In the Wake of Ryan’s Rise, Revisiting “Ayn Rand, the Patron Saint of Assholes”

By | August 12, 2012

Almost a year ago I wrote a Sunday’s Sermon about Ayn Rand and her bizarre influence on the Republican Party, seen most easily on interchangeably named Ron Paul/Rand Paul/Paul Ryan…three real people who are all big-time under her spell. So, in the wake of Paul Ryan’s rise in the GOP, I thought I should revisit an article that may help explain why Rand’s “Do whatever you want, and don’t feel guilty about how it affects ‘lesser’ people” has really surpassed Jesus’s brand of ‘Help the neighbor’ as the Republican’s new religion. This is a link to the actual article and I’ve reposted it below this sentence as well…

“Sunday’s Sermons: Ayn Rand, the Patron Saint of Assholes

So Thursday on the site we had a take down of Libertarianism, but no true rebuke of the bogus mythology would be complete without mentioning this cult’s leader: Ayn Rand. I’m not saying she started Libertarianism–in fact, she didn’t–but more than any one figure, she is the person they look up to. If this movement has a mama, it’s Rand.

As I mentioned in Thursday’s editorial, Libertarians are an overwhelmingly intense bunch, and they never hesitate to pimp out Rand’s Atlas Shrugged or Fountainhead. They will go on at length about the Objectionist movement and how Rand sees through the “mediocrity” of society (i.e. poor people) in a way the “socialist” authors promoted in school–John Steinback or Dickens–just don’t. It’s a ready made philosophy for rich people as it tells them not to be concerned with the hatred of poor people, they’re just “mediocre,” jealous people trying to make them feel guilty instead of, you know, actually suffering. Libertarian spiritual Godfather Ron Paul named his son–new Kentucky senator and Tea Party douche–Rand Paul after her, and fellow turd Paul Ryan also makes his staff read Ayn Rand if they expect to work for him.

So once we accept the premise that Ayn Rand’s philosophy means more to these guys than any Christian beliefs they might have (the two aren’t compatible and their politics show they will follow Rand’s “Don’t apologize for being rich” motto more than Jesus’s “Share your wealth. No one is better than anyone else” philosophy), what does that really mean? Her “novels” don’t really work as strong narrative fiction with a compelling story structure–it’s like if Karl Marx tried to write a detective novel–so as sermons what do they really mean?

Her basic call to arms is for people who are exceptional to not feel guilty about it and to Lord it, if you can, over the “mediocrity” of society. Which is just another way of saying the majority. In Rand’s books she makes no differentiation between mediocre people and the majority, and encourages people to have no sympathy for those in a worse position. She makes the unmistakable claim that those born worse off than you can become better off than you but have chosen not to because really they’re “mediocre” which is another word for dumb, unexceptional, and really it could also mean poor.

And that’s the problem. A lot of her followers aren’t exceptional people themselves, they’re just rich and/or powerful. Paul Ryan and Rand Paul don’t have a thought in their heads that hasn’t been given to them by someone smarter, they don’t distinguish themselves from conservative ideology in any real way, and they even have similar names, that’s how unexceptional they are. They are policy wonks right off the conservative assembly line, but somehow they’re “better” than the majority because they don’t believe in Medicare? Rand’s followers aren’t artists or great thinkers or revolutionary inventors, they’re sheep. They’re mediocre rich kids who use her books to justify why nobody likes them. In her world they can be misunderstood instead of just un-liked for a reason, but the reason people don’t like them isn’t because they’re too exceptional or because they’re working on a level the “mediocres” can’t understand (not wanting to follow tax codes or building regulations because you’ll make more money if you don’t doesn’t require a Master’s degree to understand). It’s because they’re assholes, no matter how much their patron saint preaches to them different.”

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