Welcome Stephen L. Goldstein (Journalist – SunSentinel) and Host Nicole Sandler (Nicole Sandler Radio – RadioOrNot.com)

Atlas Drugged: Ayn Rand Be Damned!

Ayn Rand has become the symbol for today’s right-wing obsession with selfishness. In the half-century since her opus Atlas Shrugged, numerous institutes and societies have sprouted to promote Rand’s philosophy of “objectivism” which teaches the ridiculous ethical egoism and her advocacy of “rational selfishness“.

To a compassionate person, these ideas are truly foreign. In a nation whose Declaration of Independence includes the rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and whose Constitution directs the government to provide for the “general welfare” of its people, the Randian philosophy seems at direct odds.

Yet today’s Republican Party is pursuing an agenda that favors the rich at the expense of the needy. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin chairs the House Budget Committee and, as such, has put forth a budget that, over the next decade, would spend about 16 percent less than the White House on “income security” programs for the poor — that’s everything from food stamps to housing assistance to the earned-income tax credit.

Medicare would be privatized as a voucher program, requiring seniors to find health insurance on the open, for-profit market, and reaching into their pockets to subsidize the wholly insufficient amount of the vouchers with which they are supposed to be able to purchase the coverage. Of course, being forced to buy health insurance on the open market also means buying from a company that would use up to 20% (or more, if not reigned in by the Affordable Care Act) of those premiums on overhead (and profit) as opposed to Medicare’s 3% overhead.

The lines between Rand’s vision of an every man, woman and child for his or her self world and that of today’s GOP and Libertarian visions are quite blurred. Congressman Paul Ryan requires his staffers and interns to read Ayn Rand (though he has recently denied this, the Atlas Society has released video of a Ryan address to their membership in which he stated this requirement quite clearly), and Senator Rand Paul (born Randall) is said to have shortened his name in reverence for the author.

Rand’s philosophies are now so far-reaching that one need not read her massive missives to know what it is she and her followers believe – government is bad, the individual is all that matters.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on Rand. Although I read The Fountainhead when I was younger, I found it long-winded, boring and something which with I didn’t identify. So when my friend Stephen Goldstein (author, journalist, tv/radio host and South Florida Sun-Sentinel Op-Ed columnist) told me he had written a “sequel” of sorts to Atlas Shrugged, I wasn’t initially very excited.

No, I’ve never read Atlas Shrugged, nor have I ever had a desire to. But I’ve been inundated with the “Who is John Galt?” message – even on an ad for a restaurant here in Coral Springs, FL that I had enjoyed – until I saw the ubiquitous question sniped on an ad in a local monthly magazine. Now I no longer frequent that restaurant. (Sorry, if a local business believes it’s important to promote his religious devotion to Rand’s theory of selfishness, I believe it’s important to not be a customer.)

But after Stephen assured me that one need not have subjected oneself to reading her 1,088 pages of drivel in order to enjoy his new novel, Atlas Drugged: Ayn Rand Be Damned!, I jumped in, and was glad I did.

Atlas Drugged picks up where Shrugged left off. Sixty-seven years after John Galt’s “restoration” (revolution for the rest of us). The US has become a Libertarian paradise. No longer the United States of America, we’ve “evolved” into the United Corporations of America.

The divide between the 99% and the 1% is even more pronounced. Tent cities or shanty towns, known as Coopervilles (for then-President Cooper) have popped up in every major city, with the largest having taken over NY’s Central Park.

Government has become today’s right wingers’ wet dream – shrunk small enough to have drowned in a bathtub. The free market reigns so that no longer do governmental agencies exist to protect the citizens. It’s now buyer beware. If a product makes consumers sick, eventually they’ll no longer buy the products. And should a hurricane threaten Florida, there’s a privatized Hurricane center to warn the population … or not.

Atlas Drugged: Ayn Rand Be Damned! should be the warning shot to all Americans to be careful what you wish for.

 

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

143 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Stephen L. Goldstein, Atlas Drugged: Ayn Rand Be Damned!”

BevW July 14th, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Stephen, Nicole, Welcome to the Lake.

Nicole, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.


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Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Thanks for having us. I’ll start while people join in… Stephen, what made you decide to write Atlas Drugged?

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:00 pm
In response to BevW @ 1

I’m delighted to be here discussing Atlas Drugged!

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Nicole–First of all, as usual, GREAT to be with you. I wrote Atlas Drugged because I am afraid most Americans don’t understand how Ayn Rand has poisonously influenced the thinking of so many politicians and people who affect them.

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 2:02 pm

On my show on Thursday, Stephen and I had the opportunity to “debate” the CEO of the Atlas Society. Stephen, were you surprised when he said he was opposed to continuing Social Security and Medicare?

