Right this minute anyone with fifteen euros can buy Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, or Der Striek in German as a Kindle edition book, thanks to Kai John risking his own money on a literary translation of the work. The bet paid off. Ever since George Bush Jr, used the same asset forfeiture laws his dad resorted to to bring about the stock market crash and depression of 1987, interest in Atlas Shrugged has again soared to record-breaking heights. The book has sold 130,000 copies a year this past decade.
Ayn Rand moved to America in 1926 and married Frank O’Conner in 1929. That year the Republican Party set Herbert Hoover to arrest, imprison, entrap, confiscate, padlock, wiretap, shoot and sink as many people as necessary to enforce the Jones Five and Ten law making beer a felony. Hoover also tried to stop Germany from exporting black market heroin. Once prosecutor Willebrandt’s syndicated column made it clear the Republicans were out to use the income tax recently imported from communist manifesto plank 2 to the U.S. Constitution, financial markets heard what Rand called the “leper’s bell” of the approaching looter. Cash vanished from banks and securities markets, and the Great Depression set in.
Ayn Rand was the only eyewitness to the debacle who has given us a useful account–in Atlas Shrugged–of what went on. Much of the subtext of Atlas has the spicy aroma of flapper-era newspaper coverage. HL Mencken called attention to The President’s Daughter–a kiss-and-tell classic about President Harding’s out-of-wedlock daughter, Elizabeth Ann. A scene in Atlas, in which heroine Dagny Taggart meets quietly with an older married tycoon, Hank Rearden, is reminiscent of a parallel scene in Nan Britton’s book. Corn sugar magnates, yeast and chocolate millionaires with towns named after them, match kings, drug, chemical, banking and related entrepreneurs disappeared as process servers searched them out with federal indictments for prohibition thoughtcrime and income tax “evasion.” At Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the Frank Silk Mills plant with $250,000 in bonds outstanding was mysteriously abandoned; its officers simply disappeared.
Yet to regular American citizens these fellows and their bootleggers were the new American heroes. “Liberty,” frothed Mencken, had been given “a refuge by the hardy boys of the Rum Fleet.” Entire towns were organized into smuggling rings and banker suicides followed drug and rum seizures. The Ku-Klux Klan and Methodist White Terror joined forces. Soon people were shot by dry killers while driving, sitting on their porches, talking on the phone or piloting a schooner, or poisoned by US government chemists. The Methodists pronounced all such murders “justified.” Across the ocean, European producers of heroin with plants in Scotland, France, Austro-Hungary and Germany continued the same competition that had precipitated WWI. Herbert Hoover appointed Harry Anslinger and brought international pressure to bear on opiate refining nations to temporarily stop collecting war debts from Germany. This “Moratorium on Brains” is satirized in Atlas Shrugged. A Liberal Party formed around a prohibition repeal platform in 1930, and in 1971 the Libertarian Party formed for reasons not very different.
National Prohibition became enforceable at midnight on the night of January 16th, 1920, and Match King Ivar Krueger shot himself in 1932. Ayn Rand’s play, Night of January 16th clearly draws on both events, showing shrewd and insightful perspicacity regarding the behavior of money amid prohibitionism. In Atlas Shrugged, a bureaucrat Wesley Mouch signs government Directive 10-289 leading to collapse of the economy. In real life religious conservative lame-duck president Herber Hoover signed Executive Order 5970, enlisting state income and excise tax collectors surrounding corporations in a pincer movement that caused the shutdown of every bank in These States before Franklin Roosevelt was sworn in as president. The Great Depression, make no mistake, was all about prohibition, death and taxes.
George H.W. Bush backed pleas to “Just Say No” to individual rights publicly called for the death sentence for hemp “kingpins” many times and ushered in asset forfeiture seizure of property just as in Herbert Hoover’s day. His son, religious conservative president George W. Bush tried ramping-up Daddy’s asset-forfeiture “sharing” to again unleash greedy state and local officials in a 1932-style looting spree, and the U.S. economy came crashing down. Recovery was only obtained after political pressure caused European taxing powers to be used in a similar fashion to destroy economies over there and all over the rest of the world.
Religious conservatives fear Ayn Rand’s ideas, but dare not try to refute them. She taught three basic ideas:
1. You must choose your values and actions by reason;
2. Every individual has a right to live for his or her own sake, neither sacrificing self to others nor others to self; and
3. No one has the right to seek values from others by physical force, or impose ideas on others by physical force.
Not a single religious altruist, conservative, fascist or nationalsocialist in America has ever dared mention these precepts, much less attempt by manly argument to refute them. I would wager no Germans of similar persuasion will make the attempt. They will instead try to attack her character. Germany has for over a century been engulfed in mystical altruistic collectivism thanks not only to Immanuel Kant, Goethe, Plato and Marx–but also American imports such as Edward Bellamy, Jack London and William Dean Howells. Small wonder then that “the common good before the individual good” became a national slogan when larded in with biblical homilies by Germany’s Jesus Christ as he led Germans to war. It has taken American voters 59 years to begin to wake up to the fact that individual rights require economic freedom. Brexit voters have finally roused themselves from Stockholm Syndrome and said no to the bureaucratic Union version of the Third Reich. Excepting Britain, Ireland and Cyprus, it is made up almost entirely by conquered nationalsocialist and collaborationist States. Let us hope this snowballs into a libertarian movement repudiating the coercive policies of looter prohibitionism and financial collapse.