Friday, April 22, 2011

Atlas Shrugged But Never Hugged­­­­ -- About Ayn Rand the Tea Party

A discussion of government, freedom, individualism, business, creativity.....

File:Atlas (Farnese Globe).jpg
Atlas holding up the world

In Ayn Rand’s mind, the world is created and run by great creative individuals, such a person is a godlike Atlas that holds up the whole world and carries progress on his broad shoulders. The Atlas has a transcendent intelligence and drive that separates him from the mediocrity of the mob which never ceases in its jealous quest to tear down her or his achievements.

According to Rand these people are the creators of all important things and we must bow down to them and surrender to their leadership. This philosophy is undemocratic, elitest, selfish just to mention a few points.

And while the worldview extols individualism and creativity, which are very good behaviors, it takes these concepts into an extreme land of the anti-social and it will eventually suppress the individuality and creativity of others.

The current movie Atlas Shrugged is about these few super individuals who are the only creators of wealth, knowledge, technology, values, philosophy, institutions and art. The film is based on Rand’s novel of the same name.

The movie takes place in a dystopian world of collectivism and statism where the government suppresses invention and over-regulates corporations. And this according to the producers of the film is the present world of 2011 USA. But in fact no such world exists.

President Obama cannot even get the big banks to give loan modifications to troubled homeowners even after bailing out them out for over a trillion dollars. Fining the banks for causing the 2008 collapse will not happen, much less criminal penalties. Major tax reform for corporations will not happen either.

The film’s draconian world of business repression is fictional and bears little resemblance to current reality which is hardly statist or fascist.

So it is clear that the aim of the movie is not a battle with government oppression and collectivism, but actually a battle with the very concept of government and social obligation. The producers are taking the war to a new level. They are trying to drag the center of gravity of the political spectrum far to the right. ‘Socialism” is just relative, and to someone who is way out there, mild liberalism does indeed look like Lenin and Stalin.

Maximum profit and deregulation
Ayn Rand advocates the pursuit of pure profit at the expense of all because she is against all restriction on individuals. This seems to be an odd time to make this movie considering the reasons for the global economic recession. It was lack of regulation of the banking industry and mortgage-backed-securities that led to the October 2008 crash, and yet here we have a film arguing for no regulation of any sort in all industries.

And we have only to look at current news about the Japanese nuclear disaster, and wonder what kind of a world we would live in, if we decide for the future to have no restrictions on the behavior of energy corporations when they build and operate nuclear plants.

In the US, children are fed dextrose, addicted to foods laced with additives, they become obese and susceptible to diabetes. This happens without impunity, here is an example of an industry where there is no regulation upon corporations. How is freeing the corporation making a better world for children? Is dextrose sweetener one of those great creative inventions of an Atlas industrialist?

When corporations pay a far lower tax rate than a middle class individual and still complain about over-taxation, just what are they saying? Business is restricted by the very concept of tax itself?

If an individual wants to divorce herself or himself from society and live in some disconnected way imagining oneself to be an Atlas genius, that is a free choice in our society to pursue one’s happiness.

But a business cannot pretend to be alienated loner. A company is a social creature that creates jobs, sells to consumers, buys materials, takes out loans, sells stock, resides in a community, and has an environmental impact on the world. And the bigger the firm, the bigger is its footprint on people and Nature. An individual and a corporation are two different things. When you call for complete freedom for a company, the impact of that is many times more than for a solitary individual. A company is not really a person – here is an equation of conservatism, a firm and a person are interchangeable which gives the firm “human rights” and constitutional rights too, but this is not quite true

Rand extends her philosophy of the supreme Atlas personality to the corporation as Atlas and thus makes a fundamental error, at the same time this philosophy finds many friends in the business world -- where legions see themselves as Herculean figures fighting against a mob, and have the money to fund think tanks, parties, politicians and news media that extol their semi-divinity.

For Ayn Rand this egotistical practice of the Atlas and his business would be “objective”, merely reflecting the objective truth of the individual in society.

