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Wall Street Journal invokes Ayn Rand to ‘Whitewash’ History


The art for a 1999 postage stamp. Image courtesy - Getty Images via online.wsj.com

The art for a 1999 postage stamp. Image courtesy - Getty Images via online.wsj.com

Ultimately, “Atlas Shrugged” is a celebration of the entrepreneur, the risk taker and the cultivator of wealth through human intellect. Critics dismissed the novel as simple-minded, and even some of Rand’s political admirers complained that she lacked compassion. Yet one pertinent warning resounds throughout the book: When profits and wealth and creativity are denigrated in society, they start to disappear — leaving everyone the poorer. (via ‘Atlas Shrugged’: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years – WSJ.com).

Adversity does strange things

The second half of 20th century saw the end to dominant inputs for Western ‘success’.The Western world, faced a serious economic crises with the decline in: –

  1. Slavery in the Western world, due to many slave revolts, social disaffection due to unemployment
  2. Colonial exploitation was an ‘adequate’ replacement for slavery
  3. Genocide in the Americas, and Australia – and near annihilation in Africa.
  4. The wages of crime. Opium (forced production in India, forced trade with China), piracy, slave trading

Bretton Woods agreement helped the Western world to partly re-engineer their economies. The re-working of the global political system became essential, after non-colonial nations with lower access to slavery, led by Germany, challenged the dominant colonial-slavery economies of Europe (Britain, and France). These conflicts quickly spread and became WWI and WWII.

Hiding behind Ayn Rand's skirts seems like such a bad idea!

Hiding behind Ayn Rand's skirts seems like such a bad idea!

By the end of WWII, the world was left standing with US as the major economic force in the world. Faced with this existential crises, the last thing that the West needed was a dose of truth.

Pulp fiction of capitalism

This ‘White-Wash’ job was taken up by professional Western propagandists. One such was a popular writer, waxing nostalgic for this ‘golden age’ – Ayn Rand.

Her books have become popular in the last 50 years. In India too, her popularity has created a demand for pirated prints of her books that are sold from pavements. Her glossing over slavery, her token objections to segregation were reminiscent of an age gone by. The economic contribution of slavery to the wealth of the West, the creation of patronage structures for ‘innovation and invention’ and the loot from the colonies were all absent from Ayn Rand’s hagiography on capitalism.

There was no mention whatsoever of the numerous genocides by the West in various continents of the world. He disregard for family structures was her contribution to ‘modernizing’ capitalism.

Can Ayn Rand be the 'guiding light' at Cato Institute!

Can Ayn Rand be the 'guiding light' at Cato Institute!

Stephen Moore’s vacuous memoirs of his time with the Cato Institute, ‘virginity’ and ‘initiation’ seems like a rather clueless intellectual response by the West.

To clutch Ayn Rand’s skirts, is pretty lame. Facing up to the biggest challenge the Western world has seen – I would say, in the last 500 years.

None of this new

Every word of what I have written is known. So it should not be a surprise to any one. But to see the Wall Street Journal, a ‘respected’ pillar of the Western economy, reduced to publishing such writing by Shri Stephen Moore, a senior writer, seems like a rather big come down.

For the West!

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  1. spinoza1111
    September 9, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Hi, this is the author of “Rand is not relevant”. Great post, going to put a link on Facebook.

    When you confront Rand with the fact of exploitation of the developing world now and in the past, she disappears as a viable “philosopher” like the Wicked Witch of the West in that American film “The Wizard of Oz”: “eek! I’m melting!”

    Thanks for another bullet point in my arguing against the very idea that she is a “philosopher” meriting any attention.

  2. September 21, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    None of those things “left out” of Rand’s writings have anything to do with capitalism. They are the result of systems based on force. Capitalism is based on free markets and free trade among consenting traders and producers. Neither slavery, monarchy, mercantilism, colonialism and all those other isms have anything to do with capitalism. They are violations of the principles of capitalist trade. Many of these isms strove to loot whatever capitalism existed during their times. They were enemies of capitalism every bit as much as is their modern version found in today’s progressives and neocons. Get your history right.

  3. September 22, 2010 at 7:18 am

    There are two capitalisms … one mythical that you refer to and Ayn Rand promoted.

    Another, which is historical. Historical capitalism was based on: –

    1. Some 5 million slaves
    2. Genocide of Native Americans, Australian aborigines
    3. Reduction in the African populations

    Based on the wealth gained by such means … it was possible for the West to indulge in

    4. Loot from Colonialism.

    19th century Capitalism ended due to numerous slave revolts. I have covered this history extensively in my other blog – 2ndlook.wordpress.com

    You can put in your search terms like slavery, capitalism to get some history on that.

  4. September 22, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    I would bet that your “solutions” for capitalism include all the elements that you would ascribe to capitalism: force, coercion, taxation, expropriation, nationalization and slavery. Yours is a typical leftist position: criticize capitalism for possessing all the negatives and evils that you advocate. If you were to be “objective” about history, you wouldn’t be so self-contradictory.

  5. Galeo Rhinus
    September 23, 2010 at 6:09 am

    I think this dichotomy is a result of an oxymoron that has been part of the western narrative – this oxymoron is the phrase “free-market capitalism.”

    In the left vs. the right great divide in the west – one side represents “liberal/socialist” and the other side represents “free market capitalism.”

    The problem is that not only is socialism/liberalism against free markets but so is “capitalism.” The reason is simple – anyone who has access to large amount of capital will want to preserve it – and the *easiest* way to do it is by preventing new competition by controlling the government. Capitalism – will essentially lead the way for a larger government – which in turn will chain the markets.

    Capitalism is simply another face of socialism – and both are enemies of free markets.

    In the US – some libertarians are beginning to see through this game – however, the “conservatives” have hijacked the libertarian agenda. Some libertarians, like Ron Paul, speak of Austrian economics being a “capitalist” model that will defend free markets. However, this model is never been tested over time – since there is creep.

    In fact – only Indic polity has sustained free markets for the longest of times – until they collapsed under Islamic polity and further worsened under English rule.

    Indic polity viewed both “liberal handouts” as well as “collusion of capital” as anathema to free markets. It was a decentralized economic model that protected markets from the bottom to the top – not the other way around.

  6. A fan of your blog
    September 23, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Galeo Rhinus, I love reading your comments. I would urge you to provide some references and links to help support your arguments. They will help my learning a lot.

  7. September 24, 2010 at 7:41 am

    I think you should decide whether I am ignorant about history – which my blog refutes. Your new allegation labels me as a ‘leftist’. If you type communism or socialism in the search box, you will again realize that Leftist or socialist I am not.

    You may then need to reconcile your statement on how “objective” about history am I or the self-contradictory nature of my posts.

  8. September 24, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    i think you will like my post- if ayn rand was born in bangladesh

    http://getupdated.in/?p=720

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