Quote of the moment, on shaping lives: Lord of the Rings or Atlas Shrugged

Good donkey quote of the day candidate:

Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves hobbits orcs.

Attributed to John Rogers, whoever that is. (Got a better source?  Let us know in comments.)

Tip of the old scrub brush to Kent commenting at PennLive.com.

Lord of the Rings trilogy

Lord of the Rings trilogy, by J. R. R. Tolkien


34 Responses to Quote of the moment, on shaping lives: Lord of the Rings or Atlas Shrugged

  1. Jim says:

    She’s a keeper, that one. And yes, Nick…she will let him have it from time to time.


  2. She sounds like she more takes after me somehow as Jim tends to be pretty diplomatic :P


  3. Ellie says:

    I like your niece, Jim. She must take after you.


  4. Jim says:

    You guys can mock “Atlas Farted” all you want. My nephew read it and he says it changed his whole life.

    Last Thanksgiving, he was much more engaged in political discussion. For example, when someone mentioned President Obama…he immediately chimed in with some probing and insightful commentary about how that uppity n*gger just wants to hand out slavery reparations for his babydaddy brothers and crack ho’ sisters. He then offered a soaring critique detailing how “those people” get all kinds of tax breaks while Barry Sotero (one of his little pet names for the Commander in Chief) keeps on raising his taxes.

    At which point, his sister — my erudite, well-informed niece — quietly asked, “What taxes do you pay?”

    He said, “You know. TAXES!”

    Sis: Do you pay property taxes? No. You are almost 30 and you live in the basement, in Mom’s house. That’s fine, of course. But Mom pays the property taxes. Do you pay income taxes? No. You don’t have a job. You aren’t even looking for a job. I suppose you pay a sales tax when you buy your Star Wars action figures and your Dungeons and Dragons cards. But that’s a state sales tax and Obama doesn’t raise or lower that. So (name), can I fix you a nice, warm cup of STFU?

    Yes, that’s my nephew. Disciple of Ayn Rand, critic of the lazy 99% and self-made man.

    Now who does this remind me of…


  5. Ellie says:

    The movie opened in April.


  6. Ed Darrell says:

    Somebody was going to produce a movie version of this book — whatever happened to that?


  7. Nick K says:

    Oh look, another example of the right wing acting like the Nazi’s:

    Rev. Ariel Torres Ortega of Radio Visión Cristiana said that the gay people are “worthy of death”:

    Committing sexual acts between man and man. And receiving the retribution of the things that they have done from straying away. And because they did not take God in count. God gave them over to reprimand their mind to do things that are not right, being against all justice, fornication, perversity, aberrations, malignity…those who practice such things are worthy to death, not only do they do it, but those who also practice it. God bless this earth. That is the word of God.



  8. Nick K says:

    Now now, Ed, jim’s sarcasm aside you and I both know that Republicans/conservatives think that anytime the government does anything at all it’s socialism and tantamount to the Red Horde taking over this country. Considering one of their favored sons, Eric Prince, is busy building his own private army in the UAE I’m expecting the right wing to start demanding that government get out of the military business and that we should privatize it.

    After all, the Republican motto is: In the end, only the fittest survive in this world. If you’re strong (i.e. rich) you live and if you’re weak (i.e. not rich) you die.

    And that the weak, meaning the poor and the middle class, only exist to serve as the prey of the rich.

    The funny thing is I’ve said that before to conservatives on this blog and elsewhere….and not one of them has ever attempted to deny it.


  9. Jim says:

    Hi Ed!

    I just read your most recent post and have a few counterpoints to make straight from Lew Rockwell, Breitbart, World Net Daily, Newsmax and Fox News.

    1. Obama is “a black”.
    2. The Mau Maus were black.
    3. Louis Farrakhan is “a black”.
    4. Hitler had the word “socialist” in the name of his political machine.
    5. The Soviet Union had the word “union” in its name.
    6. Atlas Shrugged
    7. Reagan Farted.
    8. Ice Cream (has nothing to do with this but I just finished cutting the grass and feel entitled. Hmm. I feel a sense of “entitlement”. Perhaps I have fallen under your socialist spell.
    9. He still hasn’t produced the placenta.
    10. Pastor says…

    Go ahead Darrell. Refute THAT logic. Humphf.


