More on Ayn Rand

5 07 2011

Courtesy of the egregores blog

In her own words:

In conclusion, let me touch briefly on another question often asked me: What do I think of President Reagan? The best answer to give would be: But I don’t think of him—and the more I see, the less I think. I did not vote for him (or for anyone else) and events seem to justify me. The appalling disgrace of his administration is his connection with the so-called “Moral Majority” and sundry other TV religionists, who are struggling—apparently with his approval—to take us back to the Middle Ages, via the unconstitutional union of religion and politics.

Intellectual puzzles like this fascinate me. Why do good “Christian conservatives” have to make apologies for their interest in obviously anti-Christian figures? To get in their heads a bit, I would try to make my own apologia:

Some conservative Christians seem to despise the notion that they are forced to be charitable. That is, if I choose to feed the poor, it is my choice and only my choice, and I will take from what is rightfully mine to do so. Otherwise, where would virtue be in all of it? Virtue cannot be forced. The notion that the poor have a right to not be poor is fundamentally anti-Christian. The system is built so that there are winners and losers, and if we just all accepted that, the losers wouldn’t lose as badly, and the winners wouldn’t take as many marbles home, and things would be better in general (though not “perfect” at least from the loser’s perspective). It is thus not a question of whether or not to help the losers, but how to help them. The losers are not guaranteed anything by definition because they lost. Whether or not they get fed should be up to the winners to decide, freely. That is why it is important to evangelize the winners using Opus Dei and other apostolates to the VIP’s. That is how the Gospel will really be spread.

Ayn Rand may not be perfect, but at least she gets some of this right. She was a righteous Gentile striving after the truth, like Aristotle or Avicenna. She like few others popularizaed the notion that the best way to improve society is to improve yourself, that collective action only pulls down the greatness of individuals, that you can’t run society with good intentions alone, and so on. Her aversion to religion would have been less acute if our own religious leaders (influenced openly or not by socialists and other aspiring societal engineers) were not engaging in some heavy petting with collectivist and other weak-minded modes of thought. This would cease immediately if they embraced the “winners / losers” paradigm openly, telling the losers to move down to the end of the societal table and shut up when the grown-ups (the winners) are talking. They might learn something, and have a chance to move up the food chain themselves.

All of this highlights the tension in the Christian message between the “prophetic element” and natural law arguments. Enough has been written on this that it now seems cliche. I find antinomianism just as annoying as the next guy, but it is still worth mentioning. For the conservative sympathetic to the views above, grace builds on nature, and doesn’t negate it. The game of winners and losers is natural. All the Gospel stuff of “blessed are the poor”, “property is theft”, is only relevant in a game of willing actors who enclose themselves voluntarily into certain places (monasteries and religious houses), and is not meant to show how a society is supposed to run. It is akin to strange sex acts amongst “consenting adults” behind closed doors (and nearly as perverse from the perspective of brute nature). That is what the natural law is for: the Gospel upholds the natural law, in all of its Darwinian and cruel splendor, and does not negate it. Those who think otherwise are flirting with heresy (and economic ruin), and not even flirting at that point. You can’t force anyone to be charitable anymore than you can force a person to love another person. Jesus said that the poor will always be with us. St. Paul said that if you don’t work, you don’t eat. So if you don’t want to be poor, work harder, because someone is always going to get the shaft at the end of the day, and you don’t want your next meal to depend on if a wealthy man read the parable of Lazarus and the rich man that day and decided to let some crumbs fall from his table.

Really, from a Christian perspective, I find nothing wrong with this argument, which is why I think liberation theology is a joke. There are so many metaphysical obfuscations in these arguments, so many historical simplifications, that I don’t have the time to uncover them all. Needless to say, often when the bourgeoisie speak of what is “mine” in this society, they are really talking about the surplus value they stole from laborers (they had a contract, so they stole it fair and square, plus they worked really hard in devising these great industrial schemes and risked their own capital, etc. etc.) All the same, I would like to know people’s thoughts: Am I representing their arguments fairly, or is this a caricature?

By the way, I post the above video partially out of nostalgia. I grew up watching William Buckley on public television (oh, the irony) and really enjoyed just hearing him speak. Maybe it was hearing that pretentious voice on the wrong side of the tracks that gave me that other worldly experience that I seem to enjoy so much.