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Nicole–Perhaps I should add that I wrote Atlas Drugged TO SAVE AMERICA from the 1%

DWBartoo July 14th, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Stephen and Nicole, thank you for joining us this evening.

DW

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Stephen, when did you last read Atlas Shrugged? As I wrote in the intro, I couldn’t get through it. The Fountainhead was more than enough Ayn Rand for my lifetime. Yet, it seems as if that story is somehow embedded in society these days. We all, unfortunately, know who John Galt is.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:08 pm
In response to Nicole Sandler @ 5

I wasn’t surprised at all that Aaron Day from the Atlas Society says he’s opposed to continuing Social Security & Medicare. He’s 36 and doesn’t think they’ll be there for him and he’s swallowed the Kool-Aid that he doesn’t NEED them.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:10 pm
In response to Nicole Sandler @ 8

I last read Atlas Shrugged about a year and a half ago, just before writing Atlas Drugged. I wanted to have Rand’s garbage fresh in my mind before I attacked her.

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 2:10 pm

You’re a journalist, as well as an op-ed writer for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Do you believe that SS and Medicare are insolvent? Other than the right wing megaphone that keeps telling us those programs won’t be around, do you think there’s any fire behind the smoke?

Tammany Tiger July 14th, 2012 at 2:10 pm

It is scary that grown men* take Atlas Shrugged seriously. Forty years ago, when I was in college, my circle of friends got into Ayn Rand’s work, but we soon grew out of that phase.

* The book is definitely a “guy thing,” even more so than beer pong or video games.

DWBartoo July 14th, 2012 at 2:10 pm

I’ve not yet had the opportunity of reading your book, Stephen. However, your purpose in writing it has certainly got my interest sincerely piqued.

“The people” could well use any cogent “help” or advice available.

DW

BevW July 14th, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Stephen, What is some of the background, how did this novel become a policy document?

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 2:13 pm

It’s interesting that you say it’s a “guy thing”. Just yesterday on her show, Randi Rhodes mentioned that Ayn Rand included some very steamy sex scenes in her book. I don’t remember that from the Fountainhead. In fact, in my cloudy memory of that book I thought that Randian sex was like in the orgasmatron from Sleeper

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:18 pm
In response to Nicole Sandler @ 11

No, I don’t believe that they are insolvent. There are simple ways to make them MORE viable. All people need is the will to make it happen.

dakine01 July 14th, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Good afternoon Stephen and Nicole and welcome to FDL this afternoon.

Stephen I have not read your book so please forgive me if you address this but do you address the fact that Rand herself used SS and Medicare?

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:19 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 12

Ayn Rand became popular during the Cold War because she is fiercely anti-Communist. She also gave people license to be greedy. The two notions have RUINED this country, perverted democracy!Q

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Hi dakine01

Stephen’s book is actually a novel that picks up where Atlas Shrugged left off. It doesn’t deal with Ayn Rand herself at all… But isn’t it ironic that she did live out her final years on both of those programs, taking the money under her married name?

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:20 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 13

I wrote a novel to counter the BS of Rand’s novel. It’s amazing to think that so many people take her fiction for gospel truth.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:21 pm
In response to Nicole Sandler @ 19

Hypocrisy is rife among the radical right!

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 2:22 pm

As I alluded to in the introductory post for this session, there’s a local restaurant here in Coral Springs, FL that my fiance and I have enjoyed a few times. Then I noticed their ad in a local monthly magazine that had a snipe on it that said Who is John Galt? It appears on their ad every month. They know they’ve lost our business due to it, and yet it continues to appear in each issue of the magazine. Amazing.

dakine01 July 14th, 2012 at 2:22 pm
In response to Nicole Sandler @ 19

Thought maybe it might have had “Dagny” becoming bankrupt and having to rely on the state. :})

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Stephen, for those here who haven’t read Atlas Drugged, would you like to write a brief synopsis of what happens?

BevW July 14th, 2012 at 2:24 pm

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Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:25 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 23

For too many people, all this right wing stuff, especially coming from Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged, is a game. They don’t REALLY understand how it DESTROYS lives.

Tammany Tiger July 14th, 2012 at 2:25 pm

There is enough money in the Social Security Old Age Trust Fund to pay 100 percent of promised benefits for the next 25 years or so. Assuming nothing is done to increase revenue and the Trust Fund runs out of money, payroll taxes will continue to pay about two-thirds of promised benefits.

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 2:27 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 27

And, of course, we could fix that by simply removing the FICA cap

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:28 pm
In response to Nicole Sandler @ 24

Actually, you did a great job in your intro. But I’ll simply add that people should imagine New Orleans after Katrina: innocent, helpless people left to their own devices because government abandoned them. Atlas Drugged is a dystopia: It shows what happens at EVERY level when people get what they wished for–no government. It takes place against the background of a presidential election. Readers are SWORN not to reveal the ending. So, I won’t here.

