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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

 Morbid Symptoms 
,
Capitalism  | [Carl] Anderson claims that “the elites” are “out of touch” with “the people,” and that the common sense of ordinary folks should prevail over greed and decadence. It’s the perennial bray of populism, an easy sell in America, where the civil religion has an economic theology that merges Christianity and capitalism: the gilded concordat of God and Mammon, the fantasy that community can thrive on the foundations of capitalist property. Though patented by Puritans and Evangelical Protestants, this gospel of economic prosperity has its contemporary Catholic evangels: Michael Novak, the Eusebius of corporate plutocracy, and Fr. Robert A. Sirico, whose Acton Institute is the horrid love-child of Thomas Aquinas and Ayn Rand.

Friday, November 09, 2012

• • • Bad Influence 

Atheism  |Capitalism  |Egoism  |Individualism  |Paul Ryan  | [Paul Ryan] has been well served by media coverage contrasting his allegedly Catholic-infused policies with Vice President Joe Biden’s strained attempts to reconcile his prochoice politics with church teaching. But before long, the same press corps that had portrayed Ryan as a no-nonsense deficit hawk began reporting his long-standing avowal of the works of Ayn Rand as the touchstone for his political life. In 2005, Ryan told a crowd of Rand devotees that he looks to Rand’s writing to make sure his policies “square with the key principles of individualism.” And in a 2009 video he praised her for upholding “the morality of individualism” as “what matters most.” One might detect the influence of Rand’s individualism in Ryan’s 2011 description of the social safety net as a “hammock” that fosters “dependency.” Rand, an atheist, considered charity a sign of weakness. Ryan’s Randian views—notably his budget plan’s drastic cuts to food stamps, which now aid 46 million—did not sit well with many Catholics.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

 Putting the Ryan Plan in Perspective 
,
Capitalism  | The plan’s design very straightforwardly reflects the political commitments of Ryan and of his party — shrink government and let the poor fend for themselves in the free market, as Ayn Rand commanded.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

• • • An unobjective reading list 
,
Ayn Rand Institute  |Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  |Essay Contests  | When I bought The Fountainhead, I remember being impressed by how light — literally lightweight — the book was, despite its tremendous thickness. If I were a character in an Ayn Rand novel, that impression would have been symbolic. But since I’m not, I’m forced to admit that the book sucked me in. I had never read anything like it at that point – no economic or political philosophy, and not much didactic fiction. Animal Farm and Brave New World bewitched me in junior high, and this book appealed to the same eager but underdeveloped parts of my brain. Plus, of course, there was the sheer satisfaction of reading all those pages. Even before you get to its endorsement of untrammeled egotism, The Fountainhead flatters you by being so long and so deadly serious. You must be smart if you can conquer it! The [Ayn Rand Institute] essay contest, I now realize, operates on the same principle – make teenagers feel important and intellectual by offering them truly fantastic amounts of money for absorbing your ideology and regurgitating it in 1,600 words.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

 The death of libertarianism 
,
Capitalism  | [One type of property rights libertarian is] what some have called “moral” libertarians. This category encompasses those who have a moral commitment to respect for a certain conception of individual liberty understood as the so-called “negative” freedom from coercion by third parties, and particularly by the state. It is exemplified by libertarian theorists such as Ayn Rand and Robert Nozick. On this view, the absence of state regulation or redistribution of property is valued for its own sake, and not because of any good consequences it might generate for society.