2. Once a Disciple, Always a Disciple
Sure, Ryan has disavowed his allegiance to Russian emigré writer Ayn Rand after she’d been the equivalent of his guru since he read her in high school, to the point that he reportedly wanted all the interns in his congressional office to read her and gave his staff Atlas Shrugged for Christmas presents. In a 2005 speech to the Objectivist Society, Ryan said that Rand had inspired him to enter public service.
Then, in an April National Review interview, Ryan dismissed his being a Rand acolyte as an “urban legend:”
“I reject her philosophy. 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…Don’t give me Ayn Rand.”
Many have pointed out that Ryan disowning his interest in Rand was “politically essential.” ”As a Mormon, the last thing Romney needs is to alienate the Christian Right further by putting an acolyte of an atheist on the ticket,” says The New Yorker.
But as Jennifer Burns, an assistant professor of history at Stanford University, explains, Ryan’s interpretation of Rand’s ideas suggests he should have read her writings a little more carefully. It’s not hard to see how Rand’s “advocacy of unfettered capitalism and her celebration of the individual,” would appeal to Ryan, as would her “black-and-white-worldview” of “‘producers’ who create wealth and ‘moochers’ who feed off them.” However,
While Rand, an atheist, did enjoy a good Christmas celebration for its cheerful commercialism, she would have scoffed at the idea of public service. And though Mr. Ryan’s advocacy of steep cuts in government spending would have pleased her, she would have vehemently opposed his social conservatism and hawkish foreign policy. She would have denounced Mr. Ryan as she denounced Ronald Reagan, for trying “to take us back to the Middle Ages, via the unconstitutional union of religion and politics.”
According to Rand, abortion was “a moral right which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved.”
Ryan’s views on this matter are not only contrary to Rand’s, but downright medieval.
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