BevW July 14th, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Stephen’s interview on Nicole Sandler’s radio show

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Atlas Shrugged became public policy because it appealed to Cold Warriors anti-Communism and unbridled greed. It’s a license to steal.

onitgoes July 14th, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Thanks for coming to the book salon. Stephen: your book looks very interesting and worthwhile. I shudder when I see stacks and stacks of Rand’s “books” in places like Costco, which lends them a “legitimacy” that is totally undeserved. What you appear to have written seems like a good response to the creepy message of those “books.”

I am only guessing that, like the Bible, many conservatives have never read any of her works. Yet such conservatives or libertarians are wont to “quote” from them as if they are “gospel.” Very sad.

I read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead in my mid-teens and found them both poorly written and unbelievably stupid. Your book sounds much better! Or at least, more realistic.

DWBartoo July 14th, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Well, I looked at Rand’s books 47 years ago, decided they were BS and never have understood the almost religious awe in which they are held, by a certain “element”.

Considering that many YouEssians no longer do much reading, how might the ideas in your book reach a wider audience?

I ask as, even here, at FDL, a number of community members still are convinced that they must vote for the “lesser evil”, and new or different ideas, different possibilities, are considered “impractical, if not downright … dangerous.

Since I consider that the changes necessary for our collective survival, as a species, must first be “thought” about, before being implemented, I am most interested in how you get beyond the issue of the “unfamiliar”?

Note that I live near Homestead, PA, and the vast majority of my neighbors know nothing about the Homestead Massacre … and “cannot understand” what Occupy is “about” …

DW

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I try to explain Atlas Drugged as a combination of funny and frightening. Humor is a great tool to show how scary things can get. One of my favorite videos to show (or play the audio on the radio) to people who claim to want little or no government is from Andy Cobb and the Partisans

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:31 pm
In response to Nicole Sandler @ 15

No steamy sex that I can recall. She couldn’t even provide that. Ayn Rand is one LOUSY writer.

Kelly Canfield July 14th, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Welcome! I’ve been looking forward to this Salon for a while now.

And while in the intro it says you don’t have to have read Atlas Shrugged prior to this book, I’m just going to say if you have read it, you’ll appreciate something like this:

…a tall, young man, with a shock of red hair, probably in his mid-twenties, stands up, looks around, raises his hand to get Manfreed’s attention and, without waiting to be called on, asks, “Where are the 25,000 people who used to live on that land in Mississippi going to live? And how are the 7,500 businesses put out of business going to earn a living?”

IMO introducing an actual anti-Howard Roark like that is just FANTASTIC!

Just ordered the book.

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 2:33 pm
In response to Nicole Sandler @ 34

Hit submit too soon.. It’s the regulation vacation… My regular response to those who don’t want government is to tell them to go to Somalia

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:33 pm
In response to onitgoes @ 32

If I must say so myself–and I musn’t because other people do–my book is fast-moving, well written, and “hilarious” according to more than one readers. I URGE you to read it, not only because it will make my publisher happy, but because you’ll be armed with all you need to decimate the right-wing.

onitgoes July 14th, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I think conservatives/libertarians simply imagine that somehow a Randian dystopia won’t “affect” them. Somehow they’ll be above it all in their gated communities, “safe” from whatever bad stuff happens due to chaos from no govt.

The reality is that only the 1% are in the position to really shield themselves effectively (and even that is questionable) from a dystopian future. Even upper middle class people world-wide would be severely affected by a dystopian future.

Yet I hear friends of mine, many who are well educated, waxing lyrical about being libertarian and having “less govt.” It never ceases to amaze me that they don’t “get” what they’re actually talking about.

Mainly, they only want govt services for themselves, alone, and not for anyone else. How that is to be accomplished is the “trick.”

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Stephen, when did you begin writing this book? I ask because the Coopervilles are very much how I envisioned the Occupy encampments becoming, had the police not intervened and cleaned them all out. Did you start writing it before last Sept’s start of the OWS movement?

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:37 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 36

You warm my heart! Believe me: You’ll enjoy reading AD. Let’s all use the short-hand of AD for Atlas Drugged, to save our typing fingers!

NatefromUSA July 14th, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Hi Stephen, Hi Nicole.

Do you think it will take an extreme-Ayn Rand-Style action, for example: “privatizing the entire military” to sway Americans away from the anti-government mentalities that Ayn Rand followers profess??
*I believe Paul Ryan is already proposing a similar idea with Medicare.

onitgoes July 14th, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Ok. Sounds like a good plan. Since I DID have the misfortune to read some of Rand’s “works” in my youth, it should be more than worthwhile to read your “completion” of what happens when Galt’s Gulch becomes reality.

