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Originally posted at Talk to Action.

GOP Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan has been playing up his Catholicism on issues such as abortion and stem cell research while seeming to throw his economic hero, Ayn Rand, under the bus.

His effort to be part-Randian, part-Catholic, while pretending not to be,  has worn thinner and thinner as the election campaign has worn on.

If we compare the Ryan of 2005 when he more openly embraced Rand, to the Ryan of 2012, after his recent denunciation of the notorious atheist author it is clear that he still embraces much of her core economic outlook, which can be summarized, in her words, "This god, this one word: I."

Speaking before the Atlas Society in 2005. (as recently exposed in America magazine), Paul Ryan said:

It's so important that we go back to our roots to look at Ayn Rand's vision, her writings, to see what our girding, under-grounding [sic] principles are. I always go back to, you know, Francisco d'Anconia's speech (at Bill Taggart's wedding) on money when I think about monetary policy. And then I go to the 64-page John Galt speech, you know, on the radio at the end, and go back to a lot of other things that she did, to try and make sure that I can check my premises so that I know that what I'm believing and doing and advancing are square with the key principles of individualism...

But in an August 14, 2012 interview with Fox News, he declared,

"Later in life I discovered what her philosophy was; it's called Objectivism.  It's something I completely disagree with; it's an atheistic philosophy."

If, as he claims, Ryan has been reading Rand since he was a teenager, he couldn't miss the atheism. The line in Atlas Shrugged  for example: "...the alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a short-circuit destroying the mind."

But atheism is not all there is to Objectivism. The Atlas Society says Objectivism "rejects the ethics of self-sacrifice and renunciation."  That is also a rejection of Catholic economic principles.

What Ryan calls "later in life" may be translated as political visibility, as the author of the Republican budget plan. As recently as three years ago Ryan praised Rand's economic "morality."   But as much as the Ryan of 2012 would like to, it is difficult to separate  Rand's "moral philosophy" from her particular variety of atheism, which is integral to Rand's phrase, "This god, this one word: I."

Rand's sect of self  eschews commonly held values of altruism which are also shared by many non-believers. Unsurprisingly perhaps, Ayn Rand equates any notion of commonality with the authoritarian and lopsided collectivist vision of the old Soviet Union.  Rand and her fellow Objectivists ignore that among the tenets of  liberal economics is that the component of personality is preserved by the realization of private property with the further understanding that even everyday workers require a sturdy government that will protect their ability to acquire property in a meritorious way. Rand's view is atomistic, arrogant and unattractively selfish.

Consider Paul Ryan's 2012 GOP convention speech:

None of us have to settle for the best this administration offers -- a dull, adventureless journey from one entitlement to the next, a government-planned life, a country where everything is free but us.

Such a view echoes Rand:
"The man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap."

This echoes the aforementioned 64 page rant by  Atlas Shrugged's John Galt:

This much is true:  the most selfish of all things is the independent mind that recognizes no authority higher than its own and no value higher than its judgment of truth. You are asked to sacrifice your intellectual integrity, your logic, your reason, your standard of truth-in favor of becoming a prostitute whose standard is the greatest good for the greatest number.

Ryan and Galt share a disdain for those who believe in a system where they receive the benefits that maintain the quality of life - especially towards the end or while enduring disability when the means to support oneself - often becomes difficult. It is not just "I" as "god;" it is "I the superior human, made so by wealth" who would be "god."  It is a ruthlessly cold calculation.

While Atlas Shrugged is sometimes described as part science fiction, it is also in at least equal parts, also economic fiction, if not outright historical revisionism disguised as fiction. The book describes a middle-twentieth century world that never was. For example, although part of the American Marshall Plan was intended to help rebuild the industrial base of post World War II Europe, this is a far cry from making Europe dependent upon it foreign aid. Nor was the profit motive ever banished; it was just made more equitable - at least for a few decades.

That is not the only  way in which fiction substitutes for history in the self regarding mind of Ayn Rand, who once wrote,

"Whoever claims the right to redistribute the wealth produced by others is claiming the right to treat human beings as chattel."  
This idea, which we see drawn upon by Ryan and others on the Catholic Right, reveals much about the Randian economic fallacy.

What's more, the very idea of redistribution as a means of achieving justice comes not originally from Marx, but from Rand's own hero-philosopher, Aristotle.

Putting aside Rand's avoidance of Aristotle's teachings on distributive justice, she also missed one of Aristotle's ultimate ends of justice: a good quality of life for a society's citizens. Indeed, when the wealthiest hoard a share of profits beyond their contribution, provided skills and taken risk, that may trigger the ancient thinker's other concern: Rectificatory Justice.

Rectificatory justice is the preventing or correcting injustices within transactions. It comes into play whether the transaction is mutually agreeable or forced.

It becomes an object of contention when seemingly voluntary transactions are in fact, forced -- such as when one side consistently holds the upper hand, and therefore able to extract greater value than what has been given in return.

This is also evidenced in much of Catholic neoconservatism -- such as Michael Novak's excuse for deregulation, that capitalism is "for sinners."

This is illustrated in Atlas Shrugged when John Galt was a asked how to fix the economy and he said simply, "Get the hell out of my way."

