Images via Wikimedia Commons
The government shutdown and the raising of the debt ceiling — such things are not usually grist for our cultural mill. But all of that changes when a cultural theorist pins the blame for Washington’s dysfunction on the acolytes of a pseudo-philosopher. Writing in The Guardian last Friday, in simple, straightforward prose, Slovenia’s favorite theorist Slavoj Žižek asks and answers a question in the title of his op-ed: “Who is responsible for the US shutdown? The same idiots responsible for the 2008 meltdown”. And who are those “idiots,” you might wonder? Let me spare you the suspense and jump you down to the last two paragraphs of his piece:
One of the weird consequences of the 2008 financial meltdown and the measures taken to counteract it (enormous sums of money to help banks) was the revival of the work of Ayn Rand, the closest one can get to an ideologist of the “greed is good” radical capitalism. The sales of her opus Atlas Shrugged exploded. According to some reports, there are already signs that the scenario described in Atlas Shrugged – the creative capitalists themselves going on strike – is coming to pass in the form of a populist right. However, this misreads the situation: what is effectively taking place today is almost the exact opposite. Most of the bailout money is going precisely to the Randian “titans”, the bankers who failed in their “creative” schemes and thereby brought about the financial meltdown. It is not the “creative geniuses” who are now helping ordinary people, it is the ordinary people who are helping the failed “creative geniuses”.
John Galt, the central character in Atlas Shrugged, is not named until near the end of the novel. Before his identity is revealed, the question is repeatedly asked, “Who is John Galt”. Now we know precisely who he is: John Galt is the idiot responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown, and for the ongoing federal government shutdown in the US.
We’re not saying it’s the most trenchant analysis, but we do like to take note of intellectual dustups. Speaking of, did you miss the Chomsky-Žižek spat from the summer? It went four rounds. Round 1. Round 2. Round 3. Round 4. And ended in a draw.