Best to you. I must away to attend to chores and such. Thanks for the conversation.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:38 pm
In response to onitgoes @ 39

Wait until you read the Florida chapters in AD. They are designed to show that the 1% are as vulnerable as ALL of us–perhaps more so!

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 2:39 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 36

Kelly,
I’ll have to take your word for it. I couldn’t put myself through those thousand plus pages. (Wikipedia tells us it’s over a half a million words!)… I’d rather read AD 100 times :)

onitgoes July 14th, 2012 at 2:39 pm

One last comment: probably so, but one does hear rumors of the Bush Family having purchased significant land holdings in the Uruguyan (sp?) aquifer (or is it Paraguay??? can’t remember). If so, there’s a slight chance of being “safe,” but only just a slight chance…

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:40 pm
In response to Nicole Sandler @ 40

Honestly, Nicole, I don’t remember exactly when I wrote the Cooperville chapters. I was thinking historically, of the Hoovervilles during the Great Depression and the Occupy encampments: History sadly repeats itself–because WE let it.

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 2:41 pm

As someone who lives in Florida, I found those chapters truly terrifying, and not beyond the scope of what could actually happen. When the CEO of the Atlas Society joined us on my show on Thursday (which anyone can listen to at radioornot.com), I tried to ask him about some of the scenarios in the book as hypothetical situations. His answers show that what Stephen wrote in the book really could happen if they got their way!

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:42 pm
In response to NatefromUSA @ 42

I think we’re on the cusp of people waking up to the dystopia I present in AD. But actually the BEST catalyst for change is Mitt Romney. He could be a character in AD–consummate unfeeling greedy corporate bad buy.

Tammany Tiger July 14th, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Stephen, are you familiar with Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash? Published in 1991, it depicts a dystopian America that has sold everything, including its sovereignty, to private investors–many of them foreign. The 1% lived in gated communities that functioned as tiny, independent city-states; the poor roasted dogs on spits over flaming kerosene; and white conservatives who wanted to leave America but couldn’t flee overseas turned the Alaska Highway into the world’s largest franchise ghetto, complete with fundie preachers. A charming world in which to live.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:44 pm
In response to onitgoes @ 46

I have no idea what the Bush family REALLY does. But I wouldn’t put ANYTHING past them.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:45 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 50

I haven’t read that book. But it’s very much to the point–and we’re getting closer and closer to it every day!

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:46 pm
In response to Nicole Sandler @ 45

Rather than read AD 100 times, please, for the sake of the USA and the world, try to get 100 others to read it!

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 2:47 pm

That’s why I’m here!

Kelly Canfield July 14th, 2012 at 2:50 pm
In response to Nicole Sandler @ 45

Ha ha! True. But the snark is STRONG in this one.

Short-handing a bunch of John Galt’s 60 page rambling screed from the original into just a few pages upfront, and putting them in the mouth of a

brainy-looking, bald, 4’9″,stocky professor

who also says:

If I’m okay, but you’re not, well it’s too bad for you. Vita sugit: Life sucks. Suck it up or get sucked up.

Just too much of a hoot!

Kelly Canfield July 14th, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Stephen, have you received a bunch of hate mail from Randians over this book?

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:53 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 55

People, especially right wingers, HATE to be laughed at. Liberals don’t have good senses of humor. They haven’t figured out how to make the opposition look silly, stupid, laughable. They day they do, people like man-tan Boehner will be flummoxed!

Kelly Canfield July 14th, 2012 at 2:53 pm

And btw, I think, Stephen, you should mail a copy to Alan Greenspan, you know who was one of the pallbearers at Ayn Rand’s funeral.

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 2:54 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 58

You mean Mr. Andrea Mitchell

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:55 pm

No hate mail. In fact, Aaron Day, who was on Nicole’s radio show with me Thursday was very pleasant. I was banned from a website called the Atlasphere (I think that was the name), because I was told it was ONLY for LOVERS of Ayn Rand.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:56 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 58

To think that Alan Greenspan was enthralled with Ayn Rand may go a long way in explaining his courtship and marrying of Andrea Mitchell. Meow!

Kelly Canfield July 14th, 2012 at 2:56 pm
In response to Nicole Sandler @ 59

The very one!

Kelly Canfield July 14th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Just curious – do you continue with the modified “spoonerisms” for names? Cary Hinton was a good one!

Please tell me that you renamed Paul Ryan “Raul Paean”.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:58 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 62

I can’t stress enough the FACT that Atlas Shrugged and ALL Ayn Rand’s “philosophy” is based upon FICTION, one person’s neurotic response to the loss of her family’s property/business in Russia. And to think so many have fallen for it. Milton Freedman made a career out of it.

