A few weeks ago I wrote about how I have a problem identifying dystopian literature. This is most apparent if you talk to me about the book Brave New World. I love the idea that society has a place for everyone, no matter what their physical or mental skill level. I love that everyone is valued. But society in dystopian literature may be disguised as utopia. In Brave New World land, there is no privacy and no individualism. There are no family relationships. There is brainwashing or indoctrination and people need to be on drugs all the time to be happy. The facade is that society is great, people are happy and valued, but there are cracks.
Today, I learned that GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan also has this problem of the inability to analyze literature and realize when something is dystopian. For him, it is Atlas Shrugged.
Full disclosure: I have not read anything by Ayn Rand. I remember in the movie Dirty Dancing, the bad guy Robbie told Baby “some people count, and some people don’t” as he handed her a copy of the Fountainhead.
This is Robbie. The baddie who impregnated Penny then refused to pay for her abortion because he didn’t spend the summer hauling bagels to bail out someone who he falsely believed was a loose woman and probably slept with everyone anyway. And OMG! I just realized now that he kind of looks like Paul Ryan.
And I feel like that, and all the people I have met who are Ayn Rand fans, is enough for me. If I understand correctly, in Atlas Shrugged, business owners whine about too much regulation and taxation and go on strike/leave to go form a utopia where they can run their business unfettered by morals. And they all lived happily ever after exploiting their workers and paying wages that wouldn’t allow their workers to afford to buy their products. That last post-script, everything after happily ever after, was written by me. Even if Rand didn’t intend it, that utopia of the supposed best and the brightest abandoning the society that created them is the false disguised utopia of dystopia because, in part, it cannot work. Look at the industrial revolution and the “pure capitalist” society of the late 19th-early 20th centuries that some people look back to wistfully. It didn’t last because the workers were tired of being taken advantage of. Or killed.
I’m sorry Ryan and so many others of our political and business leaders don’t get that.
(Final thought: if anyone can tell me how to not have WordPress indent everything, I’d be elated.)