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I’m not buyin’ Ryan

I’m not buyin’ Ryan May 16, 2012

Which socialist thinker said this?

“Man should not consider his material possession his own, but as common to all, so as to share them without hesitation when others are in need.”

And:

“Whatever certain people have in superabundance is due, by natural law, to the purpose of succoring the poor.”

And

“It is the hungry man’s bread that you withhold, the naked man’s cloak that you store away, the money that you bury in the earth is the price of the poor man’s ransom and freedom.”

One could take this in a number of directions. Some of my readers, for instance, have informed me that since homosexuality is “contrary to natural law” the state should have the power to punish homosex. One is tempted to ask them if they think the state should likewise have the power to punish the unnatural hoarding of wealth that is withheld from succoring the poor.

But I won’t go there since I don’t want illiterates (who already somehow divine from my writings that I approve of homosex on the basis of a single post, despite years of extremely clear words to the contrary) to now assume I am a communist. Instead, I simply want to direct your attention to Daniel Nichols, who points out passages from Sts. Thomas and Ambrose as he looks at Paul Ryan’s sudden and preposterous claim that his love affair with the thought of Ayn Rand is an “urban legend”. Riiiiight:

I give out Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it.”

And:

Ayn Rand, more than anybody else, did a fantastic job explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and that, to me, is what matters most.”

And:

The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”

I’m quite happy to welcome any move to reject Rand and follow St. Thomas. But by “welcome” I mean, “Trust, but verify”. When a former embezzler walks into Church and immediately sets out to convince everybody to put him in charge of the finances, common sense suggests a prudent evaluation of his claims to be a Reformed Character. And when Ryan starts his proclamation of fealty to the thought of St. Thomas with a good solid lie that it is a baseless “urban legend” that Rand has been a huge influence on him, he does not inspire confidence that what he is saying about anything else is going to be honest either. This is, after all, a man who was, just this past October, addressing the Heritage Foundation using the Manichaean jargon of Rand to divide the human race into “Makers” and “Takers”. Reader Dan C (a doctor, not an out of work Occupy protester with a degree in puppetry) summarizes my own caution about Ryan’s sudden invocation of St. Thomas and his ridiculous pretense that Rand was never an influence:

[H]e used the vocabulary paradigm of Ayn Rand in his address to the Heritage Foundation in October in which he identified the world as divided into the “Makers vs. the Takers” and he insisted he was going to protect the Makers (John Galt-style men) against the Takers, which I guess is me and my family. As a “Taker” in his construct, he is a threat to me and my family. Takers, in this construct, is everyone south of the creative productivity of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. As such, not being a John Galt, I am declared his enemy and he is out to wage war on me and my family.

Perhaps he changed or maybe this was just an Academy-Award performance at Georgetown. Why should I believe him now after he issued a call to class war on me and my family in October?

In your commentary about some “lie,” I ask you, is the urban myth comment he made a “lie”? Why is he hiding the past association and clear intellectual influence (Maker vs. Taker) and enthusiastic admiration (as a speaker at an Ayn Rand conference)?

I need more than one new speech to trust the man who declared class war on me.

I am similarly dubious. When I hear Ryan a) ceasing to pretend that he was never an acolyte of Rand and b) doing more than paying lip service to Thomas and citing more than the word “subsidiarity” to give his rhetoric a veneer of Catholic respectability, I will take his Sister Souljah Moment with regard to Rand seriously. Till then, I’m not buyin’ Ryan. He seems to me to be a particularly odious epigone of the Randian Class Warrior against the weak, dressing his class warfare with a few rags from Catholic social teaching to make it look nice. When the Randian jargon goes and is replaced with actual Catholic social teaching beyond the bare repetition of the sacred word “subsidiarity” (interpreted to mean “individualism and hostility to the state”) I’ll start to trust that he is serious.

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