Paul Krugman makes a good point:
Ask yourself: when was the last time a Republican leader made a point of praising hard-working, ordinary families — as opposed to “job creators”? Think about what happened on Labor Day: on a day dedicated to celebrating workers, House majority leader Eric Cantor sent out a tweet praising … business owners:
“Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success.”
This all makes sense in the Ayn Rand intellectual universe, where a handful of heroically greedy entrepreneurs are responsible for all that is good. And if you live in that universe, your dividing line between makers and takers isn’t drawn at the point where people make enough to pay income taxes; everyone who isn’t John Galt should be grateful for what the Galts do, and we’re all takers by asking those heroes to pay any taxes at all.
We really are seeing the outcome of a fantasy novel being taken as the foundation for the Republican economic platform, and it’s very scary. If you take the Randian philosophy seriously, it follows that the ability to make money is the only real virtue worth having in society. If that is true, then the richer you are, the better you are, and vice versa. Republicans, as we have seen with Mitt Romney, have disdain for the poor because they see them as immoral freeloaders incapable of generating lots of money for themselves. Incredibly, these same Republicans have tied this philosophy up with Christianity, which quite literally preaches the complete opposite. As Jesus himself said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”.
It really was an amazing trick pulled off by Ayn Rand to cast the wealthy as the oppressed and the poor as the oppressors, and it has managed to completely neuter labor movements in the US. Randian philosophy has immeasurably helped siphon off lower middle and working class people away from unions into bonkers organizations like the Tea Party, where members routinely demand policies directly harmful to them and their families.
Organized labor has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to capturing the public’s imagination, but if a fourth-rate, intellectually lazy book like ‘Atlas Shrugged’ can inspire an entire intellectual movement, there’s no reason why the Left can’t come up with one too. We’re seeing Randian philosophy falling flat on its face during this election, so now’s the time to replace it with something a little more sane.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.