John Galt’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave

[Content Note: Link to National Review.]

I was thinking of posing this question the other day “Were the 1980s the Golden Age of glibertarianism?” Then I though, nah, can’t be, not while there’s currently a major Republican figure named after Ayn Rand. Then I read this (h/t reader D):

Rand Paul Mitch McConnell: I think that if you were to ask any Republican in Washington which group of Americans stands to benefit most from the ideas and ideals of our party, they’d respond without hesitation that it’s the American middle class, and that any suggestion to the contrary is based on a cheap and dishonest caricature. And yet, I think it must also be admitted that in our rush to defend the American entrepreneur from the daily depredations of an administration that seems to view any profit-making enterprise with deep suspicion – that we have often lost sight of the fact that our average voter is not John Galt. It’s a good impulse, to be sure. But for most Americans, whose daily concerns revolve around aging parents, long commutes, shrinking budgets, and obscenely high tuition bills, these hymns to entrepreneurialism are, as a practical matter, largely irrelevant. And the audience for them is probably a lot smaller than we think.

He’s right of course that hymns to entrepreneurialism are largely irrelevant. They’re too high-brow, an early Rush album when the base wants the Nuge. During the golden age of glibertarianism, people said funny things like….the only thing that’s coming into my head is “pave the planet” which isn’t funny, but I remember there was some idea that P. J. O’Rourke was a good humorist (somebody help me out). Where be their gibes now? Their gambols? Their songs? Their flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?

When part of your plan is to make everyone read a book that’s longer than the Jonathan Franzen and George Packer books my totebagger friends try to force on me, you need to change your plan.

Update. I’m wrong — it was Mitch not Rand. Not surprised…hate it or love it, he’s a smart guy. (h/t dsmilev)

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64 replies
  1. 1
    Calouste says:

    About 95% of the American middle class aren’t entrepreneurs. They work for someone else.

    95% of the entrepreneurs that influence the GOP aren’t middle class. They’re barons.

  2. 2
    Amir Khalid says:

    … So he rubbed it with camphorated oil?

    PJ O’Rourke used to be funny like 30 years ago, if somewhat mean-spirited. You might have liked him if you were really into put-downs as humour. The Bachelor’s Home Companion is not too bad. But these days, he’s just a cranky old fogy. I have noticed that as O’Rourke ages, he looks more and more like the Cigarette-Smoking Man.

  3. 3

    Rand is understating how powerful the dream of being Galtian is to the portion middle class that votes against their economic interest. Also, how for a significant percentage the dream is just the gravy compared to the harms caused to others by the platform. *shrug*
    Nothing new under the Galt Gulch sun. Just a bunch of Eddie Willers that either believe they’ll be a galtian superhero by the time the shit goes down or that their galtian betters will let them in the gulch because they’re special.

  4. 4
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Rand Paul: I think that if you were to ask any Republican in Washington which group of Americans stands to benefit most from the ideas and ideals of our party, they’d respond without hesitation that it’s the American middle class

    I’d first ask them: “True or False: Adam and Eve celebrated the first Christmas 8,000 years ago”

    our average voter is not John Galt…. these hymns to entrepreneurialism are, as a practical matter, largely irrelevant. And the audience for them is probably a lot smaller than we think.

    Damn me if this one’s not as dumb as some of his first big splashes on the national stage (Howard Universtiy, asking Hillary about Turkey in the first Benghazi hearing) made me think

  5. 5
    Bobby Thomson says:

    The Village of Waiting is reasonably short and introspective.

  6. 6
    Rob in CT says:

    I love how gently he has to play it. Just pointing out that most Americans are not owners of the means of production and therefore might have slightly different priorities than hedge fund managers and the like is skating on really thin ice in today’s GOP. Dangerous ground there, Rand ‘ole boy.

  7. 7
    cokane says:

    I dunno if ole Rand would appreciate her hero in a song saying hallelujah

  8. 8
    kindness says:

    Shocker. Rand Paul lies. In other news Rush Limbaugh is both racist and fat.

