As faithful readers of this blog know, I have absolutely no use for the late Ayn Rand, a puerile novelist who got rich on the formula of writing didactic libertarian novels like Atlas Shrugged, and filling them with smut at a time when smutty mainstream novels were still a rarity. I also have little use for libertarians, the perfect political philosophy for fifteen year old nerds. However, John Zmirak, at The Stream, is quite correct about a new form of “red baiting” going on in Saint Blog’s today:
Today Catholic circles are seeing the exact same tactic, except that now the use of guilt-by-association and false implication is serving the cause of big-government statists. The targets are conservative Catholics who distrust the modern secular state, and the smear-word is not “Communist” but “libertarian,” which is then connected with the thought of Ayn Rand. Welcome to the age of the Rand-baiters.
An entire conference held last summer at Catholic University of America was devoted to such Rand-baiting, to speeches that said, implicitly or explicitly, that Catholics who oppose the expansion of government and the large-scale redistribution of wealth are “dissenters” from Catholic Social Teaching. Listening to them speak one would imagine that opposing the leviathan state was a heterodoxy on par with supporting partial-birth abortion and euthanasia. Austin Ruse wrote a fine response to this conference, which provoked a sneering answer from Matthew Boudway at Commonweal.
Go here to read the rest. Can we supply an example of this Rand Baiting? Can we? (Mark, you are missing your cue!)
I am similarly dubious. When I hear Ryan a) ceasing to pretend that he was never an acolyte of Rand and b) doing more than paying lip service to Thomas and citing more than the word “subsidiarity” to give his rhetoric a veneer of Catholic respectability, I will take his Sister Souljah Moment with regard to Rand seriously. Till then, I’m not buyin’ Ryan. He seems to me to be a particularly odious epigone of the Randian Class Warrior against the weak, dressing his class warfare with a few rags from Catholic social teaching to make it look nice. When the Randian jargon goes and is replaced with actual Catholic social teaching beyond the bare repetition of the sacred word “subsidiarity” (interpreted to mean “individualism and hostility to the state”) I’ll start to trust that he is serious.
This touching child-like faith in Caesar to take care of the weak, against all the evidence of recorded History, has little to do with Catholicism and much to do with the fact that since the Popes no longer have had secular responsibilities as rulers of the Papal States, their economic views have become ever more utopian and unhinged from reality. However, at their most fanciful, what the modern Popes have written in no way is the same as the welfare state uber alles misinterpretation twist given to it by many Catholic bloggers who hail anathemas down on other Catholics who have a healthy suspicion of Caesar and doubt if any good comes in relying upon the State to take care of the least among us. How that duty is carried out in practice should cause every sentient Catholic to realize that the welfare state is not the solution to poverty, but helps to perpetuate it.