Phoenix Woman July 14th, 2012 at 2:59 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 12

The target market for Rand’s books is made up of two groups: rich people who want to be told how cool they are simply because they are rich, and smart-but-insecure teens who are so wrapped up in their own inner teenage struggles that they don’t spare much thought for other people, much less the problems of other people.

There are a lot of people who were introduced to Rand as teens; by the time most people are in their twenties, it’s usually too late for Rand to take hold. If you ever run into anyone who became an unironic Ayn Rand fan after the age of thirty, you are, almost by definition, dealing with a confirmed and probably certifiably sociopathic person.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 2:59 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 63

As it says in the legal disclaimer, not to be confused with the satiric language on the back of the book, all names, places, etc. are PURELY fiction and NOT to be confused with anyone, etc. LOL

Tammany Tiger July 14th, 2012 at 3:00 pm

One of her lovers, Nathaniel Branden, is still around, though he’s now in his 80s.

Phoenix Woman July 14th, 2012 at 3:01 pm
In response to onitgoes @ 39

I think conservatives/libertarians simply imagine that somehow a Randian dystopia won’t “affect” them. Somehow they’ll be above it all in their gated communities, “safe” from whatever bad stuff happens due to chaos from no govt.

Yup. They think they’ll be fine, either one of the elites in the forts or one of the elites’ go-fers, when the reality is they’re going to be among the first to die.

Kelly Canfield July 14th, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Right. I had a post here about a year ago called “The Contemptible Fraud of Alisa Zenovievna” , which had an unfortunate accident with the WordPress database, but anyway I concluded it with:

The ghost of this dead, selfish and contemptible fraud, bitter about the topple from the ruling class in Imperial Russia, and a swooning Hollywood psychophant, unbelievably still has a place in our current political discourse.

The topic was about how Rand took Medicare when she, you know, needed it. OY!

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:01 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 65

I don’t know what the ACTUAL percentage of people is who have ACTUALLY read Atlas Shrugged. But I think many people have just picked up bits and pieces of it, which is the dangerous thing: All they remember/know is it’s justification unbridled greed.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:02 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 67

To acknowledge being a lover of Ayn Rand takes guts!

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:04 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 69

I believe Ron Paul cashes his Social Security check!

karenjj2 July 14th, 2012 at 3:05 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 50

I think Stephen’s book and Snow Crash both illustrate what will happen when obama’s TPP is enacted.

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 3:07 pm
In response to karenjj2 @ 73

The TPP scares me. Notice how everyone is ignoring it. But I think a Romney presidency would be even worse. Remember, TPP negotiations began under Bush. We’d have it under Romney too, but with Romney in the WH.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:07 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 65

I think your point about adolescents being attracted to Ayn Rand is very much to the point–people who don’t really understand the consequences of policies/actions in the real world.

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 3:07 pm
In response to karenjj2 @ 73

Again, it’s not Obama’s TPP… it’s unfortunately ours.

Tammany Tiger July 14th, 2012 at 3:08 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 68

In the novel Our American King, yet another dystopian novel (energy runs out, society quickly collapses), a warlord and his followers decide to attack gated communities and slay every man, woman, and child living on them.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:10 pm
In response to Nicole Sandler @ 76

One of the major messages of AD is that WE have let all the bad stuff in the USA happen. People power needs to reclaim the nation. Against the Atlas types in AD is a special group called The Prometheus Project. It gives REAL narrative zest to AD and a push to “the people” to act.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:12 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 77

Funny, isn’t it? I write a dystopia; others do, too. We’re living in one. And yet, somehow, most Americans don’t listen. It’s great for book-publishing but bad for national destiny. Also, I ask people who read AD to SWEAR not to reveal the ending. It’s too important for people not to discover for themselves!

Phoenix Woman July 14th, 2012 at 3:13 pm

And while it’s tempting to have sympathy for her over that, one must bear in mind that she was quite happy to drive her family to the point of starvation, once they were in exile, just so she could indulge her theater obsession. It’s also clear that, even before her family was exiled, she was already a self-centered little brat — she didn’t need to suffer privation to become one:

When she was 4 or 5 she asked her mother if she could have a blouse like the one her cousins wore. Her mother said no. She asked for a cup of tea like the one being served to the grown-ups. Again her mother said no. She wondered why she couldn’t have what she wanted. Someday, she vowed, she would. In later life, Rand would make much of this experience.

As she once said, approvingly, of William Hickman, the robber, kidnapper and murderer who served as the ur-model for all her heroes, other people did not exist for her, and she did not see why they should.

Phoenix Woman July 14th, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Clarence Thomas insists all his law clerks read it. It’s the American right wing’s version of Mein Kampf or the Little Red Book.

