There’s been a lot of discussion of Ayn Rand the last few days, because of the new (and very-interesting sounding) biography. Personally, I could never stand her work, not because of the libertarian philosophy (I like me mid-period Heinlein just fine), but the excruciatingly bad writing. If Chris Hayes is right, she finally has a worthy successor. Ladies, gentlemen, I give you Ralph Nader and Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us.
As a novel it is a dismal affair: gracelessly written, ploddingly plotted, and long. Oh God so long. And as a political tract it advances a conception of politics both grossly condescending and depressingly elitist. Democracy, Nader seems to say, could be ours: if only the oligarchs would get behind it. The basic plot goes like this. Moved by pity to travel to New Orleans in the wake of Katrina to oversee relief efforts, Warren Buffett encounters one desperately poor and grateful recipient of his charity who announces, “Only the super-rich can save us.” This gets Buffett thinking, and he proceeds to convene a top secret meeting in a Maui resort. There he gathers an eclectic group of the super-rich: Paul Newman, George Soros, Bill Gates Sr., Ted Turner, Barry Diller, Peter Lewis (owner of Progressive Insurance), and, somewhat randomly, Yoko Ono, among others, to create a “people’s revolt of the rich.”
This is apparently not a satire. But it does raise the question of whether there are any genuinely good, genuinely political novels out there. Since we’re coming up on the weekend, I’ll throw this out as an open thread (I have a few nominations myself, but don’t want to bias the sample). Have at it.