Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged

TIME Magazine – Atlas Shrugged, The Movie: Ayn Rand Fans Get Film Of Their Own

As Catholics we should ask ourselves the following questions:

1. Is Objectivism compatible with Catholicism?

2. Is Capitalism a Papal endorsed economic model for mankind?

3. Should we question someone who names their own son “Rand” Paul?

4. Is Donald Trump a real “John Galt”?

125 Responses to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged

  • He didn’t name his son after Ayn Rand. He named his son Randal.

  • 1. Is Objectivism compatible with Catholicism?

    No, it isn’t even compatible with itself. It is not compatible with reality. It is merely Hobbe’s war of all against all from a different angle. I found it appealing when I thought I was an atheist, of course, I was also an impetuous adolescent male. Objectivism is very appealing when your ego is bigger than you are, when you think you are your own god and it makes perfect sense when you have the Libido Dominandi that most boys in their teens have. I rather enjoyed Atlas Shrugged when I was kid and considered it may favorite book through most of my twenties. Then I grew up, God struck me and I have tried to pick it up again, but I can’t be bothered. The virtue of selfishness, poppycock! Of course an immature kid is probably selfish and to hear an ‘intellectual’ rational for why I should love being selfish, well, how can one resist that without Grace?

    2. Is Capitalism a Papal endorsed economic model for mankind?

    Only if we can agree on the meaning of Capitalism. If we consider capital as the material creation that God provides for us to mold into material benefit ordered to a good end and God’s glory by our own God-given talents as co-creators with God through the proper exercise of our free will as free actors in a free marketplace, then yes. If we mean Capitalism as defined by Marx, Ayn, utilitarians, consequentialists, libertarians and as it is practiced in the USA or China today, then absolutely NOT!

    3. Should we question someone who names their own son “Rand” Paul?

    No and that is a silly question, but amusing.

    4. Is Donald Trump a real “John Galt”?

    No. He’s not going on strike. He’s striking for the office of President. He’s got problems, but he also offers something unique. He is not a politician, he’s a business man and a patriot. He may be a refreshing change, or at least force the other career-politicians to adjust their approach and execution. I really just want to see him tell Obama that he’s FIRED!

  • I think it’s universally agreed amongst thoughtful conservatives that Ayn Rand’s philosophy, economics, and novels are deeply and irretrievably flawed. Ayn Rand only appeals to the philosophically and intellectually naive.

    Conservatives should dissociate themselves from Ayn Rand and all her works, and Liberals should not group Randians in with conservatives as a whole. We can all agree to reject Ayn Rand and her foolish ideas.

    Don’t go see this movie.

    Also, FWIW Ron Paul did not name Rand after Ayn Rand (as RR has already noted).

  • Is Capitalism endorsed by CST? Yes, with certain limits.

  • FWIW, my review. Long story short, I really hated that book.

  • 1. Is Objectivism compatible with Catholicism?
    No.

    2. Is Capitalism a Papal endorsed economic model for mankind?
    No.

    3. Should we question someone who names their own son “Rand” Paul?
    Neither here nor there.

    4. Is Donald Trump a real “John Galt”?
    Yes, because if there were a “real ‘John Galt,'” he,too, would be a buffoon,

  • I think it’s universally agreed amongst thoughtful conservatives that Ayn Rand’s philosophy, economics, and novels are deeply and irretrievably flawed. Ayn Rand only appeals to the philosophically and intellectually naive.

    Well, then I guess I must un-thoughtful, and naive. (I actually hate it when anyone claims that anything is “universally agreed” among any group.)

    I think that there is much to recommend in Atlas Shrugged. Our economy, our society and our culture are being driven into the sewers by people who believe that no tax is too high, no regulation is too intrusive, no law is too oppressive, no productive person is taxed enough, and no unproductive person is unworthy of public support. Atlas Shrugged is a remarkable story of public corruption, crony capitalism, and entitlement mentality that carries a valuable warning of what happens to a society that refuses to understand and value what undergirds its own economy. To understand the answer to the question, “Who is John Galt?”
    one must understand that wealth is created by men, and that if no one creates it, then there can be no charity, but only abject poverty. And if the creation of wealth is punished, then no one will create it.

    I find Atlas Shrugged to be an insightful and prescient critique of modern liberalism.

    That’s not to say that the proposed solution, objectivism, is adequate, or even comprehensible.

    But the incessant bashing of objectivism that I’m seeing from so many Catholics when it’s liberalism that is destroying our society is really beginning to irritate me.

  • Paul,

    I agree. Although I suspect that if I picked up the novel now, I’d find it less substantial than when I read it. I was a comic book collector then, so I suspect that my taste in literature has changed too.

    Nevertheless, Objectivism is steeped in materialism, which is not surprising; Ayn came from Soviet Russia, there is no doubt that she despised Marxism, but it would be hard for an atheist to avoid imbibing in material dialectic.

    She does; however, successfully point out the follies of liberalism/progressivism/socialism and indicate that the solution lies in freedom. Of course, she misunderstands freedom. Clearly her saccharine heroines all harbored a rape fantasy, and yet it seems that the sexual aggressor was always Rand herself, as she saw everyone, even her superman Brandon, as her pawns. Randroid weirdness aside, she at least successfully identified the problem and I am not going to boycott the movie. I suspect it won’t be as entertaining as one would like and I am not sure how Objectivism will come off in screenplay – but it should be interesting.

    Instead of bashing Ayn, which I hope I haven’t done, we should use this opportunity to highlight the evils of socialism and try to correct the fundamental errors of Randriods’ fascistic adherence to Objectivism by witnessing to the Truth.

  • But the incessant bashing of objectivism that I’m seeing from so many Catholics when it’s liberalism that is destroying our society is really beginning to irritate me.

    Just because one philosophy is awful doesn’t mean another philosophy can’t also be awful.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, there are many better writers and thinkers who have tackled the evils of progressivism that we need not hold Ayn Rand up as any kind of idol.

  • AK, anyone hoping that this movie will be a popular introduction to objectivism will be disappointed. I saw the movie Friday (my review is here) and the concept is only just barely referenced. Fransisco D’Anconia’s speech on the morality of money, which I quoted on my blog in its entirety, is notably missing from this film.

    I’m 48, and I read the book within the last month, and I found it quite compelling. I was astounded at the accurate predictions to be found there. One example: near the end, the government is hyping a fake solution to the economic problems they’re facing called “the John Galt Plan”, which they claim will: “… reconcile all conflicts. It will protect the property of the rich and give a greater share to the poor. It will cut down the burden of your taxes and provide you with more government benefits. It will lower prices and raise wages. It will give more freedom to the individual and strengthen the bonds of collective obligations. It will combine the efficiency of free enterprise with the generosity of a planned economy.”

    I’m not the first to notice that this is essentially the Obama 2008 platform.

    I also notice how many Catholic liberals are happy to accuse conservatives of “materialism” while urging their pockets be picked in greater and greater amounts. Conservatism is about having the freedom to do good. Liberalism is about being professionally virtuous with other people’s money; an inherently dishonest venture.

  • As I’ve said elsewhere, there are many better writers and thinkers who have tackled the evils of progressivism that we need not hold Ayn Rand up as any kind of idol.

    These are authors of popular novels?

    I don’t offer Rand as an idol. But she has written some engaging stories that make important points. Are there such stories from a Catholic perspective?

  • Paul Z,

    I don’t think anyone here is holding her up as an idol. But the Randroids do and in the current climate they are more of an ally than an enemy. I am sure committed atheistic Randroids will be difficult to get along with, but how many young people find Objectivism and Rand attractive for the right reasons (identifying the problem) and just get sucked into the wrong solutions (Objectivism) simply because they have never hear an alternative?

    Catholic Social Teaching, assuming anyone really understands it, is far more of a viable solution to the problems Rand identifies. I don’t think our hostility to Ojectivism should extend to Objectivists. Having thought I was one in my youth, I am now a committed Catholic – how many more could there be if we would only speak to them, instead of at them?

  • Paul,

    I think the problem is that there are conservatives and Conservatives. One is merely a brand of the Republican party and the other is a hodgepodge of people with disparate ideas about what to conserve. Often conservatives want to conserve somethings that conservatives of the past found anathema: Military adventurism, Medicare and the Bush prescription drug plan, education spending, UN membership (whatever happened to the Bricker Amendment), even abortion in cases of rape, incest or the health of the mother. Come on – there is nothing conservative about those fallacies.

    Authentic conservatism can only exist when it is founded on the conservation of timeless principles of truth. Of course, the modern liberalism we have is nothing more than legalized plunder and open rebellion against God.

    Given the choice I’d rather side with the ‘materialist’ conservatives than the ‘philanthropic’ liberals. However, we do need to be cognizant that conservatism, neo-conservatism and Republicanism are merely statist systems with a traditional conservative veneer. Again, I am attacking ideology, just like Objectivism, here and not the followers of it, for I think most people who identify as conservative or Republican are open to the truth. Human paradigms are tough things to break.

  • Maybe “idol” was too strong a word, but the point is that there are so many writers, Catholic and non-Catholic, who have written of the evils of statism that I don’t think we need promote a writer whose overall philosophy is so terrible.

    Novels: I’d suggest CS Lewis’s That Hideous Strength, and of course 1984 and Brave New World. Of course there’s a lot more in the non-fiction world – Hayak, Burke, Sowell, Friedman, etc. Now it might be suggested that novels are more persuasive and engaging, but to me Atlas Shrugged is so bad a novel I don’t necessarily see non-fiction works as being at a disadvantage in comparison.

  • Novels: I’d suggest CS Lewis’s That Hideous Strength, and of course 1984 and Brave New World.

    Interesting; Lewis, a non-Catholic, Blair/Orwell, and Huxley. Only one real Christian among the three, and no Catholics. What was it again that you object to in Rand? Oh, yeah, not compatible with Catholicism.

    None of those stories comes anywhere near as close to describing our present-day situation as Atlas Shrugged.

  • Catholic Social Teaching, assuming anyone really understands it, is far more of a viable solution to the problems Rand identifies.

    But the fact that no one understands it means that liberals — who predominate in the Chanceries and Rectories — feel completely free to construe and teach it as nothing more than liberalism at prayer; exactly the sort of caricature that Rand used in describing all religion.

  • Ayn Rand supported abortion, and indeed, her ideology says any morality is collectivism and thus, slavery.

    Be careful, Paul (that guy, you know) — you just supported a militant pro-abortionist.

  • 1. Is Objectivism compatible with Catholicism?

    I aplogize. It’s bad manners to answer the question with two questions.

    a. What is the compatibility with reality of Ayn Rand’s personal brand of making up stuff about stuff?

    b. Which Catholicism do you mean? The wholly-owned subsidiary of the aborto-democrat party; or the Catholicism whose mission is the salvation of souls?

    2. Is Capitalism a Papal endorsed economic model for mankind?

    Again bad manners at play. Is the pope infallible (ex cathedra; faith and morals) in matters of economic growth and development; fiscal policy; monetary policy; etc.? I think not. Do research how they ran the Vatican Bank.

    3. Should we question someone who names their own son “Rand” Paul?

    You are allowed to question everybody except a guy who was named Barrack Hussein.

    4. Is Donald Trump a real “John Galt”?

    Trump (a hugely successful self-promoter) and every other American that is not a hate-filled liberal or social justice, nonviolent brigand is preferrable to the gangster government under which we suffer.

  • Be careful, Paul (that guy, you know) — you just supported a militant pro-abortionist.

    I see, Henry. As far you’re concerned, I support abortion.

  • The Papal pronouncement on Capitalism. From Centessimus Annus:

    “42. Returning now to the initial question: can it perhaps be said that, after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society? Is this the model which ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World which are searching for the path to true economic and civil progress?

    The answer is obviously complex. If by “capitalism” is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a “business economy”, “market economy” or simply “free economy”. But if by “capitalism” is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.”

  • HK selectively waving the bloody shirt. Obama.most.militant.pro-abortionist in history of creation . . . dishonest . . .

    Democracy in action!

    In news you will not read or see broadcast in the gangster government’s propaganda organs, e.g., the NY Times/MSNBC: “On Thursday 14 April 2011, Wisconsin conservatives announced that they had collected enough signatures (15,000) to recall Demagogue/absentee Senator Dave Hansen of Green Bay.”

    It will never happen. Obamocrat (“We will punish our enemies!”) fascist thugs burgled (Watergate-style) the office and stole the petitions.

    Limbaugh is 100% right. Liberals are violent, baby-murdering savages.

    Remember in November 2012.

  • Paul

    Ayn Rand is pro-abortion, and it is the fruit of her ideology. If you think her ideology is correct, it does lead to support of abortion. Her ideology is Satan’s lie in the garden repeated today.

    It’s interesting how you are now promoting someone who was radically pro-abortion…

  • T. Shaw

    You continue to misrepresent people. I’ve never supported President Obama,. Never. I didn’t vote for him.

    Of course, I believe Nixon was far more radically pro-abortion than Obama. That doesn’t mean I am supporting Obama, but pointing out a fact, all so often forgotten, in how strong a supporter Nixon was for population control using abortion.

    It’s funny and sad how you must keep making up things as you go in order to feel superior.

  • Henry:

    Ayn Rand is pro-abortion, and it is the fruit of her ideology. If you think her ideology is correct, it does lead to support of abortion.

    Ayn Rand died years ago. She is nothing but dead.

    And where do you find that I written that her ideology is correct? I have not even read her ideology. I have read Atlas Shrugged, and the only references to life there struck me as logically leading to an anti-abortion stance.

    I have repeatedly said that I believe that her ideology incomplete, and inadequate, which is far more criticism that I’ve heard seen from you about President Obama’s pro-abortion policies. Just how much federal money did Nixon give to Planned Parenthood, after all? Your consistent defense of Obama, often in the form of deflecting criticism of him, is ample evidence of your continued support for Obama and his pro-abortion policies.

    Four days ago, I delivered a speech at a pro-life fundraiser that raised $40,000 to fight abortion in my local community. What have you done lately to oppose abortion? Criticized any Democrats lately?

    And did someone edit my prior comment? I initially wrote: “Still full of shit, I see Henry. As far as I’m concerned, you support abortion.”

    Delete my comments if you feel I must, but do me the courtesy not rewriting them.

  • Paul I do not know who edited your comment. Whoever did that should not do so again. Our policy is to delete objectionable comments not to edit them. I would appreciate it if no further profanity is used in this thread.

    To all, this discussion is getting fairly heated quickly. If the heat continues I will put the comments I deem going over the line into moderation.

