Ayn Rand’s Atheists are Crashing the Tea Party

November 4th, 2011 at 2:45 pm | 189 Comments |

| Print

One of the seminal moments in the presidential campaign slipped by at the Republican debate in Las Vegas on Oct. 18. It didn’t involve the frontrunners, and it had nothing to do with Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” plan or the sexual harassment claims.

If you were watching, you’d have heard Ron Paul say, “We need to see everybody as an individual. And to me, seeing everybody as an individual means their liberties are protected as individuals, and they are treated that way, and they’re never penalized that way.”

Rick Santorum responded, “I disagree in some respects with Congressman Paul, who says the country is founded on the individual. The basic building block of a society is not an individual. It’s the family. That’s the basic unit of society.”

Ayn Rand had again loomed in the presidential campaign. It wasn’t the first time, and you can bet it won’t be the last. What this exchange demonstrated is that Rand’s views reach well beyond the advocacy of laissez-faire capitalism for which she is best known. They extend into a wide variety of other areas—and they are capable of making the right, especially the religious right, as uncomfortable as liberals.

Paul is strongly influenced by the Russian-born novelist-philosopher. Rand believed that the individual is supreme, owing no duty to anyone else, including his family. Rand’s novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, which set forth her philosophy, are an eloquent repudiation of family values. Their major characters are existential figures whose families are often little more than leeches.

To Rand, the public interest counted for nothing. She wrote that “there is no such entity as ‘the public,’ since the public is merely a number of individuals.” This hyper-individualism clashes with the more general view in American life that individual needs at times must be subordinated to the greater good—the overriding needs of the family, the team, or society as a whole.

What we are seeing here, breaking out into the open, is a fundamental problem that has largely lain dormant: the far right, the Tea Party and much of the Republican Party, in their embrace of libertarian positions that are heavily influenced by Ayn Rand, are flirting with atheism. That’s a troubling issue for the right—at the very minimum a source of division—that could alienate the religious right within the Republican Party and Tea Party movement. A Heritage Foundation blogger expressed the religious right’s dismay with Paul’s position, saying that “If we focus too narrowly on people’s individual autonomy, we’re less likely to foster a sense of responsibility for one another through family, church, and community, leaving individuals more likely to turn to the state to meet their needs.”

You see, Ayn Rand and Christianity do not mix. The closer the Republican Party moves to Ron Paul and Rand-influenced libertarians, the more it will have to grapple with a rejection of religion that is more customarily considered to be a trait of the left than the right.

In my research for my forthcoming book on Ayn Rand’s influence on America, I found that differences over Rand’s atheism were acknowledged by people on both sides, Tea Party leaders and Randers alike. So far they’ve done a pretty good job of keeping things under wraps, but I’m not sure how long that can continue. It’s not just the individual-versus-family debate. Rand’s philosophy is at variance with Judeo-Christian values, from the role of charity in society (Rand felt there wasn’t any) to the responsibility of government to educate its citizens, provide for the poor, and protect the most vulnerable in society through such accepted measures as child labor laws, which Randers oppose.

The roots of Rand’s views can be found in many places, but religious teachings aren’t among them. Rand despised religion and especially Christianity. She called religion “the great poison of mankind” and “the first enemy of the ability to think.” In 1934 she said, “I want to fight religion as the root of all human lying and the only excuse for suffering.”

True, Paul rejects much of her beliefs, and his opposition to abortion and views on foreign policy have made him disliked intensely by Rand’s followers. Yet his views on the role of government in society—as outlined in his program-slashing budget proposal last month—so closely tracks Rand that he, along with the self-immolating Herman Cain, come as close in years as we’ve seen to standard-bearers of Rand’s “Objectivist” philosophy.

In their public speeches and websites, Rand followers tend to downplay Rand’s fierce atheism and rejection of traditional Judeo-Christian values. Tea Partiers I’ve talked to very often embrace all of Rand’s teachings except for her atheism, or find rationalizations to circumvent her fierce disdain for altruism and contempt for charity.

Ultimately it just won’t work. Rand herself saw that there was no compromise, no meeting point between her views and those of the Christian right, and she declined to endorse Ronald Reagan for that reason. William F. Buckley, Jr., held Rand in contempt because of her atheism and rejection of Christian values, and his National Review was a center of anti-Rand discourse throughout his life. The Paul-Santorum face-off at the debate was the closest we’ve seen in recent years of that old dispute being played out by proxies.

There is no middle ground between Paul and Santorum, just as there wasn’t between Rand and Buckley. The reason for that is fundamental: Rand’s entire worldview is predicated on a rejection of Judeo-Christian beliefs. To her, social programs like Medicare and Social Security are not just ill-advised or in need of reform, but evil. Her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged present a philosophy that argues for an extreme form of individuality and laissez-faire capitalism. It would be a world with no taxation, and not much of a government.

You can water that down, of course, just as you can with any radical ideology, but such differences can’t be finessed.

Gary Weiss’s forthcoming book, AYN RAND NATION: The Hidden Struggle for America’s Soul, will be published by St. Martin’s Press on February 28, 2012.

Recent Posts by Gary Weiss



189 Comments so far ↓

  • zephae

    First it’s JJV, now you, but it is downright wrong (and offensive) to claim that you can’t have morality, strong families, and a sense of social responsibility without a belief in the Judeo-Christian religion. In fact, I don’t see what good the abdication of responsibility at the center of Christianity does for society at large. In fact, atheism says absolutely nothing on any of the issues you raised, which isn’t surprising for a self-contained intellectual position.

    I’ve never liked Rand, either as a person or as a writer. I’m consistently bewildered that something as boring and awful as The Fountainhead is somehow considered good literature, but maybe there’s something to annoying one-dimensional characters that I’m missing. I wish less people would buy in to her stupid ideas, but you may be right that her modern-day supporters in the GOP will cause a party schism.

    • diverik

      “it is downright wrong (and offensive) to claim that you can’t have morality, strong families, and a sense of social responsibility without a belief in the Judeo-Christian religion.”

      I may be wrong, but I don’t think that’s what he is saying. I don’t think that he’s talking about atheists in general, just the small subset of atheists that are Objectivists. I believe he is saying that you can’t claim be both a Randian (i.e. Objectivist) and a follower of the Christian faith, as some in the current GOP are attempting to do. Objectivism and Christianity are diametrically opposed. They cannot coexist in a single, coherent philosophy.

      • zephae

        That could be, but it at least seemed implied by the article as a whole. He certainly was pointing out the irreconcilable contradiction, but it felt as though he was creating cross-equivalences with all of the aspects of Rand.

      • fuzzywzhe

        People aren’t generally this simple minded.

        Who really follows absolutely the teachings of another person except a mindless drone? Ayn Rand has a lot of good thinking, and she has some wrong thinking.

        So did Plato – the original fascist, and Martin Luther the great reformer and the virulent anti-Semite who wrote the book “On the Jews and Their Lies” which describes kristallnacht pretty well.

        I am an atheist, but that doesn’t mean I’m without morality. I’m also MOSTLY a libertarian, but I recognize the right of anybody to practice any religion they please. It’s their mind their body. I recognize the need of a religion to keep a society cohesive, can you name a single society that was atheistic that lasted for more than a century, ever?

        It’s unreasonable to reject the movement toward a smaller and less intrusive government simply because Ayn Rand favored it. She probably thought the water was wet as well, does that mean it isn’t? Heck, I bet Hitler had the same belief, as did Stalin and Pol Pot.

        • Cyberax

          Well, there was exactly ONE atheistic country (Albania, if you are interested) in the entire history of the entire world.

          However, the move from religion to secularism to atheism is pretty clear. And it actually shows that LESS religion can make people happier and better of in general.

      • Clayman

        ^diverek,

        Shhh! Don’t tell the Tea Party. Ignorance is bliss.

      • Sinan

        I think he should have said nihilism instead of atheism. I am an atheist and I think Ayn Rand was a complete joke. Atlas Shrugged is garbage, pure ego mania.

    • hisgirlfriday

      it is downright wrong (and offensive) to claim that you can’t have morality, strong families, and a sense of social responsibility without a belief in the Judeo-Christian religion. In fact, I don’t see what good the abdication of responsibility at the center of Christianity does for society at large. In fact, atheism says absolutely nothing on any of the issues you raised, which isn’t surprising for a self-contained intellectual position.

      I agree with you that you do not have to subscribe to the Judeo-Christian religion (Or Islam because that is an Abrahamic faith as well) to have morality, strong families or a sense of social responsibility.

      Outside of the religious doctrine though, there is such a thing as Judeo-Christian values that emphasize honoring your parents, parents providing for their children, and neighbors treating each other as they would want to be treated. It is these values (and I am not even claiming Judeo-Christians have a monopoly on these values but merely refer to them as Judeo-Christian because that’s how they manifested in Western civilization) that provide the prosperity, peace and stability that make democratic republican civilization possible.

      However, I don’t think Ayn Rand has been accurately characterized by her opponents by simply lumping her in with atheists who may or may not be hostile to Judeo-Christian values. Rand would be more correctly characterized instead as an antiChristian or a Satanist. Rather than “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you,” Rand espouses the philosophy of “do what thou wilt.” Rather than preach self-sacrifice for the greater community in connection with the past sacrifices of the People of Israel or Jesus on the cross, Rand preaches that sacrifice itself is immoral.

      If Rand worships anything beside herself, it is Moloch, the golden calf that provides immediate gratification to its selfish followers willing to sacrifice their (or their nation’s) children’s future rather than sacrifice anything themselves.

      Those who care deeply about Judeo-Christian values are put in something of an impossible place by our current political alignment in this country. Pro-life Republicans obviously see the Democrats as the Moloch worshippers with the abortion issue as just the latest form of child sacrifice to rear its ugly head in human history. Social justice-seeking Democrats meanwhile see the Republican Party as the worse Moloch worshippers for being more concerned about selfishly gathering up tax cuts and lavish benefits for themselves now with no concern for the sacrifice their children are making to pay for it in terms of a massive amount of national debt, military service in endless wars and the lack of adequate education, economic opportunity, healthcare, and environmental stewardship.

      • armstp

        Well put!

      • zephae

        Fair enough, but when that concept is invoked, it most often goes hand-in-hand with a kind of moral superiority and exclusivity claim typified by people like Santorum who Mr. Weiss used as a counter-point from the beginning of the piece.

        • DWAnderson

          I think you have not read or misunderstand Rand if you believe she would have any problem with “values that emphasize honoring your parents, parents providing for their children, and neighbors treating each other as they would want to be treated.”

          She would argue (unpersuasively) that such values can be derrived from self-interest, but she ends in a place consistent with the majority of Judeo-Christian values– as do many aethists, BTW.

        • diverik

          “She would argue (unpersuasively) that such values can be derived from self-interest, but she ends in a place consistent with the majority of Judeo-Christian values– as do many atheists, BTW”

          While this statement may be true on the surface, I’d have to take issue with this to a certain extent. If my understanding of Objectivism is correct, she might indeed make this argument but would make the further argument that those “values” should only be adhered to so long as they serve the self-interest. The moment they no longer serve the self-interest, they should be abandoned. Is this a fair assumption? If so, then this position is not consistent with Judeo-Christian values or atheists that adhere to Humanism.

        • hisgirlfriday

          [blockquote]I think you have not read or misunderstand Rand if you believe she would have any problem with “values that emphasize honoring your parents, parents providing for their children, and neighbors treating each other as they would want to be treated.”
          [/blockquote]

          http://www.ellensplace.net/ar_pboy.html

          From Rand herself:

          PLAYBOY: According to your philosophy, work and achievement are the highest goals of life. Do you regard as immoral those who find greater fulfillment in the warmth of friendship and family ties?

          RAND: If they place such things as friendship and family ties above their own productive work, yes, then they are immoral. Friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man’s life. A man who places others first, above his own creative work, is an emotional parasite; whereas, if he places his work first, there is no conflict between his work and his enjoyment of human relationships.

    • Steve D

      You can indeed behave morally without subscribing to any religion. Absolutely.

      The Ten Commandments did not invent morality, any more than a physics book invents the speed of light. Both merely describe what already exists. We find condemnations of murder, lying, stealing and adultery in the Bible before the Ten Commandments were pronounced. The Ten Commandments are a distillation of moral concepts already long held.

      But, in the absence of some external basis for morality, it is meaningless to claim that your concept of morality is binding on anyone else. So you can behave morally in the sense of following common moral precepts, but you have no basis for calling it “morality” or claiming anyone else is obliged to take it seriously. It’s what you prefer to do, nothing more. And if you invoke societal standards, then you’re merely substituting group preferences for individual ones. No doubt, if the Nazis had won World War II, we’d have a very different set of societal standards. In the absence of any objective external standard, their morality would be just as valid as ours.

      There’s objective reality and solipsism, and it doesn’t matter what rhetoric you use to support your solipsism. If it doesn’t have a basis outside yourself, it’s merely solipsism.

      • zephae

        But, in the absence of some external basis for morality, it is meaningless to claim that your concept of morality is binding on anyone else.

        I don’t think I would say that anyone’s morality is binding upon anyone else. However….

        So you can behave morally in the sense of following common moral precepts, but you have no basis for calling it “morality” or claiming anyone else is obliged to take it seriously. It’s what you prefer to do, nothing more.

        I don’t think this follows from the previous statement. Pain, empathy, and reason together form a solid basis for morality, even a morality that must be fought for. If one’s moral code is based on the idea of limiting the amount of pain other’s feel, from which, in addition to the necessary foundation of personal experience, most people’s morality inevitably flows, then it is neither solipsism nor societal standards that lead that code. Instead, shared experience (also external), the most effective way to derive and test moral values, becomes the guiding light. It has a kind of “greater good” aspect that moral absolutists often don’t like, but I think it’s much better than an imagined authority.

  • Rabiner

    The problem the author has is he confuses the lefts rejection of religion through science and the rights rejection of religion through Randian objectivism. Neither of these two concepts have anything in common outside of their belief that religion is antiquated.

    • LFC

      Rabiner, I disagree that the left rejects religion through science other than a small and very vocal minority of hard-core atheists like Dawkins. In fact the Randians actually fit that mold pretty well, though they are also a small and very vocal minority of the right.