This view assumes that parties all come to a negotiation of their own free will, free, ready to deal fairly and squarely. But that is rarely the case, because the laissez-faire version of capitalism contains no beforehand mechanisms for preventing fraud or malfeasance -- nor for rectifying such injustices afterwards. It is much like claiming that football games would be more efficient without the rulebook and referees.

But Ryan and Novak are not the only Catholic Right characters who have embraced Randian buccaneer capitalism.  Novak , who equates taxation with confiscation, for example, joins Father Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute who bemoans a positive role for government and Robert P. George who share's Ayn Rand's goldbuggery and zombie economics.

The Randian notion of the primacy of "the producers" finds its way into neocon George Weigel's dismissal of the 2009 papal encyclical "Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth) when he complained that there is "...more in the encyclical about the redistribution of wealth than about wealth-creation ...".

Even Rand's use of the terms "moochers" and "parasites" - at one time used only by her closest devotees, has found its way into the lexicon of such Catholic Republican operatives as Mary Matalin.

Paul Ryan in his speech at the GOP convention in Tampa said, "...even presidents need reminding, that our rights come from nature and God, not from government."  Joseph McShane, S.J., the Jesuit biographer of Monsignor John A. Ryan provides the best retort to such an insufficient thought. He reminded us, as well as Paul Ryan, about the influential the American Catholic economic philosopher's view of such things, and what our own Declaration of Independence acknowledges, "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."

Catholics of Paul Ryan's political persuasion tend ignore that inconvenient detail - as did Ayn Rand.  Her "morality" is devoid of equity or, as it is known in Christian theology epikia. Beyond that, whether it be called Objectivism or miscast as representative of the Church's doctrine of subsidiarity, it is hardly Catholic. Writing recently in the Jesuit journal America, theologian Vincent Miller described Ryan's Objectivist-tinged vision:

This philosophy leaves no room for Catholic notions of Government in service to the common good, there is no room for a social conception of the human person.  Rejection of Rand's atheism notwithstanding, Ryan's policies are based on a political philosophy completely at odds with the principles of Catholic Social Doctrine.  "Prudence" is an insufficient measure of his proposals and the threat this philosophy poses to the Catholic faithful.

Like Paul Ryan, the many Randians on the Catholic Right have learned to reject Rand's atheism as a cover for heartily embracing her narrow definition of liberty as the right to make money. And in so doing, they have replaced the cross with the dollar sign.

Originally posted to Frank Cocozzelli on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 05:49 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Fascinating diary (15+ / 0-)

    I was frustrated, though, that 2 of your links, to Robert P. George and Monsignor John A. Ryan, are broken, and I couldn't follow them.  Otherwise, excellent analysis.

    "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

    by DrLori on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 06:22:40 AM PDT

  •  Cafeteria Catholicism: It's ain't just for Libs. (29+ / 0-)

    "Traditional Catholics" complain about "cafeteria Catholicism" or the tendency of younger, more liberal Catholics to pick & choose the tenets & practices of the Church that they assent to while just deep-sixing the rest.   Having gone through 12 years of Catholic education pre-Vatican II before being corrupted by the Jesuits, cafeterianism also strikes me as un-Catholic.  But it's more the picking & choosing of the American Catholic right that strikes me not just as un-Catholic but as un-Christian.  Ryan, Donahue, and their ilk ignore the HUGE amount of Papal teaching on social justice that is much more consistent with the ethics & politics of Michael Harrington and the Catholic Worker than it is with the American sexual and social reactionaries.  They should try reading "Rerum Novarum" and "Pacem in Terris" instead of "Atlas Shrugged"-- even the prose is (a little) better.  

    •  Ding Ding Ding (17+ / 0-)

      It was fascinating to see all of the Defenders of the Faith publicly distance themselves from JP II's open opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.   William Bennett, Cafeteria Catholic, who woulda thunk it?

      It is equally fascinating to see a member of a major party ticket try to square his enthusiasm for the teachings of an avowed atheist individualist w/ the radically different teachings of the Gospels.  One can no more follow Rand and follow Jesus as one can follow Baal or Zeus or Zoroaster and follow Jesus.

      Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

      by RFK Lives on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:07:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not Just Iraq (11+ / 0-)

        JP II's views on capitalism were not much different from his views of communism -- indeed it saddened him greatly towards the end of his life to see Poland trade in communism for a capitalism built on rampant consumerism.  Yet the right loves to ignore his criticisms of capitalism and praise his rebuke of communism.

        Similarly it has been pointed out -- even in the Vatican -- that Pope Benedict's views on capitalism are much closer to that of Occupy Wall Street than they are of Ayn Rand but, as pointed out above, the cafeteria isn't just for Catholic liberals.

        “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point--race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” ― Molly Ivins

        by RoIn on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:25:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  JP many times spoke with forked tongue (4+ / 0-)

          read about the history of South America and liberation theology.  Worker's rights were ok for his countrymen, the Poles, but not the South American workers.  Many heroic priests and nuns were sacrificed to his 'get along with power' ways.'

