Christian Right Gets Randy

A possible new pin-up for the Christian Right: Ayn Rand. Writes Mike Adams in his latest Townhall column (via World O’Crap):

The modern socialists [“socialists” here meaning anyone to the left of Bush] also attack our Christian heritage with a zeal inspired by Marx’s mordent declaration that “religion is the opiate of the masses.” They know that capitalism can never fall as long as our nation retains that Christian heritage.

So what’s the answer? Get your kids to read We The Living, The Anthem, and The Fountainhead; Adams’ website has also featured Atlas Shrugged.

The big question, of course, is how the work of a militant atheist can be pressed to the cause of protecting the alleged “Christian heritage” of the USA. According to Rand herself:

Jesus was one of the first great teachers to proclaim the basic principle of individualism — the inviolate sanctity of man’s soul, and the salvation of one’s soul as one’s first concern and highest goal; this means — one’s ego and the integrity of one’s ego. But when it came to the next question, a code of ethics to observe for the salvation of one’s soul — (this means: what must one do in actual practice in order to save one’s soul?) — Jesus (or perhaps His interpreters) gave men a code of altruism, that is, a code which told them that in order to save one’s soul, one must love or help or live for others. This means, the subordination of one’s soul (or ego) to the wishes, desires or needs of others, which means the subordination of one’s soul to the souls of others. This is a contradiction that cannot be resolved.

But that’s not really the point. Rand’s economics are capitalist, and apparently that’s more important than what you believe about Jesus (an impression confirmed when Jack Heller took a couple of Christian right “worldview tests” last year); and her belief in individualism currently appeals to the politics of resentment pushing so much of the Christian right agenda (plus it could be said that there’s not much of the “altruism” that Rand disliked on the Christian right anyway). Adams is not, though, the first Christian to get something out of Rand’s ideas: most work in this area has been undertaken by Fr Robert Sirico, an ex-Pentecostal turned Roman Catholic priest (profiled by Bill Berkowitz here). Sirico’s Acton Institute blends conservative Catholicism with Rand’s Objectivism, while rejecting her critique of Christianity. No doubt Adams picks and chooses in the same way, while simultaneously insisting that anyone who invokes Marx in any positive context must be a full-on Stalinist.

Quite a while back, Sirico caught the attention of paleolibertarian Lew Rockwell, who is no fan of Rand but who wrote approvingly of Sirico’s “Christian Libertarianism” in a 1990 essay since posted by the Freepers (link added):

The leviathan state’s systematic attack on the family goes beyond the promotion of unwed motherhood through welfare programs, and secular humanism through the government schools-the welfare state cuts to the heart of the family by arrogating to itself the authority of the father as protector and provider. In view of this, David Gordon of the Ludwig von Mises Institute points out that, contrary to the common impression that libertarians are free-thinkers and libertines, “Many libertarians … are libertarians precisely because they wish to protect traditional values and culture from the state.”

…”Many Christian conservatives have been put off by what seemed to be libertarianism’s irreligiousness, moral relativism, and belief in gay rights,”‘ says Joseph Sobran. “But the emergence, or rather re-emergence, of Christian libertarianism-which rejects all of this-makes it possible for us to join together to limit the giant state. We are all libertarians when it comes to the Federal Government. And we are all conservatives in our cultural and moral values.”

In the last year or so, this blog has noted how “Christian libertarianism” has been invoked to call for the end of public education, the establishment of a Christian theocracy in South Carolina, and for women to be denied the vote. Its rhetoric has even been used to call for the end of science, as this recent tirade from Gary North shows:

Darwinists are well aware of this truth: Their opinions regarding man’s origins are not shared by the vast majority of Americans. This fact bothers them, but not enough to surrender control over tax-funded education to the will of the people. It bothers them because they have lost the intellectual battle for the minds of men, despite their century-long monopoly over public education. The public still isn’t buying the Darwinists’ tuition-subsidized product.

Rockwell hosts a regular column for North – Rockwell is the intellectual heir of libertarian economist Ludwig von Mises, and North shares Rockwell’s enthusiasm for the Austrian. But this is the same Gary North who believes in stoning as a fit punishment for those who fail to submit to the commands of the Old Testament. North’s “libertarian” argument about the unpopularity of “Darwinism” is demagogic and in bad faith: because a majority of Americans prefer not to accept evolutionary theory, there is some mileage in whining about how unfair it all is; but if North had his way, biologists would be persecuted in the name of Christian “Truth”. The appeal of Ayn Rand to some on the Christian right probably has the same strategic value.

At the end of last year, the anti-war Rockwell (despite enthusiasm for the Iraq war expressed by so much of the Christian right, North is also anti-war, in paleocon stlye) argued that:

…If you follow hate-filled sites such as Free Republic, you know that the populist right in this country has been advocating nuclear holocaust and mass bloodshed for more than a year now. The militarism and nationalism dwarfs anything I saw at any point during the Cold War. It celebrates the shedding of blood, and exhibits a maniacal love of the state. The new ideology of the red-state bourgeoisie seems to actually believe that the US is God marching on earth – not just godlike, but really serving as a proxy for God himself.

Quite right: but this would ring truer if one did not suspect that Rockwell is some sort of useful idiot for a Christian Dominionism that talks libertarianism now, but lusts after theocracy.

One Response

  1. Well… it may just be that like attracts like. Ayn was a hypocritical, reactionary asshole…. as is North, the Freepers, etc. Perhaps it was inevitable.

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