      The majority of the left, center-left, center, and center-right believes in some form of god and I imagine that the majority are Christian. The big difference between them and the Christian right is that they don’t allow dogmatic religious beliefs to overwhelm the realities discovered by science.

      • Rabiner

        I should of amended my comment strictly to policy making decisions. I’ve found liberals tend not to use religion as an argument for public policy like many conservatives.

        • LFC

          Very true. Only fundamentalist Christians, virtually all of whom are right-wing, want to abandon the Constitution and personal freedom for an attempt at a Christian theocracy.

      • dugfromthearth

        While most people in this country believe in some sort of divine being, there are almost no christians in the U.S. or the world. There are a lot of people who claim to be christians, but they do not follow the teachings of christ in the bible. They simply do what they want and claim the bible supports them. If pressed they cherry pick bits from the bible that support them. But really people are called “christian” because the were born in a country which just calls people a christian unless they say otherwise. There are no requirements to being called a christian in the U.S. No beliefs or actions. Simply not saying you are not.

        • LauraNo

          I am related in one way or another to quite a few Catholics who really do try to follow the Church, and Jesus’s teachings, even at large personal cost, I know some that don’t, too. But I am not aware of any Evangelicals that really try. From my experience, what you say is true _of Evangelicals_, not all Christians. *Not a scientific survey*

        • anniemargret

          You can easily tell who is a Christian. It’s simple, really. They never talk about religion. They never try to persuade you to join their church. They never single out other groups, religions, or philosophies as bad, wrong, evil. They don’t wear it on their sleeve. They don’t preach.

          They are quiet. They are very quiet. They go about their day trying to live according to the principles of Christ….Love, Peace, Forgiveness. Creating happiness whereever they go, instead of hate, fear.

          Yes, there really are these people. Look around, you will know them.

        • Kevin B

          Annie: You could say the same about Libertarians. To live your own life as a libertarian is honorable. To practice libertarian politics is oxymoronic.

        • budgiegirl

          Funny Annie Margaret, but i try to live by those same principles too… and I’m not a Christian. Where I’m from, we call it being a good human being – and Christians do not have the monopoly on that.. they just think they do.

  • ottovbvs

    So different parts of the rightwing belief system of the teaparty don’t cohere. There’s nothing unusual about this in broadly nihilistic political movements. I could give you a couple of examples but you can probably figure them out for yourself. The tea party and indeed the broader Republican base from which it is largely composed is a rich stew of discontents looking for targets at which it can aim its ire. Elitists, bureaucrats, bankers, unions, government, minorities, foreigners, scientists, educational achievement, immigrants, the list is endless. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that families are on the list after all they’re on the list of all movements with nihilistic and totalitarian tendencies. What is surprising is that allegedly reasonable Republicans want to be associated with any of this.

    • anniemargret

      I agree totally with this analysis. The TP is a mishmash of angry, embittered people who feel as if they have lost something. They lash out at anyone who doesn’t immediately agree with them, because they’ve basically bought into the idea that somehow this country owes THEM something, because they truly believe they are special.

      I have no patience with these people. They sound like a bunch of whiny kindergarteners who refuse to live in the 21st century.

      That Republicans of any intellect anymore would even bother to associate or assign them any importance is the single greatest evidence of the GOP’s decline. Even when the hippes with their extreme leftist radicalism ran the Dems into the ground, there was groundswell of anger towards them.

      They were rooted out, and now there is no ‘leftist ideology’ – there are more ‘conservatives’ in the Democratic party than in the GOP. Personal freedom, fiscal common sense, planetary responsibility, protection of the weak and poor, support of big business and small business, but always caring for the individual, support of a strong infrastructure, better education, scientific pursuit for knowledge and for economic competition, diplomacy before unwarranted and irrational wars, new energy sources for a more prosperous future, protection for the civil rights of minorities and for women….

      ….why would anyone be a thinking Republican these days, when they have allowed their party to be antithetical to everything described above?

  • Chris Balsz

    “Ultimately it just won’t work.”

    Sure. It’s meant to last just long enough to create the political defeat of a centralized “state capitalism” shoving a utilitarian secular morality.

  • zaybu

    Republicans are no strangers to cognitive dissonance.

    • Elvis Elvisberg

      Yep, this is exactly it.

      The GOP will continue to stand for small government, spending about as much as the rest of the world put together on war spending, states rights (except for issues involving gay rights), and the right of the federal government to come between a woman and her doctor.

      There also appears to be some conflict between the idea that on the one hand it’s unpatriotic to question the government when it invades a foreign country for no evident reason, and on the other that Medicare is tyranny. And yet, the GOP continues to exist, cognitive dissonance be damned.

      Atheists make up a tiny percentage of Republicans. Yes, Ayn Rand has rabid followers, but they couldn’t win any election anywhere ever. They will make a little noise. They will affect roughly nothing, except perhaps amping the GOP up to say meaner things about the poor than they otherwise would have.

      (Also too, how do Spain and the UK get to be freedom-loving Coalition of the Willing charter members, even though their health care delivery systems have irrevocably destroyed liberty forever? I suspect the question doesn’t keep Republicans up at night).

    • Graychin

      Zaybu nailed it.

      What passes for a “conservative” movement today is entirely comfortable embracing Randian objectivism and Dobsonian “family values” – at the same time!

      At least Rand was logically consistent. It’s hard to envision her Objectivism, which dreams of an essentially amoral world, coexisting peacefully with Christian ethics.

  • willard landreth

    The author states: The reason for that is fundamental: Rand’s entire worldview is predicated on a rejection of Judeo-Christian beliefs. To her, social programs like Medicare and Social Security are not just ill-advised or in need of reform, but evil.

    There is no way one can defend christians associated with the TP. We’ve seen and heard all too much from them in the debates and their indefensible reaction to government aid for the poor. Because Tper’s in general and christians specifically, they’ve failed in their basic principal they’re trying to find some type of cover and any cover will do.

    Frankly, since christains today are completely ignorant of their own book, to expect anyone to believe they’ve studied Ayn rand and then say she made us do it, is absolutely disingenuous. The TP has been saying this stuff since their inception. And they’ve also proclaimed their Judeo – christian roots. No way can you put lipstick on this pig.

    • Chris Balsz

      How would you explain the fact that Christianity has existed for 2000 years, has dominated governments for 1600 years, but the welfare state is less than 200 years old?

      • LFC

        Because much more secular sensibilities finally wrestled control of the government from people who effectively used religion as a weapon? As the saying goes, “the last time Christianity ruled the West it was called the Dark Ages.”

        And BTW, I didn’t realize that Christianity dominated governments in Africa, the Middle East, all of Asia, all of South and Central America (before the Spanish wiped out the indigenous people) for the past 1,600 years. Surely a “fascinating” history lesson. One might even use the word “unbelievable”.

        • Chris Balsz

          Nor did I say it dominated all governments for 1600 years. It just happened to be illegal for about 400 years.

      • Elvis Elvisberg

        The same way I explain that Christianity has existed for 2000 years, has dominated (many, Western) governments for 1600 years, but didn’t get around to realizing that slavery was very very bad until less than 200 years ago, or that women should have the right to vote until about 100 years ago, or that voting was better than the divine right of kings until the past few centuries.

        To wit: modernity is kinda new.

        • MSheridan

          +1

        • Chris Balsz

          I don’t think 2011 American liberals are better Christians than say, Sojourner Truth, who wanted the vote for women and an end to slavery, but not government payments to the unemployed; or the Apostles, who didn’t want any of those political developments.

        • Watusie

          Since “the Apostles” are fictional characters, it is incorrect to say they they “wanted” anything.

          I was not aware the Sojourner Truth had opinions about unemployment benefits. Be that as it may, I think the woman who said “Religion without humanity is very poor human stuff” is not going to be on your side of this argument.

        • Chris Balsz

          Say what?

      • Watusie

        I would explain it by pointing out that global transportation and trade had to expand to a certain degree before Europeans could flee the Christian continent and and establish a government free from religion’s pernicious influences.

        • Chris Balsz

          If you said that to Cotton Mather, you’d have been pilloried.

        • Watusie

          Nope. You see, he was in the Church, not the Government.

        • ottovbvs

          Balsz gets more fatuous by the day. Creative… but fatuous.

        • Chris Balsz

          “The tolerance the Pilgrims enjoyed in Leiden between 1607-1620 and that governed their actions with the Wampanoag Indians was not practiced in the Massachusetts Colony. The Bay Colony was governed by Governor General John Winthrop who administered laws passed by the colony’s governing body called the General Court, composed of elected members. In the broad sense, the Massachusetts Colony was a Calvinist theocracy. Attendance and financial support of the church were required for all colony members. Ministers, elders and deacons exerted considerable influence over laws passed by the General Court; and in turn, the General Court enforced actions taken by the Puritan churches. Individuals critical of the churches, or espousing beliefs thought to be heretical to Calvinist dogma were punished, e.g. banishment, whipping, branding, ear-lobbing, etc.

          In 1635/36 the Puritan congregation of Thomas Hooker in Cambridge, Massachusetts was unhappy with the dictatorial ways of Winthrop’s General Court and was granted permission to begin a colony in Hartford, Connecticut. Roger Williams, minister in Plymouth and later Salem preached the total separation of civic and religious affairs. In 1636 he was banished from Salem and established a colony in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1637 Anne Hutchinson advocated separatist beliefs and other non-conforming views held to be heretical to Calvinist dogma and was banished from the Bay Colony. In 1638, the Puritan congregation of John Davenport in Cambridge, Massachusetts was displeased with Winthrop’s dictatorial ways and bought land from the Indians to begin the settlement, New Haven, Connecticut.”

          http://www.sail1620.org/history/articles/83-pilgrims-and-puritans-in-17th-century-new-england.html

          This is nonpartisan history, fellas.

        • Watusie

          Good grief, Balsz, your example self-evidently stems from the period when the colony was still under British/European/Christian rule, which was thrown off after the Revolution and the adoption of our famously godless Constitution. In otherwords, you are arguing from the wrong side of the watershed timeline that you yourself set out.

        • ottovbvs

          Old Balsz sometimes confuses the 17th and 18th centuries….it’s a mistake anyone could make

        • Chris Balsz

          Not only was the 17th century emigration to America, not about founding a “godless government”, the Revolution wasn’t either, and neither was the establishment of the Constitution. Nor was its implementation. Go ahead and read the inaugural addresses of our Presidents and see how many avoid any reference to the Divine.

        • Watusie

          Tell me, Balsz, is “ask what you can do for your country” part of the law of the land? Afterall, a president said it in an inaugural address, so it trumps the Constitution, right?

          If Mitt Romney becomes president and mentions God in his inaugural address, does that make us a Mormon nation? Afterall, you seem convinced that the private theological positions of the presidents determine the faith of the nation, just like in the good old days back in Europe when the religion of the prince was your religion as well, whether you liked it or not.

      • anniemargret

        It’s called evolutionary thinking. Christ preached ethical behavior and to honor God was to honor the person, even the lowliest of the low. That’s a hard philosophy to follow and there have been evil in the sight of God for thousands of years.

        Perhaps ‘faith’ – true faith is to believe that good will ultimately overcome evil. But it starts with the individual and spread to the community. The TP pretends they are Christian. You cannot harbor hate and fear in your heart and then call yourself Christian.

        Going to church on Sunday means absolutely nothing if one doesn’t practice the teachings of Christ the other 6 days of the week.

        • Chris Balsz

          Nor can government policy fulfill the Beatitudes AND be the consummation of a ‘godless government free of the perversion of religion’ at the same time.

        • Bingham

          Thanks, Chris. This is why the conservative parties in Europe like the CDU/CSU have an explicitly Christian foundation. These parties refuse to make the final step to total godlessness, because they know exactly where such thinking led.

        • Watusie

          “government policy fulfill the Beatitudes”

          WTF? You want the government to hand over the farms to the inner city poor? The version of the Beatitudes that appears in Luke includes those that weep now will laugh – do you take that as a command that the government should hire comedians and send them out on tour?

  • mlindroo

    I am really sceptical about this … if U.S. right wingers can claim Christianity somehow is synonymous with individualism and laissez faire free enterprise (it certainly wasn’t for more than a millennium!), I am sure sweeping Ayn Rand’s atheism under the carpet will be a far easier task.

    MARCU$

    • anniemargret

      What’s far worse is that these same people who call themselves Christians go to church on Sunday. There, they hear preachers and ministers call up on them to go and get rich, that’s what “God would want for you.’

      Wow. I heard some of this stuff from some evangelical friends. Weird. It is totally antithetical to Christ’s teachings, which was non-materialism.

      But there is a veneer of righteousness to say you go to church. And why I stopped going. It was a parade of back-slappers about how righteous they all were.

  • MSheridan

    Of the country’s Christians, most are Protestant, and most Protestants come down on the faith side of the “faith vs works” controversy, whereas Catholics historically came down on the works side. Neither Protestants nor Catholics much value actual knowledge of the creed in the laity, barring a hat tip to the Jesuits, who sometimes seem to worry other Catholics by caring a bit too much about knowledge and objective truth. The days when people actually understood and cared about the creedal differences between the various Baptist and Methodist and Presbyterian and Lutheran denominations are gone. Now the only differences that really matter are whether the local church cares about gay marriage or gay ordination or what its stance is on birth control or abortion or the literal truth of the Bible. These are fairly important questions, to be sure (several of them even for non-Christians), but most have little to nothing to do with the core of the faith itself. I doubt a majority of modern American Christians could even list the Ten Commandments without a reference, much less deliver a coherent synopsis of the Sermon on the Mount.

    • hisgirlfriday

      As a mainline Protestant (Methodist), I am sick of the way that morally sanctimonious militantly political Christianist nondenominational and Southern Baptist “evangelicals” have hijacked the “Christian” label such that many people feel like they don’t belong in the Christian faith if they’re not a right-wing Republican or they’re pro-choice or they don’t want to exclude gays or they don’t believe the Bible is the literal word of God or they believe in science.

