What if Atlas Shrugged?
Atlas Telamon, “enduring Atlas”. Zeus condemned Atlas, for he and his brother’s sibling rivalry, in conjunction with the war between Titans and Olympians. The war that followed angered Zeus to the point of reprimanding Atlas to stand at the western edge of Gaia(the Earth), and hold up Ouranos(the Sky), on his shoulders due to his shenanigans.
In many more modern mythical mishaps of marketing and advertising we see Atlas carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, rather than the stars. If it were the world on his shoulders, what if Atlas shrugged…?
This is where the idea of one of the great novels of modern literature comes from. In the book by Ayn Rand called, Atlas Shrugged, Atlas is used as a metaphor for the people who produced the most in society, and therefore “hold up the world” in a metaphorical sense.
I am continually awed by how life imitates art. John Galt is the protagonist in the book which explores the idea of the working class to withhold their ideas or contributions of their inventions, art, business leadership, scientific research, or new ideas of any kind to the rest of the world.
Today we call this protectionism. The idea is the same. Only when the working people begin to understand that they hold the power, and not the rich, they can begin to see the essence of what life holds for all. Today’s ills find America discussing buying America to cure the economy. Despite the fact that the world is the economy and not simply an American economy, or European economy, or a Chinese or Japanese economy.
The metaphor of producing the most, from the book Atlas Shrugged, is the key phrase there. The elitists of Wall Street have exemplified to the world that they actually produce NOTHING. They created NO value. Everything they do can be done on a grass roots level with today’s modern technology.
When the Twin Towers were felled by Saudi extremists orchestrated by the elite rich of the world through…sorry, this is another topic for another day…Our sitting President (literally sitting and reading a childrens book, albeit upside down,) came out from behind the curtain and told America to go shopping.
We have seen our society become consumed with the idea that consuming, buying, spending is the means to happiness. We have spent centuries trying to teach others around the world the same philosophy. But is this “the way”.
Irrational Exuberance, was the phrase to which former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan stated in a speech given at the American Enterprise Institute during the stock market boom of the 1990s. The phrase was interpreted by financial pundits as a typically cryptic warning that the market might be overvalued.
Irrational Exuberance is also the title of the best selling book by Yale economics professor, Robert Shiller, on the analysis of speculative bubbles in relation and special reference to the stock market and real estate.
We are entering into what Ayn Rand called “Obectivism”. Her claims is that the proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness or rational self-interest. This is the key phrase in today’s society, rational self-interest. Today we come to grips with irrational self-interests and exuberance.
We are witnessing modern capitalism and its plagues and problems within its structure. We are seeing new paper being printed with the guarantee that it holds value, although is on a valueless based system. We are seeing that professed value become valueless overnight. We are seeing institutions fall, destroyed by their own misguided structures of governance and process. We are seeing our savings and our guarantees being thrown out and given back to those same institutions to which have failed us. We are being told to trust that they will do better this next time around.
This is a perfect moment in our history to come to terms with the fact that the system as we know it is broken, and some say does not work. Some say it is simply a matter of time and this is a sign that that time will come. Rather than bailout a failed system, we should recognize the opportunity that is in front of us. We are blessed with a moment in time to which we can change what is broken. Our society has run out of band-aids and it is time to throw out what does not work.
Perhaps it is time for Atlas to shrug. We all carry the weight of our own world on our shoulders. What if we all simply shrugged, and said, “Well, that doesn’t work, let’s just start over with a blank slate, but a decent outline.”
We could all simply erase our debt, like the banks are doing. We could simply begin again with a new number, since the FICO score system is now failed and no longer can apply.
We have the opportunity to take pieces of what we have created over the past centuries of capitalism, merge it with some concepts of nationalism, and sister that with some principles and practices of socialism, all the while we attempt to make things equal for all as under the auspices of communism…
With so many isms out there, why do we have to stick with one?! I don’t understand that…
So, like Atlas, I shrug.
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