Ayn Rand & Ressentiment

I have no idea what is going to happen politically in the next six weeks, but the victory for Tea Party wingnuts like Christine O’Donnell over the past few weeks says that the lunatics have taken over the Republican Asylum.

So I’ve been trying to understand where this “Don’t Tread on Me” anger stems from and I think Ayn Rand and her belief in radical selfishness is at the heart of the matter.

Ever focused on her own achievements, Rand always made time to cultivate elites who might help her, all the while oblivious to anyone, including her family, who could or would not. She explained in a famousPlayboy interview that “charity is not a moral duty,” and took to wearing a dollar-sign broach on her coats. A six-foot wreath of the dollar sign was at the head of her casket—the same symbol the character John Galt made over the world in the last sentence of Atlas Shrugged. Galt was her CEO-type savior. The dollar sign was a symbol of selfishness and material productivity that was to replace the cross, a symbol of sacrifice and eternal concerns.

Rand was also a great fan of Nietzsche and of his concept of Ressentiment.

Ressentiment is a reassignment of the pain that accompanies a sense of one’s own inferiority/failure onto an external scapegoat. The ego creates the illusion of an enemy, a cause that can be “blamed” for one’s own inferiority/failure. Thus, one was thwarted not by a failure in oneself, but rather by an external “evil.”

The John Galt Ubermensch never experiences this emotion, but the savvy politician or talk show provocateur can use this “reassignment of pain” towards “the external evil” in treacherous ways. This is why Gingrich, Palin and the Birthers are so anxious to portray Obama is the foreign “other”. I have no doubt the that the frustration of the average high school educated formerly middle class American is real. They have seen their wages falling for a decade or more. The external evil of globalization is not palpable as a scapegoat. It has to be personalized.

This is a dangerous and sick time. The morbid symptoms of Gramsci’s Interregnum are spreading like a virus. I do not know where it is all headed, but more and more I feel like the only salvation is in small communities of scholars or congregants who with passion and love are trying their hardest to work towards some higher goal and not just pursuing Rand and Nietzche’s “will to power”.

I am sorely tempted to withdraw from this noisy arena where the signal to noise ratio is getting worse. I am reminded of James Joyce’s wonderful line from A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man

I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can, and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use . . . silence, exile, and cunning.

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42 Responses to Ayn Rand & Ressentiment

  1. Brian says:

    Manitoba’s Professor Bob Altemeyer has studied radical right and wingnut motives for thirty years. His assertions are no surprise but highly neglected.

  2. Matt Haugh says:

    Keep fighting, Jon. If you give up now, the idiots win.

  3. JTMcPhee says:

    Any of you folks found any body of study of what seems to me a key bit of sociopathy, the archetype and notion of “the enemy”? Reified, personalized, the notion floats out there as one of the more compelling of Plato’s shadows, unexamined because “everybody knows who the enemy is, and what he looks like, and what he does and how he thinks and what he hates (note this is mostly about “hes,” addressed grammatically in an interesting way, via a ‘collective singular noun.’)

    Well, bless you, professor, if you are set up to be able to walk mostly safely away from the shithittingthefan. That is real riches indeed. Old Ray Bradbury posed something like what you see as a likely endgame, in “Farenheit 451.” John Galt knows, no properly self-interested and self-motivated person can be taxed to be his brother’s keeper… $$$$$$$$$

  4. Paxton says:

    I’ve seen enough of your predictions come true, so it saddens me to see you shying away from your earlier confidence that November will in fact NOT be a total slaughter. I still hold the faith that an extreme candidate like O’Donnell will be easier to beat than a moderate Republican in a general election, still, it’s a risky gamble.

    Oh, and, don’t quit the blog. Please.

  5. jamesmvward says:

