More on the “Ayn Rand vs. Jesus” Campaign

In case you haven’t yet, check out this post by Harry Binswanger, which was published over at American Thinker.

It’s not surprising that George Soros, under the guise of furthering “American Values,” is trying to divide those of us who have as our goal the return to a small, limited government, one dedicated to protecting individual rights. Binswanger’s response is excellent. Regardless of anyone’s religious beliefs (or lack thereof), in politics we need to deal with each other on the basis of reason. So long as we can do that, and no one tries to force his religious beliefs on anyone else, we can work together to oust this blood-sucking Obama Administration in 2012. The question then becomes: which non-Obama candidate is willing to set his (or her) religious beliefs aside in this manner? If a candidate is willing consistently to uphold the principle of separation of church and state, then he can avail himself of all the power of Rand’s moral defense of capitalism in the realm of politics. But if he’s not, then he has made himself vulnerable to the recent attacks by Soros et al.

To borrow from a Duran Duran song title, is there anyone out there?

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11 responses to “More on the “Ayn Rand vs. Jesus” Campaign

  1. While I agree with Harry Binswanger that so long as they leave religion out of politics and side with Ayn Rand on capitalism, we can work out an ad hoc deal with them. However, so long as they are going to say that America was founded upon Christian ideals of Faith, Hope, and Charity, then we certainly cannot agree with them on the ideals. Morality is more fundamental than politics, and one’s morality will determine which politics one will uphold, preach, and practice. In that sense I agree that the GOP and Republicans are going to have to eventually decide which morality they want Jesus or Ayn Rand. While not a militant atheist myself, I did recently write an essay on Freedom: The Moral Issue and posted it to my website.

    http://www.appliedphilosophyonline.com/independence_day_special_2011.htm

  2. I agree with you that the only true (and truly effective) supporters of individual rights will be those who accept the proper moral — and, ultimately, metaphysical — argument for rights. But our Founding Fathers, who were reportedly deists, did pretty well and, if they had the benefit of Ayn Rand’s work, they would have done even better, perhaps even without fully abandoning their religious beliefs. So, yes, the alliance between us and most of today’s GOP would be ad-hoc, but a lot of good work could be done.

    That being said, someone from the GOP could (and will) probably get elected in 2012, even if he rejected Ayn Rand’s arguments. That’s how bad Obama is. But if that happens, then we will either be sent further down the river toward Socialism (with someone like Romney), or individual rights will be compromised in the name of religion (with someone like Bachmann).

    The choice is theirs — and by “they”, I mean those who have the power to actually get elected in 2012. Do they want to uphold and defend individual rights consistently, using arguments based on reason? If so, the intellectual ammunition is there in the form of Ayn Rand’s writings. Or, do they want the mish-mash of faith and pragmatism they’ve been trying to get by on for decades? If that’s what they want, I can only imagine what the next Obama will be like…

    • Don’t get me wrong, I support the push for freedom by some Conservative Christians like Rush Limbaugh, Judge Napolitano, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and John Stossel (though he says he is a Libertarian and I don’t know what his morality is). They all have mixed premises and are pushing in the right direction with a wide variety of false starting points. But I do wonder about their support for individual rights as an explicit ideal. When push comes to shove, most would say that there is no moral right to be immoral (by their standards), so if pushed, they would say, based on that premise, that one doesn’t have the right to be non-Christian. But I think the American sense of life for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as American ideals is strong in them, and that may carry them through. As to the politicians, they are so pragmatic that they will fall on whatever side they think the American people want, and hardly give it a further thought. So, however speaks the loudest will get his political actions heard and followed. Sorry, but I just don’t see any idealistic freedom loving politicians out there who are consistent with upholding individual rights. Hope we get a Republican who is at least tolerable come 2012.

    • Deborah

      So glad to see you guys discussing this today. I’m fighting like hell to keep the religious elements out of this election and politics in general where I can, namely my tea party group where I am the only non-Christian person on the leadership council. I’ve been successful so far but a new battle has emerged this week and I could use a little input and/or moral support.

