Those Rand-y Republicans: Nine Films That Espouse The New GOP's Libertarian Mindset

The Dark Knight Rises: Nine Essential Libertarian Movies

Thanks to absolutist firebrands such as Rand and Ron Paul, laissez-faire economic sentiment has been gaining momentum in the GOP for some time. But with the nomination of deficit hawk wunderkind — and notable Ayn Rand devotee — Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate, movement libertarianism has officially been added to the Republican presidential platform.

Regardless of whether Romney is elected and Ryan’s controversial budget proposals are made law, the rebranding has already created two decisive effects: first, it has excited the fiscal-conservative base enough to warrant representation at the penultimate level; and second, it has convinced swaths of more marginal voters, who vaguely recall skimming through Atlas Shrugged as undergrads, that they were ardent “objectivists” all along.

In honor of the libertarian strain of Republicanism getting its RNC coronation this week, here are the top nine films that evoke a reverie for free markets and, in some cases, the dystopian nightmare that's sure to follow if we ignore Rand's literary prophecy.

1. Top Gun (1986):  Many conservatives credit Ronald Reagan with bringing down the Berlin Wall and ending the Cold War. Cineastes know it was Maverick and Goose. The recently deceased Tony Scott’s pop art masterpiece did for capitalism what Eisenstein’s innovation of montage did for Bolshevism. (Just substitute the jittery stomping of horses with more photogenic F-16 fighter jets.) Today's audiences smirk at the towel-clad locker-room romping and blue-jeaned volleyball homoeroticism, but the convergence of "Danger Zone" aerial balletics and the mega-wattage of a then 23-year-old Tom Cruise is still enough to raise long-dormant goose-bumps for American exceptionalism.

2. Casablanca (1942) : Humphrey Bogart’s Rick runs the best casino-bar in town, traffics in guns for African rebels, and appeases the Nazi occupation just to keep it all in the black. He is the archetype of the cutthroat entrepreneur: “I stick my neck out for nobody,” he unhesitatingly declares. Randians will rejoice as Rick wheels and deals in dubious moral territory with the stoic confidence of a man who believes doing what makes sense for Rick is the only true imperative. Just make sure to tune out before the last act when Bogey’s iconic hero contrives a plot for the good of humanity capped with the ultimate act of altruism: saying goodbye to Ingrid Bergman.

3. The Dark Knight Rises (2012): Yes, Christian Bale as Batman selflessly gives nearly everything to save his fellow Gothamites in the concluding chapter of Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus trilogy - including an attempt to develop a MacGuffin fusion technology. Free socialized energy for the whole world! Yet, the politics of Nolan's franchise are more inscrutable than Bane’s face mask-muffled line readings. A short list of the thematic evocations, in no particular order, include: 9/11, the subprime crash, Occupy Wall Street, kangaroo-court tyranny, class warfare and vigilante justice. Alas, none of these threads cohere into a mission-statement that transcends the film’s deafening soundtrack, or its grimly self-serious hero mythology. Because the leftist aspirations of Bruce Wayne are so dwarfed by the narrative’s hodge-podge of political themes, avowed libertarians should simply enjoy this film’s spectacular set-pieces while delighting in the bleak vision of a militarized proletariat revolution. Hint: it mostly involves sending the “productive class” on a short-walk over a thinly frozen East River.

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  • Ben D. says:

    I'm pretty sure real Libertarians would be shocked to discover they have taken over the Republican Party... especially since they haven't in the least.

  • Francisco M. says:

    All cineastes know Rocky ended the Cold War with his post-fight "If I can change, you can change" speech.

  • Karl says:

    Gino, you're apparently less familiar with the Republican Party than many would think. The Republican Party of today is nothing even remotely resembling libertarian-leaning. See following article -

  • Paul says:

    I don't think you understand what Libertarianism is.....

  • odin says:

    The 1st paragraph is beyond laughable. Libertarians have little to nothing in common w/ romney/ryan/current gop. Whoever wrote that doesnt deserve to have any voice when it comes to news.

  • To the contrary, you nattering nabobs of negativism, Gino is on to something.