    I would note that although I regard Ayn Rand’s philosophy as puerile and her Atlas Shrugged as a poor novel with the only redeeming feature being its unintentional humor, calling Paul a pro-abort because he enjoyed Atlas Shrugged strikes me as being foolish even by combox debate standards. Paul is one of the firmest pro-life voices in Catholic blogdom and to attempt to say otherwise based upon one novel he has read is beyond belief.

  • Thank you for your response, Donald. I will refrain from further profanity.

  • Donald

    I said he is promoting someone who is strongly pro-abortion. That is ALL I said. I did not call him a “pro-abort.” Paul, however, seems to have done that himself…

    Now, it is interesting how, if it is Ayn Rand, it’s ok to promote someone who is so RADICALLY pro-abortion…

  • Thank you Paul.

    Donald & Paul – it was me, the author of the post, who edited the comment. I was on my I-Phone and couldn’t see the whole post nor did I have time to write comments myself at that moment. I was trying to edit out the profanity. I thought the last part was only a grammatical mistake. Is it not one? Honestly, I was just trying to help. I do apologize if you meant it the way written and thanks for refraining in the use of profanity. I don’t normally edit anything on posts and let most comments fly as is. Anybody who follows at least my posts I think knows that. Thanks Donald for covering me in my absence. You have been and are always welcome on any of my posts.

    Now that I’m back to a normal computer I can catch back up on all the comments. Thanks to everyone for contributing your thoughts to this post. Please continue.

  • Paul (Just this guy),

    Sorry to upset you. Unfortunately I still think what I said is true. Ayn Rand espoused a poisonous philosophy; while there is light to be found even in the darkest of places, this does not invalidate the common judgment of all of the leading conservative intellectuals upon the whole of the novel. You are of course, welcome to disagree with most people. But I don’t recommend it! Start with Whitaker Chambers review.

    Cheers

  • Thanks for the correction regarding Ron/Rand Paul. I wonder what either have said of any substantial level regarding Ayn Rand? To my understanding Ron’s comments regarding her philosophy have been vaguely supportive but he does recognize there are problems with it. It that a fair assessment?

  • Interesting; Lewis, a non-Catholic, Blair/Orwell, and Huxley. Only one real Christian among the three, and no Catholics. What was it again that you object to in Rand? Oh, yeah, not compatible with Catholicism.

    None of these books themselves are incompatible with Catholicism. Atlas Shrugged’s morality is militantly anti-religious.

  • Interesting… Henry claims that I am “promoting” Ayn Rand. He implies (and then denies the implication) that that makes me a pro-abort. This is laughable from someone who has never to my knowledge offered the slightest criticism of Barack Obama — someone who, unlike Rand, is alive and actively promoting abortion — unless it was coupled with much stronger criticism of a Republican. In this thread, he went so far as to bring up Richard Nixon’s personal opinions (again, Nixon, unlike Obama, is no longer alive). Henry doesn’t discuss Nixon’s policies, but his opinions. Henry, do not waste your time or mine addressing me; you have long since completely discredited yourself in my eyes. You have no intellectual integrity or honesty, and I do not believe anything you say, even when you are expressing your own alleged opinions. Especially then.

    I am expressing my opinions about a story. Not a woman, not her entire philosophy, not her character, not everything else she ever wrote, but about one story. Reasonable people may disagree with me.

    Zach claims that all reasonable people disagree with me, using phrases like “universally agreed” — which to me is a red flag in any context. He says I am “naive” to disagree.

    Well, Zach, I don’t know how someone becomes what you call a “leading Conservative” — I suspect it has something to do with how much they agree with you. I know know that there are others whom I consider conservative, and not naive, who agree with me.

    Abortion is not mentioned directly in Atlas Shrugged. But John Galt refers to the culture of the looters as a culture of death, and to his own culture of freedom and wealth as a culture of life. And to this pro-life activist, who sees the effect of that culture of death in ways that Rand didn’t predict, with over fifty-three million innocents dead from abortion and a Democratic Party so wedded to the procedure that they would rather shut down the government than stop giving a third of a billion dollars every year to the nation’s largest abortion provider, that had some resonance.

    And again, in describing the conversion of the 20th Century Motor Works factory in Starnesville to outright communism, one of the negative effects that is described is that when a worker’s wife is pregnant, that is no longer regarded as good news.

    This is offered in the story as an indictment of communism. And so yes, I consider Atlas Shrugged to be a pro-life story.

    I say again: In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, over fifty years ago, described to a shockingly accurate degree the economic and political conditions in which we find ourselves today, and expressed them in an engaging story the like of which I have not encountered from other authors before or since, writing from any viewpoint. I believe that to say that taxes can be too high, and that regulation of private business can be too onerous, and that charity using other people’s money is not virtuous, is not contrary to authentic Catholic teaching.

    That’s as far as I’m going. I am not suggesting that Ayn Rand be declared a Doctor of the Church.

    Perhaps someone here disagrees with my claim. But no one has yet expressed any direct reason why.

  • Paul

    You are proving yourself quite unstable. You say what you are. I only said you are promoting Ayn Rand, defending her and her ideology, one which is militantly anti-Christian and pro-abortion. You take it as you will.

    On the other hand, I’ve made several criticism of President Obama, starting before he was even the Democratic nominee, and has continued throughout his Presidency.

    This is the last I am going to speak to you. You can’t talk to someone irrational — no matter how much you try, they come back with “bklhwrklfhqwefklheklfhaweklfh”

  • I say again: In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, over fifty years ago, described to a shockingly accurate degree the economic and political conditions in which we find ourselves today

    And I say again that other philosophers and writers were also as prescient. Read the Road to Serfdom.

    expressed them in an engaging story the like of which I have not encountered from other authors before or since,

    This is just a matter of taste, so there’s really no point in arguing over a subjective appreciation of the novel. As I said in my review I thought it was tedious and repetitive. But hey, I thought Inception was a piece of crap and most people seemed to like that, so take my criticism of the book for what it’s worth.

    I believe that to say that taxes can be too high, and that regulation of private business can be too onerous, and that charity using other people’s money is not virtuous, is not contrary to authentic Catholic teaching.

    Very true. Unfortunately the book contains a lot more than mere criticism of statist economics, and that’s why it is so utterly objectionable.

    Let me put it this way. Almost all of us here have strong issues with the secularist, anti-religious bent of much of modern society. Well imagine a book that got people to re-think humanism by promoting Islam. We’d probably applaud the book for its anti-atheistic elements, but we’d still have some issues with the core religious subject matter. It’s not a perfect analogy, but maybe it helps put the objections to Atlas Shrugged in context.

  • When you guys have a chance to check out the Time’s review of the movie please do so. What I found out by reading it is Rep. Paul Ryan’s interest in Ayn Rand stating that she is the reason why he entered politics. Is that a good thing? I think most folks know about Fed Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s close friendship with Ayn Rand. Of course this was long before he became Chairman of the Fed.

    I was first introduced to Ayn Rand’s thought and philosophy, Objectivism, when I began studying Libertarianism and Austrian Economics. For me, both go hand-in-hand…

  • You are proving yourself quite unstable.

    I approved your comment Henry, because I am a big fan of irony.

    Henry is a master of the passive aggressive attack. Oh no, he never in so many words directly supported Obama, but with every word he writes he proves himself to be a useful idiot for the cause.

    And even though I disagree with Paul’s appreciation for Rand, he made it clear he does not agree with all elements of her work. It’s idiotic to make a leap that because Rand herself was pro-choice that it somehow speaks ill of Paul to approve of the elements of her work that are not even related to her stance on abortion. But hey, nice non sequiter to get the conversation turned to you. I guess it gets boring writing for a ten person echo chamber.

  • Let me put it this way. Almost all of us here have strong issues with the secularist, anti-religious bent of much of modern society. Well imagine a book that got people to re-think humanism by promoting Islam. We’d probably applaud the book for its anti-atheistic elements, but we’d still have some issues with the core religious subject matter. It’s not a perfect analogy, but maybe it helps put the objections to Atlas Shrugged in context.

    I think that’s a very reasonable analogy, and I’d probably have a lot to say in favor of such a book, even while I might deplore that it wasn’t written from a Christian perspective.

    What I found out by reading it is Rep. Paul Ryan’s interest in Ayn Rand stating that she is the reason why he entered politics. Is that a good thing?

    First, I wouldn’t think that Time is necessarily that reliable a source. Second, assuming that it’s true, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Ryan entered politics in order to put Rand’s entire philosophy into effect. Perhaps, like me, Ryan appreciated the smaller government and pro-life elements of Rand’s stories, and was inspired by that. Paul Ryan has an excellent pro-life record and is, I believe, a Christian.

  • Paul Z.: You don’t have to approve this comment if you don’t really feel like it.

    I wrote, in part:
    Henry, do not waste your time or mine addressing me; you have long since completely discredited yourself in my eyes. You have no intellectual integrity or honesty, and I do not believe anything you say, even when you are expressing your own alleged opinions.

    And Henry replied, in part:
    This is the last I am going to speak to you.

    And now I know how that poor android felt when Harry Mudd said, “Now, listen to me Norman, I’m lying to you.”

    I do so want what Henry said to be true.

  • HK, I’m not going to let you drag this thread further down so I deleted your last comment.

  • Eight or ten years ago, “Atlas Shrugged” would have caused most Americans’ eyes to glaze over. The American people’s sense of foreboding is awakening.

    Some Americans (those not intent on ruling us or dependent on the government) are learning to disblieve what Obama says and see what he does. His actions tell us Obama is above the law and a huge fan of Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin.

    In 2011, the Obama regime is ordering its gangsters (ACORN, AFSCME, DOJ, NTEU, AFT, UAW, Weather Undergound) and hateful idiots to attack its “enemies” and is daily assaulting Americans’ liberties and property.

    I no longer go to voz no shame as I, years ago, completed my post-doctoral, clinical work in proctology.

  • Paul Ryan has an excellent pro-life record and is, I believe, a Christian.

    A friend of mine belongs to his parish and spots him and his family at Mass every so often.

  • Paul J., I find it interesting that you object to the description of Atlas Shrugged and Objectivism as deeply flawed and then in the very same post you claim That’s not to say that the proposed solution, objectivism, is adequate, or even comprehensible.. You appear to be arguing against yourself here.

    Other thoughts, As for your claim about the broad description of the “John Galt Plan” being able to benefit everyone matching how Obama’s plans describe themselves… it also sounds an awful lot like Reganomics… or for that matter any government economic policy…. ever. The devil, as always is in the details.

    Basic thoughts are 1. Its awfully easy to make any proposed economic system work really well in a novel. I have read novels where communism, anarchism, socialism and libertarian capitalism have all worked wonderfully well. I wouldn’t trust any of them to be remotely related to reality.

    2. If you wait long enough, almost any dystopian vision will come to pass somewhere. It doesn’t make the book that contained such a vision all that reliable as predictors of the causes of the reality of the world.

    3. Objectivism and Capitalism (as practiced in the world today) are both deeply flawed systems. Both elevate selfishness into a virtue and are built on consequentialist ethics. We should remember that a just economic system is not the system that provides the most wealth to the most people; it is the system that allows all men to provide for the needs of their family through their own labor and also allows them to take care of the less fortunate in society.

  • Author: Paul, Just This Guy, You Know?
    Comment:
    But the fact that no one understands it means that liberals — who predominate in the Chanceries and Rectories — feel completely free to construe and teach it as nothing more than liberalism at prayer; exactly the sort of caricature that Rand used in describing all religion.

    AK: Agreed. I was merely pointing out that Ayn is adept at identifying the problem, yet fails to secure a workable or even viable solution. CST is a more viable solution; however, the filter that handles it twists it to liberal ends. We need to correct that and by we I mean the laity – the proper reform is not going to come from most of our bishops. That does not mean that CST is liberal, nor does it mean it is conservative.

    Obviously, Catholicism is progressive, progressing in virtue, and liberal, open to all, and conservative, adhering to eternal truths. Do these things transfer into politico-economic terms? Of course, yet we have a battle within the Church and without. Ultimately there are only two views: The Church and materialism, including liberalism and objectivism. The work to create a proper, doomed to be imperfect, synthesis is our job and I think TAC is a big part of that. Well, at least when we aren’t engaged in personal objections to practical problems.

    The devil knows that the best lies contain about 90% truth. Objectivism is one of these lies and it is only slightly less distasteful than liberalism/progressivism.

  • Author: D.L. Jones
    Comment:
    I was first introduced to Ayn Rand’s thought and philosophy, Objectivism, when I began studying Libertarianism and Austrian Economics. For me, both go hand-in-hand…

    AK: D.L. that is not necessarily true. I can tell you that Objectivism led me to libertarianism and the Austrian School. It was also Murray Rothbard, whom Rand disowned because he married a Christian, who led me away from Objectivism. Thank God before I devolved into anarcho-capitalism I was called home. I’ll tip my hat to Rothbard for pointing me in the direction of the Scholastics, who impressed me before I realized that I was Catholic.

    Nevertheless, Austrian economics, when excluding the materialist epistemology, can be compatible with Catholic thought. Objectivism can never be compatible with our faith. Rand is adept at pointing out the problems with left-originated statism, sadly her materialist atheism forces her to stop making sense at that point.

  • Paul, Just This Guy, You Know & Donna V. – Rep. Paul Ryan is a good man. I am not claiming otherwise. I agree with you about her writing inspiring him about smaller government, etc. I just thought it was an interesting connection.

    American Knight – What you say is reasonable regarding Rothbard and Scholastics. Paleo-Libertarianism seems to me to more reasonable and I was attracted to it, but I think it would be fair to say that Lew Rockwell has abandoned this effort. The American Conservative (TAC) seems to be reviving it though. In other readings, folks have pointed to some anti-Catholicism of Ludgwig von Mises for example as well. I am not aware of that in Rothbard though.

    Objectivists seem to me to be a cult and I am using the pejorative meaning of that word.

  • Every powerful lie has to contain some truth, or else people would not believe it, or be attracted to it. I have said many times that while I am by no means a follower of Ayn Rand or of Objectivism, there are SOME things she got right. The trick is identifying those things and leaving the rest behind.

    Ayn Rand’s pro-abortion views don’t appear in “Atlas Shrugged” or any of her fictional works that I know of. She voiced those views much later, in the 1960s and 1970s, when legalized abortion became a major public issue and she either chose to address the issue or was asked about it.

  • Here’s an interesting question for anybody to answer – Is Objectivism the logical end of anarcho-capitalism?

