eA White Nationalist Review of “Atlas Shrugged, Part I”

Note by Sean Gabb: We are publishing a diverse range of reviews of the Atlas Shrugged filem. This is perhaps the oddest of them all – a rather appreciative review of a Jewish libertarian by an anti-semitic white nationalist. We can hope for these people to read much more by Ayn Rand, and something by Rothbard and von Mises and all the others. They might learn something containing more truth than the works of Kevin MacDonald. In the meantime, this is odd to the point of eccentricity!

by Trevor Lynch

I saw Atlas Shrugged on Saturday, April 16th. It was a sold-out showing to an all-White audience in a predominantly White area. The audience contained a large contingent of Tea Party people, mostly Christian, as well as libertarians and Objectivists. There was geeky anti-government banter as we waited for the movie to begin. There was applause after the movie ended, but I did not join in. In fact, I found this to be a deeply disappointing adaptation of the first third of Ayn Rand’s epic novel about the role of reason in human existence and what would happen if the rational and productive people—the Atlases that carry the world on their shoulders—were to shrug off their burden and go on strike.

Atlas Shrugged could be a spectacular movie. It is certainly a spectacular novel, although not a perfect one, primarily because it is deformed by the grotesque excess of Galt’s Speech, 60 odd pages in which the novel’s hero John Galt explains Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. But I have to hand it to Rand, because at least for me, she managed to make even Galt’s Speech a page-turner. In truth, although I reject Rand’s individualism and capitalism and would not have lasted five minutes in her presence, Atlas Shrugged is one of the most audacious and enthralling novels I have ever read—and I have read most of the classics—and even it does not equal Rand’s earlier novel The Fountainhead. Atlas Shrugged is the greatest mystery novel of all, for it is about what makes civilizations rise and fall. It is the greatest adventure of all, for it tells the story of a man who stopped the world.

Although Rand opposed racial nationalism on philosophical grounds (with a sentimental exception for Zionism, of course), there is still much of value in her novels for racial nationalists. Rand started out as a Nietzschean, and her novels offer powerful defenses of aristocracy and critiques of egalitarianism, democracy, mass man, and mass society. All these elements are in tension with her later philosophy of reason, individualism, and capitalism. Indeed, Rand felt the need to reframe, revise, or simply suppress her earlier, more Nietzschean writings. But the “sense of life” of her novels is so in keeping with the spirit of fascism that her first novel We The Living was made into a movie under Mussolini, a fact that Rand later obfuscated with tall tales and a revised version of the novel. (The Italian We the Living, by the way, remains the only good film adaptation of a Rand novel.)

The Fountainhead can be read profitably alongside The Culture of Critique, for it effectively dramatizes the techniques of Jewish subversion of American society. Rand’s villain Ellsworth Toohey sums up his game as playing the stock market of the spirit—and selling short, meaning profiting from the decline of our values, which pretty much sums up the rise of American Jewry to the top of our society on a tide of smut, decadence, degeneracy, lobbying, swindling, pop culture, and casino capitalism.

Rand, of course, never saw it that way, and Rand’s own movement Objectivism is just as much a Jewish intellectual movement as the Frankfurt School. Although they use very different arguments, they function to produce the same result: a radical individualism that renders cohesive ethnic groups like Jews invisible to the majority, which maximizes their collective security and upward mobility, since cohesive collectives have a systematic advantage in competing with isolated individuals. (Rand called the mostly-Jewish inner circle of her movement “the collective.” It is supposed to be a joke, but the joke may be deeper than most people imagine.)

Atlas Shrugged, moreover, lends itself to a racial interpretation. Atlas Shrugged is about how a creative and productive minority is exploited by an inferior majority because of the acceptance of a false moral code (altruism) that beatifies the weak and pegs the worth of the strong to how well they serve their inferiors. When one asks “What is the race of Atlas?” it all falls into place. The Atlas that upholds the modern world is the White race, which is being enslaved and destroyed by the acceptance of a false moral code (racial altruism) that teaches that non-Whites fail to meet White standards only because of White wickedness, and that Whites can only expiate this racial guilt by giving their wealth and power and societies to non-Whites.

Altruism is ultimately nihilism, since when the inferior finally cripple and destroy their superiors, they will perish too. But such consequences don’t matter to locusts, parasites, and people in the grip of false values. The only thing that will save us all is a moral revolution, a new form of egoism, although I part ways from Rand on the nature of this revolution, since she is an individualist and I am a racial collectivist. Rand thinks that the individual is more important than the group, which is what you would expect of a childless woman who lived largely in her head.

