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Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand: A Love Affair Against the Common Good

April 11, 2011, 12:33 pm | Posted by ggraves-fitzsimmons

paul ryan.jpgThis 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

4 Responses to “Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand: A Love Affair Against the Common Good”

  1. Tim O'Neill says:

    IMHO, following Ayn Rand should draw a rebuke from the Church.

  2. Rick Andrews says:

    With all do respect I believe your understanding of Rand is flawed. She does not see the workers as parasites, she sees the politicians that aim to force people to distribute the fruits of their labor to others based on need as parasites. The workers, in her view, are trading value for value providing a service for a wage. Atheisim is a key part of Objectivism because religion requires 1. a belief in an existance that is secondary to the natural law and reality. 2 requires a belief in a mystic, subjective factors that can alter reality. both of these goes against the objectivist view. Although I do find it iinteresting that Republicans, a party backed by the relegious right, are backing Rands view it would seem that their stances are in conflict.

  3. Tim o'Neill says:

    I see your points. But they do not go deep enough. Yes, if a person can work, no problem in Rand’s view. But people who can not work or provide labor are seen as moochers, the way I understand the full fruition of Rand’s view to be.

    Since Objectivism is the opposite of Jesus’s two ‘Great Commandments’, and the unfettered economic processes she promotes are based on Objectivism, that means to me that unfettered economic processes are based on unchristian principles.

    For instance, my own view of how government welfare programs in today’s society have evolved is that they primarily are to keep the children of unemployable people from starving. Under Rand’s scenario, these children would be out-of-luck, unless some ‘suckers’ wanted to part with some of their wealth. In Rand’s world, the is no ‘Alms for the Poor’ or anything like that.

  4. Rick Andrews says:

    In Rand’s view those who cannot work would be taken care of by charity for instance your church or other charitable donations. Her argument has never been against charity she has no problem with it in her book the virtues of selfishness she explains the act of saving someone in an emergency based on the human potential and the value of that potential. Labor does not have to be physical as Steven Hawkins has proven he is not a moocher and is a paraplegic; her argument is not that you have to be a genius but that you should not force charity by others and even more you should not expect it.

    Also, You are equating her view of the economic philosophy with her entire view of objectivism her philosophy requires reason as a means of knowledge and is not based on any type of faith. This fits most appropriately with her economic view however capitalism does not come from an anti-Christian place. It would be equivalent of saying that Christians believe that everyone should be equal and Communism is based on the same principle so Christianity promotes communism. This is a false statement from the Christians that I know just like the argument that all capitalist are anti-Christian because it is the economic policy promoted by an Atheist.