    • Jake says:

      I would agree that Gino is on to something. Having been a Libertarian since the early 80s, there's no doubt that libertarian ideals are more prevalent now than ever. With Ron and Rand Paul in the news regularly and Paul Ryan being a definite admirer of Ayn Rand, there's a lot of objectivism out there right now and much more than in the past. Personally, I like some of Ayn Rand, but not all. I can see how self interest can result in benefits for society, but I am not against altruism like she is. My feeling is that people should be persuaded to be altruistic, not forced by the government through taxation and redistribution of wealth. I'm also not anti-government. I am just more a believer in a small government like the one envisioned by our founders.

      However, I have to say that Gino only got about half of these movies right. Brazil is a classic libertarian film--perhaps the top. But Top Gun? This shows a serious ignorance on Gino's part about what libertarians believe. What about Top Gun is libertarian? Libertarians are not pro military. They may be anti-communism, but Top Gun is about as far from our ideology as it gets.

      And Wall Street? The faux-libertarian in that film is the villain! He might have been charming, but he's the antagonist in the film. Why would libertarians like that? The Bruce Wayne character is a bit of a Randian character, but TDKR is definitely not a libertarian film (probably simply due to Nolan's muddled and poorly thought out themes in all three films). Terminator is a metaphorical stretch. Sunset Blvd is not really all that libertarian either.

      Yes to Casablanca if only because of Rick's vision of self preservation. He's my kind of libertarian. Looks out for himself, but will sacrifice for others when push comes to shove.

      GINO! Here's a few films that you should have included on your list:

      Enemy of the State (this is libertarian paranoia at it's most Tony Scott-ish)
      The Fountainhead and We, The Living (for obvious reasons)
      Hombre (Paul Newman as a libertarian native american musing on what a hero is and what their duty is)
      The Edge (Anthony Hopkins is the ultimate objectivist hero of all time in this Mamet film)

      You should definitely update your list so it's not so off key to what libertarians believe.

      • Excellent observations, Jake. I would say, though, that what's at the crux of a lot of the critical comments here is that Libertarians --and Democrats, Republicans, Independents, etc. --prefer to see themselves in the best, or purest, light possible. And so, critical analysis of their particular ideology tends to rankle even when its presented with wit and intelligence.

        • Jake says:

          You'll get no argument there and what you say is true. And I should add that libertarians are a particularly difficult group to define because they argue within themselves about what a libertarian is all the time. But one thing for sure, Top Gun is definitely too jingoistic to be a libertarian film. It's a major conservative, pro military film. For it to be listed at all is questionable. For it to be first is sort of head scratching. Even reading Gino's justification for including it makes no real sense. I mean, I don't think anyone walked out of Top Gun thinking, "Boy is capitalism really awesome or what?" But I like that these ideas are being talked about on a movie website, so kudos to him for making this article. It helps that I have been involved in numerous libertarian panels discussing libertarian films.

          One film I should add, that I don't particularly agree with personally (because I think it is more of an anarchist film) but that most libertarians call their own is V for Vendetta.

  • Everyman says:

    Atlas Shrugged Part 2 will be in theaters October 12th, 2012.

  • Jayemel says:

    You're missing the point with The Dark Knight Rises. He doesn't give himself selflessly. He always valued Gotham highly. In fact, in direct contrast to the Jesus myth, Bruce Wayne finds a way to save the world without giving his life. Then he disappears into obscurity to finally overcome his loneliness. How exactly is giving up the cape (ceasing to fight crime) in favor of romance selfless?

  • @grandmofhelsing tells me that "Ghostbusters" should be included on our list because, in the movie, the "EPA is the bad guy." True dat.

  • A lot of people think they understand what Ayn Rand's morality advocates, but actually don't. Here are some brief points about what it really stands for: The Morality of Rational Egoism: Short Notes

  • linda says:

    Personally, I like some of Ayn Rand, but not all. I can see how self interest can result in benefits for society, but I am not against altruism like she is. I am beautiful woman and I love good man…..inter racial romance is my dream… so I joined —blackwhitеPlanet.С0M—–it's where to- connect with beautiful and excellent people! My feeling is that people should be persuaded to be altruistic, not forced by the government through taxation and redistribution of wealth. I'm also not anti-government.

  • Ferris Ake says:

    >Rand preferred to call it "objective self interest,"

    I think you mean rational self-interest.

  • cam jones says:

    wow, what an amazingly ignorant article.

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