Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Smokestacks on Zee Mooon!

Posted by Jerry on April 23, 2007

Being that yesterday, April 22, was Earth Day, I came across this funny tidbit on Ayn Rand appearing on a TV show to speak about Earth Day sometime in the 1970s. I cannot vouch for the truth of this episode, or of Rand’s message on that day, but Charles Petzold seems to remember the incident as such:

Seeing Ayn Rand speak on the subject of Earth Day was, however, unforgettable. She indicated how pollution was the sign of a healthy industrical economy, and how Earth Day was a threat to capitalism because it wanted to remove those belching smokestacks from the landscape of American free enterprise. Most memorable was her concluding sentence, which she sounded out proudly in a glorious Russian accent that still haunts my nightmares:

    Vee vill build smokestacks to zee moon!

Could that have been it? Surely Ms. Rand would have then moderated her views by noting how foolish it was to ruthlessly exploit the very planet that supports this economy, and how this economy might someday suffer as a result.

🙂 I can almost hear Rand saying something like the above–so radically opposed to common sense and mainstream thought–in her thick but endearing Russian accent.

Surely, smokestacks on the moon wouldn’t be a bad idea if we can find a way to set up all our polluting industries up there and beam (or transmit) the power and other resources generated from the moon back to the Earth in some manner; that way we’d have a green Earth, global cooling, happy environmentalists, and plenty of energy! Indeed, a brilliant idea, no?

 I don’t see any valid reason for environmentalists to cry foul on this idea: note, there aint’ no green vegetation or trees or animals living in their “natural habitat”–or even any humans–on the moon to be adversely affected by the pollution. It’s just an empty, vast, brutal wasteland; a giant piece of rock. Are we saying that this giant piece of rock is in itself intrinsically valuable now?

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7 Responses to “Smokestacks on Zee Mooon!”

  1. Troy said

    I think what Rand said was “we will build smokestacks TO the moon” (not ON the moon). This has a different interpretation. I think her sentence was metaphorical and not supposed to be taken as practical. I believe what she meant was that capitalism should build many tall and glorious smokestacks – – some so tall that they would seem to reach the moon. Rand’s statement implied that really big smokestacks were symbolic of a healthy industrical economy. I don’t think that she thought much about the possibility of people colonizing the moon.

  2. Charlotte said

    Hehe. Cool spot by Troy!

    Embarrassing that none of us (and you have atleast 5 editors, not counting yourself, among your readership) spotted that.

    We’ll Jerry, you did mention to me once that prepositions weren’t your thing…

  3. Ergo said

    Troy and Charlotte,

    My statements following Rand’s quote are not an *interpretation* of her quote. I deliberately wanted to raise the issue of building smokestacks *on* the moon to see if environmentalism would be a concern even there where there is no atmosphere at all to be affected.

    When I said “indeed, a brilliant idea, no?” I was referring to my own statement of building heavy industries *on* the moon.

    Of course, Rand’s statement is perfectly clear as it stands and requires no interpretation.

  4. Charlotte said

    That was a quick response; of course, you have wireless internet now! how’s Goa, btw! Missing you here.

  5. Your suggestions reminds me of the first time I was faced with the evil of environmentalism. I was 16 and hiking with a group of American students through the Negev desert in Israel, and we were discussing the aesthetic aspects of the desert. I agreed that there was a beauty to the desert, but suggested that it would be far more beautiful to see the desert transformed by man and made to bloom. I was shocked when my idea was universally condemned by the group as “destroying” the desert. This was even more amazing considering that the Israel’s success depended largely on the ability of its people to transform a barren wasteland into productive farmland. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the same argument made against colonizing Mars or the Moon.

  6. Seriously? said

    Industries need an atmosphere to even work in the first place. Air circulation, oxidation and several other chemical processes used in factories require air. So to your question on whether environmentalists would be worried about factories on the moon – No. Because it’s not possible in the first place.

    The Earth, on the other hand, is the only known planet in the solar system that can support human life, so excessive industrial pollution is not a good idea. I am against loonies who take a total anti-industry stance, but you seem to create a strawman out of those loonies and misrepresent the entire environmental movement.

  7. Ergo said

    Seriously? Ever heard of tongue-in-cheek?

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