Christians Cannot Be Objective
Bill Quick

I hate Ayn Rand ā€” but here’s why my fellow conservatives love her – The Week

Many of my fellow conservatives love Ayn Rand. And many of my liberal friends love to hate her.

You can understand why progressives enjoy blasting Rand’s presumably nefarious influence on the conservative movement. She makes for a convenient punching bag for progressives, because she embodies the caricatured version of what progressives imagine conservatives really think: that egotism and greed are good and that the parasitic weak deserve to be trod upon by the capitalistic powerful.

The fact that you are taking potshots at a caricature of Ayn Rand that exists only in your own fantasies tends to make me dismiss your arguments without reading further.

And then there are people like me: Conservatives who view themselves as Christians first. To us, Rand’s worldview is repellent, and the fact that her works are so widespread on the right is beyond annoying.

I don’t think the word conservative actually means what you seem to think it means.

I have some issues with Randian Objectivism, (enough that I no longer call myself a Randian Objectivist) but they are specific and can be discussed without conjuring up lurid delusions about Rand or her philosophy.

Bill Quick

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.

Comments

Christians Cannot Be Objective — 20 Comments

  1. ..they are specific and can be discussed without conjuring up lurid delusions about Rand or her philosophy.
    Oh please!
    You call Rand an advocate of infanticide, a person who thinks killing children is hunky dory, and then dryly say I have some issues… No shit?

    • Yep. Because she does permit the mother to kill the fetus up to the moment of birth, and bases this on the rights of the mother over the fetus, which has no rights.

      You’re the one who called it infanticide. Feeling a little tender there, are we?

      It’s your bible, dude. Be proud. Own it.

      So, what are my lurid delusions about Rand and Objectivism on this particular issue?

      • Actually Rand was the delusional one. She worked on the basis that she was dealing with rational adults who could think through an idea. For instance, her famous statement that selfishness is a virtue was meant to shock you into examining your basic moral beliefs. Is altruism the prime virtue, or do we have an obligation first to ourselves? Her further delusion was in thinking that she could take a loaded word and redefine it.

        I know you are having fun using the same method Rand employed to hoist her on her own petard. Her failure in regard to the abortion issue was in not specifically addressing late term abortion in detail, leaving people like you an opening. What I find interesting is that you felt necessary to distance yourself from the Christian attack. Why? You have reached the same conclusion they have, albeit from a different direction. They are your brothers in spirit. Enjoy the company.

        • Speaking of (and to) “delusional” people…

          I’ll leave it (quite correctly) to Bill to engage you – or not to do so – on the rest, since you’re clearly trying to call him (and no one else) out – plus, he’s quite capable of dealing with you properly, should he so choose. I’ll simply make note of the following:

          (Rand) worked on the basis that she was dealing with rational adults who could think through an idea.

          Though I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject on either Rand or Objectivism, I’ve read quite a bit by and about her, and about her expressed philosophical base. While, on the surface, what you state might seem factual, it also seems quite superficial – and therefore is not a useful statement to make.

          Any basic expression or discussion of philosophical thought must, by its nature, be expressed as though the one (or more) making the statements involved is addressing “rational people who can think through an idea” – it’s either that, or attempted schmoozing by some sort of con-artist.

          So – what’s your point in even stating this? Are you saying that this is (in your view) evidence of Rand’s being “delusional”? That’s not only unsupportable, it’s laughably so.

          …her famous statement that selfishness is a virtue was meant to shock you into examining your basic moral beliefs.

          Oh? And you know this to have been her primary – or only – intent in making this statement…how?

          While, for some people, this might be a real “shocker” – doesn’t it appear far more likely, and entirely logical, that, within its context, Rand was simply making an observation consistent with her base philosophy? Even if she used what many would consider a “loaded” word, it would seem far more likely that she was simply being as incisive as possible – any “shock” effect would seem to be merely somewhat serendipitous, at most.

          Is altruism the prime virtue, or do we have an obligation first to ourselves?

          Based on what she wrote and said, I don’t think Rand had any particular use for – or, certainly, trust in – altruism as any sort of human “virtue”, prime or otherwise, and I can’t see where she left any doubt regarding intelligent, informed self-interest being her philosophical basic prime. Therefore – why are you expressing this here? Are you saying this is (somehow) a further “delusion” of hers? Or that she was “delusional” in advocating the close examination and contemplation of these views of hers?