      Here’s the situation: an evangelical woman who is loosely affiliated with our group has contacted someone else on the leadership council with the proposition that we host a fundraiser for Bachmann. I responded to the leadership council today with a very clear and strongly worded (though polite) objection to our group offering Bachmann any such support on the grounds that I do not trust her to respect the separation of church and state, and that therefore I fear she would violate individual rights and advance a theocracy. I have not yet recieved a response (this exchange happened via email) and based on my record of success to date there is a good chance that this will not turn into an issue. But if they insist that we go ahead with the fundraiser I am inclined to resign from the leadership council and leave the group on principle. Before it comes to that I may demand that they allow me to send an email to the general membership explaining why I think Bachmann is a terrible candidate and why I also strongly oppose her candidacy and the group’s hosting of a fundraiser for her. The thing that I have not yet sorted out is whether I would still be betraying my principles by staying with the group on this condition or whether, having loudly expressed a dissenting viewpoint on the matter, I have sufficiently withdrawn my sanction from the Bachmann candidacy. Any thoughts?

      I also partly just wanted to reach out to some other Objectivists because I am sort of alone out here fighting all by myself and it helps to even just communicate with like-minded people who I know are entirely on my side and share my values.

      • I don’t think we have quite enough context as to the nature of your Tea Party to give thorough advise, but I would recommend distributing the article “Man’s Rights” by Ayn Rand and see how they take that theme. If you contact ARI/ARC they can get the pamphlets to you, but if you mostly communicate via email, here is the link to the article on-line:

        http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=arc_ayn_rand_man_rights

        If we can get them on board for freedom, that is really all we have to do. As to endorsing a particular candidacy, make your arguments for and against as clearly as you can. I think Bachmann is a born-again Christian who I haven’t heard much of but see if she at least speaks the words of freedom and means it.

      • Deborah, what you might focus on is whether Bachmann will enjoy enough popular support with her (or her husband’s) extreme positions on some of the social issues. He’s been quoted recently as calling homosexuals “barbarians.” Certainly in 2011/2012 that is just not going to fly with the majority of Americans. It doesn’t fly with me.

        I don’t know about you, but I get the sense that if there did exist a candidate who wanted to scale back government significantly, and just shut his mouth about social issues, he could easily beat Obama, so long as he had good people helping him get out a principled message to a large audience. Am I naive to think this?

      • Deborah

        Thanks, that helps a lot. First of all, happily I can report that the Bachmann fundraiser is off and the others on the leadership council have reiterated their commitment to steer away from social issues until we have re-established freedom in America. Never mind the implicit contradictions there – this comes from the evasions that are necessary for them to be both religious and advocates of freedom.

        Amy, I totally agree with you about a candidate who simply shuts their mouth on social issues, and I did read those comments about Bachmann’s husband. I had been deliberating about how big a stand to take on the fundraiser issue and reached the conclusion that I will have to be firmly opposed and give an ultimatum if necessary. Then, I recalled that during your most recent podcast you mentioned something about her husband making a disturbing comment so I googled “Michele Bachmann husband” and found an article that referenced the comments you mentioned. When I saw that, any remaining ambiguity on the issue was gone from my mind and I basically said to myself regarding Bachmann, “hell no!” Paul Ryan is a perfect example of the type who is socially conservative but never talks about it and doesn’t seem to think it that important. He talks about wanting to save the country for his kids and to him that apparently has nothing to do with barring gay marriage or criminalizing abortion. I would happily vote/campaign for him and I really hope he can be drafted to run. I think Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Allen West are also examples of this type but I could be wrong; I had not known until recently that Bachmann is a rabid evangelical.

        Thomas, thanks for your recommendation about “Man’s Rights.” I have not yet provided that particular text to the group, although I do blog from the Objectivist perspective, advertise Atlas Shrugged and hand out copies at our events, and share other Ayn Rand quotes, lectures (i.e. audio recordings from ARC TV), articles, etc. in addition to blogs and articles from other Objectivists. They love this type of material and respond very positively to it, in the context of providing powerful, moral arguments in favor of freedom and individual rights. The problem arises when social issues come up, and all sorts of evasions, contortions, rationalizations etc. suddenly come to the fore. As a former Christian who is now an atheist, I can say from experience that a direct attack on their religious beliefs, no matter how tactful and benevolent, will never ever ever get anywhere. It won’t get past the firewalls that they have erected in their minds to protect their unfounded convictions. It is a positive alternative not directly related to these sensitive ares that can have a positive influence, and does. It did for me. So this puts me in such a bad situation when social issues come up. I have to disagree without being impolite or threatening, and basically tap dance blindfolded through a mine field of evasions and cognitive booby traps to make a strong enough point without being adversarial…

        Anyway, thanks to both of you! I’m making good progress, and if enough tea party groups can hold the line on their commitments to avoid the social issues and just keep fighting for freedom, I think that the country can be saved.

