The Three Rs

Surprisingly good stuff on the Ryan/Rand connection, from the usually insufferable Lawrence O’Donnell:

How disappointed would Ayn Rand be in her formerly devoted public disciple Paul Ryan? Well, she wouldn’t miss his devotion very much. Because his recent betrayal just wouldn’t surprise her. Because Paul Ryan was never true to Rand’s philosophy. Right-wing hero Ayn Rand couldn’t stand Ronald Reagan. She urged people not to vote for Ronald Reagan and insisted that Reagan clearly did not believe in freedom and respect for the rights of the individual, because, among many other reasons, Reagan opposed the right to choose abortion.

Ayn Rand

That’s right, Paul Ryan, a Republican anti-abortion fanatic, has until very recently been publicly proclaiming his philosophical hero to be a woman who was a relentless champion of a woman’s right to choose. And Ryan’s pro-war stance in the Congress on every issue and every funding issue involving the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War would have disappointed Rand too. …

Ayn Rand was a much clearer and much more consistent thinker than Paul Ryan could ever be. And she would have seen through Paul Ryan’s phony devotion to her long before Catholics United and vice presidential politics made him turn on her.

Ayn Rand was smart enough to know that Paul Ryan used her. Used her to appeal to wacky conservatives who oppose every abortion and support every war, and then delude themselves into thinking they are devoted followers of Ayn Rand. Citing Ayn Rand was the right wing’s cheap way to sound intellectual, trying to sound like a thinking conservative.

Ryan was using Rand to label himself that way. Paul Ryan couldn’t have disappointed Ayn Rand, because she would have always known he was just using her. And despite all those pretty words he said about her for years and years, she knew he never really loved her.

Read or watch the rest.

(I do think that in the rest of his remarks O’Donnell exaggerates the distance between Ryan’s earlier “endorsement” and his current “repudiation” of Rand. The endorsement, however insincere, was always about ethics and politics; the repudiation is about theology.)

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21 Responses to The Three Rs

  1. Kevin Carson August 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Congrats on finding the one pic of Ayn Rand that doesn’t look as crazy as Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?.

  2. JOR August 16, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    I find this sort of thing inane. Most people who find Rand inspiring or consider her important to their intellectual development disagree with her about some things. The rest populate ARI.

  3. HumorMe August 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    I could be wrong, but I bet most serious proponents of Rand (those like myself who styled themselves as Objectivists at some point or at least closer to that than anything else) tend to disagree with her more on ethics and politics than on metaphysics/epistemology. Christian theology, for all the racket it makes in ethical debates, is firstmost a metaphysical/epistemological break with Rand. It’s hard to imagine someone coming from that direction claiming her influence with a straight face.

  4. Scott Lazarowitz August 17, 2012 at 6:19 am #

    I still think he was better on the Munsters.

  5. Sean August 18, 2012 at 7:16 am #

    I noticed yesterday that Ryan’s favorite band, “Rage Against the Machine” has repudiated him. I checked briefly and they seem to be more or less Marxist oriented. Perhaps their lyrics are not specific enough to indicate their political views and Ryan was not familiar with them. It is curious that he allegedly likes both Rand and this band, yet demonstrates none of this with his actions.

    • Rad Geek August 19, 2012 at 9:41 am #

      The usual line about RATM is that Zack de la Rocha’s the Anarchist and Tom Morello’s the Marxist. I don’t know how accurate either of those is. (Brad Wilk and tim K. are usually more or less ignored in the jawboning about RATM’s politics.)

      But in fact most of their product tended to be something of a stew of urban-guerrilla and third-worldist revolutionism, which is mostly focused either on big-R Revolution, or on particular causes (like the EZLN, Mumia Abu-Jamal, American imperialism in Latin America, black nationalism, etc.), and which was pretty well calculated to appeal to those of us eating up a similar stew of intermingling, competing and conflicting views in the radical left and the global justice movement during the 1990s, especially just before and just after Seattle. (Evil Empire comes with a “book list” in its liner notes, and you’ll find Alexander Berkman, Abbie Hoffman, Noam Chomsky, and Howard Zinn name-checked in it, right alongside Lenin, Marx, Fanon, Angela Davis et al. There’s … not too much stress here on a coherent political line, and a lot more stress on introducing a messy political-social scene. But that at least is almost certainly for the best, even if it led to some real shit being promoted; and in any case seems to have been the practical result of some pretty divergent views within the band.)

      I expect Paul Ryan likes them because they cranked out some really amazing metal.

  6. dennis August 18, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Rage Against the Machine is pretty explicitly Marxist. They use a lot of Che imagery. Their lead guitar player (and the most political member of the band) is actually related to Jomo Kenyata. They have some good songs, but if I had to live in a world run by Objectivists (Ahura Mazda forbid!) or Rage Against the Machine world I’d take the former, I’d be less likely to end up in front of a firing squad that way.

    • Roderick August 18, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

      Combine Rand and Che, and get … Rothbard.

      • dennis August 18, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

        Wow that was every bit as horrible a thing to read as his later reactionary crap.

        • Roderick August 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

          Oh, I find the left-deviationism more palatable than the right-deviationism. But he did tend toward, shall we say, a selective focus.

    • Sean August 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

      Thanks for the information about them. I am almost completely ignorant of any modern music. I would also prefer to live under an Objectivist regime (Tao forbid or, rather, don’t efflux that way!). But at least I wouldn’t get shot for listening to Yankee Jazz.

    • JOR August 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

      I think an Objectivist regime might very well be nastier than a Communist one. The only thing that makes Objectivists seem somewhat tolerable is their complete lack of power or serious influence.

      • Rad Geek August 19, 2012 at 9:11 am #

        Depends on the Objectivists, of course. But certainly those who consider a nuclear massacre of the city of Tehran to be a necessary and proper response to the September 11 attacks definitely don’t have any claim on being a “tolerable” regime. At least, not if the people being asked to tolerate include everyone affected by the government, and not just those within its official borders.

        • JOR August 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

          That’s pretty much what I had in mind, Charles.

        • Roderick August 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

          A regime run by Chris Sciabarra would be quite tolerable.

          I would still be working to overthrow it, of course.

  7. Kevin Carson August 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    We need a politician who reads George Reisman and listens to the Sniveling Shits.

    • Roderick August 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

      What we really need is a musician who reads Galambos, inherits John Cage’s copyrights, and sues everybody and everything for repeated unauthorised performances of 4′33″.

      • zhinxy August 26, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

        4’33 does have explicit stage directions that include an orchestra, so your best bet would be to sue every orchestra for unauthorized sampling when at rest.

  8. Kevin Carson August 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    Attention! Comrades, your attention please! BB Song of the Day is…

  9. Kevin Carson August 20, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    Instead of the 2-Minute Hate they have baseball games.


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