Rich People Things: Ayn Rand, La Dolce Vita Redubbed and the Plutocrapocalypse!
Who’s suffered most in the Great Recession?
Why, it’s the rich, the affluent, the meritocracy, of course!
So says — satirically — Chris Lehmann in his new book, Rich People Things.
From the publisher’s description:
It’s never easy being rich: endless tax avoidance, the Sisyphean search for reliable domestic staff, the never-ending burden of surly stares from the Great Sea of the Unwashed as one goes about one’s rightful business. Toughest of all is simply keeping track of everything one owns. There’s so much of it. And personal possessions are just the beginning.
You must keep a gimlet eye, too, on the myriad people and institutions that safeguard your gilded status: politicians, newspapers, financial instruments, branches of government. They all belong to you. But staying on top of what they’re up to is a full time job. What’s an overstretched gazillionaire to do?
Here’s an excerpt from the book, in which Lehmann describes Ayn Rand and her Objectivist philosophy (Rand apparently based her heroic Atlas Shrugged character, John Galt, on an infamous serial killer of the 1920s, William Edward Hickman, whom she admired):
The vast, daft appeal of the Ayn Rand’s brutalist market propaganda is at bottom a simple thing. As Rand envisions things, the individual will is simply prior to all the contingent, petty concerns of human community and history. And so it stands to reason that society should be ordered to unleash the gifted minority who grace it with their genius. If an American Tea Party protestor resents the depredations of the taxing state, it must follow that he or she is possessed of the same primal stuff of genius that propels Rand’s heroes into their tragic confrontations with the envious masses — and the expropriating state that gleefully does their demotic bidding. This callow Manichaeism flows from perhaps the most noteworthy appeal of Rand’s writing — her early career apprenticeship as a Hollywood screenwriter. For all the absurdities of plot and characterization that riddle her work, Rand’s potboiler fiction is also insanely readable. It is as agreeably broad, splashy, and romantically tortured as any major Hollywood production. The general effect of her novels on the reader is roughly akin to witnessing a Cecil B. DeMille adaptation of F. A. Hayek’s libertarian manifesto The Road to Serfdom, under the influence of a mild hallucinogen.
Here’s a bit of dialog from the hilarious trailer (below) that the publisher created for the book.
HE: “You know, right, that the New Deal failed to create a single real job?”
SHE: “I love it when you talk dirty!”
THE TRAILER (cleverly re-dubs a scene from La Dolce Vita):