Monday, August 29, 2011


Mike Wallace interviews Ayn Rand -- 1959. No, I am not old enough to have seen this confrontation when first broadcast. But I did see part of it in a recent Adam Curtis documentary, and now I'm glad that we have the chance to catch the full interview.

What was striking to me in the Curtis snippet was the fact that Wallace clearly thought that anyone who questioned "regulated capitalism" was crazy. So did most people in his audience. At the time, regulated capitalism was considered the antidote to communism. Today, any regulation on capitalism is considered the same as communism. (That's like saying if we have police cars on the road, we must be living in a police state.) In other words, Americans were less crazy then; now, they've gone Ayn-sane.

In many (not all) ways, 1959 was a time that worked. 2011 does not work. How can we get back to the future?

"Capitalism is the Crisis": I've watched only the beginning of this film so far, but it looks intriguing. Some of what I've seen seems a bit arch, though. Caveat: I have no real knowledge of the people behind it.
It puts into context the 2008 « financial crisis », which was in reality only a trick to defraud public treasuries and pension funds in the U.S. and around the world to benefit corporate finance. It was a plain and simple theft. And it has been used as a pretext to steal even more from the poor and the middle class by imposing on them « austerity » measures to compensate for the losses. Austerity measures don’t solve any problems but, on the contrary, exacerbate them by creating unemployment, a slowdown in consumption, decrease in investments, etc, which in turn creates even more umemployment.
Sounds about right to me.

Islamophobia: Bought and paid for.
I've long wondered why Islam is so much more hated now than it was on September 12, 2001. Turns out that some wealthy people have paid for an agit-prop campaign. See here, from the Center for American Progress:
According to former CIA officer and terrorism consultant Marc Sageman, just as religious extremism “is the infrastructure from which Al Qaeda emerged,” the writings of these anti-Muslim misinformation experts are “the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged.”
The bloggers mentioned are the despicable Pam Geller and Robert Spencer, described as an "anti-Muslim misinformation scholar." The phrase "misinformation scholar" deserves wider application, especially when describing those who make a living from the "think tank" racket.

Also see this piece by Stephen Walt, plus this response from (egads!) a Kos writer.

Back to Ayn. The articles about the anti-Islam propaganda push should be read with one eye on the Ayn Rand interview mentioned above. Someone paid good money for all that religious bigotry. Similarly, someone paid good money to push Atlas Shrugged on our culture from every conceivable corner. Who?

Even in the Reagan era, Rand was considered a fringe figure -- by most Republicans. What changed? Is Curtis correct in presuming that Randism was the de facto religion of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial class? Are they now in firm control of the right-wing debate, as Curtis suggests?

And what is the proposed endgame? Do they want to rule the nation, or destroy it? Is it the case that the Randroids -- having seen the downfall of Bush/Cheney style neo-conservative adventurism -- have decided that now is their great historical chance to demonstrate that they know how best to run the zoo?

Or are they pushing Randism on us precisely because they know it will destroy the country? Do the powerful want to end the national experiment and divvy up the goodies, they way they did after the fall of the USSR?

And why has there not been more tension between the Christian Dominionists and the religion-hating Randroids?

Yeah, I know: Too many questions. I'll try not to make a rhetorical habit of that in the future. Even so, do feel free to attempt an answer or two.

Colin the shot. By way of Sky Dancing, we have this: Colin Powell is having second thoughts about his 2008 support for Obama. What interests me here is whether Powell will mouth GOP talking points if he turns against Obama. That is, will he endorse the "Obama as socialist" canard, or will he understand that the problem has always been Obama's ties to Wall Street? If the former, then we know that Powell is angling for a new gig in a new administration.
Colin Powell lost any credibility when he held up that vial of his bosse's stash and claimed it was anthrax :)
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