    JT – Yes, JJ, the patron saint of Irish sufferers, points the way.
    I wonder if the illiquid TeaBaggers, stooges of the next powergrabbers, will be using 2x Reverse Index ETFs to profit in the next 3 months as the markets tank running into the election, end of the year and Re-pugnant-cans’ obstructionist endgame of blocking taxcuts for the 98-99% of taxpayers unless their plutocrat friends get to keep stacking their goldbricks Greedy Old Pig style?
    Know-nothing NIMBY nudnicks such as TeaBags and their ilk point to cutting spending and budgets as the panacea for deficit woes, but of course they don’t want any of their hometown pork rationed, God (by any name) forbid the flatulant Defense Budget be touched. At this point, the number of times we can destroy the world is marked in less than scientific notation, yet the last 60 years have proven a small force of zealots or otherwise committed individuals can cause agony for an invading empire. Rome anyone? At least Gates has had the termity to suggest such a thing as ‘cutting the fat’ at the Pentagon. Perhaps TeaBaggers would be willing to be the first to have their roads and bridges, fire and police banished (they could start a militia!) indigent friends, families, corporate welfare and farm/commodity subsidy recipients booted to the curb? Let them be the first to burn their Medicare and Social Security cards since they don’t want Socialism. Put your money where your mouths are TeaBaggers – let’s see some real radical action.
    As far as the election goes, what are we expecting for an electorate? Maybe 40%? Demographics skew to old, white and angry – so anything could happen. Will Moderate Republicans come out to support the lunatic fringe if only to prevent Democrats from continuing control (some control indeed!) of Congress? I can’t see the Gin and Tonic set making the effort. But then again, the absurbity of the Left’s lunatic wing, expecting miracles in 20 months of obstructed rule (what’s the latest tally of Obama’s senior and judicial appointees held up by Republican’s spanner-tossing?). Will Roger’s quip remains as prescient as ever – I don’t belong to an organized party, I’m a Democrat. Time and time again, the mule kicks itself with fractious debate. Don’t even get me started on those Blue Dogs – that’s where the moderate Republicans have gone. And had those mods under the Greedy Old Pigs banner any sense, they’d become Democrats and get what they want anyway.
    That’s it for now JT – must rage elsewhere – go have some pan-fried kidneys in old Dublin now. JW

  6. bernard says:

    Dear Jon, my friend, we are all faced with the same existential riddle one way or another. Maybe the words written are part of our walk to oblivion, who knows we may ear the echo, at least we honestly try to write about the truth. Nothing wrong with that. God bless Jon hang in you are to bright to falter.

  7. bernard says:

    A good writer possesses not only his own spirit but also the spirit of his friends.

    Friedrich Nietzsche

    PS : Dont worry about Nietzche he is dead and so is Marx.
    Its a new ball game.

  8. Fentex says:

    I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can, and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use . . . silence, exile, and cunning.

    Reads depressingly like an admission to having been shouted down.

  9. Fentex says:

    Argh. Messed up quoting again…

    I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can, and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use . . . silence, exile, and cunning.

    Reads depressingly like an admission to having been shouted down.

  10. bernard says:

    Not shouted down ever. Just a vacation between words. A noisy silence.A night song.

  11. Hugo says:

    I agree with Jon that the cheesy ad hominem attacks on President Obama constitute Nietzschean and a marking of “the Other” for scapegoating. In sociology-anthropological theory and literary theory, a candidate for scapegoating can be marked by the mob by any perceived difference. Even a distinctive physionognomic attribute, such as a club foot, will suffice. Anyone perceived as ex-centric–as foreigner, for example, or a heretic or a moral outcast–may be elected. But–so the theories go–far and away the preferred markers of “difference” are racial (or pseudo-racial) non-belonging and, interestingly, the “apartness” that comes with exalted status; such as the distention of being the most powerful being in the world.

    For no more than these reasons several of my colleagues expected the red-hot branding irons to come out of the coals immediately upon the inauguration of the new President. The doubly marked are marked for violent, ritual scapegoating unto death, either biological or symbolic. MLK, Jr., as well as his father, perceived that he was doubly marked, and so did Martin King’s hero Mohandas Gandhi expect that the combination of self-exile and status as Mahatma, enlightened one, would end in regicide. So even as we pray today for the safety of the U.S. Secret Service and its most important charge, large numbers of insurgent Americans are symbolically branding the President with “The Mark”. I’d point out to the jurisprudentialists that such actions define the essence of “hate speech” and in turn necessitate the legal prohibitions against it, however difficult those prohibitions may be to implement.

    I’ve never wanted to paint the increasingly well mannered Tea Partiers with this broad brush, though certainly that nascent party has to find additional ways to purge the mobsters from its ranks.

    Jon’s point about our hope resting with communities of scholars and (one would hope, equally latitudinarian) coreligionists, well, that’s what I believe, God help me, with all my heart, all my remaining mind.

    These thoughts I’ll submit to Jon’s table, anyway. Cheers…

  12. Hugo says:


    How did your talk go today?