Rand calls her philosophy “Objectivism”. Let’s look at some of its underpinnings.

Rationality and Objective philosophy
One of Rand’s ideas important ideas is that of a pure “rationality”, that if we are purely intellectual and logical then all of her ideas become self evident -- the notions of the great artist above all rules, the elite egotist, the pursuit of profit with no restraint. Rand claims her philosophy is rational and thus scientific, objective, factual and in the end indisputable.

Rand calls her viewpoint, “Objectivism” because it is fully objective, it has been fashioned by logic. Her rules of behavior are based purely on objective evidence free of moral paradigms, religions, social ideologies left or right. However, Ayn Rand’s rationality is not really rational at all, it is a highly self absorbed activity that qualifies more as an Egotistical Rationality. This mode of reason is very selective for it leaves out other Human beings, it leaves out the rest of the world, it leaves out all external reality.

Objectivism is a high sounding term to give Rand’s micro-worldview a scientific grounding, Rand is looking at a vast cosmos through an electron microscope and only seeing a war of atoms.

A truly “objective” perspective would see all things – a singular, unique viewpoint; the perspectives of other people; and the interconnections of all these people with their varying ideas and behaviors. After collecting information on a large scale it would then make some conclusions.

Narrow objectivity or broader objectivity?
In Rand’s case, no one else exists, only “my” view and needs exist. This is an ultimate sort of self absorption, called in philosophy “solipsism”. This is a very myopic science.

By leaving out the existence of other people, it is easy to dismiss humanity as herd or chaos, a nuisance or an enemy, mediocre or jealous, collectivist or an impromptu lynch mob.

A truly objective viewpoint would perceive the views and needs of other individuals, and then consider what kind of theory and methods would serve the individual and the community too. We would search for which kind of individuality makes people free and happy, and serves the community too. True objectivity is quite capable of handling wholes and complexes and diversity too.

Family, community and love
So while Atlas shrugged off attacks and the cries of suffering of humanity, Atlas never hugged. Atlas has no compassion for other Human beings. Atlas does not care, has no love, has no feelings. Atlas is cold and objective. This Atlas shrugs but never hugs.

Emotion, morality and the spiritual are very low standards for human behavior according to Rand.

In Rand’s world there actually cannot be family or community or nation or a human race, because all of these require an emotional bond, love. Further, there is no care for Nature because the environment is another irritating restriction on personal action. After a while Objectivism begins to look like Nihilism, the devaluation of all things.

How does Objectivism maintain family? Does it deduce from logic that children are necessary for the continuation of the human race, and thus mothers are impregnated and parental tasks are assigned?

Reason vs emotion
Is rationality then our primary motivation? Then there is no love or affection? Rand wants to strip emotion out of the issue so that we can see more logically what we should or should not do. But fortunately, Mother Nature gave us other drives besides those that power reason and logic -- otherwise there would not be human reproduction, family and more.

Logic, if you may have noticed, does not have the power to get things done, it has the power to analyze and instruct and endlessly repeat, however it does not have the power of obligation, guilt, self sacrifice, caring and love with in it. And without these emotions and feelings you cannot create a family or community or global harmony or a healthy ecosystem.  Logic may illuminate but the emotions create and fabricate, and they offer a parallel perspective to reason which is “spiritual”.

For Rand the emotions are suspect, and this IS the point, for reason takes away from relationships and bonds. It removes the content, the energy of human connection.

You might ask, doesn’t Rand actually proceed from some core emotions too, and what came first, the logic or the feeling, the chicken or the egg in her evolution? Good point, more on this later.

Partial objectivism already exists in the US
In any case, Objectivism is a highly sectarian and destructive philosophy. In many ways the US has been practicing a kind of Objectivism without knowing it. In our nation there is widespread poverty, selfishness, alienation, culture wars, bigotry, war on poor nations, bad diet and poor health and more. We have been rationalizing our self absorption, chasing after money and career, and hiding deep in the bunker of our ideologies where we sing ourselves to sleep with lullabies of total victory and graphic novel Armageddon.