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 3:15 pm

It hasn’t actually been approved yet, but it will be. I’m not defending Obama for it. Just saying we’d have it under Romney too …

Dearie July 14th, 2012 at 3:15 pm

karenb, we’re talking about a book here. there are other threads for you to ‘engage’ in,.

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 3:16 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 81

And of course Paul Ryan requires that all staffers and interns read it too

LibWingofLibWing July 14th, 2012 at 3:16 pm

As she once said, approvingly, of William Hickman, the robber, kidnapper and murderer who served as the ur-model for all her heroes, other people did not exist for her, and she did not see why they should.

Hi, just got here, but read everything already.

You know it’s more than just not believing others don’t exist. I sometimes in my dream realize I’m dreaming and so know that the others in my dreams don’t exist, yet I still refuse to act in ways that would hurt them even though my dream self intellectually knows they’re aren’t real. Emotionally they matter to me. Something emotional is damaged.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:17 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 80

Ayn Rand was one sick puppy–and so are a LOT of people who adore her.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:18 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 81

Can you imagine who would be one of Clarence Thomas’s law clerks in the first place?

Dearie July 14th, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Some people just lack empathy. Most of us couldn’t watch someone die in the streets from lack of food or lack of medical care. Sociopaths do it easily. I’m looking forward to reading this book and sharing it with some of the folks I know who simply lack empathy.

Kelly Canfield July 14th, 2012 at 3:20 pm
In response to Dearie @ 83

Amen.

Stephen – some more curiosity, even though I’ll reward myself when the book comes; as you introduced an anti-Howard Roark, I’m thinking you surely introduced other anti-Characters.

Do you have an anti-Richard Halley? It always pissed me off no end that Rand used a musician in her drivel.

Tammany Tiger July 14th, 2012 at 3:20 pm

If I ever start a political blog, it will be titled “Party Bus to Dystopia.” I agree with you; we’re well on our way to a society straight out of a novel-writer’s imagination. By the way, I’ve moved your book to the head of my “must read” list, and my lips are sealed with respect to the ending.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:21 pm
In response to Dearie @ 88

So many people don’t realize until it’s too late that IT CAN HAPPEN to them–and likely WILL.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:22 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 89

Now, you don’t want me to spoil AD for you, do you?

Tammany Tiger July 14th, 2012 at 3:22 pm

I can name a long list of classmates (Michigan Law, Class of 1976) who would have jumped at the chance to clerk for a Supreme Court justice, even if it were Curt Rothenberger of the Third Reich.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:23 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 90

Remarkably, as you’ll discover, so much of AD sounds like today–and is. It just takes showing it more emphatically for people to see it. But we’re more HERE than somewhere in the future.

Kelly Canfield July 14th, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Damn you for cleverly avoiding my TRAPS! LOL

karenb July 14th, 2012 at 3:23 pm
In response to Dearie @ 83

Yes madam, but I wasn’t the one who brought it up.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:24 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 93

Hard to believe that people lack so much conviction they would actually agree to clerk for Clarence Thomas.

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 3:24 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 95

And having not read AS, I can’t help you. Sorry!

Dearie July 14th, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Stephen@91…..the fact that so many people seem to think they are immune to consequences is amazing, isn’t it!
One more reason to continually point out that Ayn Rand received both SS and Medicare (benefits received, I believe, through her husband rather than through her own contributions.) She NEEDED health care for her lung cancer, and I’m sure she just enjoyed the SS monthly check. People need to get real! Learn the truth. And laugh, too!

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:25 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 95

No! The subtitle of my book is Ayn Rand Be Damned! Only one entity damned per book salon.

Phoenix Woman July 14th, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Depends on how one feels about the rape scenes in The Fountainhead. Lots of dom-from-the-bottom women types like Joan Crawford (who once dressed as Fountainhead figure Dominique Francon at a dinner party she threw for Rand) and Farrah Fawcett seemed to have idolized Rand.

Kelly Canfield July 14th, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Seriously though, one of the best parts of Book Salon is getting insight from the Author that is not necessarily evident in the Book.

So what was your favorite theme/part to debunk, and what was the stuff you had the most trouble with in writing the book.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:26 pm
In response to Dearie @ 99

And about Ayn Rand’s lung cancer. She did not believe cigarettes caused cancer. Can you image what she would say today about health warnings on tobacco products: government overreach!

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:27 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 101

Joan Crawford and Farrah Fawcett, you’ve said it all about Randies!

Tammany Tiger July 14th, 2012 at 3:27 pm
In response to Dearie @ 99

Rand was a heavy smoker. Among right wingers, “personal responsibility” is an extremely malleable concept.

Tammany Tiger July 14th, 2012 at 3:28 pm

And don’t even get her started on global warming. Deniers are using the same playbook as the tobacco industry.

Dearie July 14th, 2012 at 3:29 pm

SG@103: Really, you gotta laugh! So deluded, so self-centered, so stupid. And she was a lousy writer, too boot!

