Friday, November 13, 2009

"I will never live for the sake of another man..."

Peter Wehner reminds us why conservatives — particularly religious conservatives — have little in common with Ayn Rand:
.... Ayn Rand was, of course, the founder of Objectivism – whose ethic, she said in a 1964 interview, holds that “man exists for his own sake, that the pursuit of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose, that he must not sacrifice himself to others, nor sacrifice others to himself.” She has argued that “friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man’s life. A man who places others first, above his own creative work, is an emotional parasite; whereas, if he places his work first, there is no conflict between his work and his enjoyment of human relationships.” And about Jesus she said:
I do regard the cross as the symbol of the sacrifice of the ideal to the nonideal. Isn’t that what it does mean? Christ, in terms of the Christian philosophy, is the human ideal. He personifies that which men should strive to emulate. Yet, according to the Christian mythology, he died on the cross not for his own sins but for the sins of the nonideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was sacrificed for men who are vicious and who are expected or supposed to accept that sacrifice. If I were a Christian, nothing could make me more indignant than that: the notion of sacrificing the ideal to the nonideal, or virtue to vice. And 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.
.... William F. Buckley Jr. himself wrote about her “desiccated philosophy’s conclusive incompatibility with the conservative’s emphasis on transcendence, intellectual and moral; but also there is the incongruity of tone, that hard, schematic, implacable, unyielding dogmatism that is in itself intrinsically objectionable.”

Yet there are some strands within conservatism that still veer toward Rand and her views of government (“The government should be concerned only with those issues which involve the use of force,” she argued. “This means: the police, the armed services, and the law courts to settle disputes among men. Nothing else.”), and many conservatives identify with her novelistic hero John Galt, who declared, “I swear — by my life and my love of it — that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” .... (more)
Which has little in common with:
“For God so loved ithe world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this:‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13)
Objectively, Ayn Rand Was a Nut - Peter Wehner - The Corner on National Review Online


  1. From a comment delivered by email:

    >> One can not be a philosophical egoist (objectivism being only one species thereof) and also a Christian, no question. But, it's kind of silly to suggest that a Christian can not be a small government conservative on the grounds that Ayn Rand (or Thomas Jefferson, or whoever is serving as the philosophical whipping boy of the moment) arrived at a similar position. <<

    All the best (I appreciate your blog),

    Vic Aagaard

  2. I agree. One can believe in small government [as I do] - one can even be a libertarian - without being an Objectivist.

  3. Why were the the original Christians pacifists of the first order?

  4. Your point being...?

  5. It was a question -- not a point.

  6. Sorry. I took it as a reaction to the title of the post rather than to its substance.

    Whether early Christians were pacifists is unknown. There were at least some soldiers among them. As time passed and Christians gained some political responsibility the issues were addressed, resulting in what is known as "just war" doctrine - generally violence is only justified to defend others from injustice or oppression, and is never justified when intentionally directed toward the innocent. See for a summary.

    Obviously the words of Jesus [e.g. "turn the other cheek"] can be interpreted as pacifist. Some do, but that has not been the opinion of most theologians and biblical scholars.


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