Atlas Shrugged, 1943


Young Francisco D’Anconias

Surely you’re thinking “The Fountainhead,” I hear you wonder… but neither book was written in a day. The Fountainhead was indeed part of the war effort against National Socialist collectivism–including its religious component. Safely ensconced within These States, Ayn Rand, age 38, read in the newspapers about how in the Europe she’d fled, Germans and Russians fought, starved, bled and died–whether enslaved to sacrifice for Communism or enslaved to save German NSDAP Christianity from “stock market jewry.” (Does this sound familiar? Occupy Wall Street?)

As usual, These States got sucked into the vortex of that foreign war after the attack on Hawaii. Newspapers and radio were the internet of the 1930s and 1940s. In their pages young Ayn Rand read about Sweden’s fantastic new Harden metal alloy, shadowy Match Kings and Beer Barons. She read about young men whose ambition led them to hire on with railroad maintenance crews in 1943 nazimayors1946before maturing into Copper Barons able to rattle stock markets into a panic with a gesture.  This latter news item was framed in exhortations to buy war bonds, with air raid signals and instructions on the facing page. She also read of the Allied Military Government putting some Nazis back in power while hanging others for genocide as she was writing Atlas Shrugged.

The same thing is happening today. Christian National Socialism, motivated by altruism, now targets a different semitic people and religion–all the while angling to monopolize and control drug markets through the only mechanism it understands… war, coercion, murder.  Totalitarian communist territory has dwindled to Cuba, China, North Korea, Venezuela and a tiny scattering of pestilent dictatorships likewise limited to war, coercion, murder as ways of getting things done in the name of altruism. The ku-klux fascists‘ competition? Lay or Gaian socialists claiming to be democrats, likewise motivated by altruism–and guided by pseudoscience to rule by violence.

Christians and Gaians alike are terrified of imaginary hobgoblins. LSD-possessed Manson clan communists plot with Saracen terrorists to lead Christian youth away from Jesus and confiscate their money and guns, worry the former–with some justification as to the money. The Gaians’ nightmares are animated by Ku-klux mercantilist plutocrats advised by mad scientists and Hell-bent on turning the planet into a rotisserie,–with urine testing with licensing regulations so that only their toadies have jobs. Again, their fears as to urine-test blacklisting are not at all unfounded.

This is the Cold War all over again, with different actors–but always and on both sides the same altruism and reliance on faith as opposed to reliable evidence. The one constant is the belief that altruism is a good enough reason to have someone else pick up deadly weapons and coerce some third party. But… by what standard is altruism or the initiation of force good?


Translating political expressions

A translation website explains how libertarians can skirt actual points of disagreement when “talking” to belligerent fundamentalists (“conservatives”)

The first problem here is that politics and law are all about the use of harmful, coercive and deadly force. Force only serves freedom if limited to the suppression of actual “victimizing” (as opposed to “victimless”) crime. Belligerent fundamentalists, Christian or Mohammedan, see coercion as their friend and tool of policy, which to them boils down to prohibitionism and indoctrination. The whole idea of not initiating the use of force is as alien to the fundamentalist mindset as the notion of geologic time, or of women as individuals.

Science-fiction writer Jack Vance illustrated this in “The Dragon Masters,” an interplanetary war story in which dragons raise captured human children as slave-warriors of their own. A philosopher explains to a human protagonist that no meaningful communication was possible with those humans bred and raised as slaves by an alien race for use in war against mankind. Arguing with mystics is pointless precisely because mystics have nothing but scorn for the facts of reality or formal reasoning–unless exploitable for purposes of coercing females or waging a Holy War. Would you debate a believer who is flying a passenger plane into a building?

Instead, as zoon politikon we cast about for something else they value. In the democratic systems surrounding these bewildered bigots, the ticket to laying hands on unearned money with which to purchase the votes of politicians turns out to be the votes of individual citizens, including airline passengers or people who work in tall buildings. By getting these people to vote against the taxes, coercion, torture and war so valuable to fundamentalists–thus threatening their hold on the reins of deadly force–individuals multiply the bargaining power of their puny individual votes. Conscientious voting aggregates ballots into something more akin to the power of votes wielded by politicians–those “some” animals who are “more equal than others.” Voting “against” a watered-down version of populist communism offered by one looter party by propping up the watered-down Christian national socialism of the other major contender makes no sense when one has the opportunity to cast a powerful libertarian spoiler vote against “both” variants of creeping totalitarianism. Votes are the coin that can buy you some freedom (if used wisely) or turn you over to the worshippers of death (if squandered foolishly). More: search “The case for Voting Libertarian“, now available in two languages.

As working linguists we of course have to interpret different speakers or writers’ handling of concepts the way they intended that they be expressed. Nothing in the job description, however, bars us from having an objective understanding of what is actually going on. Linguists shift into and out of different characters as needed to convey the meaning and intent of different messages, but that does not require that we buy into them. To a witness lying on the stand or a politician hypnotizing the masses, their subjectively understood message is the important thing.