Sunday, March 29, 2009

The BBC on Ayn Rand

This time it was Newsnight on Friday night, the culture segment chose to review Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. The episode is here, which probably cannot be watched outside the UK, but give it a go (get past the Vince Cable nonsense first and the Rand bit finishes at about 12 minutes). Why is it mentioned? Because sales have taken off.

Now I criticise the book in only two points. Firstly, it IS too long. It makes the same point repeatedly, which to me (given I already was an objectivist when I read it) was unnecessary. Secondly, it became increasingly predictable what would happen . As such I much prefer The Fountainhead, although Atlas Shrugged is a great tale, it was one which had an outcome I expected. Many better written books exist, but still it makes an important point.

What would happen if the inventors and producers DID go on strike?

It starts with Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute explaining the point of Atlas Shrugged and does so well. However, then Kirsty Wark is generally annoying, but to get Ayn Rand mentioned on the BBC is an achievement in itself. However, it was Rosie Boycott, who was once editor of the Express (barely a step beyond a tabloid rag) who missed the point of the book, and so described it as "full of Aryan heroes" which was disturbing.

The BBC showed it was completely incapable of getting a panel on its show of people with differing points of view - NOBODY who supported Rand was presented.

More disturbing is Boycott didn't bother to investigate Rand's own history as a refugee from totalitarianism, a Jew and a despiser of all forms of fascism. Boycott, who has edited the Independent and the Express (neither known for either being that independent or clever), is a Liberal Democrat, and, and it was "dehuman". "Nobody in the book is vulnerable and human. Every transaction is financial", which of course is total nonsense as well.

The swarmy Andrew Roberts, a historian, said "you simply can't abolish income tax and sack government employees" which is nonsense. The narrowness of this view is astonishing. He calls her a strange if not mad woman, who was chucked out of every political organisation she tried to join.

Sarfraz Manzoor (A Guardian writer) criticises it as lacking humanity and any doubt. all heroes are individuals, but in the real world most things are done as teams. He sees it is too easy to blame government intervention, when it should be the lack of intervention that is the issue.

So there you have it - the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation bringing on three people who largely agree with each other who think radical free market capitalism can't be defended, and that Rand was mad and dehumanising.

Looking forward to the debate the BBC has on whether people who disagree with it should be forced to pay for it - nope, wont be hearing that one soon.

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