Mirror-Induced Derangement

Monday, September 05, 2016

A writer at Breitbart has taken it upon himself to re-imagine (HT: HBL) a scene from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, an endeavor he introduces as follows:

Though Ayn Rand's abilities as novelist have been praised by everyone from actress Anne Hathaway to the late professor of aesthetic theory John Hospers, critics on the left often suffer from Ayn Rand derangement syndrome, unable to give her a hearing as an artist or a thinker because of her assertion that she was a "radical for capitalism."

Probably the novel that upsets them most is Atlas Shrugged. And the scene that gets them going is one where a train tunnel collapses, after a variety of new and contradictory bureaucracies, regulations, and Presidential edicts leave the industry imploding. Harper's magazine was fuming about this scene just two years ago -- 60 years after the novel was published!

This year our Nation's Capital has seen the subway system (Metro) that transports lobbyists, political staffers, and federal bureaucrats to work every day, shut down for weeks for repairs, experience electrical fires, and reveal a wannabe ISIS member among its employees. [format edits, links removed]
But why does this compelling scene upset so many? Its conclusion gives us a clue:
There was not a person aboard the train who did not share one or more of their ideas. As the Metro train went into the tunnel, the glowing sunlight off the memorials on the National Mall was the last thing they saw on earth.
The common idea that the moral and the practical are opposites plays a big part, because it gives people who preach the irrational, impractical, and immoral morality of altruism license to ignore the real-world consequences of putting it into practice. This scene removes that pretense for too long for such people to ignore, leaving each to face his basic moral choice for too long to be unaware that he has one. Some will choose to think, many for the first time, about cherished (but unexamined) notions, and some will not. Many of the latter will react angrily, and attempt their version of shooting the messenger.

-- CAV

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