  13. Hugo says:

    Pardon me. I’d typed “Nietzscean resentiment”, but the Cupertine monks are resistant to the noun so it dropped out. (Personal note: I haven’t encountered an Ayn Rand enthusiast since I last taught sophomores, many years ago. I guess it’s provocative that Libertarian Ron’s son, the Kentucky congressional candidate of the Tea Party, is named Rand, but I can’t tell whether that family venerates Saint Rand or rather Saint Paul. Perhaps the People will decide…)

  14. bernard says:

    History is dead. We have to invent UTOPIA.

  15. Hugo says:

    Heavens, I just typoed further. Apple and I aren’t getting along these days. They don’t like it when I misspell “Nietzschean” and other things, and they won’t allow me to type “ressentiment” without their bucking. My fault, though.

  16. Rick Turner says:

    And making one of my oft bleated points:


    Foxes and henhouses, anyone?

    You want to know why so many are pissed off? There it is. Only the libs and teabaggers are shooting at the wrong targets…or they’re shooting at some correct targets and not the others. They’ve a right to be pissed, and our “liberal” leaders have totally screwed the pooch, pulling the bait and switch of a century…the one that started in 1911. We’re going to be just like Mexico…a corrupt oligarchy with a permanently underemployed underclass. Time to start working on our Canadian accents, eh? It’s OK. It will be nice and temperate up there soon enough.

  17. JTMcPhee says:

    Hugh, isn’t that part of the Nitzscean Creed?

    Radical selfishness? How about a little observation on at least a part of what’s in play, in the words of the miserable fucking bitch herself? About what seems pretty obvious from the jungle-drumming and feather-bundle waving and even the excited utterances and diaphoretic dripping of and jowl-bouncing choreography of Fatass Draft Ducker Limbaugh.

    Tribalism (which is the best name to give to all the group manifestations of the anti-conceptual mentality) is a dominant element in Europe, as a reciprocally reinforcing cause and result of Europe’s long history of caste systems, of national and local (provincial) chauvinism, of rule by brute force and endless, bloody wars. As an example, observe the Balkan nations, which are perennially bent upon exterminating one another over minuscule differences of tradition or language. Tribalism had no place in the United States—until recent decades. It could not take root here, its imported seedlings were withering away and turning to slag in the melting pot whose fire was fed by two inexhaustible sources of energy: individual rights and objective law; these two were the only protection man needed. [sic sic sic]

    What are the nature and the causes of modern tribalism? Philosophically, tribalism is the product of irrationalism and collectivism. It is a logical consequence of modern philosophy. If men accept the notion that reason is not valid, what is to guide them and how are they to live?

    Obviously, they will seek to join some group—any group—which claims the ability to lead them and to provide some sort of knowledge acquired by some sort of unspecified means. If men accept the notion that the individual is helpless, intellectually and morally, that he has no mind and no rights, that he is nothing, but the group is all, and his only moral significance lies in selfless service to the group—they will be pulled obediently to join a group. But which group? Well, if you believe that you have no mind and no moral value, you cannot have the confidence to make choices—so the only thing for you to do is to join an unchosen group, the group into which you were born, the group to which you were predestined to belong by the sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient power of your body chemistry.

    This, of course, is racism. But if your group is small enough, it will not be called “racism”: it will be called “ethnicity.”


    Now Pappy, don’t jump in here and say that Someone Has Finally Seen The Light of Randy Wisdom. Marx and Hobbes and Lenin and a lot of other people with axes to grind made accurate, trenchant observations about Human Nature. There’s many a doctor who has hit most of the points of a diagnosis and still killed the patient with the wrong therapy.

    Be nice to know how “enemy” and “tribal identity” interflux. Nobody seems to want to pay any attention to looking at postulates, like geometers before non-Euclid and the notion of the curvature of space. Straight lines” In your dreams… Closest I’ve found was in a book called “Mimesis” by Eric Auerbach. And of course Walt Kelley’s perfect, timeless, makes-me-want-to-weep aphorism, “We has met the enemy, and he is us.” And you can even find some hints about “Enemy: The Movie” in The Indisputable Word Of God Written In The Unchanging Perfect Bible. Where God Said And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found [thee]: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD. Or maybe it was “And Ahab said to Elijah, Have you come face to face with me, O my hater? And he said, I have come to you because you have given yourself up to do evil in the eyes of the Lord.” Or maybe He Saidsomeplace like inside these Loving Christians’ brains?