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15 responses

13 07 2011
SAM

Are you implying that international drug dealers,who exchange arms for narcotics are really lightweights? Said drugs were pumped into minority areas while nancy and ronnie did the just say no campaign.Ronnie once remarked that”if the public really knew what we were doing we would be hanged by our thumbs on the white house lawn.” My point is that Reagan should not be viewed as the hero he is by conservative American Catholics just because he sang the pro-life jingle.

7 07 2011
sortacatholic

My regrets, SAM. Was a bit trigger happy a few days ago.

Per C. Wingate: I’m sure that if Ronald Reagan were a Mason, he probably wasn’t all that active. I’m not losing sleep.

To tie in with Rand: I’m surprised that Ayn Rand’s “strong silent leader” types were part of some secret society. Eh, probably for the better as her novels would lose some credibility if some of the characters were involved in occult activities. Then the novels would really be pulp! /editorial

6 07 2011
turmarion

Re “Catholic rightist politics and neocons”, this has some good examples of the compromises, contortions, and outright lies of said Catholic rightists and neocons in trying to portray Catholic social teaching as other than being concerned with, you know, the poor. At least dupes have less responsibility for their actions–these guys knew what they were doing.

As to Freemasons, I keep telling everybody it’s really the Illuminati….

6 07 2011
Andrew P

correction: the aspergerseoise flat and hierarchical thought world addicts of esoteric internet religion might find her useful in their little bubbles.

6 07 2011
Andrew P

Rand was in love with a serial killer sociopath and modeled her protagonists after him…

http://exiledonline.com/atlas-shrieked-why-ayn-rands-right-wing-followers-are-scarier-than-the-manson-family-and-the-gruesome-story-of-the-serial-killer-who-stole-ayn-rands-heart/

she was a speed freak megalomaniac who ran a pseudo intellectual cult for bourgeois Jews. She was avowedly anti-Christian… I don’t understand how any Christian could go out of their way to enjoy her works, let alone agree with her stupid economic/philosophical ideas.

6 07 2011
AJ

Whatever theological (and especially liturgical) objections one might raise against liberationism or “progressive Christianity”, the strugglers of that generation were a lot more interesting than their bad folk songs and sandals would suggest. Nor did they supplant folkloric and traditional expressions of Catholicism with their 1960s fashions (as some cruelly suggest). Limpias in Chiapas are still done with chickens.

ENERO DEL 2011.
AL PUEBLO DE MÉXICO:

El Comité Clandestino Revolucionario Indígena-Comandancia General del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional manifiesta su pesar por la muerte del Obispo Emérito Don Samuel Ruiz García.

(…)

Don Samuel Ruiz García no sólo destacó en un catolicismo practicado en y con los desposeídos, con su equipo también formó toda una generación de cristianos comprometidos con esa práctica de la religión católica. No sólo se preocupó por la grave situación de miseria y marginación de los pueblos originarios de Chiapas, también trabajó, junto con heroico equipo de pastoral, por mejorar esas indignas condiciones de vida y muerte.

(…)

Don Samuel Ruiz García y su equipo no sólo se empeñaron en alcanzar la paz con justicia y dignidad para los indígenas de Chiapas, también arriesgaron y arriesgan su vida, libertad y bienes en ese camino truncado por la soberbia del poder político.

Incluso desde mucho antes de nuestro alzamiento en 1994, la Diócesis de San Cristóbal padeció el hostigamiento, los ataques y las calumnias del Ejército Federal y de los gobiernos estatales en turno.

(…)

Desde 1994, durante su trabajo en la Comisión Nacional de Intermediación (CONAI), en compañía de las mujeres y hombres que formaron esa instancia de paz, Don Samuel recibió presiones, hostigamientos y amenazas, incluyendo atentados contra su vida por parte del grupo paramilitar mal llamado “Paz y Justicia”.

(…)

Y esta molestia llega hasta el Vaticano, donde se maniobra para partir la diócesis de San Cristóbal de Las Casas en dos, de modo de diluir la alternativa en, por y con los pobres, en la acomodaticia que lava conciencias en dinero. Aprovechando el deceso de Don Samuel, se reactiva ese proyecto de control y división.

Porque allá arriba entienden que la opción por los pobres no muere con Don Samuel. Vive y actúa en todo ese sector de la Iglesia Católica que decidió ser consecuente con lo que se predica.