  • D.L.,

    I think we have to be careful when we define anti-Catholicism (and by no means am I saying that I am adept at this, I tend to be like St. Peter, speak first, think later). Atheists, materialists and those that do not actually know what the Church is or what she teaches, will display ‘anti-Catholicism’ inadvertently because they are out of touch with the Rock of Truth. When I was in the desert and an enemy of God, I thought the Church was an ancient institution created by men who use God and Jesus to beat others into submission. Did I know that to be true? By no means, but I did believe it? Absolutely. It is an act of faith to hate the Church, but until the scales fall from the eyes that is usually a strong belief.

    Then there are others who know what the Church is and out of a hatred for God will focus their attack on Holy Mother Church because if you know the Church is true then she must be your enemy because no one can strike at God. The former can be engaged, the latter must be destroyed.

    I think our work is to draw from libertarian thought and even the problem-identification that socialism (collectivism) is evil, of Objectivism, and synthesize with Catholic teaching (authentic, orthodox, unsentimental). There is no question that God made us to be free, the question is what constitutes freedom? Here in the valley of tears that necessarily involves political-economy. Libertarians/Objectivists miss the Mystery because they are materialists, a different and less evil species than Marxists, but materialists nonetheless. Yet, in the realm of human economic action and the hidden workings of the invisible market place (which is nothing more than humans with free will interacting with each other) they have it mostly right. Practically speaking.

    When we get into purpose, epistemology and philosophy, well, they are in the darkness and we know that darkness cannot comprehend the Light.

    In order for man to be perfected by Grace, he must be free to choose – even God will never violate that. Free choice for the good must be made available and that means free choice for the evil; however, we are to thwart the intrinsically evil. For example, we cannot tolerate child murder through abortion, but we can allow one to grow wealthy and be uncharitable. Why the difference? Abortion takes the life of an innocent – directly. Lack of charity may kill as an indirect consequence, the direct consequence is lack of love in the heart of the miser, his own hell. We may forcibly prevent the murder of the innocent child in the womb, we cannot force the wealthy man to be Charitable for that would be theft. Charity has to come from his heart of his own free will response to Grace. Simplified, example and we could go on forever on this, perhaps in another thread, but you get the idea.

    We have to Catholicize thought on political-economy and I think libertarian thought can be the practical tool to that end.

    As for Objectivism leading to anarcho-capitalism, I suspect not. The Randroid cult has evidenced their tendency toward fascism, not anarchy. When one is wrong on moral grounds and yet absolutely convinced that they are right, then the ego cannot but unleash Libido Dominandi on the world. The old dictum, I think an absolute dictatorship is fine, so long as I am the dictator. I’ve eaten from the Tree of Knowledge and now I am prepared to be god. Objectivism is far from objective and it falls apart based on its own premise of seeking to be truth when it stands firmly against Truth.

    Who is John Galt?

    An egoist, tempted by the serpent and not even aware that the serpent exists.

  • Elaine Krewer:
    I don’t agree at all with the notion that every powerful lie has to contain some truth. Sure the idea sounds good on paper, but I think history shows that while some lies distort the truth, others reject it outright.

    To take an extreme example; what truth could atheism contain? It is diametrically opposed to what we believe to be true (I.e., that God exists). If what we believe is true, then atheism can’t hold any truth.

  • Objectivism the logical end of anarcho-capitalism?

    Well, Objectivists aren’t anarchists, so no.

    Rothbard was friendly with Rand briefly after Atlas came out, but was quickly denounced. He wrote a one act play about the experience, Mozart was a Red, which is kind of funny.

  • American Knight – great comments… Thank you! I agree with you. One minor point – Mises did say some very critical things about Catholicism but I understand your points/comments.

    A.K. & Blackadder – here is what I was attempting to get at with my question about Objectivism being a logical end of anarcho-capitalism. This concept of radical self-interest of Objectivism seems to compliment and work well with anarcho-capitalism as well. The Church tempers fallen man’s “self-interest” with solidarity and virtue…

    Good points regarding fascism vs. anarchy and the broken friendship between Rothbard and Rand. I might add that both of those characters seemed to rub many people the wrong way themselves.

    To an earlier point that was made by another person about Atheists… Please do not forget that Atheists are human. They can know truth… They can accept and grasp natural law, etc. They can be attracted to truth, beauty and the good. In my opinion Atheists give me greater hope than Agnostics. At least Atheists care passionately about something, no matter how wrong they may be, but that is a starting point. Agnostics don’t know and many times don’t care to know. That’s a bigger problem.

  • From the movie’s main website – Atlas Shrugged is a novel that has generated inspiration and controversy since its publication in 1957.

    Its theme is the role of individual achievement in society and its goal is to demonstrate what can happen when individual achievement is undervalued, suppressed and demonized. Complex characters embody heroism and evil, in a plot that combines drama, mystery, romance, and science fiction – the result is ultimately inspirational, not apocalyptic.

    Dagny Taggart is one of the finest female heroines in modern literature: intelligent, courageous, and as beautiful as she is strong. She is a rare screen example of life lived on one’s own terms, for one’s own values. Steel magnate Henry Rearden says, “My goal is to make money” with pride. He is an industrialist who improves the quality of life for all – and values his reward. Atlas Shrugged’s villains are evil, but as familiar as our local neighbor – as they undercut and subvert talent and achievement.

    Relevance Today ~ Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged & Objectivism

    Ask yourself: What would happen, if our producers disappear – Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin and other industrialists fall off the radar, their companies shuttered and their creative genius no longer powering America? The answer lies in Atlas Shrugged Part I.

    For the millions around the world who have read Rand’s books, for those curious about her controversial philosophy, and for the uninitiated, and skeptical – the film, which only covers the first third of the book, is an opportunity to a faithful adaptation.

    Rand’s unique literary genius – which we hope to make accessible to a broader audience via film – is to show the price to be paid by the individual and society when the tragic words “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” are carried out.

  • For example, the new documentary Inside Job shows radical self-interest which leads to fascism – a merger of government with business. For anybody who hasn’t seen it… It’s a professionally well done documentary. The extended interviews are very much worth watching as well.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2DRm5ES-uA

    It is in the banks’ self-interest to legally do fractional reserve banking. It is in the investment firms’ self-interest to legally do derivatives. To serve one’s self-interest and to be protected by the law to do so is very convenient for them. It seems as if government in these cases (and others) has run amuck. Is these not a form of government sanctioned anarchy in a way?

  • One of the villains in Atlas Shrugged is Orren Boyle, the President of Associated Steel, protagonist Hank Rearden’s competitor.

    But in the story, while Rearden competes by offering ever better products, delivered on time and on budget, Boyle (who we’re told at the outset does not deliver on time) competes by going to his paid lobbyists and his friends in government in an effort to use government power to hinder Rearden and regulate the market in his own favor.

    The lesson here is, if government has this regulatory power, some businesses will use their clout to make sure that that regulatory power is used to benefit them. Others will suffer a disadvantage if they choose not to, or are unable to. And this use of regulatory power will not ultimately benefit the economy, the nation, or the citizenry.

    In the story, the situation goes from bad to worse, driven primarily by the efforts of some businesses to hinder or punish others, until the regulatory power is ultimately turned on them, and destroys their businesses as well. This is what is happening in our nation today, and it’s bad for everybody.

    I believe that the solution to this is to reduce the size and the power of government to regulate marketplaces and choose winners, and to prevent government from propping up failing businesses just because somebody thought they were “too big to fail”.

    What other solution do you prefer?

  • D.L. Jones, ‘fractional-reserve banking’ is what is known more concisely as ‘banking’. It is a centuries-old practice of intermediating between the sources and users of capital.

    Paul,

    1. All persons and all enterprises are ‘regulated’ to some degree. The question is, what are you regulating? Are you recognizing a distinction between erecting a state-supervised cartel (as the airline industry functioned for 40 years) and formulating health-and-safety standards? Do you conceive of there being a distinction?

    2. The effect of failure of most any kind of enterprise have a discrete boundary. Not so the failure of financial firms, which are dependent on public confidence and vulnerable to panics in a way manufacturers generally are not.

  • A.K. & Blackadder – here is what I was attempting to get at with my question about Objectivism being a logical end of anarcho-capitalism. This concept of radical self-interest of Objectivism seems to compliment and work well with anarcho-capitalism as well. The Church tempers fallen man’s “self-interest” with solidarity and virtue…

    I don’t see radical self-interest as being necessary to the anarcho-capitalist system. It’s certainly compatible with it, but so is solidarity and virtue.

  • D.L.,
    Comment: This concept of radical self-interest of Objectivism seems to compliment and work well with anarcho-capitalism as well. The Church tempers fallen man’s “self-interest” with solidarity and virtue…

    AK: I agree with Blackadder. Anarchy, meaning simply the absence of government is not necessarily chaos. Yet, since we are not angels, this is not a state that can last, especially on a large scale. ‘self-interest’ and selfish-interest are also not necessarily the same. A group of individuals who are aware that their self is found in God and are trying to not sin, may rule themselves through the agency, or I suppose, the lack thereof, of anarchy. Selfish-interested individuals cannot because they will necessarily progress into the Hobbesian war of all against all. All government tends toward absolutism and totalitarianism because those who rule usually have unchecked egos – Randroids included (I wouldn’t call Objectivism a philosophy, which implies a love of wisdom, because Objecivism is merely a love of Ayn Rand).

    As regards, atheists, I agree D.L., when I thought I was an atheist, I was uncompromising and wouldn’t acknowledge anything, especially religion, as valid unless it could be proved true – I did not want to be a hypocrite. Oddly, that very act of knowing hypocrisy to be ‘bad’ and seeking ‘truth’ is in no small part what led me back to God. Of course, I needed to be humbled first, because my ego was determined that I could determine truth on my own initiative. I can’t, no one can, the truth is written in our hearts, our intellect can grasp the truth that is revealed, but until the will obediently submits to God, the truth only appears in shades and shadows. Militant atheists, who reject God merely because they don’t want to conform to objective truth and reality, know that He is real and they probably know that He established a Church, they hate Him for the same reason His most princely Seraph rebelled with full knowledge of Who God is. I know there is always Hope, but these people are not likely to ever change. I think of Christ completely ignoring Herod – Jesus did not waste one word on that fool.

    Art: Fractional-reserve banking is usury, just because it has been going on for a long time, doesn’t make it honest (prostitution and Sodomy have been going on far longer), beneficial, licit or moral. It is an abomination! If a bank wants to lend out my money, then they should sell me a bond. When I make a deposit, to store my money, they should just store it, anything else is disingenuous. Love of money is the root of all evil – fractional-reserve banking is avaricious, it is a vice and it is distorting our entire economic intercourse.

    To D.L.’s point, fractional-reserve banking, cartelized by government coercion is what allows the incestuous relationship between industry and politics to the detriment of the people, the free-market and justice. Fascism/corporatism is the disease born of avarice for both power and money. On this the Austrians are right. The Objectivists identify the problem too and just like the neo-cons, establishment Republicans, liberals and progressives, they fail to propose a solution other than that the system is fine, its just that the other guys shouldn’t be in charge of it.

  • Hello. I’m was looking up Catholics and Ayn Rand, and discovered this conversation. I have to post here because, as a Catholic, it is so shocking to me to see posters here defending Ayn Rand. Some posters here seem to be slicing and dicing Ayn Rand’s philosophy to meet their views. One can not separate Ayn Rands evilness from the ideas espoused in her writings. All that is necessary is to see the evilness of Ayn Rand is to compare what Ayn Rand said versus what Jesus said:

    Ayn Rand wrote: “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute”.

    Jesus Said “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets too.'”

    I noticed one poster referred to “That Hideous Strength” by C.S. Lewis. That is a great book for demonstrating how subtly and insidiously evil can slip into our lives. That is exactly how I perceive Objectivism to be: it starts with the idea that some of Ayn Rand’s ideas are acceptable, and slowly climbs down the ladder from there.

    Also, what about people that are Role Models. I perceive Paul Ryan to be a Role Model to some, but younger more impressionable people could be mislead because they don’t understand Rep. Ryan is parsing the ideas of Ayn Rand. If Catholics and Ayn Rand coincidentally share a desire for smaller government, that’s OK. But to use that one connection to promote Ayn Rand as a brilliant hero is to actually promote Ayn Rand’s entire evil philosophy.

    Thank you for reading.

  • There are good and bad in every earthly thing and in everybody. Take the good and discard evil.

    End the Class War.

  • I can’t help but wonder how many of the folks who are insisting that nothing Ayn Rand wrote can include anything worth keeping voted for Obama for President, and are now ginning up their excuses to do so again?

  • Darkness blinds. The Light reveals. In the Light, the truth in what Ayn wrote can be seen and so can her errors (none of us are exempt from error). Darkness causes us to be to blind to truth and embrace the lie.

    Obama lies. Ayn is mostly wrong, but sometimes she’s right. We need to pray the Spirit for discernment. Ayn is correct about somethings the way the Greeks intuited through reason that there must be an Unknown God – it took St. Paul to tell them His Name. Were the Greeks wrong? Mostly, but does that mean we should disregard what they were right about? We need not accept the truth of one who is mostly wrong, whole cloth; we can pull out the truth and discard the error, or even the lie. Although, I suspect Ayn was sincerely trying to tell the truth, unfortunately, her ego was far to big to allow her to see clearly.

  • Instapundit, “The left is extremely frightened of Rand’s ideas. As always, that fear is displayed as a mixture of hatred and contempt, backed by lies.”

    End the Class War!

  • I can’t help but wonder how many of the folks who are insisting that nothing Ayn Rand wrote can include anything worth keeping voted for Obama for President, and are now ginning up their excuses to do so again?

    I think what they have been saying is that Rand’s writings are proverbially good and original. I have only looked at fragments and I would say the same.

    (I have not cast a ballot for a Democrat in a federal election in 18 years or more, and I expect never to do so again).

  • I thought I was answering Question 1 “1. Is Objectivism compatible with Catholicism?” That’s what I was addressing. How Obama and the left got in there I don’t know. Obama is neither Catholic or Ayn Rand. And the left has it’s own heavy baggage to deal with.

    I’m still puzzled about how a Catholic can support Ayn Rand. Just because Ayn Rand has one position in common with limited government advocates, they sing her praises? What if Charles Mason came out for limited government? Would the limited government advocates sing his praises? Limited government is obviously a valid civic and political position and I’m not criticizing that. But I believe a person can not be both a Christian and a follower of Ayn Rand. A person has to decide which way they want to go. I’m sure there must some famous non-objectivist limited government advocates that can be held up as Role Models, so more impressionable Catholics don’t imagine that Ayn Rand is any kind of role model for Christians.