Objectivism exists already in the world, we only need to bring it a higher level of self consciousness. Give the monster a name, for words and thoughts are the same thing, then we may know the monster, and then we may castigate it or emulate it.

Humanism and human beings
Out of the cold objective does not come humanism whether from the left or right. Lenin went down this path too of objectivity, science and the non-human in the service of collectivism, and this turned out very badly for the Russian people.

An “objectivity” in the reverse form of a super-individuality and conservatism would be equally a disaster for America. It is odd that the right would want to use this method in the 21st century when it was such a disaster in the last epoch, this is another strange example of the extreme right and extreme left switching places.

When we just seek the “objective” we lose the subjective which is the human side of us. Here is spirit, morality, emotion. When we seek the “rational” we lose the “irrational” in us which is expressed by our many behaviors that are outside our intellectual sphere.

Creativity is a feature of human beings that lies outside of reason, here is a faculty that Ayn Rand claims to admire, but does she?

Creative people are not “objectivists”
It is surprising for someone who admires creative people to take such a stand on reason, for creativity is the opposite of reason and objectivity -- its methods include randomness, vagueness and generality; inefficiency; relying on dreams, signs and voices; letting the subconscious work on an idea and then presenting it as a flash realization; accepting depression as part of the creative process; random juxtaposition; following intuition; rule breaking; endless irritating jokes; faith in creativity; uncertainty and ambiguity; productive confusion;, getting lost; stress of form over content; lack of proportion; maintaining a mystery; the spiritual; suspension of pre-conception; empty-mindedness; fused tangled wholes; indeterminate evolution and more.

Creativity is not a rational or objective process. Creative people are not Objectivists in the least. Yet Rand admires most of all creative people! And these are the very people who are least objective, rational, single-minded, level-headed, and logical in society. In popular myth the creative genius is compared to the insane, of course this is not true. But in this bias is a truth, which is the creative person is not “rational” in the traditional meaning that we have developed since the Enlightenment.  (Though many early Enlightenment figures were not actually “rational” either…they were far too creative)

In Rand’s world the creative person is most comparable to an Aristotle or Kant, which naturally makes no sense, for the creative personality is a “Subjectivist” par excellence, and is not a “thinker”. Rand would have done much better if she had read Nietzsche, the Surrealists or the writings of Zen Buddhism, if she had wanted to understand creativity in her time.

Just where did Rand get her ideas on creative people?

Ayn Rand clearly did not know any truly creative people very well, And she was not creative herself, for if she was creative, a thesis on pure reason would have never entered her head. It seems that her model is some sort of 20th century intellectual highly susceptible to “reason and objectivity” who has no clue what creativity, imagination and innovation really is. One who is most comfortable with repeating a long deductive list of memorized ideas from a podium in a college class. And who occasionally ventures into fiction writing only to substitute a thousand page lecture for a story.

Creativity is for everybody not just an elite
Creativity is a fundamental human behavior, we are all capable of it. Its skills are present in our right hemisphere and our prefrontal cortex. Creativity should be not only admired but taught and made a great part of daily life. Creativity is as much a part of us as are memories, emotions, wisdom, dreams, the subconscious, spirit, self identity, morality, habits and reason. It can give us much joy and make life worth living.

Creativity is universal and democratic, and it is not elitist, confined to a godlike elite who have the gift of inspiration and know its secret code of magic.

We all are capable of being creative, the problem in our society is that we do not teach it, we do not disseminate it, we do not unlock the potential in every brain. It is presently learned accidentally, haphazardly and unconsciously -- though some are more inclined than others toward it.

Creativity is a science, it is “objective” too but we do not hear that from Rand. To her it must be inborn and this sets the creative individual apart and demands he must remain even further apart and elevate to an ethereal plane.

