April 15, 2011

Atlas Shrugged has finally been made into a film, with a release date carefully timed for tax day in the United States. Hollywood was reluctant (purely on a return on investment basis, nothing to do with any attempted censorship): but the rise of the Tea Party demonstrates that times have changed, and it should be a more than adequate moneymaker.

Although it is also being seen as a polariser, I rather doubt that this one film can polarise things any more than they are already. Those who oppose an objectivist libertarian stance will keep on opposing it. Those who agree with it will keep on agreeing, and will consider this film long overdue. Those who look at the book for its literary value will continue to wince, seeing the fiction solely as an excuse upon which to hang a theory, and a painfully poorly written fiction at that. Strongly opinionated authors of fiction have ever fallen into the trap of making their fictional characters and fictional scenarios

Curiously, its producer does not see Atlas Shrugged as a polemic: because Ayn Rand is not right wing in her attitude towards social issues -- or, more accurately, in promoting the freedom to practice any vice she wishes while being largely left alone to earn money and not have it taken away and redistributed by the federal government. (He also claims that she is in favour of paying taxes. It may be an idea to reexamine the essays.)

The claim is often made that the Tea Party draws from both sides: and yet during right wing governments, the movement now known as the Tea Party is little more than a determined grumbling about taxes. The demonstrations only come out during left wing governments.

Yet this ought not to be too much of a surprise. Unlike right wing freedoms, which primarily cost private money (at least to superficial inspection), preserving left wing freedoms costs tax money. As soon as general social freedoms touch in the slightest on the individual wallet: watch them evaporate.

(Somehow I doubt that Ayn Rand herself would have overlooked the indirect tax money that right wing freedoms cost.)

The dangerous thing about isolationism in this day and age is the "unless" -- we don't want to spend money on foreign wars "unless" we are attacked on our native soil. Yet in this day and age, especially in a free society, attacks on our native soil are inevitable. When -- not if -- that happens: watch the drive to isolationism vanish like a soap bubble.

In true libertarian fashion, the armed forces are under intense pressure to cut down costs: and thus we have entered the era of the contractor wars. In the short term, maybe cheaper. Maybe. In the long term, not: not least because a contractor war will always be longer than its non-contracted equivalent. Where is the drive to keep it short?

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