Atlas Shrugged versus The Beatitudes

August 28, 2012

You hear a good number of Republicans, including Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan,  promoting the ideas of Ayn Rand, the Russian-American novelist who authored the libertarian credo best seen in her novel Atlas Shrugged. Rand, an atheist. rejected faith and religion and the kind of altruism that is often the foundation of people of faith.

For Rand life should be guided by individual rights; she even stressed the importance of selfishness and self interest as a “virtues”. Rand was an outspoken critic of government and the collective spirit that often is defined as the common good. If people were just left alone to pursue their own happiness unhindered by the state and the do-gooders, the world would be a far better place.

I personally am a huge fan of St. Matthew, who in his Gospel ( 5:3-10) lays out the eight beatitudes, the first sermon of Jesus. Just as a reminder to all you Catholics (Paul Ryan included) here are the eight beatitudes:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice sake, for their is the kingdom of heaven.

 

Now this is still a free country where people can read what they want and live by a code of ethics that may derive from a novelist or an apostle. But it just seems to me that a political party and its leaders who often tout the value and centrality of religion in the political sphere should read more of St. Matthew and the first sermon of Jesus and not be enamored by the writings of an atheist who glorifies ego and selfishness. We need more of the beatitudes as guideposts for politics,public policy and national life not the musings of Ayn Rand.

 

 

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She’s Back

October 5, 2009

All those liberals out there and their cohorts in the fantasy army of socialists who the right wing says are scheming to tranform America into Sweden should not be surprised that Ayn Rand, the goddess of libertarianism, is making a huge comeback. Rand’s two major works, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, have always been popular books, but these days, amidst all the hysteria from the right, her works are selling over 500,000 copies a year. There is, believe it or not, talk about a movie about her life starring, again believe it or not, the South African beauty Charlize Theron.

For the last ten years or so libertarianism has been creeping up in popularity in American politics as the right and their allies in the corporate world and Wall Street have convinced themselves that not only is greed good, but the epitome of high morality. Of course that means that government intervention and regulation, taxation and the ultimate devil, redistribution of taxpayer money to those at the bottom rungs of the economic ladder, are evil and the height of immorality.

The creed advocated by Rand has now become the mantra of those in America who believe that Obama and his leftist supporters are not only ruining this economy, but are destroying America and its ethic of individualism, self-sufficiency and personal responsibility. The Randites could care less about programs to foster upward mobility or fight social injustice. Quite simply, the Randite view is that if you are facing tough times, well that’s your problem, don’t whine or expect any kind of help.

It is impossible to reason with the libertarians and the devotees of Ayn Rand about the Declaration of Independence reference to ” all men are created equal” or the Preamble to the Constitution’s mission statement about ” providing for the  general welfare ” or the 14th Amendments call for “equal protection of the laws.” It is equally fruitless to talk about altruism, the common good, humanitarianism or the Christian moral view contained in the beautitudes or Christ’s call to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” To the Randites it is all about them, all about their money, all about the evil of government and the goodness of their cause.

It is so easy to see that if this country ever adopted the Atlas Shrugged doctrine that we would live in economic chaos, constant social unrest, and a sad state of evil as we consciously and selfishly ignored the human problems and possibilities around us. Despite its growing popularity, the libertarianism of the followers of Ayn Rand, is not only immoral, it is downright crazy.