James Delingpole

The tao of Ayn Rand

31 August 2013

9:00 AM

31 August 2013

9:00 AM

I’m now half way through Atlas Shrugged and I’m loving almost every moment. But Ayn Rand isn’t someone you read for pleasure, I’m beginning to realise. She’s someone you read so you can underline sentences and scrawl in the margins ‘Yes’, ‘God that is so TRUE!’ and ‘YES!!!’

For example, at the heart of the novel are three romances between heroine Dagny Taggart and a trio of driven, dauntless free marketeers. But you don’t pay them any serious attention — not even during the sex scenes, which you skip quickly past in order to get to the much more exciting bits about industrial relations. Partly, it’s because Rand isn’t much of a prose stylist, least of all when she tries to do lyrical. And partly it’s because the novelistic flourishes are irrelevant almost to the point of being a nuisance. Whenever Rand attempts to fill in a bit more character detail, you feel rather as you would in The Pilgrim’s Progress if Bunyan started trying to sketch in a backstory for Mr Valiant-for-Truth. ‘No, no. We get it. He’s one of the good guys, that’s all we need to know. Now please, cut to the chase. How about, say, a nice, juicy rail disaster to give the lefties their comeuppance?’

In Rand’s parlance lefties are ‘looters’. This is why she inspires in readers of a libertarian or classical liberal persuasion such cultish adoration. There’s no nuance in Rand’s world, no weaselish, self-deluding pretence that if only we find the Third Way we can build a society which is both ‘fair’ and economically efficient. As far as Rand is concerned, if you’re not actively contributing to the economy you’re a parasite. Lots of us may secretly agree with this viewpoint, but few of us would dare admit it in public, which is why Atlas Shrugged has the thrill of the forbidden. ‘Wow!’ you think. ‘So it isn’t just me, then?’

Needless to say, lefties loathe Rand. They claim her philosophy is heartless and selfish — a charge she answers rather well, I think, in passages like the one where she describes the chain of events caused by the delay of a train carrying oranges and lettuces from California to New York. The spoiling of the stock causes several dependent businesses — fruit growers, a commission house, a plumbing company to which the commission house owed money, a lead-pipe company which supplied the plumber — to fold. But nobody except the companies involved notices. ‘When people were starving, said the newspapers, one did not have to feel concern over the failures of business enterprises which were only private ventures for private profit.’


This is one of those classic Randian tick-in-the-margin moments. What she’s addressing here is a fundamental misconception at the root of all leftist thinking: that statism is essentially benign and cost-free. The reason that train was so delayed was because of various well-meaning government interventions to protect workers, promote social equity, soften capitalism’s brutal tendency towards creative destruction. But the sclerosis brought about by these measures makes everyone worse off — rich and poor alike, but most especially the poor. So who are the real bastards, Rand tacitly asks: the kindly progressives or the ruthless wealth creators?

Rand is so sure in her moral indignation that she feels no need to prettify her argument with sops to leftist sentiment (having spent her teenage years in Lenin’s Russia she knew whereof she spoke). In British terms this makes her much more of a Thatcherite than a Cameroon. Were Rand around today she would no doubt be driven apopleptic by the attempts of conservatives to rebrand themselves as ‘compassionate.’ That’s because she’d recognise these exercises for what they are: needless concessions to a wicked and implacable enemy who, in a decent world, would be treated without mercy.

If that makes me sound a bit of a Randian myself, then I’m proud of it. For me, Atlas Shrugged is the right-winger’s answer to The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists — the landmark book which, if properly understood and absorbed, makes it virtually impossible to be anything other than a classical liberal.

And what was relevant when the book was published in 1957 seems even more so now as the proportion of the economy occupied by the state has grown and grown, giving rise to precisely the inequality, the corruption, the waste, the injustice, the inefficiency and human suffering that Rand predicted. ‘Who is John Galt?’ Well, unfortunately, there isn’t one — that bit was fantasy. But there’s a superabundance of government-endorsed parasites like Wesley Mouch.

One of them is Jeremy Wates, an Irish environmental activist who, not unlike the slippery Mouch, has risen without trace through the EU hierarchy to become head of something called the European Environmental Bureau. As James Forsyth has reported, this democratically unaccountable lobbyist — working on behalf of hard-left, deep-green pressure groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth — was given space at a meeting of the European Environmental Council to lecture 28 national environment ministers, including our own Owen Paterson, on the evils of shale gas. Such is this dangerous nobody’s influence that he may even succeed in effecting an EU-wide ban.

Can you imagine the absurdity of this situation? Well Ayn Rand did. In Atlas Shrugged, she invented a miracle technology called Rearden Metal — widely opposed by sundry left-wing vested interests on various spurious grounds. So it is in our own world with the current disinformation campaign against shale gas. Though it has been dressed up as a debate about safety, what it really is — as Rand would have understood — is just another attack launched by the progressives in their endless war on progress.

Sometimes you need an extravagant satire like Atlas Shrugged to show your own world as it is in all its outrageous awfulness. I’d commend it especially to anyone with a job title which includes the words ‘sustainability’, ‘diversity’ or ‘equality’. Looters all.

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Show comments
  • misterioso

    Atlas Shrugged satire? Read and digest Galt’s speech.

    • I grant you that “satire” isn’t quite the mot juste. Parable? Moral fable?

      • misterioso

        Why don’t you wait until you’ve finished reading the book before you decide? Could it be that your interest in Ayn Rand is less than academic?

        • Bollocks to that. I don’t believe there is going to be a change of tone so dramatic that it will alter my view on what the book is. Also, bollocks to your snootiness. If there’s one thing that puts me off Randism – and similar rules apply to libertarians – it’s the up-their-own-arsiness of Randians.
          And excuse me but what on earth does “Could it be that your interest in Ayn Rand is less than academic”? Who are you: Henry bloody James?

