Monday, June 06, 2011

Somebody had to say it

It seems that this -- embodied in the tea party movement, the reigning conception of "conservatism," and those at the helm of the Republican Party today -- is America's "Ayn Rand moment."

And it is not a conservative meme being embraced by "God-fearing" conservatives all across the land, one that's absolutely pervasive across the country's Bible Belt. Instead, it is an absolutely radical one.

It is a movement devoted to turning traditional morality on its head, taking Darwinism out of the biology books and inserting it into the heart of civil society and relegating Father, Son and Holy Ghost to the ash heap of history . . . and the Sermon on the Mount with them.

It's deeply ironic, this embrace of a societal "fifth column" by all manner of folk most concerned about a fifth columnist in the White House. I'm sure Rand would have appreciated the irony, but I can't decide whether she would be horrified by the irrational embrace of objectivism by those she surely would deride as mediocrities and "second handers" or welcome the slack-jawed assistance.

It's rather like Homo sapiens taking a PAC donation from Neanderthals for Natural Selection.

You can't be a Christian and buy into Ayn Rand, too. Christianity and objectivism are mutually exclusive. This circle cannot be squared -- if you set out on a mission to "pick and choose" useful, non-contradictory parts of objectivism and the gospel of Jesus Christ to fashion into a blueprint for society, you wouldn't have enough of either to even rise to the level of incoherence.

And at long last, some folks
(above) are calling Republicans and tea partiers on their sins against both God and reason. You not only can't be a Christian and a Randian, but you can't even be a conservative while making like Atlas and shrugging.

DON'T TRUST ME, listen to what Ayn Rand herself had to say about faith and society. She never wanted to "conserve" anything about society as Americans understood it; she wanted to blow it up and replace it with one of her own conception.

Take particular note of what Rand says starting at 4:15 in this 1959 Mike Wallace interview.
WALLACE: You put this philosophy to work in your novel Atlas Shrugged. . .

RAND: That's right.

WALLACE: . . . you demonstrate it in human terms in your novel Atlas Shrugged. And let me start by quoting from a review of this novel, Atlas Shrugged, that appeared in Newsweek. It said that you are out to destroy almost every edifice in the contemporary American way of life, our Judeo-Christian religion, our modified, government-regulated capitalism, our rule by the majority will. Other reviews have said that you scorn churches and the concept of God. Are these accurate criticisms?

RAND: Uh, yes. I agree with the facts but not the estimate of these criticisms. Namely, if I am challenging the base of all these institutions, I am challenging the moral call of altruism -- the precept that man's moral duty is to live for others. That man must sacrifice himself to others, which is the present-day morality.

WALLACE: What do you mean by sacrifice himself for others? This is now where we're getting to the point. . . .

RAND: One moment. Since I am challenging the base, I necessarily would challenge the institutions you name, which are a result of that morality. And now what is self-sacrifice?

WALLACE: Yes, what is self-sacrifice? You say you do not like the altruism by which we live. You like a kind of Ayn Randist selfishness. . . .

RAND: I would say that don't like is too weak a word. I consider (it) evil, and self-sacrifice is the precept that man needs to serve others in order to justify his existence, that his moral duty is to serve others. That is what most people believe today.

WALLACE: Well, yes. We're taught to feel concern for our fellow man, to feel responsible for his welfare, to feel that we are, as religious people might put it, children under God and responsible one for the other. Now why do you rebel? What's wrong with this philosophy?

RAND: But that is what in fact makes man a sacrificial animal. That man must work for others, concern himself with others or be responsible for them. That is the role of a sacrificial object. I say that man is entitled to his own happiness, and that he must achieve it himself, but that he cannot demand that others give up their lives to make him happy. Nor should he wish to sacrifice himself for the happiness of others. I hold that man should have self-esteem.

WALLACE: And cannot man have self-esteem if he loves his fellow man? What's wrong with loving your fellow man? Christ -- every important moral leader in man's history -- has taught us that we should love one another. Why then is this kind of love, in your mind, immoral?

RAND: It is immoral if it is a love placed above oneself. It is more than immoral, it is impossible. Because when you are asked to love everybody indiscriminately, that is to love people without any standard, to love them regardless of the fact of whether they have and value or virture, you are asked to love nobody.
IF THIS IS WHAT conservatives are buying into nowadays, is there nothing they wish to actually conserve? Is there nothing under heaven or on earth they don't wish to commodify?

What's next?
Don't answer that.

WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, the father of modern conservatism -- when "conservatism" actually was "conservative" and not an ongoing, collective spasm of wild-eyed radicalism -- certainly knew the score.

He paints a picture of a woman who, come to think of it, may just be the personification of Tea Party America . . . Ebeneezer Scrooge with a penchant for grand pronouncements and purplish prose.

Listen, I can understand one having an Ayn Rand moment. As a young man, I had one myself.

But then you grow up. You realize that you're not half as exceptional as you once thought. You realize that you are not a self-contained, self-sustaining entity. You fall in love. You realize there may well be a God, and you are not Him.