    I left an Answer to All Life’s Questions in here somewhere, if I can only remember what pile it’s under…

  18. John Papola says:

    Haven’t read the thread yet. Noticed that JT called me pappy. I like that. My grandfather’s nickname was Pappy and since discovering that I really feel warm and happy to hear that nickname.

    Screw Rand. Jon, take some time with Lew Rockwell’s podcast. Listen to the last 10 episodes. Read “for a new liberty” by Rothbard. There is a libertarian approach that is rooted in morality, respect for charity and community, and peace. That’s the engine behind Ron Paul’s campaign for livery organization. I’ve met lots of them and they are young, anti-war, and tolerant. Most libertarians I know agree that objectivists are assholes.

    Spend some time with Sheldon richman’s stuff at fee.org.

    Great stuff.

  19. Hugo says:

    Forgive me but I actually admire Hobbes. Probably the closest any political theorist came to a statement of essential Conservatism. Too many of us were taught Hobbes via the witty critique of Swift, half a century a post-Hobbesian (irrespective of Malthus and Machiavelli). In Hobbes it’s not the conservatism, per se, that I admire but rather the frankness. Same with Kierkegaard in religious philosophy, that the Dane was so cold-eyed and uncompromising. Reminds me of something a dear, old Chicano friend once told me about how his best friends growing up were Anglo bigots but he embraced them nonetheless because he always knew where the bastards stood.

  20. Hugo says:


    Go, Murray Rothbard! When I was a kid I used to go over to the Libertarian bookstore (in S.F.) and collect his books and monographs serially, as I could afford. I recall that it thrilled my young mind to learn that such a radical thinker had been safe in the the modern USA, that the national debate encompassed his contributions. At the time he seemed to me a kind of Thomas Paine. Later I turned to Paul Goodman and, when he died, basically forgot the Libertarians unless one counts Friedman, who was very patient with me once when I was a First Year challenging him (privately, in his office) on the advisability of school vouchers.

    P.S. Come to think of it I left my little Rothbard collection, along with boxfuls of other stuff, to the Patee Library at Penn State. Maybe I should take the train up there and revisit those once beloved writings.

    Until you’d mentioned Rothbard I’d forgotten this old personal habit of checking in with Libertarians.

  21. John Papola says:

    Ha, I’m a Penn State grad too! Loved philosophy, especially my intro to eastern philosophy. Zen is bullshit. The six fold path goes the other way.

    Anyway, I’m a rothbardian if I’m anything. He had the passion and than sense of ethics to always keep his ethics in play. Great stuff. He’s a huge critic of objectivism and saw the “movement” as a cult of Ayn. Yucky.

  22. Hugo says:


    Was that really from Limbaugh? How strange. Anyway it’s social scientific Pig Latin, a concatenation of categorical errors. As you say, it’s “jaw-bouncing”.

    If you want a statement about it from me, all I can say is that his statements, as you quote them, could be protected by a trademarked confusion of current politics with History, History with Sociology, Sociology with Economics, Economics with Anthropology, Anthropology back to politics. Perhaps no one but Rush Limbaugh could complete such a hopscotch.

    I suppose I could dance-by-numbers as to how weird and illogical are his gearshifts, but just to name the, to me, most obvious one, to name tribalism as precursor of collectivism is just sick, as the two are historical enemies, the one a native expression from the roots and the other an elite and speculative and ruthless play from the centers of power and exclusion. Each other keyword he uses evokes centrally a different social science except, by my count, Economics (for once!)

    My sense is that he wanted to work in the word “tribal” in his own context of Barack-Obama, a Kenyan-American. Honestly that’s why I think he suddenly turned Smithsonian–was just to work in that particular word and to try to make it stick.

  23. clayton says:

    Interesting post, as usual, but before the small communities of intellectuals get around to modeling the post-Interregnum world, maybe they can study up on their Nietzsche so they don’t misinterpret his in the same way Rand or Nietzsche’s sister did?

  24. JTMcPhee says:

    Hugo, that block quote was from the Goddess of Gimme herself. Rand, that is. I think it is too ponderous for even Limbaugh. How easy it is to miss the mark, to be mis-understood; how difficult to make message-sent and message-received correspond, even with error-checking algorithms. Human condition, and every day it gets worse, real Tower-of-Babel stuff…

    But my hope was to invoke some attention to the truly tribal nature, writ large now, as the New Computer Age of Calculated Ignorance allows, of what seems to be a critical facet of the Tea Party phenom.