          • misterioso

            “If there’s one thing that puts me off Randism – and similar rules apply to libertarians – it’s the up-their-own-arsiness of Randians.” Your obvious bias is what I am getting at. Take a breath.

          • raycathode

            So it is the tone, James, that puts you off. Not even the fact that she doesn’t have an exquisite style in English, like her compatriot Nabokov. It is not even the ideas – which are at least original. But to state that nothing could change your view on the book is to confess that your view is not rational, but emotional. Perhaps you are put off by the masculinity of her style for a woman.

            Oh by the way, in abandoning reason in favor of emotion in your pre-judgment of her books, it is you who is emulating an ostrich and burying his head, not in the sand, but up your own arse.

  • Cymrugel

    Of course you like it Mr D. She’s a reactionary right wing nutcase and hates everybody who won’t agree with her.
    Her actual lifestyle was such that she comes across as a bit of an hypocrite,. but I can well understand why you would enjoy the frothing’s of this monster.
    SD he despises most people – as do you.

    • If hypocrisy were the left’s standard of judgment for all ideas, the infinite left-wing millionaires and billionaires would be busted for not doing their “fair share” for “wealth redistribution” to the poor. Then again, conservatives constantly and vainly warn lefties that socialist ideas are just spouted by politicians as a schtick to get power and then to loot the economy for themselves and their associates. Show me the worker’s paradise ever founded by socialists, and I will give it a rest.

  • Richard Abbott

    Excellent piece – the inescapable logic of Ayn Rand is the best elixir for the feel good Orwellian psychobabble of the modern left. Should be required reading for all players in our centrally administered western economy.

  • OldSlaughter
    • misterioso

      Chambers confessed to never having read the book.

      • OldSlaughter

        Really? Have you a link mate? Because he nails so much of it.

        • misterioso

          I’m wrong. It was another reviewer of note. My apologies. For a review of the Chambers ‘classic,’ see http://tinyurl.com/pyzq8j7

        • IronMaidenaregods

          He does not nail any of it and you don’t get gas chambers under capitalism, you get them under socialism.

    • IronMaidenaregods

      Written by a former communist spy, it is a hatchet job put forward by a religious magazine who hated Rand for being a capitalist.

      http://capitalismmagazine.com/2007/11/whittaker-chamberss-review-of-ayn-rands-novel-atlas-shrugged-in-the-national-review/

      This is a review of a review

      • OldSlaughter

        ‘Religious magazine’. Ha ha ha

        • IronMaidenaregods

          Ah, you admit defeat.

          Thank you.

  • E Hart

    Yes, and in the end who did the narcissistic ‘sage’ loot? Well, if it wasn’t the old social security that she derided others for taking. Apart from being a 100% hypocrite, she was a fully baked Dundee cake with added cherries, who’d brooked no argument however reasonable. She didn’t do reasonable, rational, right or persuasion, as five minutes of Youtube viewing (i.e. of her various TV interviews) show. Watch ’em! The longer she talks for and the more she brushes of the general entreaties to reason, the more it’s patently obvious that she wasn’t the full shilling. The uneasy shuffling and laughter in the audience, too, is indicative. Nuts eventually make people squirm. Call it a race memory, but something in her demeanour smacked of a wrong ‘un. Narcissists are the show. They are the orchestra, the props, the cast, the management, the audience, the ticket sellers, the critics… They are everything until something goes wrong – then they are nothing. It was all somebody else’s fault. It was the ‘looters’ what done it.

    Her heroes are idiotic two dimensional narcissists – rather like their author. They are as edifying to the soul of humanity as the High Plains Drifter. Galt and Rourke are preposterous in their absurd singularity – railing against the rest of humanity for its profound stupidity. Rourke is a sort of Le Corbusier/Ozymandias character with none of the talent and all of the megalomania. If Galt and Rourke are indicative of anything, it is the old adage – no-one is indispensable.

    The best thing you can do with Atlas Shrugged is use it to keep a door open. Reality and fresh air are too important to be denied or shrugged.

    • misterioso

      Have you read Atlas Shrugged?

      • E Hart

        Yes, Mr. M, I have. Galt’s hissy fit lives long in the memory.

        • Mike Bromley

          Surely got your attention.

          • E Hart

            I’ll read anything.

          • richardgleaves

            And understand nothing.

          • E Hart

            There is no basis for believing that this childish hogwash has any validity. There isn’t anything to understand other than its vacuity.

    • Jonathan Dickson

      Didn’t like the message? Attacking the messenger does not change the message. And when you have paid as much as Miss Rand into social security, then think again about her getting some of her well earned money back. And read Atlas Shrugged, you might find it one of the best things you ever did.

      • E Hart

        I’m not attacking the messenger. I’m attacking the ideas. Rand objected to social security on principle but accepted it in practice. It doesn’t matter how much she paid in. There is also something deeply disturbing about a subjective-objective synthesis – a Hegelian meme by way of Marx – which sets out to establish a sort of Babylonian high priest sect.

        • richardgleaves

          I object to the IRS in principle, but I pay my taxes in practice. You live within the system and try to change it — Rand was no hypocrite — she wrote an essay specifically on “getting your own money back” from these programs.

          This argument by the left is the same as any statist who tries to smear anyone who disagrees with the system as a hypocrite because they have to, by law, live in it while they decry it. From the mediocrities like Elizabeth Warren (or Obama) who say you owe the success of your business to the fact that everyone else provided the roads, to the dictator who says you have moral culpability for my ethnic cleansing because you lived under my rule.

