Ayn Rand and Republican ideology

January 11, 2013 

The British political campaigns only last four weeks; it’s enough to say all they have to say before people vote. America’s campaigns last for (four) years and, this time, total expenses surpassed $6 billion.

Think about how many people we could feed. How many jobs could we create with that money?

One tiny issue caught my eye and I think it’s worth a look, even though the vote is long over. Vice-president hopeful Paul Ryan said he gave a copy of “Atlas Shrugged” to all his interns, and to others as Christmas presents. The paperback is so thick I doubt if it was read cover to cover by many.

The novel is the anchor for “Objectivism,” a philosophy developed by 20th century Russian-American writer Ayn Rand. Ryan has brought new attention to Rand’s philosophy; he says Ayn Rand “is the reason I got into public service.” Like Ryan, the more academic Republicans will be familiar with Rand’s “Objectivism.”

Rand was an atheist. When the media asked Ryan how he thought his “religious right” supporters would feel about that, he claimed he didn’t know about the atheism, but it’s an important tenet of “Objectivism.”

Surely he read the book.

“Objectivism” proposes many complex theories on morality, government, economics, human values and even our purpose for living. It tells us to look out for No. 1 and never sacrifice anything for anyone else, unless there is something to be gained for oneself.

Ayn Rand refined the views of her philosophy in another book entitled “The Virtue of Selfishness.” Rand believes society only benefits when citizens place themselves first and make their own pursuit of happiness a priority. Followers practicing this “rational self-interest” will find success, making our society stronger.

Rand says putting others before oneself is immoral since it decreases our productivity and hinders society’s progressive march forward.

Only reason, the study of nature, believing only what you can prove (thus God gets the boot) leads to happiness, food, shelter, medical care, freedom, etc. If one does not believes this, if they refuse to use reason, then life and prosperity cannot flourish. Such people either die or live parasitically off of those using their reasonable minds. There are no excuses, one either chooses reason or you choose to be a parasite.

Her world view separates issues into black and white where justice is easy to discern: we choose the purest of unregulated capitalism or the worst of collective socialism. It’s simple. No one has a right to such things as food, housing or health care no matter the circumstances. Rand reduces government to a smidgeon of America today, and tells everyone to fend for themselves.

Paul Ryan is no atheist. He adheres to “Objectivism” like some churchgoers, who know the Bible’s passages sending them to heaven much better than Jesus’ charge: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” Ryan selects what he wants from Rand and ignores the rest, even though the ideas and conclusions are all tied together.

Rand’s passages and observations explain and justify the other passages. Mitt Romney sounded very connected to “Objectivism” when he observed “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what ... who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims. These are people who pay no income tax ... and so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

How can so many Republicans delay and finally vote against aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy? (67 voted for no aid.) How can it come so easily to push for drastic spending cuts to programs supporting citizens in need? How can additional benefits to the rich be justified?

Because Ayn Rand’s black and white world says the rich are the producers, not the moochers. Republicans continue to sell Rand’s ideas and her view of what our country should look like, even though most do not know her name.

Tom Scholl is a resident of Macon. He writes every other week for The Telegraph.

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