  • I meant Charles Manson…sorry.

  • Tim,

    I get it. America is suffering from the Obama-worshipping hysteria of 2008. And, you think it will be same same with Ayn Rand.

    I am not a follower of Ayn Rand.

    Catholics can support “limited gov” even if Charles Manson advocates “limited gov.” Or, is limited gov outlawed?

    T.

  • “A person cannot be both a Christian and a follower of Ayn Rand.”

    I agree, and Rand herself obviously agreed as well. However, there is a big difference between being a “follower” of Ayn Rand and agreeing with SOME of her ideas or liking SOME of her writing. Just as there is a big difference between actually being a Christian and merely agreeing with some of what Christ said, or admiring what He did. There are plenty of Jews, Muslims, pagans, and atheists who admire Christ as a human being or even as a prophet, but that doesn’t make them Christians, of course. Likewise there are many conservatives who like Rand’s ideas about limited government without being hard core Objectivists.

    “What if Charles Manson came out for limited government?”

    What if Hitler came out for small, affordable cars and a nationwide multilane highway system… oh wait… he did. Does that make Volkswagens or interstate highways (modeled after the German Autobahn) evil? A good idea does not become bad simply because a bad person supports it; likewise, a bad idea does not become good simply because some good or even holy people support it (for example, absolute pacifism).

  • I’m still puzzled about how a Catholic can support Ayn Rand.

    I’ve never voted for Ayn Rand for anything. She wrote a book I enjoyed, and I’ve defended some — not all — of the ideas in it. In what sense is that “supporting” Ayn Rand? I didn’t even buy the book; I checked it out of the library.

    But I believe a person can not be both a Christian and a follower of Ayn Rand… I’m sure there must some famous non-objectivist limited government advocates that can be held up as Role Models…

    Perhaps, but I’m not aware of what popular novels they may have written that do what Atlas Shrugged does, which is portray our current political problems with remarkable accuracy, while telling an engaging story. If such a book were written, from a Catholic perspective, which demonstrated how bad overreaching big government is for a just society and then showed how limited government principles do a far better job of advancing the stated goals of Catholic social teaching than does big government, I’d be all over it.

    Evidently there is not such a book.

    And how is it that every time somebody says something nice about something Ayn Rand wrote, they are allegedly holding her up as a “Role Model”?

    If Rand had been a weather girl, and I pointed out that she had accurately predicted the snow I had here this past Monday morning, and had urged people to dress warmly, would that mean that I was abandoning Catholicism for objectivism? I don’t ask the political affiliation of the meteorologist on TV, I ask if his forecast is accurate. If I find that it is, does that mean that I’m supporting all his political views?

    To me, the topic is not the entirety of Rand’s oeuvre, and not the logical implications of objectivism, but, as it says at the top of the post, the single story Atlas Shrugged.

    The enthusiastic — even urgent — determination of some people here to insist that I Must Not appreciate the good points of Atlas Shrugged because of things that Rand wrote and said years after she wrote this book causes me to think that those people don’t agree with me that there are in fact good points.

    And I have to wonder how many of these people — who decry my overlooking Rand’s more objectionable ideas while I embrace her story of big government gone amuck — are overlooking the left’s embrace of abortion, euthanasia, and now unjust war while they embrace unlimited big government itself.

    And I don’t feel I’m getting a lot of honesty from others on this point.

  • Great post Elaine. Paul (JTG, YK), I am equally disturbed by some of the reactions you’ve been getting. I think we all have a tendency to forget that creation is good and truth exists in all of it – we are often just merely self-blinded to see it. Since we are all sinners, we all have evil in us and we are all misinterpreting something. Ayn Rand is clearly NOT a Catholic and most of her thinking, certainly her way of life is incompatible with Truth, but that does not negate that she knows some truth, although imperfectly, which makes her just like the rest of us.

    I also find it fascinating that we are being admonished to ignore the truth she was able to see, explain and highlight in an entertaining, although comic-bookish, manner, simply because we disagree with her atheistic, hedonistic, materialist lifestyle. I consume pop culture with a grain of salt – most of the messaging coming from Madison Ave and Hollywood is awful, sometimes its not bad, rarely is it good. Yet, sometimes I want a little saccharine and I can consume the product without making a total endorsement of the producers. Why is it we cannot do the same with Atlas, especially since it is a clear expounding of God’s commandment to respect private property: Thou shalt not steal!

    Furthermore, J. Galt as a heroic being is a good example, the failure is when he believes his end is himself. The truth is that man is an end unto himself: Either he will end in hell, or he will end in full humanity, and only God is fully human. If we look at Atlas through Catholic eyes, we can pull out the truth and see that JG is nothing compared to JC, but, at least for now, I resemble Galt more than I resemble Christ – perhaps your critics are more Christlike than I.

  • Those in powerful positions who have been (and are) Rand devotees is troubling. Entertaining and comic bookish though one might think of them, her ideas are dangerous. Objectivism is anti-family, anti-motherhood, anti-morality.

    The failure to call this clear evil what it is on a Catholic website seems strange to me. It seem similar to a Catholic website failing to call abortion evil.

    In her own words:

  • Bruce, please define “Rand devotee.” Do you mean someone who read one of her books, thinks it’s a good story, and agrees with her small-government views?

    BTW, that myth about Paul Ryan being “inspired” by Rand has been debunked.

    It’s an interesting post you made, Bruce. Let me try a slightly edited version:

    “Those in powerful positions who have been (and are) Democrats is troubling. Entertaining and comic bookish though one might think of them, their ideas are dangerous. The Democratic platform is anti-family, anti-motherhood, anti-morality.”

    How many Democrats are in government, compared to how many “Rand devotees”?

  • I cannot believe that anyone who is even in the least familiar with the Church’s Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html) or the USCCB’s statement, Economic Justice for All (http://www.usccb.org/jphd/economiclife/affected.shtml) can find anything of worth in Ayn Rand.

    Objectivism at its core is incompatible with Catholic thought, in that it does not see the common good as the principle goal of society, but the individual. The Church teaches that a society is to be judged on how it treats its most vulnerable–the poor, the sick, the elderly. Ayn Rand is for ignoring these people as “takers” who are parasites on a society which should extol the “makers”.

    There is no such thing as “love your neighbor as yourself” in her philosophy. It’s “love myself at all costs.”

  • The Church teaches that a society is to be judged on how it treats its most vulnerable–the poor, the sick, the elderly.

    You just gave yourself away, David.

    The Church teaches that “Every man receives his eternal recompense in his immortal soul from the moment of his death in a particular judgment by Christ, the judge of the living and the dead.” (CCC 1051)

    Society will not be judged. Each of us will be individually.

    And on your list of the “most vulnerable,” you somehow left off the unborn.

    You are clearly an Obama-loving pro-abort Democrat. That’s why you’re trying so hard to change the subject. You claim that you can’t understand how anyone can reconcile objectivism with Catholicism. The real question is how you can reconcile authentic Catholicism with modern liberalism.

    Authentic Catholic teaching understands that without productivity, there can be no charity.

  • Paul & David are both correct. Here is the some of the Catholic Social teaching to which David was referring http://www.osjspm.org/major_themes.aspx

    Paul, Elaine, and AK, I’m starting to understand where you are coming from. Here is what I am hearing. Is this remotely correct?: You are not Objectivists. What you have taken is a product of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, and kept what you thought was worthwhile (role of government point-of-view) and rejected the rest.

    If that is correct, the problem is that many people are, in my experience, not able to understand that kind of compartmentalization and nuance. It is sort of the old ‘baby with the bathwater’ thing. When most Christians read or hear about ‘Ayn Rand’ they mostly think ‘anti-christian’. People will not understand how you can be Catholics and even talk about Ayn Rand in a positive light. There are many Christians that are not as conservative as you, but not leftists either. They will not understand your slicing and dicing of Rands philosophy. Immediately any Christian saying nice things about Rand will be considered hypocrites and Pharisee-style people. It is already happening if you check around the internet. And the leftists have picked up on it, big time. As I mentioned before, it would be great if you could find a way of expressing your point-of-view without mentioning the horrid Ayn Rand.

    BTW AK, I follow the Goldilocks approach to government: I want it just right, not to small or too big. But we could argue for 100 years about what ‘just right’ is. Just leave that rotten Ayn Rand out of it, please. And since Goldilocks was a trespasser and thief, I guess I’ll have to overlook that ;-)

  • Good work, Paul Just . . . !

    Their list of the “most vulnerable” not only omits the most numerous and most innocent, it mostly contains career sinners (drug addicts, fornicators, haters, idlers, murderers, rapists, etc.) that are “most vulnerable” precisely because their vices ensured their ruins.

    Then they spew contempt and detraction on sober, hard-working, (obviously they think evil) people who balk at throwing to sinners (dem voting blocs) more of their earnings, which they will need to support their children and grandchildren in the economic disaster which is Obamanomics.

    Heck, I didn’t mention Ayn Rand. Her “philosophy” is benign compared to hate-filled liberals’ class envy and hyper-promotions of every one of the seven deadly sins.

    I am sorry . . .

  • Paul, Just this Guy…I am rather shocked that you made such a serious leap in assuming anything about me and then cough up a CCC quote that ignores what the Church says on the common good. I’ll consider this a teaching moment…

    From the USCCB:

    “The dignity of the human person is a central theme running throughout Catholic Social Teaching. This principle asserts that the human person is made in the image and likeness of God, that human life is sacred and must be preserved from conception through natural death, and that each person possesses a basic dignity that comes from God. Therefore, the test of every institution or policy is whether it enhances or threatens human life and human dignity.”

    Notice that the bishops highlight that human life is sacred, not just in the womb, but also throughout one’s life until death. I am pro-life in all of its meaning, including being anti-abortion, but also being supportive of human dignity throughout life. Ayn Rand does not accept this, and, from your posts, its seems you have trouble with this as well.

    “Poor and vulnerable people have a special place in Catholic social teaching. A basic moral test of a society is how its most vulnerable members are faring … Our tradition calls us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.”

    Any society that decides to sweep the poor and vulnerable under a rug of me-first capitalism–which is what you seem to be suggesting–is immoral.

    In discussing the common good in his encyclical, Caritas in vertitate, Pope Benedict summarized Catholic thought with this regard:

    “Another important consideration is the common good. To love someone is to desire that person’s good and to take effective steps to secure it. Besides the good of the individual, there is a good that is linked to living in society: the common good. It is the good of “all of us”, made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society[4]. It is a good that is sought not for its own sake, but for the people who belong to the social community and who can only really and effectively pursue their good within it. To desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity. To take a stand for the common good is on the one hand to be solicitous for, and on the other hand to avail oneself of, that complex of institutions that give structure to the life of society, juridically, civilly, politically and culturally, making it the pólis, or “city”. The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbours, the more effectively we love them. Every Christian is called to practise this charity, in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in the pólis. This is the institutional path — we might also call it the political path — of charity, no less excellent and effective than the kind of charity which encounters the neighbour directly, outside the institutional mediation of the pólis. When animated by charity, commitment to the common good has greater worth than a merely secular and political stand would have. Like all commitment to justice, it has a place within the testimony of divine charity that paves the way for eternity through temporal action. Man’s earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity, contributes to the building of the universal city of God, which is the goal of the history of the human family. In an increasingly globalized society, the common good and the effort to obtain it cannot fail to assume the dimensions of the whole human family, that is to say, the community of peoples and nations[5], in such a way as to shape the earthly city in unity and peace, rendering it to some degree an anticipation and a prefiguration of the undivided city of God.”

    Doing God’s work goes beyond simple individual salvation, which is what you seem to believe. That’s what many Protestant’s think.

    Rather, as Catholics, we are to work towards establishing the “universal city of God” on this earth through our actions and out of love for God and His creation.

  • And for T. Shaw. I am shocked that you would resort to such rhetoric, casting those who are vulnerable as sinners who deserve their fate.

    Have you not read the parable of the prodigal son? Or when Jesus confronts the Pharisees who are about to stone the adulteress?

    Or what He says in Matthew 7: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye?”

    Rather than complaining about what you perceive is being taken from you to assist “the career sinners”, you should be asking what more you can to assist them.

  • David, often what you can do to assist them is to forcibly sanction their conduct, and, once you have completed that task, encourage them to engage in productive employment and to acquire a competence over time. (Doing such things as providing open-ended doles to able-bodied and working-aged people leaves them rather unclear on the concept).

  • David, I have to tell you that USCCB documents don’t carry a lot of weight with me, they are political documents, and represent only the political views of some of the bishops — or more accurately, the USCCB staff. Church teaching comes from the Holy Father, or from validly composed Church Councils, or from Scripture.

    For example, the USCCB recently issued a statement about the Congressional Republicans federal budget. But where was their statement on the Senate vote to de-fund Planned Parenthood?

    David, since you are “shocked” that I would make “assumptions” about you — I assumed nothing, I deduced; I know liberal code when I read it — perhaps you would condescend to answer a direct question or two: Do you vote regularly for Democrats for federal and/or state office? What have you done to work for the overturn of Roe v. Wade?

    And, if you’ll go beyond two:

    Do you believe that there is virtue in your using the coercive power of government to take the product of another man’s labor and giving to a third man who has not earned it?

    Do you believe that this any enforceable limit on the authority of government to tax, spend or regulate?

    Do you believe that secular government agencies are more effective than the Church in performing charitable work?

    …you should be asking what more you can to assist them.

    If a man is contented to be given by government everything he needs without appreciable effort on his own part, what more “assistance” would he need?

  • Paul, you have an odd stance on the USCCB, but fine, I’ll bite. I split my vote, especially in local elections. I do work towards ending Roe, but also believe that we should focus on the underlying reasons that women seek abortions. I also, as I have said before, believe that right to life means that we should seek to promote human dignity beyond birth.

    As for your other questions, and since you accept the teachings of the Holy See, see here from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:

    “355. Tax revenues and public spending take on crucial economic importance for every civil and political community. The goal to be sought is public financing that is itself capable of becoming an instrument of development and solidarity. Just, efficient and effective public financing will have very positive effects on the economy, because it will encourage employment growth and sustain business and non-profit activities and help to increase the credibility of the State as the guarantor of systems of social insurance and protection that are designed above all to protect the weakest members of society.

