Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand: A Love Affair Against the Common Good
This week’s Newsweek features a fascinating portrait of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan as an acolyte of novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand. Rand, of course, is perhaps the archetypical enemy of the common good. Jonathan Chait writes:
The enduring heart of Rand’s totalistic philosophy was Marxism flipped upside down. Rand viewed the capitalists, not the workers, as the producers of all wealth, and the workers, not the capitalists, as useless parasites…
One conservative making that point was Ryan. His citation of Rand was not casual. He’s a Rand nut. In the days before his star turn as America’s Accountant, Ryan once appeared at a gathering to honor her philosophy, where he announced, “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.” He continues to view Rand as a lodestar, requiring his staffers to digest her creepy tracts.
While Rand criticized Marxism, she joined in Marx’s condemnation of religion. She called Christianity the “”the best kindergarten of communism possible.” An avid atheist, she saw religions’ support for the common good as antithetical to her individualistic philosophy.
As Paul Ryan leads the Republicans push towards immoral cuts to programs protecting families and the poor while giving tax breaks to millionaires, we must remember his proposal is rooted in Ayn Rand’s twisted view of individualism, not the commitment to the common good that runs through all religions.
Photo by Gage Skidmore