Some say that maybe it is a bad idea to base a political party's ideology on a belief that altruism, democracy and Christianity are "evil." Others say that maybe it is a bad idea to base a country's policies on fictional novels rather than science and history. Still others say is it a bad idea for national leaders to think of most of the public as "parasites" while saying people with tons of cash are "producers" who should govern. I am talking about the Republican Party's embrace of Ayn Rand and her cruel philosophy.
Disciples of Ayn Rand's philosophy of selfishness now dominate the thinking of the leadership of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. There is no way around it. Republican budget leader Rep. Paul Ryan says Rand is his guide. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) says Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged' is his "foundation book." Senator Rand Paul is named after her (or not). Clarence Thomas requires his law clerks to watch 'The Fountainhead.' Fox News promotes Rand. Conservative blogs promote Rand. Glenn Beck has been promoting Rand for years. So has Rush. This isn't recent, Alan Greenspan lived with the Rand cult and promoted and implemented her ideas.
A Philosophy Based On Admiring A Psychopath
Rand believed that a lot of things most of us use as our moral base are "evil." But Rand's writings are the origins of modern Republican philosophy. In Alan Greenspan And Things Forgotten I wrote about the origins of this philosophy:
Rand's work is very popular among conservatives now. It forms a core justification for their "on your own" philosophy praising the wealthy and discarding the rest. So it is useful to explore the formation and core of this philosophy. Early in her writings Rand became fascinated with a serial killer named William Hickman. Rand wrote that the serial killer was an "ideal man," a superior form of human because he didn't let society impose their morals on him. He didn't worry about what others thought and just did as he pleased.
"Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should," Rand wrote. Hickman had "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people.'" She considered these to be good qualities! And so does her cult.
This is the foundation of the modern "tea party" conservative thinking. So when you look at the modern capitalism that has grown up around Rand's philosophy and the big corporations that are chewing up the planet to enrich a very few at the expense of the rest of us, and think it seems sort of psychopathic, maybe that's because it literally is.
More And More Concern
More and more, people are becoming aware of the influence of Ayn Rand on current Republican thinking. Amy Sullivan writing at Time's Swampland, Paul Ryan's Ayn Rand Problem and Ayn Rand: The GOP's Godless Philosopher; Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast, Ayn Rand: The GOP's Favorite Bonkers Demagogue; Garance Franke-Ruta at The Atlantic, The Echoes of Ayn Rand in Paul Ryan's Budget Plan. (Digby a few years ago: Randy Conservatives and Rand To The Rescue.)
Religious Leaders Sound Alarm
Religious leaders and writers are increasingly sounding the alarm about the Republican embrace of Ayn Rand and what it really means. Examples: Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic, Must Christian Voters Choose Between Ayn Rand and Jesus?; Jim Newell at Gawker: Catholics Take on the Republican Cult of Ayn Rand; Stephen Prothero at Tuscon Citizen: You can't reconcile Ayn Rand and Jesus, Frank Cocozzelli at Talk to Action with Is Ayn Rand the Secular Saint of Selfishness? (Is the Pope Catholic?) Frederick Clarkson and Frank Cocozzelli also at Talk to Action with The Randian Fault That Could Shake Conservatism, Joe Parko in an op-ed at the Crossville,Tennessee Chronicle writes We the People: Ayn Rand and the Tea Party Christians and Michael Sean Winters in the National Catholic Reporter, with Pushback from the Religious Left, (please click through to read it all),
This past weekend, Ralph Reed of Christian Coalition and Jack Abramoff fame, hosted a conference of conservative religious leaders here in Washington. They hope to energize conservative Christian voters to turn out at the polls en masse next year, although one wonders whether some GOP leaders will look up from their copies of "Atlas Shrugged" long enough to recognize the deep intellectual schizophrenia within the conservative political ranks today.
The progressive religious group Faith in Public Life organized an event at a nearby hotel to push back against the religious right's agenda. Among others, Father Clete Kiley of the Archdiocese of Chicago addressed the group. Here is the text of his speech as prepared for delivery:
Today we are gathered here to sound an alarm. The proposed federal budget developed by Chairman Paul Ryan, and being pushed by folks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition across the street, reflects a profound crisis for American working families and American values.
There was a time in this country when we all believed in something called the common good. And we believed that if we all put in our fair share, we would be a just country, a strong country, a nation at peace with itself.
There was a time in this country when we all believed it was right to take care of our elderly; to secure their retirement; to provide them with health care; to give them a dignity and quality of life.
In this video Ayn Rand attacks altruism as evil and explains her philosophy of objectivism:
From The Sideshow this week,
The spiritual leader of the modern Republican Party is Ayn Rand, who said: "I am against God. I don't approve of religion. It is a sign of a psychological weakness ... I regard it as evil. ... I am the creator of a new code of morality; a morality not based on faith." If I had a lot of money, I'd commission a poster with Ayn Rand's face on it and her name and those words in very big letters and put it on every billboard I could buy space on. And after it had been up long enough for a few "faith-based" people to feel they had to disavow her, I'd slowly, one by one, change the poster for one with the words of a different author: "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
Paul Ryan Confronted
Watch as Rep. Paul Ryan refuses to accept a Bible from James Salt of Catholics United. The Bible was specially marked with passages about helping the poor. This occurred at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference last week in DC.
"Why did you choose to model your budget on the extreme ideology of Ayn Rand rather than the faith of economic justice in the Bible?"
So Republicans have a lot of explaining to do. And not just to their Christian "base."