For if creativity is ubiquitous in potential, then we have no argument anymore for a caste system of the genius and the disingenuous commoner, because now anyone can produce great things, and so why should a very few have no restrictions on them? This new feudalism is not based upon land, a geographical place, but in a neurological region, but its oppression is just as bad.

Further, if Rand’s ideas were widely practiced, creativity would not be enhanced in society, it would be suppressed because the Atlas would not want any competition to his position.

Also, “social creativity” would not emerge, which is the skill of creativity wielded by groups of people in social projects. The Atlas will only want his personal creativity and never the creativity of many making their own specific contributions to a complex social agenda for making a better world.

Collectivism vs individuality
One has to give Rand a nod for her opposition to collectivism and group think. In modern society, individuality and our very identities are suppressed by advertising and marketing. Alienation and disconnection are a fundamental condition of society these often lead people to join a group and embrace group thinking to find some connection and minimal identity. Media and politicians also promote group think.

Human beings are by their very nature individuals. We are born into the world this way and we live our lives this way and we die as individuals. Individuality is our prime mode existence and when we venture into groupism and suppress our identities and distinctness we suffer and become unhappy.

But being an individual does not mean we must become “extreme individualists” who disavow all connection with other people. There are various modes of individuality and some are very bad for us.

As individuals we can retain our personal perspective and interests and examine the experiences of others. We can come to understand their needs and sympathize with them. We can then see that self-absorbed individualism is problematic.

It can leave others without freedom and in a state of suffering. It can cause an increase in social strife and chaos. It can undermine the common good, common benefits and common goals. It can lead to the general decline of social institutions, economics and civilization in general. And perhaps worst of all, when you find yourself in dire circumstances, there will be nobody there to help you because you refused others when they needed it.

Modern society paradoxically produces both group think and extreme individualism at the same time. In some people the two behaviors are mixed together, in others there is a dominance of one or the other. This general condition exists because group think is promoted by marketing, education, media and even politics. At the same time, selfishness and self absorption is promoted as an important value if you are going to have a successful career and get rich.

The actual struggle should be against both collectivism and egotism. In the case of the Tea Party they only see the problem of group think, and so they make errors and misunderstand the relation of the individual to other people and the community as a whole. They miss a very important rule, an old piece of wisdom still quite valid.

The golden rule
What is the general principle operating here? Does it sound familiar? It is the Golden Rule formulated thousands of years ago. Do unto others as you have them do unto you, and the world will be a better place for everybody. Objectivism stands against the Golden Rule and you will not hear it uttered in any Tea Party Programme -- because they do not believe in it at all.

When we realize that we are not a whole but only a small part of it, but at the same time we must represent that whole, then we get to a higher perspective. This paradox of being an individual and yet seeing connections and a responsibility to the whole is the simple key to a workable society.

First we recognize the diversity, difference and individuality in the world. Then we grasp that these principles must be extended to all people, not just to one’s self. Thirdly we grasp that we are creating a new kind of whole, a diverse whole. Rand’s logic does not run in these tracks, its thought methods cannot comprehend this kind of dual logic, this more complex and sophisticated thinking.

We must not think only of ourselves, this is good for the soul to help others. Consideration of others keeps down social strife and chaos and uplifts all. And this comes back to you in terms of cooperation, material evolution and more freedom.  And very importantly when you need help, and one day you will, then help from someone will be there for you.

Individuality and the quest for personal development, identity and happiness are not in contradiction. We can be both social and individual, these are not in contradiction at all. The individual can be free and care about others. The individual can help society, and society can help the individual. The individual can support social institutions and social institutions can teach individuality to citizens and promote it in many ways. In life we are always faced with practical dualities to manage, so why not apply our methods to sociological and moral issues?

Theoretically, there is no problem. But of course in our world, it is true that government must be reformed. We have bureaucracy and politicians that are corrupted by money. Through the establishment of a direct democracy, a truly popular democracy of referendum and recall, and a “separation of money and state”, we can improve government.

However, for Ayn Rand, any plan of reform is impossible, all government is bad, it always has been and always will be.