  3. Judging from most of the comments to Harry’s post, Americans who read American Thinker are not about to accept the idea that rationality ought to be supreme and don’t think there is much difference between reason and Faith. So, some say there is no conflict, while others say Ayn Rand had no foundation without God. It’s going to be an uphill battle folks, and we are not heading in the right direction, given the replies. In other words, the Catholic Churches decrees of Reason and Faith hold sway on many Americans, even if they are not Catholic. Arguing from facts has just gone out of style, I suppose.

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/07/the_ayn_rand_vs_jesus_christ_campaign.html

    • Deborah

      Those comments on the American Thinker article drive me nuts. One person wrote that Ayn Rand failed to “put her thinking cap on,” because if she had she would have believed in god. Religious fanaticism aside, it is simply offensive when some ignoramus who almost certainly is a plain philosophic illiterate claims that Ayn Rand, clearly a great philosopher and careful revolutionary thinker, was ignorant and didn’t think things through. One can disagree with someone’s ideas but still recognize that the individual with whom one disagrees was a brilliant and thoughtful person who simply arrived at the wrong conclusion, or even a brilliant and evil person who deliberately arrived at the wrong conclusions (e.g. Kant). But then, that kind of disagreement requires the formation of actual counter arguments – it’s a lot easier to simply say, “shucks, y’all, she just ain’t smart” [insert southern drawl]. I feel such indignation about that type of attack, even though it’s impotent.

      As to the people who think reason is compatible with faith, I think that’s a good thing: Aquinas thought the same thing, so he embraced reason and his legacy was the end of the dark ages and the disintegration of christianity’s stranglehold on Europe. Someone who thinks reason and faith to be compatible will not shun reason, and the door is open for their better epistemological elements to lead them away from the latter toward the former. Don’t worry about those people – they’re the ones with a good chance for eventually becoming more rational. I actually was one of those types in the past who thought Ayn Rand was simply wrong about god and now I’m a full-blown Objectivist and solid atheist as a result of falling in love with and studying her philosophy and learning better how to think. These people want to have their reason and eat it too; well let their evasions be their faith’s downfall. Let them compartmentalize god until the compartment that holds him shrinks away to nothing. Then they can join us.

      • I know what you mean, I used to be Catholic, so much so that I wanted to become a priest because they took morality so seriously. But, in part due to Aquinas, Catholicism has a high regard for reason, and I always loved the man of the mind, so Atlas Shrugged really hit me with all of its rationality. Took me a while, and I had a hard time with The Virtue of Selfishness, but essentially, reason won out entirely. And there are actually a lot of previous Catholics in Objectivism. As for the other religions, I’m not so much counting on them switching over or converting, since most religions have only a little respect for reason. Of course, the kicker with Ayn Rand is that she came up with a rational morality, and Aquinas taught his followers to go by reason where it is clear. We will have to see how things go in the long run. America has basically three choices at this time, a rational republic (via Ayn Rand), a theocracy (via the religious zealots), or a democratic socialism state ( via the Left). It all depends on how well Americans take to reason and individualism.

  4. Most Christian conservatives, like Pawlenty at a recent debate, say man’s rights come from God (in contrast to “the government.”) Even Jefferson said they come from our “creator.”

    I think the important distinction there is between the deist interpretation (possible to someone who isn’t an explicit deist) of that idea versus the religionist interpretation.

    What I would ask someone who said that is “We can’t communicate with God, so by what means did he give us our rights, according to you? Did God give us our rights via nature, by creating us and the Earth a certain way, or via religion: via the church, the Bible, and divine revelation?” I think the ones who answer with the first are the ones we (Objectivists) can work with.

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