Saturday, March 14, 2009

ATLAS FUGUES. The Ole Perfesser sends readers to an essay in Capitalism magazine, which you may have guessed from the title is a full-on Randian joint (present lead story: "Obama's Plans Will 'Work' -- To Breed Servile Dependence"). The Perfesser-approved author Edward Cline writes "On The Left-Wing Reaction to John Galt, Ayn Rand, and Tea Parties." His essay is mostly based on quotations from "opponents and enemies" who have mocked the Go Galt people, which he answers with mockery of his own, of which I cannot disapprove as it is pretty much my own critical method. He also includes in his attack Megan McArdle's vision of Ayn Rand as beach reading and Whittaker Chambers, which is just delightful.

But Cline isn't trying to be funny -- at least I hope he isn't. He considers the mockers of "the collectivist and altruist elite" to have "truncated" minds, and expects to see them all brought low as "the nation -- indeed, the world -- is waking up to the idea that ideas have consequences." There are many lovely, bilious sections, but this is remarkable:
They are deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming train, but sneer that the train does not exist. They are stuffed animals crammed with the excelsior of worn-out bromides, mulched second-hand sociology, and the sawdust of a failed ideology.
A bromide-stuffed, sneering deer obliterated by the unsubsidized Amtrak of the People! I hope this scene is in the movie.

The Perfesser's pages are increasingly given over to such Galt-talk, and to coverage of mostly miniscule Tea Parties, and survivalist prattle. Once given to grand claims that an Army of Davids would transform the political landscape, he seems now to be in retrenchment mode, hunkering down with the fringe -- or, as they say in the entertainment world, niche.

Speaking of niche entertainment, over at the Perfesser's other hobby-horse, Pajamas Media, a bunch of rightbloggers do radio: Steve Green of Vodkapundit notes that Obama is personally approved by Americans though his policies are less popular, and considers how to capitalize on that. He does not consider that Americans who are dubious about the stimulus would be more motivated to abandon Obama for his opposition if it existed in any meaningful form, rather than as a fantasy camp for crackpot ideologues.

Yet Green is convinced that for Republicans "it's time to be bad guys" because "doing the smart thing didn't do us any good." He points to Rush Limbaugh inspiring people to be "angry -- and I don't mean that in a bad way" after the first Bush's "read my lips" flip-flop on taxes. After that, of course, we got lots more Rush-style Republican anger -- and Bill Clinton. For years these phenomena fed on one another. The powerful got more power, and the disenfranchised got ratings and money.

That seems to be the plan now, too. If these Atlases are shrugging, it's not the rest of us "looters" they're trying to shake off, but the responsibility of meaningful opposition. It seems a great relief to many of them, as it has been to us. Having lost the onerous burden of defending the Bush Administration, they have reverted to an entertainment program based on Ayn Rand, science fiction, Guns & Ammo, and wishful thinking. They portray this party mix as the formula that will bring them back to power, but I grow suspicious that they don't mean it, and are content to recreate their native dances for whatever money tourists may throw them.

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