Rand’s aesthetic is deeply fascist—and Socialist Realist—with its emphasis on man’s heroic transformation of nature through science, technology, and industry. Rand also had a taste for Nordic types. All of her heroes are tall, lean Nordics. Rand, born Alissa Rosenbaum, was not.

Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart, Vice-President in Charge of Operations for Taggart Transcontinental

The Atlas Shrugged movie is poorly cast. In terms of looks, the best choices are Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart, Grant Bowler as Hank Rearden, and Rebecca Wisocky as Lillian Readen. John Polito, the Italian gangster in Miller’s Crossing (“It’s about ethics . . .”), was a good choice for Orren Boyle. Michael Lerner looks great for the role of Wesley Mouch, but his personality is a bit too forceful. Matthew Marsden as James Taggart is too handsome for the part, but he makes it his own.

The worst choices are Edi Gathegi, a Black actor, for the Nordic Eddie Willers (the same actor displaced another White actor for the character of Laurent in the Twilight movies), and Jsu Garcia (couldn’t they afford a whole Jesus?), who looks like a debauched mestizo, for the blue-eyed descendant of Castile Francisco d’Anconia. The actors cast as Hugh Akston and Dr. Robert Stadler are both too young for their parts, and Stadler looks Middle Eastern and speaks with a heavy accent!

As for the acting, it is pretty much undistinguished throughout: strictly

Edi Gathegi (right) as Eddie Willers (with Matthew Marden as James Taggart and Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart)

soap opera grade. The best-realized roles are James Taggart and Lillian Rearden. Eddie Willers is an embarrassment. A wooden Indian would have been just as expressive and — more importantly from the producers’ point of view — even cheaper and just as politically correct. Or is there a message in casting a Black man to play a character who is essentially a faithful mediocre sidekick?

As for the script, it is shockingly pedestrian. Rand gives us an abundance of eloquent dialogue, but almost none of it is used. It soon becomes apparent why: whenever a bit of it slips in, the actors sound as wooden as Gary Cooper in King Vidor’s 1949 movie of The Fountainhead, meaning that they don’t have the brains to understand the dialogue or the skill to sell it. Rand’s dialogue is not naturalistic, but if an actor can sell Shakespeare, he can sell Ayn Rand. Tolkein’s dialogue is certainly not naturalistic, but it was faithfully adapted and beautifully delivered in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

But given a cast of blockheads and Brooks Brothers models who read from teleprompters, we could not have Francisco d’Anconia’s money speech. We could only have colloquial naturalism with vulgarities like “crap” and “bullshit” thrown in. I suppose we should be grateful that we were not told that Galt’s motor was “awesome” and the Equalization of Opportunity Act “sucked.” (I wonder if the script contained emoticons. Maybe the performances would have been improved.)

Tamara de Lempicka, Self Portrait

The whole look of this movie is wrong. Visually it is astonishingly flat, dull, and unimaginative. Rand’s novel requires a Brazil look: Art Deco in a vague “future”: hair and wardrobe by Tamara de Lempicka, interiors by Edward Hopper, industrial scenes from Thomas Hart Benton, casting by Arno Breker (although the men would need to be less beefy), sets by Frank Lloyd Wright, all directed by Leni Riefenstahl. Of course that would have cost money, but the real poverty in this film is of imagination and taste. Instead, we get a film set in the near future (2016 and 2017) that feels the need to explain the prominence of rail transport with an energy crisis.

The greatest aesthetic flaw of this film is the contrasting treatment of nature and industry. A film of Atlas Shrugged should glorify and aestheticize human achievement, especially heavy industry, and there is plenty of fascist, National Socialist, Socialist Realist, and New Deal art that they could have drawn upon to do this (but of course that would be “politically incorrect” from an Objectivist point of view). But instead, we have only pedestrian low angle shots of rail yards full of box cars — which might actually have been visually captivating if simply viewed from the air. The scenes of the Readen factory and the building of the John Galt Line offered many opportunities for visual splendor and dynamism, but they are pedestrian at best. The best sequence is the first run of the John Galt Line, one of Ayn Rand’s most brilliant feats of description. (This was the only scene in which I even noticed the music.) But even here the movie pales by comparison to the printed page. I was left wondering: Did the director even read this book?

