Whittaker Chambers on Live Earth and Al Gore

By July 7, 2007Global Warming

After hearing Al Gore’s “Live Earth” oratory down at the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian, one thought of Whittaker Chambers’ review of Atlas Shrugged, published nearly 50 years ago in The National Review.

Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal. In addition, the mind which finds this tone natural to it shares other characteristics of its type. 1) It consistently mistakes raw force for strength, and the rawer the force, the more reverent the posture of the mind before it. 2) It supposes itself to be the bringer of a final revelation. Therefore, resistance to the Message cannot be tolerated because disagreement can never be merely honest, prudent, or just humanly fallible. Dissent from revelation so final (because, the author would say, so reasonable) can only be willfully wicked. There are ways of dealing with such wickedness, and, in fact, right reason itself enjoins them. From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: “To a gas chamber — go!” The same inflexibly self-righteous stance results, too (in the total absence of any saving humor), in odd extravagances of inflection and gesture-that Dollar Sign, for example. At first, we try to tell ourselves that these are just lapses, that this mind has, somehow, mislaid the discriminating knack that most of us pray will warn us in time of the difference between what is effective and firm, and what is wildly grotesque and excessive. Soon we suspect something worse. We suspect that this mind finds, precisely in extravagance, some exalting merit; feels a surging release of power and passion precisely in smashing up the house. A tornado might feel this way, or Carrie Nation.

Yesterday’s book has been replaced by the rock concert and Internet harangue, but the totalitarian impulse remains eternal in its nature.

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Tim L says:

    im not talking about the politics…but Ayn Rand’s novels are the most awful things still in print, they are sooooo poorly written….I wonder why? Oh yeah, because idiots think that they are “deep”…

  • Louis Jarvis says:

    Mr. Gore, at least, is able to cite APOCALYPSE 11:18—“The time has come to destroy those who are destroying the Earth.” Rand, on the other hand, was an ignorant, materialist fool.

  • John Burtis says:

    It takes a mind a bit more powerful to understand Atlas Shrugged than to understand the evil of Al Gore’s speech. The comparison should be made but not the way you have made it. Sure the results of Al Gore efforts will have the same result as what happened in Atlas Shrugged but to say they are the same evil is apples and oranges Mr. Wood. Phil the chemist is right. Go ahead reduce greenhouse gases by 90 percent in the western world and see who’s left to feed the world.

  • Joe the skeptical engineer says:

    Mr. Wood, your analogy is spot-on.I’m a big fan of empirical science, too, and it seems to be showing that global warming can and does happen whether we want it to or not. Analysis of the EPICA ice cores from Antartica show temperature variations over the last 800,000 years of up to 15°C (27°F). Meanwhile, samples of animal and vegetable matter from *underneath* Greenland’s glaciers points to an average temperature which was 5°C warmer 125,000 years ago than today.

    It’s the claim that warming *must* be human-induced, and that it can somehow be stopped, that is dangerous. While conservation is a laudable goal, the poor and ill of the world will not benefit from misguided attempts to “save the planet.”

  • Favela Cranshaw says:

    How this ties in with Al “Flat Earth” Gore’s crusade beats me. If it weren’t for Atlas Shrugged, Whittaker Chambers (communist) would be totally forgotten by now. Only guys like Wood reference him.

  • Phil the Chemist says:

    I wasn’t aware that Objectivism was bolstered by any empirical science, or that reports of accelerated global warming were being presented as literature.

    Apples and oranges Mr. Wood, apples and oranges.

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