

  22. my roomate’s mom makes $79 /hour on the laptop . She has been out of work for five months but last month her paycheck was $19158 just working on the laptop for a few hours. have a peek at this website………
    http://www.workbarr.com

  23. One strand in here is from my upbringing. The blue-collar roots and the lingering royalty [sic] to Butte (Montana) and all that it stood for. It was a very big principle in my upbringing that you should respect everybody’s work. The street sweeper. Everybody. You should never look down on anybody for their work.

    Of course, Ehrenreich never makes the connection between community, scale, and diversity. Growing up in a relatively small, mostly white, mostly Protestant city, I imagine it was very easy for the local populace to engender respect for each other–a goal more easily achievable than in, say, Chicago.

    1. Here’s Wikipedia on her upbringing – note they call her father a miner, but looks like he was an engineer/exec:

      “As a little girl”, she told the New York Times in 1993, “I would go to school and have to decide if my parents were the evil people they were talking about, part of the Red Menace we read about in the Weekly Reader. Just because my mother was a liberal Democrat who would always talk about racial injustice.”[8] Her father was a copper miner who went to the Montana State School of Mines (now part of the University of Montana), and then to Carnegie Mellon University. He eventually became a senior executive at the Gillette Corporation. Her parents later divorced.

      1. He, to his credit, probably had the wherewithal to rise through the ranks and the School of Mines was a path to a significant increase in his standard of living.

        Of course he probably moved to Bozeman because he would have been torched by his former Butte neighbors for being too good to toil away in the Berkeley Pit.

        1. They like to keep the crabs in the bucket in other words.

          You’d think his daughter would see that as an example of striving to make yourself better (up by his bootstraps) but the rest of her Wiki reads like the typical crabby person who sees nothing but unfairness in life.

      2. So, sort of like Francisco d’Anconia?

    2. “mostly protestant”

      “Butte Montana’s mining history brought in a large population of Irish immigrants, to the point that Gaelic was spoken as a common language in the mines and Butte had the highest percentage of Irish population of any city in America, including Boston. Today, the city’s population is under 40,000 people, and the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration brings in roughly 30,000 visitors each year, nearly doubling the city’s population for the day. Butte has a long history of running a parade through the Uptown District of the city and hosting music at a number of venues, including numerous bars, including one featuring booths created from church pews that had been imported from Dublin and a stone imported from County Clare at the door for visitors to touch. Until 2013 there was no open container law in Butte, and the current ordinance only prohibits open containers between 2:00 am and 8:00 am. The day’s events have a reputation for rowdy celebrations.”

      (from Wikipedia)

      http://bit.ly/1qATJVP

      1. St. Patrick’s day in Butte is like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but without the same sense of quiet dignity.

        Fortunately, it’s cold enough there that all the puke on the sidewalk freezes, keeping the smell down.

        God, we really miss living in Butte. Wonderful town.

  24. And Ayn Rand is the preeminent philosopher of teenagers. They love her. She’s huge when readers are in high school.

    First, I don’t know anyone who read Ayn Rand in high school. It was in college or after.

    Second, why throw out logic and reason when you graduate?

    1. First, I don’t know anyone who read Ayn Rand in high school. It was in college or after.

      You mean 15 year olds aren’t running around reading 1100 page books?

      1. My wife read The Fountainhead in high school.

        I’m proud to say that I’ve brought her over from Progressive to at least semi-libertarian. Of course, the fact that we paid 40k in taxes last year helped quite a bit. Nothing like realizing how hard you’ve both worked to get where you are and watch the government steal it to help people see reason.

        1. Eh, the government definitely doesn’t steal it to help people see reason. Poor grammar.

        2. I’ve lost count of the people I’ve met who religiously vote democrat and then complain about all the taxes. You try to explain the link between their vote and the taxes, and they stare at you like a malpractice lobotomy patient.

  25. Tom Frank knows that in 100 years people will still be talking about Ayn Rand, and if you ask them what they think about Tom Frank, they’ll ask, “Who the hell is that?”

    They probably won’t know who Barbara Ehrenreich is either. Or Salon.

    1. But I bet they’ll know what radioactive zombies are!

  26. you should respect everybody’s work. The street sweeper. Everybody. You should never look down on anybody for their work.

    Q: Of course with Rand it’s different. You respect engineers and geniuses…

    A: Oh no. The whole Butte spirit was, you don’t respect anybody in a suit, ever.

    A butt-ton of cognitive dissonance packed into that.

    “People in suits never work, ever.”

    1. Or a Butte-ton, perhaps…

      /here all week

  27. The billionaires go on strike

    It’s been over twenty years since I last read AS, but I don’t recall there being any billionaires in the book. Probably the wealthiest character was Midas Mulligan, the banker – but I believe he was only a multi-millionaire.

    Atlas Shrugged was written during the first half of the 1950s; in real life the epitome of being rich in those days was to be a millionaire. There were a few billionaires perhaps, but they were damned few and far between – one seldom even heard the term. Of course, a 1950’s multi-millionaire – adjusted for inflation – would probably be a billionaire these days.

  28. I hadn’t heard of Ayn Rand, or Atlas Shrugged, until about 10 years ago. Only read AS 2 years ago.
    I have, however, been a sort of Randian for most of my adult life (I’ll be 50 later this year) – I respect competence, and feel nothing but contempt for the incompetent. I have no patience for idiots.