    Public spending is directed to the common good when certain fundamental principles are observed: the payment of taxes [739] as part of the duty of solidarity; a reasonable and fair application of taxes;[740] precision and integrity in administering and distributing public resources.[741] In the redistribution of resources, public spending must observe the principles of solidarity, equality and making use of talents. It must also pay greater attention to families, designating an adequate amount of resources for this purpose.[742]”

    You see, the issue of the role of the state, its expenditures, regulations, tax policies, etc. all revolve around the promotion of the common good. In particular, the state is to promote policies which assist families. In particular, since Rerum novarum, the Church has promoted the fair wage, that is, a wage level where individuals earn an adequate wage to support a family on one income. Again, from the Compendium:

    “302. Remuneration is the most important means for achieving justice in work relationships.[659] The “just wage is the legitimate fruit of work”.[660]

    They commit grave injustice who refuse to pay a just wage or who do not give it in due time and in proportion to the work done (cf. Lv 19:13; Dt 24:14-15; Jas 5:4). A salary is the instrument that permits the labourer to gain access to the goods of the earth. “Remuneration for labour is to be such that man may be furnished the means to cultivate worthily his own material, social, cultural, and spiritual life and that of his dependents, in view of the function and productiveness of each one, the conditions of the factory or workshop, and the common good”.[661] The simple agreement between employee and employer with regard to the amount of pay to be received is not sufficient for the agreed-upon salary to qualify as a “just wage”, because a just wage “must not be below the level of subsistence”[662] of the worker: natural justice precedes and is above the freedom of the contract.

    303. The economic well-being of a country is not measured exclusively by the quantity of goods it produces but also by taking into account the manner in which they are produced and the level of equity in the distribution of income, which should allow everyone access to what is necessary for their personal development and perfection. An equitable distribution of income is to be sought on the basis of criteria not merely of commutative justice but also of social justice that is, considering, beyond the objective value of the work rendered, the human dignity of the subjects who perform it. Authentic economic well-being is pursued also by means of suitable social policies for the redistribution of income which, taking general conditions into account, look at merit as well as at the need of each citizen.”

    As for charitable work, I believe the Church does what it can, but is overwhelmed by the problems. That’s why Pope Benedict stresses the importance of the state in taking action to create a more just society and to put the poor and vulnerable first.

    It’s obvious that you adhere to a conservativism that emphasizes political ideals of a small government and low taxes combined with an antiabortion stance. That’s fine. But you should also take a good hard look at what the Church has said about what a just society should be. If you are going to dismiss the USCCB, then read the Compendium and Caritas in veritate. You might find some very uncomfortable things there, but it would be worth it to deepen your faith and commitment.

    One more thing. I think there are some seriously misguided opinions here about the poor. I work with the less well-off on a volunteer basis fairly often in an urban area. Many work multiple jobs, try to support their families and are good, decent people. One person I know has three jobs. They are hardly freeloaders.

  • David,

    No, I get it.

    Now, I see.

    The government is doing NOTHING.

    And, the evil, unjust capitalist system keeps down the people.

    They are victims. They bear no responsibility for their plights. It has nothing to do with illlegitimacy (the primary correlation/cause of US poverty), wrath, envy, sloth, public school maleducation, etc.

    Here goes! After the 1960’s Great Society transferred over a trillion (today’s inflation-adjusted) dollars in working people’s money to bureaucrats and a llittle to the poor, the percent of vulnerable, poverty victims was the SAME.

    Look out below! Right now, more government money is being transferred/redistributed to “poor” people than is coming in as taxes. See Fiscal Times. Last time that occurred was in the 1930’s. This Great Recession is a repeat of the 1930’s and will last 20 years same as the Depression. Double dip . . .

    Obamonomics will fail. Reaganomics would bring propsperity.

    Stop reading, now.

    Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a liberal can. (see Mark Twain on congressmen)

  • This Great Recession is a repeat of the 1930?s and will last 20 years same as the Depression. Double dip . . .

    It is not, it did not, and it likely will not.

    David: concision is great stuff.

  • Art,

    What facts do you cite for your optimism?

    You likely shall live to see it. The Carter era misery index redux is probably the best we can hope for. They are destroying the remains of the financial system now. Me: I prepare for the worst and pray for the best.

    I cannot wait to read your explanation on how justice and human dignity thrust all of us into a dire equality of poverty and dependency.

    But, hey! The most pro-abortion candidate in history says he’s against capital punishment (heh) and war ((heh): keeps two Bushitler wars flagrant and starts his own third war, and day-one steps up airborne unmanned assassinations: assassinations of tangos is okay BUT said he was opposed to water-boarding (heh)) is really the pro-life candidate!

    Whoodddaa thunk!!!

    Is all that concision? Or, is there more?

  • Paul, you have an odd stance on the USCCB…

    Indeed? What did I say that wasn’t true?

    I do work towards ending Roe, but also believe that we should focus on the underlying reasons that women seek abortions.

    Can you give me an example of something you’ve done towards ending Roe? Do you believe that there is in fact such a thing as “a woman’s right to choose” abortion?

    And just what, in your view, are the “underlying reasons that women seek abortions”? Would you support a proposal to legalize robbing convenience stores until society has addressed the underlying reasons that men rob convenience stores?

    Just, efficient and effective public financing will have very positive effects on the economy…

    In your view, how much taxation is “just” and “efficient”? Is our current scheme of public financing having “very positive effects on the economy”? If not, would you agree that this might be an indication that our current scheme of taxation and our current fiscal policy may actually fail to be “just”, “efficient”, or both?

    Public spending is directed to the common good when certain fundamental principles are observed: … a reasonable and fair application of taxes;[740] …

    Is it your contention that our current application of taxes is “reasonable and fair”?

    “…precision and integrity in administering and distributing public resources.[741]…

    Do you honestly believe that the current administration is employing anything that could be remotely considered “precision and integrity in administering and distributing public resources”?

    In the redistribution of resources, public spending must observe the principles of solidarity, equality and making use of talents. It must also pay greater attention to families, designating an adequate amount of resources for this purpose.[742]”

    I would assert that our current public spending observes no principle of solidarity, in that is based on and encourages class warfare; no principle of equality, in that nearly half the populace pays no taxes at all; and no principle of “making use of talents”, in that use of talents is punished and discouraged by the current system, not rewarded or encouraged.

    Much of this quotation addresses the the principles by which employment agreements should be entered into and carried out, and I really have little problem with it. But what is lacking (perhaps because you failed to include it in your quotation) is the part where it says that the secular state is the proper enforcement mechanism.

    And when the secular state fails to carry out its part of the teaching, who is there to call it to account? You?

    Of course not. That’s for people like me.

    The Church also teaches the doctrine of the Real Presence. Is it for the secular state to enforce that teaching as well? Should the state also enforce church attendance on days of obligation?

    As for charitable work, I believe the Church does what it can, but is overwhelmed by the problems.

    Does it occur to you that there could be more resources given to the Church if potential donors were not so heavily taxed, and if government did not place such burdens on Church operations?

    (BTW, on a tangent, where do you stand on forcing Catholic adoption agencies out of business if they decline to place children with same-sex couples?)

    David, you are clearly too bound to your liberal biases to recognize that our current scheme of ever-increasing taxation, borrowing, and spending will soon — very soon — bring all but a tiny, unconcerned elite down to the same level, unable to help anyone, with no one left to look to for help.

    Charitable donations are down; this is due both to the poor economy and also to the increasing presumption that it’s the government’s job to help those who need help — and not the job of the Church or of Christians.

    The Church proposes its teachings. It doesn’t enforce them. When coercive government attempts to enforce them, especially in a piecemeal, uncoordinated and unintentional fashion, the result cannot hope or pretend to ever be just, in any sense of the word.

  • I see you are cherry-picking from the Compendium. That’s why I gave the long texts, so I would not be accused of the same. Read the whole thing. It’s worth the effort.

    To be brief, it appears that you feel that the Republican party (looks more like the Tea Party version)=True Catholic positions. I disagree. Neither party represents where the Church is, which is why the Bishops and others have stated that it is up to us as individuals to do the best we can to determine which candidates are closest to what the Church teaches.

    Regarding taxes, you do realize that we are currently paying the lowest levels of income taxes in decades? No, I don’t think that this is fair. Personally, I’d be for returning the rates to what they were when Reagan left office. I would also like to see Glass-Steagle reinstated. See what Pope Benedict says about these sorts of issues in Caritas in veritate. Might be an eye-opener.

  • RE: taxes…I meant earlier in Reagan’s time in office–before the 1986 tax cuts came into effect. I don’t think having the top rate at 35-40% is outrageous by any measure.

  • T. Shaw,

    1. Between the 2d quarter of 2008 and the 2d quarter of 2009, the rate at which goods and services were being produced in the economy declined by 3.9%. Between the summer of 1929 and the spring of 1933, that rate declined by 27%. In other words, the economic contraction of the former period was more severe by a factor of more than six.

    2. The economy began to grow rapidly in the spring of 1933. By the end of 1936, total real output was quite near the levels reached in the summer of 1929. The economy then suffered an auxilliary contraction which lasted about a year and a half. It then grew rapidly for the succeeding seven years. By the summer of 1941, per capita income was about 15% higher than it had been in 1929. The labor market remained in an injured state and frictional unemployment did not return to the rates of 1929 until the middle of the war.

    3. The threat we currently face is from the effects of sovereign default. Keep in mind that the worst economic contraction experienced in recent decades by a country with some baseline of prosperity and civil peace was that suffered by Argentina during the years running from 1999 to 2004. That contraction (on the order of 19%) was still less severe than that experienced by the United States during the Depression.

  • To be brief, it appears that you feel that the Republican party (looks more like the Tea Party version)=True Catholic positions.

    This would not be an accurate assessment of my view. In American politics, there is no “Catholic” party.

    But my view is that the Democratic Party, which trumpets all the same proposals you’re ascribing to the Church, is completely incompatible with Catholicism, due to its embrace of abortion, euthanasia, healthcare rationing, confiscatory tax rates, oppressive regulation, anti-family policies, homosexual “marriage”, and rampant corruption. You seem to want to avoid these truths, by saying that at least it’s not Objectivism (cf: Luke 18:11), which in your view is _really_incompatible with Catholicism.

    Your evident willingness to ignore these evils is really quite telling.

    I don’t think having the top rate at 35-40% is outrageous by any measure.

    On what basis? Are you in the top bracket? Given the effect such rates have on the economy, I think it’s quite outrageous, especially when combined with skyrocketing state taxes (here in Illinois, our state income rate was recently hiked by 50%).

  • Pacem, Art

    We shall see where this is going. God help us.

    Right now: the family earning $15,000 pays $0 fed income tax. The family earning $250,000 pays about $50,000 income tax, the Alternative Minimum Tax makes them add back itemized deductions and pay 26% on the sum.

    Actually, the guy with the $15,000 income, if he has kids, gets money paid to him in the form of EARNED INCOME CREDIT.

    The Gospels teach me (personally) how I may strive for the grace to save my soul.

    Find where in the Gospels it teaches to “gang up” in a government and love some people but hate other people. Government is not peace, justice, or human dignity. It is fatal power.

  • Author: Tim O
    Comment:
    Paul, Elaine, and AK, I’m starting to understand where you are coming from. Here is what I am hearing. Is this remotely correct?: You are not Objectivists. What you have taken is a product of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, and kept what you thought was worthwhile (role of government point-of-view) and rejected the rest.

    BTW AK, I follow the Goldilocks approach to government: I want it just right, not to small or too big. But we could argue for 100 years about what ‘just right’ is. Just leave that rotten Ayn Rand out of it, please. And since Goldilocks was a trespasser and thief, I guess I’ll have to overlook that ;-)

    AK: I can’t speak for anyone else, as for me, I am not and was not an Objectivist, which essentially means a Ranroid in the Cult of Ayn Rand. What I did find in reading Atlas Shrugged is that what I already perceived to be true was well represented. To me, at the time, without eyes of faith, Ayn simply had articulated that which I thought was true, so I thought she must be right. Since then, I have matured and as a Catholic find her lifestyle choices to be horrid and her ideology is flawed because it is totally materialist. That being said, in the realm of identifying the evils and failures of Marxism (socialism. communism, collectivism) she is still right. Her solution is flawed, but not totally incorrect. Individual achievement, productivity and private property are good principles. She fails in understanding the proper ordering of those goods.

    The idea that avarice and lucre will yield public benefit is only possibly true in the material order, it cannot be true in the moral order. Yet, if we take work as the means by which we are useful to each other, which when conducted in obedience to God and with Charity in our hearts is for the common good, then each one of us is responsible for our own work. We are each to discern how God wants us to investment our own labor, capital and dispose of our private property. Unlike Galt, we are not our own ends; our end is God. This is a shift in focus. Ayn’s focus is man, our focus is God. That difference does not detract from that which she got right.

    Odd, how I am being told I have to damn Ayn Rand to hell because of her sins, despite the fact that she did espouse much good and yet, at the same time I am expected to ‘tolerate’ pederasts, Sodomites, and child-killers. When Christ asked the Father for Mercy on us from His Cross, I am pretty sure he included Ayn Rand and the pro-abortion clique – the difference is her reasoning can lead to a pro-life position, the pro-aborts merely want children dead. How so? She held private property in high regard, even an absolute, the first private property in space-time that any of us ‘own’ is our body and our life. She was blinded by her atheism and personal hedonism, but her line of reasoning would lead to the life and body of a human being absolutely inviolable, if taken to its logical end.

    I do not have a Goldilocks approach to government. I think government is a necessary evil due to our sin. An evil that must be tolerated and can be used for the common good, only in so far as it is checked in power by the sovereignty of the people under God and checked by the morality of the Church. Clearly we are not a Catholic country, but all that is required is the morality of ‘mere Christianity’, which is embedded in the founding of these United States.

  • You are not Objectivists. What you have taken is a product of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, and kept what you thought was worthwhile (role of government point-of-view) and rejected the rest.

    Essentially correct, as applied to me.

  • David,

    You chastise Shaw for pointing out the sins of those we call ‘poor’ and yet, you give no such consideration to Ayn Rand. Isn’t this odd?

    Furthermore, the best way for us to help these so-called poor is to help them be free from their sins, not to provide them with the material to persist in walking the road to hell.

