6 November 2011
You cannot understand the Tea Party and the present day far-right without knowing about Ayn Rand, the novelist and political philosopher. The words “Atlas Shrugged”, the name of one of her novels, appears on handheld signs at every Tea Party rally, as does the name of it’s hero, John Galt. Republican Senator Rand Paul is named for her. GOP Congresman Paul Ryan was inspired to enter politics after reading Ayn Rand as a young man. Rand is required reading for clerks of Supreme Court Justice Clarance Thomas. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh routinely speak of her in glowing terms. Ayn Rand’s “objectivism” is the foundation of the Tea Party and present-day conservatism.
According to Ayn Rand, the vast majority of people in the world are “moochers” – lazy and stupid individuals who deserve no better than to work as slaves for their betters, the “producers”. The producers are the rich captains of industry, and they exist on a plane apart. They are the Supermen we remember from Nietzsche and Hitler, and naturally the rules do not apply to them. These heroes of Rand’s novels rape women and sabotage their nation’s infrastructure as expressions of their own superior will.
The essence of Ayn Rand’s philosophy is that in order to be truly moral, one must thoroughly embrace selfishness and reject charity. The impulse to help a fellow human in need is a failure and should be ripped out of the heart. Rather, it is best to express one’s own will on the grandest possible scale, and if sacred rules are broken, so much the better. That is why Rand gushed with admiration for William Hickman, a serial murderer who in 1927 raped, killed and dismembered a 12-year-old girl. She wrote that this man had “no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel ‘other people.'” She thought that was a good thing.
This is the very base of the modern far-right. If the present-day capitalism that has sprung from the soil of Ayn Rand’s philosophy and which ravages the people and the planet as an expression of the will of the powerful few – if all of this seems rather sociopathic, that is because it literally is.