Thursday, April 5, 2012

PROPAGANDA REVIEW: The Spring 2012 Issue of “The Undercurrent”

Do a bunch of Ayn-Rand adoring dweebs and dorks have anything worthwhile to say about the Occupy Movement and the Ron Paul Revolution? As if you didn’t already know the answer…


You know, one of the great things about college that nobody ever really talks about is that it’s probably the most opportune time of your life to get a hold of some down right crazy-ass newspapers put out by fringe ideologists. Over the last four years, I’ve tried samples of the best journalism the communists, anarchists, radical vegans and Jehovah Witnesses of North America have to offer, so consider me extremely enthused upon finding the latest copy of “The Undercurrent” at my campus.

What, you’ve never heard of “The Undercurrent,” the internationally printed alternative campus newspaper based on the writings of Ayn Rand? Well, you, my friend, don’t know what you’re missing.

Before we can delve into the contents of the newspaper (a term I use with an almost Madonna-esque level of looseness, by the way) I suppose a brief primer on my relations with the almighty Ayn are needed. Admittedly, I’ve never read an Ayn Rand book from start to finish, for the exact same reason I’ve never shoved a cactus up my rectum (one of these days, though, I promise I’ll watch “Atlas Shrugged,” if only for the straight up Schadenfreude value.) From what I’ve collected however, Rand is an absolutely heinous, heavy-handed author with a complete lack of tact, sense of characterization, or even the basic ability to weave together a coherent story that isn’t bogged down in hundreds of pages of self-connilinguising (it’s sort of like self-fellating, if you were wondering) nonsense. If the only thing I could charge Rand with was being a turd-tastic writer, I probably wouldn’t even waste my time with such a trifle. That said, Rand’s fans - both past and present - have turned that beady-eyed hack into something well worth deconstructing and debasing in a public forum.

I’ve always considered Ayn Rand to political philosophy what L. Ron Hubbard is to astrophysics. There really isn’t anything that Russian windbag said that has any sort of bearing on real life economics or public policy, but the same way thousands of Scientologists will tell you that there are alien microbes in our blood stream and that the planet was created when Martians dropped a nuke in a volcano, the “Objectivists” out there will tell you that ALL of our socio-political woes could be remedied if ONLY we took “The Fountainhead” to heart. This, I suppose, is sort of like framing a military defense strategy around the works of Dr. Seuss.

A lot of people call “Objectivists” a political cult, and they’re probably right. Of course, the adherents of Rand’s philosophy/utter bullshit will regularly criticize Marxists and religious folks of all sorts for basing their political beliefs on the dogmatic scripture of certain texts, but what do you know? Objectivists, you see, are exempt from accusations of “hypocrisy,” because their philosophy, they are quick to tell you, is based on “reason.” In fact, “Objectivists” seem to corner the market in terms of rationality, owning and possessing the one true path to self-enlightenment, the same way all of those naïve Christians and Muslims believe THEY own and possess the one true path to self-enlightenment in terms of morality.

So, I reckon I’m being quite forthright with all of you when I say I think Ayn Rand, Objectivism and pretty much everything associated with the terms is pretty stupid, contradictory and generally mendacious, before I even get into digesting the contents of “The Undercurrent.” I’m not claiming to give anybody a fair, impartial or unbiased review here…which, at the end of the day, makes me more commendable under Rand’s own philosophy than just ANYBODY that claims to be a follower of  “Objectivism” (and certainly, any of the dorks and dorkettes penning propaganda for this literary abomination.)

The first thing you’ll notice about the Spring 2012 issue of the newspaper (outside of realizing that it isn’t Darth Vader on the cover) is that it seems to be attacking two of my favorite popular causes, the Occupy Movement AND Ron Paul-a-Mania. For a few seconds, I actually gave the paper (really, more of a pamphlet if we’re trying to be technical here) the benefit of the doubt, and assumed that the commentary therein may have actually been…well, not all that awful and shitty.

The point to take away here? Even when they get it empirically “right,” the Objectivists still find a way to suck and sound like utter and complete jerk-holes.

Let’s begin with the feature story, shall we? According to Valery Publius (a boss monster in the Game Boy version of “Kid Icarus,” I do believe) the Occupy Movement is stupid, pointless and counterintuitive because the kids don’t have any designated cultural leaders, a concrete set of demands in regards to social change and ESPECIALLY because of their hypocritical celebration of guys like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. In other words, Publius is pretty much right on the money…that is, until she decides to say all of that damn brotherhood is what’s really keeping the youth of today down.

“By maintaining that each of us is his ‘brother’s keeper,” she writes, “this code has tied productive people to the ‘needs’ of the derelict through the chains of guilt.” This, it is to be noted, is situated RIGHT ABOVE an ad for…and I shit you not…a sex life-improvement manifesto based on Rand’s teachings.

Oh, Objectivism: the only pseudo-philosophical movement in history in which "beatin' it" is considered an act of valor.

As far as the rest of Publius’ rant goes, she rolls out the old platitudes we’ve heard a million, billion times before. Blah-blah-blah, “the Founding Fathers were actually Objectivists,” blah-blah-blah, “the motive power of human action,” blah-blah-blah. She concludes her spiel with a lengthy quote from “Atlas Shrugged,” which I will summarize accordingly: “Be a money-grubbing prick, and things will be all right.” Come to think of it, that pretty much summarizes her entire bibliography, if we were being honest about it.

Considering the sizable Ron Paul following amidst the Objectivists of America, I was somewhat surprised to see an article penned by Nicholas Marquiss (who looks sort of like that kid that we all know that used to eat boogers at recess for other kids’ milk money) take the contrarian stance and actually criticize the libertarian icon. Unfortunately, Marquiss’ disagreements with Paul’s platform is limited to simply disputing his pacifist stance against military actions directed towards Iran. I really ought to draw up a picture of Carl Winslow taking a step outside a door that reads “exit,” because this shit right here is a real “cop-out” if there ever was one. 

According to Dorkface McDweeb, America's education system would be a lot better if it was more like the music industry. Really.

There are a couple of more articles in there, but they really don’t contain anything of note. Some guy named Noah Stahl writes about how things would be better if we focused on fundamentals  as an abstract , all-purpose principle (an idea that no one has ever thought of before, of course) and Alexander Hrin says some boring bullshit about energy regulation. Our good buddy Marquiss actually has an additional essay in there, in which he considers “state-sponsored-schools” (we used to call them “public” ones) to be “enemies of liberty.” Seeing as how it’s never explicitly stated whether or not Publius (who is described as a “teacher in the American South”  in her bio) works for a private or public institute, does that make the staff of “The Undercurrent” such “enemies of liberty” by association? According to their own philosophical dogma, the answer appears to be a resounding “heck yeah.”

You know, you really don’t need me to tell you that “The Undercurrent” is a crappy newsletter. That, I suppose, would be readily apparent to anyone with a working set of eyeballs. That said, I would STILL recommend that you give it a glance if you ever see a stray copy floating around, if only to see some case study-worthy examples of just how dry, logically circular and utterly irrelevant Rand’s philosophy is to the modern state of American affairs. I mean, the best writers these guys could find were a bunch of bifocal-sporting dweebs with early 1990s haircuts that excel only in demonstrating the fallacy of reductio de absurdum, so that ought to give you a pretty clear picture of the kinds of wannabe-capitalistic-supermen that home in on this crap like dung beetles on an overturned outhouse.

That said, I will say that, at the end of the day, I did find the “The Undercurrent” to be an excellent paper of an entirely different variety, however…


Hankering for some more critiques of libertarian lunacy? 
Check out my review of “The Morality of Capitalism” RIGHT HERE!

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