    It seems to me that you are twisting Catholic thought to suit liberal-materialist ends. I am not attacking you, this is merely fraternal correction. I understand where you are coming from, free-market capitalism seems to be a dog-eat-dog economic system; however, this is flawed. Free market capitalism is leaving individuals to work out the disposition of their private property and exercise their free will. This can be for virtue or for vice, just like everything else we sinners do. You seem to only see the effects of vice in a free system, and ignore the effects of virtue. This reminds me of Judas the Iscariot, he chastised the woman who spent 300 days wages anointing Christ for His burial because we could have fed the poor instead.

    The best way to help the poor is for us to create more wealth from the creation God has given us dominion over and that means we need those with the talents for wealth creation to be free to do that which Providence gave them as a duty to execute. Not everyone can create wealth, certainly not bureaucrats who perceive the poor as nothing more than clients to secure position, rank, income and political power.

    If the 20th century taught us anything it is that liberalism/socialism/communism lead to the deaths of millions of innocents and the impoverishment of all but the ruling oligarchs and their connected friends. We have also learned that at the top of the list for ‘termination’ of all these liberal ideologies is the Jewish people and Catholics that actually live their faith. We also know that when the economic ideas that Rand purports are utilized, there is more abundance for all and that although vice may spread, religion and virtue are left unmolested. As a Catholic I find it abhorrent that anyone professing the Catholic faith will favor liberalism over truth, even a mere glimpse of truth in Atlas Shrugged.

  • Hi AK,

    Thanks for the thoughtful responses. Just a few things:

    AK: You chastise Shaw for pointing out the sins of those we call ‘poor’ and yet, you give no such consideration to Ayn Rand. Isn’t this odd?

    Well, had Ayn Rand been alive, I would have engaged her in conversation. I would not have cast stones at her, per se. However, her ideas as espoused by those who have embraced her ideology do need to be called out. In particular the lack of a sense of the common good is antithetical to Church teachings.

    I am not anti-capitalist, but it is clear that the form the US has adopted has left many behind. According to the US Census Bureau, we have 14.3% of the population in poverty (43.6 million people). The poverty rate for children is now at 20.7%. For African-Americans, it’s 25.8% (9.4% for non-Hispanic whites). Also according to the Census Bureau. 46.3 million Americans do not have health insurance (as of 2008, the latest stats). According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, 14.7% of households are food insecure.

    Given the Church’s long standing position that the state is responsible for trying to alleviate suffering and injustice in its society, is the US doing enough? Does our own personal beliefs about size of govenrment and tax levels match what the Church teaches about societies putting the poor first? Does it match the efforts of justice and the common good that Pope benedict discusses in Caritas in veritate?

    Some here seem to think that we are doing too much, despite the level of taxation in the US being at its lowest in decades and where corporations have been avoiding paying any taxes whatsoever.

    An historical fix to your above commentary. You wrote: “If the 20th century taught us anything it is that liberalism/socialism/communism lead to the deaths of millions of innocents and the impoverishment of all but the ruling oligarchs and their connected friends.” Socialism was not responsible for these deaths. Fascism–a movement from the extreme right was (and please, let’s not rehash Jonah Goldberg’s silly “Liberal Fascism” or make the foolish argument that “The Nazis were the National Socialists!”) Socialist policy as it has been and currently is practiced in Europe has done much to alleviate poverty.

    Finally, “As a Catholic I find it abhorrent that anyone professing the Catholic faith will favor liberalism over truth, even a mere glimpse of truth in Atlas Shrugged.”

    What do you mean by liberalism? Liberalism, as I understand it, is the expression of freedom and the rights of humans to believe what they will. In fact, we are a Western liberal democracy. Liberalism does not lead to dictatorships, nor does it impose religious ideas on the unwilling. If you mean economic liberalism, then I assume you are trying to refer to a Keynesian model, which still sees capitalism as the underlying structure. But then, the idea that capitalism left unfettered will lead to evil is something that Pope Benedict discusses. What do you mean?

  • Hello. Mind if I step in here? I see a problem with every poster here. Too much emphasis on government – be it right or left or middle or whatever. I very recently re-realized the overarching basis of the New Testament is that Jesus, when with us on this Earth, didn’t really care about government. That is an example for me. Jesus, as reported in the New Testament, focused on the individual and their eternal soul. I’m not picking on anybody here, because the entire American Church leadership is also focusing waaay to much on what the government is doing or not doing, allowing or not allowing, taxing or not taxing. I believe Jesus would would not have cared. Our Catholic Church would much better serve the members of the Church if they only focused on the religious and spiritual missions of the Church.

    For instance, if all the money and time and thinking and effort that my fellow Catholics have put into overturning Roe would instead have been put toward support Catholic women in need of help, the abortion rate for Catholics would not be the same as the general U.S. population. It would be negligible. Why should the Catholic Church care about civic laws? Jesus certainly did not. FYI, my family gives what it can to support local homes for pregnant teenage girls. Apparently this is a low priority to most, otherwise there would not be situations like the ongoing saga of the Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit. http://voiceofdetroit.net/?p=6582 . If just some of the funds directed towards legal challenges to Roe would be directed to actually helping real people, situations like the school in Detroit would not happen.

    While I’m ranting, has anyone in the Church hierarchy realized that the Republicans have been taking the religious in this country for a ride? They have no intention of doing anything anti-abortion. That would destroy one of their primary vote generators. How long did the Repubs has all of Congress, the Executive Branch, and majority on the Supreme Court? That should be a CLUE!!!! At least the Dems are honest about their intentions (or lack thereof).

    Before the second half of the 20st century, Catholics did just fine for themselves when they were marginalized by the protestants in power. We had some really strong congregations, hospitals, etc. In the later 20th century, Catholic politicians started breaking through, the Church leaders in America started focusing more on politics. This has been a distraction and a big mistake by the Bishops.

    If Catholics really want a party for themselves, we could start something like the Australian ‘Family First’ party . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_First_Party . But don’t expect ANY of the current political parties to do any worthwhile for Catholicism.

  • First Things – The Trouble with Ayn Rand
    Civilization teeters on the brink: they’ve made a movie of Atlas Shrugged.
    David Bentley Hart
    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/05/the-trouble-with-ayn-rand

  • As David Bentley Hart says above… Go see this movie instead.
    The Tree of Life

  • “Too much emphasis on government – be it right or left or middle or whatever. I very recently re-realized the overarching basis of the New Testament is that Jesus, when with us on this Earth, didn’t really care about government.”

    It is true that Jesus was not a political Messiah, and it is also true that many Christians put way too much emphasis on saving the world through politics. However, I think it is a bit of an exaggeration to say Jesus “didn’t really care about government” at all. He did say “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”

    Also, Jesus and His followers did not live in a constitutional democracy in which they had the right to vote or to “petition for redress of grievances.” We do, and therefore have a corresponding responsibility to exercise those rights in accordance with what Christ and His Church teach.

  • David,

    If by Capitalism we mean the free market economy, then we cannot point at the United States as a failure of Capitalism because we haven’t practiced free market capitalism for a very long time. It is true that the free market is a natural result of human beings with free wills engaged in economic exchange. That being the natural state, a free market of sorts has always existed in every politico-economic system to some degree. Even in prisons, which are the most controlled of environments, the free market still asserts itself. In the USA we have been engaged in state capitalism whereby the corporate and financial interests use the government to secure a market and eliminate competition and socialize losses. This is a bad system and it is not a free market. It is, in fact, that which Ayn Rand warned against. The latent free market is the only reason we have seen an progress as we have moved farther away from the free market and toward state Capitalism (even Communism).

    Catholic social teaching is not predicated on government. It is incumbent on government to protect the environment in which the free market operates, but more importantly it is the role of government to protect religious freedom and freedom of conscience. Government cannot demand, regulate or legislate a good conscience, but it must allow us to be free to act according to God’s will for each of us as individuals.

    In regards to your comment about the level of taxation, I think you are viewing it in error. Fist, taxation is nothing more than the confiscation of private property by force or threat of force. In the USA it is NOT legal to tax incomes. Nevertheless, the government does have a right, given by the people, to collect taxes (preferably not income taxes) in order to function within the enumerated powers. Considering our current tax rate as the lowest in decades is erroneous. What you are neglecting is the most insidious of taxes – inflation – the devaluation of the monetary unit to transfer wealth from the people to the government and the politically favored groups. This increase of the quantity of money serves to push people into higher and higher brackets increasing their tax rate without a commensurate increase in the utility of the money because although it is numerically greater its effectiveness is diminished by its lower value.

    The simple fact is that 20% is about all the market is willing to allow the government to confiscate before it yields diminishing returns. The focus on the rate of taxation and who is getting taxed is a deflection from the truth. The concern for good government should be to tax the least amount possible while ensuring sufficient revenue and avoidance of debt and debasement of money to operate within the enumerated powers. Raising rates DOES NOT increase revenue – growing wealth does.

    Regarding your point about fascism, the Nazis were socialists, they were NOT right wing. How can a totalitarian regime run by pederasts, Sodomites and violent megalomaniacs be considered coming from the right? The false left-right paradigm used to give us the impression of choice originated in the Jacobin revolution. The right being anarchy and the left being totalitarianism. The USA is toward the right, yet falls short of anarchy. Nazism, corporatism, socialism, collectivism, Communism and yes, liberalism too are all movements from the Left.

    We DO NOT live in a Western liberal democracy and the fact that you think we do betrays your dangerous political bent. Dangerous for many reasons, but most of all because of the moral hazard it creates. it is a near occasion of sin, and as Catholics we must avoid that. The USA is supposed to be a constitutional Republic, not a democracy, which always devolves into a mobocracy and then he who controls the mob rules absolutely. This is how Obama, the most inept and incompetent president we’ve ever had, came to power. Bad leadership is the punishment for sin and our sin is born of the cult of personality and the belief that government is suppose to save us. We have need of only one Savior and His Kingdom is not of this world.

    Liberalism, as I used it, is the idea that our social life is ordered by government and that all the virtues of Christianity are to be implemented by the violent force of government. Keysnianism is one form of the disease of liberalism. Why do you think a Sodomite that espoused Fabian Socialism (proud to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing) promoted it?

    Unfettered Capitalism is merely the control of the factors of capital by an oligarchy of avaricious individuals (prone to occult practices) by use of the force of government. Free market capitalism, is the interaction of millions of freely acting individuals engaged in voluntary exchange. That does not mean the free market will necessarily be virtuous, because we are not – but, it does mean that our individual morality will play out for better or worse, for good or ill, based on the choices we make by the power that God gave us. Ultimately our economic interaction will be judged and we will know if we chose heaven or hell. Government cannot make that choice for any of us.

    Ayn Rand’s extreme, materialist individualism is flawed. I do not think anyone is arguing that point here. What we are disagreeing on, is that simply because she was wrong about that does not mean she was wrong about everything. Even in her Galtian Utopia, the common good can be served, at least materially (I doubt it would be served morally). If each individual capitalist is trying to maximize their return, then they have to serve the most people adding to the common good, if the people crave good and adding to the common ill if the people are vicious. The only way the capitalist can force themselves on the consumers is by use of direct force, like the Mafia, or by use of indirect force, by use of government. Otherwise, they will rise or fall by the demands of the people.

    The individualism of Rand is selfish, yet we are called to the individualism of Christ, which is totally sacrificially, charitable. Nevertheless, it is individualism. I cannot save myself, let alone you, the poor, or society at large. I can only be saved by Christ and my cooperation with His Grace is limited to myself – I cannot cooperate with graces that you or anyone else receives. My salvation is for me to work out with fear and trembling and yours is yours. The community aspect of this Chrislike individualism is in recognition that we are INDIVIDUAL members of His Body and as such we have to love each other and our enemies for His sake. Love is harsh. Christ is meek and humble but also the most demanding God anyone can envision – He asks for everything!

    Liberalism is a disease born of a sentimental and frankly, cowardly, belief in Christ without a Cross, religion without sacrifice, heaven as a guarantee and no hell, love without principle. It is a lie, a pretty lie, with bows and ribbons and it falls for the same deceit of the father of lies as Ayn Rand did.

  • Well, AK, you have displayed a remarkably extremist view on many things here. Your view on taxation is incorrect (remember the 16th Amendment?). Your view of inflation seems to indicate a preference for a return to the gold standard. Your view of fascism is just plain wrong, as are your views of liberalism, the type of government we espouse, and well, to be honest, just about everything in your post. I suppose you could argue that this is all my opinion, but there are facts readily available to you.

    Be that as it may, I hope you enjoy today’s celebration of the resurrection of our Lord. May His message of peace and salvation to the world be heard by all.

  • For instance, if all the money and time and thinking and effort that my fellow Catholics have put into overturning Roe would instead have been put toward support Catholic women in need of help, the abortion rate for Catholics would not be the same as the general U.S. population.

    Patent nonsense. Damned nonsense. Fatal nonsense.

    Catholics abort and contracept at the same rate as other Americans because they are not exposed to Catholic teaching. Most don’t attend mass regularly, and most who do attend mass barely get a valid liturgy, much less a frank lesson on Catholic doctrine. Most priests and bishops — like most Rand critics in this thread — could care less about abortion and contraception, as evidenced by their preaching and action (or lack thereof) on these topics.

    2/3 of the justices of the Supreme Court are Catholic. What are the odds that Roe will be overturned when the next abortion case makes it to the high court? In fact, I think those odds are poor. Why is that, do you suppose?

    But there’s always something more important than abortion to talk about, isn’t there? This is the standard tactic of the pro-abort (which is on clear display in this thread): first, try to silence the pro-lifers. When that doesn’t work, try to change the subject. That’s being tried again here. Failing this, lies, obfuscation, and pretended ignorance are popular pro-abort tactics. Finally, demand “civility” in the discussion and then define any pro-life argument as outside the bounds of civility.

    Free markets are simply one answer to a simple question: Who decides?

    Someone will produce something in some quantity for some price, and someone will by some of it for some purpose. But who decides who, and what, and for how much, and who, and for what?

    With free market capitalism, we all get a voice in that decision. The people undertaking those activities get to decide whether, and how, they will do so.

    Most of the Rand critics here don’t like that answer. They want centrally directed economies. They want kings, dictators, oligarchs, elitists, central committees, and labor relations boards to say how many pencils we need next year, how many cars, how many Pringles potato chips, how many heart monitors, how much oil, how many diapers, and how many of every other thing we will need next year. And who may (must) buy them.

    In their system, this is done with a dizzyingly complex maze of regulations, taxes, laws, standards, incentives, disincentives, and political influence, to determine who will produce what, where, how, for what price, and who may buy how many of the product for what use.

    They call this “freedom.”

    The only problem is that centrally directed economies produce nothing but poverty.