Attack on government
The attack on government is generated by the idea that all institutions and organizations are run by groups of people, and therefore are anti-individual. This is very wrong.

Education can support individuality in thinking, creativity and moral action; psychology can support it by teaching methods of self knowledge and management; economics can support it in the form of entrepreneurship and a competitive market,  free invention and innovation. Government can support free speech, transparency and free voting.

Social institutions can support the collective good and teach individuality too, there is no big problem here.

But beneath the issues of taxes and regulation is a deep antipathy for institutions and organization held by Rand and the Tea Party.

Does government cause problems? Yes, of course. Does that mean government is not necessary anymore? No, government is still necessary.

Concern about high taxes and bureaucracy in government is legitimate. Anyone who says these issues are not valid is being foolish.

But one must ask, who is leading this attack on government -- it is the very group that already pays the lowest rate of tax in the US and now wants it even lower and eventually non-existent, big corporations. The tax issue is a real issue, only the idea of a universal tax lowering is wrong, the true solution is raising of taxes on those who have been avoiding it for decades and not paying their fair share. In this way the working class and middle class could have their taxes reduced, and the issue of big government would come more into its proper perspective, then we could look at programs and see just what is lavish and what is lean.

Dismantling government is very dangerous because government serves a number of very important functions:

  1. It provides for the common good (roads, education, national defense…)
  2. It provides for the specific good (the poor and unfortunate, special groups and industries…)
  3.  It provides centralizing functions necessary for a government and economy (courts, central bank, fiscal policy, energy policy…)
  4. It provides democratic institutions for opinion, dialogue, debate, decision making.

Without government we do not have sewers, inflation policy, standards for healthcare, regulation of toxic chemicals, aid to the unfortunate or even democracy. Instead we have chaos and social dysfunction.

For the Tea Party, all government is “socialism” and thus must be eliminated. Its goal is the elimination of certain agencies and programs, and in other cases the privatization of institutions so that businesses can make profit on these services, an example being privatizing public education, which is next on their agenda.

Attack on systems
Moreover, we can say that the Tea Party is against not only government but all “systems’.

A system is a special kind of whole that is quite complex and advanced. A system demands precision and sophisticated management. It requires professionals, it has circular and evolutionary processes that must be guided. A system has certain necessities and preconditions to “run”. A system is more than a loose whole or a collection. It has rules and institutions and powers that make it more than a simple “whole”.

An economy, government, human physiology, our neurology, our emotions, a community, an ecosystem are some examples of systems.

However, the Tea Party does not grasp the concept of a system, it is beyond their ken or perhaps even experience.

It is in a sense understandable because many of Tea Party people live in rural areas disconnected from large social systems. But on the other hand, they have in their immediate lives many examples of systems that they interact with or use every day – such as the brain, a car engine, a computer, the body, farm animals etc.

Their objections to systems are these: They do not want to be part of a whole,
because all wholes are bad for you. Second, an advanced whole like a system has behaviors that are “different” and alien, and thus not acceptable. Thirdly, the system will create some institutions of management and control such as a Federal Reserve Bank which will have certain powers and must be paid for, this too is not acceptable.

Systems have necessary requirements and without a certain amount of support they will die. Remove institutions, personnel, money and power and a system will shut down. For the Tea party this is good thing.

They do not understand that a central bank must control inflation or deflation, these concepts just do not appear in their daily lives. Money is a strange and magical phenomenon to the ordinary person but on the level of a Federal Reserve it is a practical issue.

If the Tea Party was concerned with physiology, it would be enraged by the operation of the thyroid, because here is an organ that “regulates” the entire body. And the Tea Party would be leading a rebellion of the oppressed organs against any restriction, a battle against organ taxation without organ representation! But how would your overall health be without a thyroid?

There are necessary entities that do essential jobs in maintaining a system. This reality must be accepted. And this extends also to an ecosystem, such a thing actually exists, it has rules and necessities.

Lack of experience with systems or simply not investigating real systems all around you are basic reasons that one misunderstands the necessity of a system and therefore opposes its existence.

