Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ayn Rand: Author of the Catastophe She Envisioned

“Atlas Shrugged” the movie is set in 2016. The US is in economic ruins caused by big government and do-gooder liberalism. The only thing standing between civilization as we know it and a new dark ages is a small band of hero capitalists, who are mysteriously disappearing.

According to the likes of Sean Hannity, Ayn Rand was monumentally visionary in forecasting this scenario fifty years ago. Was she ever. After all, she helped caused it.

The year 2016 may well be the new 1984, but if it eventuates it will be for entirely different reasons than imagined by either Ayn Rand or Fox News. To refresh your memories, the economic-financial meltdown of 2008 was caused by rat bag capitalists operating unfettered in an unregulated economy. Civilization was saved by big government and hero do-gooders. Hero capitalists were in short supply. We are still not out of the woods. Economic recovery is still bogged down and things may yet disintegrate to the bleak and harsh 1984 of 2016.

I have a depressive temperament and an active imagination. The collapse of western civilization - sudden or gradual - is not an alien thought to me.

Now rewind back more than a half a century, when Ayn Rand was working on “Atlas Shrugged.” During the time, she ran a salon frequented by her acolytes spouting her creed. Get ready for this: Prominent among her acolytes was a young Alan Greenspan.

That’s right, Alan Greenspan, legendary Chairman of the Fed, the economic czar virtually answerable to no one, who had only recently stepped down from his position when the shit hit the fan. As he later testified to a Congressional committee:

“Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief.”

Translation: Ayn Rand’s fantasy view of hero capitalists acting in their own rational self-interest for the common good is totally unsustainable.

So was Ayn Rand partly responsible for 2008 and by extension the new 1984 she envisioned? Hate the sorry mess we’re in, love the irony.


Gledwood said...

You've mentioned your depressive temperament before.

My family seem to misunderstand me when I say I "haven't been right for years". I think they take this to mean I'm saying I was in severe depression. I'm not saying that, I'm saying I was never completely OK.

When they thought I was OK I was still mildly depressed.

Can I ask you a brief question: how old were you when you had your first manic episode? And had this been predated by years of depression? And did you ever get any manic symptoms at all (no matter how brief or indistinct) before your first big mania?

I'd had depression for years with brief periods of "racing thoughts" and mild euphoria etc that probably barely matched the criteria for hypomania. It was only very recently that I went into fullblown extreme mania, aged 38.

Sorry if this comment goes on and/or is in the wrong place... I was just wondering.

Gledwood said...

ps I read something a few years ago detailing how both America and Britain are crippled by personal debt.

In most of Europe it's pretty hard to get a credit card and most people don't use them; they use debit cards and live within their means. Although home ownership is lower, what wealth Europeans have is more "real" than ours...

I'm afraid we're done for. Here in Britain as well as in America...

John McManamy said...

Hey, Gledwood. My first real mania outbreaks were in college, but I had signs of mania for as long as I can remember. I had full=blown depression since junior high school, but no one recognized that kids could have depression way back then.

I'm a firm believer that "up" only needs to be higher than "down." That we don't have to have full-blown mania or hypomania to be considered bipolar or in the bipolar spectrum.

I'm wondering - were you first diagnosed as unipolar depressed and given antidepressants?

Lizabeth said...

Hey John and Gledwood I was diagnosed with BP1 for 10 years before a really observant talk therapist spotted that my agitated hypomania didn't fit that dx. I don't know why people think hypomania is fun or good---for me its fairly horrible. No, I don't loose contact with 'reality' but I am crotchedy, cranky and hard to live with and feel like I am flying off the planet.
Yes, on to the asigned topic--
Ayn Rand. Yes, I think her beleif in the integrity of the rich and in enlightened self interest which was the basis of Reganonmics (remember him) was the start of our current mess. I think we will be in this mess until we get over this idea. Our whole system is based on checks and balances and at the moment there are still no checks on big business.
Also, the idea that our econmic sucess is based on amount of money borrowed????well and they call us crazy. We are encouraged to live beyond our means.
Ayn Rand was an escapee from Russia and probably had issues that there was not much help for dealing with then (1950s). I have had severe anxiety problems all my life, but I think I am thankful my parents decided against the idea of getting me 'help' given the drugs available then, 1960s--not to mention some of the child raising theories.