    You people who claim to want equality can only ever realistically hope to achieve equality in abject poverty.

    Why should I work, pay taxes, and support my family if the Church teaches that it’s the government who should support my family, and not me? Why should I become a producer of wealth, for myself, my employer, my clients, my customers, and my beneficiaries, when the Church, as represented by many of the voices on this thread, holds that producers are evil?

    Why should I not instead become a dependent, eschew productivity and simply demand that I, as poor man, should be entitled to preferential treatment? After all, the Church, as represented by the Rand critics here, holds that the poor are always virtuous (evidently without regard to their faith or religious practice).

    If you want wealth to flow from where it is created to where it is not created, you must first have some notion of how wealth is created (here’s a clue: men create wealth), and why. Then you must consider what incentive producers will have to create wealth if you’re only going to take it away from them. These are questions you must be able to answer.

    When your economic system subsidizes sloth, abortion, and out-of-wedlock births and rewards fraud, while it punishes hard work, productivity, job creation, and honesty, just which behavior do you expect to get more of?

    Economists call this “the problem of the free rider” and your system has no answer to it.

    George Washington said that “only a virtuous people can be free.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen said that “freedom means the freedom to be saints.”

    Your prescription is an economic system that will drive virtually every person into abject poverty. It lacks authentic compassion, and is not authentically Catholic.

    When your economic ideal is “from each, according to his ability, to each, according to his need” you enslave every man to anyone with less ability and more need than he. Be careful in advocating such a system. You will find that you have less need and more ability than far more people than you suspect. And under such systems, just how well do you think the Church has historically fared?

    This is what you’re fighting for.

  • Author: David
    Comment:
    Well, AK, you have displayed a remarkably extremist view on many things here. Your view on taxation is incorrect (remember the 16th Amendment?). Your view of inflation seems to indicate a preference for a return to the gold standard. Your view of fascism is just plain wrong, as are your views of liberalism, the type of government we espouse, and well, to be honest, just about everything in your post.

    AK: Resurrexit sicut dixit. Alleluia, alleluia! Happy Easter to you David.

    David, ‘extremist’ seems to be used here as an adverb, yet you don’t quite point out extremely ‘what’? Clearly if I extremely love my Lord, that cannot be a bad thing. If I attempt to do God’s will extremely then I am only trying to be obedient. Am I extremely correct in what I wrote? Who knows? I tried and to the best of my knowledge and my understanding (limited as that is) of the teaching of Jesus Christ, I think I did fairly well, or rather, I have yet to hear a counter argument that rings quite as true.

    I am NOT wrong about income taxation, the 16th amendment did not change the powers of Congress outlined in the Constitution. Even the Supreme Court determined that. Our income tax system (I am not addressing other taxation, just income) is a system of ‘voluntary compliance’, we are NOT required by law to pay income taxes, we are compelled by illegal force. Not to mention that the mere filing of a tax ‘confessional’ return is in violation of our rights under the Bill of Rights. That aside, your view that we are paying the lowest rates in decades is still incorrect. You have a class-warfare mentality about taxes. We want to ‘punish’ those who have more, to benefit those who have less. But, this never works. The amount of revenue collected does NOT increase merely because the tax rate has been increased. The revenue increases when you allow those who know how to produce wealth (always a minority) to actually produce more wealth. They become wealthier, they create a large benefit for society and they pay MORE in taxes because of production not penalty. The wealth creators are not necessarily vicious and the materially poor and not necessarily virtuous – to suggest this is rather childlike and totally unrealistic.

    As for my ‘preference’ for a gold standard – it is far more than a preference, it is a demand. Gold (precious metal in general) is honest money, we used gold as money for thousands of years. It is almost as if the designer of the world intended gold to be used as money since it is the only metal that satisfies all the qualities one would desire for money, assuming honest and free exchange. Of course, if you prefer power over others, then the elimination of money is preferable because slaves have no need or use of it. Why do think the global elite are currently plotting the demise of the US dollar in Bretton Woods, NH?

    My view of fascism/liberalism is just plain wrong. Hmm. Oh my, thanks for pointing that out and to think that I have thought it through and observed its operation in history only to come to this wrong conclusion and by diktat you have just corrected me. Thanks, I can’t believe that I thought the National Socialist party of mid-20th century Germany was actually bad. And to think the liberalism of the Jacobins, the Spanish Republicans, the Masonic Revolutionary Government of Mexico, the Leninists and the Chinese Communists was also bad. Those are the fruits of liberalism, as we define it today – sure, the definition in the nineteenth century was a little different, but I just checked my calendar and it is the 21st century. You aren’t seriously implying that ‘liberalism’ as practiced throughout the 20th century is somehow compatible with following Jesus, are you?

    Our government is no longer ‘liberal’, it was in the late 18th century, perhaps even progressive, but the use of the word liberal has changed, sadly so has our government in practice, yet, in essence and law it is inherently conservative. Our government was created by the states as representatives of the people to receive certain, limited and enumerated powers in order to secure the God-given rights of sovereign people. It doesn’t get more conservative than that. This type of government is incompatible with ‘liberalism’ and Ayn Rand quite correctly pointed that out. Then she and I, and people of good conscience part ways, but before that point of departure she hit the nail on the head. Just as Paul points out, in an entertaining manner, she pointed directly to the evils that result from the false premise that we can create a collective utopia here on earth.

    David, I believe that we share a common faith and we may disagree on how to live that in the politico-economic world; however, it would be uncharitable of me to allow you to continue thinking that ‘liberalism’ or any form of forced collectivism is somehow compatible with following Christ.

    He who does not work, does not eat! Work is a gift given to Adam BEFORE the Fall. It has become more difficult since the Fall, yet work is how we are useful to each other, how we cultivate the world, build civilization and how we can sanctify ourselves and our culture by making work into prayer. If my work is my prayer, then no one, other than God through Christ and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, has a RIGHT to my labor. By enslaving me to powers here below, an economic system is usurping my offering to God – that cannot be compatible with Catholic Social Teaching. God gave us a free will and we are to exercise it in a free market, with respect for human dignity and private property. We each must make free choices to be received into heaven or commit ourselves to hell. No one, especially government, can make that choice for us.

  • If this is worshipping Ayn Rand, then have at it, boys and girls.

    Madmike, and Chait need to familiarize themselves with the defintions of calumny and detraction. The more facts they cite for the lies, the more insidious.

    My experience: CST is used by liberals to promote the class war, which they camouflaged as “charity.” CST seems to give primacy to the secular over salvation; to the state over the individual.

    I imagine the CST slogan is: “Don’t waste time praying – ORGANIZE!”

  • Paul: Opposing abortion is not same as overturning Roe. The reason is that overturning Roe is the least effective way of accomplishing our shared goal of no abortions is that all overturning Roe would do is pass the regulation of abortion back to the States. It appears that some to the people at the State level have finally figured that out and finally are doing something at their level. Also, a law never stopped anyone from doing anything. Murder, Ponzi Schemes, anything. Laws really do very little to prevent crime. Laws are really for punishing the transgressors.

    Educating Catholics is the only way to reduce the abortion rate for Catholics. But as you mentioned, proper education from the Church side is lacking. That is why I said support for Catholic Women more important than overturning Roe. Support would include education. And what about the fathers of these children…where are they? They also need better Catholic education. According to http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/clo/clo_07abortionpockets.html Non-profit pro-life groups raised about $551 million in 2006. That is a lot of money every year that could be used to promote authentic pro-life activities rather than worrying about Roe. But there are some politicians and power-mongers who claim to be ‘pro-life’ that really don’t want a resolution because they benefit from the votes and money they collect to pretend to be ‘pro-life’. In our current era, these people are mostly Republican politicians, but not always.

    T.Shaw: There is nothing wrong with Catholic Social Teachings. CST exist as a solid basic principle of the Church, no matter what Class or political orientation one belongs to. Even more than Jesus didn’t care about government, Jesus did not care to which class people belonged (according to the New Testament, at least). If you think some people are misinterpreting Catholic Social teachings, that is one thing, but to dismiss all of CST out of hand is wrong.

    The way to stop class warfare has nothing to do with politics or money. It is to follow Catholic Social Teachings. It is to to treat everyone as Gods children and worthy of respect. Even people not similar to yourself.

  • Also, a law never stopped anyone from doing anything. Murder, Ponzi Schemes, anything. Laws really do very little to prevent crime. Laws are really for punishing the transgressors.

    There is a certain grain of truth in this, and yet those who assert it are often not eager to legalize particular behaviors which they consider anti-social. Often the same person who is sure that outlawing abortion would not reduce it is quite convinced that gun control, labor laws, minimum wage, regulation of pharmaceuticals, etc. is a good idea.

  • Yes, DC, but guns kill people. Abortion doctors merely conduct a medical procedure – it is the woman who makes the ‘choice’.

  • Opposing abortion is not same as overturning Roe.

    No, but overturning Roe is an indispensable pre-requisite to achieving recognition in law of the right to life and the dignity of the human individual.

    The reason is that overturning Roe is the least effective way of accomplishing our shared goal of no abortions is that all overturning Roe would do is pass the regulation of abortion back to the States.

    This makes no sense at all. Whether abortion is to be fought at the state or the federal level, overturning Roe is the necessary first step.

    Educating Catholics is the only way to reduce the abortion rate for Catholics.

    Well, perhaps unlike you, I oppose aborting any babies, not just Catholic babies.

    That is a lot of money every year that could be used to promote authentic pro-life activities rather than worrying about Roe.

    I take offense at your use of the word “authentic”. Roe isn’t something I “worry” about. Roe is the foundation of a culture of death that is poisoning our entire society, and not just Catholics.

    For no additional expenditure, the Catholic hierarchy could begin educating on this topic, but it doesn’t.

    But there are some politicians and power-mongers who claim to be ‘pro-life’ that really don’t want a resolution because they benefit from the votes and money they collect to pretend to be ‘pro-life’.

    Name one. This is a calumny on good pro-life men and women who are working hard to protect innocent lives. I would argue that this is a far better description of the USCCB than of the Republican Party.

    You have built a very convenient structure of excuses for why you don’t need to get involved in opposing legal abortion. It’s reprehensible.

  • Paul: What do you do to support teenagers besides pontificate?. Roe is NOT any sort of ‘foundation’, but a symptom of a disease. Treating only symptoms doesn’t work. You’ll see when Roe is finally overturned.

    Also, ‘Authentic’ is not a word that only can be used by the ‘holier-than-thou’ wing of the Catholic Church. For instance, Catholic Social Teachings are the true Authentic Catholicism. If you don’t think it is, you must be in a different Catholic church than all the Religious Sisters and Brothers who taught me in my 12 years of Catholic School

    As for ‘politicians and power-mongers who claim to be ‘pro-life’ that really don’t want a resolution because they benefit from the votes and money they collect to pretend to be ‘pro-life’ look no farther than the entire House of Representatives of the 107th States Congress. THAT is the moment when I realized we had all been fooled by the Republican politicians who said they cared about abortion. It’s not that difficult to figure out, unless you’re some sort of a Pollyanna regarding the Republican Party.

  • I have noticed a theme in the pro and anti Atlas Shrugged viewpoints here. Opposing Ayn Rand because of her ‘extreme’ individualism and pro-abortion position seems inconsistent (not least of these violators is Ayn herself). What can be more extremely individualistic than insisting on the right of each and every human being to live? Yet, being against Ayn’s view is essentially holding the collective above the individual (here I am not referring to the good or evil of anyone, just the inherent human dignity of each and every individual human). Stating that we should be pro-life and then reducing human beings to groups, like insects, or cogs in a machine doesn’t make any sense.

    Pro-life is not a theory, it is a radical position of absolute individual right! To live is to own oneself (properly understood as to steward the life God created), the principal property each human posses in time-space. The right to the property of oneself is inviolable, save for its Author. Given that our life and by extension our body is our inviolable property, then it follows that the product of that first property is ours as well. To have our material product confiscated, by force, for others is a violation of human dignity. Especially when that product is confiscated through taxation of income, which is really a taxation of time, and time is the measure of life in this world. Charity requires the giver to give freely, otherwise, although the benefit may be the same to the recipient, no true charity is realized. I smell hypocrisy.

  • Tim,

    I agree with you about the Republican party only pandering to pro-life, just as they have only pandered to smaller government, lower taxation, less regulation and stronger national defense; however, to single out individual Republicans as such is hard to do, especially without specific evidence.

    The Republican party is the controlled opposition to the Democrats. Both parties are statist, addicted to debt and essentially ‘progressive’. The difference is that some individuals inside the Republican party actually believe the party platform. Until 2008 those individuals have been largely ignored and controlled. Now that is beginning to change. If the Republican party continues to become more conservative than it will grow, if not America will die.

    Can you honestly say that Speaker of the House Boehner is not genuinely pro-life? I can’t. In fact, I have very much reason to believe the opposite. I think he is staunchly pro-life. A party that has John Boehner as its leader is certainly preferable and more genuine than a party that considers its chief pro-lifer, Bart Stupak. Maligning the party because you think that Paul Ryan was too influenced by Atlas Shrugged seems like a dodge, for the true problem, which is that ALL Democrats want babies dead. Are you being serious?

  • Paul: What do you do to support teenagers besides pontificate?.

    Oh, look, he’s changing the subject again! Let’s talk about teenagers now, because I don’t have an answer for Paul’s point that supporting Democrats is far more inconsistent with Catholic teaching than is finding ideas of value in Atlas Shrugged!

    (Let me give you a little clue: When I see somebody threaten kill their baby unless they get the “support” they say they need, I have a lot less sympathy than for someone who simply asks for help.)

    Roe is NOT any sort of ‘foundation’, but a symptom of a disease.

    You don’t know anything about law, do you? (I was going to use a four-letter Anglo-Saxon monosyllable there instead of “anything,” but I had promised to be more diplomatic on this thread.) Roe is the legal foundation of a regime of law that supports a multi-billion dollar killing industry, which you clearly have no problem with because it contributes to your favorite confiscatory candidates.

    Also, ‘Authentic’ is not a word that only can be used by the ‘holier-than-thou’ wing of the Catholic Church.

    You guys are a hoot. You started out by claiming that I was a bad Catholic, now you accuse me of being “holier-than-thou”. I guess we can add being “holier-than-thou” to the list of things that are OK when liberals are doing it, but not when conservatives do it, right up there with adultery, lying, divorce, political protest, racism, and incivility.

