Sunday, May 22, 2011

Matt Taibbi Disses Ayn Rand

You just never know where Matt Taibbi is going to pop up next and what absurdity he will proudly spit out. As part of an interview with ViceLand, he had this to say:
I tried reading The Fountainhead and I couldn’t get through it. I didn’t get it. It’s just not a fun book. But the followers of her ideas are definitely embedded in that whole world and it’s really weird. There’s something weird about how America has this reflexive instinct to apologize for the rich and powerful.
That he didn't get The Fountainhead, I am not surprised. That he appears to brag about the fact he didn't understand the book is, well, typical Taibbi. Judging from his writing style, I bet you he got Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

The difference between the two books: Rand's book is about logic, principle and the mind. Thompson's is about stuffing all kinds of papers into a fax machine while in a severe drug induced altered mind state.

Taibbi seems to want to constantly demonstrate how altered his mind is. I can't believe Taibbi is serious when he says:
America has this reflexive instinct to apologize for the rich and powerful.
Is he so clueless that he doesn't get that the mantra of most politicians is a call for more taxes on the rich? That they call for more taxes on the rich because they know most people are envious of the rich?

Taibbi really sounds like Hunter Thompson, without the insight. The only other difference is that Thompson required a car trunk full of drugs to get him to his altered mental states. I think Taibbi gets there just drinking orange juice (without the pulp).


  1. What's also funny is that the biggest political constituency opposing the bailouts is the Tea Party. Now in fairness, they didn't really get off the ground until after Obama's election, so it's hard to know how pure the opposition is. But still, Krugman was for the bailouts, while I bet a lot of Ayn Rand supporters were not.

  2. Poor Ayn Rand. Each time I see her mangled by some conceited blowhard I get pangs.

    Ayn popularized Nietzsche....and people haven't yet got Nietzsche right.

    Of course, Nietzsche himself concealed his huge debt to Buddhism and Hinduism....

    But you'd need a wee bit of humility and scholarship to find that out.

    People would much rather mock someone whose intellectual and moral stature is considerably above theirs.

    The crowd always wants Barabbas.

    Fifty years from now, Matt Taibbi won't be read.

    Ayn Rand will.

    And the people who read her will also be the people who give us the innovations and businesses that create enough prosperity to allow classless dolts to make a cushy living spitting on their betters......

  3. I'm with Rothbard on this one. Ayn Rand's philosiphy really just involves replacing government with big business and corporations, which really would be no better than having a government. I am a free market anarchist but I have to say that Ayn Rand was crazy, and her followers as Rothbard once said in an article are a cult.

  4. I wonder how much money Matt Taibbi makes. He is free to contribute 80% of his income to the government or hand it out to other people directly. Why doesn't he just do that and stop calling for more theft of other people's money?

  5. If you think Taibbi is bad, check out Alan Krinsky's article, "It began with Ayn Rand," on the Huffington Post. The jist of it is, he used to like Ayn Rand but now he has out grown her silly and simplistic ideas. "Rand's lone individualism is an illusion that must be challenged, not only because it is a lie, but because it will never work..."

    Hey Alan, individualism is an upward movement toward maturity, a movement toward one's self. Collectivism is truly a "regressive" movement toward immaturity, toward the herd and away from your self. You've got it backwards.

    Also, his economic analysis is unbelievable.

  6. There are things in Rand that I don't agree with but she greatly influenced me in rethinking the issue of egoism and altruism and many other issues. And my disagreements are, I hope, based upon actually thinking about what I read. It astonishes me the number of people who condemn Rand who have never actually read anything she wrote in context or even at all. The smear association goes something like this typically: Ayn Rand-capitalism-selfishness-sociopath-Alan Greenspan-Ron Paul-Rand Paul-eat babies-Hitler.

  7. @Anonymous.

    Rand would not have endorsed big government capitalism.


    You surprised?
    Most people in the media "opinionating" haven't read the people they diss..or praise. They're just following the "opinion leader".

    And preening for their peers ("I'm more libertarian..or more socialist..or more compassionate..or less compassionate...or whatever..than you are").

    One huge ego-less Randian language.