          It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. ~~Joseph Stalin

          by SeaTurtle on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 03:47:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  According to my R.C. gramma, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      paul2port, maf1029

      God rest her soul, no one is more Catholic than a convert. American Catholics have never been lockstep, even before Vatican II when Catholic life was more distinctive & separatist.  & you never know if  the Cardinals will screw up again, do something for the whole Church instead of for themselves,  & pick a Pope John XXIII type.

      "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

      by DJ Rix on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 08:49:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent Analysis (13+ / 0-)

    Crystal clarification of why Objectivism is contrary to human nature, contrary to Christianity, and a useful deception for power-hungry politicians.

    •  'useful deception for power-hungry politicians'... (15+ / 0-)

      indeed, rgembry!

      From FC's diary, here is a celebrated example of 'power-hungry' politicians:

      Even Rand's use of the terms "moochers" and "parasites" - at one time used only by her closest devotees, has found its way into the lexicon of such Catholic Republican operatives as Mary Matalin.
      "Closest devotees" in this paragraph of FC's diary links  to "Letters to the Editor" of the New York Times, (which are in response to a review of "Atlas Shrugged" by a Granville Hicks,) where a familiar "politician" praises Ayn Rand:
      To the Editors:

      "Atlas Shrugged" is a celebration of life and happiness.  Justice is unrelenting.  Creative individuals and undeviating purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfillment. Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should.  Mr. Hicks suspiciously wonders "About a person who sustains such a mood through the writing of 1,168 pages and some fourteen years of work."  This reader wonders about a person who finds unrelenting justice personally disturbing.

      Alan Greenspan
      New York.

      (bold/italics mine)

      I thought that this 'letter' was important enough to bring the quote directly to the diary.  Greenspan should be questioned about his beliefs as well as others who subscribe to it.

      We must identify those 'politicians' and policy makers who believe in the Randian philosophy, because I do not believe that they are working with ideas congruent to a democracy, 'for the people, by the people and of the people.' Rather Randianism seems to be a 'economic might makes right' credo.

      FC this is a powerful piece and hopefully will be put to good use not only in this election, but going forward.

      Thank you for your time and effort and bringing it to us.

      It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. ~~Joseph Stalin

      by SeaTurtle on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 08:23:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  People like Ryan and the Romneys (19+ / 0-)

    who have never worked a job producing anything in their lives, who think "wealth creation" involves inflating bubbles and then cashing out before they burst, have redefined common words like "producers" to massage their egos and make them think they have something to do with "production", rather than the truth - that they are the parasites of society. The idea that government policy support for rich people profiting by taking everything poor people own is somehow not "redistribution of wealth" is idiotic.

  •  Throw under the bus (5+ / 0-)

    Could we please, please, please, throw that lame and annoying cliche' ... well, you know where!

  •  At the end of the day, or the conclusion of an (4+ / 0-)

    argument or transaction, it is ridiculous to suggest that one can, or should, disregard other people's value in the equation that is human interaction.  There can be winners and losers, measured winners and/or lessor winners or losers, or equal parties to a "deal" or endgame, even so-called "heroes", but no man or woman, is an island or necessarily, the objective possessor of the "truth".  No matter the zeal to push for a distinctive winning result that tips the balance in favor of one or another party, it can always be argued that positive results can be distributive in any event, no matter how one side or another would like to believe, or claim, otherwise.  It is known that history favors the "victor", but even this is subject to time, human vagaries of memory, will, and persistence.  The arrow of time and the cross current of idiosyncratic human interaction will always provide the potential for "alternate" truths and realities.  Thank goodness.  Hopefully, the trajectory of human civilization, and the collective wisdom that accumulates over time, will continue to favor progress, albeit slowly, in a positive and life affirming direction.

    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

    by helpImdrowning on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 07:45:36 AM PDT

  •  Catholic social doctrine (18+ / 0-)

    Even the current pope, very conservative in many other respects, has strongly emphasized this issue.  One of only 3 papal encyclicals issued so far by Benedict dealt explicitly with Charity, exactly the principle which Rand rejects.  

    In that encyclycal, Caritas in Veritate, Benedict writes:

    36. Economic activity cannot solve all social problems through the simple application of commercial logic. This needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility. Therefore, it must be borne in mind that grave imbalances are produced when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution.
    So it seems Barack Obama isn't the only one who believes in redistribution.

    In our pledge of allegiance, the United States of America is desribed as "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."  The Romney/Ryan economic far right seems to want the liberty, but without the justice.  

  •  Thank you for a very interesting and well (7+ / 0-)

    written piece/diary.  My best wishes to you.

    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

    by helpImdrowning on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 08:16:48 AM PDT

  •  aristocracy + suffering is your ticket to heaven (5+ / 0-)

    The Catholic Church has been joined at the hip with the rich and powerful for literally a thousand years.  Historically - and ironically despite its supposed origins and nominal message - Christianity came first to a country's upper classes, then trickled down or more often was imposed by force.  Catholic scholars have long defended inequality with an appeal to God's absolute power and the intentions his actions logically must express: God could have created a communist paradise if he wanted to, but since inequality obviously exists, an all-powerful and perfectly moral God had to have intended it for reasons which - being God - can only be good, and therefore trying to change it is not only defying God's will as expressed in the workings of the world, but is perpetrating objective evil.  From kings down to the man of the house, human authority mirrors that of God.