      I myself sadly turned away from my faith for a time because of how disconnected I felt from Christianity because of these things before realizing that the very reason I hold the political beliefs that I do is because of the Methodist church in which I was raised. A Methodist church that preached salvation by faith AND good works, by the way.

      I worry about my church going forward though, both on a local and national level.

      Just looking back at the church where I was baptized and confirmed, it was the most thriving congregation in my small rural town when I was growing up. But because the Methodists rotate their preachers and the last few have been kind of dull, the church is losing a lot of members.

      They also have a lot of competition from the new “nondenominational” church in town which has won the hearts of all the parents with young children and is strongly supported by the town’s mayor. Basically this church came about when a charismatic right-wing preacher came to town and took over the town’s First Baptist Church, then decided the Baptists were not conservative enough for him so he quit association with the American Baptists USA. This let him control all the funds from the church so he could then build a brand-new church facility on the outskirts of town with its own basketball gymnasium. Never mind that the old Baptist church was a perfectly fine building with renovations that were less than 10 years old and that before the church went all right-wing separatist it operated a very good day care center for the community.

      This Baptist preacher also broke up the town’s longstanding Vacation Bible School for Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists (Lutherans already had their own VBS as did the Catholics) over some freakout over a Methodist Sunday School teacher letting someone who was a Mormon play the organ for the Vacation Bible School choir.

      While that seems like a really dumb thing for people to get excited about, and it is, when a tradition that’s lasted decades ends in a town of 2,000 people this winds up leading to a huge fight where basically the Methodists and the ex-Baptists were writing front-page letters to the editor of the town’s small newspaper for weeks attacking each other.

      I am reminded of this sordid episode every day I watch the GOP primary and see the feud between Romney and Perry play out.

      I am also reminded of my firm conviction that separation of church is to be valued not just to protect the institution of state from too much corrupting and exclusionary religious influence, but also to protect the church as an institution from too much corrupting and exclusionary political influence.

      • willard landreth

        I have just returned from accompanying my granddaughter at a local Baptist church *(WNC) and I was appalled to see that its main set up is not to praise god, but to offer entertainment in place of spiritual nourishment. (I am a recovering christian BTW). I liken myself to hisgirlfriday – I just never went back and frankly, haven’t looked back either. I was a mainstream Presbyterian. Unfortunately, christianity is now all show and no substance
        The southern church has sold its christians a bill of damaged goods and are quite proud of it.

        • hisgirlfriday

          Sounds like we need a Protestant Protestant Reformation. :)

        • anniemargret

          Well, to add my voice this ‘choir’ I was raised in a Catholic school upbringing in the great northeast city of NY. Catholicism has its dogma. But I do remember so much emphasis was placed on what Christ said, and admonished, and very little Bible quotes, other than readings from the NT.

          I loved the hymns in Latin, and I can still sing them. I loved the smell of the church, the old gothic cathedrals that dotted the NYC landscapes, and would visit one when there was no Mass, or other service. Just sitting the pews staring at the figure of Christ on the cross, the sun shining through the stained glass.

          Now the Church has a collective sin on its soul because of the pedophile travesties. It has not adequately adressed this, nor done penance for that sin in my mind. I can no longer pretend that I uphold the Church’s teachings on abortion rights, birth control, divorce, gay rights.

          But I am a Democrat because of my Catholicism. Because I believe in what Christ taught was the best way for humans to live, not just for ourselves in the here and now, but for our eternal souls and what we leave of ourselves when we leave this earth.

          And the Democrats offer more to this end than the corrupt, self-serving, self-righteous Republicans with war lust and money lust which has taken precedence over the common good.

  • ottovbvs

    The right wing idea of family support role models. Deadbeat dads. Honestly you can’t make this stuff up.

    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/11/walsh_gets_pro-family_award_despite_child_support.php?ref=fpblg

    • MSheridan

      Oh right, this guy:

      “Tell us what it is and then let’s move on and talk about what you’re doing for the country,” Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) said of the charges against Cain. “Everybody’s got stuff. Your profession’s got to grow up. We as politicians need to grow up. The American people need to grow up.”

      Who the heck knows how many kids I don’t pay child support for, and probably any year now I’ll get MY driver’s license canceled multiple times for failure to pay for car insurance, and the exact number of women I’ve sexually harassed might be hard to come by. After all, “Everybody’s got stuff.”

    • LFC

      Just when I think the right-wing can’t possibly get even more absurd I’m proven wrong.

    • Southern Populist

      I mean, really, his ex-wife says he owes it. I guess that settles it (lol).

      That article is a good example of why TPM shoud be regarded as a joke other than as an information source for the latest left-wing talking points and expressions of anti-evangelical bigotry.

      • MSheridan

        Deleted–accidental double post from phone.

      • MSheridan

        Hell, that’s not where I first heard about it. The child support story broke in July and his personal finances have been a matter of public interest even longer. His defense is that they had a “verbal agreement” (his words) that he would pay less in years he made less. True? How the hell would I or anyone else know for sure, but if it is they’re BOTH idiots. She’s mad that he supposedly loaned his campaign $35,000 and took international vacations but told her he couldn’t afford child support payments because he was broke. Even assuming he’s telling the truth about a verbal agreement, that seems like a good reason to be upset. If he’s not telling the truth, she’s got even more reason.

      • hisgirlfriday

        Is the Sun-Times credible enough as a source to prove to you that TPM isn’t making up the Walsh as Deadbeat Dad story?

        http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/7656284-418/judge-scolds-rep-joe-walsh-orders-him-to-prove-he-doesnt-owe-back-child-support.html

        [blockquote]
        A Chicago judge issued a preliminary ruling Wednesday against U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) in his child-support dispute with his ex-wife, ordering the Tea Party favorite to explain why he appears to be $100,000 behind in child-support payments.

        Cook County Circuit Judge Raul Vega also wanted to know why Walsh wasn’t in court Wednesday — the McHenry Republican’s ex-wife, Laura Walsh, was there — and initially said he expected him to show up for the next hearing.

        In court, Walsh’s attorney, Janet Boyle, asked Vega “for what purpose” he wanted the congressman in court.

        Vega gave her a puzzled look — to which Boyle responded: “Mr. Walsh is a U.S. congressman.”

        “Well, he’s no different than anyone else,” the judge replied.

        But after Laura Walsh’s attorney said he didn’t think the congressman needed to appear at the next hearing, Vega ultimately did not issue an order requiring the congressman to appear.

        But Vega did issue a “rule to show cause” — which means Walsh has to tell the court why he shouldn’t be held in contempt for falling so far behind in child support over the past five years.

        Laura Walsh argues her ex-husband owes more than $100,000, a number the congressman disputes. But Vega’s ruling means that the burden is now on the congressman to prove that he doesn’t owe the money, attorneys for both Walshes agree.[/blockquote]

        • ottovbvs

          You should realise by now that DSP regards the entire regular media as a liberal conspiracy. TPM reported the story entirely accurately as far as I can see(would DSP like to tell us where it was factually incorrect?…in the absence of a list I’m just going to have to assume it’s DSP that is to be regarded as the joke not TPM ).

      • willard landreth

      • Southern Populist

        The TPM article is clearly suggesting that unproven allegations in an unresolved legal dispute over child support somehow disqualifies this man from being pro-family by the standards of the Family Research Council.

        That’s why the site is a joke (unless you’re looking for partisan spin). Unproven allegations are just that — unproven allegations. They don’t tell us anything about how this man regards his children.

        • zephae

          The TPM article is clearly suggesting that unproven allegations in an unresolved legal dispute over child support somehow disqualifies this man from being pro-family by the standards of the Family Research Council.

          Yes, an “unproven” allegation for which a judge has already issued a ruling and for which he may be held in contempt of court. As of right now, he owes over $100,000 in back child support, so yeah that definitely should disqualify him.

        • ottovbvs

          DSP proves yet again that he is indeed the joke. What doesn’t he understand about the fact this guy has a court order issued against him for payment of support. How is this unproven? Only for those with such severe cognitive bias that they are unable to recognize the innapropriateness (not to say sheer hilarity) of handing a family support award to such an individual. What’s next? Right to life awards for convicted murderers.. Good neighbor awards for housebreakers. Intelligence awards for DSP?

        • Southern Populist

          It’s a divorce situation.

          These kinds of personal situations are always more complex than any outsider can appreciate. This excludes, of course, partisans hacks and anti-evangelical bigots who think an unresolved legal dispute over child support is definitive proof of poor fatherhood.

          Just to put aside this Walsh case for a moment, if you two don’t realize there all kinds of a reasons a person can get behind on child support that have nothing to do with being a dead beat parent, you don’t know anything about how the family court system in this country operates.

          And, regarding the court order, so what? The judge did not immediately hold him in contempt. If the judge on the case is willing to entertain the possibility he has a reasonable explanation for not following the order, other people should be and will be too.

          Again, this is why TPM is a joke. TPM jumped at the chance to tar this man as a bad father (with some anti-evangelical bigotry thrown in) when even the judge on the case is allowing him give his side of the story before taking action.

          TPM=Red State

        • zephae

          Just to put aside this Walsh case for a moment, if you two don’t realize there all kinds of a reasons a person can get behind on child support that have nothing to do with being a dead beat parent, you don’t know anything about how the family court system in this country operates.

          Yeah, there’s all kinds of ways that can happen like loaning your campaign $35,000 you claim not to have or taking vacations to Mexico and Italy with your girlfriend.

        • hisgirlfriday

          DSP, Joe Walsh is a deadbeat dad. This has been proven in court and it’s up to Joe Walsh to prove in court that he’s not a deadbeat dad.

          Maybe you’re willing to give him more of the benefit of the doubt than the court because you have sympathy for parents who go through contentious divorces. Fine.

          But do you agree that this man has no business lecturing the American public about deficits or debt or making policy on America’s spending and revenue measures when the man is so reckless with his own finances?

          It’s not just the child support payments that are questionable. There was also the issue of Walsh just quitting making payments on a $300,000 condominium at the same time he loaned his campaign $35,000 and rented a $3,300 month house that actually happened to be in the district where he was running. Oh and until the press bought it up, Walsh couldn’t be bothered to file legally required financial disclosure forms.
          http://www.myfoxchicago.com/dpp/news/investigative/20100426-joe-walsh-investigation

          Walsh was also sued for $20,000 by a former campaign manager during his Congressional run for failing to pay him for his work.
          http://mchenrycountyblog.com/2010/01/22/8th-district-watch-former-joe-walsh-staffer-sues-candidate/

        • Southern Populist

          I am not here to defend Walsh beyond making one point: the mere fact that he owes back child support does not necessarily mean he is a bad father.

          It’s not as if his ex-wife is facing eviction into streets along with a couple of toddlers. The “children” at issue here are actually adults, and she is employed as a policy analyst at a pharmaceutical company.

          Those are of couple of facts TPM managed to omit.

          It also turns out that the FRC gives out this award based on the person’s public voting record; everyone who votes their way gets one. However, the Sun writer did not mention this fact when he quoted the FRC rep who praised Walsh for “unwavering support of the family” out of context.

          Quoting out of context usually indicates intellectual dishonesty.

          http://www.frcaction.org/get.cfm?i=PG10J04&id=5091849&s=200&d=FH

        • zephae

          The “children” at issue here are actually adults

          Well who would’ve guessed that kids grow up over eight years? And only two of them are adults, actually – one is still 16.

          she is employed as a policy analyst at a pharmaceutical company.

          So if you have a good job your husband shouldn’t have to pay child support?

          It also turns out that the FRC gives out this award based on the person’s public voting record; everyone who votes their way gets one. However, the Sun writer did not mention this fact when he quoted the FRC rep who praised Walsh for “unwavering support of the family” out of context.

          I’m not sure about the Sun article, but the TPM article did mention that it was based on his voting record, which drove the point home all the more. Walsh seems care more about voting for his idea of supporting families than actually supporting his own.

        • valkayec

          As a divorced mother who had to deal with a “dead beat Dad” situation, I find Walsh’s actions and behavior abominable. He has a responsibility to care for his children that takes precedence over himself and his desires.

          I take his statement that he and his ex-wife verbally agreed to limit his child support with a measure of distrust. Support payments are set by the courts and are legally binding. If Walsh wanted to lower his support payments because of lower income, he was required to contact the court and state his case. He chose not to do so and simply chose to not pay his legally and morally binding responsibilities.

          The judge in the case has now required payments be extracted from his paycheck to go directly to his ex-wife to insure the payments are made.

          How any supposedly “family values” organization can honor a narcissistic male such as Walsh is beyond me. The Representative should be pilloried instead.

          And DSP, standing up for this morally corrupt male shows how little you value the health and welfare of children and how little you honor women and mothers. Shame on you.

  • Rob_654

    I have some family members who are evangelical and used to spout Ayn Rand stuff and then when I told them that she was a devout Atheist and that much of her philosophy stems from being an Atheist they at first simply did not believe me but after they checked I haven’t heard anything about Rand from them.

    • Bebe99

      Its funny because aside from the religion part, the two groups really do have a lot in common, they merely justify their individual lack of responsibility to the larger community in a different way. The objectivists claim no responsibility to society, while the fundamentalists claim that social responsibility is the domain of the church not the citizenry.

    • anniemargret

      You’d think they would have checked her out before they started upholding her rigid views on life and living. But then again, with no direct insult to your relatives (because I’ve got a few in my family too), Republicans appear to be far more intellectually lazy than Democrats.

      Far more.

  • Graychin

    She (Rand) wrote that “there is no such entity as ‘the public,’ since the public is merely a number of individuals.”

    Ergo, there is no such thing as a corporation, since a corporation is merely a number of individuals. Mitt Romney said so.

  • hisgirlfriday

    Why does the author of this piece focus on Ron Paul as the prominent Republican Rand acolyte when Ron Paul actually has some critical things to say about Rand and is actually something of a fringe Republican character, or at least is treated as such by most Republicans?

    What about the much more celebrated and revered “mainstream” Republican, the House Budget Committee Chairman, the author of the economic blueprint of the national Republican Party, Rep. Paul Ryan, who as far as I know has NEVER said anything bad about Ayn Rand and who is such a huge Ayn Rand fanboy that he actually makes his staff read her books before working for him?

