Ayn Rand intelligentsia readies private party for Gina Rinehart

Article by Mark Di Stefano courtesy of the Australian Financial Review.

An online comic once wryly noted that there were two novels that “can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life”, being Lord of the Rings and Ayn Rand’s 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 orcs.”

No one has ever been in any doubt about which novel had the bigger impact on Gina Rinehart.

Real life Dagny Taggart, Hancock Prospecting executive chairman Gina Rinehart. Trevor Collens

She told a business lunch in 2013 about how reading Rand’s books (and those of Milton Friedman) as a teen had taught her that “there is no such thing as a free lunch”, and that all parents needed to buy such books for their children (note: If you spot your preteens reading Rand or Friedman, seriously, good luck!).

This long association with all things Randian will come to a head in Washington this July, when The Atlas Society – the non-profit vessel for Rand’s philosophy – is set to host a three-day conference called Galt’s Gulch (a novel reference). The highlight of which is a $700 per head keynote dinner and speech by Our Gina.

Rinehart will fit right in. As the Atlas Society says on its website: “Ayn Rand’s fiction has been the most effective ‘gateway drug’ to liberty.” Totally normal stuff. Just totally not kooky, normal stuff.

The dinner is also the chance for Rinehart to be paraded before the Atlas Society’s US benefactors, after the mining billionaire was given the group’s lifetime achievement award earlier this year.

In fact, it looks like Rinehart is the first woman to be bestowed the honour. Also in the society’s Rand pantheon is PayPal founder Peter Thiel – of sea-steading and Gawker-killing fame – as well as businessman Ricardo Salinas (the third-richest man in Mexico) and MicroStrategy’s Michael Saylor, who is most famous for turning his software company’s balance sheet into one large bet on Bitcoin. It’s the Mount Rushmore of Rand heads!

Last month, Rinehart was lavished at an event in Perth, attended by the society’s CEO Jennifer Grossman who flew out for the occasion. Grossman appeared at a conference organised by the Institute of Public Affairs, also attended by Liberal try-hard Basil Zempilas, barrister Steven Whybrow and journalist Janet Albrechtsen (no doubt holding their own loser’s party days after the Bruce Lehrmann judgement).

On the sidelines, Grossman (sporting a jewel-encrusted dollar sign brooch) claimed to have interviewed Rinehart, and handed her a huge trophy depicting Atlas to mark the um, achievement. The award’s plaque featured an abridged quote from Rand’s most famous novel.

“It occurred to Dagny for the first time that women did not run railroads and that people might object. To hell with that, she thought – and never worried about it again.”

As anyone who has at least some knowledge of the plot to the “objectivist” epic knows, the main character (Dagny) inherits a defunct business from her father, saves it and does what other less competent members of the family can’t do (before retreating with all the other industrialists into the aforementioned Galt’s Gulch).

Does the set-up sound familiar? Grossman sure thinks it does. She captioned the Perth awards night that she got to meet “the heroic Gina Rinehart, real life Dagny Taggart in Perth, Australia!”

So, three cheers to Rinehart for earning the devotion of the global libertarian intelligentsia. It does appear that they get their rocks off at the idea she’s some pseudo-second coming of their favourite character from their favourite fictional book. Imagine if there was a real life hobbit. You’d be intrigued too!

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