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I’ve been writing op-ed columns for 13 years. I welcomed the chance to create a compelling novel that would engage people. I can’t say any part was harder than any other.

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 3:30 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 105

The whole personal responsibility thing is a joke when you look at their response to the individual mandate. It was a Republican idea (Heritage Foundation) and they loved it till the Dems made it law. They don’t believe in anything.

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

One overriding theme in AD – and among Randians – is their lack of compassion. We’re seeing it on steroids right now, as they’d rather see people suffer and die rather than accept the government’s help in the form of Medicare for All.

Kelly Canfield July 14th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

OK. I’ll buy that on the difficulty half of the question.

Did/do you have a particular favorite piece of debunking or “engagery” in your novel?

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:33 pm

How much farther do we have do go: Tea-partiers were railing against Obamacare as government intrusion in health care WHILE saying “Don’t touch my Medicare”!

Lorraine Watkins July 14th, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I am delighted to see this book and applaud you Stephen Goldstein.

In late but a bit disappointed with the conversation…not with Nicole and my dear good caring people here; but I almost feel we care so much that it interferes with our understanding of the evil of Ayn Rand’s ideology and how pervasive it is now in much of our “conventional wisdom.” I have watched it become defining for the money manipulators and corporate predators.. Kochs, Greenspan, Paul Ryan to name just a few tips of the ice berg.

The poor sick and unable are not just to be ignored but are framed over and over again by Rand and her followers as the enemy and love and altruism the enemy of individual happiness. Her definitions of sex are really rape. See the rape scene in Fountainhead. It is documented that she used and unusually cruel sociopathic murderer kidnapper as a model for her heroes. She highly admired and was taken with this man’s total lack of capacity for remorse or caring what society thought of him.

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Exactly! And now they’re screaming about how they don’t want to pay for your health care, when this law requires everyone to buy into the system. They’re the ones saying they WON’T buy health care now that they’re mandated to – yet somehow, we’re the ones who aren’t paying for it? I call it opposite world.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

There’s a whole subplot with Count Henry de Horsch and his wife the Countess Isabella. I won’t spoil it for you. But I LOVE the countess and what she does. She personifies all that is . . . No, No, No–if I tell you more I’ll ruin it!

karenb July 14th, 2012 at 3:38 pm

So tell us, Mr. Goldstein, what is your solution or do you not have one? Is it that we should read your book to counter the right-wing? And how do you propose we should do that?

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 3:39 pm
In response to karenb @ 116

You should just read the book :)

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:39 pm
In response to TalkingStick @ 113

As you know from Thomas Frank’s book What’s the Matter with Kansas, Americans have allowed people working against them to hoodwink them into approving policies that harm them. Atlas Drugged is intended to be a wake-up call to ALL Americans to take back the country for the 100%. I don’t even want the 1% left out. We need to become a nation that embraces EVERYONE.

Kelly Canfield July 14th, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Thanks. I’ll pay closer attention to that sub-plot then.

This sort of info, coming from a chat with the Author, especially since it’s fiction but with a point, is what I really like about the Salons.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:42 pm
In response to karenb @ 116

Throughout the book there are examples of how average people working together can take back the USA. In Atlas Shrugged, John Galt and his followers went on strike to bring the country to its knees. Atlas Drugged takes up where AS left off–and it shows many strategies for taking back the country.

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 3:45 pm

One of the things I liked most about AD (without giving anything away) is that the good guys are (obviously) smarter than the crooks, and you can’t help but cheer for them and want to be involved. Perhaps that’ll get some good guys in real life to do the right things too.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I know this may sound megalomaniacal, but I’ll say it anyway: If a critical mass of people reads/absorbs the message of Atlas Drugged: Ayn Rand Be damned!, we may be able to take back the country from the corporate interests that want to ru(i)n it. There, I said it. I’ve poured every idea I can into AD to say what’s bad and how to make it good.

karenb July 14th, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I thought this book salon would provide us with an outline of the book, which it hasn’t. This was nothing but a book salon to promote a book.

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 3:48 pm
In response to karenb @ 123

It’s a novel – what type of outline did you want?

Dearie July 14th, 2012 at 3:49 pm

karenb, I know I shouldn’t engage with you, but your bad attitude is ever present. give it a break.

Dearie July 14th, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Stephen, I’m so looking forward to reading this book! My dad is 95 and a lifelong Republican, but he ‘gets’ it and he also wants this country to get its friggin’ act together. I can’t wait to share it with him and then have a really good discussion. Thanks for writing the book and for sharing your time and good humor with us today.

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:51 pm
In response to karenb @ 123

Sorry, but I thought this was about discussing a book not taking the place of reading a book. For those who haven’t read it, I thought the introduction provided was generous in telling what it was about.

