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March 28, 2013 3:31 PM Another Blow To the Christian Objectivist Movement

By Ed Kilgore

Because a remarkable number of conservative middle-brow “intellectuals” (one thinks of a certain congressman from Wisconsin) are forever trying to square circles by embracing Ayn Rand’s perspectives on political ethics (in which selfishness is the supreme virtue and altruism encourages “looting”) with traditionalist Christianity, it’s always useful to find fresh reminder of Ayn Rand’s rabid hatred of “the mysticism of the mind,” her term for religion.

At First Things, that conservative Christian periodical founded by the late Richard John Neuhaus, Matthew Schmitz looks at a 1998 book compiling Rand’s margin notes on authors she read, often composed with a poison pen, and zeroes in on her comments about the great Christian novelist and apologist C.S. Lewis.

Ayn Rand was no fan of C.S. Lewis. She called the famous apologist an “abysmal bastard,” a “monstrosity,” a “cheap, awful, miserable, touchy, social-meta­physical mediocrity,” a “pickpocket of concepts,” and a “God-damn, beaten mystic.” (I suspect Lewis would have particularly relished the last of these.)

Rand also called Lewis “abysmal scum,” and a “cheap, drivelling non-entity,” showing that her favorite method of abuse was to repeat insulting adjectives and nouns in every conceivable combination.

As I argued a while back in a long piece in Democracy on Rand and her contemporary influence, her boundless capacity for hatred was as often directed at religious conservatives as at “socialists.” And more than anything else, she most hated syncretism, the casual adoption by “second-handers” of bits and pieces of incompatible philosophical stances, particularly if it involved her own highly systematic thought.

We can all joke about people like Ryan being unable to overcome his adolescent fascination with Rand, or more obviously sinister characters like Teafather Rick Santelli applying the terminology of Atlas Shrugs to the “free-loaders” victimized by a financial crisis. But if you think ideas have consequences, this sort of self-serving mix-and-match appropriation of the material necessary to justify vicious public policies needs to get debunked as often as it arises.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • davidp on March 28, 2013 3:42 PM:

    She was quite a piece of work, wasn't she?

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on March 28, 2013 3:53 PM:

    Let's play Synonyms!!!!

    Abysmal Bastard
    Bastard of the Abyss
    Bastardy of the Deep
    Bottomless Ass
    Abysmal Scum
    Toe-Jam Ignoramus
    Scummy, Two-bit, Cheapjack Intellectual Poseur

    ...talk about Queen of Mean...

  • Gandalf on March 28, 2013 3:55 PM:

    I've read C S Lewis and I've read Rand. Trying to read Atlas Shrugged was painful. Not because of the ideas presented but because basically Rand was a hack. The ideas sucked too.n The book is impossibly boring and poorly written. Lewis's work on the hand had interesting stories that were well told. His metaphysival ideas were sophomoric but at least you could get through his books without having to hit yourself in the head to keep reading them. God help us if we'd have to live in her world.

  • jkl; on March 28, 2013 4:04 PM:

    I paid a dollar for the Passions of Ayn Rand while in the south, read it all, and felt it was the most empty, incongruent and petty read of all times. My generation shines in comparison.
    That Republicans in power adhere to her in any way is just absurd.
    Her nemesis in Passions, and all the other writings of protagonist Ayn Rand showed her to be a big joke.
    Paul Ryan and Rand Paul have big issues to be believing that crap.
    I think it is a major excuse to value selfishness.
    Selfishness being the hussiness of tax cuts for the rich,
    and doom and gloom to all others, including the very poor

    Get over it, republicans. Makes you seem crazy---and cultist. P.S.--Rand Paul, heard you on Conspiracy Crazies on Alex Jones. Not cool, especially if you are an MD--takes real lapse of reason, Rand. And also you forgot the foreverness of video

  • biggerbox on March 28, 2013 4:34 PM:

    Sometimes I fantasize about a remake of the famous Marshall McLuhan scene from 'Annie Hall', only with a reanimated Ayn Rand talking to Paul Ryan or Rand Paul.

    "You know nothing of my work!"

  • Josef K on March 28, 2013 4:36 PM:

    But if you think ideas have consequences, this sort of self-serving mix-and-match appropriation of the material necessary to justify vicious public policies needs to get debunked as often as it arises.