John McManamy said...

Hey, Lizabeth. My most recent blog on BipolarConnect discusses dysphoric mania and hypomania:


I totally relate.

As for Ayn Rand, I will be getting into why her ideas are basically a reaction to the Soviet Communism she fled and the wacko far left thinking of the 30s than a sustainable philosophy that we can apply today.

Lizabeth said...

Opps, can't spell today, I meant I was dxed with UNIPOLAR 1, not BP1. Sometimes my fingers just hit the wrong keys.
Speaking of which, did you mean whacko left or whacko right?

John McManamy said...

Hey, Lizabeth. Yes, there used to be a wacko left who were willing to overlook Stalin's crimes against humanity in their pursuit of a communist agenda.

Yep, I was mis-dx'd with unipolar, too.

Atlanta Roofing said...

To my surprise, I quite enjoyed Atlas Shrugged. Although the story is a hymn to the over dog, this low-budget movie has underdog appeal. I soon started to root for the plucky filmmakers to pull off their high-wire act of making a movie that’s distinctive—not distinguished, but still very 1957 in texture—without having anywhere near enough of the dollars that Rand idolized.

John McManamy said...

Hey, Atlanta. The movie clearly suffered from being low budget. I'm trying to imagine what someone like an Orson Welles could have done on the same budget. Masterpiece?

Anonymous said...

Hello John,
More link than comment to a program aired last night on BBC 2 tv that references Ayn Rand and indeed Greenspan and indeed the current socio-economic debacle and its formation.
Here's the link to its BBC page, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b011k45f , hopefully the program is viewable outside UK on the BBC iPlayer facility.
In itself interestingly (albeit depressingly) insightful to human motivation, it's by Adam Curtis, the series is entitled "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace".
I first came across his work after coming finding his documentary "The Power of Nightmares" a few years ago after first discovering Knowledge Is Necessity… which has been a salvation. Perhaps surffice to say it put into hideous context all that I was attempting to decode about my own experience with psychiatry, what I had been finding so disorienting, the disconnect of formulaic contrived self referenced agenda. Well in fact it further re-affirmed all the resonances I found in your insights John.


John McManamy said...

Hey, Neil. When I clicked the iPlayer I got a message "not available in your area." Oh well. :) Maybe BBC AMerica or PBS will pick it up here at a later date. Looking forward to hearing more from you.

Anonymous said...

Hi John,
Many thanks…very generous and kind of you…will endeavour to though as much as I always look forward to checking-in to latest post I more often feel short on insight~experience to attempt to share~add a thought.

I am afraid I made an error in last comment … am so sorry about that and annoyed with myself. Suspect it could do with an edit~correction if you think so.
The other Curtis film I referred to I mis-attributed it, that is it's actually his "The Century of the Self" program 2, I have doubled checked this…should have in the first instance. ("The Power of Nightmares" is an earlier work of his not specifically addressing psychiatry).
Its a series of 4 programs which considers the spectrum of the models of sociology ~psychology~psychiatry (as I recall at a distance now) but its program 2 that more specifically addresses psychiatry including reference to Nash's game plan theory, R D Laing, The Thud experiment.

other places available but,
it can be viewed here …

or downloaded from

About the iPlayer issue with "All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace" I did a search using Vuze (a sourceforge project, seems solid Mac application) on the off chance and indeed found it for download. I'm not savvy downloading "bit torrents" just did it once using Vuze for a concert I missed and it worked seemlessly (was 1st rate quality). I used the string "All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace" for the search.

vuze is at

Kind Regards