          It’s astonishing chutzpa for E Hart to essentially say that no one on the right is allowed to live in the system he creates without thereby being a hypocrite — essentially all who disagree with the welfare state must allow themselves to be taxed with no benefits or be called a hypocrite. Does this mean you’ll let us opt out of being taxed for these things? That’s just great! I object to so much that the government does, I guess I can stop paying for any of them and not get the benefits– since E Hart has given me that option. Yay! No property taxes for schools I don’t use and no income taxes for food stamps I dont take and if I opt out of social security I can make a higher return. Thanks E Hart. I’m so glad I’m allowed not to be a hypocrite now. Enjoy picking up the slack for those programs on your own damn shoulders.

          • E Hart

            You’ve misconstrued my position – but never mind. As for the rest, I have no interest whatsoever in you tedious attempts to claw back cash. No man is an island old chum. If you are that keen on monetising everything, why don’t you charge your family wear-and-tear on your fixed assets or for family holidays?

          • brian0918

            “I’d provide a rebuttal – but never mind. Here are some ad hominems, straw men, and platitudes instead.” – There, I fixed that for you.

          • IronMaidenaregods

            Well said.

          • Octothorn

            Hart, the family unit is communist dictatorship, that’s why Rand avoided writing about it.

            However, its voluntary communism, which voluntaryists like me are just fine with.

        • brian0918

          Rand was opposed to the initial theft, not to the later recompense. If a thug steals your money and gives you some of it back later, does that make you a hypocrite, so long as you continually advocate against the thug’s acts of theft?

          • E Hart

            That’s correct. She was quite happy to receive the ‘later recompense’. You can’t criticise her in one respect – she’d paid for it. But it is a bit rich to chide similar beneficiaries as ‘looters’ only to become one yourself.

          • brian0918

            Way to ignore my entire response and pick out one phrase to jump on.

          • E Hart

            What there was of it, I thought I addressed pretty well.

          • brian0918

            Quite well indeed – dropped the context of my first sentence, completely ignored the analogy I provided for clarity, and then tossed in a straw man at the end.

          • E Hart

            What is it about the principle you don’t understand? Nobody is quibbling about her entitlement. You can argument about the issue of tax. But in the final analysis she saw no problem taking something she traduced others for doing.

          • brian0918

            Where did she complain about others wanting and/or getting their social security money back?

          • E Hart

            The principle.

          • brian0918

            Ahh, so you would prefer I look past the fact that she had the money taken from her in the first place, and look toward “the principle” that she was against entitlements. Do you really see no difference between begging for the unearned from government, and getting back what you rightfully earned but had taken from you by government (so long as you maintain against the initial confiscation)?

          • E Hart

            In most places such entitlements are based on contributions and other forms of means testing. Most people contribute to them much as Ms. Rand did. What most people don’t do is advocate for their abolition and then partake of them. To follow you argument to its logical conclusion there would have been no Internet, no highway system, no space programme, no monies for federal subsidies to agro, industry or the military… You may not be able to get your head round it – but the US economy was never more productive than it was under higher marginal rate of tax. Look at the stats.

          • IronMaidenaregods

            Ah, you pretend that a free lunch, in the form of state intervention, is possible.

            As it is, Rand was never on social secuirty anyway so your post is doubly invalid.

          • She was compelled BY FORCE to pay those taxes, and then took it back from the state. Not a looter, by definition, but someone taking back what was hers to begin with and taken without her consent.

          • raycathode

            She did not do the looting, she just recovered a small portion of what had been looted. If someone steals your money, you are hardly to blame for recovering whatever you can from the thief. It certainly doesn’t weaken any argument one has opposing theft.

            You , on the other hand, are making the case that it is quite okay to steal, but not for one to recover that which is stolen – or at least that they have some kind of moral equivalency.

          • E Hart

            Equating paying tax – for services rendered – doesn’t equate to ‘stealing’. If you are fatuous enough to want to itemise the bill, you can look forward to receiving a square yard of tarmac from the Highways Department in lieu of your contribution. Similarly, you wouldn’t be able to avail yourself of the internet to write you absurd missives without the federal dollars (yours included) that made it possible in the first place.

          • raycathode

            Taking rightfully owned goods or money without permission is called theft. I don’t want a square yard of tarmac from the department of land grabs, I’d rather contract privately for my roads, or my fire services, or whatever – that way the financing of them would not involve coercion – clearly you prefer to use brute force to satisfy your whims for a road here and battleship there; or to indoctrinate innocent children with your totalitarian propaganda.

            Actually, all of the dollars responsible for the internet began in private hands as well as the vast majority of the technology – a government has no resources to call its own – it has to steal everything first. But to turn your argument against you – the Internet would certainly never had existed without the private sector – responsible for all of that low-cost technology. Left to the government, the internet would have consisted of a couple of dozen scientists, generals, and politicians communicating on billion dollar computers.

          • E Hart

            Good luck to you!

          • raycathode

            She didn’t deride people who never asked to have the wealth of others looted for them, she derided the ones who didn’t. Then you deny attacking her character then sarcastically term her a “narcissistic sage”. Then you go on to accuse her of hypocrisy and dishonesty. If you are not attacking her character, what the hell are you doing? Obviously you have no argument, and your ‘facts’ don’t stand up to scrutiny – so really, you have nothing and are just wasting my time. Bye.

          • E Hart

            I’m doing both. She was so narcissistic the only creative image she had was of the world construed to comply with her tediously reductionist vision. This is a women who loathed Kant because he wouldn’t have approved – indeed argued against – her ‘moral imperative’ to property. She also ranked herself with Aristotle. Now if that isn’t preposterous hubris dressed in delusion, I don’t know what is.

            “… you have nothing and are just wasting my time.”

            Who’s time is it? If it’s being wasted it is by you of your own ‘objective’ volition. Who am I to stand in your way? You could always sod off but curiously you are sticking around maybe to enjoy a bit of sado-masochism. Who knows? You don’t.

            Kleenex are available at reception.

