Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, October 8, 2010

Why We Can't Have Nice Things

John Derbyshire proudly relates a tale of free market capitalism, in which he proves that conservatism is just an excuse to be a jerk. And to prove that his assholery was not a fluke, he adds a condescending little post about his wife. I cannot even begin to imagine what his children have had to endure--the hostility, sexism and warped ideas of masculinity he radiates at all times must be unendurable.

Speaking of assholes, Alan Greenspan tells us flatly that the poor must suffer so the tax rate for the rich remains at its current obscenely low level. Hey, he's been right so far!

ADDED: Sadly, No! animates the Derbyshire exchange . We give it two thumbs up!


Clever Pseudonym said...

I've dealt with film crews who were obnoxious and disrespectful of other people needing to get places, but Derbyshire is 100% dick here. He was taking a leisurely stroll. The woman was being more than polite. All he had to do was be a gentleman and turn and walk the other way. Why do these people actually get off on bragging about the fact that they're complete jerk-wads?

Anonymous said...

Susan, do you think you could give us the shorter so we don't give Derbyshit any clicks.



Anonymous said...

What could have possibly induced that rather sensible sounding woman (she did peg his behavior accurately) to marry that prig?

D Johnston said...

@Anonymous #1: Well, I'm not clicking on that second link (I know the shit he talks about his wife) but as to his first little anecdote: Derbyshire is riding his bike along the beach. A woman asks him to take another route since they are filming on the beach. Derbyshire refuses, demands she pay him, and implies that he'll charge her with a crime if she doesn't let him go. It's worth reading, actually - outside of Dr. Mike Adams, I've never seen anyone so proud of being an asshole.

Mr. Wonderful said...

This is right out of Atlas Shrugged, where the proud, nostril-flaring super-heroes and heroines proudly, flaringly never do anything for each other without demanding, or offering, compensation. Except when the exigencies of the melodramatic sci-fi-for-high-school-conservatives plot requires it, of course.

You can bet that thousand dollars that Derbyshire, after this example of converting common courtesy into a commercial transaction, will with his next breath deplore the lack of "civility" and "old-fashioned courtesy" in today's world.

Clever Pseud., the reason they get off so much on bragging about it is the same reason they jump up and down and cheer when Vargas-Llosa wins the Nobel, and claim him as one of their own: the inescapable insecurity of the lifelong nerd.

Clever Pseudonym said...

Mr. W. - and here I thought it was because they were just massive, selfish a-holes. Nice to get some insight into the psychology behind it.

It's just like Megan - constantly using a sneering, condescending tone that's inappropriate for her audience and the subjects she writes about, while congratulating herself on her civility because she never uses the f-word while she's doing it. These people fancy themselves as well-bred and finely mannered when their own behavior constantly suggests quite the opposite.

Anonymous said...

What's next? Will our hero decide to fart agressively at the dinner table until all the other diners pay him to desist?

Still, the part of it I love is that he clearly walked on to the beach simply in order to spite the film makers and the woman because he actually suffers, dragging his bike through the sand. In other words, he takes a nice stroll on public land and as soon as he imagines he can commodify it and profit from it the meaning of the experience changes and he is forced to walk on, dragging the bike and thinking longingly about the money he could have made and irritably about the woman who failed to back down and give him the money.

Its pathetic, really--in every possible sense of the word. This man simply can't be, can't enjoy the day, can't take a walk, can't interact with another human being without attempting, totally uselessly, to profit by it. And since he tells us he would have been willing to settle for basically nothing he puts himself on the auction block for nothing, and then has to settle for less than nothing.


Kathy said...

I always thought I was a nerd. I read a lot, including but not limited to plenty of Science Fiction (the sciency kind, I didn't much care for Sword & Sorcery stuff), have just a few good friends, not especially outgoing.