Thomas Hart Benton, “Coal”

The inept handling of industry is underscored by the intrusion of nature photography. Ayn Rand looked at nature as merely the raw material and backdrop of human achievement. But in the movie of Atlas Shrugged, the most beautiful scenes are of mountains and prairies. During the first run of the John Galt line, Dagny Taggart and Hank Readen’s achievements are dwarfed by the beauty of the landscape. The focus should have been on the train, the rails, the rising throb of the engines, the telephone poles rushing by faster and faster, as a vast streamlined art deco engine shot like a bullet toward the gossamer arc of the great bridge of Rearden metal. The spectacular Rocky Mountain landscape and sky should have been hidden by a drop cloth of clouds, fog, and rain.

Edward Hopper, “New York Office”

The treatment of sex in this film is also objectionable. When Lillian Rearden asks her husband “Through are you?” as he rolls off her, there was a gasp in the theater. (James Kirkpatrick reported the same thing in his brilliant review at Alternative Right.) Talking to Tea Partiers afterward, I discovered that the gasp was due to their strongly Christian orientation. Apparently it struck them not as vicious and condescending, but simply as pretty racy stuff. Later, when Hank Rearden began his affair with Dagny Taggart, there was a less audible but still real reaction in the audience, for the same reason. The only real criticism the Christian Tea Partiers had was that the movie portrayed an extramarital affair in a positive light.

The affair is, by the way, significantly altered from the book. In the book Hank Rearden is profoundly conflicted about his attraction to Dagny, which he attributes to mere animal lust which tempts him to violate his wedding vows, which he treats as a matter of honor, even though his marriage is a loveless hell. When he finally gives in to temptation, it is one of Ayn Rand’s famous “rape” scenes. In the movie, after the running of the John Galt Line, Rearden in effect says, “Here we are, at the moment of our greatest triumph, and all I want to do is kiss you.” Dagny coyly replies, “Why don’t you then?” Cut to a tender lovemaking montage. (I could not help but think of Rand’s own parody “Sorry baby, I can’t take you to the pizza joint tonight, I have to go back to the science lab and split the atom.”) Is moral conflict and rough, passionate sex just too politically incorrect these days? Again, what were the filmmakers thinking?

Why was Atlas Shrugged made on the cheap? Apparently the producers could not come up with a script or a concept good enough to raise the money and attract the talent to do a first rate movie, and since their option was expiring, they decided to do a second rate movie instead (and managed to pull off a fourth rate one). This level of cynicism is frankly breath-taking. One has to ask: Is this how Howard Roark would have made a movie? (If this film accomplishes one thing, it will make us appreciate the 1949 movie of The Fountainhead more.)

From now on this should be referred to as director Paul Johansson’s Atlas Shrugged, for it is Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged in name only. (Johansson turns out to be every bit the director that one would expect of a soap opera hunk.) It is merely an exercise in masochism to wonder how a visionary director of epics like Zack Snyder or Peter Jackson or Oliver Stone would have brought Atlas Shrugged to the screen, because we will never know. Vidor’s The Fountainhead was bad enough that more than 60 years later, we are still without a decent film of one of the greatest American novels of the 2Oth-century. Which means that there will never be a decent movie of Atlas Shrugged in my lifetime, thanks to the selfish mediocre bastards behind this cinematic abortion.

26 responses to “eA White Nationalist Review of “Atlas Shrugged, Part I”

  1. C H Ingoldby

    It is good to see pointed out that Ayn Rand wasn’t really a Libertarian. Ever since I read ‘Atlas Shrugged’ I have known that she was basically a power worshipper with fascistic tendencies. Odd that she should be considered as almost the founder of Libertarianism when she was so anti Libertarian.

    Perception and reality often difference to extremes.

  2. Well I dunno. I must admit that as the kind of person who want to shout fuck in church because you aren’t supposed to, I think there’s a good argument for why the LA blog should publish such deeply politically incorrect items as a white nationalist review. Indeed, in a time of intense moral coercion, it is virtually the individualist’s duty to shout fuck in church, just to assert the right. But I still don’t buy the nationalist, or racial, analysis.

    The big error here for me is the assertion of a Jewish plot. The problem is that history doesn’t actually back that up. The metamorphosis of western anglosphere society began with, and continues to be primarily the province of, Protestants. A particular breed of Protestants who came to political power from the end of the eighteenth century onwards. That same cult who were wisely deliberately excluded from political office, universities and the like after the Restoration of the Monarchy as an attempt to prevent them ever holding power again, in the same way as the Germans banned nazis from political office.

    Of course there is a Jewish component in the Progressive Movement, but that doesn’t mean it is a Jewish conspiracy, because it isn’t. Indeed, the striking thing is that so many Jewish leftists were lapsed Jews, striving to be good Protestants and then good secularists and atheists, as the Progressives shifted from Jesus to Scientism. Marx himself for instance was a Protestant ethnic Jew.

