On a recent trip to Colorado, I fired up the Atlas Shrugged audiobook. As I passed a line of train cars sitting empty and idle, noted the high gas prices, and listened to complaints about gas station supplier shortages, it occurred to me that Rand’s 1957 novel made a number of chillingly accurate predictions about our modern Wokestopia …
Like many immigrants who escaped communism, Rand knew firsthand the corrosive effect of politicizing the industries that supply and feed our economy. The central plotline of Atlas Shrugged follows the accelerating political corruption of American corporations. Rand painted a picture of a kind of corporate/leftist fascism that feels familiar to us in 2021. …
Gone are the days when we believed that good speech overcame bad speech. Rand’s novel depicts something similar as the government pressured and blackmailed the main character into making sure her public statements conformed with the mandate to praise its bankrupt policies. …
The recent collapse of the high-speed rail project in California illustrated Rand’s premise. In 2008, the voters of California authorized a $33 billion project to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco with the kind of high speed rail service utilized by the Japanese or the French. As recently noted by Kevin McCarthy,
The California High-Speed Rail project is one of the most expensive failures in State history and could cost $100 billion, more than three times the $33 billion that was initially estimated. This project, still nowhere near completion, was also expected to begin service in 2020. But that timeline has since come and gone, and now rather than three years behind schedule — which was already inexcusable to California taxpayers that were sold a bill of goods in 2008 — it is once again off the rails. As a comparison, the Transcontinental Railroad was built in 6 years almost completely by hand and over a century and a half ago.
All government-led construction projects seem to be taking longer and longer as the projects become increasingly weighed down by myriad lawyers and consultants who don’t build anything. Like an animal drained of its life by parasites, the California project simply died under the weight of opportunists cashing in on their political power. …
When everything is illegal, selective enforcement hands power to those who decide when to enforce the law:
Rand predicted that administrative agencies eventually would seize the power to promulgate laws. She described an agency, the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources, that had the power to issue “directives” with the full force of law.
We have only to reflect on 2020 and the many quarantine-related “recommendations” the government enforced as vigorously as any act passed by Congress. With the stroke of a governor’s pen, politically motivated mandates closed churches and canceled concerts while abortion clinics and liquor stores continued operations as usual. Rand’s character, Dr. Ferris, who bears an eerie resemblance to Dr. Fauci, explains the Left’s fetish for laws:
Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?. . . We want them broken . . . We’re after power and we mean it. . . . There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. . . . [Just] pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted — and you create a nation of lawbreakers — and then you cash in on guilt.
Just look at how the deep state uses “the law” against usurpers:
When Democrats lost the 2016 presidential election, they immediately launched a multi-front legal assault on the elected president that continues to this day. Even as I write this, a New York prosecutor is working up a dubious criminal case against the former president based on the idea that it’s criminal fraud for Trump to argue for high asset valuation on an insurance or loan application if he also pressed for a lower valuation of that same property for purposes of his property taxes. We all know that it doesn’t matter what Trump did or didn’t do. The law will be bent to punish him for taking power away from Democrats. It’s that simple.
There is a natural tendency for a successful nation or empire to become soft and corrupt when it becomes secure, as individuals help themselves rather than helping the common weal. Self sacrifice is out, and me-me-me is in. This softening process tends to continue to just above the point where an internal revolt against the ruling class becomes possible. So the country drifts along as corrupt, but not so corrupt as to allow overthrow from within.
Of course, historically what eventually happened is some other nation or group — more vigorous, serious, and focused, and above all less corrupt — came along and conquered the nation, and the next cycle began.
Now we operate on a global scale, so there are far fewer outside groups or nations. And on the internal front, modern technology has made the military power of the masses decline in comparison to state forces. Who knows where the new equilibrium is?
How corrupt and inept can the West become, while still remaining preeminent?