Paul Ryan and a scary situation within the GOP… WWJD?
This blog article is something I share a real concern with. Ayn Rand has had a huge influence over this ideologically driven man, who if elected a VP, will be a heart beat from being President. I don’t care that he is GOP, or any other party. I care that he very enthusiastically and emotionally identifies with Ayn Rand – who promotes a Darwin draconian feudalism where literally it is survival of the fittest and the masses exist merely to fuel, feed, support and serve the elite who are “king of the hill”. This is scary – this is his philosophy. This is his idea of how to govern, where we should go… it is escatologically scary.
This is where he wants to take the US and the free global markets. Yes, he’s under Mitt Romney’s plan now and he is more politically shrewd than that. BUT …one heart beat away. This scares me. This fuels over zealous corporate leadership (a non-exhaustive categorization – not all corporations are like this, but the international banking behavior continues to reflect this same value system.
Where are we if we are centered on ourselves, on the individual and no longer centered on community, on the neighborhood? This may be the enlightenment virtue today, but it is heresy and anti-Biblical, anti-Christ literally.
For a Christian to be excited about this guy – I don’t care if he is a practicing Catholic – his ideology is in conflict with the Biblical foundation he claims. Instead of if you have two coats, shoes, meals – give one to the one without and if you do not, you’re lost (Jesus said this over and over and over and it was repeated by the apostles.. The early pre-Constantine church condemned saints who did not live like this in real behaviors are lost.
So, if you are GOP – you should be madder than heck, because this guy may feel good politically, but His views are anti-Christ.
I get the conflicting, mess we’re in – this is the point of so much I write in this season. One approves of moral issues most/many Christians have issue with….ones they feel very strongly about. I get it. BUT the other party is equally flawed, lost and damned. One temps us with Babylon, if we are in the privileged US society and not “poor”. The other temps us with the same individualism, but from the other end of the spectrum.
These are scary times and never before have Christians, left and right end of the spectrum, had such a dire and clear mandate to speak prophetically into our society, into our political system, into each others’ lives as today. Yet, no matter where you stand, there are serious, serious moral issues… we therefore, should not marry ourselves to either end, but stand apart, not be united with these fallen systems, and speak clearly and prophetically to the systems. If you are a saint and participating in the system, then there is an “Esther” moment for you today… you have a voice few do! Speak clearly to both sides… recognize where there is the Imago Dei in both sides and celebrate it. Recognize the sin, the dark deceitful perspectives and call them out. So help us God.
Here is the article:
– August 17, 2012
“When we reject a thinker’s foundational principles, it is our job to carefully probe the thinker’s ideas we accept to see what effect(s) the thinker’s foundational principles have upon those ideas.”
Each Friday in Not Fit for Dinner, C. Ryan Knight explores political issues and the preconceptions guiding our understanding of and responses to them.
The national spotlight is on Congressman Paul Ryan more than ever before, now that Mitt Romney chose him as his running mate. This week has been a crash course in which we’ve glimpsed Ryan’s childhood pictures, learned about his voting record, and heard about his position on nearly every election issue.
One area of particular interest—or concern—is Ryan’s devotion to Ayn Rand, a famous novelist and thinker who emigrated from Communist Russia to America and heralded individualism over collectivism (or statism). Conservatives have often praised Rand’s political views: severely limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and the likes. Her ideological fervor can make Barry Goldwater and Milton Friedman seem like lightweights.
Christian conservatives who have had a crash-course on Rand’s ideas worry about her influence on Ryan, a Catholic, for Rand was a staunch atheist (at one point she described Christianity’s values as “the best kindergarten of communism possible”) and believed only in what can be perceived through reason of the natural world. In the words of Rand scholar Craig Biddle, her philosophy, known as Objectivism (though it’s hardly objective), is
fully secular and absolutist; it is neither liberal nor conservative nor anywhere in-between. It recognizes and upholds the secular (this-worldly) source and nature of moral principles and the secular moral foundations of a fully free, fully civilized society.
Had Rand believed in hell, she would have cast faith, altruism, social welfare, and just about every public official and bureaucrat in it, had she the power to do so.
As Ryan’s devotion to Rand’s ideas have come under increased scrutiny, he’s had to emphasize his rejection of her philosophy, accepting only her political and economic views. On Fox News, Ryan said Rand’s Objectivism is “something that I completely disagree with.” Instead, Ryan simply “enjoyed” her novels—Atlas Shrugged specifically—and thought they were “interesting.”
This is quite a different story from his statement at a 2005 Atlas Society event, where he had this to say:
I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are. It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff.
We can probably accept that Ryan rejects Rand’s atheism, but his statement from 2005 makes it very hard to believe some of Rand’s principles that are antithetical to, say, Christianity have not made their way into Ryan’s thinking.
If Paul Ryan just played Video Games he would know that BIOSHOCK disproved Objectivism in 2007.
I won’t go into the literary quality of Rand’s novels, which is, to quote Flannery O’Connor, “as low as you can get.” If I’d received a copy of Atlas Shrugged for Christmas as a present from Ryan (a favorite present of his to give others in years past), I would have considered it the closest I’ve ever come to getting coal in my stocking.
Instead, I think it’s important to point out that Rand used her fiction to apply (and probably develop) her basic philosophical principles. As Rand scholar Jennifer Burns explained in her recent book on Rand’s influence on conservatism, numerous businessmen admired and praised Rand’s fiction, find it (in Burns’ words) “a perfect fit for [their] corporate efforts.”
But Rand’s Objectivism is the starting point for her political and economic philosophy. It makes certain assumptions about human nature and traces the ripple effects of those assumptions. In this case, the egg (Rand’s Objectivism) comes before the chicken (her fiction). So the notion that readers like Ryan are able to separate Rand’s philosophy from her fiction, as well as her political and economic beliefs, is wishful thinking. The ideas in Rand’s fiction stem directly from her Objectivist principles, for better or worse.
More like Abjectivism.
We can’t simply pretend a thinker’s foundational principles, political affiliations, or beliefs have no bearing on their work in other fields. When we reject a thinker’s foundational principles, it is our job to carefully probe the thinker’s ideas we accept to see what effect(s) the thinker’s foundational principles have upon those ideas. Contrary to Marvin Olasky’s call for conservatives to “show what in Rand they agree with and what they spurn,” I argue we can’t simply pick and choose what we like and reject what we dislike. Ideas don’t appear without strings. They carry traces of their origins with them.
I agree with many writers that Romney’s selection of Ryan is helpful in that it forces the national debate to deal with ideological beliefs in addition to current issues (Medicare, Medicaid, energy, etc.). But as we move in this positive direction, we have to carefully investigate how basic principles inform and guide ideas about politics, economy, and so forth. These ideas may very well affected—perhaps even tainted—by the foundational principles from which they derive.
Next week Benjamin Bartlett will explore these questions and others about Ryan in a feature article.
About the Author
C. Ryan Knight teaches English at Randolph Community College in Asheboro, NC, and he lives with his wife outside Greensboro, NC. He co-writes the blog Le Coup D’oeil, which discusses political and international issues. He tries to follow the advice about reading given by two poets: “Read promiscuously” (Milton) and “Read everything” (Adam Zagajewski). He enjoys the outdoors and taking long walks. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: knight_cr