  • Southern Populist

    I can certainly see Randians, Libertarians and Christians putting aside differences, even big differences, to work together toward achieving political goals they share in common. Coalition building is a fundamental part of politics.

    • Frumplestiltskin

      Rand and Christianity’s divisions go much deeper, for a Randian the individual is the sole focus, for a Christian it is God, Family, Country…with the self relegated way down. A Randian lives for themselves alone (which may explain why many are such miserable people, Ayn Rand herself was a degenerate libertine)

      There is zero hope of bridging the gap between these two groups, if you support any of what Rand believes you can not be a Christian. Why not talk about Buddhist prostitutes.

      I truly can not think of an emptier philosophy then Rands

      • anniemargret

        Someone should have told the pathetic woman that to give of yourself to others, to sacrifice for others, would bring more peace than all her ‘individual’ ‘I am an island’ philosophy. What a lonely self-serving ideology!

        • Chris Balsz

          Only if it’s voluntary.

          Nobody gets much peace being ordered to build roads for free.

        • anniemargret

          This is a life philosophy we’re talking about. Being forced to do something is dependent on what you are being forced to do.

          Taking into account the benefit of the society and the collective good, (being ‘forced’ to pay taxes) is not the same thing as being forced into voting for a particular person, or being forced to pray in school, etc….

          Either you believe in the collective good *along with* personal freedom, a healthy balance so that we have a healthy society, or you don’t. Rand only believed in personal freedom, even it is meant the society suffered and went down with it.

          Even Imperial Rome got that right. They elites enjoyed freedom, but they also kept the middle class comfortable. They didn’t abandon them, and why it was considered for its time, a model for a functioning society.

          I’m not sure what the TP wing wants. It seems to me they are thoroughly confused because there is no way they can practice true Christianity and then think Jesus wanted everyone to be materially ‘rich.’ They can’t whine about taxes or using some of that money to support the poor and the needy, and then whine when the society falls in on itself.

          Another reason why Republicanism in the year 2011 is morally bankrupt and adrift in ten different directions. They stand for everything, and stand for nothing.

    • ottovbvs

      DSP:
      “I can certainly see Randians, Libertarians and Christians putting aside differences, even big differences, to work together toward achieving political goals they share in common.”

      Wow DSP you must have been paying attention to my comments.

      “So different parts of the rightwing belief system of the teaparty don’t cohere. There’s nothing unusual about this in broadly nihilistic political movements. I could give you a couple of examples but you can probably figure them out for yourself.”

  • NRA Liberal

    There are actually Ayn Rand Christians who attempt to bridge the gap. They cite chapter and verse of the good book to the effect that just because Jesus said to take care of the poor, that didn’t mean Government was justified in doing so with your tax dollars.

    http://christianobjectivists.blogspot.com

    Here’s their “Christian Objectivist Self Test”

    http://christianobjectivists.blogspot.com/2009/03/self-test-christian-atheist-objectivist.html

  • Southern Populist

    You see, Ayn Rand and Christianity do not mix.

    Uh, not be unnecessarily sharp, but, no sh*t Sherlock.

    This fact has been common knowledge for half a century.

    • anniemargret

      Someone should tell the Republicans….they appear to be confused.

      • Chris Balsz

        She did a very good job explaining how the “aristocracy of money” is replaced by the “aristocracy of pull”. I don’t have to accept her atheism to appreciate that.

  • TJ Parker

    Oh come on. Tea Party is comprised of Jesus fetishists. Ron Paul is a crank.

  • Ariel

    Gary Weiss is doing his darnedest to obliterate from your consciousness the fact that Ayn Rand’s ideas have been hungrily devoured by a movement desperately in search of intellectual guidance.

    Far from “crashing,” Objectivists have been welcomed to the Tea Party with open arms, to say the least. Consider the rock-star reception that Yaron Brook, president of the Ayn Rand Institute, got during his speech at the Tea Party Patriots confab in Phoenix this year. And all along, of course, there have been the ubiquitous Ayn Rand-themed signs at Tea Party rallies, and Rick Santelli’s inaugural rant.

    There’s simply no other philosopher that comes _even close_ to Ayn Rand in terms of influencing the Tea Party, and good reason why. Rand resonates with those who realize that they don’t need permission from “society”–or its alleged spokesman—to live their lives according to their own independent judgment, to act on their own convictions, and reject unchosen responsibilities.

    They can do those things because they have rights, which are the _opposite_ of permissions. Each individual has the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. These are the ideals that this country was founded on—and steadily more and more people are heeding Rand’s call to reclaim them.

    Weiss’s arbitrary assertions notwithstanding, Rand goes on to point out that just as there’s no such entity as “the public,” there’s no such thing as a “greater good.” I.e. there’s no such thing as aggregate good, irrespective of beneficiaries—there’s only good for you, good for me, good for Joe down the block, etc.

    So all “greater good” proponents are really advocating is sacrificing some individuals to other individuals. Nothing could be more un-American than that.

    What many Tea Partiers gravitate toward then, is Rand’s view that each individual must be left physically uncoerced, free to decide how to live their own life, which entails acknowledging every other individual’s right to do the same. Choices regarding education, career, spouse, family, health care, retirement, donating to charity, etc. are the individual’s alone to make.

    I won’t bother to rebut the specious claim that Rand was opposed to charity, or that atheism played any central, affirming role in her philosophy. And if you think the Objectivist virtues of rationality, honesty, integrity, independence, productiveness, and pride are at odds with “Judeo-Christian values”–by all means, knock yourself out trying to make a case for that.

    If Weiss characterizes Rand’s worship of individualism and pure capitalism as “extreme,” I grant that putting those ideas into practice will lead to commensurately extreme results. Extremely _good_ results that is, as shown by a mountain of evidence. Whether you agree with that, of course, depends on whether you consider human life and prosperity on earth to be the standard of value, as Rand did.

    If patriots can’t agree on at least that much, yes, please, hasten the rift between Tea Party factions. The most rational, principled, reality-oriented faction will come out on top, in a movement that has the fate of the country in its hands.

    • Frumplestiltskin

      “Each individual has the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.”

      Um…there is no unrestricted right to property, the concept of eminent domain obliterates that. The government can not deprive you of your other rights except when you are in violation of the law. (we can argue about the draft another time)

      “Rand resonates with those who realize that they don’t need permission from “society”–or its alleged spokesman—to live their lives according to their own independent judgment, to act on their own convictions, and reject unchosen responsibilities.” In other words, she resonates with nitwits. There is so much silliness in this one statement I don’t even know where to begin. Unless you choose to live in a cave on a deserted island of course you need permission of society which is implicit through normative, transactional behavior. Vary too far from the norms of behavior and your judgement will be called into question, leading to rejection from society. And the ability to act is severly circumscribed not just by law but by society itself. Nor can you easily reject unchosen responsibilities, to survive in society one is forced to “choose” these responsibilities, irrespective of the law.

      This is the thing with Randians, they are so delusional in their belief of their own independence, that they are magical superbeings that create themselves and their own reality.

      “Choices regarding education, career, spouse, family, health care, retirement, donating to charity, etc. are the individual’s alone to make.” Here is the derangement in full view. For one, little children are incapable of choice regarding education, ability and aptitude determine career far more than choice, and it takes another to say yes for there to be a spouse…as to health care, science takes precedence over choice, public health overrules private choice everytime.

      I mean, wow. How is such blinkered thinking even possible? Randians really are chuckleheads.

      • Ariel

        “Um…there is no unrestricted right to property, the concept of eminent domain obliterates that.”

        Rights aren’t “restricted” in any way, since they are metaphysical absolutes. Rights are _inalienable_, part of the essence of what it means to be human, and simply a shorthand way of describing the social requirements for human survival and flourishing.

        Rights form an indivisible unity, so one implies all of the others. Just as one needs the freedom to act (liberty) in order to sustain one’s life, one needs to retain what one earns from acting (property) to carry the whole thing through.

        So eminent domain obliterates nothing–it’s largely just an arbitrary imposition on rights. You can argue that a functioning government might unavoidably need to sometimes co-opt private property for military defense purposes, but that hardly warrants the extreme of Donald Trump-style wholesale expropriation of residential property for commercial development, on the grounds that it broadens the tax base for municipalities. That’s just cronyism.

        “The government can not deprive you of your other rights except when you are in violation of the law. (we can argue about the draft another time)”

        This is just foolish, hairsplitting parsing of the language of the Constitution, rather than grasping the rights-based motivation that gave rise to the Constitution. Precisely put, government can’t deprive you of your rights, since as I pointed out, they’re inherent metaphysical conditions. Insofar as you violate the rights of another, it’s a tacit admission that you conversely recognize no rights for yourself; the justice subsequently served by a proper government is simply in recognition of that.

        Incidentally, the draft is one of the most egregious violations of rights, and no valid case can be made that it serves a free nation during wartime in any way. Rightless slaves do not make effective soldiers, whereas freedom-loving patriots defending the security of their nation do.

        “Unless you choose to live in a cave on a deserted island of course you need permission of society which is implicit through normative, transactional behavior.”

        There’s nothing implicit about it at all, it’s just an arbitrary claim. In reality, there’s no such entity as “society.” There are only individuals with whom I transact. In no way does any transaction with another individual or group of individuals give them a blank check on my life.

        In other words, I didn’t sign any stinking social contract.

        “Vary too far from the norms of behavior and your judgement will be called into question, leading to rejection from society. And the ability to act is severly circumscribed not just by law but by society itself. Nor can you easily reject unchosen responsibilities, to survive in society one is forced to “choose” these responsibilities, irrespective of the law.”

        This account obliterates the all-important distinction between the power of voluntary persuasion, and the power of the gun. Individuals are free to deal with one another on mutually agreeable terms, or not. That’s a far cry from using the government’s power to compel behavior at the point of a gun. A rights-respecting government only wields physical force in retaliation for rights violations, NOT to compel conformity to alleged social norms.

        “For one, little children are incapable of choice regarding education…”

        The legal and metaphysical status of children is a borderline category, not the typical, adult context of choices. So this is just skirmishing.

        “…ability and aptitude determine career far more than choice…”

        Irrelevant claim. They determine nothing without the crucial element of choice, which is the individual’s alone to make, as I have said. I.e. _no one else_ may properly make that decision for them.

        “…as to health care, science takes precedence over choice, public health overrules private choice everytime.”

        Arbitrary, question-begging claim. From the standpoint of a rationally selfish individual, where is the moral justification for forcibly compelling adherence to some one-size-fits-all regime, rather than taking his unique individual needs into account? There is none.

        • Frumplestiltskin

          “Rights aren’t “restricted” in any way, since they are metaphysical absolutes.”

          Oh my God, is that a joke? Are you 14 years old? What, did you look up a big word in the dictionary and thought if I say it is absolute it must be true? Of course rights are not metaphysical absolutes unless you are making a claim that all rights are divinely bestowed by God, at which point don’t you think God should kind of clue us in on what the absolutes are and not make any specious claims as to what is and what is not a metaphysical absolute.
          It is this kind of childish thinking that is so amusing, as though you are tuned into knowing what rights are and are not metaphyisically absolute, it is a type of monomania. Randians are monomaniacs.

          So right off the bat foundationally you are full of hogwash. There are no such things as metaphysical rights, it is an invention of mankind, the only way there would be such thing as metaphysical rights is if there is a God and we have eternal souls, at which point the only thing we truly own is our own soul, and even then that is supposition.

          Now since rights are created by man it is most logical they be made for the betterment of all men, how we go about doing this is collectively using reason and knowledge as best as we are able.

          Most of what you wrote is also gibberish because it is built on a false claim, but I will highlight one such silly statement:

          “In reality, there’s no such entity as “society.” There are only individuals with whom I transact. In no way does any transaction with another individual or group of individuals give them a blank check on my life.

          In other words, I didn’t sign any stinking social contract.”
          If you want to get technical in reality there is also no reality except that which we perceive through our limited and limiting senses, but since I recognize this is cheap and childish perhaps you can recognize that indeed there is such a thing as society. It is a perfectly valid word, it simply means (among other things) people organized for the common good.
          And yes society imposes costs and conditions in which to interact with others. Of course you signed the “stinking social contract.” Your coming online and writing in English conforming to generally understood rules of grammar proves so. Why you choose to label this hyperbolically as a blank check just shows how monomanical you are. Your speaking English or writing in English does not impose a blank check on you, honestly, how silly and paranoid are you? However your doing so means you are willing to conform to the rules of behavior.

          And another point:
          “From the standpoint of a rationally selfish individual, where is the moral justification for forcibly compelling adherence to some one-size-fits-all regime, rather than taking his unique individual needs into account? There is none.”

          Yeah, vaccinations have no place in society, they make children autistic or mentally disabled (per Bachmann). The vaccination regime is a one size fits all regime that requires in order for it to be effective full compliance (or as near as possible for there to be a herd immunity) If you were to take unique individual needs into account, then immunizations are a bad deal as there is risk on its own. It makes more sense to have everyone else be vaccinated and you enjoy the benefit of the herd immunity, but then everyone would do that and then there would be no herd immunity. This knowledge is so basic I truly do wonder if you are not indeed 14 years old.
          The rest is just too simpleminded to even waste my time…you obviously have no concept of choice and the myriads of ways that society, yes society, circumscribes those choices…and beyond that nature itself far more harshly circumscribes choices.

          Do you Randians believe that earth is the kingdom of heaven or something? Maybe in heaven souls have unlimited autonomy but earth ain’t heaven, stop talking like it is.

          Obviously you have never lived in an area approximating the state of nature, when I was younger I lived in Micronesia and observed how society is built at its most elemental level. People are collective, they are so in order to survive, it is not transactional…it goes far beyond that, it requires an element of faith and trust.

          I absolutely guarantee you that if I were to take a group of Randians to a deserted island they will either be dead in a short time or all of their nonsensical beliefs would wither away in short order. Mankind is collective and hierarchical. This is a product of millions of years of evolution. We use reason to create the conditions in which the hierarchy works to the benefit of as many as possible and we do this, party, via Democracy and law, but on the elemental level we are nothing but evolved apes. We are hierarchical and collective. To deny this is to engage in delusion.

