Tuesday, December 8, 2009

So Funny I Had to Share

christian, libertarian, ayn rand, jesus, charity,
Thanks to [redacted] for pointing me to Our Libertarian Spirit, source of much lulz for proposing that Ayn Rand and Jesus are spiritual siblings*.

It is far too easy (intellectually lazy) to conclude that Jesus Christ and Ayn Rand are miles apart in what they teach. Nothing is further from the truth. It is only necessary to juxtapose the words of Ayn Rand with the words of Jesus to see they teach exactly the same.
Just let that sink in for a moment.

If you've read Atlas Shrugged and anything attributed to Jesus in the Bible, you're laughing so hard you can't breathe right now.

Jesus and Rand aren't "miles apart", they're diametically opposed. Ayn Rand hated Christianity, specifically because of all the charity proposed by Jesus.

The following excerpt is from a letter to Sylvia Austin dated July 9, 1946, in Letters of Ayn Rand, p. 287:

There is a great, basic contradiction in the teachings of Jesus. 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. This is why men have never succeeded in applying Christianity in practice, while they have preached it in theory for two thousand years. The reason of their failure was not men's natural depravity or hypocrisy, which is the superficial (and vicious) explanation usually given. The reason is that a contradiction cannot be made to work. That is why the history of Christianity has been a continuous civil war -- both literally (between sects and nations), and spiritually (within each man's soul).
The concept of altruism, the calls to charity, are something that Rand found appalling.

What Christian Prophet is engaging in is essentially doublethink: I like the idea of living only for the self and kicking all those freeloading maggots off of welfare, but Jesus said to help the poor . . . no, wait, it's really the same philosophy! Yay!

Look, you can't square Ayn Rand's philosophy with Christianity, no matter how you wield that hammer. I get it, "it's mine and I'm keeping it!" is much more attractive than "give it all away to the poor and follow me", but don't try to claim they're the same thing.

*Christian Prophet actually calls them "spiritual brother and sister", but "sibling" means the same thing and allows for alliteration. Never pass up an opportunity for alliteration.


  1. Hahahah! Well that is just about the funniest and dumbest thing I have read all day! Obviously this person has had a problem understanding either Jesus or Rand, or has not read one of them. Because no sane person looks at a woman who despised religion and says, "Man, she is TOTALLY like Jesus! Totally."

  2. Jesus channeling Ayn Rand:

    Sure, I could heal you of your leprosy, but what do I get out of it?

  3. Imagine the Sermon on the Mount. Oh, or the loaves and fishes! What an interesting story that would have been if he was just like Rand.

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  5. Blah I need to read closer, but still amazingly funny stuff spouted by morons.

  6. I really like the way it says, "Now let's see what Jesus had to say about that," and then utterly fails to provide supporting text at all - instead of quoting, say, the Bible, it quotes a textbook.

    If, as I assume, they are also in the business of selling that same textbook, well... the potential for further amusement knows no bounds.

    I just recently started reading Atlas Shrugged, by the way - largely as a result of hearing people talk about it. So far, I'm... disappointed. If it continues in the direction that it seems to be going, then it's the political equivalent of one of those fantasy novels where the noble-but-misunderstood child is plucked out of his/her mundane existence, finds a neat magic sword (or talking horse, or dragon's egg, or book of magic) and proceeds to save the world.

    Except in this case, the kid lets the World Devouring Darkness win, which seems to pull it back from adolescent power fantasy into the realm of grade school power fantasy.

  7. Michael-- wait till you get to the rape. Honestly I just don't understand why conservatives like the book.

  8. I discovered "libertarianism" shortly after leaving fundamentalist Chrstianity and continued to cling to it for a long time. It at least shared the economic principles with and seemed to be a more purified version of my former right wing politics, so it provided a source of continuity with my old self. I found that the belief in individual liberty as the answer to everything gave me the same sort of certainty and comfort that my belief in Jesus as the answer to everything had given me. But, as with fundamentalist Christianity, there were always these haunting questions in the back of my mind that were never addressed or even acknowledged by libertarians, or if they were addressed they first had to be reduced to straw men. In time I realized that I had just traded one fundamentalism for another. I observed that libertarians, like Christian fundamentalists, loved to sit around and agree with one another - they did not like challeges to their way of thinking. I still have some libertarian leanings, but nowadays I tend to try to come up with an optimal balance between liberty and utility on each issue; and for this reason there is no movement or party that even comes close to representing my views.