    The Catholic Church has also long taught that suffering is a virtue by analogy to the crucifixion.  Suffering instills the humility that all people should feel [towards God], it instills the proper gratitude for even the smallest and most inadequate things God gives you, and most importantly makes people yearn for God's love and justice.  Remember that God likes the widow's mite more than the rich man's lavish donations, which no doubt represents a much larger bite out of her means than the rich man's does of his.  Remember that Mother Theresa thought that the "Christ-like" suffering of Indian slum-dwellers was earning spiritual brownie points for them and the whole world.

    To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

    by Visceral on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 09:34:23 AM PDT

    •  Let's have a little exercise here (4+ / 0-)
      Catholic scholars have long defended inequality with an appeal to God's absolute power and the intentions his actions logically must express: God could have created a communist paradise if he wanted to, but since inequality obviously exists, an all-powerful and perfectly moral God had to have intended it for reasons which - being God - can only be good, and therefore trying to change it is not only defying God's will as expressed in the workings of the world, but is perpetrating objective evil.
        Substitute "homosexuality" for "inequality" in the above. How do these Catholic scholars spin it then?

      "Le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge."

      by Buzzer on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 02:02:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Brilliant! (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        paul2port, Visceral, Dirtandiron, alyosha

        I wish a few more wingnut theologians would try that; the logical fallacy virtually grabs one by the throat. Thus is the cult of Rand revealed for what it is, namely a means of justifying the righteousness of those in power remaining in power.

        Your black cards can make you money, so you hide them when you're able; in the land of milk and honey, you must put them on the table - Steely Dan

        by OrdinaryIowan on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 02:09:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  God made you gay but he expects you to be straight (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jack 1966, Buzzer

        That's how they do it.  However you were made, it's also spelled out in the Bible that actually doing gay things is a sin and that instead you need to make lots of babies with one person of the opposite sex.  I know that fundies basically believe that "gay" is something you do; what you are is just a sinner who doesn't care that God is God and has laid down the law about what to do with your bits.

        Then they can get really fucked up and say that gay people need to learn to love the special challenge that God gave you so that you could work that much harder to love him and obey him.  If that's too much for your weak and selfish flesh, then celibacy is your only option.  In that case, why not devote yourself wholly to God and his church?  In the Catholic case, why do you think so many gay men become priests?

        Challenge that and they pull out Job on you.  In their theology, God can fuck you over in every possible way and you should still love him, worship him, and obey him because he's God and that is his right (both to fuck you over and to be loved, worshiped, and obeyed).

        I've argued with these people.  If all else fails, God said so and can do anything he wants; it's our job to go along and keep on worshiping because he's God.

        To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

        by Visceral on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 06:08:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  yeah, I saw that when it was reported, R (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      that's a very apt summary you gave.

      Although I know that there is German political history behind this tax, the fact that the rcxch would DEMAND its $ this way, just leaves me feeling unclean.

      I just hope the Germans have the good sense to vote with their money: NEIN

      This iteration of the Vat Hierarchy is living in a soundproof echo chamber.  Do they have any idea how this demand for money would appear to others?

      They have 'jumped the shark' without a doubt.

      It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. ~~Joseph Stalin

      by SeaTurtle on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 03:31:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  on Ayn Rand (7+ / 0-)

    I think Randall Munroe of xkcd fame said it best for me:

    I had a hard time with Ayn Rand because I found myself enthusiastically agreeing with the first 90% of every sentence, but getting lost at "therefore, be a huge a$$hole to everyone."
    ... well, 90% for Anthem, which is the only work of hers I've read all the way through. (It's the source of the quote "This god, this one word: I."  For context's sake, the reader should be aware that the speaker of that line has only just discovered that a word exists for first person singular, as he has grown up in a society that has eliminated all singular pronouns.)  Judging by the exerpts I've read of her other work, it might wind up being closer to 75%.
    •  I Read Anthem in High School (6+ / 0-)

      It was also the only Rand I've ever read, and I disliked it so much that I have never felt any desire to try any of her thicker volumes.  Partially it was the whole "Putting the needs of others before yourself is evil" thing; but also the whole elaborate set-up struck me as contrived and lame.  We are supposed to empathize with the Young Inventor of the novel; instead I found myself siding with the Hidebound Elders.

      Of course, it took me a while to realize that she didn't give a phoob about plausibility or verisimiltude; she was writing a parable about individualism.  I thought at first that she was retelling the story of Galileo and the Inquisition, and all through the book I kept thinking, "Y'know, Heinlein did this story much better in Orphans of the Sky."

      "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

      by quarkstomper on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:34:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I can't remember when I read it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'll tell you the truth: I honestly liked Anthem.  I haven't reread it in a long time, and I have no idea if I would like it now.

        Maybe I'll try it over the weekend.

        (... and Orphans of the Sky is one of the Heinleins I've never read.  Time to hit the library, perhaps.)

  •  This quote seems analogous of the (5+ / 0-)

    Contempt with which the Republican Party leadership views their base, who continue, decade after decade, to vote against their own self interests:

    "The man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap."

