Good Friday Shrugged

Michael Gerson had an interested editorial in yesterday's Washington Post titled: Ayn Rand’s adult-onset adolescence. In it he opines about conservatives and their attraction to the recently released cinematized version of Ayn Rand's book "Atlas Shrugged".
Here is a clip from the editorial:
The appeal of Ayn Rand to conservatives is both considerable and inexplicable. Modern conservatism was largely defined by Ronald Reagan’s faith in the people instead of elites. Rand regarded the people as “looters” and “parasites.” She was a strenuous advocate for class warfare, except that she took the side of a mythical class of capitalist supermen. Rand, in fact, pronounced herself “profoundly opposed” to Reagan’s presidential candidacy, since he did not meet her exacting ideological standards.

Rand cherished a particular disdain for Christianity. The cross, she said, is “the symbol of the sacrifice of the ideal to the nonideal. . . . It is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to sacrifice themselves for their inferiors. That is precisely how the symbolism is used. That is torture.” Yet some conservatives marked Holy Week by attending and embracing “Atlas Shrugged.”

Reaction to Rand draws a line in political theory. Some believe with Rand that all government is coercion and theft — the tearing-down of the strong for the benefit of the undeserving. Others believe that government has a limited but noble role in helping the most vulnerable in society — not motivated by egalitarianism, which is destructive, but by compassion, which is human. And some root this duty in God’s particular concern for the vulnerable and undeserving, which eventually includes us all. This is the message of Easter, and it is inconsistent with the gospel of Rand.
It will be interesting to see how this movie is embraced by conservatives.. especially those on the religious right. I do not think that solutions to the problems that we face are all that easy though. Many conservatives emphatically believe that the government should get out of the welfare business and let religious institutions take over. Others think that the government originally got involved because those organizations dropped the ball.

Politics aside, I suggest that we all take a few minutes on this Good Friday to contemplate the sufferings of Christ on the cross and to remember the nobility with which he died. In doing so I pray that we will each be moved to do something compassionate towards another human being.. even if it goes against our political ideology.


  1. Bob, did you have me in mind when you said "conservatives emphatically believe that the government should get out of the welfare business and let religious institutions take over".
    As to Atlas Shrugged, I believe that Conservatives embrace the book/movie because of the cautionary tale it tells. I think that referring to capitalist superman is correct in that her portrayl of Dagny Taggart and Henry Reardon is way over the top. A good take on what could happen and why, but not the best on presenting my idealistic opposite.

  2. Atlas Shrugged
    I saw the movie. The sex scene was despicable. Therefore I wish I hadn’t seen it.

    The idea behind the movie as I saw it was:
    Business does a better job than government in providing for people.

    Without the profit of business government would have nothing. Yet government takes the idea of helping people by taking money in taxes and giving to those it sees that need money.

    The problem is we become enslaved to the gifts of money we didn't earn.

    Politicians (Republicans included) can't extract themselves from their past extravagance. So the economic bus will be driven over the cliff.

  3. Only one sex scene? I guess it couldn't remain completely faithful to the book. The way the protagonist keeps "trading up" in men is one of its key themes. We ought to take everything we can get.

    Rand had one thing very right. Communism is very bad for people. Everything else she thought and said was brilliant error and near-insanity.

    Humans don't primarily exist to achieve or acquire, but to relate. Relating to people is the chief end of man on earth, and Rand ascribes zero value to relationship. She doesn't believe in society at all, because she believes every glue required to make society actually work is weakness.

    Small wonder Objectivism has had such a brutal history as a society.

  4. Thanks all for the feedback.

    I really resonate with what you commented Kevin. I especially liked this:

    "Humans don't primarily exist to achieve or acquire, but to relate."

    Great insight!

  5. Relating to people.

    We are not what we do.? Yet if we don't do anything what/who are we?

  6. @Scott - Maybe it is whether the things we do are driven from our inner being or our flesh?


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