Sunday, 9 October 2011

QQ : NUMBER TWELVE - October 9, 2011



Howard Roark must be the ultimate, fictional, darling hero of the New Conservative movement. I use the term "New Conservative Movement" advisedly. It is my way of distinguishing between the great and proud tradition associated with Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower versus the contemporary buffoonery currently expressed on daytime a.m. radio. This brand of clinical lunacy is served up daily by an assortment of clowns, psychopaths, ranters, ravers, end-of- timers and other general social misfits.

Ayn Rand portrayed her character as the ultimate anti-hero. Roark was committed to the ideal of rugged individuality and to the expression of a singular ideal. As an architect, he promoted the concept of form following function with a vehement disdain for unnecessary, frivolous decoration.

This approach to creativity also fits the philosophy of the Bauhaus movement. The Bauhaus promoted the ideal that innovation in architecture; design with a minimalist aesthetic;  a view to the potential of mass-production was, in fact, totally reconcilable with the individual, artistic spirit.

In that the Bauhaus was considered to be a front for communists and those pesky, social liberals that we love to hate, how is it that Roark has been lifted to pride of place in the estimation of our new conservative friends? He was a true student of the Bauhaus.


More dangerous though, is Rand’s portrayal of Roark as a violent revolutionary. In order to prevent the moneyed, privileged aristocrats from controlling their aesthetic environment, Roark used dynamite and blew the whole mess to smithereens. This seemed to indicate a political agenda that promoted a violent response to corporate control. Was he an anarchist or even more terrifyingly, a socialist? Would Roark occupy Wall Street? Would he have been investigated by HUAC?

Either Ayn Rand was confused or Congressman Paul Ryan is in need of some extreme re-education. Ryan attributes Ayn Rand's writings as his motivation for getting into politics.

Rand was a racist, elitist, dogmatic hypocritical writer of adolescent science-fiction. She also professed to be an atheist. The fact that her fairy tales became the bible of the new conservative movement is more than scary. I love Superman as much as the next guy, especially the old TV series with George Reeves.

I can relate to the Golem connection as part of my heritage with Superman as the Golem. I also enjoy the characters of Anne of Green Gables and Pinnochio. But when the people who are pulling the economic puppet strings that run this mortal coil,  (Alan - 'oops I made a mistake' - Greenspan, and Paul Ryan) resort to bad fiction as their inspiration, we are in deep shit.

I do love Gary Cooper's portrayal of Roark in the 1949 movie. His rote readings of Rand's stilted dialogue are unique in the annals of Hollywood film. In fact, I have watched The Fountainhead multiple times. It is black humour at its best.
I listen to Michael Savage for a chuckle with the same mindset.

Atlas Shrugged. Zeus sniggered. Grok that.


It is fascinating to observe other instances where, "the people" and "the right" seem to meet as strange bedfellows.

Hitler was instrumental in creating ‘the people’s car.’
The Volkswagen is still with us today. Henry Ford built the Model -T for everyman. He famously proclaimed: "It is so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one".

Henry Ford was a fascistic, anti-Semitic monster. Yet, he provided employment, workers’ benefits, universally available transportation and single-handedly transformed the world’s ability to get around.

Perhaps the point is that a few liberal values do not necessarily a liberal make. 'Sharing the wealth' makes for a good slogan and seems reasonable as a superficial objective. Tax those millionaires and problem solved.

Not so simple.

The following are excerpts from Hitler's 1920 National Socialist political platform:

Nationalization of all trusts.
Profit-sharing in large industries.
Generous increase in old-age pensions.
The creation and maintenance of a sound middle-class.
Agrarian reform
Children of the poor to be educated at the expense of the State.
National health, establishment of maternity welfare centers; prohibiting juvenile labor; increasing physical fitness through  physical education of the young.
Freedom for all religious faiths.

Perhaps somewhat based on this platform, the naive idealist Neville Chamberlain believed Herr Hitler to be a reasonable man and concluded that there would be “peace in our time” after handing over a chunk of my homeland. After all, the Fuhrur assured Nev. that all of these humanist ideals would be adhered to.


So make up your mind guys. Either Barak Obama is a tough motherfucker of a Commander-in-Chief who has taken on the bad guys with a consistently, uncompromising strike to the heart, or he's the socialist, Kenyan /Muslim compromising appeaser without balls. Which is it?

Drones were disposing of those who would do us harm two weeks after he took office.

Perhaps the sixty senate majority vote that has been needed to achieve his agenda has simply been beyond his control. Perhaps the Birther movement was a much deeper indication of how intolerable he is to so many.

Can a university professor/community activist/ liberal ideologue partner successfully with business? There's the rub. That is his Achilles’ heel. That, ultimately, is the larger issue.

Bubba Bill got it. Barry probably does, but can’t find his way in.
The club won’t let him join. I wonder why?


