We start the final chapter of David Graeber's Debt, The First 5000 Years this week by going beyond the 'bad apples' line at the deeper, systemic truths which underlie the rottenness of finance capital and indeed of the idolization of competition. Gary Weiss speaks on his book, Ayn Rand Nation and entrepreneur and journalist Margaret Heffernan speaks on Money, Power and Competition.
We start the show this week with a presentation from Margaret Heffernan from 2012. Echoing Alfie Kohn from episode 607, she examines the toxic combination of hierarchical power and money used as a motivator.
" What is becoming clear is that competition for extrinsic rewards - money, power, status - has the capacity to generate behaviors which are antisocial, destructive of trust and of collaboration -- student against student, school against school, department against department. We may think these contests excite higher levels of performance until we look more closely and find demoralization among the many, tunnel vision among the few, and rising rates of fraud and game fixing everywhere. Any yet what to we see around us? Competition in every conceivable (and sometimes inconceivable) walk of life, often for money and for the status that promises power. And then we wonder why we find it so hard to leverage the collective wisdom we so sorely need to address the biggest problems of our age!" — Margaret Heffernan, 2012
Next we hear from Gary Weiss speak on his book Ayn Rand Nation - The Hidden Struggle For America's Soul about the objectivist movement and the influence of Ayn Rand. Were her ideas - roundly disapproved of by almost all other quarters - used by the neoconservatives seeking a justification and veneer of intellectualism for their sociopathic creed? Rand's ideas continue to be heavily pushed by a few devoted followers, some of whom have deep pockets.
After the soundtrack of Fear The Boom And The Bust, a highly entertaining rap video about the struggle between John Maynard Keynes and F.A. Hayek, we conclude by starting the final chapter of our ongoing reading of David Graeber's Debt, The First 5000 Years.