          Finally,

          Her further delusion was in thinking that she could take a loaded word and redefine it.

          People do this all the time – often enough, in simple service to argumentation they try to pursue, less commonly as a philosophical basis – and doing so is only (objectively) “delusional” if the re-definition clearly is invalid.

          If you are – again – referring to “selfishness” as a “loaded word” (as it appears you are) – where’s the “delusion”? In regarding (or, perhaps, redefining) selfishness as a type of virtue – even, perhaps, a prime virtue? There are many people who see “selfishness” (quite properly defined as “self-interest, to the exclusion of others’ interests”) as a positive, a virtue, if you will, despite what “negative” connotations others may ordinarily attach to the term. That’s not “delusional” – it is, quite simply, a difference in philosophical viewpoint.

          In sum: I’d strongly suggest you need to examine your own (fairly apparent) “delusions”. Also, your basic argumentation skills could use some work, of course. ;-)

        • I don’t think there is any room for me in this argument you are having with your fantasies and delusions that you think is me.

          I made a simple statement: Rand says fetuses don’t have rights and, in fact, can’t have rights, and so the mother’s right to abort the fetus at any time will always prevail. You have not come even close to refuting that statement.

          As I say, it’s your bible. Own it.

  2. I’m quite certain that the author of the article could not pass a relatively short quiz on Objectivism as presented in “Atlas Shrugged” and Rand’s non-fiction writings that followed.

    I do believe that the extent of a person’s hatred of Ayn Rand and the viciousness with which one attacks her and her writings is directly proportional to their ignorance of her and her writings. After all, those that hate Ayn Rand the most wouldn’t be caught dead actually reading her.

    Informed criticism of Rand and her philosophy is rare but I’m not aware of an informed critic of Rand that hates her or fails to find value in her writings.

    • Iā€™m not aware of an informed critic of Rand that hates her or fails to find value in her writings.

      I’m certainly not one of those. I disagree with certain outcomes that are dictated by Objectivism, enough so that I’ve decided I can’t in good conscience call myself a Randian Objectivist any longer.

      But that doesn’t mean I still don’t find great value in her beliefs, writings, and Objectivism itself.

  3. Ok, enough dancing around the issue. You, Mr. Quick, are calling Rand an advocate of murder because she didn’t explicitly and in detail spell out possible instances in which a late term pregnancy should not be aborted at the whim of the mother. Since Rand didn’t make a distinction between a forming fetus – (even though I quoted her specifically saying One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months, a statement that you toss aside by the way) – and a fully developed child capable of life outside the womb, you assume that she was hell bent in supporting the killing of unborn children.

    No. She was intent in supporting and defining the rights of women to control their own bodies. That means the right to birth control, abortion, breast implants, and suicide. The right not to wear a burkka and have her clitoris mutilated. The right to not be stoned to death because she was raped. The right to choose her mate. The same rights you take for granted as a man, and that women world wide do not have. Who the hell are you to tell any woman that she MUST carry a deformed fetus to term? It is an appendage of her body. It should be her decision, and her doctor’s. It is none of your goddammed business.

    Your attack on Rand – and calling her an advocate of murder IS an attack -is part of a concerted effort to make her irrelevant, your specious claim of finding value in her philosophy not withstanding. Answer me this: what kind of a person would in one breath call out a woman who supports murder, and still be capable of admiring her?

    But you are not the only one. Your buddies over at dailykos are attacking from the left, on the same theme. Rand is the bitch who admires murderers.
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/08/12/1119294/-Ryan-s-Hero-Ayn-Rand-Worshiped-A-Serial-Killing-Psychopath

    It’s open season. From the Christian right, and the atheist left. And no wonder she despised libertarians.

  4. “Who the hell are you to tell any woman that she MUST carry a deformed fetus to term?”

    Who the hell are you to decide what murder is? You had to add the “deformed” to your description to make it a bit more palatable. Why? In your world it should be OK to kill a deformed child then.

    No one will answer Bill’s simple question – If it is OK to kill the baby 5 minutes before it is born then why not 5 minutes after birth?

  5. That answer is as good as “Life begins at conception”.

    Do you seriously believe a 5 minute old baby, or a 5 month old baby is a “biologically independent organism”? An umbilical cord is more important that a teat?

