- CounterPunch.org - https://www.counterpunch.org -

Ed Snowden’s Ayn Rand Connection

I came across an interesting piece by Jeffrey A. Tucker at the Foundation for Economic Education I was asking myself. the same question that Tucker takes a shot at here: Was I hallucinating or did Oliver Stone, in his biopic of Ed Snowden, Snowden, depict him as Ayn Randian (you know, I object). Check it out:

In his piece, “Did Edward Snowden Draw His Main Inspiration from Ayn Rand?” Tucker makes the case for Snowden being a machine man that breaks bad and goes all wrench. He writes:

There we have it. Edward Snowden must have had this riveting story in his mind. As any reader of Atlas can attest, the book creates in your mind a huge and dramatic world filled with epic moral decisions. People are tested by their willingness to stand up for what is right: to stand as individuals confronting gigantic systems against which they otherwise appear to be powerless. Her message is that one human mind, inspired to action by moral principle, can in fact change the world.

That’s exactly how I felt as a Microsoft Certified Trainer. Like a wrench. Doing my bit to take down The Man. I don’t even want to think about how many databases I helped lose, f*ck it. I had that much in common with Snowden — er, the Microsoft, not the database kills. I didn’t stick around to muck up SharePoint. I wonder what it would have been like to have Snowden in my class on a spend-it-or-lose-it training spree, asking me questions over a Chinese food lunch (provided!) about the machinery of the Deep State. Me, all liability conscious, as Bill Gates says we must be, dissembling and deflecting and telling rotten jokes to distract us all from the collective doom ahead. There were days when I knew I should have stuck with Cisco and spread the wings my Cisco Certified Design Associate promised my future had I then the courage.

To tell you the truth, I don’t even get the Joseph Campbell reference or Thoreau. No, wait, maybe I do. Ayn Rand doesn’t come up in Snowden’s must-read memoir, Permanent Record (as in, The Man has one on each of us), never once mentions Ayn Rand or Atlas Shrugged. The problem with the quote here in Stone’s film is that it kind of suggests that Snowden was a wrench who sacrificed himself to muck up the works of the machine. Goes to motivation, your honor. And sounds vaguely conspiratorial, like Charles Bronson in The Mechanic. For a moment I had a very unpleasant flash of certain events from September 11, 2001. Talk about wrenches thrown in the works! Crikey, someone threw the whole fuckin toolbox in — what a racket! Like no more sleep ever. The horror days lost wondering why “we” sold that still-molten steel to the Chinese to build a ghost tower in Papua New Guinea with — bong please, and hurry.

On the other hand. Yeah, sure. Ed was/is into myth, from King Arthur to the who refused to accept that the age of his reign had passed and that in the future the world would be ruled by human kings, whom he considered tiny and weak. Determined to keep himself in power, he descended from his peak, attacking kingdom after kingdom and vanquishing their armies. Eventually he managed to defeat and kill every new crazy craze ithe emojis. In fact, he tells us how his family may have derived its name — Snowden — from a King Arthur tale that takes place on Snow Dun. He tells of Rhitta Gawr, the maddest bad apple in the whole damn town,. Gawr.

refused to accept that the age of his reign had passed and that in the future the world would be ruled by human kings, whom he considered tiny and weak. Determined to keep himself in power, he descended from his peak, attacking kingdom after kingdom and vanquishing their armies. Eventually he managed to defeat and kill every single king of Wales and Scotland. Upon killing them he shaved off their beards and wove them together into a cloak, which he wore as a gory trophy.

Then he would roar: I am the hairy man. The End. Essentially writing the world’s first flash fiction.( No, I joke. About the flash fiction.) So, that part of the world was down to just one king who stood between heroic new beginnings (think: Magna Carta) and universal tyranny, like we’re seeing rise now in the world. Gawr had the gall to invite King Arthur to a showdown on Snow Dun and suddenly we’re seemingly transported to the schoolyard at recess, mean girls jeering and flashing some leg, rubbernecks and spectacle-seekers in sneakers, Gawr and Arthur facing off, circling each other, hop-stepping and finger-clicking like they all West Side Story hero and anti-hero and you can’t tell which is which. Then the short of it, Arthur chops his fuckin head off. Takes his coat to the dry cleaners and calls Sothebys. Soon cool cash is had and some alkie elite gets to tell tales of the purchase “that try men’s hearts.”

So, yeah, maybe Ed was into Rand. But he didn’t say so until Oliver Stone’s depiction, and then never again. Joseph Campbell, huh? Me no see the archetype angle. Rand, huh? Was I stoned?

I personally couldn’t get myself to read Ayn Rand’s. Atlas Shrugged? What is he an asshole? And when you think for Snowden to read if he was into mythology — because that’s essentially what Atlas is tossing away, like some miserable Eddy Arnold figure from a miserable childhood. But I guess that makes sense, too. It’s all relative. To hell with bearing the weight of the world. The shrug becomes a wrench thrown in the works. And here we are, another Exile ahed.

Thoreau? I don’t know. The mass of humankind lead lives of noisy desperation. I really believe that. Check out Twitter some time.

Darth Vader. Yeah, sure. The black dildo from outer space is all around us everywhere these days and definitely wrenching up the works. The hairy man’s making the rounds, too. He was brought into a wonderfully conservative and fabulously wealthy family with small hand values to die for. Check him out en milieu, as it were. But no sign yet of Excalibur Redux. Yep. Gone all Godot on us. Hmph. Left with Biden and a toothpick stuck in a marshmallow.

Anyway…no, I just wanted to weigh in on the Rand business. Ed, here’s mud in your eye.

And you, C’mere…