          • kleduz

            A looter or moocher sanctions the theft of others to their own benefit. She never sanctioned being stolen from, what she received later in life was some of her own hard earned money that was previous stolen from her.

          • Alun Reynolds

            I think she chided those who took out without putting in and the systems that allowed them to do so.

        • Hague’s Catamite

          I must adjust my dictionary. I didn’t know that paying in a fortune over a lifetime and getting back just a small fraction of it in the end was called “looting”.

          • E Hart

            Mr. H. Catamite, it’s the fucking principle. You don’t spout off about awful it is and then do it yourself!

          • richardgleaves

            Do you spout off about how awful capitalism is, yet you use all the products it creates? None of which you’re forced to buy? Do you decry the rich while supporting Obama’s jaunts to Martha’s vineyard or Al Gore’s Mansion? Do you talk about green energy while using the internal combustion engine? I think if we really get into this you’ll not only turn out to be a hypocrite but a bigger one than any of us can imagine. And a master of smarm and squid-like inky obfuscation whenever you’re caught in your own contradictions.

          • E Hart

            I’m not sure you can conclude any of this from what I’ve said.

          • ProjectMaCRo

            Hey, Richard. I’m two years late here, but still: Well said!

        • Wait… isn’t Social Security a “trust fund”? Didn’t she pay Social Security taxes? You’re just a sophist hack. Carry on…

          • Nice trolling, E Hart. No arguments; no response to the piece; just pure ad homs about what you think you know about Ayn Rand’s personal life.

          • E Hart

            Look at some of your own replies for reference. I don’t think it is invalid to point out that Rand wasn’t averse to saying one thing and doing another.

            She nicked her synthesis straight out of Marxism. Her position is essentially untenable without a subjective-objective coalescence which is in itself only tenable on a collective basis. For the Galts of this world to function requires not singularity but a coalescence of interests. Which, of course, doesn’t involve all those daft people who don’t agree with it. Don’t forget that when he was up in the mountains stamping his feet he wasn’t alone he was with like-minded individuals who came together to do a bit of collective bargaining.

          • IronMaidenaregods

            This is pretentious mumbo jumbo and can be rejected out of hand as it says nothing.

          • E Hart

            It’s describes the process in a way that mumbo jumbo doesn’t.

          • IronMaidenaregods

            It describes the square root of sod all.

          • raycathode

            You miss the minor difference of people inter-relating voluntarily as opposed to having their interactions forced. I say ‘minor’, but that is everything in human interactions – the entire difference between force and freedom.

          • CharlesRAnderson

            Individualists have no problem with a number of people associating with one another to achieve a common purpose, freely agreed upon by all in the associating group. This is what freedom of association is all about and it is what makes living in a society generally beneficial. Collectivism is different in that it does not require all individuals in the group to agree to the purpose and those disagreeing are forced to contribute to the purpose. Social Security is a collectivist program and it commonly takes more from uncommonly productive individuals than it gives back to them or at least than they would have received had they invested the money themselves. Even that fails to identify many of the problems of using force to take the fruit of one’s labor rather than allowing the individual to direct his income to the pursuit of his own happiness.

            Of course collectivists find it convenient to claim that everyone forced to contribute the hours of their lives to achieving purposes they are opposed to is a hypocrite unless they then assiduously deny themselves any of the meager benefits of such collectivist programs. It is a great way to make it totally impractical for a rational individualist to live in a substantially collectivist society. The rational individualist is to be forced to change his moral code which is supposed to be a guide to living in security and while flourishing on Earth to one of being a hermit refusing to use any of the meager collectivist program fruits of his own labor. The collectivist gathers all of the fruit of half or even more of the individual’s labor and then says that you shall not have a smidgen back, or I will call you a hypocrite. No one is to be allowed to live by a rational morality designed to secure their own life and to allow them to flourish.

            Neither Ayn Rand nor I will allow you to twist morality into such an irrational and impractical rule in favor of collectivism and the silence of our protests against the evils of the brutal force it requires. The essence of collectivism is the use of force to make individuals fit the model of the collectivist. The collectivist refuses to accept the obvious fact that individuals are highly complex and highly differentiated. Real individuals have a wide range of values and goals which can never be understood by collectivists and which must largely be quashed by them. Yet you have called these very individualists two-dimensional when your collectivist programs are designed for largely one-dimensional human beings. It is you who is the extreme narcissist who believes that one-dimensional collectivist programs designed by the likes of you can do net good for large numbers of real many-dimensional individuals. What is more, you are a narcissist if you believe you even would have the right to harm a minority in order to improve the lot of a majority with your collectivist programs. Who are you to decide who shall be a winner and who shall be a loser?

        • IronMaidenaregods

          According to you, no one who queued for bread under communism was entitled to object to communism.

          • E Hart

            A point missed. Are you really trying to conflate this with someone who described social security recipients as “parasites”, “looters” and “moochers”? Of course, as to be expected from an exceptionalist, this didn’t apply in her own case.

          • IronMaidenaregods

            You will ignore this but it is nonetheless true.

            http://freestudents.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/lying-about-ayn-rand-and-social.html

            I did not miss any point. I can see the fallacies in your posts, particularly the one where you advocate government subsidies for agriculture as if they are not economically and morally irrational.

          • E Hart

            I’m not advocating government subsidies to agriculture but the top 30 US agro-commodities receive them (US$19bn). If they didn’t, the US would not be able to compete. This is particularly so for maize, soya, wheat and free-trade moonshine.

          • IronMaidenaregods

            You are advocating government subsidies and that $19 billion dollars is theft, taken from productive citizens and given to the unproductive.

            Once again, you are saying that a free lunch is possible.

            There is no need to waste any more time with someone who thinks the state is both God and Santa claus and further responses from you will be instantly deleted.

    • IronMaidenaregods

      Rand was never on social security and you are repeating an oft-refuted lie.