    We're ALL better off when we're ALL better off!

    by susanWAstate on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:12:50 AM PDT

  •  Catholic Bishops today ignore Gospel, focus on.... (15+ / 0-)

    ladybits all day every day. Seems like every new rant from one of the Bishops has to do in one way or another with sexual etiquette, contraception, or abortion.

    You know. Stuff Christ never said a single word about.

    Meanwhile they ignore the entire Gospel message of community, charity, and our absolute duty to care for the well being of our fellow man. In the real, here-and-now, flesh-and-blood sense. Not just the nebulous 'spiritual well being' thing that permits slavery and starvation while tending to souls alone.

  •  That proposition has been tested (7+ / 0-)
    It is much like claiming that football games would be more efficient without the rulebook and referees.

    The NFL has spent the past few weeks  testing that proposition. Referees not overly familiar with the NFL rulebook have been officiating the games. Finally the NFL was forced to surrender to the professional officials union because the substitute officials just couldn't be tolerated.
  •  Is anyone else troubled by the fact that Ryan (15+ / 0-)

    is influenced by works of fiction, and quotes speeches by fictional characters?!  That's the question no one has ever pressed on Ryan.

    And like the diarist FC and most everyone else, I don't believe for a minute Ryan disavowed his allegiance to Ayn Rand.

    Excellent, excellent diary FC!!

    Warning: That light at the end of the tunnel just might be an oncoming train.

    by history first on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:33:35 AM PDT

  •  EXCELLENT ANALYSIS! (6+ / 0-)

    In-depth dissection of rand and its place in our society.

    In Aldus Shrugged, my rand character has some delicious choice words for Father Noel.

    Please help me destroy the ayn rand myth and help President Obama and our entire country too!! ALL ROYALTIES ON SALES OF ALDUS SHRUGGED GO DIRECTLY TO HELP THE DEMS THIS ELECTION CYCLE!!!

    Aldus Shrugged : The Antidote to Ayn Rand. Buy ALDUS SHRUGGED on amazon, and ALL royalties will be donated directly to HELP ME TO HELP THE BIG O!!! And follow the fun: @floydbluealdus1

    by Floyd Blue on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:54:31 AM PDT

  •  I'm a mooooocher (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

    by RMForbes on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:55:40 AM PDT

  •  The original Catholic/Christian religion (6+ / 0-)

    was codified by Paul, not Jesus (who, of course, never wrote anything.) And the first of that ~ 50 AD was Paul's Corinthians, with the major theme of helping the poor

    "For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk. What! show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing! What should I say to you?"

    That's where Christianity started. Everything since then is someone trying to pretend they know better for their own influence.

    •  forgive me, MsTribble, but you comment is not true (0+ / 0-)

      yes, Paul's influence was great on early xtn religion, but using the word 'codified' renders it completely untrue.

      Yes, Paul did carry on the basic xtn message of 'love your neighbor as yourself.'  That message has always been identified with xty.  Until now with those who are attempting to rewrite the bible, and xtn message to suit their political purposes.  And to subjugate the xtn core message to the Randian selfishness.

      There are so many divergent threads that make up early xty (influence of Paul and verbal tradition of first disciples, and whomever the Johannine author (s) was/were.)  These early documents (and later ones,) were 'redacted' when copied, i.e. altered to reflect whatever was the current point of view.  There were many competing translations and documents, theological opinions etc.

      Technically 'codification' happened in a series of Councils of the Roman Church when specific translations of books were approved for the 'canon' or were dismissed (such as the Gnostic Gospels.)  Also the Councils dealt with competing belief systems that developed from the original xtn message, which the Councils approved or rejected.  Those rejected were labeled heretics.  The abuses of the xch towards heretics is legendary.

      St. Augustine of Hippo in the mid/late 300's had a signature impact on the philosophy/theology that has become a part of the 'canon' today.  I would say that Augustine's influence is far stronger than Pauls.  My opinion.

      However, I think that the single most important figure who shaped early xty for the centuries to come was Constatine who with the Edict of Milan removed the xtns from being persecuted, and eventually made xty 'the state religion'.  It was he who created the 'imperial church' by fusing state and religion.  

      The impact of that fusion was that the church became a v. imp. political player in the world stage from then on and its theology was from that point forward to support this role.

      I disagree with your following statements:

      That's where Christianity started. Everything since then is someone trying to pretend they know better for their own influence.
      From the beginning, people have been arguing about what constituted the xtn message.  There never was anything 'written in stone.'  

      There has, however, been a main consistent thread of :

      "Love your neighbor as yourself."

      It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. ~~Joseph Stalin

      by SeaTurtle on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 07:31:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You seem to be agreeing with everything I wrote (0+ / 0-)

        except the word "codified" which I might rephrase. But it was Paul (in the letters we have and undoubtably many we do not have) who brought together the beliefs of the disparate little sects and communities that began to think of themselves as Christian, and gave them a relatively common theology. That's the meaning for which I used the word; choose another if you'd like.

        And then your further points are exactly those that I make. The fusion of Church and state was a way of secular powers to put on a cloak of authority that made them seem somehow smarter or more influential. Their ability to pick and choose a few words from written documents and use them for those who couldn't read (and were often forbidden by Church law from reading!) gave them authority.