    Anyway, the central core of our Enemy in the anglosphere arose from the Nonconformist post-puritan Christians, not from the Jews. So really from my perspective, that analysis just misses the boat entirely.

    Still, an interesting burst of counter-hegemony.

  3. C H Ingoldby

    True, a certain type of liberal Protestant thinking has been a consistent undermining and sapping force from within. Eroding traditional liberties and freedoms. Almost ascribing virtue to self hatred.

    George Orwell diagnosed it well.

  4. Well, I must say that that is a very old-fashioned attitude to take. Why is it you think only good actors should have been cast? What would that have meant for the less fortunate types? Personally, I think the producers should be applauded for having selflessly given the parts to those actors who needed them most, rather than selecting only by ability. What is ability anyway? Merely the chance possession of certain desirable attributes. And why shouldn’t the dialogue be made more accessible to the little guy? Your whole review hinges on the assumption that such concepts as ‘better’ and ‘worse’ really exist. But nothing exists, that’s the ultimate truth.

  5. Ha! “nothing exists”… including “Jake Shmook” and “his” “comment”.

  6. Let’s just see how the general public votes; that is, with their dollars.

  7. So as the LA is now hosting “White Nationalist Reviews” will it also be hosting “Black Nationalist Reviews” and “Chinese Nationalist Reviews” of various cultural offerings to give us insights into various profoundly un-libertarian world views?

  8. @Ian B
    Marx himself for instance was a Protestant ethnic Jew

    Some fruit loops seem to think that Marx was a Satanist [rolls eyes].

  9. Is that really any more loopy than the whole Jewish conspiracy bollocks?

  10. If there were a black or Chinese nationalist review of the Atlas Shrugged film, we’d carry that without hesitation. The same applies to reviews by Islamic fundamentalists. Please do supply links to any that you may have come across. We require only that they should be in English and show some awareness of the novel and of Objectivist philosophy.

    I think it interesting that there are people outside the libertarian movement who think Ayn Rand worth discussing in terms that go beyond the ill-informed dismissal found in the mainstream media. If they find anything at all there that they like and admire, they should be encouraged to find much more.

  11. Will it be released here in England?

  12. If there were a black or Chinese nationalist review of the Atlas Shrugged film, we’d carry that without hesitation.

    Why? Do they lack uncritical nationalist distribution channels of their own? And would they also be published here without critique?

  13. Why is this an issue for you Perry? What’s your beef, exactly?

  14. Bernie – I don’t know, but AR has enough English followers to justify some release. Otherwise, it will surely be out on DVD before Christmas.

    Perry – I’ll defer to Ian B in this debate. Before I bow out, however, I’ll say this. The purpose of the Libertarian Alliance is to spread libertarian ideas. We do this in part by drawing attention to potentially interesting developments within non-libertarian or anti-libertarian movements. The Occidental Observer has so far been routinely hostile to any form of libertarianism. It has now carried a long and thoughtful essay by a white nationalist and possible anti-semite who thinks that AR, though Jewish, is one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century. I find this both interesting and possibly significant.

    I do appreciate that your own vision is much narrower – indeed, less tolerant – than ours. I will not protest, therefore, if you are drawn to a false understanding of what we are about. Third parties may understand what we are about, though, when I say that you are welcome to make whatever further comments you please, and that these will not be removed, and that you will not be barred from this blog.

  15. C.H. Ingoldby.

    Ayn Rand did not like the word “libertarian” (in politics – not in philosphy, in philosphy Rand was happy to say that she believed in agency and opposed the theory of deterimism) because some libertarians were also moral subjectivists.

    Ayn Rand accepted the nonaggression principle (to associate her with Fascism is the sort of error that only the left, plus Fascists themselves, would make) and was a libertarian in all her political opinions – whilst avoiding the word (for the above reason that some political libertarians were also moral subjectivists).

    I think Rand’s avoiding of the word “libertarian” in politics was silly, but that was her choice.

    Rand supported the nonaggression principle and private property rights – real farms and business enterprises on planet Earth. Not fantasy property based on the magic pixie dust of an unbroken chain of “just acquistions” going back, again without a single break, through all the centuries of eternity – so that, for example, if land changed hands violently a thousand years ago, the present owners are not “just” owners.

    Rand rejected all that – and Objectivists do today.

    That makes them allies – defenders of liberty and the private property ( real existing private property) on which it and civil society are based. Against the forces of collectivism – both red flag and black flag (whether Fascist or AnarchoCommunalist/Mutalist).