      There is no narcissism in Rand’s heroes or her philosophy.

      Your post is therefore based on a false premise and is merely an ad hominem.

      • E Hart

        She was. Scott McConnell attests to this in his biography “An Oral History of Ayn Rand”. The info was released after a freedom of information request to federal government.

        Narcissism? Oh, yes there is.

        • raycathode

          Depends what you mean by narcicism. If you mean healthy self-love, she had lots of it:

          “Healthy narcissism[edit source | editbeta]

          Main article: Healthy narcissism

          Healthy narcissism is a structural truthfulness of the self, achievement of self and object constancy, synchronization between the self and the superego and a balance between libidinal and aggressive drives (the ability to receive gratification from others and the drive for impulse expression). Healthy narcissism forms a constant, realistic self-interest and mature goals and principles and an ability to form deep object relations.[10] A feature related to healthy narcissism is the feeling of greatness. This is the antithesis of insecurity or inadequacy.”” Wikipedia.

          What alternative do you propose for people: self-loathing? Self-hatred? Self-indifference?

          • E Hart

            I’d recommend “The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness” by Erich Fromm. He’s good on the important distinctions between what you describe and what you don’t. Your question is redundant as who could possible argue in favour of three negatives.

          • raycathode

            I’ve read Fromm – it is psycho analytic psycho-babble – what an enormous waste of time. If ever there were theories built on wild conjecture and lack of empirical support, they are his and Freud’s. You are now boring me.

          • E Hart

            You can’t have it both ways. You quote it to me (via Wikipedia) one minute and entirely denigrate it the next. Which is it to be? Don’t answer that. It is obvious you don’t know.

    • Baron

      Mr. Hart, listen to this, then tell Baron how it fits your take on her, if you will, please.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-T0ey0IKDA

      • E Hart

        I will do. As a matter of interest, why do you refer to yourself in the third person?

      • E Hart

        She doesn’t really understand economics. Gold is nonsense. It’s always a non-value added bubble in the making and essentially non-productive bar its speculative function; it’s just gambling. There is nothing ipso facto wrong with fiat money or cheap money unless you use it for useless non-demand related speculation (i.e building vast numbers of houses that people neither need nor can afford to buy), non-productive rentier functions and/or you don’t set interest rates to an appropriate level to this discourage this. Money is an instrument as she suggests. It can only ever be neutral. To attribute moral turpitude to it is nonsense. For example, the banking crisis wasn’t caused by money it was caused by people – people whose primary interest was speculation (futures of various kinds), the socialisation of debt, disproportionate remuneration relative to performance, inflation and the debasing of productive capacity (e.g. GM making more money out of car financing than adding value by producing cars). Rand doesn’t seem to be aware that the UK was the instigator of industrial and corporate enterprise (including joint stock cos etc.) not the US. Indeed, up until c.1911, the UK dominated many industrial processes e.g. shipbuilding, machine tools, textiles, coal, engineering…

        The other thing to consider is that her pathological aversion to government rules out the fundamental role that the state has played in baling out private enterprise, notably in Great Depression but also now. Also, it fails to take into account that some of the world’s leading economies notably Japan and South Korea, got their start by being heavily subsidised by the state. At the moment we are coursing round the loop to revisit history whilst expecting a different result (despite all evidence to the contrary). It is also illustrative of the desire for capital to be concentrated in every fewer hands. She fails to take into account that some of the most productive periods, certainly in US and UK history, came under much more rigorous regulation (Glass Steagall, exchange controls etc.) and much higher levels of marginal taxation. Some of it just doesn’t stack up.

        • IronMaidenaregods

          Nothing wrong with fiat money except for soaring prices, plummeting currency values and, of course, boom and bust since it is caused by Marxist central banks.

          • E Hart

            Well, I don’t remember the non-Marxist banks imploring the Marxist central banks to raise interest rates?

          • IronMaidenaregods

            This is because you have no grasp of reality and do not know that central banks allow other banks to inflate the currency with impunity.

            You approve of this inflation.

          • E Hart

            Libor fiddling aside, central banks set the rate.

          • IronMaidenaregods

            That’s right, they do and they should not exist.

          • E Hart

            They exist primarily because nation states have over-arching concerns that fall outside the scope and/or interests of corporate enterprise.

          • IronMaidenaregods

            Wrong. They exist because of the widespread ideas of Karl Marx.

          • E Hart

            So, Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve – and devotee of Ayn Rand – was a Marxist? I wonder if he knows.

          • IronMaidenaregods

            Greenspan rejected Rand’s philosophy by taking up this position.

            Given that central banks are in the communist manifesto, they are Marxist.

            Your attempt to use Greenspan as the basis for an argument demonstrates that you are to economics what creationism is to science.

            Byeeee!!!!!!!!!

          • E Hart

            Capitalists and bees are in it, too. Are they Marxists?

            It would be temping to say that Rand’s ideas take humanity back down the evolutionary chain to the status of Barbary apes but that would be to do a disservice to apes. Instinct protects them from the damaging kind of sophistry which would atomise their kinship in favour of an existential cul-de-sac of the selfish and alienated. You really should beware of lunatics bearing gifts.

          • IronMaidenaregods

            Hmm, given that Marx’s ideas have already been put into practice and killed 100 million so far, it is clear that Marxism has already been guilty of genocide and that is not counting Marx’s contribution to Hitler’s National Socialism.

            As it is, central banks are a nationalization of the money supply and are rejected by Ayn Rand’s philosophy and by rational economists such as Ludwig Von Mises, both of whom you have never read and never will read.

            As it is, you are a living monument to selflessness, living as a parasite on the ideas of others. You have none of your own and are in favour of nothing. That is why you repeat the same old rubbish over and over again and disregard all facts.

