11 thoughts on “Paul Ryan cites anti-religion Ayn Rand as the reason he got into public service

  1. Paul Ryan was inspired by Ayn Rand, but who inspired Ayn Rand? From Mark Ames at The Exiled:

    “Back in the late 1920s, as Ayn Rand was working out her philosophy, she became enthralled by a real-life American serial killer, William Edward Hickman, whose gruesome, sadistic dismemberment of 12-year-old girl named Marion Parker in 1927 shocked the nation. Rand filled her early notebooks with worshipful praise of Hickman. According to biographer Jennifer Burns, author of Goddess of the Market, Rand was so smitten by Hickman that she modeled her first literary creation — Danny Renahan, the protagonist of her unfinished first novel, The Little Street — on him.

    What did Rand admire so much about Hickman? His sociopathic qualities: “Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should,” she wrote, gushing that Hickman had “no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel ‘other people.’”


  2. Excellent comments, Gareth. Rand’s pure and utter disregard for others is evil. She would defend it by saying she was just being “amoral,” but isn’t ignoring the hard facts of their actions considered “immoral”? These people think they’re the Titans of society, and they deserve only the best for themselves because they are deserving.
    All people are not created equal, they argue, and who cares about any conception of a Creator, anyway.
    Rand’s way of thinking had forerunners, notably Adam Smith, who in 1759’s “Theory of Moral Sentiments” stated: “The administration of the great system of the universe … the care of the universal happiness of all rational and sensible beings, is the business of God and not of man. To man is allotted a much humbler department, but one much more suitable to the weakness of his powers, and to the narrowness of his comprehension: the care of his own happiness, of that of his family, his friends, his country…. But though we are … endowed with a very strong desire of those ends, it has been entrusted to the slow and uncertain determinations of our reason to find out the proper means of bringing them about. Nature has directed us to the greater part of these by original and immediate instincts. Hunger, thirst, the passion which unites the two sexes, and the dread of pain, prompt us to apply those means for their own sakes, and without any consideration of their tendency to those beneficent ends which the great Director of nature intended to produce by them.”
    Self-interest is all that matters, and any morality doesn’t apply to life on planet Earth, because morality is just some vague idea up in the clouds, where God might live.
    This was the underlying thinking that was used to write Smith’s 1776’s “Wealth of Nations,” written to attack the rebelling colonists in North America.

  3. Onevote,

    Your reading of Smith, not to put too fine a point on it, is simply wrong. What Smith expresses here and his other works is not Rand’s “The Art of Selfishness” by any stretch of the imagination. That is the great mistake made by the Radical Right Wing. Smith, like Franklin, Paine, Jefferson, and Madison were Enlightenment humanists examining Post-Renaissance concepts of the individual and individuality. All translated society and individual in similar terms by valuing egalitarianism, compassion, and a higher ideal than self. They struggled with the idea of how to be an individual in a society that was gradually allowing individuality to emerge. Without going back and studying it in depth, what I believe Smith is doing here is reasoning through the inclinations of human nature to be used as a moral template, an inverted mirror, an object lesson if you will. The idea of self-interest, too, meant something very different than how it has been subverted today. Self-interest was not mutually exclusive of public interest. Self-interest, indeed, was absolutely dependent upon mutual societal concern. Without that reflexive quality, what we would see is societal decline from the immoral avarice of a privileged few – this Adams was witnessing in Scotland and England’s merchant expansion. He was one of those privileged few, make no mistake, he had a birds-eye view of imperial economics and the rise of privateers.

    The Wealth of Nations wasn’t written to attack the rebelling colonists in North America. Benjamin Franklin was one of its editors for goodness sake. The Wealth of Nations was written in response to the wealth disparity developing in Glasgow due to an out of control merchant class raking it in at the expense of the New World and its own citizenry in Glasgow. “Capitalism” as we know it didn’t evolve out of democracy, it evolved out of British imperialism. Actually, it had deeper Renaissance roots, but I won’t go into that.

  4. For Ryan, it depends on which way the wind is blowing. Once he started catching heck once people really started paying attention to what Ayn Rand represents, he’s been back peddling on his love for her. He’s just a lying piece o work. Check out this recent interview with boy scout Ryan: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2012/08/14/paul_ryan_rejects_ayn_rands_objectivism_philosophy.html

    Really Ryan? You just recently figured that out? I’m calling bullshot on that one. I hope ypour love of your economic plan doesn’t yeild a similar result.

    BTW, O Wonky One, have you “run the numbers yet?”