    Ayn Rand had her failings and limitations. Who doesn't? She had the difficult life reserved for any woman whose brains and personality compare favorably to those of the men around her....and whose looks don't match.

    Not one of groupies or detractors or plagiarizers are anywhere in her league.

    And no one..not even giants like Rothbard or Mises...made the popular case for free market capitalism more powerfully.

  8. Concerning anonymous'comment, "Rand's philosophy really just involves replacing gov't with big business and corporations..." I think it probably involves replacing gov't with big and small businesses. In a free market without gov't intervention, big businesses would be allowed to fail when they did stupid things. I own a small business and compete against Fortune 500 companies on a daily basis. It's not that hard to do, so there would be plenty of small and medium sized successful businesses to take up the slack. And big business/corporations are not necessarily bad, unless they collude with gov't in order to get favors.

  9. @Lila:

    My reaction to the smears is something like the reaction to a horror movie or a terrible storm. I know that the thing is coming, yet I am still 'astonished' or 'amazed'. The concrete reality of it cannot be comprehended by my feeble, abstract powers of expectation.

  10. The cultlike nature of Objectivism aside, the contributions of Rand to the cause of freedom cannot be ignored. What I find humorous is that this crackpot Taibbi writes that the Fountainhead is a defense of the rich and powerful.

    It is not.

    In fact, the most powerful character in the book, Toohey, is evil as evil can get. Many of the wealthy individuals in the book are portrayed as slaves to society, refusing to break the accepted molds and allowing themselves to be told what to think by men like Toohey.

    The hero of the book is, arguably, it's least wealthy and powerful character, Howard Roark. Roark is kicked out of college. He struggles to find a job as an architect. Only toward the end does he have anything measuring permanent success. To say he is powerful is absurd. He is routinely dragged in front of courts and put on trial for the simple fact of who he is.

    I glanced at that interview. An unfortunate symptom of a society which seems to think that just because someone has something to say, it should be said.

  11. @Anonymous #1 -- Rothbard would disagree with you. The problem is not big corporations per se. The problem is government-and-big-business partnerships that grant special privileges to large corporations and help them crush their competitors. Without government interference in the market, these corporations would have to fend for themselves, exposed to the pressures of free-market competition.

  12. Just to build on what Matthew Shrugged points out...not only is Howard Roark the least wealthy and powerful character in "The Fountainhead", he actually takes a job as a common day laborer in a quarry. He breaks big rocks into little rocks for a minimum wage; but it is honest work, and by doing so he remains true his principles.

  13. Id suggest her writing style was disigned to polarise, even amougst people sympathetic to her ideas - i found the novels annoying to be honest but her nonfiction (for me) was a magnificent contribution to liberty.

    Taibbi does dip into thompson playbook way too often but his heart is the right place even if his head isnt some of the work against the banksters is great.

  14. Arguments like these won't convert anyone. Anyone who is liberal will defend Matt Taibbi's position in his mind while reading the anti-Rand rant, while a libertarian will have all of the counterarguments on the ready to soothe himself.

    I was liberal back in 2007 because I hated war and thought only Republicans, Democrats, and Ralph Nader existed. As liberals were correct on the war, I just assumed they were correct on other matters (although I never understood how taxing the rich would help an economy).

    Enter Ron Paul. I then saw a conservative who shared my opinion on war, then that served as a trojan horse for all of his other positions which gave me a better understanding of why liberals are wrong on matters related to money.

    Finding common ground first is way more important. I love the Lew Rockwell/Naomi Wolf interview on Rockwell's site for this very reason.

  15. @Anonymous

    I would normally agree with you.

    In fact, when Taibbi first plagiarized the Goldman story and ran with it, I held my tongue, believing that he would help the story.

    Then I realized he was spinning it. He was trashing the very people he got the story from. He used his pulpit to beat up on the 9-11 movement, including the fine thinker and researcher, David Griffin.

    He even used the story to beat up on Ayn Rand, whom he hasn't read evidently.

    All the while, he protected all the usual Democrat suspects.

    That's how he ended up with a story about the financial crisis that lacks credibility with anyone who knows anything about it.

    All he does is hone every liberal cliche that needs to be undermined.

    How do you make common ground with that?
    And why should you?

