Some say that maybe it is a bad idea to base a political party's ideology on a belief that altruism, democracy and Christianity are "evil." Others say that maybe it is a bad idea to base a country's policies on fictional novels rather than science and history. Still others say is it a bad idea for national leaders to think of most of the public as "parasites" while saying people with tons of cash are "producers" who should govern. I am talking about the Republican Party's embrace of Ayn Rand and her cruel philosophy.
Disciples of Ayn Rand's philosophy of selfishness now dominate the thinking of the leadership of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. There is no way around it. Republican budget leader Rep. Paul Ryan says Rand is his guide. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) says Rand's Atlas Shrugged is his "foundation book." Senator Rand Paul is named after her (or not). Clarence Thomas requires his law clerks to watch The Fountainhead. Fox News promotes Rand. Conservative blogs promote Rand. Glenn Beck has been promoting Rand for years. So has Rush. This isn't recent, Alan Greenspan lived with the Rand cult and promoted and implemented her ideas.
A Philosophy Based on Admiring a Psychopath
Rand believed that a lot of things most of us use as our moral base are "evil." But Rand's writings are the origins of modern Republican philosophy. In "Alan Greenspan and Things Forgotten" I wrote about the origins of this philosophy:
Rand's work is very popular among conservatives now. It forms a core justification for their "on your own" philosophy praising the wealthy and discarding the rest. So it is useful to explore the formation and core of this philosophy. Early in her writings Rand became fascinated with a serial killer named William Hickman. Rand wrote that the serial killer was an "ideal man," a superior form of human because he didn't let society impose their morals on him. He didn't worry about what others thought and just did as he pleased.
"Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should," Rand wrote. Hickman had "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people.'" She considered these to be good qualities! And so does her cult.
This is the foundation of the modern "tea party" conservative thinking. So when you look at the modern capitalism that has grown up around Rand's philosophy and the big corporations that are chewing up the planet to enrich a very few at the expense of the rest of us, and think it seems sort of psychopathic, maybe that's because it literally is.
More And More Concern
More and more, people are becoming aware of the influence of Ayn Rand on current Republican thinking. Amy Sullivan writing at TIME's Swampland, "Paul Ryan's Ayn Rand Problem" and "Ayn Rand: The GOP's Godless Philosopher"; Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast, "Ayn Rand: The GOP's Favorite Bonkers Demagogue"; Garance Franke-Ruta at the Atlantic, "The Echoes of Ayn Rand in Paul Ryan's Budget Plan". (Digby a few years ago: "Randy Conservatives" and "Rand To The Rescue".)
Religious Leaders Sound Alarm