The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Romney-Ryan-Rand 2012

Remember Mitt Romney's now infamous characterization of 47% of Americans "who believe that they are victims"?

Well, his view is a little broader than, but essentially shared by, his running mate, as witness this speech, given on November 1, 2011:


Ryan's expressed fear that "[b]efore too long, we could become a society where the net majority of Americans are takers, not makers" is interesting, though, and redolent of his doyenne, Ayn Rand, although she preferred to use the terms "producers" in contrast to "moochers and looters."

Despite his recent efforts to downplay his devotion to Rand's thought, Ryan has said that "[T]he reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand;" he also told the Weekly Standard in 2003 that he gives out copies of Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents.

All of this has been pawed over by the press, of course. But I think it bears emphasis, as both Romney and Ryan have been caught on tape, within the past year, adopting Rand's basic Manichaean world view, and doing so in contexts when they are comfortable and among allies--Romney, especially, is far less stiff than usual in the 47% speech. And, frankly, Rand's philosophy is one that I can only decry as fundamentally evil. Her exaltation of radical individualism and, especially, of what she called The Virtue of Selfishness led her to valorize serial killer and kidnapper William Edward Hickman. (Prescott at the link gives a useful summary, but more well known Rand scholars cover the matter too. )

I do not mean to equate the views of Ryan or Romney with this darkest aspect of Rand's thought. But the appeal of her writing is just that which they have, quite possibly unknowingly, bought into: An inversion of the ethical standards that have formed Western Civilization--casting the common good, shared sacrifice, and exalting instead selfishness, cruelty and greed. She makes it sound so reasonable that sons of privilege--like Ryan and Romney--can believe their suzerainty to be for the best, without realizing the cruelty underneath the philosophy justifying it. Because Rand is good at erecting an argument to justify these basest human drives, claiming that indulging them will make for the best society, one in which the producers--sorry, "job creators" should rule, while the moochers and looters--whether 47%, 30% or another unknown percentage can work as directed by their heroic betters, or be, as Rand put it, treated as "mud to be ground underfoot, fuel to be burned for those who deserve it?" (We the Living (First Ed.), quoted in The Ideas of Ayn Rand, at 38).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The 47% is more like 80% if you count how lawyers, accountantants, programmers, teachers and envronmintalists eat only because of governmint mandates.