Tax bites

15 Dec

My conversion to libertarianism happened when my best friend in the 9th grade, Emily Wilhoite (this blog is your fault Emily), spent the better part of a school year begging me to read Ayn Rand’s novels, so she would have another person with whom to discuss them.  As a junior high schooler I had read extensively but mainly only science fiction – Asimov, Heinlein, Pournelle – and pop socialist  authors like Alvin Toeffler.  Emily finally devised a stratagem of insisting that Atlas Shrugged was indeed a science fiction novel, a novel about what happened when a new motor is invented that uses a new energy source.  I grabbed the book and flipped through it and told her “this is not science fiction,” but agreed to read it and The Fountainhead that summer, for the sake of the friendship.  (Aren’t Randians all supposed to be friendless high school malcontents, by the way?). Little did I know…

Ayn Rand didn’t really use science fiction elements in her novels, and certainly not the currently popular occult fantasy elements, though references to Greek mythology are plentiful: Galt’s Gulch like Olympus is in on the highest mountain in the west;  John Galt like Zeus controls atmospheric electricity; Hank Rearden, like Hephaestus, is a divinity of metal, and a cripple (in Rearden’s case by accepting the guilt tripping from a vampiritic spouse and family); Dagney Taggert has grey eyes, like Athena; one can keep going.  Rand sometimes resorted to the metaphor of cannibalism for modern political movements that scapegoat and parasitize one group to buy political power for a ruling class. But she did not use metaphors of vampirism.

References to occult, demonic and divine figures are not unknown in political philosophy.  Aeschylus  invokes the Furies in the Oresteia, a play about the creation of the rule of law.  Hobbes titles his book on the foundations of justice after a biblical monster, Leviathan.  The Republic tells a myth about the three Fates, whose work controls the human world.

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