        • Ariel

          “There are no such things as metaphysical rights, it is an invention of mankind, the only way there would be such thing as metaphysical rights is if there is a God and we have eternal souls…”

          Arbitrary assertion.

          “And yes society imposes costs and conditions in which to interact with others. Of course you signed the “stinking social contract.”

          Let’s define our terms, shall we? What circumstances in reality give rise to the concept of “contract”? Why do why need this concept? The fact that individuals make explicit, mutually comprehensible, beneficial, and voluntary agreements, with reciprocal conditions binding upon each party. If at least one of the parties doesn’t understand that they’re entering into a contract, _then there is no contract_. Get it?

          Now, I know for a fact that I never agreed to any stinking social contract, so therefore it doesn’t exist. QED.

          “Your coming online and writing in English conforming to generally understood rules of grammar proves so.”

          That doesn’t follow at all. Mere communication is pre-contract, and is what makes contracts even possible.

          “The vaccination regime is a one size fits all regime that requires in order for it to be effective full compliance (or as near as possible for there to be a herd immunity)…”

          Fine. Don’t deal with anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated. Nobody’s putting a gun to your head, forcing you to do so. In practical terms, this is yet another matter that is properly dealt with by tort law, rather than by arbitrary regulatory fiat.

          “Obviously you have never lived in an area approximating the state of nature, when I was younger I lived in Micronesia and observed how society is built at its most elemental level.”

          Don’t presume to know how old I am, where I’ve lived, and what I’ve observed, you pretentious, condescending windbag.

          “Mankind is collective and hierarchical. This is a product of millions of years of evolution.”

          Hunter-gatherer groups are collectivist (although not hierarchical.) That is arguably because they didn’t have any other choice in terms of individual survival, or at least didn’t know any better. That is not the case today. Unlike Burkean conservatives, still trapped in their static, medieval mindset, Rand argued that mankind has indeed progressed, and not just technologically. Paraphrasing how she put it: “rights are the process whereby man is set free from man.” Three centuries after the birth of the Enlightenment and the discovery of rights, you really should know better.

          After the insufferable abuse that comprises the better part of your latest, largely nonproductive screed, I have but one thing left to say to you, and returns the favor:

          Take your hierarchical, collectivist society, and shove it.

    • valkayec

      I recommend you read more history, particularly ancient history and how ancient civilizations came into being. But for now, allow me to leave you with this from John Donne:

      No man is an island entire of itself; every man
      is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
      if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
      is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
      well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
      own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
      because I am involved in mankind.
      And therefore never send to know for whom
      the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

      • skmarshall

        Ariel
        I just bought the exploration rights to that land just uphill from you. Of course it’s my right to hydro-frac as much as i want to see if any natural gas comes up.
        Aren’t you glad you have the right not to use your well any more?
        Mano “Manny” DeMercado

        • Ariel

          What has this got to do with the validity of rights? As anyone even remotely acquainted with tort law knows, that sort of scenario was anticipated long ago, as is sorting out who is violating the property rights of another, and how.

        • valkayec

          Try using a little deductive reasoning to play out the scenario.

        • hisgirlfriday

          So you don’t believe in the social contract, but you believe in tort law? WTF?

          If no one signed any stinking social contract giving up certain rights for certain benefits in being part of a society, then where is the consideration for adhering to your duty to not commit negligent or intentional torts upon other people? And if there was no completed social contract, how can there ever be a breach of this duty to not commit negligent or intentional torts upon other people?

      • Ariel

        Valkayec:

        Yeah, the familiar Donne quote–along with Burkean conservatism and a subway token– will get you uptown. So what? It’s just an appeal to sentiment, not facts and logic.

        • Southern Populist

          valkayec and Frumple are a lot closer to the truth than you are. You are the one defending a fantasy ideology that is 100% rooted in abstractions rather than “the facts of reality.”

          I always enjoy watching the libertarians of various stripes and the Objectivists peddle their fantasies about rights as a metaphysical absolute.

          You write with such certainty and seem completely undeterred by the reality that nothing resembling a libertarian society has ever existed in all of history.

        • Frumplestiltskin

          DSP, yeah I laughed out loud when I read that statement. Objectivism is just pure fantasy anyway, it is unheard of in most of the rest of the world, as philosophy it is not much above bubblegum. I suppose its only usage is for college students high on weed to engage in bs sessions on “eternal” truths.

        • valkayec

          Frumple, so did I. The lack of historical reality embedded in Objectivism is completely alogical. It’s little more than ignorant, adolescent self-absorption.

        • Ariel

          “You write with such certainty and seem completely undeterred by the reality that nothing resembling a libertarian society has ever existed in all of history.”

          Nonsense. America in the nineteenth century came close to pure capitalism, and the results speak for themselves.

        • valkayec

          Guess you don’t know much, then, about John Donne’s writings, either his poetry or his sermons.

        • indy

          Yeah, the familiar Donne quote–along with Burkean conservatism and a subway token– will get you uptown.

          Sure it will. That’s because the subway infrastructure was built to enable it. And then police to protect it. And then fire departments to save it. And crews to repair it. And taxes levied to pay for it. And finally somebody to drive so you can read Donne as you get uptown. And all for the price of a token.

          Good luck in your new country. Don’t forget to offer Greenspan a ride to the promised land, or at least leave him a map. It’s unlikely he’ll be able to take the subway. Send us a postcard and let us know how you’re getting along and tell John and Dagny and Francisco and the rest of the gang I said ‘hey’.

        • Ariel

          I never cease to be amazed by people who think that goods, services, and infrastructure are impossible unless it’s thru the coercive hand of government.

          What about James Jerome Hill’s Great Northern Railroad, built from Saint Paul to Seattle with nary a government subsidy, and which largely opened the upper Midwest for settlement? What about the private toll roads that successfully crisscross the Midwest and East Coast today? Private fire departments? Who’da thunk?

        • indy

          What about James Jerome Hill’s Great Northern Railroad, built from Saint Paul to Seattle with nary a government subsidy, and which largely opened the upper Midwest for settlement?

          The fact that you think the Great Northern railway was ever possible in the first place without the ‘coercive hand of government’ exhibits such a profound ignorance of history that I think I’ll just let it stand as a testament to you.

          A community clears a site, builds a stadium, fills it with people, assembles teams, and moves the ball to the 80 yard line and because you carry it the last 20 yards, you think you are solely responsible for the touchdown. The sad part is I don’t doubt for a second you really believe it.

        • Ariel

          Indy wrote:

          “A community clears a site, builds a stadium, fills it with people, assembles teams, and moves the ball to the 80 yard line and because you carry it the last 20 yards, you think you are solely responsible for the touchdown.”

          That’s what you get for relying on a figure of speech, on which you base an entire political system. Communities don’t literally “clear,” “build,” “assemble,” or “move.” Only individuals do. _Only individuals create values_.

          Under the political-economic system of individual rights and capitalism, the man who “carries the ball the last 20 yards” takes nothing he hasn’t already earned, by freely trading value for value with the man who had the ball before him. It’s a system of voluntary exchange to mutual benefit for each person in the link, all the way back to the person who made the ball in the first place, and traded it to a farmer for the wheat he grew. Under such a system, there are no sacrifices.

          In contrast, under the communitarian system you envision, one group of men–perhaps the majority—decide that they want the benefit of a sports stadium causelessly, unearned and undeserved. So they make a “social contract” among themselves to forcibly seize wheat from the farmer and the ball from the ball maker, in order to build a stadium etc. and move the ball to the 80 yard line. To the man who carries it the last 20 yards they say: you can’t be credited for that touchdown, free and clear, because it is “we” who made it possible for you to do. Therefore we own you, the ball, the stadium, and everything else, and are entitled to order you about for the rest of your days.

          Pretty nifty scam you got there. Only I’m not buying it.

        • MSheridan

          Well, so you believe in “inalienable rights”. Good for you, you definitely live in the right country for that. The idea of certain “unalienable rights” was part of our statement of identity, the social contract we asserted even pre-Constitution to distinguish and separate ourselves from a tyrant. But regardless of whether or not every man and woman is in fact endowed with these rights, they are only concrete insofar as they are recognized by others. You are prepared to do so for others, one presumes, but you have expectations that others will recognize yours. To the extent that they do, voila, a social contract still exists with you as signator. You have no desire to become an outlaw in the original Scandinavian sense of the word, one condemned to be outside the protection of the law, a person with no legal recourse against wrongs done you.

          Do not, therefore, so lightly dismiss Donne and Burke. The views they held are more relevant to your continued well-being than Rand’s.

        • Ariel

          The Constitution is NOT a social contract. It’s an explicit recognition by the Founders, consistent with individual rights, of the limitations on what government can legitimately do to people.

          The “social contract” is just statist wishful thinking, and I’ve already systematically debunked it in other posts. I have only the negative obligation of not violating the rights of my neighbor; that does NOT incur a positive obligation of feeding his family, educating his children, paying for his retirement and health care, or otherwise granting that I can be enslaved by majority vote.

          Suggesting that I have to defer to the whims of others–just so they don’t do me harm–smacks of mob intimidation, or a protection racket. That is the furthest thing from a genuine recognition of rights.

          There is only one proper verbal response to such an intimation: are you threatening me?

        • MSheridan

          Am I threatening you? No, not at all. I am not given to violence or threats of violence and feel no animosity towards you in any event.

          However, let’s pretend for just a moment that I was threatening you. By your theory, none of the commenters on this forum have any responsibility to do more than avoid personally violating your rights. They have no obligation whatsoever to step in and help you deal with me. Theoretically, I suppose some of them might choose to do so because they liked you or because they dislike me or because they think it likely that I’d threaten them next. But in the absence of those three circumstances they can just break out the popcorn.

          No, the Constitution is not, in and of itself, a social contract. Note, please, that I did not claim it was. Besides, the rights it lists within are for the most part negative rights. The government shall not do this. It shall not do that. But exactly to the extent that we abide by the Constitution and the principles we believe it embodies, it is still a small part of our social contract, the much greater part of which is unwritten.

          You are not at all required to like a country or a system that makes demands upon you that you feel are unreasonably large. You are entitled to try to change that country by the very nature of the contract we have set up (in North Korea you might also have the inherent right to do so, but good luck in asserting it). The rest of us are, of course, equally entitled to oppose you. Divorcing yourself from the contract is the easiest thing in the world. You can leave and try your luck elsewhere. This is a beautiful country, but there are many others. However, I do not believe you will find anywhere an occupied place that allows you to be a pure Randian, with no necessity to “defer to the whim of others” or obligations to anyone but yourself.

        • Ariel

          “Am I threatening you? No, not at all. I am not given to violence or threats of violence and feel no animosity towards you in any event.”

          No, you’re just given to advocating a system where someone else does the dirty work for you.

          “However, let’s pretend for just a moment that I was threatening you. By your theory, none of the commenters on this forum have any responsibility to do more than avoid personally violating your rights. They have no obligation whatsoever to step in and help you deal with me.”

          When the rights of one are violated, everyone’s are. That’s called long-range thinking. I.e. it’s in everyone’s rationally selfish interest to support a system that defends individual rights on principle. Should they be compelled to do so? No.

          “No, the Constitution is not, in and of itself, a social contract. Note, please, that I did not claim it was. Besides, the rights it lists within are for the most part negative rights. The government shall not do this. It shall not do that.”

          Exactly.

          “But exactly to the extent that we abide by the Constitution and the principles we believe it embodies, it is still a small part of our social contract, the much greater part of which is unwritten.”

          Still begging the existence of a social contract, I see, without having responded to my debunking of it.

          “You are entitled to try to change that country by the very nature of the contract we have set up (in North Korea you might also have the inherent right to do so, but good luck in asserting it).”

          And that is the reductio ad absurdum your “social contract” amounts to: people have a right to be enslaved, as in North Korea.

        • MSheridan

          “No, you’re just given to advocating a system where someone else does the dirty work for you.”

          and

          “When the rights of one are violated, everyone’s are. That’s called long-range thinking. I.e. it’s in everyone’s rationally selfish interest to support a system that defends individual rights on principle. Should they be compelled to do so? No.”

          From the above it would seem that in your view government should have no coercive power, depending solely upon the rational self interest of individuals. Please correct me if in saying so I am misinterpreting your words or beliefs. However, rational self interest is itself a fiction. Many people are irrational, and it is by no means certain that all those who are not will agree to voluntarily contribute to the common good. Indeed, game theory shows us that it is certain they will not.

          Further, you have referenced the legal system as something you favor for handling at least some types of situations. Of necessity, then, you support some level of coercion, both in enforcement and in funding such a system. It is not in the interest of criminals and scofflaws (frequently very alive to their self-interest) to apprehend themselves. There are the other benefits of government, such as infrastructure. If you desire roads for your vehicle to travel, it is certainly not in your rational self interest to leave the funding for those roads completely to the free market. Did you do so, you would quickly find that for-profit toll roads are no bargain. And yet, you would leave it to individuals to decide exactly what contribution they wish to provide for this common good? How do you envision that working, exactly? There are the regulatory agencies typically strongly disliked by libertarians. Without denying that it is possible to over-regulate, it is undeniable that it was not the free market that assured wholesome food or cleaner air and water before those agencies existed. Libertarian principles have nothing to say to this.

          Our first President is frequently quoted as having said:

          “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”

          The quote is apocryphal, but completely true for all that. Government IS force–the directed force of the community. Without government, the members of the community must still exert their force, but to far less effect.

          You disbelieve in the existence of a social contract (I cannot say that I find your “debunking” at all persuasive), but are completely oblivious, so far as I can tell, that you and likeminded souls wish to create a new one upon different principles.

          “And that is the reductio ad absurdum your “social contract” amounts to: people have a right to be enslaved, as in North Korea.”

          I cannot even pretend to follow your logic here. Certainly, not every society on earth has a “good” social contract. Bad ones that grant very few individual rights can be imposed forcefully from above. Just as the supposedly free market has in the past sometimes yielded a “company store” situation. But our system was built by men who explicitly believed in a more expansive social contract, one granting many more rights, but still making certain requirements of the citizenry. It is completely ahistorical to assert that the Founding Fathers were not strongly influenced by the works of Rousseau and Locke, both of whom wrote extensively on this subject. When you distance yourself from the very idea of a social contract, you are not arguing solely with us, but with them. Which, by their design and fortunately for you, is your acknowledged right.

