Rancid Individualism and Ayn Rand’s America

Published on Dissident Voice, by Kathleen Wallace Peine / March 26, 2011. http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/03/rancid-individualism-and-ayn-rand%E2%80%99s-america/

… The recent resurgence of Randian philosophy is best be exemplified by The Tea Party. Undeniably the movement has followers who truly idolize Rand (and her text: Atlas Shrugged) some even going so far as to carry signs in reference to Rand protagonist John Galt. It’s likely that many aren’t directly familiar with her works, other than having a knee jerk positive reaction to a theory that fits nicely with branding certain segments of the society as “parasites”.

One delectable irony in regard to Tea Party policy is the fact that the followers have no idea how astutely they are emulating Rand. The group, often was seen last year advancing the “no socialist healthcare” dogma, all the while, many were served by one quite successful collective program, that of Medicare. It’s a common theme with the group, the concept that one is deserving of these types of programs, yet “others” do not merit the same protections.  

When Rand became ill with lung cancer late in life, she was faced with a similar issue. She knew Oncology care could be expensive and although the years had been relatively kind to Rand in terms of ability to make a living from her words, she opted to forego her convictions. She went on the very same successful, but very socialist program called Medicare. And mind you, this was early 80’s dollars, well before the runaway costs we now face from this profit driven system. Rugged individualism turned as rancid as the cancer inside of her.

Rand’s convenient ideological amnesia did not represent a death bed conversion, but a measured casting out of principles for self preservation and gain. The ultimate unmasking of an unworkable theory. The simple fact that this woman, with the advantage of wealth and friends in elevated places would not shoulder the responsibility of her own health care, exposed the philosophy for what it was: impractical and brutal. Those Medicare recipients at current tea party rallies are her mirror image displaying toothless convictions and self serving entitlement.

All of this has not been enough to sully the growing reputation of this woman and her theories. Rand’s books continue to sell at a brisk pace even now, and there have been indications that a cinematic version of Atlas Shrugged will be offered to the public in 2011. One wonders if this film will be viewed at Tea Party rallies of the future. The advancement of ideas that promote eventual cruelty and systemic collapse continue unabated.

What is there to do for America? Is the nation doomed for allowing charlatan ideals to be ingrained in the national consciousness? The trajectory is not looking good, but a spreading awareness of the pathology that brought here would be a pragmatic first course of action. One must know exactly what the problem is before it can be solved.

We’ve become a nation addled by this rancid individualism. The question is do we continue to allow the bankrupt ideologies to color the end of Empire Americana? There is an opportunity to go down with something akin to dignity, to carve out a smaller, but equitable place in the world. A chance to realign with poise and empathy is possible, if improbable, but this will certainly never be the case until the disjointed, pathological theories of Ayn Rand are discarded once and for all. (full text).

Links:

The absence of democratic sensibility in American filmmaking;

Book review: The Social God and the Relational Self – A Trinitarian Theology of the Imago Dei, By Stanley J. Grenz.

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