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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 (41-50):
kailu1835
by Ruby Member on Aug. 19, 2012 at 3:03 PM

 Yet it has worked better than any other economic lifestyle attempted.

Quoting krysstizzle:

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.

 

 

babiesbabybaby development

annabl1970
by Platinum Member on Aug. 19, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Would-be VP Paul Ryan: What would Ayn Rand say?

So who is this guy? Who are his influences? Tim Mak notes one key citation:

The head of the Atlas Society, an organization devoted to philosopher Ayn Rand…praised Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan…as “great news. … “[T]he influence of Rand on Ryan…is a huge step forward for the liberty movement.”

[But] earlier this year [he said] “I reject her philosophy. … It’s an atheist philosophy. …give me Thomas Aquinas. … Don’t give me Ayn Rand.” … Ryan’s disavowal’s comes after years of promoting Rand’s books.


But Ben Adler thinks Ryan can’t possibly like Rand:

It is true that Ryan…subscribes to Rand’s heartless belief in refusing to aid the less fortunate. But Ryan does not share any of Rand’s commitments to freedom. …

  • Libertarians believe in open borders, but Paul Ryan doesn’t. …
  • It is impossible to support individual freedom and limited government while trying to amend the Constitution to take away the rights…to marry the person [you] love, and…the rights of…states to recognize such unions. …
  • Ryan has voted to ban abortion in…DC. The notion that Wisconsites…should tell the…citizens of DC how to live their private lives is the epitome of…federal authoritarianism. …
  • Ryan supports laws that require voters to show photo identification…amounting to a modern-day poll tax. …

Ryan has actually never supported many central tenets of libertarianism. … Ryan has no interest in individual liberty.


Does any of these surprise you? This guy is liar and opportunist.

annabl1970
by Platinum Member on Aug. 19, 2012 at 3:29 PM


The Journal’s Washington Wire is a blog now; who knew?

Ryan [said] he never asked for federal stimulus money. But hours after the interview was posted online [he] backtracked, saying that he’d forgotten about letters he wrote, endorsing stimulus projects. … Mr. Ryan, who has served 14 years in Congress, wrote four letters in 2009 to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. He…urged Mr. Chu to give “prompt and full consideration” to…stimulus proposals.

Mr. Ryan released a statement saying the letters had been mishandled by his office. “After having these letters called to my attention I checked…and they were treated as constituent service requests. … This is why I didn’t recall the letters earlier. … Regardless, it’s clear that the Obama stimulus did nothing to stimulate the economy.”


And James Johnson summarizes:

On Thursday Ryan continued to deny the allegations…then on Friday he…blam[ed] the very people he was working for.

In the meantime the Congressional Budget Office claims that the stimulus package…increased employment by 1.3 million.


Taylor Berman implies Ryan was economical with the actualité:

I think what Ryan meant to say was: “I used the stimulus until it was no longer politically advantageous for me.”

Of course, this is all in keeping with Ryan’s longstanding tradition of making things up…to enhance his reputation..

krysstizzle
by on Aug. 19, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Based on what indicators? 

Quoting kailu1835:

 Yet it has worked better than any other economic lifestyle attempted.

Quoting krysstizzle:

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.


 


Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on Aug. 19, 2012 at 3:59 PM


Quoting krysstizzle:

Oh, and I loathe the term anarcho-capitalism, what a crock (every person i've met who's described themselves as such is a grade A douche).
Noam Chomsky has an eloquent view on this and expresses it much better than I.


krysstizzle
by on Aug. 19, 2012 at 4:00 PM

This little experiment known as "being human" is far bigger than western civilization. There have been many, many societies that were much more successful than either our "capitalist" society or "communist" societies. 

Quoting kailu1835:

 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.


 

 


kailu1835
by Ruby Member on Aug. 19, 2012 at 4:42 PM

 Based on governmental and economical collapse from communism, socialism, etc etc etc.  Every communalism-based government has failed, and miserably.

Quoting krysstizzle:

Based on what indicators? 

Quoting kailu1835:

 Yet it has worked better than any other economic lifestyle attempted.

Quoting krysstizzle:

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.

 

 

 

 

babiesbabybaby development

kailu1835
by Ruby Member on Aug. 19, 2012 at 4:42 PM

 And where are they now?

Quoting krysstizzle:

This little experiment known as "being human" is far bigger than western civilization. There have been many, many societies that were much more successful than either our "capitalist" society or "communist" societies. 

Quoting kailu1835:

 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

krysstizzle
by on Aug. 19, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Oh, here and there, scattered throughout the world. Of course, there would be a lot more of them if it weren't for the implacable greed that western society has tended to nurture in its inhabitants. Are you suggesting genocide is just part and parcel of life?

Quoting kailu1835:

 And where are they now?

Quoting krysstizzle:

This little experiment known as "being human" is far bigger than western civilization. There have been many, many societies that were much more successful than either our "capitalist" society or "communist" societies. 

Quoting kailu1835:

 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.


 

 


 


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