    Follow the link, if you care to — which I guess I should have attributed more clearly — citation conventions have gone out the window along with so many other conventions, like “manners” and I am the first to say mea culpa maxima, but “he did it first”… There are numerous interesting observations on the character of the “irrational exuberance” that the cynical shits pumping up the Tea Baggers is taking full advantage of, in accordance with Rand’s “dictates.”

  25. len says:

    Libertarian atheism: a hybrid philosophy that denies the authority of the state and the church. Communism without the messy problem of obedience to the state so resources are allocated by the fittest to seize and control them, aka: the terrible twos. No morals, no parenting.

  26. John Papola says:


    The last time I checked, the most Atheist nations have been the ones which have most embraced collectivism. The most starkly atheist have been, of course, the communist regimes. Meanwhile, America, born and raised among the most libertarian of governance structures, is also the most religious.

    There’s lots of libertarian atheists. I’m not one of them. I think you’re right that it’s an anti-authority thing, and I think that the impulse is a healthy one. But the notion that free people making choices amounts to no morals and no parenting is a non-sequitor leap.

  27. len says:

    Claiming all free choices is a bit nutty, Pap. That’s why I find that combination an interesting fringe. It reminds me of toddlers in the terrible twos, not just anti-authoritarian, but charged up sugar high looking for something to hurt. Haters really. On the other hand, the news all day has been discussing masturbation as a national political issue. I enjoy writing satire and I couldn’t imagine it going that far. Now I have to go back and consider asking the Devil about his position on rubber dollies. Crazy stuff. Objectivism starts to look moderate.

    We knew coming out of the last election that a swing that far left with that amount of thuggery and outrageous expectation setting would produce a very swift kick to the left. Betting money is that by the time 2012 rolls around it will be almost back to a numb center. I’m not so sure.

    I watched Bill Maher’s video for his show today and for the first time I wonder if someone shouldn’t tell him to shut up. I don’t think that approach is going to help. The more humiliation the left heaps on the Tea Partiers, the stronger they are getting. As I said, it’s a Spite election and like a divorce, the more one side accuses the other of craziness, the crazier it gets and the more determined.

  28. len says:

    Kick to the right… must read more carefully.

  29. Hugo says:


    Alas I didn’t attend Penn State. Such a wonderful school! (Though I’m asoft touch, in that I root for all American colleges and universities and really relish it when they distinguish themselves without cannibalizing each other off the gridiron; hence my enthusiasm for Jon’s embrace of a renewal of the scholarly community). No, I left a collection to Pattee because Ivan Illich and the recently departed Rustum Roy asked me to do so and because such a great library can be trusted to archive the materials to the highest standards of preservation and accessibility. As a student and teacher I’d long been a West Coast beneficiary, a sort of adjunct fellow traveler, of Penn State’s groundbreaking STS program, the likes of which for years hadn’t been seen south of the Canadian border. (Of course that sort of interdisciplinary thing is all very fashionable now).

    These details, I think, illustrate the promise of communities of scholars. At their best they make no distinctions between professionals and matriculants, know no bounds between institutions or disciplines, refuse to recognize social caste. I’m much obliged to your alma mater, and to you for reminding me of the worlds of thought and experience to which I was exposed by Rothbard’s radicalism. Thanks.

  30. Alex Bowles says:

    I’ve recently re-immersed myself in cartographic history. After the intense focus on the NOW that started sometime between the rise of Palin and the fall of Lehman, this is an exceptional relief.

    Watching continents slowly drift around, coastlines undulating, and oceans spreading, the image of the world slowly comes into focus. Revolutions – social and scientific – converge in these documents as they become catalysts for further development, and progressively sharper resolution. Taken as a whole, the sequence is majestic.

    All this is in preparation for a much deeper read. If the convergence of math, science, and astronomical observation in the visual language of cartography supplies the skeleton, Braudel’s economic history supplies the muscle. The complementary nature of these two lines of thought seems irresistibly delicious.

    Separately, I’ve been reading The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History. The short version is that what we’re living through is nothing new. And the good news is that moments like this – for all their confusion and angst – tend to resolve themselves with humanity on a more elevated plane than they started from. Moreover, the stability that eventually returns tends to be relatively long lasting.

