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Paul Ryan's Biggest Influence: 10 Things You Should Know About the Lunatic Ayn Rand

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"The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand." That's freshly minted GOP vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan talking -- statements he would eventually recant -- at a party celebrating what would have been the prolific author's 100th birthday, 

Rand's books are a big driver in the long-term right-wing campaign to delude millions of people into believing that there's no such thing as society -- that everyone must look out only for themselves. Lately, Rand's work has enjoyed a major revival of interest. Besides Ryan, she's inspired yoga-wear company Lululemon to publish her quotations on its products, and she's even made inroads into the North American semi-socialist enclave of Canada. 

AlterNet has kept the pace with Rand's resurgence, doing our best to educate people about what a nutcase she was and how harmful her ideas are. These 10 articles, previously published on AlterNet, shed light on why Rand's influence on Ryan is so dangerous.

1. How Ayn Rand Seduced Generations of Young Men and Helped Make the U.S. Into a Selfish, Greedy Nation

"When I was a kid," AlterNet contribuer Bruce Levine writes, "my reading included comic books and Rand’s The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. There wasn’t much difference between the comic books and Rand’s novels in terms of the simplicity of the heroes. What was different was that unlike Superman or Batman, Rand made selfishness heroic, and she made caring about others weakness."

Bruce Levine's explanation of how Rand has captured the minds of so many is a must-read. "While Harriet Beecher Stowe shamed Americans about the United State’s dehumanization of African Americans and slavery, Ayn Rand removed Americans’ guilt for being selfish and uncaring about anyone except themselves. Not only did Rand make it 'moral' for the wealthy not to pay their fair share of taxes, she 'liberated' millions of other Americans from caring about the suffering of others, even the suffering of their own children."

2. Rand's Philosophy in a Nutshell

The bloggers at ThinkProgress explain that the philosophy Ayn Rand laid out in her novels and essays was, "a frightful concoction of hyper-egotism, power-worship and anarcho-capitalism. She opposed all forms of welfare, unemployment insurance, support for the poor and middle-class, regulation of industry and government provision for roads or other infrastructure. She also insisted that law enforcement, defense and the courts were the only appropriate arenas for government, and that all taxation should be purely voluntary. Her view of economics starkly divided the world into a contest between 'moochers' and 'producers,' with the small group making up the latter generally composed of the spectacularly wealthy, the successful, and the titans of industry."

3. Ayn Rand Railed Against Government Benefits, But Grabbed Social Security and Medicare When She Needed Them

AlterNet's Joshua Holland has the goods: "Her books provided wide-ranging parables of 'parasites,' 'looters' and 'moochers' using the levers of government to steal the fruits of her heroes' labor. In the real world, however, Rand herself received Social Security payments and Medicare benefits under the name of Ann O'Connor (her husband was Frank O'Connor).

4. Rand Worked on a Movie Script Glorifying the Atomic Bomb

According to author Greg Mitchell,  Rand called the nuclear weapon capable of incinerating entire cities "an eloquent example of, argument for and tribute to free enterprise." 

5. Billionaires and Corporations Use Rand's Writings To Brainwash College Students

Pam Martens reported that Charles Koch, who pushes "millions of dollars through his foundation into economic programs at public universities and mandating approval of faculty and curriculum in some instances," partnered with the "southern banking giant BB&T ... mandating that Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged is taught and distributed to students."

6. How Rand Became the Libertarians' Favorite Philosopher

Author Gary Weiss explains how the "Rand movement, which was little more than a cult when the Atlas Shrugged author died 30 years ago, has effectively merged with the vastly larger libertarian movement. While many differences are likely to remain ... this means that Objectivism, Rand’s quasi-religious philosophy, is going to permeate the political process more than ever before."

7. Ayn Rand in Real Life

Author Hal Crowther writes, "For an eyewitness portrait of Ayn Rand in the flesh, in the prime of her celebrity, you can’t improve on the 'Ubermensch' chapter in Tobias Wolff’s autobiographical novel Old School.  Invited to meet with the faculty and student writers at the narrator’s boarding school, Rand arrives with an entourage of chain-smoking idolaters in black and behaves so repellently that her audience of innocents gets a life lesson in what kind of adult to avoid, and to avoid becoming. Rude, dismissive, vain and self-infatuated to the point of obtuseness — she names Atlas Shrugged as the only great American novel — Rand and her hissing chorus in black manage to alienate the entire school, even the rich board member who had admired and invited her. What strikes Wolff’s narrator most forcefully is her utter lack of charity or empathy, her transparent disgust with everything she views as disfiguring or disabling..."

