Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Does Ayn Rand's Philosophy Divide Conservatives?

The spectacular failure of the film version of Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged has drawn fresh attention to one of modern conservatism's most influential and controversial figures. Movement conservatism usually presents itself as the stalwart guardian of traditional faith. But conservatism may experience a profound identity crisis due to the increasing popularity Rand's philosophy of Objectivism -- which celebrates selfishness as a virtue; declares religious faith to be incompatible with reason; and altruism -- including self-sacrifice - is a vice. Objectivism says there are only two kinds of people in this world, creators and parasites. Suffice to say, such a view is very far from the vision of most conservative Christians.

All this suggests a deep fault line just below the normal fractiousness of the active factions of conservatism. If the exposure of the Randian Fault is a quake waiting to happen among movement conservatives, it could very well be The Big One.

Indeed, we may be starting to see some shaking in the debate about the Republican budget proposals. Recently I (Frank) contributed an essay on the economic philosophy of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) to the web site of New Deal 2.0. Oddly, Ryan claims that Rand's selfishness is all about morality.

Read it all here.

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