    The problem, of course, is living through (read ‘surviving’) the transition. On this score, I think life is going to get worse before it gets better, ‘recovery’ be damned.

    The publisher’s blurb from Robert Reich’s new book Aftershock sums it up nicely.

    (Reich), secretary of labor under Bill Clinton and former economic adviser to President Obama, argues that Obama’s stimulus package will not catalyze real recovery because it fails to address 40 years of increasing income inequality. The lessons are in the roots of and responses to the Great Depression, according to Reich, who compares the speculation frenzies of the 1920s–1930s with present-day ones, while showing how Keynesian forerunners like FDR’s Federal Reserve Board chair, Marriner Eccles, diagnosed wealth disparity as the leading stress leading up to the Depression. By contrast, sharing the gains of an expanding economy with the middle class brought unprecedented prosperity in the postwar decades, as the majority of workers earned enough to buy what they produced. Despite occasional muddled analyses (of the offshoring of industrial production in the 1990s, for example), Reich’s thesis is well argued and frighteningly plausible: without a return to the “basic bargain” (that workers are also consumers), the “aftershock” of the Great Recession includes long-term high unemployment and a political backlash–a crisis, he notes with a sort of grim optimism, that just might be painful enough to encourage necessary structural reforms.

    Looking back, ‘grim optimism’ is exactly what I felt when I heard about the Lehman collapse. ‘It’s finally beginning’ I thought. That signal event, and the two years that followed (esp. the visible impotence of a popular president in the face of a hopelessly corrupt Senate) were the shock. The aftershocks will play out on their own schedule. There’s no “if”, only “when”.

    Indeed, having been so caught up in the minutia of the last 24 months, I’m fairly confident that both Fischer and Reich have it exactly right. (It says a lot when a former Clinton / Obama adviser is on the same page as a winner of the Irving Kristol award.) If past is prologue, then consciousness and broad consensus about what needs to happen will emerge eventually. It seems hard to imagine now with the Tea Party raging all over the lot and jerks like Ben Nelson holding his own mother hostage every other week, but I have faith (boosted, substantially, by Warren’s installation, and the suspicion that she may end up running Treasury if Geithner isn’t especially careful). And then what? Warren 2016?

    But now I’m getting ahead of myself. This actually seems like a fine point to tune out of the day to day narrative. I’m happy to watch the occasional firework from the sidelines, but largely, I’d say the dye is cast. The Great Letting Go isn’t something I care to follow in excruciating detail. All that signal degenerating into noise is…agitating.

    Meanwhile cool, deep, and very reflective pools lie elsewhere. It’s time for a long swim followed by dreaming in the moonlight.

    Goodnight all.

  31. JTMcPhee says:

    The party’s over
    It’s time to call it a day
    They’ve burst your pretty balloon
    And taken the moon away
    It’s time to wind up the masquerade
    Just make your mind up the piper must be paid

    The party’s over
    The candles flicker and dim
    You danced and dreamed through the night
    It seemed to be right just being with him
    Now you must wake up, all dreams must end
    Take off your makeup, the party’s over
    It’s all over, my friend

    The party’s over
    It’s time to call it a day
    Yhey’ve burst your pretty balloon and taken the moon away
    Now you must wake up, all dreams must end
    Take off your makeup, the party’s over
    It’s all over, my friend

    It’s all over, my friend


    Not much new under the sun.

  32. len says:

    I wonder how many texts and theses we have to read to realize too many hard feces in one end of the pipe stops the flow.

    What is the financial analog to a plumber’s helper and Drano?

  33. Well, Alex, that was a mighty telling typo! The dye (die) is indeed cast. I bowed out a while ago and have been much better for it (fiber arts are more fun than politics).

    Once again you’ve echoed what’s been rattling around in my largely empty head, phrased it eloquently, and (perhaps most importantly) backed it up with actual reading.

    Ahhh reading, I think I’ll get back to it. :)

    Have a groovy weekend everyone.

  34. bernard says:

    All birds from others do derive their birth,
    But yet one fowl there is in all the earth,
    Called by the Assyrians Phoenix, who the wain
    Of age, repairs, and sows herself again.