    I'd rather listen to big-mouth Rush Limbaugh. At least, when he's not shilling for neocons, he does have an instinct for reality.

    If I want the left, there are braver and more truthful people around whom I'd rather read than Taibbi.

    He was much better when he was at the New York Post.

    Naomi Wolf is a different kettle of fish. She's altogether more honest and even-handed in her thinking.

    I haven't seen her trashing people to advance herself.

  16. Say what you want about Matt Taibbi but he is the ONLY journalist even approaching the mainstream who takes the banksters to task. Yeah he is not perfect, but who is? His relentless kicking of Goldman Sachs in the balls alone is worth reading his blog.

    Not everyone is going to agree on everything, even among Libertarians. But we have to take our allies where we can find them to further an issue. When it comes to the issue of government bailouts Matt Taibbi is a pit bull.

  17. @Tread free Press

    People were dissing Goldman Sachs on the net YEARS before Taibbi got around to it.

    Here's a timeline:

    1. Ann Williamson wrote and testified about the banksters in the 1990s.Didn't go anywhere and she got into trouble over it.

    2. In 2004-05 people were posting anonymously on trading boards that Goldman Sachs was manipulating the markets.

    3. I wrote an article for Money Week in 2006 on Goldman Sachs that is substantially the same (along with two other pieces of mine) as Taibbi's "breaking' story for Rolling Story in 2009 - THREE YEARS LATER AND TOO LATE TO DO ANY GOOD. The only difference is Taibbi dealt with the material so exaggeratedly that it rightly had no credibility in the financial world.

    My research was part of a substantial book about the subject, the ms for which was partly completed in 2008 before it was overtaken by events.

    I shared my research at the time, believing I was working for a community of free-thinking ethical activists, not a bunch of careerists, plagiarists, intellectual charlatans and intelligence operatives.

    4. I followed up with articles in 2007, as did Wenzel in 2007. Another libertarian, Barry Dyke, wrote a book that touched on many details about GS and the banksters in 2007 - it too was ignored by the MSM.

    5. In 2008 EVERYONE was screaming about Goldman Sachs in the hard money community.
    The powers that be began to fear the rage.

    6. In 2008, immediately following a piece in which I tied AIG to Goldman Sachs and speculated they were helping each other out in the bail-outs, Gretchen Morgenson, who had nothing to say about the subject till then and without attributing where she got her lead, outed the meeting between Blankfein and and the Fed.

    And then it became a mainstream story, with all the people who really broke it shut out of it.

    Those people were all outsiders - either immigrants or other "fringe groups."

    But big stories can only be allowed to be broken by "our kind" in New York, not by the rabble.

    By then, the rabble, in the form of the Tea Party, was gathering steam and proving a threat to the MSM and they had to spin the whole story their way.

    And that's what they did.

    Taibbi was a big part of that spinning.
    So why should that be respected?

    7. For example. At the heart of the AIG bail out is Hank Greenberg. Greenberg and AIG and Kroll are quite central to the 9/11 story.
    Taibbi who has been following the Tea Partiers starts plagiarizing their material and tone and "steering" the discourse away from 9/11. Coincidence? Error? Maybe. Maybe not.

    I notice this in 2009 but think at first it is just mistaken. Then I notice his articles often follow up on material first put out by the right..and I watch the spin.

    In 2009 I see his Goldman piece in RS which is a kind of popularized version of material picked up from my articles and articles by some others.

    Then comes his piece on Naked Shorting that depends on others, including researchers at Deep Capture.

    No one is sourced, except, briefly, Patrick Byrne, who is too well-known to be ignored.

    A distinct partisan spin is put on the material and Taibbi riffs off the Goldman anger to boost his career, all the while making nice to the establishment by trashing the Tea Partyiers, 9/11 truthers, and other "fringe lunatics" - the very lunatics whose research exposed Goldman, an expose in which Taibbi had no hand and was some ten years late.


    At every turn he hands out bouquets to other establishment journalists - all with the obvious intention of keeping the mainstream story about the war on terror intact and their credibility unshredded.

    Tell me, if you deal in ideas and words and you twist, steal and lie in that realm, how is it morally different from twisting, stealing and lying in the financial realm?