Lawrence O’Donnell: Just imagine if this was Obama


This… was simply hilarious. It never fails to amuse me when people who bought into Ayn Rand’s policies and politics run for office on platforms that are anathema to most of their voter base, but that this voter base is so blinded by the promise of maybe eventually becoming one of the hyper-privileged that they ignore all those inconvenient facts and accept the backpedalling by people like Rand Paul Paul Ryan (d’oh!) uncritically, and can’t be whipped into the same kind of furore that they manage at the mere mention of the name of a Democratic candidate who shows the merest hint of being anything like their own heroes.

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The whole thing kinda proves the tribalism at play, doesn’t it?

It’s funny though. Ayn Rand doesn’t represent humanism, despite her correct assessment that gods don’t exist and all morality must come from humans’ reason. I suspect it’s because she had a gross lack of empathy. It’s probably a big part of why there’s such a Great Rift in the atheist community now — there are people who just want atheism to deal with atheism, and that’s fine. But there are other people who are atheists who hate the idea of building a morality that involves egalitarianism or plurality, and they are the most vociferous pushers-back on ideas like atheism plus. When they say “atheism plus is like a religion”, they’re saying “you’re suggesting that some actions are moral or immoral, and religions do that too, and like Ayn Rand, I hate religions.”

Except we’re using reason to suss out the best positions that have the most egalitarian outcome. Shouldn’t a Randian libertarian be totally on board with that?

Comments

  1. Randy says

    “Just imagine if this was Obama”
    Which part? The doubling back about no longer believing the teachings of a person you had previously followed? I think Obama did that…in a couple instances I can think of right off the top of my head. They are all politicians and they will always do what they need to do, and say what they need to say to get elected…period…sometimes they will change from one day to the next and back. show me one that hasn’t.

  2. marismae says

    Did you mean Paul Ryan’s backpedalling? I know that when he started getting hammered for Ayn Rand being an atheist although he touted his budget being based on ‘catholic ideals’ that he backpedalled big time.

    I didn’t know Rand Paul had done the same thing. Though, well, the idea doesn’t surprise me.

  3. says

    Err, yes, sorry, I meant Paul Ryan. Can you see why I might make that mistake? Ayn Rand > Rand Paul > Paul Ryan. Arglebargle.

    Randy, I was referencing another part in the same episode (which I misremembered as being part of this video — jebus but my synapses aren’t firing today!) where O’Donnell is like “just imagine if Obama was the one who once followed a Russian atheist who said the family unit is unimportant” or something to that effect. Going to have to pull that video out and tie it into this mini-rant, because the title’s just too precious.

  4. advancedatheist says

    “Ayn Rand doesn’t represent humanism, despite her correct assessment that gods don’t exist and all morality must come from humans’ reason.”

    Ayn Rand represents an alternative kind of humanism based on an understanding of what “human” means which resembles the Greek tradition of virtue ethics. The philosopher Richard Taylor’s books about virtue ethics show how the ancient Greek philosophers disdained most people and held them incapable of virtue, and you can see this attitude in Rand as well. The unplanned, spontaneous growth of Rand’s alternative humanism says a lot about the failures of progressive central planners’ efforts to indoctrinate, shame and bully the population into accepting egalitarianism and plurality.

  5. says

    Some people refer to Romney as “rMoney”, for good reason.

    Given Paul Ryan’s philosophical beliefs, we should re-imagine his name as “rAyn”. Fitting, no?

  6. Bruce Gorton says

    @Improbably Joe

    That’s assuming that libertarians seek egalitarian outcomes, or even positive outcomes in general… which they don’t, except for themselves and screw everybody else.

    It appears you may have a bit of backing in that assessment

  7. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @advancedatheist #6:

    ancient Greek philosophers disdained most people and held them incapable of virtue, and you can see this attitude in Rand as well. The unplanned, spontaneous growth of Rand’s alternative humanism says a lot about the failures of progressive central planners’ efforts to indoctrinate, shame and bully the population into accepting egalitarianism and plurality

    Argument from antiquity
    Argument from popularity
     
    And I’m guessing you don’t count yourself among the majority who are incapable of virtue.