    There is a vast difference between opposing subsidies for a farm or other business and saying “this does not justly belong to you because in 1066…..” or “because when the Saxons invaded Roman Britain…..” and so on.

    Ian B.

    What is Perry’s beef?

    Well I am not a mind reader – but I can tell you what my beef would be.

    Having a “racial nationalist” who says how he opposes “individualism” and “capitalism” on a site that pretends to be libertarian.

    That it the “joke” of it.

    Ayn Rand was a libertarian – in every sense that matters (both philosphically and politically) but the lady did not like the word.

    And Sean Gabb is not a libertarian (not philosophically, he is a determinist, and not politically – indeed his manifesto worked out at even HIGHER government spending than there was at the time) yet he does use the word.

    And he invites in “Racial Nationalists” who oppose “individualism” and “capitalism” on to a site which supposedly exists to promote libertarianism.

    Actually it is quite logical.

    The “Racial Nationalist” hates libertarianism – and so does Sean Gabb (both philosophically and politically), so they get on well together (that is only to be expected).

    It is the use of the word “libertarian” in connection with this site that is the problem.

  16. Hmmm. Rand’s aesthetic views have always reminded me a bit of the “socialist realism” school in the old USSR. So it’s interesting when a national socialist admirer of Atlas Shrugged imagines it as being fully realized in film only with totalitarian architecture and poster art.

  17. I suppose it will send a few people into orbit if I confess to a liking for socialist realism. There is a lot of good, second-rate socialist art in Bratislava.

  18. Well, that artistic style was used because it was visually effective. All those heroic workers and so on, very striking. It’s certainly better art than Emin or Hirst, not least because it is at least actually art.

    It’s interesting really how all our political movements are rather old now. Libertarianism is 18th century. Socialism and communism are secularised anabaptism and calvinism. Fascism was just the apotheosis of 19th century nationalist ideologies. And Greenism and Mutualist left-libertarianism are just early Victorian bourgeois distaste at industrialism, warmed over. Even apparently radical feminism is just the old Social Purity movement.

    So Ayn Rand’s philosophy is very much of her time; it’a an oxymoronic movement really, a collectivism of individualism. I can never decide whether that is a result of Rand being a foolish and vain cult guru, or of Rand being a sly old bird who thought, “well, if people are going to join silly movements, let them at least join a pro-capitalist one”, which was perhaps not an entirely bad strategy.

    I am thinking of doing something similar. My movement will be called B-ism, or just Bism, which initiates will know is pronounced “Bee-ism”. When people say, “O leader, what should we do?” I will adopt a cryptic and other worldly expression and say, “Just B. That is enough. It is better to B than not to B. That is the answer.”

  19. The review is way off base. Rand wrote AS during the 40s and 50s. There weren’t many blacks in high positions, so I think it didn’t occur to her to put them in her book. An unfortunate oversight, but no one’s perfect. The director in today’s world could have made some of the exes black. Too bad he didn’t. But I can’t say I see racism. I see America as it was when the book was written. As for the sex, they wanted to keep a 13 rating. Can’t be done with rough sex. It was a choice I agree with.

  20. I’d make a really awful cult leader. Not only have I feet of clay – I rather enjoy showing them off.

  21. @ Ian B
    Hahahahaha! Good one! Why ever did nobody think of it before?

  22. By the way, let me confirm that I posted this review, not David.

  23. This was a very bad idea.

  24. As a WN myself, and an admirer of Rand’s novels (if not her views on Race) I want to say that my fellow WN’s are simply unable to respond with a an objective interpretation of her works. For them, under every rock lies a “Jew”. For them, it is the fact that Rand was a Jew – not what she says – that makes everything she says suspect – regardless of the objective facts. I would no more trust a review by a typical WN than I would from a leftist.

    Hold Back This Day: new edition @ $12.95
    The Towers of Eden: new edition @ $14.88

  25. Julie near Chicago

    The only person who should be legally allowed to play Francisco d’Anconia is Andy Garcia. (He has exactly the right aristocratic look, he is of genuinely Spanish heritage, he positively emanates both brains and decency, and behind the emanation his life shows that is both brainy and decent. –He’s a Cuban exile, by the way, and very much an anti-Castro activist. Oh, by the way–he can act.)

    “Rough sex” omitted from the A.S. movie? Glad to hear it, since I don’t recall it in the book, either. Maybe you’re thinking of another book.

    “We should promote the idea that all people may or may not be equal, but Whites are more equal than others–unless they’re Jews” seems rather a common theme in certain parts of the “White Supremacist” and “White Nationalist” movements.