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Thursday, May 09, 2013

• • Communitarian Conservatism Redux 
Capitalism  |Individual Rights  |Individualism  |Paul Ryan  | Perhaps if the arguments between libertarian and communitarian conservatives would seem more meaningful if they resulted in significantly different policy initiatives, or in a different kind of politics. Certainly the “compassionate” crowd is prone to engage in the same savage denunciations of liberalism as anything Rick Santelli ever uttered, and it’s no accident that the Tea Party Movement is equally rooted in the kick-the-looter psychology of Ayn Rand and in the Christian Right (often finding a common inspiration in the idea of a divinely created Republic in which property rights are eternally absolute).

Thursday, April 11, 2013

• • Debtors’ prisons are back: how heart-warmingly Dickensian! 
Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  | The Scrooge who, pre-transformation, rebuffs a request to contribute to charity with, “Are there no prisons? … And the Union workhouses, are they still in order?” — that guy expresses the Ayn Rand, anti-altruist philosophy that is all the rage on the right these days far more pithily than any of Rand’s interminably long-winded heroes ever did. (Admittedly, though, ol’ Ebeneezer wasn’t anywhere nearly as hawt as such strapping Randian hunks as John Galt or Howard Roark). Newt Gingrich (now there’s a Dickensian villain name if I ever heard one!) wants to bring back Oliver Twist-style orphanages for welfare kids.

Monday, April 08, 2013

• • Moneybag False Equivalency 
Best I can tell, like many other wealthy men, [the Koch brothers] read Ayn Rand under the covers after bedtime as adolescents, and never grew up.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

• • • Another Blow To the Christian Objectivist Movement 
Altruism  |Atheism  |Atlas Shrugged  |Egoism  |Paul Ryan  | Because a remarkable number of conservative middle-brow “intellectuals” (one thinks of a certain congressman from Wisconsin) are forever trying to square circles by embracing Ayn Rand’s perspectives on political ethics (in which selfishness is the supreme virtue and altruism encourages “looting”) with traditionalist Christianity, it’s always useful to find fresh reminder of Ayn Rand’s rabid hatred of “the mysticism of the mind,” her term for religion.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

• • • Ayn Wouldn’t Have Apologized! 
Alan Greenspan  |Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal  |Capitalism  | Now that Lululemon has itself a product-quality issue, it seems to be abjectly apologetic in a way that does not seem to comport with the self-righteous confidence of Ayn Rand’s capitalist heroes. [....] Perhaps this is what Rand had in mind in entitling one of her books (a collection of essays in which Alan Greenspan did a lot of the writing): “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.”

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

• • Not Working for Free, But Thanks For Thinking of Me 
Capitalism  |Individualism  | [I]n any economic context where employers have all the power, and the supply of workers is almost limitless, even the very nicest people on earth (much less those who are not so nice) feel no particular compunction about being unreasonable. This is why in a free market economy we need labor laws, unions, minimum wages, and a social safety net. The Randian concept of individual workers freely contracting with free employers and thereby establishing an entirely objective value for work is often just a cruel joke.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

 SOTU Day-After Thoughts 
Paul Ryan  | Anyone imagining there is some sort of “moderate Republicanism” in the wings that Democratic charity can vault into control of the GOP should watch Marco Rubio’s official response last night and pay attention to something other than his water-guzzling. This is the guy who was supposed to offer a “reformed” Republicanism with greater appeal than Paul Ryan’s Randian budget-cutting or Rand Paul’s unvarnished Tea Party extremism. Yet his speech was almost nothing other than a repetitive rejection of the power of the public sector to play any positive role in national life other than at the Pentagon.

Monday, February 04, 2013

• • The Randian Case for Restricting Immigration 
Rand Paul  | You might figure a guy like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) would have to be a bit conflicted on the immigration issue. Give his father’s identity, he’s probably been exposed to every pro-immigration argument ever made. Libertarians are, by and large, pro-liberalized immigration for all the obvious reasons. But he represents Kentucky, and occupies the seat once held by Jim Bunning, whose big winning ad in his own first successful race featured a Hispanic voice thanking his opponent for a pro-NAFTA vote with: “Muchas gracias, Senor Baesler!”

