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Jack Graham

Jack Graham wrote about Doctor Who and Marxism, often at the same time. These days he co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper.Support Jack on Patreon.

14 Comments

  1. Timber-Munki
    October 25, 2015 @ 5:48 am

    Surely his great crime is been an apologist for the wrong dictators & terrorists.

    Rand always strikes me as sociopaths justifying their actions along the lines of ‘look it’s not pathology it’s a rationaly thought out worldview, that makes sense it’s even got an ‘-ism’ at the end’

    I just wish that she hadn’t appealled to so many 50s & 60s sci-fi nerds so her pernicious views wouldn’t have ended up getting filtered to the high functioning tech master exploiters of the world we’ve ended up with.

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  2. Prole Hole
    October 25, 2015 @ 5:48 am

    Well that was really rather wonderful. I wish I had something insightful, penetrating and thoughtful to add here, beyond mere agreement, but I don’t. So I’ll just say what I said – really rather wonderful.

    (Also rather wonderful – my Capthca is EUDW Make of that what you will).

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    • John G Wood
      October 28, 2015 @ 10:35 am

      Indeed, rather wonderful. I do have one observation to add. I don’t think Labour stand a chance of being elected just by luring Tory voters away from the Dark Side, but if they can do some of that and also put a lot of work into enticing those who haven’t been voting because they feel disenfranchised by having nobody to vote for, then there’s a chance. I anticipate an uphill struggle, for all the reasons Jack has expressed; but for the first time in a long while it feels as if there is the combination of both dissatisfaction and hope that can actually lead to change (on occasion).

      Reply

  3. Camestros Felapton
    October 25, 2015 @ 5:52 am

    As we saw with Milliband if there is isn’t substance for the tory press to use as smears they will just make shit up or focus on how a man eats a bacon* sandwich. Embracing controversy is a way to play the media. The problem with both Corbyn and Milne isn’t what their ideology is but whether they can keep their shit together and their egos under control and/or organise the metaphorical piss-up in a brewery – but that problem isn’t unique to the left-left or even the centre-left or even the left.

    *[Pigs, again? The big bad at the end of this season of ‘British Politics’ will clearly be a pig monster hence all the foreshadowing and cryptic clues]
    [I am a robot]

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  4. Iain Coleman
    October 25, 2015 @ 9:26 am

    Milne’s main problem in his current role is that most journalists think he’s a prick. Not in itself a bad thing, you may say. But his job now is to

    (a) Get positive stories about Labour into the press

    (b) Keep negative stories about Labour out of the press

    and it’s hard to see how he can be effective in that role.

    Reply

  5. Daniel Harper
    October 25, 2015 @ 10:06 am

    To my regret I don’t know enough about Milne or Corbyn to comment intelligently on the main post, so I’ll just move on to the “Also.”

    I’m glad you’re enjoying Susan’s blog — she’s one of a handful I actually do check every day. It speaks to the democratizing power of the internet that a bored housewife can so regularly eviscerate “thought leaders” in positions of authority at major publications, and it unfortunately speaks to the endurance of power structures that those regular eviscerations do absolutely nothing to prevent the furtherance of the careers of those “thought leaders.”

    Regarding Randian heroes, I think Tony Stark and John Galt both come out of the same basic source: the kid-hero supergenius inventor type from pulp fiction of the 30s and 40s, hence the similar DNA. Something often missed about Galt is that he’s not just an ideological ubermensch, but has invented what amounts to a magic free energy machine, without which “Galt’s Gulch” wouldn’t be possible, just as Stark’s arc reactor makes his toys possible. The difference, of course, is that Stark is intended to be a silly comic book hero, while Galt is intended to be an attempt at serious political and moral philosophy. If we actually lived in a world where boy geniuses could build world-changing free energy sources with a handful of scraps in a cave, I’d be much more willing to listen to the ideas of anarchocapitalists and other right-wing ideologues. As it is, many of the ones I speak to in real life and on Facebook seem to believe that the world we live in actually does have boy geniuses who would give us free energy and all that, if only the silly EPA would get out of the way….

    I like the Vaughn/Galt comparison as far as it goes, but I think a better example from Rand is Gail Wynand, the newspaper tycoon from “The Fountainhead” who has made a fortune repeating the biases of an ignorant public back to them and calling it news. Rand portrays Galt (and Howard Roark, the hero of “The Fountainhead”) as effortlessly strong ubermensch of unbending moral virtue, men who do not seek power over others, while Wynand has taken an abusive childhood and an act of cruel indifference towards him as a young man as an excuse to be a sociopathic tyrant towards his employees, his lover, and the world at large. Wynand, like Vaughn, allies himself with a powerful force (the fickle public for Wynand versus the Cybermen for Vaughn) that he believes he controls, but eventually finds that this belief is faulty to his ultimate ruin.

