06 June 2011

Ayn Rand, the Republicans, and the Evangelicals

On some level, if you believe in free market and/or Libertarian principles, you will probably have been influenced by Ayn Rand. BBC2 is doing a great series called, 'All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace' which is another great Adam Curtis documentary. The first episode was all about... well, a lot of things, but it really focused on the influence of Ayn Rand in Conservative (big 'C') thinking in the States (or in the BBC documentary, 'thinking in the States'), particularly the notions of individual 'responsibility'.

Now, Objectivism is a godless, selfish philosophy, that's obvious. The Republican party, though run by godless, selfish people (like the Democratic party, let's be fair), gets its bread and butter from a religious base who have no idea what Objectivism is, but do think that Jesus said somewhere in the Bible, 'God helps those who help themselves'. Faith is a veneer because they basically hold most of the main tenets of Objectivism, just with some judeo-Christian myth mixed in (Hey, you have to take personal responsibility for your sins and accept Jesus as your personal lord and saviour. None of this Catholic, we're-all-in-the-same-boat funny business.) What happens when these two explicitly things interact? This happens:

The problem, Americanvalues.net, is that one of the 'values' that you have is 'personal responsibility' and that 'personal responsibility' is a dog whistle for Objectivism. Once you start to say, We want all the philosophy of Objectivism that we like, only with Jesus, you sort of run into a wall. Because Objectivism requires that there be no Jesus, and Jesus requires that you go out and start caring about other people, even to your own detriment (well, at least in theory...) So. What is a good Republican to do?

Well, if you're a godless Objectivist who wants to rule the world, you get someone like Sarah Palin, I guess, who has the face of Christianity, the philosophy of Ayn Rand, and the hubris to be unable to recognise that the two are in conflict with each other. Then you manipulate her (easy enough) and you get what you want.

If you're a Republican on the ground? Well, I guess you can't really think about how much of a conflict there is between these two ideas, can you? That's not a problem though, especially if you're talented at cognitive dissonance anyway... But how do you, if you think about it, just keep taking these people (Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Donald Trump, etc.) at their word that they are Bible-believing Christians?

Come to think of it, most of the Christians that influenced me growing up were walking contradictions when it came to this: free market Objectivists in political philosophy; truly empathetic, loving people in their religious philosophy. And none of them talking about the conflict between the two.

But wouldn't a budget based on Biblical principles, particularly the book of Luke, look pretty Liberal? How, Faithinpubliclife, would it be different than what Paul Ryan wants? I thought you wanted the same things: small government, more personal responsibility. Or do you really want what George Bush (a more sellable, smarter version of Sarah Palin) gave you: all the talk of Christianity with all the philosophy of Ayn Rand...

It's a tough situation and makes you admire Reagan even more for getting the Evangelicals to trust him...

Fascinating, though. Fascinating. Episode Three tonight!