Atlas Shamed, or What is Wrong with Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged?

My novel Joseph’s Easel, the Rise of an American Picasso makes a case that Capitalism is classic mob mania, is more ominous than insanity, and that unregulated Capitalism is fixated on legitimizing all the characteristics of sociopathic behavior.

I intend that the primary antagonist of my novel to be the literary symbol of raw Capitalism, and as such, he, Clap Kruegerrand, will be indistinguishable from the classic sociopath, not because I twist words to equate the capitalist with the sociopath, but because no accurate description of either, or both, can distinguish between a capitalist and a sociopath.

Kruegerrand is religious. He is a very successful farmer, who owns dozens of other businesses. He is a force in central Indiana. He likely will remind readers of individuals they know in their communities–big shots, whose sociopathic personalities are devilishly designed for success in a capitalist society.

Krugerrand personifies the capitalist heroes of Ayn Rand’s books, heroes she mistakenly, if not maliciously, created to convince the world that sociopathic characteristics in tall, wealthy men are noble and admirable.

Clap Kruegerrand, in Joseph’s Easel, demonstrates what is wrong with unguided, unregulated Capitalism. His character flaws clothed in success and acting out in hilariously ridiculous behavior teaches that systematizing and institutionalizing sociopathic behavior and naming it Capitalism does not make it ethical, moral, right or desirable, even if a famous author says it does.

Systematizing and institutionalizing sociopathic behavior and naming it Capitalism does not make it ethical, moral, right or desirable, even if a famous author says it does.

I am serious. Listen up, Ms. Rand: Simply systematizing and structuring sociopathic behavior and worshiping it as an all-powerful God named Capitalism gives it no honor, nobility, virtue or effective use in a just society.

Simply systematizing and structuring sociopathic behavior and worshiping it as an all-powerful God named Capitalism gives it no honor, nobility, virtue or effective use in a just society.

Consider:

Social scientists and psychologists describe the depraved sociopath using the exact same words that Economists and Ayn Rand followers use to coach and advise and motivate the aspiring Capitalist entrepreneur.

  • The sociopath as well as the capitalist is glib and uses superficial charm to sell his selfishness as being important to your life and your business’s life. In addition to thousands of other authors of business advice, Pratik Dholakiya, in 5 Habits of Relentless Entrepreneurs, coaches the capitalist practitioner “to learn to hustle, even if hustle does not come naturally”. 
  • The sociopath as well as the capitalist is manipulative and cunning in order to get you to do that which benefits her or her business. Capitalist gurus on university staffs and through How-To Books for sixty years have taught that “…there are no true friends in a capitalist economy or in a free society. Excellent capitalists are all sharks. They circle and wait for traces of blood to appear in the water. It is a mistake for the entrepreneur to forsake the shark persona and merely emulate the King of Beasts, because a lion works only when it is hungry. Once it is satisfied, predator and prehy then live peacefully together. The true capitalist is never at peace with the public” 
  • The sociopath as well as the capitalist never recognizes the rights of others and sees her self-serving behavior as not only permissible but preferable, even virtuous. In The Culture of Terrorism, Noam Chomsky warns America about the danger of a sociopathic society that accepts and worships self-serving behavior under the presumed constitution of Capitalism. “There are few genuine conservatives within the U.S. political system, and it is a sign of the intellectual corruption of the age that the honorable term ‘conservatism’ can be appropriated to disguise the advocacy of a powerful, lawless, aggressive and violent state, a welfare state for the rich dedicated to a lunatic form of Keynesian economic intervention that enhances state and private power while mortgaging the country’s future.”
  • The sociopath as well as the capitalist appears to be charming, yet is covertly hostile and domineering, seeing other people as merely an instrument to be used. They feel they have permission to dominate and humiliate other people in order to gain advantage for themselves or their business. 
  • The sociopath as well as the capitalist has a grandiose sense of self and feels entitled to a killing field that favors his needs and his business.
  • The sociopath as well as the capitalist has no problem lying through the teeth, coolly and easily, and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a functional basis, because the truth often stands in the path of getting their way and/or making their business richer.
  • The sociopath as well as the capitalist can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own, or their company’s powers and abilities, because they are captured by the first belief of importance to them–the belief that they or their business is the most important thing in the world. Entrepreneur.com insists that the businessperson “become a shameless self-promoter.
  • The sociopath as well as the capitalist has a lack of remorse, shame or guilt, because since he is at the top of the needs ladder, all things are virtuous that help move up the ladder all those solutions for his or his company’s needs. In fact, there at his throne at the top of the needs ladder, only the degree to which something serves the capitalist or the sociopath will define the functional measure of value and virtue.
  • The sociopath as well as the capitalist does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities to benefit him or his business.
  • The sociopath as well as the capitalist believes the end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in the way of their self-interest and the bottom line of their business. Steve Jobs recognized the problem when he criticized John Sculley’s business principles. 



“John Sculley ruined Apple and he ruined it by bringing a set of values to the top of Apple which were corrupt and corrupted some of the top people who were there, drove out some of the ones who were not corruptible, and brought in more corrupt ones and paid themselves collectively tens of millions of dollars and cared more about their own glory and wealth than they did about what built Apple in the first place.” –Steve Jobs



  • The sociopath as well as the capitalist has a refined ability to fake warmth, joy, love and compassion, because those emotions serve as ruthless tools to get what he wants or what his business needs.
  • The sociopath as well as the capitalist gets outraged by insignificant matters, yet remains unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person, because his sense of proportion always distorts value systems in order to justify his god-like all-important self-interest.
  • The sociopath as well as the capitalist is unable to empathize with the pain of other people, because to do so would impair his ability to serve his own or his business’s needs. Bill Boulding, Dean of Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, preaches, “There is no growth in comfort.”
  • The sociopath as well as the capitalist believes he is all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, is limited by no sense of personal boundaries, and has no concern for their impact on others, because such qualms would limit the “good” they can do themselves and their business. Steli Efti, Co-founder/CEO Elastic, Inc. advises the businessman to be relentless in the face of refusal. Apparently, the only time a successful businessperson should ignore a client or customer is after they have paid their money. And the most crucial time to bully the potential customer is when the customer indicates he or she wants to be left alone.
  • The sociopath as well as the capitalist is not concerned about wrecking others’ lives and dreams and are oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause, because such sensitivities inhibit the brutal drive to get what they or their business wants.
  • The sociopath as well as the capitalist does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts the sociopath/capitalist obviously committed, because such insight blinds them to the shortcuts that they need to use to serve their desires and their business interests.
  • The sociopath as well as the capitalist prefers a parasitic lifestyle to a realistic life plan, because realism stands in the way of the easy road to success for him or his business.

And so it goes, in real life as well as in my novel, Joseph’s Easel, the Rise of an American Picasso.

 

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