There are other emotions and attitudes that underlie Tea Party thinking.

Fear, survivalism and a scarcity of joy
Where do these views in society come from? What are the basic emotions that underpin all of the thinking above?

Part of the problem comes from simple selfishness, greed, alienation, paranoia and disconnection in modern life. And these are the baseline, default, given conditions of our existence. These feelings are everywhere in all social strata in one form or another.

Secondly, in the present recession, there is a growing “survivalist” mentality. In a survival situation ethics are suspended. Sympathy and compassion are suspended. Survivalism is a form of warfare, and as we know, in war there are only friends and enemies, and in this war most people are the enemy. Survivalism also breeds more survivalism because as conditions decline caused by everyday sectarianism more people choose to act in a survivalist mode as a practical necessity.

There is also a deep psychological theme: a belief that there is scarcity of joy in the world, and that joy must be horded at the expense of others.

Joy to some is like money, one stashes it and accumulates it. Joy is considered finite and exists in a zero-sum game where all must compete for its limited quantity. So in this famine of happiness we avoid the malnutrition of the heart by stealing from other hearts.

But in fact, joy does not behave like this. If we give to others, we get joy back. Joy, both spiritual and material, multiplies, it grows, it is not fixed, it reproduces. Others can have joy and you can have joy at the same time, there is no war within joy.

The exchange of joy eases the mental state of all of us, a network of joyous interactions leads to cooperation, hope, growing affluence, more free time and the pursuit of personal goals.

Ayn Rand’s ideas and Tea Party thinking feeds off unhealthy individuality that is tainted with selfishness, fear and limited joy.

Healthy individuality and Tea Party individuality
Individuality is the prime mode but not the only mode of human existence. Individuality is the bias of course, but we also have another aspect of ourselves which is social. Life is a dynamic balance of individuality and sociality.

In healthy individuality we can help each other, give freedom and individuality to each other, create joint institutions for collective benefit, and still teach and support in our society the way of the healthy individual.

The healthy individual requires methods for existing using individual thoughts and actions, a lifelong search of personal identity, the freedom to experiment and grow, the development and application of a personal moral code, the self management of one’s emotions and psyche, the evolution of personal creativity, the exploration of spirit and life philosophy, the formation of a worldview that appreciates diversity and difference, and much more.

There is a distinction between healthy individuality and unhealthy individuality, and selfish individuality and social individuality.

Unhealthy individuality comes simply from bad views and attitudes, but also it can come from emotional dysfunctions. In our society we do not teach self knowledge or psychology to individuals, so we thrust young people out into the world confused without the necessary skills to survive.

Tea Party individuality is not a healthy form of individuality.

Further, when Tea Party members speak of individuality they mean “my individual views”, they do not really mean a support of your individuality, because that would be support for the individuality and individual opinions of those they disagree with and of those whom they dislike (minorities, immigrants, non-Christians, gays, foreigners, union members etc).

Tea Party individuality is very personal, very selective, very limited. It means “me” and not “you”. Do not think that when they speak of “freedom” they mean for everyone, they only mean it for a special group.

The Tea Party is NOT about freedom or individuality, it is about the views of a certain group -- my individuality against your individuality. Behind the grand idea of freedom and individuality is not a great moral position but a few huge suitcases full of personal prejudices.

When the Tea Party gets into power and is unimpeded it will then show you what it means by freedom and individuality, and it will not be pleasant. And we will see a big decline in freedom and individuality for social groups.

Liberty, equality and fraternity could never be a Tea Party slogan.

False advertising, double think, and bait and switch
The Tea Party is shot through with contradictions. They stand for the working person and they stand for big corporations too. They want no social security, even though they will need it when they retire. They want no government but want more police, more soldiers, more security. They want democracy but not for everyone. They want individuality but only if you agree with them.

They admire the Atlas “creator” and yet they are not creative at all, for creativity is not a trait of the Tea Party.

