Paul Ryan discovers Ayn Rand was an atheist .. Oh Noes!

Back in 2009, Paul Ryan, GOP reptilian baby eating loser who wants to end Medicare and send the surplus to his zillionaire cronies, loved himself some Ayn Rand. Saying “Ayn Rand, more than anybody else, did a fantastic job explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and that, to me, is what matters most.” You know already what happened, don’t ya?

(Religion Dispatches) — “I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.


  1. Gregory in Seattle says

    With a flip-flop like that, maybe he’s angling to be Romney’s VP selection?

  2. fishnguy says

    Just can’t keep reality from rearing it’s ugly head can you Mr. Ryan? Reading that crap will warp you just like religion…or is just a flaw in you?

  3. andrewlephong says

    Probably a safe bet he’s never even read Ayn Rand. Just knew a few bits and tidbits of trivia about her enough to sound vaguely informed about her ideas. Probably a safe bet he’s never read Aquinas or even the Bible for that matter.

  4. ImaginesABeach says

    I think I remember reading that he made his staffers read Ayn Rand.

    Might be enough to thwart his reelection hopes.

  5. d cwilson says

    You can never discuss Ayn Rand without quoting Paul Krugman:

    “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.”

    I agree with Gregory in Seattle. The timing of this flip-flop on his longtime hero is a huge “pick me! pick me!” flare to the Romney camp.

  6. Alverant says

    Of course Ayn Rand is a convervative philosophy. Demonize the government and the poor. Say helping people is wrong. If you’re wealthy then you can do what you want. Ignore sex (well they ignore the sex parts in the book anyway). Delude yourself that instead of being the common man, you’re one of the elite. And when life turns against you and you have nothing else you can go to the very government you demonized. (When Rand had cancer and her books weren’t paying the bills, she went crying to the government for her medicare.)

  7. christophburschka says

    Analogy: “I used to think Hitler was cool, but just now I found out he was actually a vegetarian! How horrible!”

  8. dukeofomnium says

    It’s funny how, even as they lionize her, the teabaggers do not understand that Rand’s atheism was more crucial to her philosophy than her eat-the-babies-with-cocktail-sauce-and-enjoy-them brand of unfettered and irresponsible capitalism. It’s even funnier that they don’t know just how she viewed the question of abortion.

  9. snebo154 says

    I don’t feel like taking the time to look it up right now so I might be mistaken but wasn’t Thomas Aquinas the one who said “If it feels good it is probably a sin”
    Well, that would be consistent with the views of the religious right,,,at least the ones they express in public.

  10. says

    Huh. I came across this post just as I was finishing Gary Weiss’s Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden Struggle for America’s Soul. A good deal of it is about the atheism question. He’s not great on religion – collapsing her atheism with her moral views and repeatedly suggesting that positive moral visions are the exclusive province of religious traditions (a notion countered by some of his own examples) – but his discussion of the atheism issue in relation to the links and tensions between the Randites and the rest of the Right is illuminating, as is the book as a whole.

  11. Crudely Wrott says

    Interesting. This is one of those instructive occasions when the kettle and the pot which called it black are one in the same poor vessel.

    Don’t know about you, but I count this as an open window on deeper insight.

    Like it was needed . . .

  12. Robert B. says

    I came to rationalism through Ayn Rand (yes, you can do that, you just have to go all the way through.) When I first heard that there were people who liked both Ayn Rand and Jesus I headasploded. “You’re doing it wrong.” For all her (many, many) faults, Rand was an angry atheist before any FTBlogger was even born. If she heard about the cracker thing PZ did, she’d be mad that she hadn’t thought of it first. And Jesus, whether mythic character or historical figure, was about as pro-capitalism as Karl Marx. I think the only thing Jesus ever gets mad at in the Gospels (besides that fig tree) is a bunch of moneylenders, and salvation is easy for everyone except rich people.

  13. billyeager says

    give me Thomas Aquinas

    Ah yes, Aquinas, so desperate was The Church to come up with the sufficient number of ‘miracles’ for them to bestow the bullshit title of ‘Saint’, they took his deathbed witterings, commending the pilchards he had just eaten for being ‘The best herring I have ever tasted’, as sufficient proof that the pilchards must have transmogrified into herring in his mouth – therefore God.

  14. herewegoagain says

    @8 Abverant say:

    (When Rand had cancer and her books weren’t paying the bills, she went crying to the government for her medicare.)

    This is too funny and sad at the same time. Please provide a source for this statement. thanks!

  15. Robert B. says

    @ Abverant, herewegoagain:

    Unfortunately for our sense of irony, Rand did not actually advocate that individuals refuse government help such as Medicare. It was her position that healthcare was so expensive because of government programs. So she said, basically, “They already screwed you once by taking your tax money – there’s no reason to let them screw you again by paying their inflated prices.” Which is fair, except for the bogus economic premise – the reason for high healthcare costs is, as I understand it, mostly because of inelastic demand, and private insurance has at least as much to do with it as public safety nets.

  16. herewegoagain says

    @ Robert
    How interesting. I might read a bio on Rand since she’s a favorite to those who favor “so-called” small government. Thanks.

  17. Robert B. says

    No problem! I spent all those years embarrassing myself with Objectivism, I might as well get some use out of it.

    It might interest you to know that what Ayn Rand thought of as small government would not have appealed to most people who use the phrase. No subsidies (she hated subsidies, and blamed them for everything wrong with capitalism), no regulation of marriage or reproduction, no Social Security, no income tax. No mandatory taxes whatsoever, in fact – the government was to fund itself by direct sale of services, such as an optional tax one could pay on contracts to make the contract enforceable in court. I’m not even sure she was in favor of corporate personhood, as individualistic as she was, though I haven’t seen her actual position on that. And definitely don’t listen to religion – I think Rand wrote once that Communism is the natural consequence of Christianity.


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