8. Red-State 'Parasites,' Blue-State Providers

Ayn Rand loved to throw around the word "parasite." If you aren't a psychopath billionaire, in Rand's eyes you're a parasite. It's a psychology totally in keeping with the myths of blue-state/red-state America, as AlterNet's Sara Robinson explains.

9. Ayn Rand Was a Big Admirer of a Serial Killer

No exaggerating here. Mark Ames writes, "Back in the late 1920s, as Ayn Rand was working out her philosophy, she became enthralled by a real-life American serial killer, William Edward Hickman, whose gruesome, sadistic dismemberment of a 12-year-old girl named Marion Parker in 1927 shocked the nation. Rand filled her early notebooks with worshipful praise of Hickman. According to biographer Jennifer Burns, author of Goddess of the Market, Rand was so smitten with Hickman that she modeled her first literary creation ... on him."

10. We've Already Had a Randian in High Office (Alan Greenspan), and It Was Devastating to the Middle Class

"The most devoted member of [Rand's] inner circle," George Monbiot writes, "was Alan Greenspan, former head of the US Federal Reserve. Among the essays he wrote for Rand were those published in a book he co-edited with her called Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. Here, starkly explained, you'll find the philosophy he brought into government. There is no need for the regulation of business – even builders or Big Pharma – he argued, as 'the "greed" of the businessman or, more appropriately, his profit-seeking … is the unexcelled protector of the consumer.' As for bankers, their need to win the trust of their clients guarantees that they will act with honour and integrity. Unregulated capitalism, he maintains, is a 'superlatively moral system.'"
by on Aug. 17, 2012 at 6:54 PM
Replies (31-40):
AdrianneHill
by Platinum Member on Aug. 19, 2012 at 2:50 AM
And don't forget she was a hell of a cougar in her time.


Lucky bitch.
I need to do that.
They worshipped her as a god, y'know. I don't know if she had any supposed divinity, that may be hard to pull off or maybe they saw her like the Buddha. Wisdom and everything.
Yeah I could do that. Come follow me, my young firm and shirtless men, I can assure you that paradise will be found by someone in here before the night is over or I'll make you do it again...
...

Nothing, just thinking about stuff.


Quoting anime.princess:



Quoting katy_kay08:

I find it odd that so many rabid religious anti choice conservatives claim Rand as their political mentor.  She was quite vocal about her belief that religion had no business in government and that abortion was a "moral right" and should be left up to the sole discretion of the woman.  

Ah, don't forget that she had no problem with same sex couples being together.  It seems the GOP and the Teaparty really love her fiscal philosophies, but don't seem to be fond of her social philosophies the majority of time.

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
pampire
by on Aug. 19, 2012 at 2:51 AM
1 mom liked this

I think I love you.

kiss

Quoting krysstizzle:

This about sums up Rand's books for me: There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year-old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.



anime.princess
by Member on Aug. 19, 2012 at 3:10 AM

sidesplittinglaughter

She was just an angry former Jew.


Quoting AdrianneHill:

And don't forget she was a hell of a cougar in her time.


Lucky bitch.
I need to do that.
They worshipped her as a god, y'know. I don't know if she had any supposed divinity, that may be hard to pull off or maybe they saw her like the Buddha. Wisdom and everything.
Yeah I could do that. Come follow me, my young firm and shirtless men, I can assure you that paradise will be found by someone in here before the night is over or I'll make you do it again...
...

Nothing, just thinking about stuff.


Quoting anime.princess:



Quoting katy_kay08:

I find it odd that so many rabid religious anti choice conservatives claim Rand as their political mentor.  She was quite vocal about her belief that religion had no business in government and that abortion was a "moral right" and should be left up to the sole discretion of the woman.  

Ah, don't forget that she had no problem with same sex couples being together.  It seems the GOP and the Teaparty really love her fiscal philosophies, but don't seem to be fond of her social philosophies the majority of time.


kailu1835
by Ruby Member on Aug. 19, 2012 at 3:16 AM
2 moms liked this

 So in other words, she believed in people making something of themselves, and having personal responsibility, not relying on the government to be a safety net.  Sounds pretty good to me.

AdrianneHill
by Platinum Member on Aug. 19, 2012 at 3:18 AM
She believed that children were worthless burdens and that showing them any positive emotion or reinforcement turned them into the parasites she hated. Mothers baby their kids too much so she felt that it was an unhealthy relationship.

Quoting kailu1835:

 So in other words, she believed in people making something of themselves, and having personal responsibility, not relying on the government to be a safety net.  Sounds pretty good to me.

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
kailu1835
by Ruby Member on Aug. 19, 2012 at 3:46 AM

 Pretty much the same viewpoint as Ezzo, who wrote a "christian" child rearing book that thousands of people followed and are still following.  Everyone has their downfalls.  However, this is not a political viewpoint, but is a personal viewpoint on child rearing.  Actually, it reminds me of the people who shout and scream about attachment parenting being the wrong thing.

