Yeap, all over the news sites, atheism turns up hundreds of hits today alone instead of the paltry dozen or so over the last week it usually does. But they’re all the same and we have Paul Ryan to thank for this. Like most Kochwhores these days, Ryan professes admiration for the fictional characters in an old novel called Atlas Shrugged. With one notable clarification:
New Yorker— Three years ago, as Tim Mak reports today at Politico, Ryan described America’s political challenge as coming straight out of Rand’s work—saying, “what’s unique about what’s happening today in government, in the world, in America, is that it’s as if we’re living in an Ayn Rand novel right now. I think Ayn Rand did the best job of anybody to build a moral case of capitalism, and that morality of capitalism is under assault.”
More recently, however, Ryan distanced himself from Rand, whose atheism is something of a philosophical wedge issue on the right, dividing religious conservatives from free-market libertarians. This year, with his political profile rising, Ryan stressed not only that he had differences with Rand’s atheism—a point he had made as far back as 2003—but went so far as to denounce her whole system of beliefs, describing his early attraction to her writing as little more than a youthful dalliance.
They’re all like that, a brief description of Ryan’s boyish love for Rand followed by a pious pullback when the political weight of that affection is truly felt. Maybe there’ll be better articles out that explores Rand’s religious views or atheism in this context, maybe there already are, but that’s the formula most of them follow for now.
I’ve been noticing this sort of clumsy ideological embrace more and more on the right. It goes something like, “I agree with these ideas and principles, except for those parts of the ideas and principles I don’t agree with.” Which is not exactly an impressive affirmation of the principles in question. It pretty much defeats the whole purpose of a principle when you pick and choose which consequences of it you disagree with on principle … well, maybe I can explain it better with help, anyone know what I’m driving at?