        • Ariel

          “…it would seem that in your view government should have no coercive power, depending solely upon the rational self interest of individuals.”

          Let’s be clear. Government is a monopoly on the use of physical force. A proper, rights-protecting government only wields that power in retaliation to the initiation of physical force: murder, rape, theft, etc. What I mean by “coercion” is where the government itself initiates the use of force, e.g. to compel adherence to alleged social norms that have nothing to do with any of the above. I.e. other than initiating force, I say individuals should be free to behave however they want.

          “However, rational self interest is itself a fiction.”

          This is patently silly. I see people being rationally selfish every day. I see them studying hard, earning a living, pursuing rewarding careers and hobbies, finding a mate and friends with whom they have values in common, etc–in short, becoming self-actualized.

          “Many people are irrational, and it is by no means certain that all those who are not will agree to voluntarily contribute to the common good.”

          The only “common good” I acknowledge is the unqualified generalization that every individual needs to have their rights protected. Does that mean that everyone would voluntarily support a rights-protecting government? No, of course not. There will always be some free riders, for reasons rational or not. Does that mean that such a notion is impractical? That doesn’t follow at all.

          In any case, you’re raising a tangential, end-stage concern. It’s enough right now for you to concede that abolishing the rights-violating entitlement-regulatory state is the biggest concern, and would slash the government tax and spending burden to a tiny fraction of what it is now.

          “If you desire roads for your vehicle to travel, it is certainly not in your rational self interest to leave the funding for those roads completely to the free market. Did you do so, you would quickly find that for-profit toll roads are no bargain.”

          The “bargain” you claim for government infrastructure only accrues to Paul, from robbing Peter. I don’t consider stealing to be rationally selfish, or a bargain.

          “…it is undeniable that it was not the free market that assured wholesome food or cleaner air and water before those agencies existed.”

          I do deny it. For details, see Rand’s _Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal_, which rebuts commonly-held fallacies about capitalism like this one. You really need to know what Rand actually stands for and why, before sounding off about her. Same goes for all the other people in this forum.

          “You disbelieve in the existence of a social contract (I cannot say that I find your “debunking” at all persuasive), but are completely oblivious, so far as I can tell, that you and likeminded souls wish to create a new one upon different principles.”

          Not a single person in this forum–including you—has even TRIED to directly confront my debunking of the social contract. What does that say about intellectual honesty, or arguing in good faith? Instead all I get is a bunch of crap condescension, ad hominem, and argument from intimidation.

          My “contract” is essentially the same as the Founders, in their coming together to organize a government limited to the protection of individual rights, rather than the enforcement of wildcard “social norms.” The contract is between themselves, not with “the people.” In this sense the Founders were primarily inspired by Locke, which led to the most enduring constitutional system in history, and the greatest nation in the world.

          In contrast, your usage is that of Rousseau’s, which is diametrically opposite. Rousseau’s conception–which amounts to a tyranny of the majority–led to the bloody chaos of the French Revolution and its aftermath.

          “Certainly, not every society on earth has a “good” social contract. Bad ones that grant very few individual rights can be imposed forcefully from above.”

          There’s no such thing as a contract, to say nothing of a “good” contract. Again, rights can’t be “granted,” because they’re inalienable. Move on to Locke. Then get past Locke’s half-right position, and study Rand.

  • dante

    I thought that religion (and the Tea Partiers insistence on government intervention on behalf of it) was the main difference between the TP and *actual* libertarians like Ron Paul…

    • _will_

      *actual* libertarians like Ron Paul

      are we sure about that? while in most respects he’s certainly the most “libertarian” of any mainstream national figure, his creative defense of DOMA and “states rights” uber alles give me pause. under Paul’s interpretation, a state could feasibly outlaw inter-racial marriage… and that strikes me as antithetical to classic libertarianism.

  • Aaron

    I’m skeptical of the whole premise of this article. Whatever first drew Ron Paul to libertarianism, I doubt that Ayn Rand is a strong libertarian influence on him now. He seems much more influenced by the equally kooky Murray Rothbard and the Lewnatics at lewrockwell.com, who are sort of a Murray Rothbard cult and Ron Paul fan club.

    The late Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell, and the other cultists differ from the Objectivists largely in their support for religion and “traditional values.” Some of them are believing Christians, as was Rothbard’s wife, I think, which is the main reason he split from (or was purged from) the Objectivists in the first place. Ron Paul is not bringing in atheism or even Reason-style social liberalism. Any analysis of Ron Paul’s ideology that focuses on Ayn Rand rather than Murray Rothbard seems pretty misguided.

  • valkayec

    While reading this article and the many comments, I began to wonder if the reason so many have gravitated towards Rand’s ideas and can combine them so easily with the basics of Christianity is because of the economic condition in which so many found themselves over the last decade or so.

    Without going into a long discourse on how the two met up in people’s minds, it seems to me that when people feel left out, left behind, and not able to progress, they turn to some magical idea that will help them succeed or at the very least catch up. Rand told people to put themselves first and that wealth is admirable. People who feel left behind are easy prey to that kind of anti-commons, magical thinking.

    • Ariel

      If all we had to do in order to refute an argument is label it “magical,” the world would be an easier place. It is not, unfortunately, the same thing as employing facts and logic to make our case.

      • Traveler

        “Extremely _good_ results that is, as shown by a mountain of evidence. ”

        Hate to say it, but you didn’t marshal any facts dude. I want you to show one society where exclusively Randian principles applied. Sources, outcomes etc. Until then, you are in WillyP land. Capable of coherent sentences, but not coherent thought. Employing said “facts” as the basis fails to support your logic…

        • Frumplestiltskin

          absolutely dead on. Ariel writes well enough (if in a pablumy kind of way) but it is without foundation. If I didn’t know any better I would assume that Ayn Rand got really high and watched a star trek marathon and thought, hey, maybe we can be all like Spock.
          Kung Fu Monkey has a great quote on Tolkien and Ayn Rand:

          There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and 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.

        • Ariel

          Traveler:

          “I want you to show one society where exclusively Randian principles applied.”

          America in the nineteenth century came close, created unprecedented prosperity, and the largest middle class in history up until then. Good enough for you?

        • ottovbvs

          Actually Britain at more or less the same time came just as close. Of course if it had continued they and we would have had a Russian style revolution but apart from that little problem.

        • Ariel

          ottovbvs:

          “Actually Britain at more or less the same time came just as close. Of course if it had continued they and we would have had a Russian style revolution but apart from that little problem.”

          So you assert, without proof. And never mind that autocratic, pre-industrial, pre-revolutionary Russia was the furthest thing from liberal, predominantly capitalist countries like Britain and the US.

          But I think I see where you’re going with this agenda. Appease those who are envious of you–lest they do you harm–by instituting an entitlement-regulatory state that shackles the producers.

          The only problem is, appeasement is immoral and impractical.

      • valkayec

        What facts in the historical record and logic prove Objectivism?

        The simple answer is none. A society is, by its very nature, a collection of beings who come together for common benefit. As a result, each person agrees to give up some portion of self desire and total freedom to enjoy the benefits of the commons, i.e. safety, security, companionship, trade, etc. That was true in Sumeria just as it was true in the 16th C. British Midlands and true in 17th C. Hartford. It was also true, according to archeologists, of cave men. To enjoy the benefits of a community, the individual had to give up some individual freedoms – doing whatever he wished to do – to insure the stability and the protection of the commons. Those who chose to think of and act only for themselves – their only benefit – were cast out and shunned. The same is true now, except for the shunning part. Now, those individuals who practice total self-absorption either lose their jobs/careers and families or are thrown into jail.

        A working, stable commons, with all its protections and benefits, requires putting the commons first and individual desires second. Ayn Rand got it completely backwards…probably because of her experience in post-Revolution Russia.

        • Ariel

          “What facts in the historical record and logic prove Objectivism?

          The simple answer is none.”

          That’s funny, you forgot to mention 19th c. America, and to a lesser extent Britain in the 18th and 19th c. Not to mention the new-found prosperity of East Asia in the early 21st c, insofar as it is now capitalist. Or compare East and West Germany, North and South Korea, America vs. China or the Soviet Union in the 20th.

          This really escaped you?

        • valkayec

          19th C America.

          -Civil War to maintain the social and political compact.
          -Railroads, largely paid for by the American taxpayers, that spanned the country, but brought many legal trials – not the least of which were in the West where farmers’ land was taken and legal battles broke out between farmers and the railroads. ( Wish I could remember the title of a book I read dealing exclusively with these farmer vs railroad battles.)
          -Labor unrest and rise of unions as a result of poor, dangerous and often deadly working conditions.
          -Rise of populist movements to overcome the Robber Barons and political corruption.

          In fact, the 19th C. was one of the most turbulent eras in the nation’s history as people wished to reassert the social compact after it had been broken by the rise the extreme inequality and political corruption.

          18th & 19th C. Britain

          - Need one say more than the Irish Famine and how the British Parliament responded, by word and deed? Shall I pull out exact quotes that essentially said the British government should protect and keep their wealth, and if the Irish die…oh,well.

          21st C Asia

          -Where has the social contract been broken that it’s not being repaired? China – the rise of labor unions, the rise of social protests against corruption and mass accumulation of wealth by a few, etc.
          -India – the populist revolt against corruption and unfairness.

          Where ever the social contract has been broken, people rise up to reaffirm it. The social compact is an important and lasting value in human society. You can argue against it, but it exists in all working, stable societies. Only in places like Somalia has that compact been broken, and we can all see the results.

        • Ariel

          valkayec:

          Once again you’ve wasted a lot of bandwidth evading my point. You keep invoking this mythical social contract (oops, I see now it’s a “social _compact_”) without responding to my debunking of same.

          Further, all of the historical claims that you trot out do nothing to address my point that 19th c. America was the closest thing to the Objectivist ideal of pure capitalism, and the unprecedented, beneficial results that accompanied it. Nor do your claims address the correlation between capitalism–insofar as it is practiced–and prosperity in other countries and eras.

          Most importantly, your historical claims fail to explain not only the _correlation_ to prosperity, but the _mechanism_. Mine do, since it is in the freest countries and eras that man’s mind has been most unshackled and allowed to function.

          As Ayn Rand exhaustively showed in her work: the mind doesn’t function or respond to edicts, ultimatums, or threats of force from the community.

    • _will_

      ^hehe

      (that’s laughing(?) with you; not at you fyi)

  • Demosthenes

    I think of Objectivism as the exact inverse and equivalent (in terms of mean bongwater consumption) of “Whoa… dude… what if, like… you call it green… and I call it green… but your green is my red?” relativism.

  • Darwiniana » Ayn Rand’s Atheists are Crashing the Tea Party

    [...] Ayn Rand’s Atheists are Crashing the Tea Party One of the seminal moments in the presidential campaign slipped by at the Republican debate in Las Vegas on Oct. 18. It didn’t involve the frontrunners, and it had nothing to do with Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” plan or the sexual harassment claims. [...]

  • Frumplestiltskin

    ariel is persistent in his ignorance I gotta give him that at least. This was hilarious:
    The “social contract” is just statist wishful thinking, and I’ve already systematically debunked it in other posts.

    Said debunking existing only in his head. All assertion, no facts or even logic, as per this:
    That is not the case today. Unlike Burkean conservatives, still trapped in their static, medieval mindset, Rand argued that mankind has indeed progressed, and not just technologically. Paraphrasing how she put it: “rights are the process whereby man is set free from man.” Three centuries after the birth of the Enlightenment and the discovery of rights, you really should know better.

    Man is set free from man is progress? For a shrewish harpy like Rand, certainly, but if anything has been proven true is that mans need for the other has never been greater. More than ever we place faith and trust in complete strangers whom we will never have the opportunity to engage in direct interaction. Unless our brains get fundamentally rewired we remain collectivistic. Prosperity and technology don’t bring happiness in themselves, it is when it is shared…even moreso given away that we find real happiness. I give my love to my wife and children and even friends freely, it is not remotely transactional. I feel sad for poor Ariel that he doesn’t seem to know this most basic part of humanity.

    And while most people have thoroughly shredded his silly arguments, this is another bit of hilarity from him: I never cease to be amazed by people who think that goods, services, and infrastructure are impossible unless it’s thru the coercive hand of government.

    Notice the monomania in stating that government is by its very nature coercive. I never cease to be amazed at the profound ignorance of such people not understanding the thousands of years of civilization, that the greatest civilizations had the most active of governments.

    He has also never rebutted my claim that mankind is collective and hierarchical except to tell me to shove it. I guess that was his brilliant rebuttal.

    And here was his response to vaccinations: Fine. Don’t deal with anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated. Nobody’s putting a gun to your head, forcing you to do so. In practical terms, this is yet another matter that is properly dealt with by tort law, rather than by arbitrary regulatory fiat.

    Neverminding the fact that the law is a byproduct of government itself and the enforcement of any sanction will be dealth with by the “coercive” hand of government, the logic is non existent. How the hell can anyone choose not to deal with someone who has not been vaccinated? Must we carry around vaccination papers? And he is oblivious to the fact it is children who are vaccinated. They can not reasonably be expected to make the choice rationally and if they are not vaccinated will not achieve adulthood. So again, right off the bat he is foundationally wrong.

    and he arbitrarily asserts that there exists metaphysical rights and when that is disputed states that any questioning of this assertion is itself an assertion.

    Ah well, enough of this silliness. It is like trying to reason with someone who has the emotional reasoning of a 3 year old (I mean this sincerely, their logic of its mine, mine, mine so closely resembles that of a 3 year old)

    Maybe one day he will experience the joy of giving without expectation of receiving and he will put such childish notions behind him.

    • Ariel

      “Man is set free from man is progress? […] if anything has been proven true is that mans need for the other has never been greater.”

      I only need men who are independent producers, with whom I can voluntarily trade values. I don’t need envious parasites, or those who would take values from me by threats of force.