The city of Melbourne, repeatedly voted the number one city on earth for quality of life, functions to a large degree on the legacy of Mayor John So. He could barely speak English, but knew how to partner with business in order to build a functioning city, a functioning environment  and a functioning culture.

Political deal-making is an art and a skill that can make a society function. Lyndon Johnson, on many levels must have been one of the greatest deal makers in modern history resulting in his fostering of the ‘Great Society’. More recently, Bubba Bill dealt his way into a balanced budget.

These guys knew how to make a deal.


The legacy and tragedy of Lyndon Johnson is Shakespearean. His vision of a functioning society, environment and culture have had monumental positive repercussions in every aspect of American society. This contrasts his internationalist disastrous failings with respect to Vietnam that will continue to negatively impact the world for generations. We are still paying the price.

Johnson was instrumental in creating and fostering a monumental list of transformative programs that furthered innovation, culture and quality of life. These include, the National Endowment for the Arts, Social Security and Medicare, Civil Rights and de-segregation, education and workplace safety.

If a liberal agenda does not a liberal make, then what exactly constitutes a progressive, pragmatic liberal agenda? The world’s banks could collapse at a moments notice. Then what?

War, and it’s resultant war economy, has been the traditional escape route that would prevent economic collapse. That may have worked for a while, but currently seems to have become a rather unpopular means of job creation.


And so we gather together on the pages of the New Yorker and Now magazine, watching Jon Stewart and Bill Maher. We are reasonable, open-minded internationalist, East-coast, progressive Liberals. We are Melbourne University, leftist alumni from the 1960s, York University free-thinkers, Gay rights advocates and Palestinian rights activists with reason and equity for all on our side.

We raise our fists in solidarity with the oppressed and rail against corruption by speculators and immoral corporations. We make pronouncements and judgement-calls based on our perspective of fairness and equity.

The slogans that bind us include:  "the Israeli Apartheid state"; "single payer health system"; "march against Wall street"; "opportunity in education"; "disassemble the trusts" ;"share the wealth" and "immigration reform".

This is not 1920 and the Nazi 25-point policy that described aspects of fairness and equity also outlined the greatest evil perpetrated against humanity in the known history of the world.

The problem is that a liberal agenda, does not a liberal make. When the banks fail, when the shit hits the fan, when scapegoats are singled out (Israel) and when unemployment reaches untenable levels in the ghettos of urban America, what is it that progressive liberals should do?

If Ghandi is a model, look at his legacy......a nuclear-armed, out -of- control modern Pakistan.
If Albert Schweitzer is a model, look at his legacy... devastating starvation and disease in contemporary Africa.
If Scandinavian socialism is a model, look at the horror in Norway just weeks ago.

Effective regulated and ethical competitive partnership between government and business seems to me to offer the only potential for forward movement. That partnership must, however, be all these things: effective, regulated, ethical and competitive. Eisenhower, a Republican, clearly understood and stated the absolute need for regulation.

With that ethical, regulated partnership as a suggested direction, I would like to make a distinction between ‘ethical pragmatism’ as opposed to ‘pragmatic ethics’. I favor the former. ‘Pragmatic ethics’ is a contradiction in terms.

The partnership between government and business used to be the American way. Maybe it can be again. But that "corporations are people" thing has got to go. What were they thinking......

I know what Clarence Thomas was thinking. He was on his way to Hooters after a long, hard day of legislating in the highest court of the land. His court is neither ethical nor pragmatic.


Perhaps the mark of a true progressive is in his musical taste.
When Vaclav Havel took office as the first President of a free Czechoslovakia after the Velvet Revolution, amongst the first guests of the government, were the Rolling Stones and Frank Zappa. There’s a man with taste and progressive values.

Then again, Daniel Ortega who has been using the song “Stand by Me” as his current campaign theme has been ordered to cease and desist by Sony music.

Is that a liberal or conservative stance?


Do we own what we create? Can we possess and own our ideas?

Is copyright a political issue that divides left and right?

It is the height of irony, to me, then, that the Libertarian agenda, is at the head of the charge to eliminate copyright and bury it forever. According to the futuristic, Libertarian agenda, ‘Ideas’ belong to the world and we should all have free access. My song is your song. My software is your software and my story is your story. According to the ultimate ‘freedom fighters’, we must not legislate or regulate the dissemination of ideas.

I think Karl Marx must have been a secret Libertarian. Ron Paul, then of course, must be secret Marxist.

That whole concept of the “democratisation” of ideas and the resulting “sharing” with “users” has trappings of unfettered 1890’s communism all over it.


Yet when it comes to copyright, what are we to do when a patent to a life-saving drug falls into the public domain and there is no longer any profit motivation to produce it.

Can we compel a business to produce at a loss?

The new, conservative right would have us believe that de-regulation will balance it all out in the end, BUT there will be some pain.

There already is a lot of pain.


George Carlin compiled a list of seven words that were unspeakable in polite company.

I would like to add an eighth: "Derivatives"

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