Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Horror, The Horror...

of speaking positively about Ayn Rand!  The August 14, 2012 New York Daily News reports that Paul Ryan is having to seek absolution from the left for having said positive things about Ayn Rand's writings:
Paul Ryan, the budget plan-toting and P90Xing representative from Wisconsin, was recently chosen by Mitt Romney as his running mate, yet a hatred for big government and love of washboard abs aren’t the only things he feels strongly about. Ryan has had a life-long fascination and appreciation of Ayn Rand, author of philosophical novels “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged.” Recently, he’s taken to distancing himself from the libertarian hero; however his current position is in fierce contradiction with fairly recent statements of praise for the Russian-born author. (Photo: AP Photo)
At the beginning of 1492: The Conquest of Paradise, we see an auto-da-fe taking place in Spain.  We see two women who are about to be executed for heresy.  It is apparent that they were "secret Jews" -- converts to Christianity who were accused of still being secretly Jews.  (Signs of this incomplete conversion to Christianity at the time included changing your underwear weekly and not liking pork.)  One of those condemned goes ahead and renounces Judaism and is rewarded by being garroted, a reasonably humane way to die, compared to the other woman, who does not, and will be burned at the stake.  Paul Ryan better remember that when it comes to Ayn Rand and the left, the only reason that the left isn't calling for burning at the stake is likely because of concerns about global warming.

There is much about Randian ideas that I don't particularly like, but there is much that is worth at least discussing and considering.  I think her notions of selfishness as a virtue are wrong because she failed to distinguish genuine selflessness from "Admire me for the good things I am doing."  I understand, growing up in the Soviet Union, why the Russian Orthodox Church left a bad taste in her mouth about religion.  But her ideas at times have been a useful antidote to the left's dominance over intellectualism this last century.


  1. I think that Ayn Rand's ideas seem extreme only because she was pulling so hard against collectivist ideas, that if you are a collectivist and think you are middle-of-the road, you look at the Randian pulling against you and he seems to be upside down.

    Most people do not want every aspect of their lives to be the result of some contractual agreement, just as most people do not want every aspect of their lives to be the result of some petition of some anonymous government apparatchick sitting as a judge doling out housing, food, medical care, and whatnot. Rand and the libertarians are good for showing a reasoned, cogent, measured alternative to the Leftists' Maoism.

  2. Ayn Rand grew up Jewish in the late Czarist Russia/early Soviet Union (b. 1905, came to the US in 1926), which adds to the point about how the Russian Orthodox Church left a bad taste in her mouth about religion. It also gives a certain irony to your analogy about the two "secret Jews" being executed in 1492.