      “I give my love to my wife and children and even friends freely, it is not remotely transactional.”

      Just as I am a trader in material values, I am a trader in values of the spirit. For me, that is what romantic love and other intimacy is all about.

  • chephren

    There’s a giant hole in the Rand/Paul view of the world – a blind spot so big, it amazes me that Ron Paul doesn’t acknowledge it.

    The libertarian conflict between free individuals and government completely ignores the power and influence of corporations and moneyed interests. The idea that individual freedom is unaffected and undiminished by the almost unlimited ability of corporations to buy political influence is absurd.

    Ron Paul appeals to many of his supporters as a principled rationalist, but he is really a romantic. His world is a fantasy of freedom in which trade patterns, technology and history are irrelevant, and the choices and actions of individuals are somehow unaffected by the vested power and wealth of corporations.

  • ottovbvs

    Although I enjoy sensible debate I think I’ll pass on this. The appetite for abstract bs seems immense. And Ariel…seriously you need a course in economic history. The notion that 18th century mercantilist, whig, oligarchical Britain was a Randian society is totally preposterous. Why do think Adam Smith was regarded as an economic revolutionary? You also seem deeply unfamiliar with the economic background to the development of both the railways and man made waterways like the Erie Canal. Ever heard of Credit Mobilier? Basically the way 19th century US railway finance worked whether it was inner city or transcontinental was that the financier got right of way legislation passed. In the case of cross country roads this also usually meant substantial land grants one either side of the railroad. With these in his hands the financier went to the financial markets in NY and London (principally) and floated stock and sold bonds to finance construction. Of course to get the right of way in the first place he had to lay out a lot of graft either in the form of cash or stock in his railroad. The idea this was some kind of Libertarian free market is bizarre in the extreme.

    • valkayec

      Bravo. Absolutely. I’m constantly amused by Randians the lack of historical political and economic knowledge. They certainly need to indulge in more reading.

    • Ariel

      “The notion that 18th century mercantilist, whig, oligarchical Britain was a Randian society is totally preposterous.”

      Dishonest characterization of my position. I maintained that _insofar_ as 18th c. Britain was capitalist, it became prosperous. That’s despite the mercantilism.

      Similarly, regarding America in the 19th c, I’m already familiar with the examples of government economic intervention adduced. Despite those, America was still predominantly capitalist, the closest to pure capitalism of any country or era. Taxation, government spending, and “entitlements” were minimal; there was no income tax; and regulation of the economy such as we know today was virtually nonexistent.

      Is the poster seriously going to deny any of this? Oh, wait, I forgot. He’s above debating the matter.

      • Demosthenes

        “The poster” is the retired CEO of a construction company that employed thousands of people, and has forgotten more about capitalism in action than you will ever know.

      • indy

        LOL. Prosperity in 19th century America was largely a function of (quite literally in most cases) slave labor. Those are some pretty powerful rose tinted Randian glasses you got there. Income taxes, no. Poll taxes, yes! The shallowness of your historical knowledge is really pretty amusing.

        The thing that characterized 19th century America more than anything else was a willingness to literally ‘sacrifice’ individuals.

        • Frumplestiltskin

          lets also not forget how we had a mostly unoccupied resource rich continent, that the way to acquire wealth was to kill the natives and take their land (one way was to lace blankets with smallpox and give them to native tribes, but hey, the natives should have “known” better so therefore deserved to die)
          Unless there is a vast continent somewhere out there that is unexplored, uninhabited, and resource rich then the whole issue of early America as somekind of model we must replicate is basically crackpot.

        • Ariel

          “…lets also not forget how we had a mostly unoccupied resource rich continent, that the way to acquire wealth was to kill the natives and take their land…”

          If the land was unoccupied, how could it belong to anyone?

          “Unless there is a vast continent somewhere out there that is unexplored, uninhabited, and resource rich then the whole issue of early America as somekind of model we must replicate is basically crackpot.”

          That doesn’t follow at all. For one thing, why is it that America prospered and not Russia or China, when the three are roughly equivalent in resources and size? Why is it that Britain, Japan, and Hong Kong, which are resource-poor, are among the wealthiest places on earth, and not the vast, resource-rich countries in Africa?

          I’m amused with the ankle-biters in this forum, and their skirmishing non-essential replies to my point that capitalism and individual rights has led to the greatest outpouring of well-being and prosperity that the world has ever known.

        • Ariel

          “Prosperity in 19th century America was largely a function of (quite literally in most cases) slave labor.”

          Asserted without proof, and ignoring the fact that broad-based growth and prosperity occurred in the rapidly-industrializing Northern states, not in the feudal, agrarian, backward, slaveholding South. Or consider that the same thing was happening in Britain, which had abolished slavery.

          Most importantly, consider that even the inconsistent implementation of individual rights under the Constitution sowed the seeds for destroying the institution of slavery altogether, in the form of the Civil War decades later.

          The shallowness of your presumption about the breadth and depth of my historical knowledge is really pretty amusing.

        • indy

          Asserted without proof, and ignoring the fact that broad-based growth and prosperity occurred in the rapidly-industrializing Northern states, not in the feudal, agrarian, backward, slaveholding South.

          I’d attempt to educate you on how the ‘feudal, agrarian, backward, slaveholding South’ provided the capital throughout the 1800s that fueled the expansion of northern manufacturing (largely through taxes that were imposed by the more successful cronyism of the northern capitalists but there were other methods as well), and how the slaves left legal slavery and moved into another form of slavery in the north, working on the railroads of the likes of J. J. Hill, but we both know it doesn’t fit with your fantasies and will be rejected.

          The shallowness of your presumption about the breadth and depth of my historical knowledge is really pretty amusing.

          I’m not presuming it; you are demonstrating it. Over and over again.

        • Ariel

          Indy wrote:

          “I’d attempt to educate you on how the ‘feudal, agrarian, backward, slaveholding South’ provided the capital throughout the 1800s that fueled the expansion of northern manufacturing (largely through taxes that were imposed by the more successful cronyism of the northern capitalists but there were other methods as well)…”

          Yeah, I anticipated that claim. Which is why I also brought up the case of Britain, which had abolished slavery altogether. Doubtless the poster will respond that industrialization in Britain was fueled by “imperialist” exploitation of her colonies, or prior slavery, or whatever. Of course eventually he’ll have to concede that nearly all economies everywhere have been inextricably linked in the same fashion, at which point his argument is seen as banal.

          Slavery has existed since time immemorial, a legacy that capitalism inherited and eventually extinguished. No other political-economic system can make that claim.

          “…and how the slaves left legal slavery and moved into another form of slavery in the north…”

          Oh, that’s right…next the poster was going to invoke the anti-concept of “wage-slavery,” which obliterates the crucial distinction between wages and slavery.

          To recap: after demolishing the poster’s argument for government interference in the economy and his “stadium” defense of collectivism, he crawled away without responding. Since then he’s been skirmishing around the edges of my observation that America was predominantly capitalist during the 19th c, and has had the unprecedented prosperity to show for it. All he can do is bring up dubious or marginal counterclaims. To make up for the paucity of facts and logic, he sneers a lot. What a blowhard.

        • indy

          Recaps! What fun!

          Yes, we could move on to 19th century England but I think everybody gets the point. Nothing even close to resembling an Objectivist society has ever existed on Earth, nor will it ever. That’s because it’s the fantasy-land of the intellectually bereft who are searching for the reasons for their own failures: ‘Gee whiz, if we only lived in Randland, I’d be king of the hill because I’m so smart!’ Just another variation of the well-worn teenage alienation saga starring a different sort of vampire. You wield the rhetoric like a pro, though, so I’m guessing you’ve lived there long past the expiration date.

          Sneering? Yes, I guess that’s a pretty good word for it. You and the Tea Party deserve each other. Fantasy laden leadership for a fantasy laden membership.

        • indy

          P.S. 20th century America is predominantly capitalist too. As is the 21st century. It’s a lot easier to create ‘value’ today than it was then and you live long enough to really enjoy it.

        • Ariel

          “Nothing even close to resembling an Objectivist society has ever existed on Earth, nor will it ever.”

          Notice that the poster continues to evade my point that in 19th c. America, taxation, government spending, and “entitlements” were minimal; intervention in the economy such as we know today was virtually nonexistent. The best he can do is try to poke holes in my generalization with dubious counterclaims, or exceptions to the rule.

          Notice that he leaves unchallenged my point that 19th c. America led to the greatest outpouring of wealth and prosperity the world has ever known, and the largest middle class in history up until that time. What is it about the Objectivist ideal of capitalism that enabled this to happen, whereas it didn’t happen under any other political-economic system?

          “P.S. 20th century America is predominantly capitalist too. As is the 21st century.”

          20th c. America was one long slow slide toward statism: the Federal Reserve, New Deal, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security etc. There’s simply no comparison with the capitalist 19th century. As far as the 21st allegedly being predominantly capitalist, after the unprecedented growth of government under Bush and Obama, that is debatable.

          “It’s a lot easier to create ‘value’ today than it was then and you live long enough to really enjoy it.”

          Only because we’ve been running on the momentum of the 19th century, which is rapidly petering out.

        • indy

          Lest I leave you (and any other readers, if there are any) with the wrong impression, I will make a few final points:

          1) 19th century America is the closest any country at any time has ever come to laissez-faire capitalism. I believe this concedes your main point, more or less.

          2) 20th century America was a more productive one than 19th century America but I also admit it is a debatable point. It depends on what metrics you use and it is simply an endless argument to what is an ultimately unanswerable question.

          3) I’m a capitalist, through and through.

          4) The degree with which you’ve adopted Rand’s rhetoric is, as you may have noticed, rather off putting. It may be fine for the Rand boards, but people out here in the real world will tune you out rather quickly. You may be convinced that the logic is compelling and flawless, but it won’t ever be more than a tiny fraction of the country that agrees with you. Just an observation; take it or leave it.

          and, finally

          5) The only possible outcome to a truly laissez-faire capitalist system is political instability and, ultimately, revolution and the destruction of the system. Rand’s blindness has nothing to do with capitalism, the morality of self-interest, or the nature of freedom. It has to do with a basic understanding of human nature, which is observable each and every day (and to which history offers great insight) by anyone not sealed in a cocoon. The only way to perpetuate a capitalist system that won’t ultimately end in bloodshed is to make it an unfair one, where people (and even whole classes of people) are sometimes afforded more than they might otherwise deserve. This undoubtedly offends your moral sensibilities, but then I don’t really care.

        • indy

          Oh, and my main point still stands. Nothing close to an Objectivist society has ever existed, nor will it; that is, one which subscribes to the philosophical underpinnings. Some reasonably close laissez-faire capitalist societies have existed but, as is clear to even you, they had a short run. But those are two entirely different things.

  • Demosthenes

    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and 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.

    I can’t believe no one picked up on this. Comedy gold!

    • valkayec

      Frankly, I’d forgotten that statement until it was reposted here. I love it ’cause it’s so true.

  • The Daily Eudemon

    [...] TDE reader sends this along: Ayn Rand’s Atheists are Crashing the Tea Party. It’s a good piece, with a good deal of [...]

  • The Twenty-Five Tents — The New Clarion

    [...] Left is monolithically anti-Tea Party and monlithically pro-Occupation, the right as a whole is a bit conflicted about the Tea Parties — and VERY ambiguous on the Occupation. In particular, there is a lot [...]

  • Jconne

    The Tea Party, like most issue attracting groups, is a mixed bag of not well articulated ideas. Explicitly or implicitly, a moral idea is driving people. So, that beggs the question of what is moral?

    (This editing window doesn’t work on my Droid X – to be continued…)

    Religions have largely had a monopoly on providing systems of morality. Others have offered ethical systems without resorting to claims of gods or devils our other mystical, unknowable sources of their assertions.

  • danconia

    Since she is not here to defend herself today, let he own words condemn those who neither understand nor have the integrity to find out what she actually said and stood for:

    There are three interrelated arguments used by today’s “conservatives” to justify capitalism, which can best be designated as: the argument from faith—the argument from tradition—the argument from depravity.

    Sensing their need of a moral base, many “conservatives” decided to choose religion as their moral justification; they claim that America and capitalism are based on faith in God. Politically, such a claim contradicts the fundamental principles of the United States: in America, religion is a private matter which cannot and must not be brought into political issues.

    Intellectually, to rest one’s case on faith means to concede that reason is on the side of one’s enemies—that one has no rational arguments to offer. The “conservatives’” claim that their case rests on faith, means that there are no rational arguments to support the American system, no rational justification for freedom, justice, property, individual rights, that these rest on a mystic revelation and can be accepted only on faith—that in reason and logic the enemy is right, but men must hold faith as superior to reason.

    Consider the implications of that theory. While the communists claim that they are the representatives of reason and science, the “conservatives” concede it and retreat into the realm of mysticism, of faith, of the supernatural, into another world, surrendering this world to communism. It is the kind of victory that the communists’ irrational ideology could never have won on its own merits . . . .

    Now consider the second argument: the attempt to justify capitalism on the ground of tradition. Certain groups are trying to switch the word “conservative” into the exact opposite of its modern American usage, to switch it back to its nineteenth-century meaning, and to put this over on the public. These groups declare that to be a “conservative” means to uphold the status quo, the given, the established, regardless of what it might be, regardless of whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, defensible or indefensible. They declare that we must defend the American political system not because it is right, but because our ancestors chose it, not because it is good, but because it is old . . . .

    The argument that we must respect “tradition” as such, respect it merely because it is a “tradition,” means that we must accept the values other men have chosen, merely because other men have chosen them—with the necessary implication of: who are we to change them? The affront to a man’s self-esteem, in such an argument, and the profound contempt for man’s nature are obvious.

    This leads us to the third—and the worst—argument, used by some “conservatives”: the attempt to defend capitalism on the ground of man’s depravity.

    This argument runs as follows: since men are weak, fallible, non-omniscient and innately depraved, no man may be entrusted with the responsibility of being a dictator and of ruling everybody else; therefore, a free society is the proper way of life for imperfect creatures. Please grasp fully the implications of this argument: since men are depraved, they are not good enough for a dictatorship; freedom is all that they deserve; if they were perfect, they would be worthy of a totalitarian state.

