Monday, September 10, 2012

Ayn Rand: Patron saint or soulless capitalist?


SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — “Atlas Shrugged” is Ayn Rand’s most popular work. And Paul Ryan’s favorite. In the book, the hero, a mysterious rebel leader John Galt saves America from economic collapse. But before we rise from the ashes, before the redemption, the past must be blown up.

For that, let’s turn to my favorite, “The Fountainhead,” where Rand offers a subtle hint to capitalism’s eventual self-inflicted shot-in-the-foot.

In “The Fountainhead,” Howard Roark is the ultimate individualist, an idealistic architect and archetypal free-market capitalist: Architecture was my first degree so Roark naturally became my hero. Enraged when second-rate competitors compromise the integrity of his plans for a modern building, Roark seeks revenge, takes the law into his own hands, sneaks onto the construction site in the dead of night … dynamites the building … kaboom … destroyed.

Flash forward: What a perfect metaphor for Rand’s extreme ideology now spinning out of control, turning against mainstream America. You are witnessing the drama from within, as the new Ryan Budget approaches critical mass, set to explode Adam Smith’s Great 1776 Cathedral of Capitalism, self-destructing on an overdose of high-octane ideology.

Yes, soon the commanding inner voice of Ayn Rand’s extreme capitalism that’s now imbedded deep in America’s emerging conservative conscience will, as did Roark’s building, blow up Adam Smith’s grand design, the Cathedral of Capitalism, taking down the financial markets, triggering an economic collapse bigger than 2008 and profoundly handicapping America’s political destiny as the global super-power. At least that’s the liberal narrative.

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