Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Galt's Gulch* Presidency

The emerging nightmare that is the administration of neo- fascist Putin pal Donald "Rump" Trump not only has it's Goldman Sachs/ fossil fuel baron imprint on it, but something as or more disturbing, as James Hohmann points out:
The president-elect said this spring that he’s a fan of [Ayn] Rand and identifies with Howard Roark, the main character in “The Fountainhead. [snip] 
[Secretary of State designate Rex] Tillerson prefers “Atlas Shrugged,” Rand’s novel about John Galt secretly organizing a strike of the creative class to hasten the collapse of the bureaucratic society. The CEO listed it as his favorite book in a 2008 feature for Scouting Magazine, according to biographer Steve Coll. 
Andy Puzder, tapped by Trump last week to be secretary of labor, is an avid and outspoken fan of Rand’s books. One profiler last week asked what he does in his free time, and a friend replied that he reads Ayn Rand. 
Mike Pompeo, who will have the now-very-difficult job of directing the Central Intelligence Agency for Trump, has often said that Rand’s works inspired him. “One of the very first serious books I read when I was growing up was Atlas Shrugged, and it really had an impact on me,” the Kansas congressman told Human Events in 2011. (our emphasis)
For anyone not familiar with the basic tenets of Ayn Rand's "Objectivism", Hohmann gives us a helpful vignette:
Remember that scene in “Dirty Dancing” when Baby tries to get that waiter who knocked up Johnny’s dance partner to pay for her abortion? He refuses and instead pulls out a weathered copy of “The Fountainhead,” urging her to read it. “Some people count, and some people don’t,” he tells her. Jennifer Grey’s character responds by pouring a pitcher of water on him. In popular culture, the Rand acolytes are that guy. 
The fact that all of these men, so late in life, are such fans of works that celebrate individuals who consistently put themselves before others is therefore deeply revealing. They will now run our government.  (our emphasis)
"Some people count, and some people don't." That was certainly the guiding principle of the Trump campaign and will certainly be the same for the Trump administration.

BONUS:  More from Driftglass.

BONUS II: It's good to recall John Rogers' oft-quoted snark about Rand's Atlas Shrugged:
"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
BONUS III:  Jonathan Chait on why Rand still appeals to Republicans.
*Galt's Gulch is where the main character (John Galt) of Rand's dystopian novel "Atlas Shrugged" repairs to lead a strike by business leaders against the government (as noted in the Tillerson graf). The self- anointed plutocrat elite rebelling against government that allows "poor people to 'leech' the hard-earned wealth of the rich..." Sounds like the blueprint for the next four years.

Also, this distillation of Rand's "rational selfishness" creed:

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