    Dictatorship—this theory asserts—believe it or not, is the result of faith in man and in man’s goodness; if people believed that man is depraved by nature, they would not entrust a dictator with power. This means that a belief in human depravity protects human freedom—that it is wrong to enslave the depraved, but would be right to enslave the virtuous. And more: dictatorships—this theory declares—and all the other disasters of the modern world are man’s punishment for the sin of relying on his intellect and of attempting to improve his life on earth by seeking to devise a perfect political system and to establish a rational society. This means that humility, passivity, lethargic resignation and a belief in Original Sin are the bulwarks of capitalism. One could not go farther than this in historical, political, and psychological ignorance or subversion. This is truly the voice of the Dark Ages rising again—in the midst of our industrial civilization.

    The cynical, man-hating advocates of this theory sneer at all ideals, scoff at all human aspirations and deride all attempts to improve men’s existence. “You can’t change human nature,” is their stock answer to the socialists. Thus they concede that socialism is the ideal, but human nature is unworthy of it; after which, they invite men to crusade for capitalism—a crusade one would have to start by spitting in one’s own face. Who will fight and die to defend his status as a miserable sinner? If, as a result of such theories, people become contemptuous of “conservatism,” do not wonder and do not ascribe it to the cleverness of the socialists.

    – Ayn Rand

  • danconia

    Ayn Rand attempted to give Conservatives/Classical Liberals/Republicans, etc. a rational code of ethics by which to justify their resulting opinions (that capitalism was GOOD). Not based on faith–which each person is free to accept or reject–but on logically demonstrable facts.

    In effect, she gave those that believe in GOD an opportunity to prove their ideas using reason, and leaving God out of the conversation so that they could defeat any Marxist on sight.

    If God exists, Reason is the tool that he has given man to understand him and the world around him. And if he doesn’t, the gift is from nature itself. Either way, the same premise is at work. Man needs his brain to live on this earth.

    At to family being the core unit of the society, I would ask LOGICALLY, what makes up a family? Answer: Individuals. So we’re really talking about a battle in the Tea Party for Jefferson/Rand/Locke or Pat Buchanan/Bush and the host of other fools who have marched many of you further into Government Statism and socialism, hiding behind God and Faith.

    If God exists, he would love Ayn Rand and many of you know it. For what sort of God could he be that would punish one for not believing in him, that he had given freedom of choice to? Do you know who said this to me? A Jesuit Priest. The same one who introduced me to Rand.

    Wake up people. Fight for your rights using Reason and don’t assume that Rand’s atheism was an attack on ethics. It was not. It was an affirmation of all that which makes your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness possible.

  • Demosthenes

    WOW

    Ariel said (in relation to Native Americans),

    If the land was unoccupied, how could it belong to anyone?

    WOW, I mean just… WOW, I don’t even have words for how stupid and wrong and racist and, yes, I’ll say it, evil this is. I mean really, just… WOW.

    • danconia

      How is that idea racist? You may believe in the idea of “collective property rights” – and I don’t – but land ownership has nothing to do with genetic determinism. Calling everything “racist” lowers the value of the word when applied correctly to the idea that man is not the result of his rational mind, but of the blood that flows in his veins (which incidentally, does not carry ideas within it).

      • Demosthenes

        This has nothing to do with “collective property rights” and everything to do with the fact that just because the Native Americans did not have a system of private property laws DOES NOT mean that it was okay to steal their land. The idea that it was somehow okay to push the Native Americans off of the land, simply because they did not have internationally-recognized borders, is Eurocentric racist garbage. And it is intended to retroactively justify the systematic slaughter of the Native Americans and the fact that the American settlers drove them off their land, which is morally reprehensible. Hence, evil.

        • Ariel

          “This has nothing to do with “collective property rights” and everything to do with the fact that just because the Native Americans did not have a system of private property laws DOES NOT mean that it was okay to steal their land.”

          Don’t say “their land,” white man. On the contrary, it has everything to do with the nature of property rights. Per Locke, private ownership comes with first use of natural resources, in physically transforming them into something of value. For example, tilling the land and growing crops. The natives, being the primitive collectivists they were, were incapable of thinking that way, which inevitably set up a tragic conflict.

        • danconia

          Wow. You guys are really going at each other and you’re kind of all over the place so it’s hard to deal with any specific issue.

          However, I will address these silly slanders against Rand.

          1. She wrote articles and letters on why you SHOULD take back ANY money you can get from the Govnerment since it was yours to begin with. Social Security is most certainly included.

          2. She enjoyed smoking, wrote about it and seems to have done it most of her life. Sorry to tell you but that has nothing to do with Objectivism (the philosophy she created) – outside of her wish to enjoy that singular pleasure, even if it took some years off her life. Attack the ideas and we can play. Attack her and I would rather start with her haircut which I hated.

          3. I don’t know that Scott McConnell is the founder of anything. He works for ARI and he is a little young to have known Ayn Rand or spent time with her (maybe I wrong but he graduated in 92 I think). Incidentally, she was never out of cash so not sure what in the world you’re talking about.

          4. I admire much of the hero mythology and character traits that I am aware of, within some native American societies. However, I would argue that while natives were entitled to maintain some land for themselves if and when they agreed with the concept of property rights (and rule of law), their behavior was still often (not always) at the savage level and there is no comparison between that and Western Civilisation. I will also say that I do not like the way, nor agree with the lack of let’s call it “humanism” practiced on the part of many Europeans at this time, and think that strategically and ethically, they made grave errors in their treatment of the natives. But it was “treatment” because my friends, when someone prays to a totem pole in a serious way, that person needs some help of the intellectual sort.

          A Hero is man who can turn an enemy into a Friend. That’s what I would practice.

          Lastly, I am 100% against reservations except when talking about a hotel, and particularly, Villa Cipriani in Asolo, Italy, which is beautiful.

          Native Americans are Americans, and should have the same rights as everyone else. Or rather, I think that we should have their special rights granted by the Government – less taxes, more casinos, etc.

          I enjoy Native American culture insofar as its part of the wonderful history of this country. I do not enjoy reading your apparent racial attacks aimed at each other, particularly this allusion to Israel/Lebanon and Ariel Sharon (i.e., ARIEL is JEW – oh no! So was Rand, so was JESUS!!!), and didn’t Ariel call someone a “white man”. You guys need to grow up and join the big boys like me, at the VIP table for those that can stand on ideas and don’t throw rocks, unless we are faced with a big bear invading our teepee (just kidding…or am I?)

        • indy

          Raping an pillaging is OK as long as it’s employed against collectivists, eh? Nothing like a little moral relativism to get you out of a tight squeeze.

          You went from being merely amusing and tragically ill-informed to genuinely worthy of dismissal. They like poking a stick in the eye of Rand acolytes at this forum though, so come back often!

    • Ariel

      “WOW, I don’t even have words for how stupid and wrong and racist and, yes, I’ll say it, evil this is. I mean really, just… WOW.”

      Don’t just stand there gape-mouthed, with that stupid incredulous look on your face. Show us you can prove your case. Otherwise people might think you’re bluffing.

      For starters, admit how disingenuous it is to put words in my mouth, when in fact I was rhetorically echoing something another poster had said.

  • danconia

    I believe that I have accurately demonstrated that “racism” has nothing to do with “property rights” in relation to native americans. You were clearly not capable of refuting this assertion. “Eurocentric racist garbage” did not make your point for you, shockingly enough but your straw man, “Davey Crocket” understanding of American history is amusing, albeit completely flawed.

    Here is an excerpt from an article from the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights which makes some interesting points, not all of which I agree with. Certainly, there is enough here to cause you to throw out more Post-Modernist, Marxist terms for which I await in eager Capitalist anticipation.

    “Before Europeans arrived, the scattered tribes occupying North America lived in abject poverty, ignorance, and superstition–not due to any racial inferiority, but because that is how all mankind starts out (Europeans included). The transfer of Western civilization to this continent was one of the great cultural gifts in recorded history, affording Indians almost effortless access to centuries of European accomplishments in philosophy, science, technology, and government. As a result, today’s Indians enjoy a capacity for generating health, wealth, and happiness that their Stone Age ancestors could never have conceived.

    From a historical perspective, the proper response to such a gift is not resentment but gratitude. America’s policies toward the Indians were generally benign, aimed at protecting them from undeserved harm while providing significant material support and encouragement to become civilized. When those policies erred, it was usually by treating Indians collectively, as “nations” entitled to permanent occupancy of semi-sovereign reservations. Instead, Indians should have been treated as individuals deserving full and equal American citizenship in exchange for embracing individual rights, including private ownership of land.

    If the United States government were demanding that Indians apologize for the frontier terrorism of their ancestors, as if living members of a particular race could be guilty of their forebears’ misdeeds, the demand would (properly) be rejected as racist. For the same reason, American Indians should refuse to be regarded as a race of helpless victims entitled to a collective apology from their fellow citizens.”

    • Demosthenes

      Who said anything about apologizing? What’s done is done and there is no point in pretending that an apology is going to fix anything. But the idea that the Native Americans owe a debt of gratitude to the white men who stole their land, raped their women, and killed their children would be racist if it were not so ludicrous. By that logic the Tibetans should be thankful for Mao’s invasion, after all China has even brought railroads into Tibet! Maybe you should go work for the CCP in their propaganda department, I’m sure you would make a natural fit. So thanks for providing that quote, now everyone can see just how sad, twisted, and morally unconscionable your view of history is.

      P.S. Also, just a heads-up here, colonialism is racism. All you have done is rehash the idea of the white man’s (or “man who is accomplished in philosophy, science, technology, and government’s”) burden. So congratulations on outing yourself as a racist prick. Your whole “philosophy” about this conflict rests on the idea that the Native Americans should have been forced to accept private property rights as American citizens, as opposed to forcing American citizens to respect their (“backward”?) society. In this you are absolutely no better than the racists and colonialists who destroyed their society. And the idea that their “Stone Age ancestors” could not have conceived of the “happiness” brought by white men… really, go read a book on anthropology sometime. Or Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Or really any book that was not written by Ayn Rand.

      • indy

        Or, you know, visit a reservation where you can see for yourself how the transfer of ‘Western civilization to this continent was one of the great cultural gifts in recorded history’ to the indigenous population has worked out. Wait, let me guess, it was all their fault for not taking advantage of it, right?

      • Ariel

        Demosthenes:

        Why don’t you go read something not written by lit-crit, postmodernist Marxists. For a nuanced, systematic account of the conflict between natives and settlers, read _History of the Indians of North America_ by Angie Debo.

    • indy

      America’s policies toward the Indians were generally benign, aimed at protecting them from undeserved harm while providing significant material support and encouragement to become civilized.

      What immense, unbelievable level of historical ignorance is required to believe this?

  • MSheridan

    Don’t even bother. This person is so indoctrinated in Rand’s bizarre worlview she is actually throwing the term “Marxist” around as if it were relevant, as if there actually was an organized Marxist opposition to capitalism in this country (commenting on FrumForum, no less!) or there were no other viewpoints from which to criticize the weird, hermetically sealed world of Randian Objectivism. Besides, she made no bones about deliberately yanking your chains with those garbage posts re: Native Americans. This isn’t a debate–this is just a more than usually articulate troll.

    • Demosthenes

      Yes, I think I’m done here. The Marxist thing was pretty funny, for exactly the reasons you mention. Apparently using the word “Eurocentric” in relation to the view that the Native Americans should be grateful for their colonial encounter makes one a postmodern neo-Marxist? Hilarious.

      For the record it was never a question whether or not the inheritors of Rand were blinkered by ideology and hamstrung in their analyses by the obvious superficiality and inadequacy of her so-called “philosophy”, but the new information for me here is that far from shying away from the idea that Rand’s view can be extended to a defense of colonialism, somehow her modern-day inheritors (as per the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights) see colonialism as a positive development in the history of colonized peoples and something that should be defended in Objectivist terms. As if the world needed more evidence that Objectivism is morally and intellectually bankrupt.

      Also, I’m not entirely sure about this, but I get the sense our friend Ariel is more Sabra and Shatila and less clamshell bra. Just a wild guess.

  • jonponder

    Ayn Rand should not be judged as a philosopher based on what she said or wrote but on her actions, and in the end, Rand wallowed at the trough of red, white and blue collectivism, just like the rest of us who attend government schools and universities, drive on roads constructed by central planners at the collective, call 911 when we need government emergency services, eat food and take medicine that has been approved by the collective’s inspectors and rely on socialized pensions and collective health care when we turn 65.

    According to Scott McConnell, the founder of the media department at the Ayn Rand Institute, late in her life, Rand, a two-pack-a-day nicotine addict, was diagnosed with lung cancer. After the American “free market” health-care system had drained her dry and she was penniless, she applied for and received Social Security and Medicare, using her married name, Ann O’Connor.

    That’s right. In the end, Ayn Rand resorted to good ol’ American socialism, rather than do what her every-man-for-himself philosophy demands that people who can no longer work should do: live outdoors in a refrigerator box and survive on cat food.

    http://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/0451231309

    What this proves is that a) there are no objectivists in foxholes and b) Ayn Rand was a media-manipulating hypocrite whose pie-in-the-sky philosophy should have never been taken seriously by anyone over the age of 14.

    • Ariel

      “In the end, Ayn Rand resorted to good ol’ American socialism, rather than do what her every-man-for-himself philosophy demands that people who can no longer work should do: live outdoors in a refrigerator box and survive on cat food.”

      But Rand never advocated that. Instead she said:

      “Whenever the welfare-state laws offer them some small restitution, the victims should take it.”

  • advancedatheist

    I look forward to reading Weiss’s book.

    I find it interesting that Rand’s world view has turned into a kind of alternative humanism for people on the American right who don’t care much for religion, yet who also don’t want to associate with the left-liberal political baggage of mainstream humanism. And that this has happened in a “Hayekian” fashion, through the sales of her novels and other writings in a competitive market, without planning from, or the sponsorship of, government & academia which have a left-liberal bias.

    I also enjoy the WTF? reactions from left-liberal humanists who have noticed that Rand’s variety of humanism has lately become competitive with theirs.