Suddenly there’s a bunch of articles about atheism …


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?

 

Comments

  1. funkydebunker says

    Definition: hypocrite – noun
    1. a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.
    2. a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.

  2. steve84 says

    I don’t really buy his disavowal. People like him will say anything for political gain. His political opinions certainly haven’t changed.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    But what does Ryan feel about the welfare programs that kept Ms. Rand fed, clothed, and sheltered for the last years of her life?

  4. says

    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?

    No, you are explaining yourself very well. I can’t help because you have not explained well enough for me to understand, though. Wouldn’t full agreement*, no matter what, be the real problem here? If to find out what one’s position is on something what someone needs to do is find out what Ayn Rand’s position on that something is, wouldn’t that imply a total lack of ability or inclination for independent thought?

    I’m guessing this must be an issue because he might have made anti-religious statements before?

    * Because it’s (Ayn Rand|Jim Jones|Marshall Applewhite|Joseph Ratzinger|Eckhart Tolle) who is my guru and cannot be wrong.

  5. den1s says

    Ryan has always struck me as insane. I dunno, maybe it’s a combination of the policies that I hear he puts forth, his shifty fucking zombie eyes, and his too low forehead hair line. I find it remarkable that anyone would vote for such an assclown, yet here he is within one shot of the dictator’s president’s chair. Little wonder why the teabaggers love the guy. Yet, he should be a good source for the late night comedians to feast on.

  6. lanir says

    I think it’s related to what Melissa Harris-Perry was saying about on her blog. It’s a lot of dishonest associations that don’t fit. But when critical thinking is such a CORE part of what your believers are going for, there’s not a lot of worry about being called out for not acting on any of them.

    Hell, listening to parts of the speeches Romney and Ryan gave made them sound pretty liberal, concerned about the poor and the economy and pro-healthcare. It isn’t until you start looking at their proposals that you realize they’re only “liberal” when compared to frothing at the mouth tinfoil hat extremists, their concern for the poor is that someone else will filch what little money these people have before they can take credit for handing it to their friends, their concern for the economy is laser focused on the troubling issue of how much it’s improved despite willful obstructionism that at least one of them is directly responsible for, and their idea on health care is simply that it makes a great vehicle for scamming people out of their money. But why bother going to the effort of understanding -that- when you can just listen to the pretty speeches?

    It’s a formula that’s all about fear, fear mongering and then offering up something that sounds like a solution. You gain the “authority” to speak about the solution during the fear mongering. When you’re called out on it, you claim those people don’t understand the dire threat involved. I think the key to the buy-in on this sort of con is that you find a made-up issue that maps to a real problem people are seeing, but aren’t willing to admit to like racism to use an example. You don’t say “OMG! Black guy in office! He’s not my leader!”, you say something more like “OMG! The guy in office is unable to lead us!” and when only the wording and the labels change, you’re free to perpetuate the con. Mapping the fake problem to the hidden agenda tends to write you a blank check in terms of being able to recover from inconsistencies in your story.

  7. dobby says

    I keep running into people who practice “salad bar science.” They support science, except the parts they don’t like such as global warming and evolution. Sorry, it does not work that way. Atheism was a major part of rand’s “philosophy”, I don’t think you can separate it from the rest.

    Usually forgotten is that Rand was also extremely anti-environmental. She claimed that environmentalists were secretly communists who wanted to destroy the economy. See for example her essay “The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution”. Her ideas are still being promoted today.

  8. says

    I keep running into people who practice “salad bar science.” They support science, except the parts they don’t like such as global warming and evolution. Sorry, it does not work that way. Atheism was a major part of rand’s “philosophy”, I don’t think you can separate it from the rest.

    Why not? What if you do? You don’t get to call yourself a Randroid, maybe? But you could still like her books and the rest of her “philosophy” and think that your staff should read them, right?

    I mean, he seems to be a Roman Catholic, right? Do you think that since atheism was a big part of the Rand cult he can’t be a true Catholic because he likes Ayn Rand? This is almost as ridiculous as the suggestions that Obama is an atheist (or a secret Muslim) because,… I don’t know,… he’s too liberal,… or something (isn’t that how it goes with the Fox viewing crowd?).

    Or are you suggesting you can’t simultaneously believe in a god(s) and have this belief in the exaltation of selfishness as a moral virtue which she advocated and seems to characterize Objectivists*? I mean, I certainly see evidence of this in conservative, right wing Christians and half of them probably don’t even know who Ayn Rand is.

    * Because you only could feel this way about selfishness if you are an atheist?

  9. Hammer of dog says

    It’s fine to accept all of science except global warming and evolution … heck that’s better than accepting none of it. A flat earther is far sillier than a global warming denier, for instance.

    However, with something as well supported as evolution, or even global warming, it is absurd not to accept them. However accepting all of science’s theories except string theory would probably not cause anyone to question your sanity.

    As was said, one should not accept all of the tenets of one source, whatever that source. Every claim should be examined on it’s own merits. Fortunately, the religious right does not think like this and will be unable to disassociate Rand’s religion from her politics.

    Just like in logic, false premises can lead to true conclusions, though not as reliably as sound reasoning based on true premises.

    For instance, even though I find most of the moral teachings ascribed to jesus to be either irrelevant, absurd or just not of very high caliber, I agree that he was right to denounce the stoning to death of sabbath breakers, adulteresses, and disobedient children … “but, slavery? That’s fine, as long as I am not a slave.”

  10. Suido says

    Sounds to me like you’re driving at that classic Groucho Marx quote, which kinda sums up Romney:

    Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.

  11. says

    Always did find this pitiful; the right always distances itself from the one thing Ayn Rand actually got right.

    Also, I’m somehow completely unshocked that he “admires” the characters in Atlas Shrugged; I don’t think I’ve ever seen such one dimensional characters in any other novel I’ve ever read.

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