    For instance, Catholic Social Teachings (I love your capitalization, btw) are the true Authentic Catholicism. If you don’t think it is, you must be in a different Catholic church than all the Religious Sisters and Brothers who taught me in my 12 years of Catholic School

    That’s easily possible, but I fail to see any grounds for presumption that the Religious Sisters and Brothers who taught you in your 12 years of “Catholic School” (I love your capitalization, btw) are the ones who are faithful to the authentic Magesterium of the Church.

    You yourself have done more to undermine Catholic Social Teachings (I love your capitalization, btw) in my view these past few days than anyone else in recent memory, by making absurd claims, citing discredited sources (like the USCCB) and refusing answer direct questions.

    But it’s OK with me if you want to go on deluding yourself that your baptized socialism is the weally, twue “Authentic Catholicism” (I love your
    capitalization, btw).

    As for ‘politicians and power-mongers who claim to be ‘pro-life’ that really don’t want a resolution because they benefit from the votes and money they collect to pretend to be ‘pro-life’ look no farther than the entire House of Representatives of the 107th States Congress.

    So, you can’t name one, then? I can name one, but he’s a Democrat. Changing the law is hard; do you know why it’s hard? Because of Democrats. Oh, and because of Roe v. Wade, which you don’t want to see overturned!

    As Bishop Naumann (he’s a member of the USCCB, isn’t he?) has pointed out, if every Catholic Democrat wanted their party to be pro-life, it would become so overnight. If the Democratic Party were pro-life, how long would abortion last?

    So why doesn’t every Catholic Democrat want their party to be pro-life? Here it is: It’s because all those bishops and priests who are spending all their energy inventing Catholic Social Teachings (I love your capitalization, btw) out of whole cloth don’t give a tinker’s damn about abortion, and instead give aid, comfort, and support to the pro-abort Democrats (and yes, some Republicans, too) who share their socialistic goal of driving our economy into the ground.

    If they wanted, the American Bishops could end abortion worldwide in a single year. They don’t. And you would scream bloody murder if they did.

  • Paul (jtg, yk),

    You are a holier-than-thou, bad Catholic because you find some good in Atlas Shrugged and intolerantly want to impose ‘your’ views about when it is right or wrong to kill defenseless babies on others. Hmm. . .

    I guess you are in good company. The Sanhedrin accused Jesus of being too religious because He blasphemed by claiming to be God (since He is God, I suppose His sin was not conforming to the Pharisees legalistic view of God and as Messiah for not being a politico-military deliverer), then they told Pilate that He was too political because He considered Himself a King over and above Caesar. So was Christ too religious, or was He too political?

    I suppose if we as Catholics insist on the political protection of religious principles of inherent human dignity then we have pierced the so-called wall of separation; however, if we do not accede to having our private property confiscated to kill innocent babies and protect Sodomites, then we have become too aesthetic and are erecting a wall of separation where one should not be. Paul, you are a very bad Catholic indeed, almost, but not quite as bad as Jesus and His Apostles.

  • Paul and AK: you are too bound to earthly politics to understand anything about how actual human beings are, and are not even interested how other people relate to God. Everything that is different from you is considered an enemy. Every concept that might make you ask a difficult question of either yourself or the questioner is instead turned into an assumption of the worst kind. There are two things I would like to leave with you 1) an interview with the late Father John A. Hardon, S.J., concerning the circumstances of Mr. Atwater’s conversion to Catholicism http://www.culturewars.com/2009/Atwater.htm and 2) This quote from F.G. Bonfils “There is no hope for the satisfied man.”

    BTW, I capitalized Catholic Social Teaching because T. Shaw used CST, and if one is going to make an acronym, then each spelled out word of the acronym should be capitalized. Basic Grammar.

  • Tim,

    I am not too bound up in earthly politics and I have no idea if you are or are not. We just happen to be discussing earthly politics here, informed by a Catholic conscience. As for the interest in how other people relate to God, that is not what we are talking about and my interest in that is a command from my God, Who I believe expects me to live in this world and act according to His will given the faculties He gave me. Does that mean that I am absolutely right? No, of course not, but I am trying to apply Truth to the discussion.

    I do not consider things different than me the enemy. I happen to find some modes of spirituality and devotion unappealing, yet I think they are true and good for others. I do not consider you an enemy either. I do think liberalism is an ideology born from the Enemy though. On this point I and Ayn Rand agree, on the solution I no longer agree with Ayn – she was just wrong.

    As for questioning myself, that is something I do every day. If I didn’t then it isn’t likely I would have ever found my way back to the Church. I am even open to the idea that I could be wrong about liberalism, yet I have never heard an argument that is rationally compelling and not imbued with relativistic garbage. I don’t mind being uncomfortable, in fact, I have sought it out for the last six weeks ended Saturday evening. If I make you uncomfortable, then I think I am doing right. Loving your neighbor, even your enemy means wanting what’s good for them, not what they like, or what makes them comfortable. I think you are wrong, I have reasons for that and I am willing to defend them. If I think you are wrong, then it is incumbent upon me to correct you, in charity. That is what I am trying to do, yet, I am a sinner and often make statements uncharitably. Nevertheless, I will defend what I think is right.

    I believe that Jesus and the Church teach us to take care of the poor. I am certain that He does not expect us to do that without Charity. Government cannot be charitable because government only exists by use of force. Sadly, government is necessary, so force is necessary, yet it is to be confined to those areas in which a lower order CANNOT deliver and only so long as that state remains and it cannot be promoted by government in order to secure its power. Liberalism violates subsidiarity and has always stood firmly against orthodox Christian teaching, the integrity of the family (as ordered by Nature and by God), and the dignity of the individual. On this last point, I agree with Ayn, the smallest minority and the one that needs the most protection is always the individual. Today, in this country, we killed 4,000 individuals! Ayn may have had no problem with that; I do – that still does not detract from her anti-collectivist views and protection of the individual human being.

    Perhaps the fact that Ayn Rand makes you uncomfortable indicates that you have identified her errors, but consider that your discomfort has blinded you to her correct statements. Ayn asked Who is John Galt? Man always asks who is Jesus Christ? Some like the answer, others abhor it. Either way, if I see Jesus in the poor, then I want to take care of Him. I am not interested in having the government do it. The last time people of faith asked the government to take care of Jesus, He ended up on a Cross.

    We cannot speak Hosanas when we are silently screaming Crucify Him!

  • AK, I respect your position, though I strongly disagree with it. I think that, should you and I ever sit in a bar over a few beers to discuss, we might find more in common than via the internet.

    Be that as it may, where you lose me is here:

    “Government cannot be charitable because government only exists by use of force.”

    The state, if in the hands of those who are moral and ethical, can be a great tool for good. Dietrich Bonhoeffer described it as a the thing that prevented the forces of darkness from overwhelming us all. Many, including myself, see its role as not only providing protection for us, but also to help try to alleviate the problems of society that cannot (and have not) been resolved by charitable organizations alone. When we are talking millions of Americans who live in poverty, even the most efficiently run charity will fall short in responding to the needs of those in need.

    Jesus came to us on purpose as the son of a poor, immigrant worker. He repeatedly told us that the poor, the needy, even the worst of sinners were to be cherished and not judged. His message of salvation extended even to a sinner going through his lawful death sentence. Before we cry “taxes not fair!” or ” those welfare queens are getting off again” or “lucky ducky has yet again taken advantage of the system!”, we should ask how we can better follow the examples of Jesus Christ, St. Francis, St. Ignatius Loyola, Dorothy Day or Mother Theresa (to name a few) in our daily lives…perhaps even get our politicians or industry leaders to do so…

  • David,

    One of the beautiful things about being Catholic is that we have the Truth. One of the things that sucks, is that we know we are sinners and therefore, we cloud the Truth. This makes for some interesting conversation, debate and argument, so long as we don’t quarrel. Of course, I accept your invitation for a beer and should we meet this side of heaven, you’re buying. In heaven, I’ll buy, but I hear the beer is free :)

    To clarify, I did not say that government cannot do good, it sure can. Then again, anything can do good if it is God’s Will, so that doesn’t make government special. Government is also necessary because we are not angels, that does not change the fact that government is nothing more than sanctioned force. It is morally neutral, but it is a dangerous tool; the people who run it can use it for good or for evil. My statement stands and you cannot disprove it. Government CANNOT be charitable – it cannot Love. It may be benevolent, it can shower certain people with privileges, it can even feed the poor, but it cannot Love and Charity is the virtue of Love. Please don’t confuse alms and Charity. They do go hand in hand, but they are not the same thing.

    Did you ever pause to consider that the reason millions of Americans live in poverty (a poverty that billions in the rest of the world would call luxury) BECAUSE of government? This is a fact. The welfare-warfare state creates situations to make people poor so it can have clients to serve the bureaucracy and monsters abroad to slay, yet they are never killed because you cannot make those who refuse to be poor fear you unless you keep growing your war machine. I don’t think this is the discussion for this thread.

    Joseph was not an immigrant worker in the modern sense of the word, but nice try to make a sympathetic case for those who trespass in our country. All people have a right to emigrate, not necessarily to immigrate. Preventing emigration is the force of government to keep people locked in – like a prison. Immigration is only open if the emigrant is INVITED in.

    Cherishing the poor is important, not judging their souls is a command; however, I am perfectly free to judge their actions and whether they are in fact poor. I must make a prudential judgment as to how best to help the poor whom I love. If a man is poor because of a drug addiction, then giving him money will only harm him. We can be better examples and take better care of the poor at the local level in most cases. Furthermore, it is only then that we can be Charitable with our alms and true witnesses to the Gospel.

    Again, Ayn Rand identified the problem correctly. When evil people use government to control individuals, then government becomes the problem. This will always be the case because the power of government is irresistible to those with the lust for power. We know that the problems we face today are a result of our sins. We also know that government has been the problem. Look at the debt, the debasement of money, the transfers of wealth, the murder of the innocent – government is tyrannical. Can it be prevented from being tyrannical? Yes, but only when it is restrained. This is the problem identified in Atlas Shrugged. The solution to that problem is a different discussion for a different day.

  • You will be judged by the Works of Mercy you work with your talents, time and money. Voting for gangsters that confiscate/tax money from execrable rich people (whom you hate) and giving the money to poor people (can do no wrong: the evil rich devil keeps them poor) and 1,689,000 bureaucrats who write 16,300,000 pages of ruinous regulations makes you Ali Baba. And, it produces more poor people.

    CST rocks!

  • Tim O: Paul and AK: you are too bound to earthly politics to understand anything about how actual human beings are, and are not even interested how other people relate to God. Everything that is different from you is considered an enemy. Every concept that might make you ask a difficult question of either yourself or the questioner is instead turned into an assumption of the worst kind.

    I am forty-eight years old, the father of six children (one to be born this September), I have been married to my wife for nearly 16 years, I have served in the military, earned two college degrees, am a cradle Catholic, a Charter Past Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, I have been a candidate for elective office, I am an officer of my local right to life organization, and much, much more, and you have the unmitigated gall to say this to me?

    This is a calumny. It is nothing more than a slightly more sophisticated form of the inarticulate name-calling that virtually every liberal resorts to when it is pointed out to him that the political policies he advocates are directly contrary in both principle and practice to the moral code he claims to espouse. But when push comes to shove, it’s always the politics that he clings to.

    Not everyone who is different from me is an enemy. But when you throw your lot in with those whose policies have led to the slaughter of over 53 million innocents in the U.S. alone, then yes, you are my enemy. You are the enemy of charity, of mercy, of justice, and of chivalry, too. And if you do it, as you do, in the name of Holy Mother Church, then you are an enemy of God.

  • American Knight: It has been a real pleasure sharing this debate with you.

  • Paul,

    Thank you for your kind sentiments and thank you for this thread. It has rekindled in me the fond memory of when I first read Atlas Shrugged. I am sure that revisiting it now as a Catholic will show it in a different light. Nevertheless, I thank you for reminding me that Ayn pointed out a significant problem, albeit tainted by her atheistic materialism. I certainly DO NOT want to replace the Cross with the dollar symbol, yet, the dollar is the measure of material and time in this world and we will be judged on our use of both. When we are robbed of the freedom to make good and bad choices with money, we are being robbed of the opportunity for repentance and conversion through our works. Works won’t save us, it is faith that does. Yet without works are we exercising our faith?

    It seems as if some just want to pray and let government do the work. I think that renders our works dead and consequently could kill our faith. if government does all the ‘good’ then what is left for us to do other than pay for it by force! This situation renders the state as god, and if the state is god then God is dead. I don’t want to live in that world. At least if I have to live in it, I will not cooperate.

  • D.L. Jones,

    I thanked Paul (jtg, yk) for the thread. I meant for his contribution to the thread. It is you whom I thank for initiating it and TAC for allowing us to engage in vigorous debate and challenge each other and ourselves. This is the beauty of our Catholic faith and a testimony to the great freedoms America can offer. Of course, freedom can be used for good or for ill and I find the challenge of this web site to strengthen my desire to embrace the good in our country, while always recognizing the evils our ‘freedoms’ allow us to perpetrate. Chiefly, the murder of the innocent. This never worked out well for Israel, it isn’t going to work out well for us and it seems that God’s patience usually runs about two generations or 40 years – we are dangerously close. Catholics cannot profess to be pro-life, while cooperating with the forces that kill the innocent. We can either serve God or Molech, we cannot profess to serve God by pandering to Molech.

  • David: The state, if in the hands of those who are moral and ethical, can be a great tool for good.

    This is true as far as it goes. But it cannot be so if it is attempted against the will of the people. And if it is the will of the people to do good, then in most cases they can do it much more effectively and efficiently without the involvement of government.

    But the state, in the hands of those who think themselves “moral and ethical” can only be a tool for evil if they think themselves qualified to use the coercive power of the state to confiscate from producers they consider “evil” the producers’ just property, and then turn that property to what they think is a more “moral” use.

    In doing so, they create a society in which the “wealthy” quickly come to resent any outside demand for alms, and in which the “poor” resent the “wealthy” who they are told owe them anything the market will bear.

    In such a society (as Rand described very eloquently in Atlas Shrugged), every child is resented as another drain on the common resources of the community, lies are rewarded, contributions to the Church come to be seen as an unneeded luxury, and thrift, productivity, hard work, marital fidelity, creativity, true selflessness and efficiency are all punished and eventually disappear.

    We can see these things happening now. Your kind of redistributionism destroys virtue. In its ultimate application, the sentence you wrote above may be the single most evil sentence I’ve ever read in my life. The fact that you made it sincerely with nothing but the best of intentions does nothing to mitigate its evil.

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