    I get these boys saying these things on Fox because they know Fox won’t call them on it. But don’t they care about what their family tells them later? Holiday meals at the Paul family gotta be either duller than watching paint dry or absolute awesome when some honest opinions start getting tossed around. (I’m betting the paint drying though)

  9. 9
    TooManyJens says:

    Rand Paul: I think that if you were to ask any Republican in Washington which group of Americans stands to benefit most from the ideas and ideals of our party, they’d respond without hesitation that it’s the American middle class, and that any suggestion to the contrary is based on a cheap and dishonest caricature.

    Oh, well, if the Republicans in Washington say they’re not all about helping the rich, that settles it!

  10. 10

    The 1980s were the start of the golden age of glibertarianism. They were that magical moment when Ronald Reagan placed a ring on the finger of the racist fundie and the MBA vulture capitalist and pronounced them Mr. and Mrs. Asshole, because they’re not both guys because fags are gross, until death do they part. Yes, things have moved on a lot since then, but there’s still a lot of pining for that beautiful honeymoon and Morning In America.

  11. 11
    KG says:

    I think that if you were to ask any Republican in Washington which group of Americans stands to benefit most from the ideas and ideals of our party, they’d respond without hesitation that it’s the American middle class, and that any suggestion to the contrary is based on a cheap and dishonest caricature.

    Of course they would say those things. To say that their positions and policies would not benefit the American middle class would be political suicide because 80% of the country thinks they are middle class.

  12. 12
    Anoniminous says:

    Glibertarianism is predicated on sociopathy.

  13. 13
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    The title of this post is wicked awesome!

  14. 14
    SatanicPanic says:

    @TooManyJens: I imagine Democrats would say the same thing. Both sides do it!

  15. 15

    @Anoniminous: Yup. Glibertarianism: Mainstreaming sociopathy in the U.S. since the 1950s.

  16. 16
    Trollhattan says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    PJ did some very funny stuff for The Lampoon and Car and Driver but, yes, so very long ago. At least he can prove he was once funny. Dennis Miller has always been schtick and at best, a foil for others to poke fun at (Dana Carvey).

    Compared to his contemporaries, Chris Miller and Doug Kenney come to mind, PJ was always junior varsity.

  17. 17
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    …but I remember there was some idea that P. J. O’Rourke was a good humorist (somebody help me out).

    1973

  18. 18
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Where be their gibes now? Their gambols? Their songs? Their flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?

    Bohemian Grove?

  19. 19
    cleek says:

    PJ O’Rouke is pretty funny when he shows up on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.

    i just pretend he’s someone else.

  20. 20
    SatanicPanic says:

    @ranchandsyrup: I hope they set aside a special FEMA camp just for them. They’re the worst of the worst

  21. 21
    Citizen_X says:

    if you were to ask any Republican in Washington which group of Americans stands to benefit most from the ideas and ideals of our party, they’d respond without hesitation that it’s the American middle class, and that any suggestion to the contrary is based on a cheap and dishonest caricature.

    So three and a half decades of Reaganism must have built a larger and more prosperous middle class, unless you’re one of those people who go for cheap and dishonest caricature.

  22. 22

    @SatanicPanic: I’d put em in the fema trailers, haul them to the Pacific Gyre and dump the trailers in the garbage patch so they could seastead.

  23. 23
    max says:

    They’re too high-brow, an early Rush album when the base wants the Nuge.

    Rush – Working Man (1974 album version)

    Geddy Lee even drops his g’s. But you know, that’s dirty hippie music, dude. Your staid button down Buckley-reading types only liked 2112 briefly in in high school because they were riffing on their hero. They prefer the real thing, without any fun attached. (But they’re willing to cite it, to grab for some fake cachet, right?)

    the only thing that’s coming into my head is “pave the planet” which isn’t funny

    alt.pave.the.earth (Chrome the Moon!)

