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Nature of the Beast

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"Marx predicted the growing misery of working people, and Lenin foresaw the subordination of the production of goods to financial capital's accumulation of profits based on the purchase and sale of paper instruments. Their predictions are far superior to the "risk models" for which the Nobel Prize has been given and are closer to the money than the predictions of Federal Reserve chairmen, US Treasury secretaries, and Nobel economists, such as Paul Krugman, who believe that more credit and more debt are the solution to the economic crisis."

Ouch! The truth hurts.

Now, for a lot of you who are reading this, there is nothing new being reported. Most of the readers of OpEdNews are at least peripherally aware of all of the current events I have written about in this article so far. You are perhaps less aware of the historical, psychological and economic background that I have written about, but that is the purpose of these articles: so that you have facts to argue with if you run into a tea-bagger relative over Labor Day or Thanksgiving. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, as New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, but not their own facts. And besides, there is nothing more soul satisfying than telling a relative who has been parroting Fox News for the last five years of family gatherings that not only is he wrong, but here is where he--and the rest of the family--can find the proof that he is wrong.

Alan Greenspan and the other disciples of Ayn Rand--who I believe constitute a huge percentage of conservative pundits today, especially on Fox News--have much to answer for when they stand before God on Judgment Day, or before the outraged opinion of an informed American electorate, whichever comes first. Gary Weiss in his recent book Ayn Rand Nation: the Hidden Struggle for America's Soul, put it well:

"Ayn Rand's stories of noble steel barons, fierce railroad magnates and sniveling government bureaucrats formed the basis of her ideology. It is a compelling narrative, and Oliver Stone's abortive approach to The Fountainhead suggests a remedy to the Rand narrative: a counternarrative--one that celebrates a creator with a conscience; government not as a Soviet gun but as a builder, a benefactor. It is an optimistic vision, born in an America of hope and not a Russia of despair and privation. This counter-narrative can recognize the merit of individuality and self- interest, while rejecting her celebration of the darker impulses-- greed and selfishness.

That kind of thinking is required to meet the challenge presented by Rand and her ideas, as they spread from libertarian and Objectivist think tanks to the Tea Party to Congress and, perhaps, the White House.

Those of us who oppose Rand's vision of radical capitalism need to read Rand and understand the flaws in her assumptions and illogic of her vision, just as people during the Cold War studied Communism so as to more effectively oppose it. Having read and understood her books and essays, one is in a better position to identify and then to respond to the right's extremist agenda, and to recognize her ideology when it becomes manifest in society.

We need to understand the basis of her morality, not just its origins but where it doesn't originate--the three great monotheistic religions, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the other writings and actions of the Founding Fathers. The words "capitalism," "markets," and "free enterprise" appear in none of the founding documents of America. The natural enemies of Ayn Rand are not only Lenin and Roosevelt but Jefferson, Rousseau, and Paine. The Founders were not defenders of oligarchy and selfishness. They sacrificed. They were altruists, and proud of it."

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Weiss forgot Madison, Washington, Franklin, and even John Adams at his best moments, and I would have said "fair-minded men," not "altruists," but I will forgive him.

Ayn Rand and her ilk are the worst sort of borderline sociopaths, ignoring any and all empirical evidence that contradicts their mad philosophy: understanding neither the American Dream (which has never demanded running over anyone who gets in your way), human nature, or even what is in the long-term best interest for themselves. Rand and the Objectivists have in their anarcho-capitalist philosophy the same weakness in their philosophy that their nemesis Karl Marx had in his: a complete ignorance of human psychology at its deepest levels. Marx at least had the excuse that Freud was barely out of medical school when Marx died; Rand and the Objectivists have no such excuse.

For those of you who have any doubt, let me give you a different quote from Jefferson's 1814 letter to Thomas Law; demonstrating how well the Sage of Monticello understood the basis of the healthy human mind:

"Egoism, in a broader sense, has been... presented as the source of moral action. It has been said that we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, bind up the wounds of the man beaten by thieves, pour oil and wine into them, set him on our own beast and bring him to the inn, because we receive ourselves pleasure from these acts... These good acts give us pleasure, but how happens it that they give us pleasure? Because nature hath implanted in our breasts a love of others, a sense of duty to them, a moral instinct, in short, which prompts us irresistibly to feel and to succor their distresses... The Creator would indeed have been a bungling artist had he intended man for a social animal without planting in him social dispositions. It is true they are not planted in every man, because there is no rule without exceptions; but it is false reasoning which converts exceptions into the general rule." (The Complete Writings of Thomas Jefferson , Memorial Edition; volume 14: p. 141; 1904)

Selfishness cannot ease or prevent pain; in fact, in the long term it inflicts a far deeper, more subtle damage to the psyche than the pain that you are trying to avoid, like favoring a bad leg instead of wrapping it with an elastic bandage for support and using crutches. You soon discover that favoring the bad leg has put undue stress on your back, and you now have both leg and back problems.

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As counter-intuitive as it may seem, it is in going out into the world and seeking out the company of our fellow human beings--risking the pain of both betrayal and loss--that we find the only real surcease to the World's Pain, the World. Children's laughter; the company of friends and family; sharing the sunrise with the person you love; the kindness of and to strangers; seeing a herd of deer in your backyard at dawn; the meadowlark's call in the early morning; playing a game of fetch with your dog in the park in the afternoon; a cool, quiet summer evening barbeque dinner with your neighbors; the joys of a million million everyday occurrences that we have so often ignored and take notice of for the first time in years, or perhaps ever: the little things that make you feel alive and that life is worth living. The selfish individual takes little or no notice of them, because he cannot possess them in any fashion but as a memory, and his selfishness demands a much more concrete sort of possession. It is only by sharing those memories with others that we may claim any sort of possession of them, but as something shared, not as something that we own.

This is a goal for us to seek, not one that we as human beings can ever fully attain: a journey, not a destination. All of us have the potential for greatness within ourselves; not a greatness of fame or fortune, but a greatness within our common humanity. And as a reflection of our very own human greatness, we also have the opportunity to project that greatness into our nation's national character. We must become the example to the world that men such as Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Paine, Madison and Lincoln believed we should be: a people who lead the World by our moral example, not by our armies, fleets, and economic power. Real American Exceptionalism is not based upon these latter material matters, but on (to quote Bill Clinton) "the Power of our Example." The selfish individuals who run our economy and so much of our government would do well to learn that fact before it is too late.

Before our nation suffers an economic and emotional breakdown that destroys us all.

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Richard Girard is an increasingly radical representative of the disabled and disenfranchised members of America's downtrodden, who suffers from bipolar disorder (type II or type III, the professionals do not agree). He has put together a team to (more...)

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in our political system show some guts and tell th... by Richard Girard on Tuesday, Jul 31, 2012 at 6:07:29 PM
I love the article. Only:1. Randism differs from M... by Mark Sashine on Tuesday, Jul 31, 2012 at 6:45:03 PM
I still believe that Marx's overdependence on mate... by Richard Girard on Wednesday, Aug 1, 2012 at 4:18:04 PM
prophet-sized in the Bible. The Beast is the globa... by bogi666 on Wednesday, Aug 1, 2012 at 1:11:24 PM
and we cannot know. This article is about the ver... by Richard Girard on Wednesday, Aug 1, 2012 at 4:22:09 PM