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Thomas Frank: Pity the Billionaires, Marxism for the Master Class

IMG Auteur
Publié le 16 février 2014
616 mots - Temps de lecture : 1 - 2 minutes
( 11 votes, 2,8/5 ) , 3 commentaires
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“Ayn Rand's 'philosophy' is nearly perfect in its immorality, which makes the size of her audience all the more ominous and symptomatic as we enter a curious new phase in our society....to justify and extol human greed and egotism.”

Gore Vidal

In light of the recent outcries by billionaire Tom Perkins for fair and loving treatment, I thought it might be interesting to explore the mindset that pictures the doyens of Wall Street, and those who have taken fortunes out of the dot.com and housing bubbles, as the real victims of the financial collapse and The Recovery™.

I think that part of this comes from the phenomenon that for some people, gratitude is their natural response to good fortune, even if it has come from hard work. Whereas others are possessed by a restlessness, an insatiable spirit, and their response to everything is 'I deserve more!.' 

Tom Perkins not only wishes his wealth, and his banal collection of toys, but he wishes to have public adulation as well, or at least the power to compel people to defer to him.

Mr. Frank thinks that this time around the cultural response to a Great Depression is 'backwards,' as compared to that of the 1930's, and one might tend to agree. There certainly has not been the rising of a national sympathy for victims, or a proper outrage at the arrogance and excesses of the financiers.

But this might overlook the fact that the US was a bit of an outlier back then, as only a few countries turned towards progressive reforms, while other developed nations embraced the hardness of totalitarianism, and even went so far as systematically murdering the weak.

But it is a mistake that the US is some sort of paragon, if one recalls John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. The allure of selfishness and evil is a natural tendency that we overlook in our economic models, among other things. And we certainly ought not overlook the consecration of the country to the principle that 'greed is good,' or more plainly to Mammon, in the latter part of the last century.

I agree with him that Obama has been a pivotal disappointment, and I was interested to hear the reasons why he thought this was so.  Overall I found his perspective to be interesting, as though he was not an American historian and journalist, but some foreign observer sharing an exterior perspective of wonderment.

I have started the tape beyond the introductory remarks and welcomes at this talk his gave in Seattle.

"Do you think he is so unskillful in his craft, as to ask you openly and plainly to join him in his warfare against the truth? No; he offers you baits to tempt you. He promises you civil liberty; he promises you equality; he promises you trade and wealth; he promises you a remission of taxes; he promises you reform.

This is the way in which he conceals from you the kind of work to which he is putting you; he tempts you to rail against your rulers and superiors; he does so himself, and induces you to imitate him; or he promises you illumination, he offers you knowledge, science, philosophy, enlargement of mind. He scoffs at times gone by; he scoffs at every institution which reveres them.

He prompts you what to say, and then listens to you, and praises you, and encourages you. He bids you mount aloft. He shows you how to become as gods. Then he laughs and jokes with you, and gets intimate with you; he takes your hand, and gets his fingers between yours, and grasps them, and then you are his."

J.H.Newman, The Times of Antichrist

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I had to read this article twice to determine what the writer is excoriating. Apparently he agrees with the quote by Gore Vidal calling Ayn Rand's philosophy immoral and with Frank's condemnation of billionaires like Tom Perkins, and, it seems, billionaires in general.

Rand was certainly in favor of wealth accumulation and the elimination of any impediment thrown up by government to limit one's capacity to do so. She considered such accumulation as morally proper in as much as those transactions were conducted on a voluntary basis. But she also condemned those wealth accumulators who used or even fostered government's help (threat of force) in eliminating their competition -- actions Rand would call immoral. This dichotomy is clearly made in her novel ATLAS SHRUGGED.

The fatal flaw at the heart of the Republican Party is the Religious Right who cannot bring themselves to accept wealth accumulation as a moral right. They bend over backwards to avoid that point: their arguments in favor of real Capitalism based on utility (results), not morality. The Left, however, has no such qualms and seizes the high ground by calling such actions immoral, greedy, destruction to the common man. Hence a strong government is needed to control such individuals...and we know where that leads.

The benefactors to society and civilization are those who work hard, create wealth, and interact with their fellows on a voluntary basis and who view any government -- other than one that protects individual rights as enumerated in the Bill of Rights -- as destructive.

I don't know anything about Tom Perkins, but would judge him by the criteria Rand created.

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Jim, I didn't think it was possible to summarize Atlas Shrugged in once sentence, but you proved it could be done. You nailed it.
Jim, it is hard to imagine this guy (Frank) missing the mark any wider. He is dead wrong and overlooks so much of US history and demographics. He labors hard to be 'cute' and enforce the attitude that other views are automatically laughable (in the same way the left and mainstream media sought to make Sarah Palin's name an automatic punchline even when there was no joke). This guy is a simpleton and typifies much of the views of the left--the views that embrace the notion that big government is the answer even before you know what the question is. And he also out of hand dismisses the role of over-regulation in affecting how businesses and corporations react--usually to their own benefit, of course. Yet, when it all goes horribly wrong, as with the housing bubble, the big-government types seek to blame only the corporations and businesses and completely excuse a government that was warned by its own regulators that it was headed for disaster. When regulators went to Congress and told them that Fannie Mae and Freddie-Mac needed immediate attention, the regulators were belittled and threatened. But this clown seeks to ignore all of that and hang it all on Wall Street and the businesses that took the government restrictions and profited from them--as they continue to do today. Government has a regulatory role, but it is quite clear that a government that builds a spider-web of regulations that, often with no guidance whatsoever from legislators, can easily ensnare any and everyone because no one--including the Feds--even understand them, is out of control. This guy isn't fit to lick the boots of Ayn Rand yet dares to criticize here. While his like-minded audience loves to laugh at those he attacks, he really is just echoing the lefts same old tired lines and gags. He is a fool dressed up as someone we're all supposed to be listening to. Complete BS.
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Jim, I didn't think it was possible to summarize Atlas Shrugged in once sentence, but you proved it could be done. You nailed it.  Lire la suite
J. - 18/02/2014 à 15:54 GMT
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