    As far as it goes, I have no doubt that the Randian ubermensch industrialist was very much part of the genesis of the Vaughn character, and I’ve equally no doubt that if we could peer through the low-resolution black-and-white images, we’d find a copy of Atlas Shrugged somewhere in Vaughn’s office….

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  6. Gene
    October 25, 2015 @ 1:27 pm

    My main issue with Milne is over Ukraine. I think he plays up the role of fascists in Ukraine while downplaying Putin’s own peculiar position as the inspiring leader in a red-brown coalition–the wrong kind of red, I’ll add–a sort of revival of the Third Position or National Bolshevism horseshit. Just look at the international observers for the Crimea referendum–the majority of them were fascists or Stalinists.

    It’s bizarre to me how some on the left will champion Putin as a bulwark against Western imperialism (and I’m not saying Milne does this, but I’m just ruminating on the topic). Western imperialism is very bad, but the Russian Federation is also founded on capitalism and paired with an authoritarian government, so I don’t really see how it’s a net positive, outside of maybe having an equilibrating function when it comes to Western encroachment.

    Of course, I’m no war of war with Russia, whether a shooting war or a cold war, and I get that’s Milne’s point about the whole thing, but I’ve found a lot of the left’s attitude towards the ousting of Yanukovych a little unfair. I feel bad for Ukraine as it’s caught between antagonistic powers. I would like the war to end, even if that means the integration of the east into Russia–Western Ukraine has a different culture anyway, so if we’re going to do this stupid nation-state bullshit, it’s not an unrealistic division. I just think smearing Western Ukrainians as all a bunch of fascists is a little rich when Putin is an idolized figure among the international fascist movement. Russian propaganda about the Maidan also has some disturbing elements of anti-Semitism.

    Again, I’m not saying Milne is guilty of all this, but a little more sympathy for Western Ukraine among leftists would be welcome to me. I have some personal connections to Ukraine: an ex-partner, and also one of my best friends is an anarchist historian of Ukraine who is fluent in both Ukrainian and Russian and has been to Russia and even lived in Ukraine. My historian friend is resolutely left-wing and no fan of American imperialism or Ukrainian fascism, but is still disturbed by Putin and sees the revolution as positive for Ukraine, whatever the right-wing element that is undoubtedly present.

    Anyway, I think the post is pretty spot-on, but I just wanted to say something on this subject.

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  7. Gene
    October 25, 2015 @ 1:34 pm

    That should read “no fan of war with Russia,” rather than the incoherent garble you see above.

    Reply

  8. Prankster
    October 25, 2015 @ 2:21 pm

    Re: the Tony Stark thing…it’s always interesting to me that there have been a few attempts to shoehorn Randianism into superhero narratives–most notably by Steve Ditko, an actual Randian–despite the fact that the superhero concept is always going to be fundamentally at odds with Rand’s. Even Iron Man, who has more right-wing DNA than most superheroes, acts altruistically and for no personal gain, which is of course a big no-no for Rand. Granted, Randians often perform logical cartwheels in order to explain why people acting like decent human beings in defiance of Rand’s dictates are REALLY being faithful to them, and I’m sure they would do so in the name of superheroes, but these remain…unconvincing. The real reason, of course, is that people like superheroes partly because they’re altruistic, which makes them useful propaganda for Randians, which necessitates reclaiming altruism in some heavily compartmentalized form.

    I’ve been consistently disappointed by superheroes in movies moving away from pure altruism, which may be a function of the medium–movies like nice, tidy stories in which the hero (for example) has to clean up a mess he’s created, or is caught up in a larger plot related to gaining his powers, while serialized narratives like TV and comics can rely on altruism as a useful story engine.

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  9. SK
    October 26, 2015 @ 1:00 pm

    Reply

    • plutoniumboss
      October 27, 2015 @ 9:21 am

      I’ve read your posts going back years. You’re a theocratic nutcase, and an arrogant prick, besides.

      Reply

      • Elizabeth Sandifer
        October 27, 2015 @ 9:26 am

        Now now. Be nice.

        After all, you’re the chump who still reads SK’s posts after all these years. 😉

        Reply

        • plutoniumboss
          October 27, 2015 @ 11:07 am

          True.

          Reply

  10. n
    October 29, 2015 @ 6:20 pm

    If all Rand’s ‘heroes’ are identically perfect, Why is Dagny Taggart the one to get renamed Sue?

    Reply

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