        Other church "authorities" like Augustine and Raymond reinforced that perspective by condoning the first Inquisitions. I've been reading a scholarly history of that movement, and it's very clear how the secular powers used the Church there, as well, to shore up their authority.

        There is absolutely nothing in common between the Rand-Ryan "religion" and early Christianity. That's my point, and as I read it, yours too.

        •  words have assigned meanings (0+ / 0-)

          and particularly in the history of religion, scriptural analysis, and theology, these assigned meanings are very specific.  Therefore, one does not have a choice about what words to use to describe a commonly agreed upon phenomena.

          Codified is not a synonym for bringing together.  Codify refers to a systematic process of organization based on some sort of officially recognized authority.  In the history of the rcxch, this authority was the councils.

          Technically speaking, the Councils codified the writings/laws/beliefs/practices of the church.  Paul may have brought the beliefs of the early xch together but the councils organized them, systematized them, putting them in its 'code'; giving them a seal of approval, so to speak.  That is what 'codified' means.

          Augustine's huge impact on the church was mainly from his theology which contained elements of his Manichean past; 'you could take the man out of the Manichean philosophy, but not the Manichean philosophy out of the man.' Augustine's theology then became integrated as a major stream feeding into xtn theology.  That stream from which we all have been suffering from ever since.

          It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. ~~Joseph Stalin

          by SeaTurtle on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 03:18:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  the words: Moochers, Parasites and Freeloaders (10+ / 0-)

    It just goes to show ... you can take the Russian out of the Soviet, but you cannot get the Soviet out of the Russian ...

    Now, all settled societies for the past 8,000 years have not celebrated the lazy and the unproductive ... but not even the Robber Barons took their disapproval of the Unproductive to the level  fin de siecle Socialists did.

    I grew up with "1905 Revolutionary" relatives.  Their attitudes toward work and sex would make New England's  Pilgrims look like a pack of hedonist layabouts.  "Work hard" was their principle virtue ... "Social Parasitism"   (usually applied to Bourgeois absentee-owner/stockholders)  the deadliest of Sins.

    And, her understanding of Capitalism and technology were about what you could expect from a "Rehabilitated Bourgeois "   Liberal Arts major from a 1921 Soviet college.

    So ... at heart, Ayn Rand remained a good little Leninist  she was taught to be at the Petrograd State University ... atheist, sexually stunted, and viscerally disgusted by even the idea of economic Parasitism.

    That she learned to wrap these taboos and simplicities in terms that ingratiated her to the American Right  ...

    •  Great Insight, Adam (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      paul2port, Dirtandiron, SeaTurtle

      I suspect something of this nature was part and parcel of Rand's nature.

    •  Adam, I find this fascinating.... (0+ / 0-)

      please do a diary about her history (and whatever else,) and when you do, pls kosmal me bec. I reallly would like to read it.

      Am v. busy right now and may miss it.

      Your information gives a v. important historical context for her.  Having known rigid authoritarians from the same part of the world  the same time in history as Rand, there is no doubt in my mind that while espousing 'reason and clarity', she is repeating the structures of thought and memes from that time and place.  But you have said it and explained it far better than I could, so I would love to read what you wrote, if you had the time for it.

      It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. ~~Joseph Stalin

      by SeaTurtle on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 03:42:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  THANK YOU (3+ / 0-)

    I am an atheist and since the inception of The Tea Party I have been screaming at the TV that Rand was an atheist .
    Jesus says 'feed the hungry and clothe the poor' quite a few times, I believe 24 (I could be wrong).
    I still do not get the religious zealots following Rand, until you look into the crowd. It is veiled bigotry.
    I do not care. I live here in the USA and if your a bigot I do not give a shit - it is one less person I have to know or involve in my life. You have the right.
    What I hate about the entire thing is the denial, like the man who sent the watermelon cartoon and didn't know it was bigoted . REALLY ? Do you think I am that stupid ?
    Just call it what it is and be proud of yourself, or if you are ashamed look at why you feel that way and work on it you prick.

    you can't remain neutral on a moving train

    by rmfcjr on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 01:53:25 PM PDT

  •  Great diary Frank (4+ / 0-)

    Keep fighting the good fight.

  •  Ryan claiming to be religious is a joke (4+ / 0-)

    Ryan can say what he wants, but in the end it's clear that the core tenet is true to him -- "I am my own god".

    That's the simplest core of Rand's stuff and, eventually, more directly stated in LaVayan Satanism. It's not literal, no one there is claiming to be supernatural -- but it does mean that all Ryan does is done for one goal: to make Ryan stronger, better and give him all the advantages.

    •  I guess Ryan's wife and kids are good with this. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      What a pity.  Hanging on to Rand's ideas beyond age 22 makes one a clear case of arrested development.  But maybe Ryan's being so into himself and his political ambitions will at least keep him from straying on his wife, and that will be good for her and the family.  But the aw-shucksism Ryan puts out as he speaks to the elderly while plotting to transfer their wealth to his wife's former company, Evan Bayh's wife, and other health care insurance lobbyists, makes me want to retch.
      Yes, the moochers are the ones that are known as lobbyists.