  10. Ed Darrell says:

    “Socialism” is when the state commands the production of goods, usually by owning the factories (means of production) and setting quotas on what gets made.

    Or was Mr. Nugent attacking as “socialist” the 1990′s-era health care bill offered by REPUBLICANS as an alternative to what they called “Hillarycare”? You know. The one that included a public option.

    Nugent’s folderol aside, how do any of those plans qualify as “socialism?” In all the plans, the health care providers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, insurance companies and hospitals remain in private hands. In all of the plans, demand is set by the patients, which tends to dictate “how much” of the product gets done.

    Where is there a socialist bone in any of those health care plans?


  11. Nick K says:

    Now picture if someone on the left had said that. Does anyone want to pretend that the right would be all but demanding that the person have his/her head chopped off?


  12. Jim says:

    Hi Ellie!

    Why did you bring race into the discussion? You liberals are so predictable.

    Because it’s been liberals, you know, who have linked President Obama to the Mau Maus revolt in Kenya…who have carried “Obama-as-monkey” or “Obama-as-lynching-victim” posters at their rallies…

    Oh. Wait. Am I misremembering again?


  13. Ellie says:

    But, Nick, it’s OK when Nugent says things like that because he’s not a Scary Black Man in the WHITE House.


  14. Nick K says:

    To quote myself quoting Nugent:
    And it’s the “communist, Mao, Che agenda of the communist, Mao, Che fans in the White House. They’re pigs, Neil!

    It would appear more that the “They’re pigs” is referring to the “…,Che fans in the White House.” Which would mean when he says something about killing the pig right after…he’s talking about the people in the White House.


  15. Jim says:

    Hi Nick!

    Which health care bill was the master of erudition and source of all intellectual gravitas addressing? (I speak of Mr. Nugent, who I presume still suffers from the after effects of Cat Scratch Fever.)

    Was he referring to the very timid, partial reform bill championed by President Obama?

    I get so confused because that one is identical to the Massachusetts reform bill co-authored and signed into law by then-governor Willard “Mitt” Romney.

    Or was Mr. Nugent attacking as “socialist” the 1990’s-era health care bill offered by REPUBLICANS as an alternative to what they called “Hillarycare”? You know. The one that included a public option.

    It’s getting so hard to keep track of all the naked, aggressively socialist bills as they fly by…


  16. Nick K says:

    And just to show my point about conservatives talking about how us liberals aren’t “real Americans” or in this case that we should be done away with there’s Ted Nugent appearing on Cavuto’s show on Fox in which he said:

    Musician Ted Nugent tells FOX News’s Neil Cavuto, “I’m the expert on the health care bill because I kill pigs.” And it’s the “communist, Mao, Che agenda of the communist, Mao, Che fans in the White House. They’re pigs, Neil! We gotta kill the pig.” Nugent claims the health care law is about the redistribution of wealth.

    Oh look..right wing eliminationist and violent rhetoric. http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/cspanjunkie/kill-pigs-ted-nugent

    Hm….now where have we heard such rhetoric before…


  17. Nick K says:

    Porlock writes:
    And after all, Tolkien’s work is profoundly conservative, in an old-fashioned conservative sense of “conservative”, and even nostalgic

    I.e. Not conservative as it now stands. Modern day conservatives aren’t actually conservative…they’re Ayn Rand free market idealogues.

    Or if I wanted to use an term from the past…they’re true believers in economic piracy.


  18. Ed Darrell says:

    So you support evolution and natural selection, yet you reject social Darwinism as “unfair” and seek to replace natural law with a system of equal outcomes for all.

    Don’t mix up your pharmaceuticals and your food supply so much — it could be dangerous.

    Evolution by sexual and natural selection is an observation about what happens in nature. One doesn’t “support” it. It’s not a political movement decided in any way by a majority or consensus, but a series of observations that, when understood, reveal the theory of evolution, a scientific theory that describes how living things use variation to create new species.