One has to wonder about the Tea Party, just what does throwing bales of tea overboard in Boston harbor have to do with a rich Atlas mogul who is being persecuted by the herd. It is not likely the colonists were dreaming of becoming mega-industrialists obsessed with de-regulation.

To understand some of these contradictions it would help to look at the Tea Party’s recruiting method.

First, it is based upon false advertising. A target is told that the Tea party has many grand and transcendent principles for human liberation, then upon joining and talking to people you actually find out that, well, they are bigots and want to repress people.

This causes some Tea Party members, the novices to float in a double-think state where they are for the general principle of freedom but not for certain select groups. After repeated arguments these beginners either quit because the contradiction makes no sense or they simply surrender to the true internal position the movement.

So the Tea Party is a process. It actually started out with many centrists and independents, but over time the Republican right wing has driven them out.

The process might be called “bait and switch”, an old sales tactic. The bait is the high principle of individuality and liberty, this attracts the mark. The switch is prejudice and selfishness and hate. Freedom becomes redefined as repression of someone else’s freedom. The new recruit has been sold NOT the bait but the switch and unknowingly has embraced the dark side.

Another movement did quite well with the bait-and-switch strategy, and this was Marxism-Leninism. It first offered the bait of popular democracy and equality, and then it substituted “the dictatorship of the proletariat” which was taught in a study group – where the true believers were separated from the vacillators.

This is the very same methodology which served the extreme left and now the extreme right.

Beyond individuality to diverse thinking
Part of the problem of understanding individuality has to do with too much focus on the term “individuality”.

Individuality is actually not the highest principle or concept. Individuality is a subset of something more general and more to the point, and that is diversity and difference.

Individuality is one expression of diversity and difference. And there are many other specific examples. There is social diversity in the sense of race, ethnicity, religion. We have different genders, we have differing sexual orientations. There are subcultures and differing lifestyles. Individuality is only one form of difference or differentiation among human beings.

The world is full of diversity and difference, this is its fundamental nature. Evolution and development produces more diversity and difference overall as time progresses, whether in the cosmos, in nature, in a human brain or in human society.

When you speak only of freedom of the individual, one might forget or exclude other types of differences among human beings. But if you proceed first from the principle of human diversity then you are not likely to be a bigot or narrow minded.

Appreciation of difference maintains a broad and open view, it leads to strong rules about defense of difference. It leads to a double perspective of practicing one’s own individuality and respecting that of others.

In Tea Party logic this does not happen. One particular form of diversity is posed against all other forms of diversity, and yet it masquerades as a form of difference thinking. In the end variety is destroyed.

Here is a core intellectual mistake that if unimpeded will lead to suppression of difference, diversity and individuality, and creativity too.

Beware of new Atlases being born
Ayn Rand’s ideas about the great Atlas casting off all restrictions inspire the Tea Party to wage its anti-deregulation struggle, against the regulation brought by morality, compassion, cooperation and social diversity. Her extreme views of one-sided individuality give synergistic energy to the Tea Party, to the severe behaviors of its “freedom” struggle.

Rand has a magical pull on them, she has given them a mythology – a story, good guys and bad guys, a serious philosophy, a transcendent goal and most importantly, a Hero.

Do not underestimate the power of mythology. A myth is higher than a story, it provides a blueprint for human action for it addresses many human needs, it is far more effective than a position paper or party programme.

Rand’s myth provides what the Boston tea party metaphor does not, it gives something more modern, more capitalistic, more theoretical and more heroic.

Atlas Shrugs offers a kind of spirit, a dark spirit to their enterprise, because everyone that sets herself or himself a historic task needs mythology and a form of “spirit”. Dark visions require dark souls and dark strategies. And likewise positive visions demand positive souls and positive strategies.

Now that the movie is released, be assured that Junior Atlases are being born right now. Individuals will begin to see themselves as great creative personalities, whether business or political people. Junior Atlases are being created. And they strongly believe they will inherit a dark future.

Beware of these Atlases who shrug but never ever hug.

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