October 10th, 2011 14:44 EST
Are We Going to Keep on Buying Ayn Rand's Anti-Christian Scam?
Is the paltry consideration of a little dirty pelf to individuals to be placed in competition with the essential rights and liberties of the present generation and of millions yet unborn " And shall we at last become the victims of our own abominable lust of gain? " "George Washington.
Was that blood in the snow for Wall Street fat cats?
The new television series A Gifted Man raises the very issue the Wall Street protestors are raising: what do the greatly privileged owe the society in which they flourish?
Ayn Rand would say the privileged owe nothing, since they`ve acquired status and wealth by dint of their own natures, and her profoundly anti-Christian answer has sufficed for successive administrations in Washington, for Alan Greenspan, for Ron and Rand Paul, and for much of the political right. But Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts is saying nobody achieves wealth and position alone, it is always with the consent and help of society. For Warren, and for the surging protest movement, it`s obvious the poobahs should pay a fair share of the privileges and opportunities and services society provides them. Philanthropy isn`t enough. Mostly a tax write-off, it`s predicated on the idea of handouts to losers, a win-lose society, a horse-race society, not a win-win society.
Patrick Wilson plays Michael Holt, a brilliant surgeon who wouldn`t think of taking on a Medicaid or charity patient. Jennifer Ehle plays Anna Lindberg, the ghost of his ex-wife who ran a clinic for the poor before her untimely death. She is haunting him to carry on her work. He is waffling, drawn to the idea, still in love with her, but powerfully entangled in his rich man`s existence.
We don`t know how many Michael Holts are watching the protesters out of their Wall Street windows. But we`ve already seen Wall Streeters quaffing champagne and mocking the protesters, unconcerned that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, political opposites, both feared that corporate greed would bring down our republic, as it very nearly has.
Synchronicity is inherent in the zeitgeist; the theme of A Gifted Man is probably no accident. Television series like Law & Order have long said what the press can`t seem to articulate, raising issues that should be on the front page every day. It`s one reason I still watch television. As corporatism rots the press`s backbone the scriptwriters still sneak bombshells past the business office, and probably to more effect than a headline would have.
We don`t know yet if the Wall Street protests are going to be the Valley Forge of a new era of social responsibility. George Washington, who with his army suffered horrifically from the greed of American farmers and merchants who chose to traffic with the British while he and his men starved, greatly feared the triumph of greed over idealism. But his army emerged from Valley Forge with Ã©lan and discipline. And many of us hope that an army of the conscientious will emerge from these protests.
Many a savvy pundit has given Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his police commissioner Raymond Kelly something like a free pass. Their fascist response to the demonstrators in the country`s most diverse and tolerant city has bitterly disappointed their many admirers. The bogus free pass is based on their ages. The mayor is 69, the commissioner 70. I`m 77, served in the Navy and took part in the anti-war Vietnam Era protests and several strikes. We are what we choose to become, not merely the sum of our data.
So what do the members of our stinking rich one-percent elite owe the rest of us? As for me, I owe my country everything, and if it means higher taxes to help others I`m up for it. I owe each and every fellow American "that is the point Ms. Warren, the most intelligent candidate for the Senate to appear in a very long time, has been saying. I owe everything to fellow Americans who have consented to a society that gives a damn about the unfortunate, that agrees to protect my rights. Ayn Rand`s followers see losers where I see fellow Americans, and I don`t want any of them to lose.
Nada: Congress is saying the winners, often predators, owe the losers, often victims, nada, nothing. But look what that philosophy "trickledown Reaganomics "has brought us. Ruin for everyone but one percent of the population. And is nada what we owe the children of the poor returning from bankers` and profiteers` wars to find no jobs and often no homes? Is joblessness what we owe the students who can`t pay for their educations? That one percent got rich on these people`s backs, as Elizabeth Warren has been saying. But why should it have taken Ms. Warren to say what the media have known all along, what the politicians know?
What do Americans owe each other? To play by the rules? Is that what Wall Street has been doing? I don`t think so. Are the mayor and his commissioner playing by the rules? The rules say the protestors deserve as much protection and consideration as the bankers. Those are the rules that ragamuffin army at Valley Forge fought for. They didn`t fight to make the merchants and farmers who turned their backs on them that terrible winter even richer.
Winter is coming. I think this is our Valley Forge. I think we now must ask ourselves, Do we follow Jefferson and Washington or Ayn Rand, Ron and Rand Paul and other corporate stooges? Do we give a damn about each other? Do we give a damn about our returning soldiers? We were all too happy and eager to wave flags and wildly send them off to war, but now many of them are sick, living in the street, and few of them can find work to support themselves or their families.
And we`re covering our asses in a thousand ways. Look at the new mini-series Homeland with Claire Danes and Damian Lewis. Ask any veteran whether an E4 Marine comes home to a nice ranch house in the suburbs on his measly pay. Not unless he was well off in the first place. So here you see one mingy little aspect of the great cover-up of the yawning gap between the one percent and the 99 percent.
On a grander scale, look at our advertising: it`s not the America we live in, it`s not an America that can afford to buy what it`s selling. It`s a surreal America, a kind of after-image of the America we were on the verge of having before conscienceless predators destroyed our economy and washed their meals down with Dom Perignon.
Michael Holt`s conscience may be elevated by the ghostly Anna, but it`s by no means certain Wall Street`s conscience will be elevated by the brave protesters Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly are all too willing to sweep off the streets into jail, jails largely paid for by society`s have-nots.
Djelloul Marbrook`s first book, Far from Algiers (Kent State University Press, 2008) won the 2007 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize and the 2010 International Book Award in poetry. Artists` Hill, " an excerpt from his unpublished novel, Crowds of One, won the 2008 Literal LattÃ© first prize in fiction. Artemisia`s Wolf, a novella, was published by Prakash Books of India early in 2011. Alice Miller`s Room, a novella, was published in 1999 by OnlineOriginals.com (UK) as an e-book, and Bliss Plot Press of Woodstock, NY, recently published his novella, Saraceno, as an e-book. Orbis (UK), Smashwords.com, Potomac Review (Maryland) and Prima Materia (New York). His second book of poems is Brushstrokes and Glances (Deerbrook Editions, 2010). Recent poems were published by American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Oberon, Meadowland Review, The Same, Reed, The Ledge, Poemeleon, Poets Against War, Fledgling Rag, Daylight Burglary, Le Zaporogue, Atticus, Long Island Quarterly, ReDactions, Istanbul Literary Review, Arabesques Literary and Cultural Review, Damazine, Perpetuum Mobile, Attic, and Chronogram. A retired newspaper editor and Navy veteran, he lives in Germantown, NY, with his wife Marilyn, and has lifelong ties to Woodstock.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal LattÃ©`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com