          • E Hart

            Spare me your extensive originality and the catch-all theory of history. I must say I don’t know of anyone who favours totalitarianism.

            Here’s the good bit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOhcbtkCHtE

            She trod on the toes of giants. A fascist in libertarian clothing. Galt’s vision – and hers – comes straight out of Flash Gordon. It’s Ming the Merciless and a cast of millions of Clay People stuck in an immutable bind shrouded in fag smoke. Also, given her avowed atheism there is something personally redemptive in her “objectivist” synthesis. No-one is going to board the materialist gravy train at their expense. Knox, Luther, Calvin and Zwingli couldn’t have put it better – albeit from a theistic standpoint. It is, in essence, a crude approximation of the Protestant ethos of personal salvation favoured over its Augustinian/Thomist counterpart – dressed up in business suit for ‘thinking’ well inside the bollocks.

            It is the usual unoriginal justification for a convenient status quo, whereby the majority of the population are kept in compliant, powerless, servitude for the benefit of the rich and powerful, who in a crazed warping of reality and logic, are the supposed authors and owners of all the riches created for them by the labour of others. Similarly, the enlightened self-interest of the objectivist clique – which cannot function without a collective framework – would deny any rights to those it employed.

            The justification for the entire sorry idea concerns the following: 1) the ownership of ideas; 2) property; 3) power; 4) politics; 5) selfishness; 6) stasis and how to preserve it and 7) a woeful misreading of what it is to be human. Of course, the nature of this property and how it came to be, is never properly explored. Her argument is faux empiricism at work as in the first instance, that is historically – as Proudhon noted – ‘property is theft’. If you can find a Norman, a monarch, a Cumberland Gap evacuee, a Spanish encomienda runner etc. etc., who acquired their property without theft, please furnish me with the details. The job of humanity isn’t to multiply the wrong and set it in stone, it’s mollify its influence on future generations. That’s progress.

            For her ideas to have any currency, it doesn’t do to check too closely about who got what, when and how. Instead, she treats us to a version of manifest destiny which, in not so many words, is a euphemism for theft under force majeure (readily discerned in the Doomsday Book, the Inclosure/Enclosure Acts, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the divvying up of Crown lands in Britain’s colonies, including the 13 Colonies, and the manifest destiny propagated by an independent USA (and others) thereafter at home and abroad). All that talk about the government stealing everyone’s money and that it is redistributing stolen loot, must look at the historical context and processes whereby organisations and individuals accumulated property in the first place. Democratic governments, it should remembered are elected on a one-man, one-vote basis and in accordance with policies put to the electorate in manifestos. Whilst this clearly isn’t fool-proof, it does at least provide for accountability. Devolving de facto power to a bunch of Randian exceptionalists would be a disaster as there is no pretence whatever to accept the idea of any common good outwith the parameters set by pecuniary self-interest.

            Really, it’s like an invitation from the Standard Fruit Company for the majority to audition for the role of indentured labourers in a Guatemalan banana pageant c.1910. In the American example, Rand’s vision – and the organisational structures it would create – would equate to those forms described in Upton Sinclair’s, The Jungle i.e. little better than fascism but with a more nuanced form of coercion. It’s a vile asymmetrical power trip in which the stasis would be preserved by iniquitous practices such as graft, truk, political gerrymandering/corruption, violence and extortion.

            There is no morality in Rand’s objectivism because it conflates two mutually contradictory and incompatible positions: you cannot be the arbiter of your own and external morality at the same time. Morality is meaningless without a collective take on what is and what it means. If every man is his own judge and jury then anything goes – it’s chaos. As you cannot arrive at what is acceptable without a collective framework – ipso facto you cannot be personally objective. Only a total twat makes themselves into the supreme arbiter at the centre of their own moral universe. And she was a complete twat.

            Where did this dress-rehearsal and model end up? The Great Depression. It took 13 years, Roosevelt’s New Deal and WWII to get America out of the shambles.

          • IronMaidenaregods

            Fascism is a form of socialism and, in Germany’s case, National Socialism.

            This elementary fact refutes your claim that Rand was a fascist.

            The great depression? That was the result of state intervention in the economy and Roosevelt’s new deal was fascistic in nature, strangling the economy for more than a decade.

            Since you approve of the new deal, that makes you the fascist, not Rand.

          • E Hart

            The New Deal was a response to a situation in which capital – far from being crowded out by the state – absented itself Galt-style leaving 14m out of work. It was in response to the liquidation of labour that Roosevelt acted.

          • IronMaidenaregods

            Furthermore, this link demonstrates the actual policies of Hoover leading up to the depression and the fact that most of FDR’s ideas were taken from Hoover.

            http://www.mackinac.org/archives/1998/sp1998-01.pdf

            You will not read this as you are a twat, by your own admission.

            However, it is posted by me for honest readers of this thread because I do not make unsupported claims, unlike you.

            Also, I have disable notifications so any response from you will not reach my inbox.

          • IronMaidenaregods

            http://mises.org/daily/2312

            Hmm, it appears that Hitler and Mussolini approved of the new deal:

            ” Critics of Roosevelt’s New Deal often liken it to fascism.
            Roosevelt’s numerous defenders dismiss this charge as reactionary propaganda; but as Wolfgang Schivelbusch makes clear, it is perfectly true. Moreover, it was recognized to be true during the 1930s, by the New Deal’s supporters as well as its opponents.

            When Roosevelt took office in March 1933, he received from Congress an extraordinary delegation of powers to cope with the Depression.

            The broad-ranging powers granted to Roosevelt by Congress, before that body went into recess, were unprecedented in times of peace. Through this “delegation of powers,” Congress had, in effect, temporarily done away with itself as the legislative branch of government. The only remaining check on the executive was the Supreme Court. In Germany, a similar process allowed Hitler to assume
            legislative power after the Reichstag burned down in a suspected case of arson on February 28, 1933. (p. 18).

