Ayn Rand And The Sociopathic Society
or ‘How I Learned To Stop Loving My Neighbor And Despise Them Instead.’
A fat, smug bastard friend of mine (that’s his chosen nickname, The FSB) pointed out to me some time ago that pretty much ALL conservative politics are selfish at their core. Take any conservative position on a social or economic issue and boil away all the rhetoric and what you are left with is “I got mine, screw you.”
I thought about that for a while. I suppose its simplicity struck me as being a little too easy, a little too sound bitey. So I sat down and made a list:
- No gay marriage – Homosexuality makes me uncomfortable (due to misguided religious influence, poor upbringing or both) so gay people should be punished because of my beliefs. Stoopid homos…
- No welfare, food stamps or Medicaid – I’m not poor enough to qualify for these programs so my tax dollars shouldn’t pay for it. Stoopid poor people and by poor I really mean black…
- No health care reform – Why should I help pay for other people who are sick when I’m not? Stoopid sick people…
- No environmental protection – Environmental laws makes things more expensive for me and that’s bad. I also don’t understand the concept of long term impact; I want cheap gas and gadgets now! Stoopid…ah, you get the idea…
- Don’t raise my taxes – EVER. The government can find its own money to pay for stuff.
- Medicare – Young conservatives: Why should I help pay for old people and the disabled? Older conservatives: Keep your government hands off my Medicare!
- Social Security – Young conservatives: Sacrifices need to be made, people should take care of themselves, not depend on handouts from people like me. Older conservatives: Sacrifices need to be made BUT DON’T YOU TOUCH MY SOCIAL SECURITY!
- No abortion – The government should tell women what to do with their bodies because Idon’t like abortion.
- No prayer in school? – GOVERNMENT OVERREACH!! I like Republican Jesus™ so everyone should have to listen to my prayers. No Muslim prayers, though. That’s indoctrination.
Dictionary.com defines a sociopath as: a person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.
Conservapedia says a sociopath is “someone with a personality disorder characterized by an antisocial behavior and an absence of moral responsibility or social conscience.” (I would have cited Wikipedia but we all know they’re a liberal front for George Soros, I think I heard that on Glenn Beck)
The key words here are “moral responsibility” and “social conscience”. Conservative politics lack these essential characteristics. In their place we find greed, hate, lies, an inability to empathize and an overblown sense of entitlement and self importance. In other words: all the indicators of a seriously disturbed person. Except it’s a political philosophy and it has millions of disciples.
But Justin, you filthy liberal scum, how can you say that?
Well, that’s kind of easy. Who is the guiding light of conservatives (and Libertarians) all the way from corrupt CEOs down to easily manipulated Tea Party fanatics? Ayn Rand.
Ayn Rand’s specific worldview was that “The pursuit of his (man’s) own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.” This is in direct opposition to a functional humane society where the whole must be cohesive in order to provide for its weakest and most vulnerable. You’ll notice my inclusion of the word “humane”. You can have a perfectly functional society without a shred of humanity in it. Take, for example, the Industrial Age societies. They literally built the foundations for the world we know and yet they allowed or even encouraged child labor; essentially the slavery of children. Speaking of slavery, they had THAT, too, and no matter what Haley Barbour, Pat Buchanan and the other apologists revisionists would have you think, it was horrible and inhumane.
Ayn Rand’s ideal world is one where society has no say in your actions short of you physically assaulting another person. “The only function of the government, in such a society, is the task of protecting man’s rights, i.e., the task of protecting him from physical force.”[ii] One is forced to wonder what she would make of Wall Street’s Epic Fail. Rand was a big champion of no regulation at all. Close your eyes and imagine what Wall Street could do with even less regulation than it had before. Think of all the possibilities. Taste the freedom.
Are you done vomiting yet?
Do you know why Rand’s laissez-faire utopia would fail? It’s the exact same reason a socialist utopia would fail; people are imperfect. We are greedy, envious, petty and selfish. There will always be some among us who will better themselves specifically to the detriment of others because they simply don’t care. There will always be those who, as they gain power and wealth, will want more at any expense. We saw this in action in communist Russia. It was rife with the kind of corruption described so very well in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Everyone was equal, but some were more equal than others.
We see it today in that bastion of capitalism: America and its budding Oligarchy. As wealth and power becomes ever more concentrated, the rest of us suffer. Any attempts to remedy the situation by imposing restrictions on the rich and powerful to keep them from fleecing the country is met with howls of “class warfare”, “Socialism” and “government overreach.” Any attempts to remove any of the sweetheart deals in place allowing those same anti-government rich and powerful to pay less taxes (or no taxes at all) or to reap billions in unnecessary subsidies are also met with more howls of unfair treatment.
Now that’s what I call having your cake and eating it, too.
These people are sociopaths, pure and simple. As long as they get what they “deserve”, it doesn’t matter what happens to anyone else. Homeless families are not their problem. Malnourished children are not their problem. Uninsured sick people are not their problem. The elderly reduced to abject poverty (as they were before the advent of Social Security) are not their problem.
Ayn Rand and her delusional rantings provide a rationalization for this immoral behavior. After the Enron scandal and again after the crash in 2008, CEOs started to reread Atlas Shrugged. “CEOs put the book down knowing in their hearts that they are not the greedy crooks they are portrayed to be in today’s business headlines but are heroes like the characters in Rand’s novel.”[iii]
Heroes? Really? Is that so?
I would love to walk a group of Wall Street executives out to a Tea Party rally and have them explain to the crowd all the ways these “heroes” have stolen away the TPers money and future. Then announce that it’s OK because Ayn Rand says self interest and greed are good so whatever these “heroes” do in pursuit of that goal is morally just, even necessary. I figure the cognitive dissonance would make at least half of the crowd’s heads explode.
Mahatma Ghandi said a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. By this very simple criterion, the conservative sociopathic society would be found wanting and yet the conservative movement claims to be the party of God, family and human decency. It is none of these things.