I hate to think of this feculent specimen (Derb) as a "nerd". The Nerds I know who attend Science Fiction conventions (not those dedicated to shows like Star Trek or Babylon 5, etc.) are intellectual, and witty, and are kind, thoughtful and generous

I'd call Derby just your garden variety Looser. And I bet he knows that, hence his rotten attitude toward life.

Mr. Wonderful said...


Apologies. My high school years were 1966-1968. ("Junior high" included 9th grade.) I'm working with an obsolete notion of "nerd."

I mean, they're the awkward "outcasts" who, for whatever reasons, felt excluded by the kewl kids. There's something both desperate and gloating about their public displays of "principle," their punditry, and their propaganda.

Which results, of course, in their playing to the victimized, the professionally-persecuted "Christians," and everyone else who harbors resentment as a lifestyle.

Substance McGravitas said...

I've dealt with film crews who were obnoxious and disrespectful of other people needing to get places, but Derbyshire is 100% dick here.

Yes. I have hated many a film crew, but I can hate the Derb just a little bit more.

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing: if I were enjoying a public park and a film crew told me that they "had the rights" to the park and I needed to move on I might be ticked off. I might even be annoyed enough to call the park rangers and my local rep to make sure that they had the right to monopolize public space that way--presumably they had to pull permits and pay a fee just as I would have had to do if I wanted to hold a kid's birthday party or a political rally. Its a public park and certain public rules apply to make sure that it remains open to the public and isn't degraded or monopolized by people from outside the district who are using it in ways that it wasn't intended for.

So there's a certain convergence between some version of Derbyshire and a liberal--we might both object to a corporation using its wealth to take air/time/light/space away from the public. But the thing about Derbyshire's objection is simply that he couldn't successfully commodify his tiny portion of the public space. Its not a principled objection on behalf of the public. Its a selfish assertion of rights, and an assertion that money trumps all rights as long as its mutually agreeable between two parties as long as one is Derbyshire.

One can easily imagine a situation in which the film crew come upon five kids and derbyshire each using the beach. The film crew asks the kids to move on but they have no where else to play and they also ask Derbyshire. He demands monetary compensation--he can be "made whole" with money, but the kids can't. There's no place else for them to play. Under these circumstances does anyone think for a moment that Derbyshire would allow the kids need for a place to play and their refusal to accept monetary compensation to affect his ability to extort money from the filmmakers? Of course not. In short order derbyshire would have hired himself on, for the money, and started to browbeat the kids into going. Because he's already shown that, to him, money is the measure of all things.


Susan of Texas said...

It's strange that it never occurred to Derbyshire that the beach was free to him only because of the government and taxpayers. What would he have said if all of Long Island's beaches were sold off and he had to pay $1000 to take his little walk?

Kathy said...

I was trying to imagine myself in the same situation: film crew member asks me not to wander thru a specific area while they are filming. I think I'd be more interested in what they were filming, and ask to be allowed to watch. Why the instant hostility? They weren't trying to bully anyone, chances are they had a permit if one was required.

Susan of Texas said...

Heh, I would have done the same thing. I don't see that sort of thing very often so I would have been curious.

I read up on Derbyshire and he's a menace as a public intellectual. In fact I should start a "Meet The Cornerite" series because they are a very strange lot. The more conservative party knows about their fellow members the less they respect them.

Derbyshire is racist, has a military and gun fascination, and is grossly sexist and homophobic. He's like a character in a British play from the 1950s, maybe the racist and perpetually aggrieved Major who served in India whom everyone politely avoids. And he's not the only extremist who works there.

Downpuppy said...

Power/aggression is very central to movement conservatism.

It's far ahead of country, or any principle - just read what they say about the executions on the Rachel Corrie.

Is the whole Conservative Movement about looking for boots to lick? I haven't seen anything to falsify the notion.

Tommykey said...

Derbyshire is racist, has a military and gun fascination

IIRC, he castigated the students at Virginia Tech for not physically attacking the shooter.