BevW July 14th, 2012 at 3:52 pm

As we come to the end of this great Book Salon discussion,

Stephen, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book.

Nicole, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Stephen’s website and book

Nicole’s website and radio show (NicoleSandlerShow)

Thanks all, Have a great weekend.

Tomorrow: Martin Hickman – Dial M for Murdoch: News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain; Hosted by spocko

If you would like to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

Nicole Sandler July 14th, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Thanks so much for having us Bev. Stephen, it’s always a pleasure! And the rest of you, it was great chatting with you this afternoon. Thanks again!

Stephen Goldstein July 14th, 2012 at 3:54 pm
In response to Dearie @ 126

Thank you! Never give up on anyone, no matter how old or opinionated. At the heart of Atlas Drugged is an affirmation of people’s hearts, the way to change the world.

marymccurnin July 14th, 2012 at 3:55 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 101

It is the shoulder pads that do it. They must cut off circulation to the brain some how.

Nathan Aschbacher July 14th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

If the world abided by objectivism then humanity would quickly cease to be for the simple reason that children don’t fit into objectivism at all.

There’s no rationally selfish justification or comprehension of intentionally creating a thing you have to constantly sacrifice and give to for basically no rational reward.

Kelly Canfield July 14th, 2012 at 3:57 pm

It was fun – enjoyed it. The first 20 pages are a hoot, and people should read it to get the flavor. Sorry, I should have pointed to/re-emphasized that link – here [PDF] http://hellgatepress.com/sites/hellgatepress.com/files/Read%20the%20first%2020%20pages!_1.pdf

Dearie July 14th, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Good observation, Nathan@132. The ‘children’ of Ayn Rand are her accolytes, and I’m sure she gave Miltie some good stuff…..

Valley Girl July 14th, 2012 at 3:59 pm
In response to karenb @ 123

Wow. What is your problem?

You are here at a Book Salon because you want an outline of a novel?

I read a passage of this book (some where on line as a matter of fact), and really enjoyed it- the writing, I mean. Not the events, which are not that improbable.

If Orwell were at this book salon you would probably be demanding an outline of 1984. And accuse him of trying to promote his book.

Kelly Canfield July 14th, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Good point. Changing diapers – FOR FREE??? Anathema!

Nathan Aschbacher July 14th, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Well it’s probably slightly more workable than the Libertarian version where you’d have to enter into a private contract with your baby for diaper service.

:-)

RevBev July 14th, 2012 at 4:16 pm
In response to karenb @ 123

Ive been here for a long time and never seen an outline. The intro provided background and themes for discussion. The Salons are a forum for discussion. It’s not Clif’s notes (iir the correct word)

tongorad July 14th, 2012 at 5:11 pm

I recall a post somewhere about Ayn Rand’s growing popularity in India. Ugh.
I see Rand as essentially running one of the oldest cons in the book: telling people what they want to hear.
If we see spirituality as breaking down the barriers between people, Ayn Rand is the exact opposite.

monkeychamp July 14th, 2012 at 5:33 pm

This book has to be far more entertaining & better written than Atlas Shrugged.
I started reading AS to see what the big hullabaloo was about it. I couldn’t get past about 400 pages. It was completely dull – as a novel it totally sucks. If you’re going to spend 1,000+ pages explaining your crappy, cynical world view in the form of a novel, make it entertaining. At least a little. After reading the sentence “Who is John Galt” for the umpteenth time, I threw the book away and said, “I don’t give a sh!t.”

Lorraine Watkins July 14th, 2012 at 5:57 pm

The goal of getting along as one nation is admirable. And the message of Rand’s radical individualism is in opposition to cooperation and collaboration necessary for that. That has taken hold so widely that it is like we as a people and a culture have forgotten the simple skills required for coming together. We must convert and re-educate with a clear message of our values. Not compromise with the Devil as I still see too many good folks still trying to do. These people will not be moved by appeals to their conscience, much less be willing to reciprocate conceding some positions. much less good intentions.

tongorad July 14th, 2012 at 6:13 pm
In response to TalkingStick @ 141

Yep, it’s extremely disheartening to see how far, wide and deep Ayn Rand’s drivel has taken hold of this country.

tongorad July 14th, 2012 at 9:55 pm

“On my show on Thursday, Stephen and I had the opportunity to “debate” the CEO of the Atlas Society. Stephen, were you surprised when he said he was opposed to continuing Social Security and Medicare?”

This was embarrassing for you. Next time, come better prepared and leave the interruptions and sarcasm at home.
Snarky asides and ridiculing your opponent is not a debate.
These people, crazy as they are, are often well-disciplined and have their stuff down pat.
You didn’t do yourself or anyone else a favor with this sloppy interview.

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