Quoting AdrianneHill:

She believed that children were worthless burdens and that showing them any positive emotion or reinforcement turned them into the parasites she hated. Mothers baby their kids too much so she felt that it was an unhealthy relationship.

Quoting kailu1835:

 So in other words, she believed in people making something of themselves, and having personal responsibility, not relying on the government to be a safety net.  Sounds pretty good to me.

 

babiesbabybaby development

AdrianneHill
by Platinum Member on Aug. 19, 2012 at 4:43 AM
1 mom liked this
I think it's more of an easily accessible example of her worldview. She was almost Marxist in her obsession that everything had to be weighed as a cost benefit analysis always skewed to the isolated self. I'm sure your view and treatment of familial relationships, and therefore your worth and viability, would be found lacking and weak.
Her superman is a man retarded emotionally to the demands and capricious demands of a toddler with no manners or empathy and a somewhat sociopathic Eden in mind. We are almost there. Drug dealers in the inner cities would be her new supermen.


Quoting kailu1835:

 Pretty much the same viewpoint as Ezzo, who wrote a "christian" child rearing book that thousands of people followed and are still following.  Everyone has their downfalls.  However, this is not a political viewpoint, but is a personal viewpoint on child rearing.  Actually, it reminds me of the people who shout and scream about attachment parenting being the wrong thing.


Quoting AdrianneHill:

She believed that children were worthless burdens and that showing them any positive emotion or reinforcement turned them into the parasites she hated. Mothers baby their kids too much so she felt that it was an unhealthy relationship.


Quoting kailu1835:


 So in other words, she believed in people making something of themselves, and having personal responsibility, not relying on the government to be a safety net.  Sounds pretty good to me.


 

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
meriana
by Platinum Member on Aug. 19, 2012 at 9:28 AM

From the article:

She opposed all forms of welfare, unemployment insurance, support for the poor and middle-class, regulation of industry

'the "greed" of the businessman or, more appropriately, his profit-seeking … is the unexcelled protector of the consumer.' As for bankers, their need to win the trust of their clients guarantees that they will act with honour and integrity. Unregulated capitalism, he maintains, is a 'superlatively moral system.'"

-----------------------------

Hmmm...sounds quite a lot like Romney who wants to deregulate industry and the financial sector as much as possible. History has shown,, however, that greed generally trumps anything related to being the "protector of the consumer", let alone honour and integrity

krysstizzle
by on Aug. 19, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Have you ever read any of her books or about her philosophy? They're the most horrendously selfhish things you can possibly imagine. Not just the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" type, but the "the only thing that matters in this life is my personal hapiness, even if it's to the detriment of my community and fellows" type. 

Sorry, but humans are social creatures. That kind of thinking doesn't fly too well.

Quoting kailu1835:

 So in other words, she believed in people making something of themselves, and having personal responsibility, not relying on the government to be a safety net.  Sounds pretty good to me.


kailu1835
by Ruby Member on Aug. 19, 2012 at 3:02 PM
1 mom liked this

 Anything can be skewed to the viewpoint of the beholder, which makes me wonder about your own worldview.  The idea of collectivisim has always been a nasty one, and has resulted in how many deaths now?  Individualism emphasises personal responsiblity, which I realize that libs hate, what with wanting everyone to be able to rely on the government, but that just is not sustainable at any level.

Quoting AdrianneHill:

I think it's more of an easily accessible example of her worldview. She was almost Marxist in her obsession that everything had to be weighed as a cost benefit analysis always skewed to the isolated self. I'm sure your view and treatment of familial relationships, and therefore your worth and viability, would be found lacking and weak.
Her superman is a man retarded emotionally to the demands and capricious demands of a toddler with no manners or empathy and a somewhat sociopathic Eden in mind. We are almost there. Drug dealers in the inner cities would be her new supermen.


Quoting kailu1835:

 Pretty much the same viewpoint as Ezzo, who wrote a "christian" child rearing book that thousands of people followed and are still following.  Everyone has their downfalls.  However, this is not a political viewpoint, but is a personal viewpoint on child rearing.  Actually, it reminds me of the people who shout and scream about attachment parenting being the wrong thing.


Quoting AdrianneHill:

She believed that children were worthless burdens and that showing them any positive emotion or reinforcement turned them into the parasites she hated. Mothers baby their kids too much so she felt that it was an unhealthy relationship.


Quoting kailu1835:


 So in other words, she believed in people making something of themselves, and having personal responsibility, not relying on the government to be a safety net.  Sounds pretty good to me.


 

 

babiesbabybaby development

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