  9. Wow, luke, that was really interesting. So lib-ism is Fundy Lite? I wonder how many others have had the same experience. Makes sense.

    I read Atlas Shrugs too (Leigh & I should get medals!)and the rape did it for me, too. Later I got in a discussion where some woman told me "if you think that was a rape, you don't understand anything about bla bla bla". That's when I realized I was in an alternate universe, and fled in terror.

  10. Get medals, get committed. Six of one half dozen of the other.
    Rand herself said that is the scene was rape, it was rape with an invitation. Which made me wonder about her, if she could write that and not realize what she had written.

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  12. uzza,

    There are plenty of of libertarians who are not libertarian fundamentalists. But it's the "consistent" libertarians who you have to watch out for. They pride themselves on being able to solve the entire spectrum of political conundrums with their single "principle" of leaving everything up to individuals (or corporations), and they are disparaging of "unprincipled" individuals whose political beliefs are more complex and inconsistent. Ultimately, to be a consistent libertarian you have to be an anarchist, but many of them are able to achieve the level of cognitive dissonance required to avoid this conclusion, for awhile. The pledge of the Libertarian Party if you read it (it opposes all "initiation of force") is really an anarchist pledge, and has been acknowledged as such by many, since for government you need taxation and taxation is force. I actually emailed the LP with a question about this and they never emailed me back. But they cling to market-as-cure-for-all-society's-ills and tend to deny or diminish any counter-examples (such as states forcing everybody to have auto insurance bringing the price of insurance down).

    I think that I have a tendancy toward "all or nothing" thinking which tends to turn me into a fundamentalist on a variety of subjects, but some subjects are more prone to fundamentalism than others. I suppose all political movements are subject to this same tendancy, for instance there are probably progressives who believe presuppositionally that socialized-this-or-that is the answer to everything, and conservatives who believe whatever they believe.

  13. Actually since libertarianism is basically the opposite of socialism, you would expect libetarians to be at least as extreme and fundamentalist as socialists. The link posted below "Marxism of the Right" makes this case, and it is one of the pieces that helped free my mind (by basically telling me what I already suspected). I think it's actually a bit over the top, but it does make some valid and important points:


  14. Atlas Shrugged has a rape scene? I thought that was The Fountainhead (which, admittedly, I haven't read either).

    As with a number of books, I think I might have found this a lot more compelling if I'd read it when I was younger (much, much younger). I also might be enjoying it more if I hadn't heard so much about it before I started reading; that is, the idea that people are treating (what strikes me as) a work of escapism as if it were a prescription to cure the world's ills keeps me from enjoying the text on its own merits.

  15. The rape scene is in The Fountainhead, though good luck getting some readers to call it rape. The first sex scene in Atlas Shrugged is, you could say, emotionally sado-masochistic. But it's described as fully consensual. Actually, that could describe most of the sex in Atlas.

  16. No, you're right, my bad. The rape scene is in the Fountainhead (the one about the dick architect). They blur together for me, I read them a long time ago.

  17. Oh my, I've gone and made a fool of myself yet once again. Darn it, it was fountainhead I read, with the rape scene.

    What baffles me about libertarians is, they hate for the govt to do anything, with one exception, to defend private property rights. How, in their scheme, does the govt have any motivation to not just TAKE all your stuff, let alone selflessly step up to the plate and defend your right to keep it? Or is this one of those 'dontalkaboutit's ?

  18. uzza,

    My point exactly. Government involvement in the protection of individual rights is no less arbitrary than government involvement in education, transportation, welfare, or mail delivery. There is no principle that can be used to justify the one that cannot be used to justify all the others. Many libertarians recognize this, which is why they become "anarcho-captialists," i.e. those who think that private "protective agencies" (read: feudal feifdoms) should replace even the minimalist form of government normal libertarians support. So, yes, it's largely a 'dontalkaboutit.'

  19. Have you been paying any attention to Conservapedia's Bible Project? They are making a "translation" of the Bible that reflects its true conservative heritage. They are going to explain Jesus's parables "with their full free-market meaning" and that's just the beginning: http://www.conservapedia.com/Conservative_Bible_Project

  20. Joshua,

    Yes, good article on the CBP here, which reads like something straight out of The Onion:


    You can't make this stuff up. The goofball who heads this thing up was on the Colbert Report the other night.


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