Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan

 

Here is Ayn Rand on individual rights and on limited government.

The recognition of individual rights entails the banishment of physical force from human relationships: basically, rights can be violated only by means of force. In a capitalist society, no man or group may initiate the use of physical force against others. The only function of the government, in such a society, is the task of protecting man’s rights, i.e., the task of protecting him from physical force; the government acts as the agent of man’s right of self-defense, and may use force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use; thus the government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of force under objective control.

Here is Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum - this comes after his recognition that property is owned by the individual for the sake of the family.

The contention, then, that the civil government should at its option intrude into and exercise intimate control over the family and the household is a great and pernicious error. True, if a family finds itself in exceeding distress, utterly deprived of the counsel of friends, and without any prospect of extricating itself, it is right that extreme necessity be met by public aid, since each family is a part of the commonwealth. In like manner, if within the precincts of the household there occur grave disturbance of mutual rights, public authority should intervene to force each party to yield to the other its proper due; for this is not to deprive citizens of their rights, but justly and properly to safeguard and strengthen them. But the rulers of the commonwealth must go no further; here, nature bids them stop… The socialists, therefore, in setting aside the parent and setting up a State supervision, act against natural justice, and destroy the structure of the home.

Ayn Rand on the morality of capitalism

The moral justification of capitalism does not lie in the altruist claim that it represents the best way to achieve “the common good.” It is true that capitalism does—if that catch-phrase has any meaning—but this is merely a secondary consequence. The moral justification of capitalism lies in the fact that it is the only system consonant with man’s rational nature, that it protects man’s survival qua man, and that its ruling principle is: justice.

Ayn Rand on the immorality of collectivism or statism

Collectivism holds that the individual has no rights, that his life and work belong to the group . . . and that the group may sacrifice him at its own whim to its own interests. The only way to implement a doctrine of that kind is by means of brute force—and statism has always been the political corollary of collectivism.

Now read excerpts from Rerum Novarum

4. To remedy these wrongs the socialists, working on the poor man’s envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies. They hold that by thus transferring property from private individuals to the community, the present mischievous state of things will be set to rights, inasmuch as each citizen will then get his fair share of whatever there is to enjoy. But their contentions are so clearly powerless to end the controversy that were they carried into effect the working man himself would be among the first to suffer. They are, moreover, emphatically unjust, for they would rob the lawful possessor, distort the functions of the State, and create utter confusion in the community.

5. It is surely undeniable that, when a man engages in remunerative labor, the impelling reason and motive of his work is to obtain property, and thereafter to hold it as his very own… Socialists, therefore, by endeavoring to transfer the possessions of individuals to the community at large, strike at the interests of every wage-earner, since they would deprive him of the liberty of disposing of his wages, and thereby of all hope and possibility of increasing his resources and of bettering his condition in life. 6. What is of far greater moment, however, is the fact that the remedy they propose is manifestly against justice. For, every man has by nature the right to possess property as his own

8. The fact that God has given the earth for the use and enjoyment of the whole human race can in no way be a bar to the owning of private property. For God has granted the earth to mankind in general, not in the sense that all without distinction can deal with it as they like, but rather that no part of it was assigned to any one in particular, and that the limits of private possession have been left to be fixed by man’s own industry, and by the laws of individual races. Moreover, the earth, even though apportioned among private owners, ceases not thereby to minister to the needs of all, inasmuch as there is not one who does not sustain life from what the land produces.

Here again, we have further proof that private ownership is in accordance with the law of nature.

The truths Paul Ryan found attractive in Ayn Rand were already part of Catholic social teaching, and I’m sure Paul Ryan realizes this by now. If he doesn’t–somebody ought to tell him that he’d do better plumbing the depths of Catholic social teaching than re-reading Atlas Shrugged. But he seems to be a smart guy. I think he’s solved the problem. Thus in a speech at Georgetown he has said,

The work I do as a Catholic holding office conforms to the social doctrine as best I can make of it. What I have to say about the social doctrine of the Church is from the viewpoint of a Catholic in politics applying my understanding to the problems of the day.

The problem with Ayn Rand is the problem with every ideologue, heretic and godless thinker: they come up with a few good ideas that the Catholic Church had to start with and mix it up with a bunch of poisonous things that seem like good ideas. Then the Catholic truth attracts people (as truth always does) and they swallow the rest of the poison with it. Paul Ryan may have been attracted to the economic and political ideas of Ayn Rand when he was a student. There’s every evidence that he’s rejected the atheism, pro abortionism and anti-religious individualism. He is, after all, a practicing Catholic who has a good pro-life voting record, and he speaks well of the need to pursue the ‘common good’ as well as ensuring the proper rights of individuals.

Last month Ryan clarified–saying about Rand:

“I reject her philosophy. … It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview.” He said, “I, like millions of young people in America, read Rand’s novels when I was young. I enjoyed them. … They spurred an interest in economics, in the Chicago School and Milton Friedman. … If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas. … Don’t give me Ayn Rand.””


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