    “Devilbunnies are the evil spawn of Satan, the very incarnation of evil who have come to take over the world and destroy humanity and life on Earth as we know it,” reads the FAQ for alt.db. They “lurk under every unmoved piece of furniture, behind each unopened closet door, in the depths of every uncleaned basement.”

    but I remember there was some idea that P. J. O’Rourke was a good humorist (somebody help me out)

    He used to write for Playboy in the 80’s. In small doses, it was funny. But it was a dead end schtick – keep it going and you’re just some fucking drunk pseudo-intellectual Archie Bunker.

    Their flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?

    “Rush is right! Racism is dead! What are the niggers going to say now?”

    — Molly Ivins quoting some dude in a East Texas (home of Louie Gohmert!) cafe

    max
    [‘Dude, just say some of those guys could briefly seem pretty funny when you were high back in the 80’s.’]

  24. 24
    Trollhattan says:

    Heaven help us.

    Brian Williams Lands Interview With Edward Snowden Just in Time for the Release of Glenn Greenwald’s Book

    The NBC News anchor sneaked off to Moscow for a “wide-ranging” chat with the NSA whistle-blower and his favorite journalist/collaborator, whose No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State came out this week. Williams’s separate interviews with Snowden (his first on American television) and Greenwald, as well as a joint session with the pair, will air on the 28th. Meanwhile, this NBC promo photo indicates that Snowden has yet to change out of his signature grayish-blue button-up shirt.

    –NY Mag

  25. 25
    Citizen Alan says:

    Parliament of Whores was considered funny. IIRC, most of its humor came from lampooning Democratic figures of the 1970’s and 80’s. I once worked for a federal judge who gave me copies of “Parliament of Whores” and “Witness” (by Whitacker Chambers) to read the first week I was there. I made a point of never discussing politics with him, but based on his otherwise moderate disposition, I have always believed that his Republican affiliation was entirely because he grew up in an age where Dems were demonized as commies and entered public service at a time when Dems were lampooned as Big Government, identity-politics obsessed granola crunchers, and he was simply unable to conceive that the Democratic Party, post-Clinton was a completely different animal than the one from the 1980’s that let Reagan walk all over Carter, Mondale and Dukakis.

  26. 26
    dmsilev says:

    If I’m reading the link correctly, the Kentucky Senator giving that speech was actually Yertle, not muskrat-on-head.

  27. 27
    srv says:

    When part of your plan is to make everyone read a book that’s longer than the Jonathan Franzen and George Packer books my totebagger friends try to force on me, you need to change your plan.

    You know, for our underemployed writers here, that’s probably an opportunity.

    If you could distill a Randian novel into 200 pages, that just might go somewhere.

  28. 28
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @srv:

    If you could distill a Randian novel into 200 pages, that just might go somewhere.

    I can distill any of them down to three words; I, me, mine.

    You’re welcome.

  29. 29
    SatanicPanic says:

    @ranchandsyrup: I’d be totally in favor of their seasteading plan if we could trust them not to abduct people to work on their boats as slaves

  30. 30
    Eric U. says:

    @Amir Khalid: I like “Holidays in Hell” back when I read it in the early ’90s. I am fond of cruel humor, and he picked on the same kind of people I would pick on for the most part. If his description of the crowds at the Bakker’s Heritage USA as having “little heads to think with and big bottoms to sit on” isn’t the perfect description of a tea party rally, I don’t know what is.

  31. 31
    jl says:

    I think that the only way that the 80s can be seen as a golden age of glibertarianism, is in the sense that all their big new genius ideas had not played out into their dysfunctional, disappointing, and in many cases, disastrous, ends.

    They had a dream, and Reagan Godhead was implementing it, All Problems Would Be Solved, and things would be wonderful.

    The near total fail had not arrived.

  32. 32
    Tim C. says:

    Is there really much of a voting block that’s actually Randian? I know they do exist, the Ur example being a white, technology industry employee. But most of the Republicans I deal with are either cultural/religious in their reasons or more traditionally “Anti-Tax” (as in, “Why should I pay taxes!? Government should pay for everything!”) They get they Corporate dollars, but do they really have any kind of actual base?

