Who’s next? Gordon Gekko?

As the economy crumbles, the usual cultural indicators of panic are on the rise–gun sales, survivalist talk and, of course, interest in the last century’s loony goddess of selfishness.

“Ayn Rand,” the Wall Street Journal reports, “died more than a quarter of a century ago, yet her name appears regularly in discussions of our current economic turmoil. Pundits including Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santelli urge listeners to read her books, and her magnum opus, ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ is selling at a faster rate today than at any time during its 51-year history.”

The message of that turgid 1200-page opus, that money is the root of all good, has inspired those who need justification for extreme selfishness and for looking down at the rest of humanity as “looters” and “moochers.”

When it was first published, “Atlas Shrugged” was derided by both the right and left, but over the years, a few acolytes like Alan Greenspan and Ron Paul (who named his son Rand) have risen to prominence.

Now that Greenspan has helped devastate the economy, the president of the Rand Institute is proposing that only more of the same will save it:

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  • JSpencer

    I remember having a quite a fascination with Ayn Rand when I was in the 10 or 11th grade. It had pretty much run it’s course by the time I’d graduated from high school though… which I think was appropriate. I see her philosophy more as a phase, but certainly not a goal for mature people.

  • $199537

    The message of that turgid 1200-page opus, that money is the root of all good

    I think that’s a distortion of the message, which is really something along the lines of people’s self-interests should not be demonized but recognized as the engine for society. I probably could put that better but that’s off the top of my head.

    Both liberals and conservatives tend to take Atlas Shrugged way too literally in my opinion. I see it more as a parable to illustrate a concept, not as a road map for society. It was not the first Ayn Rand book I read and maybe that moderated my view of it.

  • Now that Greenspan has helped devastate the economy, the president of the Rand Institute is proposing that only more of the same will save it

    If one looks at Bush’s record instead of his “talk” about being a fiscal conservative, one can only conlcude that he was not a Randian, nor a capitalist, nor a free markets, nor anything close to approaching a fiscal conservative. Bush presided over a period of runaway government spending not seen since the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. He supported tariffs against steel during his first term in office. He supported a massive prescription drug program that cost nearly twice as much as he claimed it would. He supports the War on Drugs, which is the exact antithesis of limited government and free market policies. He supported nation building in Iraq under the guise of fighting a war on terrorism–a debacle that has run up a $700 BILLION pricetag which continues to grow to this day. And all the while, fiscal “conservatives” in the Republican Party cheered him on.

    What I’m getting at is that you can’t make the claim that free market capitalism (or Randianism, which isn’t the exact same thing) has failed us just because the people who got us into this mess “claim” to believe in this philosophy. Yes, Alan Greenspan was at one time an ardent follower of Ayn Rand and her brand of free market capitalism, but he strayed from that road long ago. Ask any libertarian pr true free market economist whether Mr. Greenspan’s policies of allowing the Federal Reserve to print ever-increasing amounts of dollars during the Bush/Clinton/Bush II administrations were consistent with free market capitalism, and they’ll laugh at you.

    Politics is so much more complicated than right-versus-left, capitalism-versus-socialism, or Randians-versus-non-Randians. When it comes to fiscal policies, politicians are loathe to make the really difficult decisions regardless of political party or ideology. The people who have been running the country during the last eight years chose to pursue tax cuts (which is consistent with free market capitalism) but while also ballooning the size of government with Big Goverment conservative programs, wars, and nation-building (none of which are consistent with free market capitalism).

    Also, I have to agree with DaGoat in disagreeing with your claime that “money is the root of all good” was the message of Atlas Shrugged. Rand, I think, was attempting to champion individualism and self-interest rather than money.

    It also should be added, that Rand is hardly the last word when it comes to free market capitalism. She had some pretty extremist views that had nothing to do with free market capitalism (her views on what constituted moral vices) as well as some views that are inconsistent with free market capitalism (her willingness to use military force against Communist countries).