I’ll admit up front that I haven’t read Ayn Rand. I had a vague negative impression, based on some commentary I’d read.
Now, the Tea Partiers are diving into Ayn Rand’s books as an anti-big-government manifesto of sorts. Glenn Beck uses her novels to discuss examples of people dropping out of “the system.” “Where is John Galt?” signs show up. Hmmm. Maybe she isn’t so bad, I thought. Maybe I should consider reading them (something of an investment in time… what the heck is it with Russian writers and gigantic novels?).
And then, thanks to Facebook, I found that a friend of mine is reading Rand… and attending the leftist rally at the end of October trying to show-up Glenn Beck’s conservative rally.
Hmm. Weird. So, who’s missing what? My friend or the Tea Party?
A quick look led me to ask, “Why on earth is the Tea Party loving Ayn Rand?”
Sure, she’s for individual freedom and anti-big-government. But that’s not all. Not nearly.
First off, Rand was an atheist. Not just an “I don’t believe God exists” atheist, but a “God doesn’t exist, you’re less human for thinking he does, and altruism is foolish.”
Altruism holds that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue, and value. Capitalism and altruism are incompatible; they are philosophical opposites; they cannot co-exist in the same man or in the same society. The conflict between capitalism and altruism has been undercutting America from her start and, today, has reached its climax.
Odd. Most Americans seem to be of the opinion that altruism is a duty and a good. (Rand held that it was neither.) Americans pride ourselves on the fact that we are a hugely generous nation, even at times when we have to sacrifice to do it. (Rand argued that people following her philosophy of Objectivism could be altruistic, but only if they wanted to (not out of any duty), could spare the money, and the recipients were worthy of it.)
A recent survey found that most of the Tea Party is pro-life. Rand certainly was not.
An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).
Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?”
Predictable, I suppose, given Rand’s views of the radical independence of each person. When Pope John Paul II said that true freedom is not simply a freedom from something, but the freedom to do what is right, well, he could’ve been talking about Ayn Rand’s philosophical descendants.
Ayn Rand escaped communism and is, perhaps, most known as an anti-communist and anti-fascist. However, she espoused some of the attitudes that created those systems: the belief that, with enough personal effort, a sort of Nietzsche-esque superman could be created (who better to lead those “unworthy” people?) and a denial of God (do I have to reiterate the death tolls from atheistic totalitarian systems?). She condemned the results, but praised the underpinnings.
Rand and her husband decided not to have children, The Ayn Rand Institute website says. Too bad. The experience might have taught her something about the reality of human interdependency and self-sacrifice, and the deep good in those things. It’s one thing to preach from your tower at the masses, praising self-sufficiency and damning self-sacrifice. It’s something else to live in the real world.
There are those who complain that the Tea Parties are becoming too religious, that Glenn Beck’s religious imagery and emphasis is corrupting the “pure” intent of the movement, allegedly represented by the Ayn Rand followers, strict rationalists and, therefore, atheists. Really? Then you’re going to have to ditch the Declaration and the Constitution.
The people who wrote and implemented that document weren’t just filling space when they wrote, “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” They believed in self-sacrifice, living for others, caring for their neighbors (and not just the “worthy” ones), and God… none of which Ayn Rand seems to have believed in.
(Excellent article at Pajamas Media on why Ayn Rand is loved in the Tea Parties. And a whole lot of comments on why she is not a good foundation. And then another whole bunch of comments blaming Christians for Obama’s spreading-the-wealth policies. People, if you listened to Glenn Beck before complaining about him, you would have heard the part about charity vs. taxes: when I choose to donate to charities, I feel charitable. I do not feel charitable when paying my taxes. Christian charity is not the same thing as socialist-lite spreading-the-wealth… which is why welfare fails and religious poverty reduction, drug rehab, and other programs do so much better.)