            The Nazi press enthusiastically hailed the early New Deal measures:
            America, like the Reich, had decisively broken with the “uninhibited frenzy of market speculation.” The Nazi Party newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, “stressed ‘Roosevelt’s adoption of National Socialist strains of
            thought in his economic and social policies,’ praising the president’s style of leadership as being compatible with Hitler’s own dictatorial Führerprinzip” (p. 190).”

            “Mussolini, who did not allow his work as dictator to interrupt his prolific journalism, wrote a glowing review of Roosevelt’s Looking Forward.
            He found “reminiscent of fascism … the principle that the state no
            longer leaves the economy to its own devices”; and, in another review,
            this time of Henry Wallace’s New Frontiers, Il Duce found the Secretary of Agriculture’s program similar to his own corporativism (pp. 23-24).”

          • IronMaidenaregods

            “Roosevelt never had much use for Hitler, but Mussolini was another
            matter. “‘I don’t mind telling you in confidence,’ FDR remarked to a
            White House correspondent, ‘that I am keeping in fairly close touch with
            that admirable Italian gentleman'” (p. 31). Rexford Tugwell, a leading
            adviser to the president, had difficulty containing his enthusiasm for
            Mussolini’s program to modernize Italy: “It’s the cleanest … most
            efficiently operating piece of social machinery I’ve ever seen. It makes
            me envious” (p. 32, quoting Tugwell).”

        • Baron

          Mr. Hart, you seem to have learnt the words, the meaning of them eludes you.

          What TF is ‘futures of various kinds’ of ‘socialisation of debt’? Have you got any knowledge of what the financial sector does? Or does your wisdom derive from exclusively the pages of the Sun?

          And as for your claim that the more the State regulates the better the economic result, you need to call the doctor. Urgently. Just read the what was the expected and actual outcome of the 50% income tax hike. As the report says ‘it may yet turn to be negative’. Arghhh

        • Baron

          And this

          What, gold is nonsense? So what would you rather have – not abit of it or half a tonne today?

          You, sir, may have few scraps of knowledge, but you lack wisdom. Totally.

          • E Hart

            As an investment it creates nothing and adds only a speculative value (if you’re lucky).

            Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather had a tonne than a bit. At least with a tonne you could liquidate it and do something useful with it.

          • richardgleaves

            Gold isn’t a financial instrument. It’s money. Cash doesn’t pay interest itself, unless you buy some investment, even if that investment is a deposit account. Gold is to dollars what the Yuan or the Peso is — an alternate form of money, one that cannot be inflated willy-nilly because it has metaphysical scarcity.

          • E Hart

            Of course, it can be inflated. It’s like any commodity. As demand goes up, so does the mining of it. The fact that it is rare doesn’t stop this being true. Also, unlike other forms of investment where there is a prescribed interest rate and terms, the price of gold is dependent on factors outwith the terms of the transaction. What would you rather have? An investment at, say, 6% (for a year) or pot-luck with gold?

          • richardgleaves

            Ugh. Are you an idiot or a troll? The ratio of flow to stock in gold is infinitesimal. All the gold ever mined is above ground while the flow (actual and potential) from mines is tiny. Do you really think that you can inflate gold the way you can inflate paper? That you can go into the earth and pull metal from the ground the same way you can tap-tap digital pixels into existence? If so, you have no understanding of the reality of living on earth. Which would I rather have? In this environment I would rather have gold. Fiat dollars are inflating much worse than 6% a year. 6% doesn’t even keep you up to the actual inflation rate (the CPI calculates inflation based on price not on the rate of increase of money supply). Gold is actually DEflating — moving into stronger and stronger hands and becoming scarce on the physical marketplace. The true price of gold is currently unknown because securitization of gold has created an artificial glut of paper promises unbacked by metal. I would be glad to get into the weeds here, just be warned that I’m a NY Morgan Stanley guy and I know what I’m talking about.

          • E Hart

            What do you want me to do, genuflect? Be warned Mr NY Morgan Stanley, not everyone thinks that gold is such as good idea (that includes most economists, a lot of investors – see attached) and others who know about it. What do you do, clean the lavatories? Read on…

            http://qz.com/73970/gold-bugs-in-full-retreat-as-they-realize-there-is-no-looming-hyperinflation/

          • richardgleaves

            Actually, it would be a shame if I convinced you to hold some hard assets prior to the Syrian war and its fallout. I’m really glad you sold. Bully for you. Smartest thing ever. Never buy metals again.

          • E Hart

            Well, for a start, it will be the US, France, Qatar and Saudi Arabia to either go it alone or not at all. UN backed action on this isn’t going to happen. It will never get past China and Russia on the Security Council – ergo no legitimacy in International Law. Britain will have to abstain, because otherwise it will contradicting the wishes of Parliament and popular opinion. France will backslide. For gold to go anywhere other than down, the US and co will have to act unilaterally of the UN.

          • E Hart

            More golden nuggets. Go on, tell me that red and black are good investments, too. It’s a merry-go-round. Of course, it’s great if you get on and off before the thing careens into the crowd crushing everyone it is wake. You don’t have to work in the lavs or anywhere else in NY Morgan Stanley to know that. I even made a profit myself on gold this year. Why? Because I jumped off at the right time. It still doesn’t make it – overall – a good, reliable or, more to the point, a productive investment.

            http://www.bloomberg.com/infographics/2013-08-14/gold-price-decline-felt-around-the-world.html

    • CharlesRAnderson

      “Her heroes are idiotic two dimensional narcissists”

      This is like trying to list all of the possible causes of a phenomena and then finding that one’s perceptions, experience, and intelligence were simply inadequate to imagine a multitude of causes. The depth of Ayn Rand’s characters in Atlas Shrugged and the structure of Atlas Shrugged have been adequate reason for many very intelligent people to read her novel many times. Characters who live lives based on the rational and healthy values of reason, creative and productive purpose, and genuine self-esteem have to develop highly multidimensional abilities to achieve this in a self-consistent manner. Many fewer dimensions are needed by the more ordinary people who do not even dream of attempting such a demanding life.