Mientras tanto, el equipo de pastoral, y especialmente los diáconos, ministros y catequistas (indígenas católicos de las comunidades) sufren las calumnias, insultos y ataques de los neo-amantes de la guerra. El Poder sigue añorando sus días de señorío y ven en el trabajo de la Diócesis un obstáculo para reinstaurar su régimen de horca y cuchillo.

El grotesco desfile de personajes de la vida política local y nacional frente al féretro de Don Samuel no es para honrarlo, sino para comprobar, con alivio, que ha muerto; y los medios de comunicación locales simulan lamentar lo que en realidad festinan.

Por encima de todos esos ataques y conspiraciones eclesiales, Don Samuel Ruiz García y l@s cristian@s como él, tuvieron, tienen y tendrán un lugar especial en el moreno corazón de las comunidades indígenas zapatistas.

Ahora que está de moda condenar a toda la Iglesia Católica por los crímenes, desmanes, comisiones y omisiones de algunos de sus prelados…

Ahora que el sector autodenominado “progresista” se solaza en hacer burla y escarnio de la Iglesia Católica toda…

Ahora que se alienta el ver en todo sacerdote a un pederasta en potencia o en activo…

Ahora sería bueno voltear a mirar hacia abajo y encontrar ahí a quienes, como antes Don Samuel, desafiaron y desafían al Poder.

Porque est@s cristianos creen firmemente en que la justicia debe reinar también en este mundo.

Y así lo viven, y mueren, en pensamiento, palabra y obra.

Porque si bien es cierto que hay Marciales y Onésimos en la Iglesia Católica, también hubo y hay Roncos, Ernestos, Samueles, Arturos, Raúles, Sergios, Bartolomés, Joeles, Heribertos, Raymundos, Salvadores, Santiagos, Diegos, Estelas, Victorias, y miles de religios@s y seglares que, estando del lado de la justicia y la libertad, están del lado de la vida.

En el EZLN, católicos y no católicos, creyentes y no creyentes, hoy no sólo honramos la memoria de Don Samuel Ruiz García.

También, y sobre todo, saludamos el compromiso consecuente de l@s cristian@s y creyentes que en Chiapas, en México y en el Mundo, no guardan un silencio cómplice frente a la injusticia, ni permanecen inmóviles frente a la guerra.

Se va Don Samuel, pero quedan muchas otras, muchos otros que, en y por la fe católica cristiana, luchan por un mundo terrenal más justo, más libre, más democrático, es decir, por un mundo mejor.

Salud a ellas y ellos, porque de sus desvelos también se nacerá el mañana.

¡LIBERTAD!
¡JUSTICIA!
¡DEMOCRACIA!

Desde las montañas del Sureste Mexicano.
Por el Comité Clandestino Revolucionario Indígena-Comandancia General del EZLN.

6 07 2011
C. WIngate

Reagan was made an honorary member of the Scottish Rite but he was never a mason per se.

6 07 2011
SAM

To sorta. I did not lightly accuse Reagan of being a mason.I sadly know it to be true.

5 07 2011
sortacatholic

SAM: It’s sad to see American Catholics look at The 33 degree scottish rite mason Ronald Reagan as a hero.

Seems like any enemy of the Catholic Church automatically gets comp’d to the highest levels of Masonry. I’m sorta skeptical about the involvement of higher officials in Masonry given that the “he’s a Mason!” accusation is the ur-cliche of the Catholic reactionary community.

SAM: He was a mere mouthpiece for the elitist who now wage war and terror on vastly inferior lands in the name of freedom.

Quite true. However, what do you expect the early Cath-neo-cons and the NRLC to do? Reagan couldn’t give a crap about abortion, but he was willing to play the game at least. If anything, Catholic rightist politics and neocons were Reagan’s willing dupes, probably out of desperation more than anything else.

5 07 2011
BaudToDeath

Yeah, it’s a caricature. As if you needed anyone to tell you that.

Christianity is anti-political; as Stanley Hauerwas once said, the Christian must live between the vision of the reign of God and its concrete realization in history, and the awkwardness and tension of such a position does not make for political clarity in the present world, even as we move toward the realization of God’s kingdom in history. All the back-and-forth about whether a synthesis of Christianity and socialism is more ‘correct’ than a synthesis of Christianity and libertarianism is missing the point.

