One of the many things I love about novelist Ayn Rand is her idealistic view of the human form, especially when shorn of its drag-down weight of socialist commitment. This view of humanity is best portrayed, I think, in her stunning short book, Anthem, especially when Randian hero Equality 7-2521 is described by his lover, Liberty 5-3000, as being beautiful. Equality 7-2521 then re-christens himself Prometheus, after the Greek deity who created mankind in the image of the Gods.
Anthem is a marvellous book, and I’m glad to see that Boston airport’s Terminal E shopping mall was carrying so many copies, on a recent visit to the socialist wonderland of Massachusetts. You very rarely see this lesser-known Randian masterpiece in UK bookshops.
What you also rarely see on blogs like Crooked Timber, another socialist wonderland, is an acknowledgement that mankind is of itself a wonderful thing. With a site name based directly on the Kantian principle that mankind is intrinsically flawed, its thirteen professors of economics, philosophy, politics, and sociology, work to the premise that we feeble creatures of mankind need an overarching social democratic system to live by, as a consequence of our crookedness. Oh, how Ayn Rand would have applauded this use of Kantian philosophy. And who better to create and rule over this overarching system of social democracy than these very same supermen. They inhabit a Byzantine mirror-world to Samizdata, composed of obscure left-wing papers, unreadable left-wing books, and oxymoronic left-wing position pieces, most of them funded from the immorality of taxation via the state-worshipping gravy trains of various Anglospheric Universities.
As well as being stuck in the trough of government supported research grants, they also seem to have got themselves stuck in the 1980s. Witness this quote from a recent post, Making sense with Marx:
Sasha Volokh cries out for some intelligent Marxist analysis in the blogosphere – right on!
Intelligent Marxist analysis? Crikey. Who’da thunk it?
Before you decide this quote is a pre-Berlin Wall fall parody, in the style of the 1980s BBC comedy cult programme, The Young Ones, if you read the rest of the piece you’ll realise the poster is quite serious.
Here on Samizdata, of course, we already know the only good thing you can do to your typical ‘Intelligent Marxist Analyst’. And that’s to put them on a plane to Pyongyang, in North Korea, to visit Mr Micklethwait’s hilarious cream cheese skyscraper, and to hopefully stay there in that starving concentration camp hell, on a one-way ticket. But no matter.
Crooked Timber is often acknowledged as being the most powerful and most widely read blog on the other side of the political street from Samizdata. But what I love about it is that whenever they post such pieces about Marxism, they often get shredded by libertarian sharks and other barracuda sympathetic to our viewpoint. [Just check the comments to the piece above.]
Their only defences become personal insults and unquoted references to long-winded treatises written by their state-paid University chums, usually only available in a University politics department near you. The actual argument is rarely attended to.
Being an eternal optimist, this gives me great hope. Because although there are many minds possibly lost forever on the other side of the fence, if their self-appointed intellectual vanguard keep being rendered speechless by these walls of reasoned anti-Marxist argument, whenever they pass comment outside the confines of the Marxist hate shops, it may be that we are holding our own in an early twenty-first century war of ideology. At best, we may even be beginning to turn the tide.
Yes, I know, I’m far too much the optimist, and we’re still like Socrates against the Athenian social democratic mob. But I have to preserve my sanity, in some way, here in David Blunkett world.
And yes, it may take many more decades before we eventually triumph, but one of my favourite Randian ideas is that to beat these people we need first of all to clear them off the ideological battlefield, and then to get them scurrying away into miserable defeated holes. So to all those fine libertarians out there who do regularly patrol sites like Crooked Timber to perform this arduous and thankless task, particularly Micha Ghertner of Catallarchy.net, I salute you. Ladies and Gentlemen, you are doing sterling work. Please, keep it up.