      A great read of a diary, Frank.  Thanks.

      Romney went to France instead of serving in our military, got rich chop-shopping US businesses and eliminating US jobs, off-shored his money in the Cayman Islands, and now tells us to "Believe in America."

      by judyms9 on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 03:32:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •   (0+ / 0-)

    principles."  What exactly ARE "Catholic economic principles?  Are they just something on paper or proposed by Catholic theologians? I ask this because if one reads the history of the church and how it amassed its wealth (unestimable for the purposes of insurance), all I see is an institution that talks some talk and walks a walk of total hypocrisy.  

    If the right side of Catholicism is "replacing the cross with the dollar sign" they are simply following the example of the Church's 2000 year old history.

    How can people say with a straight face that the institution of the Catholic Church with its mafia run Vatican Bank and its Vatican City full of gold has ever touted an economic policy that cares for the lesser among us?  

  •  I'm not sure that Aristotle (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, paul2port

    could have provided a better model of social justice to Ayn Rand.  You have to remember his views on slavery, and that some people are naturally meant to be slaves.

    From Nicomachean Ethics:

       But is there any one thus intended by nature to be a slave, and for whom such a condition is expedient and right, or rather is not all slavery a violation of nature?

        There is no difficulty in answering this question, on grounds both of reason and of fact. For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule.


    Where then there is such a difference as that between soul and body, or between men and animals (as in the case of those whose business is to use their body, and who can do nothing better), the lower sort are by nature slaves, and it is better for them as for all inferiors that they should be under the rule of a master.

    So we all respect Aristotle for his contributions in other areas, but when it comes to things like freedom and social justice and equality and individual rights, well, to be generous, we can just assume he had typical "misconceptions" of his time.

    As for this, this isn't strictly true...

    Rand and her fellow Objectivists ignore that among the tenets of  liberal economics is that the component of personality is preserved by the realization of private property with the further understanding that even everyday workers require a sturdy government that will protect their ability to acquire property in a meritorious way.
    Objectivists and most libertarians recognize the need to protect the ability of individuals to protect and acquire property "in a meritorious way."  How you achieve that, though, is a matter of debate.  Back in the good ol' days (and it was long ago, so cut me slack), when I actually paid money to attend seminars on this crap of how to achieve a stateless laissez-faire society, one of the most common assumptions was that to achieve it, you need STRONG TORT LAWS to prevent fraud and theft.  Yes, everything, even theft, even murder, would be a tort, with financial penalties.  (This is one of the things that always makes me shake my head when I hear a conservative railing against tort laws.)  

    But who is going to operate the courts if you don't want the government meddling in the economy?  Where will the tort law come from?  And this is where you really start to get into the weird underbelly of libertarian thought.  One way of achieving this is, they would propose, is to have a voluntary civil court system, like systems of voluntary arbitration we have now, but with the additional teeth that you can't opt out without losing by default, and if you lose and try to blow off the system, all businesses that participate in the system will cut you off.

    Yes, you're thinking about all the holes in this.  They do sweat bullets over trying to patch it all up like the boy with his finger in the dike finding 10 more cracks.  At some point, it becomes a weird kind of alternative reality engineering exercise and interesting in that sense, but so progressively divorced from reality that it creates a delusional cult brotherhood.

  •  What a terrific post! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Outstanding insight into theological vs. political thought of today.  

    To the loads of atheists that wrote, let me just say that not all Christians believe in the Bible in the same way.  For instance, The proscriptions against homosexuality - to many of us Christians - stands as a snapshot in time of what an historical community believed was God's wishes. But we can find may of these misunderstandings within the pages of the Bible.  For another instance God's wish for Joshua to put so many women and children to death in Jericho. This seems quite counter to Christ's teachings.  The Bible, and most specifically, the old testament has recorded many cases where outcomes of wars, or other occurrences are attributed to the "desire of God" or at least the desire as those within this community saw them.  However, that doesnt make them right.  It is rather a history of how things were interpreted at that time.  And for many of us, Christ is the fulfillment of a law that was misunderstood, mischaracterized, and misapplied for so long.  Without such misunderstandings there would have been little need for Christ. But with Christ, we are to see these mistakes in a new light.  The Bible, in fact, does provide an excellent guide to social justice, and social behavior if we let it.  But we simply can not take it as literal and from the mouth of God.  It is from the hands of men, that sometimes made mistakes but thought they were right because the won this war or that. This, i believe, is exactly what happens with Gays. The idea that God would condemn the love between two people that he made to love, seems contrary to everything we know of Christ.  Even the willing acceptance of slavery that Paul seems to exhibit, simply shows that even he does not fully grasp the nature of Gods message to us.  