And you realize that choices must be made. That the Randian circle cannot be squared -- not with God, not with your fellow man.

Finally, it comes to you with full clarity. You come to know this one thing:

If you're smitten with the works of Ayn Rand in your 20s, you're normal. If you're not over it by 30, you may be a monster.


(c)2014 Richard L. Kent, Esq. (MichiganSilverback at gmail dot com) said...

Ayn Rand's is a soullest, atheistic belief.

So is Marxism.

Marxism (and it's close cousins, fascism and national socialism) have killed more than 100,000,000 people since January 1, 1917.

Ayn Rand's philosophy has killed nobody except, perhaps, a stockboy who was hit on the head by a crate filled with unsold copies of "The Fountainhead."

I'm not fond of Ayn Rand, but given a choice between it and what the Democratic Left has given us (some 50,000,000 dead infants and counting) it's still morally permissable to prefer Randism over the left, until Rand's body count is significant greater than 1.

The Mighty Favog said...

The low death toll attributed to Randism is entirely due to its lack of popularity until now.

That is, if you don't count abortion. Don't just stick the left with that tar baby when Ayn Rand's enthusiasm for abortion was as great as that of the most devoted Planned Parenthood activist. Probably greater.

You see, in the objectivist universe of pure materialism, everything is a commodity, and love is entirely conditional and utilitarian. Even when it's your kid we're talking about.

But why listen to me? Listen to Whittaker Chambers, reviewing "Atlas Shrugged" in National Review (Dec. 28, 1957):

"Nor has the author, apparently, brooded on the degree to which, in a wicked world, a materialism of the Right and a materialism of the Left first surprisingly resemble, then, in action, tend to blend each with each, because, while differing at the top in avowed purpose, and possibly in conflict there, at bottom they are much the same thing. The embarrassing similarities between Hitler’s National Socialism and Stalin’s brand of Communism are familiar. For the world, as seen in materialist view from the Right, scarcely differs from the same world seen in materialist view from the Left. The question becomes chiefly: who is to run that world in whose interests, or perhaps, at best, who can run it more efficiently?

"Something of this implication is fixed in the book’s dictatorial tone, which is much its most striking feature. Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal. In addition, the mind which finds this tone natural to it shares other characteristics of its type. 1) It consistently mistakes raw force for strength, and the rawer the force, the more reverent the posture of the mind before it. 2) It supposes itself to be the bringer of a final revelation. Therefore, resistance to the Message cannot be tolerated because disagreement can never be merely honest, prudent, or just humanly fallible. Dissent from revelation so final (because, the author would say, so reasonable) can only be willfully wicked. There are ways of dealing with such wickedness, and, in fact, right reason itself enjoins them. From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: 'To a gas chamber — go!' The same inflexibly self-righteous stance results, too (in the total absence of any saving humor), in odd extravagances of inflection and gesture — that Dollar Sign, for example. At first, we try to tell ourselves that these are just lapses, that this mind has, somehow, mislaid the discriminating knack that most of us pray will warn us in time of the difference between what is effective and firm, and what is wildly grotesque and excessive. Soon we suspect something worse. We suspect that this mind finds, precisely in extravagance, some exalting merit; feels a surging release of power and passion precisely in smashing up the house. A tornado might feel this way, or Carrie Nation."

The Mighty Favog said...

And here is the URL for that brilliant Whittaker Chambers takedown of Ayn Rand:

(c)2014 Richard L. Kent, Esq. (MichiganSilverback at gmail dot com) said...

There's a difference between a tendency to allow evil to happen (which Randism surely does) and wielding the guillotine which MAKES evil happen actively.

Ayn Rand made excuses for corpses, but Marxism made corpses.

If you want a purely Christian state, well, I guess there's always Monaco, or maybe the Vatican itself..... in the mean time we have to work with those who are sometimes only barely less repugnant than those of our enemies.

Don't fall into the trap of "pureism" that our dear friend R.D. fell into into. One must compromise in a democratic republic; there is no choice. Otherwise you're a voice of precisely one.

The Mighty Favog said...

I'm not being purist. As a Christian, I find Ayn Rand's philosophy, and the ramifications of it, odious.

Randism embraces all the most contemptible tendencies of the modern-day Democratic Party while rejecting (to wildly understate the case) what nobler instincts it has left. Meantime, it rejects what noble tendencies the GOP says it has (to wildly understate the case), sees its individualist, laissez-faire excesses and then raises them.

Rand's philosophy and its adherents also manage to be every bit as materialist as the Marxism it and they purport to hate.

I don't think one makes perfect an enemy of the good by rejecting Rand's evil philosophy as thoroughly as she rejects Judeo-Christian civilization. That's just common sense.

Our civilization is on fire. A heaping helping of gasoline is not what we need at this time.

I know something of objectivism. And I don't think Whittaker Chambers was being overly unreasonable when he suggested the inevitable end of Rand's beliefs was "To a gas chamber — go!"

Viewing much of humanity as parasitic + some men are much better than other men + productiveness as a measure of ultimate worth + love as a utilitarian concept + selfishness as a virtue = This Will Not End Well.