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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

 How Capitalism Creates The Welfare State 
Capitalism  | [I]n my bleaker moments, I wonder whether humankind will come to see this great capitalist leap forward as a huge error in human history – the moment we undid ourselves and our very environment, reaching untold material wealth as well as building societies in which loneliness, dislocation, displacement and radical insecurity cannot but increase. It seems to me this is not the moment for Randian purism. Do we not as conservatives have a duty to tend to the world we helped make?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

• • • Objectivism Isn’t For Lovers 
Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  |Paul Ryan  |Image  | Alex Heigl provides yet another reason not to be a devotee of Ayn Rand. He pivots off her statement, “I am done with the monster of ‘we,’ the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame,” to argue that such sentiments preclude the deepest pleasures of love and sex.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

 The Tory vs The Randian 
Capitalism  | Listening to Mitt Romney's Randianism I couldn't help but be reminded of Benjamin Disraeli, that miraculously talented Victorian prime minister who saw conservatism as a philosophy that should never be indifferent to poverty or social inequality, who, in his novel, Sybil, spoke of two nations in one.

Friday, August 31, 2012

 Can Conservatives Be Funny? 
The current GOP, in its search for a Randian utopia, in its anger and fundamentalist mindset, has no time to laugh - at itself or anyone else. Laughing requires an ability not to care so much all the time, to acknowledge the limits of humanity rather than be obsessed with the inherent superiority of one country - and one party in one country - within it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

• • Paul Ryan's Zombie Reaganomics 
Capitalism  |Paul Ryan  | I don't share some Obama-supporters' contempt for Paul Ryan. That's in part because he comes across as a sincere, decent, fine fellow - whose Randian worldview has produced a reformist zeal known most intimately to an adolescent male. Indeed, he reminds me most of all of myself in my teens - dreaming of how to cut government in half, relishing schemes to slash taxes and slash spending and unleash revolutionary growth which, in itself, would render all other problems more manageable. There is no libertarian quite as convinced as a teenage libertarian. And it's the adolescent conviction of Ryan that shines so brightly.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

• • • Ryan’s Ayn Problem 
Atheism  |Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism  |Video  | Naturally voters on the left already abhor the teachings of Rand and the influence they have on the Ryan budget. So it will be much more interesting to see how Rand’s blend of Social Darwinism and atheism will play out in the minds of Christian Republicans already skeptical of Romney’s Mormonism and Bain background.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

 Obama's Good News 
Capitalism  | The key in the debates will be for Obama to focus on shared sacrifice to cut the debt and on Romney's plan to exempt the super-rich from any sacrifice at all, and balance the budget entirely on the backs of the poor and old and sick. The truth is: the Ayn Rand position on the debt is way out of the mainstream and yet Romney is stuck with it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

• • The Novel As Soap Box 
Using Ayn Rand as a jumping-off point, Ari Kohen casts a critical eye on the practice of philosophizing through fiction.

Friday, February 10, 2012

• • Controlling Birth Control, Controlling Liberty 
Capitalism  | The only institutions covered by the birth control mandate have chosen to participate in the broader market, a zone of private life governed by political rules. It’s incumbent on critics to explain why this particular rule is a dangerous expansion of state power over market actors as compared to, say, forcing a Randian executive to follow minimum wage laws.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

 Why Obama Still Matters 
No amount of this insistence that “conservatives” are the only truly American participants in democracy will help when you have no idea how to cope with the uninsured, with fiscal balance outside a Randian fantasy, with soaring healthcare costs, or debt-crippled demand.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

 When Theocons Attack! Vatican Edition. 
You knew the Church’s effective endorsement of Occupy Wall Street would prompt a sudden outbreak of heterodoxy on the theocon right, didn’t you? I mean any Catholic challenge to Randian orthodoxy in the GOP must be smacked down quickly, right? And, sure enough, the theocon blogosphere rises as one in dissent.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

• • Heightening The Republican Contradictions 
Capitalism  |Video  | The doctrines of Ayn Rand and the core values of Christianity are explicitly opposed - as Rand herself insisted. And this poses a philosophical problem for contemporary Republicanism which insists on both Randian capitalism and evangelical Christianity. That can only work if you treat Christianity as a cultural signal and a political organizing tool, rather than a living faith, hence my insistence on using the term Christianism, rather than Christianity.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

• • • Growing Up Objectivist, Ctd 
Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  |Egoism  |Personal life  |Video  | I don’t think that Atlas Shrugged can be reduced [...] to a mere venting of personal issues. It stands on its own - and remains a well-read book.

• • Growing Up Objectivist 
Egoism  | Obviously, objectivism is not a cultish scam like scientology. It has the appeal of all totalist systems in which the inevitable conflicts of being a socialized human are simply wished away. As a bracing antidote to leftist collectivism, it has its points. As a worldview, it has always struck me as making the most sense to someone who is 13 years’ old. To remain an unalloyed objectivist for one’s entire life is really, it seems to me, a form of arrested development.

• • • Growing Up Objectivist, Ctd 
Alan Greenspan  |Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  |Capitalism  |Egoism  |Individualism  |Image  | The great literary critic Martin Seymour-Smith (in his “Who’s Who in 20th Century Literature”) observed that Ayn Rand’s writings “appeal to the conservatively bred young, because they encourage them to be selfish without a guilty conscience.”

• • • Growing Up Objectivist, Ctd 
Atheism  |Egoism  |Personal life  | I do not mistake material worth for moral achievement. And it is that philosophical move - to give worldly success and achievement ultimate moral standing - that leads Rand astray.

 Rationing One Way Or Another, Ctd 
Capitalism  | A core difference between conservatives and liberals is the way in which conservatives like their world as apolitical as possible (I use the term conservative here to describe classical conservatism, not the strange blend of Randianism and religious fundamentalism that is now gripping the GOP).

• • Rand And The Conservatism Of Doubt 
Egoism  |Personal life  |Video  |Inaccurate  | A reader writes: “There is another flaw to Objectivism besides its encouragement of selfishness, something which is in some ways just as dangerous if not even more so. It is what makes Objectivism to be the exact opposite of science, despite the fact that Rand herself seemed to admire scientists and engineers. It is what places Objectivism in opposition to your own beliefs on the conservatism (though sadly not against mainstream conservatism). Rand believes in the perfectability of genius. To her, to be a genius is to be incapable of making an error.”

 The Single Most Damning Thing About Ryan 
How exactly does a Randian vote for Medicare-D - a fiscally open-ended entitlement, combining the fastest growing demographic with a product with one of the fastest growing price-tags?

• • • Ayn Rand vs Jesus Christ 
Egoism  | It is possible to read the Gospels as entirely a personal and not political message, and certainly not view Christianity as a short route to socialism. But it is impossible even in one’s personal life to be a Christian and to be a Randian. The whole point of the Gospels is that Rand’s value system leads to profound misery and spiritual loss. And the whole point of Rand is that Nietzsche was onto something.