  5. CJ McD,

    Have you run the numbers yet? That’s hilarious! I’d love to see lots and lots of posters sporting it! Beautiful! That’s the message Ryan needs to hear.


  6. PJ is trolling the lefty blogs. Why? Couldn’t afford the trip to Tampa?
    Contrary to your reaction to what I said, there is plenty of actual evidence to back up my description of Smith, as well as Rand. You are royally confused.
    Our colonies were administered by the British East India Company. The original Tea Party was a rebellion against British colonial, corporate rule. Hopefully PJ will advance beyond Economics 101 and see the light of day. Franklin, Paine, Jefferson and Madison were mortal rivals with Adam Smith–as was Alexander Hamilton.
    To get back to Rand, which was what this story was about, I have a hard time accepting the idea that selfishness is the ultimate public virtue. Rand’s admiration of a sociopath serial killer is pretty deranged.
    That’s public virtue? In essence, Rand could not care less about poor people and would rather see them dead. Just so she gets her jollies.

  7. Onevote,

    Get a clue. I’m not at all confused. I don’t need a lesson in Economics 101, and Smith wasn’t an economist. I’m well aware that the Tea Party was a reaction to the East India Company and its shareholders’ role in Parliament. It is you who are confused. Try actually reading Smith rather than excerpting him. He would find Rand abhorrent and beyond immoral. He was as much a communitarian as were Madison, Franklin, Paine, and Jefferson.

    You can believe all the “evidence” you please. I take no issue with your assessment of Rand. But you are just wrong about Smith. Perhaps you could come up with an explanation in all your “evidence” that would explain why Jefferson, the mortal rival of Smith, would write to his son-in-law in 1790 “…in political economy I think Smith’s wealth of nations the best book extant.”

    Perhaps in your “evidence” a-plenty it would explain why in 1807 he recommended Wealth of Nations to John Norvell, saying “…if your views of political enquiry go further to the subjects of money and commerce, Smith’s wealth of nations is the best book to be read, unless Say’s Political economy can be had, which treats the same subjects on the same principles, but in a shorter compass and more lucid manner…”

    Surely, Onevote you are aware of Say’s influence on Adam Smith.

    Or maybe your “evidence” would take the nutbag Ron Paul approach suggesting that Jefferson anticipated Austrian economics because of his admiration for Destutt. Or that the oft misquoted bit from Jefferson’s commentary on Destutt is some pre-Galtian value system? Yeah, whatever.

    Get a clue. I’m not confused. It is you who are confused.

  8. 1) Rand completely denounced Hickman the person and his actual acts.
    2) Rand was constructing the traits of her heroes. She pulled ONE trait that this person exhibited, abstracted it, and found it important bounce-point (the abstraction, not the actual monster) for her précis of a character in her current writing. The trait she pulled is emphatically powerful and potent: namely the courage, character and moral strength of the independent mind that will not be touched by the crowd chanting to defame and destroy.
    3) Rand never published the story in question. All her writing upholds the highest moral character and benevolence which is to be shown to those who act likewise.
    4) The journal entry was the 23-year old Rand ruminating, not for publication, and searching to understand people-motivations.
    5) Ayn Rand herself dismissed her initial take as probable “idealizing.”
    6) She also wrote this:
    “[My hero is] very far from him, of course. The outside of Hickman, but not the inside. Much deeper and much more. A Hickman with a purpose. And without the degeneracy. It is more exact to say that the model is not Hickman, but what Hickman suggested to me.”

    Anyone still clinging to a shred of the meme equating Rand as “inspired” by a killer and killing, and willing to get the full context and judge for themselves, I recommend two things:

    1) read the book “The Journals of Ayn Rand” pages 20-48.

    2) grasp the points I just made

    3) screen this video from Philosopher Dr. Diana Hsieh:

    The Ames thing is a totaly hit job.

  9. Even though I am atheist myself, Ayn Rand’s concept of objectivism is based on an impossible form of hyperindividualism, in which everyone has to fend for themselves from cradle to grave. It is fundamentally impossible for any human being to completely fend for themselves from cradle to grave.

    Also, Ayn Rand was apparently a militant atheist who absolutely despised people of faith. On the other hand, I don’t have a problem with people practicing the religion of their choice, so as long as they don’t try to shove their religious views down my throat and/or the throats of other people.

  10. My fave Mark Ames article is the one where he boasts, in his 30s no less, of fucking a 15-year-old (search for the word “pervometer”):


    My fave article about Mark Ames is the one written by a former associate of his who accuses him of being a rapist:


    I’m SO proud that he’s finally crusading against “sociopaths”!

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