  8. patricksimons says

    Ayn Rand’s atheism may be her only redeeming quality. Had our distant ancestors adopted her wretched philosophy, the question today would be moot, as our species would have gone extinct long ago. Puny little humans survived, against long odds, through cooperation, not Rand’s “every man for himself” mentality. Rand’s dubious, and only, achievement lies in helping, greedy, mean spirited, selfish, short sighted people feel better about themselves.

  9. eric says

    Rand’s political ideas resemble modern conservatism in the key, critical point that neither recognizes luck (good or bad) as a significant influence on people’s lives.

    Both the GOP’s economic position (exemplified by Ryan’s tax policy) and Ayn Rand’s objectivism take it for granted that people generally get what they deserve. In both, there is no ethical requirement for a social safety net like welfare because people who ‘really apply themselves’ never lose their jobs. Poverty is caused by lack of effort. Likewise, for both Rand and the GOP, progessive taxation and added taxes on the wealthy are unfair because nobody ever undeservedly becomes wealthy.

  10. Nathair says

    Argument from antiquity
    Argument from popularity

    And I’m guessing you don’t count yourself among the majority who are incapable of virtue.

    He said Rand’s “humanism” resembles Greek virtue ethics. That’s not an argument at all (which pretty much eliminates the possibility that it’s an invalid argument from anything.) Likewise saying “the ancient Greek philosophers disdained most people and held them incapable of virtue” is not the same thing as saying “I disdain most people and hold them incapable of virtue.”

    You need to read more carefully.

  11. James says

    @AdvancedAthiest

    The unplanned, spontaneous growth of Rand’s alternative humanism says a lot about the failures of progressive central planners’ efforts to indoctrinate, shame and bully the population into accepting egalitarianism and plurality.

    You don’t think it betrays the enduring conflict between our evolved natural instincts for selfishness and kin selection, and our evolved intelligence which allows us to empathise with others and make rational judgments on the fairest and most effective ordering of society?

    No, no, you’re probably right. It’s all those dastardly “central planners” who’ve guided moral, political and economic philosophy since the enlightenment. And we’ve all been living in a Marxist world since before Marx was even born, all that capitalism, human rights and free speech is an illusion created to keep us under control.

  12. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Nathair #12:

    He said Rand’s “humanism” resembles Greek virtue ethics. That’s not an argument at all […]
    You need to read more carefully.

    Had it stopped there, it would have just been trivia.

    But the comment continued with sophomoric babbling that indicated randian fandom, and gratuitous mention of growth, which reframed the initial comparison as name-dropping the ancients to support how great Rand’s “humanism” is.
     

    Likewise saying “the ancient Greek philosophers disdained most people and held them incapable of virtue” is not the same thing as saying “I disdain most people and hold them incapable of virtue.”

    Correct.
    However when a fan of Rand volunteers that “you can see this attitude in Rand as well” then goes on to personally spew more of her opinions…
     
    The phrasing at the end doesn’t resemble detached recitation of a polemecist’s views as part of a condemnation of their absurdity; though there’s always the possibility of uncanny sarcastic parody.

  13. marismae says

    Much belatedly – I can definitely see why the names would get mixed up! Plus, with all the douchecanoe’s int he news lately, it’s becoming rather hard to distinguish them from one another.

    ***
    As for Virtue Ethics, I prefer Aristotle’s ‘Doctrine of the Mean’, which seemed to emphasize a balance. If we’re going to discuss virtue ethics as it related to Rand, anyway. I think her acolytes and zombie followers are just grasping at straws there trying to find some possible way that they don’t look like amoral asshats.

  14. Corvus illustris says

    patricksimons @10:

    … Had our distant ancestors adopted her wretched philosophy, the question today would be moot, as our species would have gone extinct long ago. Puny little humans survived, against long odds, through cooperation …

    This is exactly the piece of biology that also vitiates Hobbes’ silly conceit of the war of all against all, and it makes one wonder whether suppressing this inconvenient truth is part of the motivation for the Rand-ies’ willingness to join the fundie anti-evolutionists in the contemporary right wing.

  15. Soli Deo Gloria says

    “I suspect it’s because she had a gross lack of empathy.”

    Ok. So you have a gross surplus of envy, therefore she has a gross lack of empathy. And you will not interact with her ideas because of that. Brilliant.

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