5 07 2011
SAM

It’s sad to see American Catholics look at The 33 degree scottish rite mason Ronald Reagan as a hero.He was a mere mouthpiece for the elitist who now wage war and terror on vastly inferior lands in the name of freedom.Under his reign we dealt drugs and weapons with third world characters as we claimed innocence.Reagan once remarked that if the public knew what we were really up to-Iran Contra-“they would hang us by our thumbs on the white house lawn”

5 07 2011
Leah

“If she were writing in our day, John Galt and Howard Roark, given their (pseudo?)-sociopathology, would probably exhibit more overt sexually sadistic tendencies.”

Rand was criticized in her own lifetime for the sex scene between Howard Roark and Dominique Francon, which is often described as a “romanticized rape.” Rand defended the scene as “rape by engraved invitation” because Dominique “wanted it.” Uh, okay.

I believe that any position can be argued from any angle if you use the right language. I think that one could make a much stronger case of a synthesis between Christianity and socialism (although I wouldn’t use the liberation theology model) than Christianity and libertarianism. Experiments in communalism in Christianity go back to the earliest days of desert monasteries. I don’t see why free market capitalism, a relatively new development in human history, is the natural teleological end for Christian ethics.

5 07 2011
sortacatholic

egregores blogger: Ayn Rand may not be perfect, but at least she gets some of this right. She was a righteous Gentile striving after the truth, like Aristotle or Avicenna.

???

Ms. Rand (née Rosenbaum) was certainly not a child of the nations. It might be important to wonder what planet she was from, though.

egregores blogger: All the Gospel stuff of “blessed are the poor”, “property is theft”, is only relevant in a game of willing actors who enclose themselves voluntarily into certain places (monasteries and religious houses), and is not meant to show how a society is supposed to run. It is akin to strange sex acts amongst “consenting adults” behind closed doors (and nearly as perverse from the perspective of brute nature).

I’m sure that Ayn Rand had her own kink going on. If she were writing in our day, John Galt and Howard Roark, given their (pseudo?)-sociopathology, would probably exhibit more overt sexually sadistic tendencies. This was the era in which the embargo of Lady Chatterley’s Lover was relatively fresh in the minds of the following generation.

I have to disagree that only the bleeding hearts aren’t the only “perverts”. The sadism of Objectivism lies not in its “virtuous selfishness” or its glorification of antisocial behavior, but even its celebration of covert eroticism as depicted in the emotional and material abuse of others. If the perversion of the clergy and religious derive from practical and sexual passivity, Objectivism’s perversion lies in its rapacious desire to screw everyone else over. The last statement, though rendered metaphorically in Rand’s works, would likely have been expressed in graphic detail if Rand were not bound by a certain censorship.

5 07 2011
Anonymous

The Catholic theological belief is that Grace builds on nature. The Orthodox teach that Grace transfigures nature. Both are synergistic. Classical Protestant theology radically opposes nature to Grace-a dualistic heresy [monergism] that effectively denies the potential for the transformation of nature by Grace. America is a Protestant nation, a Reformed (Calvinist) country. That is why most American Lutherans and Methodists do not even bother to read Luther or John Wesley. Luther, the priest/monk had major disagreements with Calvin’s theology as did John Wesley. Wesley had a conversion experience listening to a reading of Luther’s Commentary on the Book of Romans.

As far as Ayn Rand goes, she was a secular Russian Jew. Given the treatment of the Jews by the “Christians” in Russia, one can certainly understand her antireligious sentiments. In my admittedly limited experience, most most of her followers, while claiming to be Libertarians are actually anarchists.

The “dark side” of human nature being what it is, to avoid anarchy one must submit either to the discipline of the Law or the discipline of the Cross. Most people, religious as well as secular, seem to prefer the Law to the Cross. I guess that may be because the Cross doesn’t have any loopholes.

5 07 2011
Stephen

This account makes sense up until you claim that the logic of this position follows from Christianity itself. As I read them, the point of the teachings of Jesus (as well as his life) is that God is not a rich man who lets crumbs fall from his table. Instead, God (who has no need to accumulate virtue) has bodily taken the lot of the poor on God’s own back. And the point of Pauline ethics (as well as the ethics of Jesus) is that the self-righteous approach to Torah is alien to the true law of God, which neither begins nor ends with self-justification. When James denounces the rich who hoard what belongs to the poor, he is not making a suggestion; he is reasoning his way through the apocalyptic tale of the Revelation that John received – of the blood and fire that the Lamb visits upon those who wage violence upon the poor of the earth. Perhaps this is an idiosyncratic reading, but I find that the New Testament generally does coincide with the themes of liberation theology.

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