A graphic look at Ayn Rand’s life, libertarianism, the financial crisis of 2008, and where the financial world is headed now
By Carla Sinclair. Wow, this graphic history book brought my blood to a high boil, not a reaction I expected. Its title, The Age of Selfishness: Ayn Rand, Morality, and the Financial Crisis (released today), led me to believe it was just a biography on Ayn Rand, the grandmother of modern libertarianism and author of cult college classics The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. And yes, the first third of the book – “Part One: Ayn Rand” – (the book is divided into three sections) was all about Rand: her turbulent childhood during the Russian revolution, her immigration to the US, her quick rise to success as a Hollywood and book writer, and then her cult-like leadership in the pro-capitalist, or libertarian movement with devoted followers who included Alan Greenspan and a young couple whose relationship with her became intimate and complicated. If this first section was all there was, it would have been a fascinating enough book. But by the time it got to Rand’s death, I was only one-third of the way through the book.
“Part Two: The Crash” is when the heat shot up. This middle section of the book covers more of former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan’s life. It then connects Rand’s political philosophies to Greenspan’s views, and then Greenspan’s influence on American politics and the way America does business. It gets into the details of the shady practices that led up to the financial crisis of 2008 (grrr) and how crooked business on Wall Street was rewarding business for the individuals involved, who received high bonuses and promotions for bringing our banking system to its knees. Beware: you must have a thick skin to read this section.
Finally, the most fun section of the book, “Part Three: The Age of Selfishness,” covers the post-financial-crisis world, including the rise of the Tea Party and the way things sit right now in the banking world (same seats we were in before the peak of the financial crisis. In other words, fasten your seat belts!). The “fun” part of this section is when author and illustrator Darryl Cunningham presents us with research that dissects the minds, personality traits, and lifestyles (from clothing to housing decor) of both republicans and democrats, and shows how their brain processes work differently. Cunningham explains that both personality types are needed in society but the extremes of either camp can be dangerous. This is a well-researched, detail-packed book that I’ll need to read a few more times to fully digest.
Cover graphic from Boing Boing.