  33. 33

    @SatanicPanic: lol. my plan is only half baked. just like objectivism.

  34. 34
    jl says:

    @srv:

    ” If you could distill a Randian novel into 200 pages, that just might go somewhere. ”

    The filler for that excess 198 better be good, all I’m saying.

  35. 35
    les says:

    @KG:

    80% of the country thinks they are middle class.

    Far worse than that, and why Kansas and Wisconsin are what they are–50% think they’re in the top 10% economically. F’n idjits.

  36. 36
    Thomas F says:

    Don’t think McConnell would issue such a statement if he weren’t genuinely concerned about Grimes’s populist message. I view it as good news.

    Side note: Please, please keep mocking trigger warnings. What nonsense. This fad – and that’s all that it is – is yet another ludicrous brainchild of the posturing elements of the PC left. These vapid “warnings” have little to do with the sensitivities of traumatized readers and have far, far more to do with the preening self-satisfaction of those who use them.

  37. 37
    Eric U. says:

    @jl: problem I have when I try to write this novel is that everyone that goes Galt dies. In about a week. And a human can live for 13 days without water, and longer without food

  38. 38
    DougJ says:

    @Thomas F:

    I’m not mocking anyone. Yesterday I did an NRO link with no content note and people complained.

  39. 39
    Amir Khalid says:

    I fon’t know if this hasd already been brought up in these threads, but The Daily Beast’s John McWhorter attempts a rebuttal of Ta-Nehisi Coates. McWhorter falls well short.

  40. 40
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @DougJ:

    I’m traumatized by trigger warnings. What about my needs?

  41. 41
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    “fon’t” should be “don’t”, of course. But FYWP refused me permission to edit.

  42. 42
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    I’ve learned to read my comments before posting them. That way I fon’t post anything that needs changing.

  43. 43
    catclub says:

    “if you were to ask any Republican in Washington which group of Americans stands to benefit most from the ideas and ideals of our party, they’d respond without hesitation that it’s the American middle class,”
    only if the choices were:
    The American middle class
    Passenger pigeons

    But if the choices were:
    The Ultra rich,
    the rich,
    the american middle class, and
    the american lower classes,

    just listing those choices makes it too easy.

  44. 44
    Chyron HR says:

    @Thomas F:

    the posturing elements of the PC left

    Thanks for sharing, Rush.

  45. 45
    danielx says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    And I thought it was just me….saw a fairly recent picture of PJ the other day and he’s looking like about ten thousand miles of bad road in a power tie.

  46. 46
    truthdogg says:

    No one wants the Nuge.

  47. 47
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Sorry, but the 1% hates actual entrepreneurs, because, well, they’re pushy arrivistes who don’t know their fucking place, who compete with the existing enterprises of the 1% and therefore force the lazy parasites to do actual work.

    Our corporations HATE innovation. Just look at how it only takes Google to announce they’re going to lay some fiber to push the lethargic scum of the incumbent telcos and cablecos to actually upgrade service…because they will never do it unless these fucking troublemakers make them by competing.

    One thing we can do to make this a more innovative country is to nuke every fucking business school in the country. No more MBAs.

  48. 48
    ellennelle says:

    um, apologies – too rushed now to read all the comments – but, if this was mitch and not rand talking, did he not just diss the daylights out of his own junior senator???

  49. 49
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Sorry, but that ship sailed. Innovation is now studied in the MBA program. If you pass Innovative 101 and advanced disruption 405, you get your very own Angel investor.

  50. 50
    TooManyJens says:

    @max:

    alt.pave.the.earth (Chrome the Moon!)

    Wow, that takes me back.

  51. 51
    Turgidson says:

    @srv:

    I can distill them down to a slogan:

    “Unconscionably greedy and ruthless assholes rule! Everyone else can eat shit and die!”

    There, done.