    I’ve put a lot of time and effort into becoming one of the best there is at the job I’ve chosen to do – and for the most part, I’ve been successful. There’s nothing glamorous about my job – the hours are long, the conditions are bad, and I’ll *never* become independently wealthy doing it – but I enjoy what I do and I’m damn good at it. I’ve gotten 2 raises in the last 8 months (that I didn’t have to ask for), and my first-ever bonus – to me, those are signs that my employer also respects ability.

    My wife has been employed in her chosen field (I suppose you’d call it “white collar,” even though she wears scrubs) for over 30 years and, until recent years, has always enjoyed it. Now, she often wishes she could just give it up and go on the dole – she’s getting tired of being a Producer in a world of Expropriators (she’s never read AS, by the way). She sees so many people living better than we do, off of our labor. . . and it’s dragging her down. I think that, if she knew where Galt’s Gulch was (not the pretend one in South America, but the one from AS), she’d pack it in and move tomorrow – I *know* I would.

  29. I have nothing but love for Ayn Rand. Regarding “her anger” – I think more of us should be angry about the expansion of the State, our abused & dying economy and the constant attacks on our liberties. Prosperity is being stolen from us just as it is within our grasp. Perhaps it will take an economic / monetary collapse to make everyone just the right amount of angry to get this crap cleared up.

    1. Yep. And when you consider she escaped the Russian Worker’s Paradise thinking she was coming to Atlantis where force was finally and forever abolished, only to find her adopted country adopting all the evils of the murderous place she left…

      Her anger becomes very understandable.

  30. No one knows what anything is anymore.

    Ask a Millennial for an example of a libertarian system, and they say “Somolia” in absolute and sincere seriousness.

    1. Don’t worry about them. Such people won’t make a damn bit of difference anyway. It is an intellectual war. The trenches of this war are amongst the professional intellectuals–academics and higher level journalist and commentators. The enemy they know they can’t beat is Ayn Rand if it is a fair fight, but they might beat her through an intellectually unprepared enemy like the libertarians who are closely associated with her for better or worse.

      The libertarians will soon have the full attention of the leftist intellectuals if these Mid-terms elections go like they now look like they might.

      Then, the folks who need to know who they are, are the libertarians themselves. They better have their intellectual armor on and not be sitting on the fence about Ayn Rand. Because their enemies will force libertarians to own Ayn Rand or deny her. If they deny her, all of us lose and libertarianism will go into the ash bin of history just like the Repubs are likely to go. If they own her, they’ve got a chance to take a leading role in America’s comeback. Even the Millennials know the way we are going cannot go on–it either breaks good or breaks really bad from here.

      1. Dude,

        Ayn Rand was suffering from a raging case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

        Her emotionally crippled life, her application of splitting on every question under the sun, make her not the central defendant of liberty, but a kind of unreliable fellow traveler.

        So if it is question of following her and defending her to the death or abandoning her completely, then the freedom lover should kick her sorry ass to the curb.

        1. So what was Rothbard’s position on Rand’s epistemology or her devastating answer to Hume’s is-aught gap. or the the West’s abandonment of induction in scientific philosophy, or the moral justification of individual rights? It is ideas that matter in the end, not Rothbard’s opinion of someone he did not know philosophically or personally.

          You might want to read a bit more and try to figure out what is going on around you.

          1. not Rothbard’s opinion of someone he did not know philosophically or personally.

            ROFL!

            You fucking jacknape!

            ROTHBARD WAS AT ONE POINT IN HER INNER CIRCLE!

            You are such a fucking buffoon!

            This is why Objectivism is a dying religious cult. You guys are no different than Islamic fundamentalists who only know the Koran and the Hadith and nothing else, and then have the temerity to announce that Mohammed knew about General Relativity because one of the suras kind of sounds like one of the implications of General Relativity.

            1. Rothbard captured the dynamic of his experiences interacting with Ayn Rand in a lovely one act play.

              Mozart was a Red

              The woman playing Carson Sand BTW, did a stint in the Federal pen and died shortly after getting out. Her crime? Smuggling medicine intended for people with AIDS into the US from Japan. The FDA would approve the drugs later, but prior to the signature being applied to the permission slip they acted as if she was murdering people.

  31. Salon: Not as soft as Charmin, but just as useful in an emergency.

  32. Tom Frank–the Linda Lovelace of State Fellators–AND Barbara Ehrenreich in the same article? Let the slurping commence!

  33. Nickel and Dimed is a poorly written sob piece about how the author finds working at low-paying jobs to be disgusting form. She can’t grasp how anyone in that situation doesn’t just kill themselves or how they manage to stay alive. It’s rife with assumptions and there are so many holes in its logic you could pass it off as swiss cheese.

  34. Wasn’t she a famous fiction writer who said those who believe in God and have Faith are weak and cowardly? How does that dovetail to so-called “socons”?

  35. You can always tell when someone hasn’t read Ayn Rand; their take is the polar opposite of what she espoused.

  36. This “clunky writing” has sold over 7,000,000 copies since 1957. Long books were popular then- see James Michener’s HAWAII published in 1959. Do you consider MACBETH ponderous? Who could ever get the point of it with all this pentameter?

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