This week's New Yorker visits some Objectivists — followers of Ayn Rand — for their monthly lunch meeting. The subject: whether Alan Greenspan was wrong to admit that the free market might have flaws.
Greenspan was a Rand disciple, and his criticism of laissez-faire capitalism had the Objectivists in a tizzy. They were also excited about the increased popularity of Atlas Shrugged, which depicts an economic collapse brought on by socialist regulations. New Yorker writer Lizzie Widdicombe quotes Objectivist Paul Bell, who says:
I learned from Ayn Rand many years ago that contradictions do not exist in reality. Is Alan Greenspan an Objectivist or a statist? Is he controlled by the power in Washington, or did he go there to spread free-market ideals?
We're not sure what these questions have to do with the existence of contradictions, and we're also not sure what the plot of Atlas Shrugged has to do with reality. Asked what Ayn Rand would say about the current financial crisis, fitness consultant Francisco Villalobos said, "I told you so." Which is a little bit like when you tell someone they're going to get hit by a car, and then they get cancer. I told you so!
Another Objectivist's answer to the what-would-Rand-say question is even weirder. "I'm eighty-four and still smoking," this Randian ventriloquized. But Rand was 77 when she died, and would be 104 if she were alive today.
Rand's followers are already planning for their dominion over the streets of post-apocalyptic New York. One suggested that, "when civilization collapses, we'll just have to organize an Objectivist gang." Since Objectivists can't count, though, we're not too worried.
Ayn Crowd [New Yorker]