“there you go again”   Leave a comment

Official Atlas Shrugged The Movie (part one) movie poster

as published on examiner.com

Fifty years plus have passed since Ayn Rand published her masterpiece of philosophy and Romantic literature.  Fifty plus years later and Conservatives still do not get Atlas Shrugged, nor do they apparently care to.  To paraphrase the epithet that Conservatives love to apply to the anti  Palin mentality, a label that has already become a worn out cliche — the traditional Right has spent the past fifty  plus years wallowing in “Rand Derangement”.

This derangement takes the form of the typical Conservative’s pathological need to distance themselves from Rand while simultaneously recognizing her influence, her prescience, and her grasp of ethical  and ideological truth.  Fifty plus years of history validating Ms. Rand’s premises and prophecy cannot be evaded, even by the Masters of Evasion within Conservative circles.

No one today can,  with either a straight face or with intellectual honesty, fail to acknowledge Mr. Rand’s achievements.  Those achievements can be and are still, however,  misrepresented, appropriated, and maligned — particularly by those threatened most by the ideas themselves.

I’m speaking of course of Religious Conservatives who evade the reality of Ayn Rand’s ideas so as to hide from themselves their own ideological bankruptcy.  I speak also of Conservatives who know full well that traditional Conservatism is as dead as the ghosts and corpses it tries to worship.

One week from tomorrow (4/15/2011) part one of a three part film version of Atlas Shrugged will be released to a movie going public.  That public has been saturated in treacle, terror, timidity, and toneless banality for so long it mistakes rehashed comic book plots and overly redone thirty year old classic films as original, entertaining,  and risky.

Those who attend such inane films (usually  in vain attempts to find in these movie’s moderately romantic style of story telling some form of original thought and some heroes to admire and aspire to be) will finally have the opportunity to enter  Galt’s Gulch.

True to form for Conservatives, the reviews, near reviews, reviews of reviews, and non review hatchet jobs are in — and ain’t they pretty?

Few moviegoers have had the opportunity for an advanced showing of the film version of Atlas. I cannot claim to have seen one, either.  I am therefore unable to provide an independent account of the filmmaker’s faithfulness to the novel, nor of the film’s cinematic quality.

I am intrigued and bemused, nonetheless, by the dichotomy displayed in anticipation of the release of the film.  The Left has shown little interest in the movie.  The exceptions are a few snarky attacks on the many years of production delays.  One will also find the usual anti Rand, anti elite-elite,  anti Capitalist drivel one would expect.  Snark and avoidance is and always has been the Left’s counterargument to Rand and her ideas.

More telling is the Right’s reaction to the film, and to the fiftieth anniversary (in 2008) of the publication of the novel.  A Right wing which owes its very continued existence to the Randian counterbalance of Conservatism’s dead religious roots wishes still, fifty years later, to berate Rand while ignoring her influence — and to attack specific elements of her ideas while simultaneously benefiting and surviving because of them.

All the while the Right hopes that  Conservative reviews and critiques  of Atlas Shrugged, misrepresentation of the philosophy Rand discovered, and the Conservative false summations of Ayn Rand herself will somehow magically become reality; that these will replace in the public consciousness Rand’s actual ideas.

Case in point is National Review Online’s re release of the infamous hatchet job of Atlas Shrugged penned by ex Communist Whittiker Chambers.  Chamber’s intellectually dishonest “review” (analyzed here)  was originally published by the National Review in 1957.  It consisted of misrepresentations, character assassination, and psychological projection unworthy of  that journal or even of its founder, William F. Buckley.

Why in the world release once again Chamber’s non review smear piece in the face of decades and volumes which demonstrate to even the least critically thinking of critics that the piece was smear pretending  it was substance?  To be a “Conservative” one must, apparently, still worship at the alters of the Rand haters and the Rand diluters.

Recent cases of “Rand Derangement” are Jason Lee Stoerts’ The Greatly Ghastly Rand (cover article, National Review),  and the infinitely less intellectual (and thus displaying less pretense or deliberate evasion)  Atlas Shrugged comes to the screen by Tom Donelson.

Tom Donelson’s run of the mill “news” blurb about the film version of Atlas,  found on texasgopvote.com, is a condensation of the methodology used by the Right in their “critiques” of Rand and her works.  As such, Donelson’s piece is as endearing as it is troublesome.  It is endearing because, if this is the “moderation” that the GOP will engage in vis a vis Rand, than Rand and her ideas have no competition within the ranks of Conservatism.

Objectivism should easily sweep through and wipe away the morass in Conservatism and the decades of Conservative failures at challenging  Progressivism.

The piece is troubling because there is always the risk that those who jump into Conservatism because it is a counterpoint to Progressivism might yet come to believe that the caricature and non essentials that have been presented by Conservatives is the definitive Ayn Rand.

Donelson’s piece cannot properly be called a news piece or a review. It is rather a blurb that reviews a set of reviews. The piece is the typically anti intellectual ballast of a modern who cannot even bother to attempt to read and to present as accurately as possible the ideas he pretends to semi review, or to indeed endorse.  Donelson spends much of the piece simply reporting on Chamber’s  discredited review, on Stoert’s discredited review of a review, on Buckley’s discredited mind, and on Conservatism’s discredited critique.

Little of Donelson’s “news item” portrays Atlas or Rand accurately.  The exception being Donelson’s plot summary for the book.  It is ironic (or is it in fact telling?) that the plot is the one thing that Donelson gets right, considering that the attacks on Rand and Atlas usually begin and end with the novel’s alleged lack of literary merit.  Apparently Donelson is a reader (if he indeed read the novel) who grasps the literary aspects of the story.

On the very day that the Tax man cometh, John Galt himself will step out of fifty years of Progressive shackles,  and he will shrug in theaters around the country.  One may assume that many of the reviews and critiques to follow will show little regard for the plot, for the characters, for the sense of life, or for the world of possibility imagined into being across 900 plus pages by one Russian immigrant fifty plus years ago.  Instead one will likely see additional  smear and misrepresentation; there will likely be more reviews of reviews, more repeats of repeats of  smears, and more invective that believes itself to be analysis.

Distortions of the truth and of  reality by those who will not believe that the lives of Rand’s heroes are possible — that they are in fact the lives proper to men — are no match for an eager public seeking a good story.  They are even less of a match for heroes seeking a quiet “thank you”; hoping for and deserving of a vindication of their struggles.  Not after more than fifty years of seeing themselves misrepresented by both their enemies and by their alleged friends.

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