    • I don’t believe that is the Objectivist position, Barry. That position is that the fetus is not an independent organism until it has departed the confines of its mother’s body, and hence does not have any rights until that occurs. So, yes, a fetus five minutes before birth is not human, and has no rights. Only the mother does. The fetus is nothing more than a part of her own body, over which she exercises absolute control.

      • I’m certainly not arguing what the objectivist position is or should be. To decide life begins at birth is no better than choosing conception, it’s just an arbitrary point. What is clear, is that there is no difference in the development 5 minutes later unless one believes fresh air is the beginning of life. But then you know this. Your position and mine are basically the same, give or take a week or three. Even though we may come to it from different points of view. I notice a lot of dancing around that issue…

        • In an article in The Intellectual Activist entitled “The 1980 Abortion Plank: The GOP’s Attack on the Right to Life”, James Lennox fleshed out some of the differences he considered relevant. He wrote:

          The parents, of course, have an obligation to care for such children as they have chosen to bear… But is there a negative obligation, an obligation not to harm such individuals? Do they have the right to life that rational adults have? The crucial aspect of this question for the abortion issue is this: does a newborn infant differ from its fetal precursor in ways which ensure its protection from harm?

          There are a number of relevant differences, in fact. First, the infant is a separate individual, not an integral part of the organ system of another person. It requires independent action to acquire its air and food, and to develop a focused perceptual awareness of its environment. It exists independently in a social context — other individuals can interact with it, and do it harm, independently of interacting with its mother. Finally, at birth it begins an active, cognitive acquisition of a functioning conceptual faculty. These facts are sufficient to sanction the extension of rights to newborn infants, and to impose obligations on others not to harm them.

          (I’m citing this stuff because it’s from lesser-known parts of the Objectivist corpus, and it provides some useful additional insight into the nuances and details of how Objectivists think about the issue.)

          • Kyle, with all due respect, calling a moron an “intellectual activist” does not an intellectual make. First up, a fetus is not an “organ” no matter the twisted logic one asserts (possibly one could consider the mother an “organ” to the child). A baby born cannot exist independently in any form or fashion. The fact that a child’s existence / support system changes at birth doesn’t convey “humanity” that wasn’t there pre-birth. It cannot be known when the group of cells goes into the condition we call a human baby, but trying to define it as after birth, just because, requires twisted logic. It is all done in order to give the woman absolute moral / legal authority to kill the child up to the moment of birth. Why not five minutes after? Because the child is now an independent / non-organ apparently. Of course, it was never an “organ” nor is it independent.

            And then this: “Finally, at birth it begins an active, cognitive acquisition of a functioning conceptual faculty.” As though a child in the womb does not have an active, cognitive acquisition of a functioning conceptual faculty.

            If this is what passes as objectivist intellectual thought I have little use for it.
            It reminds me of the twisted logic used by the left.

  6. Following up on my earlier post, while that may be the standard answer from contemporary Objectivists Rand’s position may have been more nuanced than that. I took the opportunity of digging into my library and found the following quotes from her:

    “A piece of protoplasm has no rights — and no life in the human sense of the term. One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months.”

    “I am in agreement with the Supreme Court decision on this subject.”

    “I’d like to express my indignation at the idea of confusing a living human being with an embryo, which is only some undeveloped cells. (Abortion at the last minute — when a baby is formed — is a different issue.)”

    “A human being is a living entity; life starts at birth. An embryo is a potential human being. You might argue that medically an embryo is alive at six to eight months. I don’t know.”

    What I take away from this is that Rand’s primary focus on abortion was the first trimester. Roe v. Wade, which she said she agreed with, allows for government restrictions on late-term abortions, and she expressed some openness to the possibility that a third trimester fetus might be ‘alive’ and presumably thus possess rights. By classifying this as a scientific issue she implies that the exact point when human life begins is not identifiable by philosophy alone.

    I’m pretty much a card-carrying “Randian Objectivist” and my own view is that Roe v. Wade got the policy pretty much right, even though the constitutional reasoning it used to get there was atrociously bad. I’ve expressed this view at Objectivist events many times and have yet to be attacked or ‘cast out’ over it.

    • Kyle, Chad has already brought most of that up. And while Rand may have said “that’s a different issue,” she has never, to my knowledge, explained how or why it is different, nor has she ever, also as far as I know, contradicted her judgment that independent human life begins at birth, that the fetus has no rights, (because it is not a living human) and that the mother’s rights are dispositive toward what she may wish to do with the fetus.