    We could start by pointing out the consequences playing out in Atlas Shrugged were basically financial and economic terrorism perpetuated by Galt and his followers. The Fountainhead meanwhile simply lionized a rapist and advocated an anti-corporate message.

  • Rabbler on March 28, 2013 6:52 PM:

    Isn't mere belief in Divine Jesus enough to get you through the pearlies if you are a Protestant? So much for incompatibility. Heaven is the afterlife equivalent of profit for these people. What matters even just as much as profit to them? They have found the loophole in God's plan. Jesus might just as well have been speaking Klingon. His are ideas are just irrelevant externalities that have no effect on the afterlife bottom line.

  • emjayay on March 28, 2013 9:56 PM:

    I keep meaning to read Atlas Shrugged and then I keep foregetting and reading something else. I know I should as research into the mindset of Paul Ryan et al. But I keep forgetting.

  • Rick B on March 29, 2013 1:57 AM:

    @jkl

    Rand and Ron Paul are the examples that prove MD's can easily be highly trained but intellectually deficient body mechanics. Such 'physicians' seem representative of those who abandon medicine and run for political office. See also Tom Coburn and Michael Burgess, also current elected officials.

    As far as I can find none have ever done medical research. Rand Paul couldn't get certified as an Ophthalmologist so he established his own personal certification board. Coburn, like Michelle Bachman, is a graduate of the religious Oklahoma Oral Roberts University. [It's interesting that Bachman actually graduated from O. W. Coburn School of Law after it had been sold to the then unaccredited Reagent University.]

    These are not intellectual heavyweights.

    Another example is Alan Greenspan who was a member of Ayn Rand's inner core group. He even proofed some of her books. He also dropped out of his Economics PhD program without completing it. He had a talent for math, and was in political synch with people around Reagan. He was later given an honorary PhD in Economics, but never obtained an earned doctorate.

    Don't expect much intellectual success from an Ayn Rand supporter.

  • suitworld on March 29, 2013 6:52 AM:

    A+ for her Atheism, and she was pro-choice, I believe. The rest is garbage.

  • Steve P on March 29, 2013 10:40 AM:

    Not to mention her attitude towards special-needs children and adults. Will someone ask the Christan Objectivists about THESE passages?

    From "The Fountainhead"

    P.385, Signet

    “The Hopton Stoddard home For Subnormal Children”

    In September the tenants of the Home moved in. A small, expert staff was chosen by Toohey. It had been harder to find the children who qualified as inmates. Most of them had to be taken from other institutions. Sixty-five students, their ages ranging from three to fifteen, were picked out by zealous ladies who were full of kindness and so made a point of rejecting those who could be cured and selecting only the hopeless cases. There was a fifteen-year-old boy who had never learned to speak; a grinning child who could not be taught to read or write; a girl born without a nose, whose father was also her grandfather; a person called “Jackie” of whose age or sex nobody could be certain. They marched into their new home, their eyes staring vacantly, the stare of death before which no world existed.

    p.386
    “She was elated on the day when Jackie, the least promising one of the lot, achieved a completed work of imagination. Jackie picked up fistfuls of colored felt strips and a pot of glue, and carried them to a corner of the room . . . Catherine walked over to Jackie and saw, spread out on the ledge, the recognizable shape of a dog, brown, with blue spots and five legs. Jackie wore an expression of pride. “Now you see, you see?” Catherine said to her colleagues. Isn’t it wonderful and moving! There’s no telling how far the child will go with proper encouragement. See what happens to their little souls if they are frustrated in their creative instincts! It’s so important not to

    p.387

    deny them a chance for self-expression. Did you see Jackie’s face?”


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_unworthy_of_life

    http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/222482/big-sister-watching-you/flashback

    "To the gas chamber--GO!" indeed. All honor to Chambers, who destroyed Rand earliest--the damn RINO. Will someone ask the Christan Objectivists about THESE passages?

  • gocart mozart on March 29, 2013 1:27 PM:

  • SecularAnimist on March 29, 2013 6:14 PM:

    Ed Kilgore wrote: "Ayn Rand’s rabid hatred of 'the mysticism of the mind,' her term for religion"

    Ayn Rand had no clue what "mysticism" even is.

    Of course she had no clue what "the mind" is, either.

    Basically, when you get right down to it, she was an ignorant dumbass, who hated anything and everything that she couldn't understand, which was pretty much most of human experience.

    Which is more or less what the right-wing "Christians" and the Objectivists have in common.