By John Lawrence
I was startled into wakefulness by the ghost of Ayn Rand, she the author of the Virtue of Selfishness and sundry other solipsistic tomes.
Unlike Scrooge, she is not the least bit repentent. She told me of her new concept of Country Club America. Not everyone deserves to be a member. It’s sort of a metaphysical walled community in which some people get to join; others are left out. Only the Best, the Brightest and the Most Beautiful can be members.
The rest – the homeless, the hoi polloi, the common people, vagabonds, hippies, the proletariat, rabble and riffraff cannot be members.
As for immigration, the basic idea is to only accept the Best, Brightest and Most Beautiful people from all over the world while keeping the commoners out. PhD students, entrepreneurs, people who can start businesses or people bringing with them great wealth are acceptable. Everyone else gets filtered out. No longer will Country Club America accept the poor “huddled masses.”
Emma Lazarus wrote “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The ghost of Ayn Rand made it clear that her followers wanted no homeless, no “wretched refuse” – no cast-offs from the societies from which they emanated. Country Club America didn’t want the Worst, the Dimmest the Ugliest. Au contraire, only the Best, the Brightest and the Most Beautiful would be accepted. In fact certain words are to be air-brushed out of Emma Lazarus’ famous poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.
In their place, the words “Give me your energetic, your rich, your exceptional students yearning to compete for wordly gain, the best and brightest of your teeming shore. Send these, the gifted, the noble, the beautiful, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden [and I repeat golden] door.”
So I asked what would happen to all those who didn’t qualify – those whose imperfections made them less than her demanding criteria required. “Well,” she said, “there would be no need for the gulag or concentration camp to get rid of them.”
She mentioned a concept developed by one of the greatest semantic architects of right wing rhetoric – Richard Nixon. He called it “benign neglect”. This is as opposed to “malign neglect” which would include torture, imprisonment, the gulag etc.
It’s just that the non-qualifiers for Country Club America wouldn’t be encouraged in any way. Some of them by dint of their own hard work and pulling themselves up by their bootstraps might some day even hope to actually make it into Country Club America. The rest would be left to their own devices and devil take the hindermost.
Those with money and lots of it automatically qualify for Country Club America because they have proved that they are the best, ipso facto, no matter how they acquired it. Those with genius or near genius IQs also are readily accepted for membership. But since Country Club America is a private club, not all can be expected to join. There are no guarantees.
Model quality women will not find it too hard to get in since the best and brightest men will naturally want to date them and only them. There are already dating sites for men who just want to date model quality women. Their advertising pitch goes something like this: why date 4s, 5s and 6s when you can date 8s, 9s and 10s?
For men to qualify for admission they must have a net worth of several million dollars and be in the top ranks professionally (and, of course, they must pay), but women get in for free – the right women that is. And then there are the dating sites that are just for the Ivy League. Community college graduates need not apply.
I broke in to argue that civilizations had been built on just the opposite values. In fact much of Western Civilization was built on the values of the Peace Prince who was a champion of the poor and dispossessed. Wasn’t it he who said, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth?”
“No, no,” said the ghost of Ayn Rand. “It’s just the opposite. Not the meek but the powerful shall inherit the earth. You don’t see any meek people who are successful on Wall Street. The Captains of Industry, the entrepreneurs, the upper 1%, they are inheriting the earth, not the meek. Those who start businesses, the job creators, the risk takers – they are not meek. They are self-confident, bold, brash – anything but meek. Meekness is for losers.”
Well, I said, this is certainly a departure from the values of “give me your huddled masses” and from the “preferential option for the poor” that one of our great church people opined about. The ghost of Ayn Rand replied. “Yes it is. We espouse a preferential option for the rich. You know the rich got there by out-competing their peers. They are the winners.
They’re the ones we want in Country Club America and by extension (since the rest of the world emulates us) in Country Club Earth. In competition there must be winners and losers and to the winners belong the spoils.”
“But wouldn’t cooperation advance the interests of the human race more than competition?” I asked naively. “Competition leads to war; cooperation leads to peace and to the consideration of all interests equally and to the recognition of everyone’s human dignity.” “You liberals are always talking about equality when what is really important for the advancement of the human race is the emergence of great men (and women). Nietzsche called it the emergence of the ubermensch.
This superior man would not be a product of long evolution; rather, he would emerge when any man with superior potential completely masters himself and gets rid of conventional Christian ‘herd morality’ in order to create his own values, which are completely rooted in life on this earth. The only way this happens is through competition.”
“So how would you deal with global warming, a problem that requires a high degree of cooperation among all the peoples of the earth?” I asked.
“It’s more important that the Best, the Brightest and the Most Beautiful pursue their own selfish interests than to spend any time worrying about a problem that will mainly create a hardship for the non-Alphas of the world. The rich will always be able to buy their own personal mitigation. Besides global warming has not yet been proven. I don’t think it is really happening. It’s liberal propaganda.”
“It sounds like you want to honor and encourage and support only the rich and powerful and those favored by nature with a great brain or a great body.”
“Isn’t that the way to progress the evolution of the human race? Yes, some people are Alphas, as Aldous Huxley wrote, and the rest are Betas, Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons. We only want Alphas in Country Club America. The rest don’t qualify for admission. They will be filtered out. They are basically takers while the alphas are the makers. Of course we can’t in all honesty say any more that they are ‘job creators’ because all the jobs are being performed by robots these days. Automation has made it unnecessary to have a working class.”
“So what happens to all those who are disenfranchised because they aren’t sufficiently qualified to make it into Country Club America?,” I again asked.
“Benign neglect,” she repeated. “Don’t worry. They won’t be tortured or sent to the gulag unless they are caught with illicit drugs. Illicit drugs will be the right of everyone inside Country Club America, but anyone on the outside, they will have to obey the law.”
“Everyone needs to compete and then the losers get filtered out. It’s important to have a filtering out procedure. Otherwise, the values of the Best, the Brightest and the Most Beautiful get vitiated, compromised, watered down. We won’t tolerate anything less than excellence. We are trying to create, well not exactly a master race here, but evolution should favor the highest specimens of humanity we have available. The rest should quietly live out their miserable existences and eventually die off.”
The ghost of Ayn Rand was quick to follow up this tirade with “I know what you’re thinking, and it’s not like that. Country Club America is an equal opportunity privatized American club. We don’t have to cater to the least common denominator. However, we are open to all – regardless of race, religion, national origin or ethnicity. We don’t discriminate based on the color of your skin or anything else. That other guy, what was his name, tried to just advance the interests of one certain ethnic group while malignantly neglecting certain other ethnic groups. Country Club America is not like that at all. It’s just that we have the highest standards of excellence for membership. Not everyone gets in. No pikers here.”
“You seem to advocate that society should only encourage and support the Best, the Brightest and the Most Beautiful, but the Peace Prince advocated for helping the poor, the homeless, the starving. In fact he said that was the only way you could enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Here, read this”:
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
“What claptrap,” the ghost of Ayn Rand replied. “Stuff and nonsense. Nobody believes in that crap any more. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the greatest of these my brethren, then … inasmuch as … stuff and nonsense …”
Her voice trailed away, and then the ghost of Ayn Rand disappeared.
Ayn Rand faux Christmas cards via akadjian at Daily Kos, and these’s lots more to see there.