America’s greatest social critic ever, the woman who gave Rush Limbaugh birth and glory, the late philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand, was a master-mythician, a specialist in the use of myth to diagnose and resolve politicized issues against historic polarities. In her novels as in her nonfiction, she amasses and deconstructs classical and contemporary myth to tend the social garden of our failed aspirations across all manner of ethnic expectations.
Prominent in her application of myth, predictably, is Prometheus, First Man of Enlightenment, captured in that stolen stalk of fire that blew alight the real world, unleashing its productive potential. Rand’s use of the “twisted torch of Prometheus” in her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, as the last image seen by a trainload of doomed passengers as they tunnel off into oblivion, burns in the reader for a lifetime of pursuit in the face of the most nightmarish opposition.
And these are the times that are indeed burning times. Randian myth provides the best conceptual framework to unpack the mad moral equivalences that have just won the day in the Middle East fraudulent ceasefire of unceasing hostility.
So much more savage than the vaunted “Newspeak” of George Orwell, Ayn Rand probes deeper into the vocabulary of apologists for terror. She begins with the very category of crime that provides domicile for this harvest of hate.
Rand made war on the Euronotion of political crime. To her, crime is crime is crime is crime. (Note: the assertion is stated four times, not three, though I assure you, the woman would never have read Gertrude Stein!)
Long before law enforcement was muzzled with reinforcements of political correctness, Ayn Rand exploded that abominable protective cover we have come to know as “racial profiling.” For Rand, the very concept of race is a most atavistic device, a decadent denial of individual accountability that serves only to shield unadorned depravity in the advance of naked power.
Rand’s elevated soul, shot through and through with a raging sense of justice, led her to the epiphany that when men are judged in terms of their political motivations, as opposed to a simple view of crime as crime, victims are marginalized to the point of displacement, or what I have called derecognition. That is, a complete stripping of one’s very role in, and relevance for, the venture at stake. A loss of identity, as if one were not and had never been part of the story in the first place.
Exactly as has triumphed in the emerging myth of terrorist Hezbollah in Lebanon. Right from the start, Israeli victims were marginalized, even as Israel itself was demonized as an American monstrousity. The irony secured all its nuance from the loon-left.
On the one hand, there was more mention given to Arab Israeli victims of Hezbollah Katyusha rockets in Nazareth than to the eight Israeli soldiers so cold-bloodedly murdered in the initial Hezbollah raid. On the other hand, the only mistake Israel seemed to make was to gain the upper hand militarily.
A more muscular double standard is difficult to conjure. How did they pull it off? By deconstructing victimhood in explicit terms of political currency. Initially, Hezbollah terror had “dug in,” over the last six years since Israeli withdrawal. Then Hezbollah became a “resistance” of Israeli re-occupation.
Rand’s predictive reach touched all this over a quarter-century ago when she cursed the post-Vietnam isolationism of the new left, whose especial victims she said would be Israel and Taiwan.
Fast forward to post-modernist poseurs, political, corporate and otherwise. Consider the co-optation of Google by the Chinese dictatorship, censoring internet sites, spying on dissident searches, violating the very nature of the business the pseudo-capitalists so desperately seek to do with the state-capitalists. All the while that oasis of real capitalism, Taiwan, cowers, still considered but a breakaway province (Formosa) by the Butchers of Beijing. This is what we stand to sell out in our brave new isolation from reason itself.
And now Israel is grounded as Hezbollah regroups to raid another day.
One re-reads Rand with shock and in awe. The new isolationists just threw Joseph Lieberman overboard. The Orthodox Jew, Democrat, long-serving Senator from Connecticut, his party’s Vice-Presidential candidate just six years ago, was simply too supportive of Israel and Bush policy in the Middle East, even to win a routine nomination to run for another term as Senator.
Just over a decade ago, as the Ruin of Rwanda was not making the news, I issued a dire Randian warning that the failure to articulate the Holocaust against Mao’s monstrousities, Stalin’s, assorted others’, could only provoke a backlash. I argued that the killing of any Jew because he is a Jew is a Holocaust. I warned that the six million figure had been turned to fetish. Now the “arithmetic of the Final Solution” has finally been betrayed against every last living Jew. Any killing by Israel in a struggle simply to exist is said to be an annihilation.
And as a diabolical corollary, the Western media articulate any move against terror as a recruitment kit for terror.
Rand died in 1982 exactly as Hezbollah rose from the embers of unreason that would consume Lebanon.
Who will revive the Randian idiom and update the attendant image in a new myth for truth?