Friday, February 01, 2013

 Four years later, Paul Ryan wants more of the same 
Paul Ryan  | According to POLITICO, Ryan said “that the nation will face ‘tepid growth and deficits’ under President Barack Obama and Republicans must prudently ‘buy time’ and ‘keep the bond markets at bay — for the sake of our people.’” Like a third-rate objectivist action hero, he is.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

• • Women and Libertarianism 
The Fountainhead  | I gotta say, of all the self-appointed tasks in American political discourse, making libertarianism a gender-balanced movement strikes me as one of the most Sisyphean. It would require someone with the grit and charisma of a Howard Roark.


Friday, January 04, 2013

• • Procreate Or Die! 
Capitalism  | One of the more lurid aspects of the American conservative lurch-to-the-right in recent years has been the quashing of the inhibitions of the Self-Righteous Rich. Like characters in the Ayn Rand novels many of them avidly consume, these folk are furious at those of us who have not made our own selves wealthy and enraged at the idea that they might owe something to the society that has blessed them so richly.

Monday, December 17, 2012

 Love You, Man! 
Paul Ryan  | So Paul Ryan and Mark Rubio regaled the audience at last night’s Jack Kemp Foundation’s award dinner with what might be called a two-pronged attack on the GOP’s present political problems. Ryan spent most of his time expressing great empathy for people—especially poor people—outside the current GOP voter coalition, clearly aiming to distance himself and his party from all the Randian talk about “the 47%” and “the takers” that used to be part of his own rhetoric brand.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

 The Bloc Vote Strikes Again 
Paul Ryan  | Think Progress’ Igor Volsky reports [...] lines from Paul Ryan about how and why he and Mitt lost. [....] Volsky goes on to contrast this “turnout” talk with Ryan’s pre-election assertions that the election was a big, bold choice between big, bold policy agendas. But to an old cracker like me, the Dairy State Randian’s words had a very different connotation.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

• • • Objectivism: An Adolescent Disorder 
Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  |Egoism  | I’d have to say my nominee for Most Redundant Headline of the Year is for Jonas Blank’s ruminative TNR essay: “I Was a Teenage Objectivist.” Of course he was. So was I, and so were God knows how many other people, particular nerdy boys seeking ego-reinforcement against the discipline and disdain of parents, the idiocy of teachers, and most of all the contempt of classmates.

Monday, April 30, 2012

• • • Paul Ryan, “Second-Hander” 
Altruism  |Atheism  |Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism  |Egoism  |Paul Ryan  | The thing about Ayn Rand, as anyone who has actually read her works can attest, is that she offered readers an all-or-nothing proposition. She didn’t entertain, she instructed. This was most evident in Atlas Shrugged, whose centerpiece was an endless didactic “radio broadcast” by her hero John Galt, identifying all human misery with the “mysticism of the mind” (supernatural religion) and the “mysticism of the muscle” (socialism, or more accurately, the rejection of strict laissez-faire capitalism), and with the ethics of altruism both reflected. After penning Atlas Shrugged, Rand spent most of the rest of her life making sure everyone understood that her philosophy was a comprehensive system that rose or fell as a whole.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

 The ‘real drivers of our debt’ 
Paul Ryan  | It’d be problematic enough to evaluate [Paul] Ryan on ideology alone — the extremism of this Ayn Rand acolyte is generally under-appreciated. But the problem goes much deeper, as he says things nearly every day that just aren’t true.

Monday, July 11, 2011

 ‘Necessary for the public good’ 
Slowly but surely, activists on the right have seemed to try to appropriate the colonial era as their own, as if they — and they alone — are the direct descendents of the Founding Fathers, and they deserve ownership of the revolutionary principles. We’re supposed to believe the leaders of the era were states-rights libertarians, embracing the attitudes of Ayn Rand and Grover Norquist generations before their birth.