  35. JTMcPhee says:

    And in case anyone missed it, even the WSJ almost gave pride of place today to the Census data recently disgorged. the MSM plays it as the story of 1 in 7 Americans living now below the crabbed government notion of “the poverty line,” and 1 in 5 children. The Journal takes a slightly wider slant, looking at “median family income,” which fell 4.8% between 2000 and 2009.

    Sayeth Nicholas Eberstadt at the “right leaning American Enterprise Institute,” quote, “It’s going to be a long, hard slog back to what most Americans think of as normalcy or prosperous times.”

    President Barack Obama, in a statement, said the report showed that because of stimulus spending, “millions of Americans were kept out of poverty last year.” Republicans, meanwhile, saw the report in a different light.

    “By any objective standard, the stimulus failed to deliver on the promised results,” said a spokesman for Congress Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

    The median household income fell 0.7% to $49,777 in 2009, down 4.2% since 2007, when the recession started, the Census Bureau said.

    The bureau said that the drop in income in the recent recession, so far, wasn’t much different from those recorded in the early 1990s and early 2000s recessions, and was actually smaller than the 6% drop recorded in the deep recession of the early 1980s.

    But there is a difference this time: In the prior three recessions, incomes fell after years of upswing, then resumed growing once the downturn ended. The decline this time comes on top of a long period in which incomes stagnated even through the recovery of 2003 to 2007.

    The decline in incomes cuts across age, race and class, with some exceptions. Hispanics and Asians saw small increases in their median incomes. The recession has been particularly hard on young workers and young families, in part because they aren’t eligible for as many government benefits as older workers. Younger workers have a harder time qualifying for unemployment benefits because they have a shorter work history.

    That has prompted many young adults to move in with family, or put off leaving home in the first place. The number of 25-to-34-year-olds living with their parents rose 8.4% to 5.5 million in 2010 from 2008. Within that age group, 42.8% fell below the poverty threshold—$11,161 for an individual.

    The report also showed a steep rise in child poverty, to 23.8% for kids under six in 2009, compared to 21.3% a year earlier.

    Oh well. What the hell.

  36. Rick Turner says:

    Does anybody with half a brain trust “the government” anymore? It’s a juggernaut rolling over a mass of bodies who thought to control it but are now falling under the wheels. Others are hanging onto the juggernaut’s ropes trying to hold it back from plunging over a cliff into an angry sea, but these folks are getting caught in knots and will be dragged over to their own deaths soon. And many of us are just trying to step back out of the way hoping not to be caught up in this swirling mass of suicide. We know that empires come and go and that there are always survivors, denizens of the Interregnum, if you will, who manage to keep some bits of the wealth of the old civilization alive for the next cycle of rise and fall.

    That the more liberal side of our political spectrum has done such a suck job of presenting “the case” can only be understood as a combination of moral and intellectual vacuum. The Democrats can no longer get away with portraying themselves as the friends of “the people.” They are as corruptible as Republicans and seem happy to prove it. At this point, the main difference among Democrats, Republicans, and the Tea Party seems to me to be the degree of mean spirit displayed. Among these three nasty elements, whom would you choose to represent you?

  37. bernard says:

    Rick I agree with you, there is no trust anywhere it is getting worst with no solution in sight and violence around the corner. It looks like if there are two gov. the apparent one and the real one that never changes – the puppet master.

  38. Dan says:

    Speaking not of the larger context of “libertarianism,” but instead of the world of Rand and her followers…especially her inner circle…I’ve often wondered if some of the things she wrote were in fact pokes at the sycophancy.

    Rand was no fool, and although I think she had a conflicted personality, I don’t think she was delusional. She had to realize that some of the symbolism she used was, to put it mildly, over the top.

    So far as I know, her True Believer fans have never blinked. For them, there is no top. Bigger is always better. No exceptions.

  39. Glenn says:


    I guess you’re suggesting that Rand was mocking the many modern phallic cults of her time and turning them against themselves irinically. The valorization of Machismo by the suicidally impotent Hemingway; the sacralization of enlightening coitus by the impotent D.H. Lawrence; the thrust and throw-weights and penetration and payloads of the celebrity class of the military brass–surely none of that escaped her. But on what grounds do you find her a witty critic of these absurd [re] assertions of the masculine ego with which she…toyed.

    Sincerely, where does she show in her writings an exasperation with some sort of mis-construal of her unsubtle meanings. Did she not expect, for example, to attract men who love men, when she herself loved men who couldn’t love women?

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