January 3, 2012

Politics as Religion, the Ayn Rand Way

aynandfrankensteinAnd vice-versa. The primary thing in politics is to maintain your skepticism and pragmatism. The current version of the Republican Party have abandoned both, when they are being fed what they want to hear, and cling to ideas both woefully archaic and provably tattered with failure. Presently, they seem to believe that if they build a high enough pile of manure, a pony will magically appear. That kind of thinking inevitably leads to defeat and extinction. Ironically, many Republicans who call hemselves Christians eagerly embrace the philosophy of Ayn Rand, an avowed atheist. Of course, the GOP Elite are not Christians, they are well-heeled grifters picking the pockets of the sheep and hewing to Randian ‘principled selfishness’ as a self-serving convenience to make themselves wealthier.

“Still, the mystery of Atlas Shrugged isn’t why is it so bad? Many books are this bad and some are even worse. No, the mystery is, why does anyone who made it out of eighth grade take it seriously?

“Yet, obviously, people do. Individuals capable of dressing themselves apparently love this, one of the most turgid, contrived, pompous, and comically over-written books ever published in English. Why?

“Because they believe. For Randroids, ‘glibertarians,’ ‘conservatives’ (whatever that means at this point) and Republicans in general, politics has become a matter of faith.” […]

“Faith not only requires you to ignore what happens in the world, it praises you for it. The more unsubstantiated, untenable, or preposterous the belief, the more virtuous the believer. So [The Wall Street Journal’s] Stephen Moore’s solution to global recession is to wave around one of the most unreadable books ever written as though it were holy writ. For him, and for the right, politics is now religion.

“And, as with any mythology, believers want to emulate their heroes. Cable traffic on the wing-nut sites after the last election featured many writers and commenters musing about ‘going John Galt,’ withdrawing their genius and talents from the rest of us and leaving us to our own moocherly devices. To which all one can reply is, Please do. Knock yourselves out. And take this hideous book with you.”
– Ellis Weiner, “On ‘Atlas Shrugged’ as a Guide to our Times,” Huffington Post, Jan. 12, 2009


  1. RS,

    It’s much the same as Nietzschian Philosophy. It sounds good at first thought. Rand sounds great but one always thinks of oneself as the Master not the Servant. Galt not the “untermench”. The trick comes with Nietzschie when you realize there may be other “over-men” besides you. With Rand what happens whe we all “Go Galt”. Then you’re back to good old Thomas Hobbs, who still makes goos sense even 300 years later.

    Comment by db — January 4, 2012 @ 4:01 pm

  2. Yes, the ‘Superman Paradox’ — everyone thinks they’re ‘special,’ just as every American thinks they’re middle-class (except the homeless). I haven’t read Hobbes in a long time, but I did run across this quote, appropriate to the subject: “Such is the nature of men, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned; yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves.”

    I wonder what Ayn Rand would have written about had she not had her servants taken away by the Bolsheviks.

    Comment by RS Janes — January 5, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

  3. RS,

    Rand didn’t have her servants taken away by Bolsheviks; she lived in NY (I think) on her Social Security checks. Though I will admit that my knowledge of her biography is sketchy at best.

    But I am deeply indebted to my first Philosophy Teacher; & a Grad Student at that, who drilled into us two tenets of a “livable Philosophy”: 1. You can not bang your head into a brick wall because “It feels good” when you stop. 2 You have to be able to answer the question, “What if everyone does it?”.

    You’d be surprised how many philosophies flunk one of those tests.

    Comment by db — January 6, 2012 @ 6:12 am

  4. Db, Rand died in NYC, on Social Security and Medicaid, but she was born in Russia as Alyssa Rosenbaum and was about 12 when Lenin came to power. The Bolsheviks confiscated her upper-middle-class father’s St. Petersburg pharmacy and he was no longer able to afford servants. The Rosenbaums fled to the Crimea, then under White Russian control, and lived there in near starvation. Rand didn’t emigrate to the US until 1926. Ironically, before coming here, she received a free college education courtesy of the Communist regime, where she was first exposed to the philosophy of Nietzsche that influenced her later writings. You could say Communism was both good and bad for Rand.

    Comment by RS Janes — January 6, 2012 @ 8:45 am

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