    “Social Darwinism” is the concept first well described — and advocated — by the sociologist, Herbert Spencer. It’s a political prescription for doing nothing about poverty, positing that the rich are, somehow, innately superior to the poor, and that little can be done to create equality of opportunity in our society, nor can much be done to ease the plight of the poor because they get what they deserve.

    Spencer’s brutal sociological ideas contrast sharply against Darwin’s idea that those with the best physical traits will win out over time in the struggle for survival. The big difference? How do we treat our aged. As Darwin noted, evolution suggests that keeping alive and around older members of a society can produce huge benefits in tough times, when the wisdom of the aged offers new and creative solutions to serious survival problems, whereas Spencerian philosophy suggests that keeping older and handicapped members of a group is drain on resources. You can see that these two opposing thoughts may lead in dramatically different directions.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “natural law.” Do you mean the Scalia version, which often runs to little more than “Herbert Spencer was right, and so we shouldn’t allow government to try to fix poverty?” Or do you mean the John Locke/Ben Franklin/Thomas Jefferson variety, in which the laws that govern humans wisely can be determined with careful analysis of what happens in nature? And does anyone serious claim that we cannot improve on nature in the realm of how humans are governed?

    Do you not see the irony in that?

    Due to the errors and ambiguities in your observations, I don’t see any irony, no.


  19. Ed Darrell says:

    It reads a lot better with “hobbits” instead of “orcs,” and it has broader appeal and better understandability with hobbits — but you’re right, the original says “orcs.”


  20. Porlock Junior says:

    Well, I’ll move a vote of thanks to Fake Herzog for the Whittaker Chambers link. Having regarded Chambers as a prime schmuck for almost all my life (which is only a little too short to recall his heyday in the time of Joe McCarthy and the early Richard Nixon) I’m tickled to see the brighter side of him. Not just because he wittily attacks the right target, but because the attack is a sound one.

    And after all, Tolkien’s work is profoundly conservative, in an old-fashioned conservative sense of “conservative”, and even nostalgic. That’s what makes it so much fun. The Scouring of the Shire cleanses it of nasty people, who would be joyfully celebrated by nearly all the people who visibly represent conservatism in the USA; and when the bad guys taunt the good ones with a “what’s the King going to do about it”, the King’s men (and you thought they were just a couple of nice little hobbits!) proceed to do it. A fine scene in the old tradition, and a proper sense of values in that tradition.

    But in this world I’d prefer to have my “all men are created equal” and my antibiotics. With Chambers, I’m not so sure. But at least a person, to mirror a bit of his own attitude, you could argue with.


  21. David Wintheiser says:

    Except, of course, in the original (scroll to the bottom of this – http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2009/03/ephemera-2009-7.html – the quote ends, not with the word ‘hobbits’, but with the word ‘orcs’.


  22. Nick K says:

    Just to clarify, I hadn’t read the other thread where Whoopie said she was an atheist.

    The point still remains though. We humans have the ability to rise above base instincts. We are meant to act better then mere “social darwinism.” And Ayn Rand’s worldview is sad, twisted and lacking of any morality.

    Oh and fake..so congratulations the National Review smacked down Ayn Rand. Now…why do so many of your fellow conservatives all but worship her as a god?

    Why don’t you go read Goldwater’s “Conscience of a Conservative” and then tell me if your modern conservatives are anything like what he says. Because I have read him..and you conservatives have betrayed him countless times.


  23. Nick K says:

    Whoppie: Supporting the preying of the few upon the many. That the few rich and powerful should have dominion over all those “lesser” then them.


  24. Nick K says:

    Whoopie writes:
    So you support evolution and natural selection, yet you reject social Darwinism as “unfair” and seek to replace natural law with a system of equal outcomes for all.

    Evolution and natural selection are forces of nature. Social Darwinism is a philosophy. The two are not the same thing. Or are you saying we humans can not rise above our base instincts?