    As for the anti-collectivist ideas of Rand, and Ryan, they are quite literally wrong.  It isnt a question of ethics, it is one of information theory.  The ethical embrace of altruism and social justice is part and parcel of the evolutionary development of our species, meant to enhance survivability of humans.  As Goodall observed in the great apes, continuity of knowledge and sharing of resources makes it possible for populations to protect themselves against turmoil.  When social morays and rules are put into place such as with a government, we enhance the robustness of our survival.  Perhaps the most important aspect of this governmental function is the protection of free and robust markets, where one set of "achievers" can not dominate the herd.  This is very different from the capitalism that is espoused by so many neocons, though I doubt they would admit to it.  Pure and unregulated capitalism leads inexorably to a condensation of market choice through the formation of "big winners" who then control markets.  In such scenarios, information can not be adequately sorted by the market - making the crowd dumber. Thus, five banks can dominate 70% of financial transactions and collude to restrict choice, automakers can prevent new technologies from entering into competition with their own products making us dependent on an ever decreasing selection of natural resources, and a few insurance companies can get away with conflating and confusing the provisions of medical care to a population as a market when it should rightfully be seen as a method of enhancing market breadth by allowing more of the crowd to participate in other aspects of the economy (just as with education).

    I maintain that Rand/Ryan are demonstratively wrong in their assertions, it isnt just an opinion based on someones idea of what is moral. The "collective good" does in fact exist, and for good reason - it is a part of our design and meant for our survival.    

  •  Jesus Christ would have driven Ayn Rand out of... (0+ / 0-)

    ... the temple at the end of a cat o'nine tails.

  •  Philosophy and Thought Processes (0+ / 0-)

    This is a bit complicated. The simple fact is Ayn's thought processes are bad.

    First a bit of background. In Physics there are many laws that have been verified by experiment that define the science as well as the underlying philosophy that supports it. Two of these are the conservation of mass and the conservation of energy. The former says matter will be the same after a reaction as before, in other words not being gods we cannot create or destroy matter. The latter says that in a reaction the energy coming out will be the same as that put into the reaction. This means you cannot get something for nothing. These laws are not refutable, they cannot be negotiated with, they cannot be bargained with, and cannot be legislated out of existence.

    In Ayn Rand’s signature work “Atlas Shrugged” the story is that the masses (the proletariat) are domed in a world of drudgery. The proletariat in her books do not contribute anything useful to society. The hero a member of the Bourgeois class develops a dynamo, which provides vast amounts of power to run everything and saves the world. The problem with this is that it violates the conservation of energy. In order to achieve her little utopia she has to resort to her “hero” building something that gets more energy out than is put in. This is the basic problem with her philosophy, her books and her life, she expects to get more out of something that she puts into it.

    Dealing with Physics is hard. You cannot get around it except in a make believe world - Ayn Rand or the Coyote and the Road Runner cartoons.

  •  Ryan is not all that unCatholic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I would disagree about Ryan's love for wealth and power being inconsistent with Roman Catholicism as practiced by those who run the institution. Despite the official bow to altruism, the Church leadership from the Vatican on down is all about worldly wealth and prestige. Just take a look at the Pope's regalia and Cardinal Tim Dolan's showboating as "Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher." (See video of the get-up of these characters going to Rome for Dolan's investiture) You may say that these are only examples of boys playing dress-up and do not reflect the profound social doctrine of various encyclicals, but the same impulse can be found in the Church big shots playing up to those in power, with no concern for any moral issue but abortionand gay marriage. Case in point: Jesuit Fordham University's warm welcome to 2012 commencement speaker John Brennan, torture promoter under Bush and architect of Obama's drone wars.

    I am a cafeteria Catholic who usually passes through the chow line without selecting any morsels, but every time I do stop by, the only message I hear is a relentless attack on abortion and gay marriage. As far as I can tell, there are no other moral issues of interest to priests on the parish level. Paul Ryan need not feel uncomfortable in the pews of any Catholic church I have visited in the past few years.

    If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks. -Frederick the Great

    by Valatius on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:09:42 AM PDT

  •  What I'll nevber understand (0+ / 0-)

    is the consensus, that by "producers" we always mean the boss and the boss alone, who therefore have claim on ALL the revenues of the business.  That there is no redistribution upwards  by this appropriation of the profit generated by the labor of the workers.  That it is only attempts by workers to wrest back a share of the income their labor produces that represents "redistribution".  Even this essay, as "liberal" in its intent as it may be, read closely tacitly accepts that doctrine of who the "producers" are, what "redistribution" is and how and when it occurs.  Until we break that stranglehold that the owners of capital have on the identity of "producers", and who the "moochers" that abscond with the revenues generated by the producers are, we will be stuck forever in the prevailing economic currents of these times, whether more or less mitigated by fads of altruism, and fads of austerity, in the whim of state power.

    Changing our economic order can only begin with the acceptance of this idea, that labor creates all wealth.  As long as we adhere to the prevailing doctrine that it is capital that is productive, and those that labor in the service of capital are nothing but parasitical expenses, things will only become even more the way they are.  And that's not an idea either American major party will ever embrace, because political success is in our system by definition limited to those who will reliably and cheerfully execute the will of the ruling interests.  Failure to be reiliable to capital gets a politician branded "unelectable", and the media and conventional wisdom, of "pragmatism" and power centrism, takes care of the clean-up from there.

    Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

    by ActivistGuy on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 08:04:33 AM PDT

  •  Ayn Rand and L. Ron Hubbard (0+ / 0-)

    Both writers of bad fiction that started religions.

    ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

    by gjohnsit on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 10:22:06 AM PDT

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