  • Mike Marsh

    There’s no such thing as a Randian, James, and she wouldn’t have liked the term. Either one is an Objectivist, or not.

    btw EH, she advocated – and complied with – paying taxes as and when due, even when one disagrees vehemently with the imposition of them. If one cares to look, there’s a well reasoned case for why it isn’t wrong to avail oneself of programmes that one disagrees with, if one has been obliged to support them. *If* she’d refused to pay taxes, you would have a point, I admit. But she didn’t and you don’t.

  • dalai guevara

    And you ARE debating shale gas, in its entirety?
    What about ownership, what about public participation levels?
    We hear nothing from you about that, scratching only the surface of the British energy generation game.

    • brian0918

      What part of leaving people free to set the terms of their own agreements don’t you understand? The “game” you speak of is merely one of political pull – seeing who can influence the right politicians to get their preferred plan implemented in the short-term (until the politicians change, or opponents lobby better). Rand is arguing against the game altogether.

      • dalai guevara

        There is no game when the sector is communally controlled.
        Of course, this system already exists in other places.

        No shareholders to fund, demanding their fare share.
        No pension fund managers to fund, demanding their share.
        No marketing departments, taking their share.
        No lobbyists demanding their share.
        and so on.

        These are huge margins that all add up.

        • raycathode

          It only becomes a ‘game’ when it is communally controlled – of course then it is always a rigged game because someone or some small group always controls the rules and the outcome. Of course, then it is always a rigged game. The rule makers are always the winners, and everyone else are the losers.
          The ‘game’ when run collectively, is a closed system. It is always controlled by some-one or some small group – who always control it for their own benefit.

          The market is an open system: anyone can play, or not – people may choose to compete or to co-operate, and the outcome is never guaranteed.

          • dalai guevara

            the ‘market’ does not exist,
            nowhere.
            it is always as you describe, so you might as well
            hand it to those who ought to be in control

          • dalai guevara

            RULE MAKERS, a brief comparison of systems

            Munich
            Landowner: City of Munich
            Energy provider: City of Munich
            Serving: the people of Munich
            other benefits paid for by local energy: a virtually free public transport system, free energy for public libraries etc, free community centres, where you can get married/host family events for peanuts etc

            Cologne
            Landowner: City of Cologne
            Energy provider: City of Cologne
            Serving: the people of Cologne
            other benefits: see Munich

            There are 800 (!) examples of *communal* energy providers in Germany, the more rural, arguably the better.
            ———————————

            now Britain
            Landowner: aristocrats
            Energy providers: privatised oligopoly
            Market: commodity traders, taking their share
            Suppliers and marketing: taking their share
            Shareholders: demanding their fair share
            Sourcing: privatised concerns, taking their share
            Pension fund managers: taking their share
            Lobby groups: demanding their share

            conclusion:
            the ‘market’ does not exist,
            nowhere.
            it is always as you describe, so you might as well
            hand it to those who ought to be in control

  • Hague’s Catamite

    James, I hope you’ve also read Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”, it’s also very well worth reading! It transforms you in some inexplicable way but like everything else, the memories of it slowly fade and blend into the background and the profound red raw lessons learnt disappear over time. I shamefully haven’t read Atlas Shrugged yet. I have it both as a novel and on my Kindle Paperwhite 3G (I thoroughly recommend the Kindle by the way!) so it is dialled into my reading queue as soon as I have finished Robin Harris’ excellent book on Thatcher “Not for turning” and Norman Tebbit’s second book “Unfinished Business”. So I look forward to getting tucked in sometime in the next little while…

  • Octothorn

    Mr Delingpole, I applaud your reading of Atlas shrugged, but realise that at her core, she is a minarchist ie, a statist.

    Get back to us in six months when you become an anarchist.

    😉

    • paulmcelroy

      Or 5 years, as it took me.

      Still, I think her characters lean more towards anarchist. John Galt didn’t want to be “in-charge” of the government, for personal and moral reasons. What if no one did? ANARCHY! (of the best variety)
      The natural progression of Minarchism is Anarcho-Capitalism. Had she lived long enough, she probably would have gotten there herself. But sadly, her most vehement followers still cling to the fiction that her philosophy is a closed one and that she would have remained permanently in the philosophical state she was in when she put down her pen.

      I think not. She would have gotten even closer to Mises, and Rothbard and she would have become more comfortable with the term “Libertarian”. She would have brought her philosophy of Objectivism, which is the moral basis for Capitalism and libertarianism to Libertarianism proper. It would have been awesome…. sigh.

      This has been an itch that Mises, with his Praxeology, has never quite scratched. Neither did Rothbard, or many other absolutely fantastic Libertarian/Austrian Philosophers/economists. But Rand did.

  • Dale Netherton

    Certainly someone who is willing to consider her genius.

  • Rockin Ron

    James
    The latest edition of National Geographic has a big feature on what will happen when sea levels will rise because of global warming. I think it is alarmist. It would be good if you could respond to their claims.

  • Noa

    “… the sex scenes, which you skip quickly past in order to
    get to the much more exciting bits about industrial relations….”
    So true. After years of marriage politics is far more interesting than sex.

  • Steven Barr

    I admire Rand’s defence of freedom but not her philosophy. She really did believe that being selfish was a good thing.
    The kind of classical liberalism which I adhere to is one in which the state does not take upon itself to dictate to us our entire lives but rather that we as individuals work together to accomplish things. But we should work together.

  • ProjectMaCRo

    Thank you for this article, James. That was a great read!

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