I also have a recollection from years ago, when I used to be a conservative (I eventually grew out of it!) and subscribed to National Review. The Derbster had an article about the joys of visiting the local Home Depot. And being the proud Protestant Anglo Brit that he is, he couldn't help but remark that he liked that the Home Depot color is orange, which probably annoys Irish Catholics.

Mr. Wonderful said...

The more conservative party knows about their fellow members the less they respect them.

IS there a conservative party? I'm serious. The Republican Party strikes me as a weird incestuous backwoods marriage of corporatist hacks, Christian reactionaries, and the occasional moderate.

Ninety percent of them don't give a damn about fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets, distaste for nation-building, or respect for tradition.

It's all beggar-thy-middle-class while pretending to "revere life" and promote "values."

The American Conservative is the only site I've seen that at least tries to hew to conservative ideals. All the others are corporatist propaganda mills or chest-pounding displays of nyah-nyah triumphalism over trivialities (if not outright lies). The Corner manages to be both.

Susan of Texas said...

D Johnston, thanks.

Conservatism gives people a strong sense of belonging, since it has such clearly defined boundaries. It doesn't demand much of its followers; they don't have to believe in or understand its principles, they just have to agree in public. they don't have to try new experiences and risk failure, be themselves and risk rejection, or grow and change and risk uncertainty in their life.

It encourages guilt, selfishness, sacrifices, repression, and persecution in return, but hey, nothing's perfect.

nate said...

I guess I'm kind of simple. The only thing this anecdote inspired me to imagine was a teamster grip coming over and offering to shove the Derb's bike up his ass.

Second link then becomes about how his wife complains that she has to clean his pants.

nanute said...

@nate: maybe the teamster grip did approach Derb. Why else would his wife be complaining about cleaning up his pants?

NomadUK said...

And being the proud Protestant Anglo Brit that he is, he couldn't help but remark that he liked that the Home Depot color is orange, which probably annoys Irish Catholics.

It's been my observation to date that pretty much the only Brits who still give a flying fuck about orange versus green are in Northern Ireland — or those who have some vested interest in the factions there.

Most people here probably couldn't tell you what those colours mean, except that they might remember they're on of the flag of Eire.

None of which makes Derbyshire any less of a prat, and I, for one, am glad that the folks on the other side of the Atlantic are saddled with him. Of course, we over here have Prince Philip, but nobody pays any attention to him, and he doesn't blog. Or vote.

Anonymous said...

I call bs on the helicopter story. This sounds too much like another half-baked "cab driver" anecdote.

First of all, the entire film crew consists of a p.a. and a helicopter? He claims that he saw nobody else on the beach where they were supposedly filming. Secondly, that conversation never happened. P.A.s are used to random a-holes demanding inconvenience pay, and they will routinely pay off these loudmouths to go away.

The more likely scenario is that Derbyshire went for a walk, saw a helicopter, and completely made up the rest.

Clever Pseudonym said...

It's a sad thing to admit, but I routinely run in to people here in the US who don't even realize Ireland and Northern Ireland are not the same country, so most don't even care. And the ones who do - the Irish Catholics he's proud to annoy - do not go around seething at any sight of the color orange and probably never related seeing the Home Depot orange to the Irish tricolor. Though it's funny to imagine Derbyshire inventing scenarios whereby an Irish American Catholic person begins ranting with spittle over 800 years of British oppression outside of a Home Depot beneath their logo. He's such a twit.

fish said...

My reaction was the story was BS too.

Tommykey said...

Though it's funny to imagine Derbyshire inventing scenarios whereby an Irish American Catholic person begins ranting with spittle over 800 years of British oppression outside of a Home Depot beneath their logo. He's such a twit.

That's what I was thinking. As someone of Irish American descent myself, I can't imagine that American Irish-Catholics associate Home Depots with the Orange Day parades. So the Derbster is both a douche and a twit.