    So the poor, the powerless, the weak, the sick and infirm and the old should go off and die in your view, Whoopie?

    Do you consider yourself a Christian, Whoopie? Or at least a moral person? Because social darwinism is the antithesis of both.

    Anyone who thinks evolution has anything to do with social darwinism is one of the worlds biggest fools.


  25. Whoopie, we don’t “support” evolution. We recognize its existence as a natural force.

    “Social Darwinism” isn’t an actual thing, it’s a catch-all term for many different philosophies. I, for one, don’t look to create equal outcomes, but I do recognize that right now America does not have equal opportunity, and would like to see that change.


  26. Ed Darrell says:

    Thank you, Mark F.


  27. whoopie says:

    So you support evolution and natural selection, yet you reject social Darwinism as “unfair” and seek to replace natural law with a system of equal outcomes for all.

    Do you not see the irony in that?


  28. Nick K says:

    Gah, that should be Saruman.

    If you want a real world comparison, Fake, your side of the political spectrum is starting to sound disturbingly like a certain political movement of the 1930’s-1940’s. When you’re trying to think of which one I’m comparing it to…its a 7 letter word.


  29. Mark F. says:

    This is supposed to be the original source for the quote:



  30. Nick K says:

    No, really its not conservativeat all, Fake. At least not what you consider conservative. Maybe when conservatives were actually conservative but that was long before you were born.

    Lets see. There is the respect and protection of the environment that is a central theme. A conservatives use for the environment mirrors Saurmon’s use for the environment.

    Then there is the theme of a group of very different people coming together to work together to fight/solve a problem. And we both know your side hates that very idea to the core. After all, your side hates multiculturalism with a passion and your side seems to think that only its views are valid. One of the themes of the books is that other people’s views and beliefs are as valid as anyone elses. Hm..how many times have we seen conservatives say that those who believe differently then them are “unAmerican” or “different to the point of being enemies of the country.” As I said before your side just loves dividing people in this country into us versus them. Your sides rampant hysteria about “Sharia law” is a case in point.

    And your side wants everything to stay as it was..to remain static..to remain locked in this fake imaginary golden time. Hm….what was it that Denethor said to Gandalf..ah yes…””I would have things as they were in all the days of my life,” answered Denethor, “and in the days of my longfathers before me”

    And then there is the theme of only fighting when its necessary and in order to defend. Hm..yeah your precious conservatives spent the last 30 years being warlike and warhawks.

    Then there is the theme represented by the Hobbits. That the very small can do great things. Your conservatives, serve solely the very powerful and the very rich. Your side no more cares for the small and powerless then a spider cares about the fly.

    And lastly though I touched upon it before..the idea of a group of people working together to solve an issue is abhorrent to your side. After all..where else in this country can all the people come together to solve problems…if not the government? And your side has an abject hatred of that idea because part of the government’s role is to give voice to the weak and the powerless and to protect them from the rich and the powerful.

    Don’t go claiming that Lord of the Rings is a work full of conservative themes…its not even close. At least not with regard to modern conservativism.


  31. Ed Darrell says:

    So, Paul, maybe we need to write to Rogers and ask him where he got it.


  32. Fake Herzog says:

    Nick K,

    LoTR is one of the most profoundly conservative series of books ever written. In fact, if anything, as someone who loves the industrial revolution and the wonders of modern capitalism, I hesitate to endorse all of Tolkien’s more reactionary ideas (as it’s quite obvious that life in The Shire is meant to be a rebuke to modern, industrial society). So I wonder what you think the books’ central themes are meant to be?

    Meanwhile, the ultimate smack-down of Ayn Rand remains Whittaker Chambers in The National Review.


  33. Nick K says:

    I’m surprised the right wing hasn’t tried to ban and burn Lord of the Rings considering what its central themes are.


  34. I love that quote, Ed, but I’m pretty sure I first heard it — or at least something very similar to it — well before John Rogers posted it on the blog Kung Fu Monkey. However, I once spent a frustrating hour trying to find an earlier online source for the quote. No success. And my memory is very fallible. So, maybe Rogers is indeed the author.


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