  52. 52
    ellennelle says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    could not agree more about no more MBAs. i watched them destroy academia in the 80s, then the medical field in the 90s, then finance … oh, right; that was them all along!

    but i have to say, i do NOT get the love affair with competition. why is this presumed to be the driver? could it not just be the case that folks just want to improve things? make them better? not so much better than the other guy, but just, you know, better.

    nature also requires cooperativity, by the by. often far less messy.

  53. 53
    Sloegin says:

    PJ O’Rourke’s work Modern Manners was quite good. 30+ years old, and nothing to do with politics, so it covers the all the bases.

  54. 54
    DougJ says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Isn’t McWhorter an even-the-liberal type?

  55. 55
    MattR says:

    @max:

    Your staid button down Buckley-reading types only liked 2112 briefly in in high school because they were riffing on their hero. They prefer the real thing, without any fun attached. (But they’re willing to cite it, to grab for some fake cachet, right?)

    The funny thing is that while Neil Peart calls himself as a “bleeding heart libertarian” if you listen to his philosophy on life and politics it is pretty much how I would describe a typical Democrat (despite the shot he takes at extremist liberals, although one could argue that is proof he is a Democrat)

    I remain the optimist: you just do your best and hope for the best. But it’s an evolving state of mind. I still totally believe in individual rights and individual responsibility and in choosing to do good. On the liberal side of things, they go to an extreme of how people need to be led, and they can’t handle freedom. Pure libertarianism believes that people will be generous and help each other. Well, they won’t. I wish it were so, and I live that way. I help panhandlers, but other people are, “Oh look at that—why doesn’t he get a job?” While I believe in all that freedom, I also believe that no one should suffer needlessly. A realization I had lately: it is impossible to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and be a Republican. It’s philosophically absolutely opposed—if they could only think about what they were saying for a minute. That’s when you get caught up in the webs of what people call themselves and how they behave. You just become adaptable and try to lead a good life in ways that make sense, regardless. Because I know at the end of it, if I’m going to meet Jesus or Allah or Buddha, I’m going to be all right.

    No matter how much the Randians love to cite it, the fact remains that 2112 was a reaction to their record label demanding they make more “mainstream” music, not some greater political manifesto.

  56. 56
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Suffern ACE: Well, “innovation” in the sense that we’ll find some new way to sell our crap. Pretty much how the GOP approaches its problems with minorities and women. We’ll find some new marketing plan, but they’ll never abandon the shitty policies that fuck over everyone by the 1%.

    ACTUAL innovation? Not so much.

  57. 57
    JaneE says:

    When Mitch says “middle class” – how does he define it? The “ideas and ideals of our party” don’t benefit anyone I know.

  58. 58
    SatanicPanic says:

    @jl: I’ve never read it, but I thought John Galts speech was longer than 200 pages

  59. 59

    @Tim C.:
    The Randian voting block is about 1% of the population. Without the cultural conservatives, they have nothing. Reagan was their golden boy for convincing the racists/fundies that liberals regulating business and liberals regulating racism were the same thing. Cleek’s Law was born.

  60. 60
    Lurking Canadian says:

    Since Republicans define people between $250K and $1M as “middle class”…nope, those still aren’t the ones who benefit from their policies.

  61. 61
    EthylEster says:

    DougJ wrote:

    [Content Note: Link to National Review.]

    So…..you’re not taking the same snarky trigger warning approach as several other FPers.
    Interesting. And to your credit IMO.

    Also, too: I doubt the average voter (right or left) even knows who John Galt is.

  62. 62
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    I’d first ask them: “True or False: Adam and Eve celebrated the first Christmas 8,000 years ago”

    With Santa Claus and his eight tiny brontosauri.

  63. 63
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @srv:

    If you could distill a Randian novel into 200 pages, that just might go somewhere you would have to do away with all the adverbs.

    Editorial fix.

  64. 64
    W. Kiernan says:

    Face it, McConnell is right. Not only are professional Republicans solicitous toward billionaires – very, very, very solicitous toward the billionaires – but they are also friends to the middle class, those hardworking folks halfway between billionaires and the destitute. Why, they even care deeply about those proud but humble people who are three-quarters of the way down.

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