‘You know you’ve arrived in politics when you have an urban legend about you, and this one is mine,” chuckles Representative Paul Ryan, the Budget Committee chairman, as we discuss his purported obsession with author and philosopher Ayn Rand.
Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist, recently called Ryan “an Ayn Rand devotee” who wants to “slash benefits for the poor.” New York magazine once alleged that Ryan “requires staffers to read Atlas Shrugged, Rand’s gospel of capitalism. President Obama has blasted the Ryan budget as Republican “social Darwinism.”
These Rand-related slams, Ryan says, are inaccurate and part of an effort on the left to paint him as a cold-hearted Objectivist. Ryan’s actual philosophy, as reported by my colleague, Brian Bolduc, couldn’t be further from the caricature. As a practicing Roman Catholic, Ryan says, his faith and moral values shape his politics as much as his belief in freedom and capitalism does.
[…] “I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.
Granted, this isn't the first time that the extreme left-wing has attempted to paint anyone who they disagree with as an Objectivist. Libertarian leaning Republican candidate Ron Paul was repeatedly claimed to be an Objectivist because his son is named Rand Paul. In actuality, Rand Paul's full name is Randall, and Ron Paul is a devout Christian. In fact, Ayn Rand herself would probably be weary of either Paul, due to the fact that both Pauls are strongly pro-life, and opposed to abortion, whereas Rand herself was, in fact, pro-choice. Furthermore, Rand was a proponent of classical liberalism, which is a part basis for the core of Objectivism, along with objective, rational thinking, individualism and atheism.
If you consider yourself an atheist and a liberal, why should you be opposed to Rand? The fact is, you shouldn't. These critics of Rand are not liberals or atheists. The people who attempt to paint the modern Republican Party as Rand followers are, in fact, despite claims of being "progressive" are actually authoritarians and religious fundamentalists along the same caliber as the people on the right who make up the core of the liars and corporate-funded hypocrites in the Republican Party.
Objectivism is made up of support and practice of the following components: atheism, rational thought, objectivity, classical liberalism, free enterprise, individualism and voluntary exchange. It is not "cold hearted" and does not involve disregard to morality. Objectivism is the most moral philosophy I have ever come across. The propaganda in regard to Rand and Objectivists arose from irrational thought which disregards all objectivity.
Without objectively researching Rand, her views and her philosophy, you cannot properly comment on it. If you refuse to read Rand's writing on the basis of slanted viewpoints from commentators belonging to multiple biases (statism and fundamentalism being the top ones), you will lose any argument regarding her beliefs, because your argument, whether you intend it to be so or not, will be that you believe that it is moral for a government to own human beings.
I have literally met people who have told me that a person with ability is "privileged" because their ability is unfair to those that do not have that ability. While Rand's critics may like to regard such arguments as only existing within the world of Rand's novels, several real-life people, from dimwitted YouTube commentators to our own president have made this argument. With these real-life examples of collectivist disregard to creative, productive people, it must be drawn that a person who is creative and productive should also possess the objectivity to read Rand's works themselves and draw their own conclusions, without the influence of biased criticism.
While Rand dismissed the early Libertarian Party as the "hippies of the Right" and plagiarists of her writing, it can also be construed that true Objectivists (and Rand) were and are small-L libertarians themselves, and much of libertarian philosophy has drawn from Rand's philosophy -- the actual philosophy, not the strawman version invented by authoritarians and statists. True Objectivists base their worldview on ideas, not people.
If you have been paying attention to anything Paul Ryan has said at all, it is clear that Ryan is an irrationalist, not an Objectivist.