Randians hostile to God who “restrains our passions and our irresponsibility”

Apparently the Orthodox Church is being given a greater role in Russian affairs. This disturbs the Randians at The New Clarion (see their About page). Turning reality on its head, they think that religious restraints on human passion and irreponsibility, the loss of which Solzhenitsyn regretted, are tantamount to tyranny. Against such restraints, the Randians posit complete freedom. They don’t understand that tyranny is nothing other than the complete freedom of the will, namely the will of the tyrant himself. They don’t understand that the more radically free society becomes, the more its individual members become like little tyrants, so that the only person who truly represents them and can rule them all is a big tyrant. They don’t understand that true freedom means self-restraint. “Confirm thy soul in self-control / Thy liberty in law,” wrote Katherine Lee Bates in “America the Beautiful.” To the Randians, such traditional American and Christian sentiments are not only weird and alien, but menacing—in the same way that, to Henry Louis Gates, a policeman knocking on his door to investigate a burglary was menacing. And that’s just the smallest cross section of the liberal ideologues in our society who, in one way or another, see normality as evil.

Here are the first two comments in the Randian thread:

1 Andrew Dalton // Jul 30, 2009 at 11:18 am

An under-appreciated fact about Ayn Rand is that she was philosophically anti-Russia, not merely anti-Soviet (as Solzhenitsyn was). The events of the past decade have definitely vindicated Rand’s view of Russia.

2 madmax // Jul 30, 2009 at 12:10 pm

That’s an excellent point Andrew. The Russian soul is thoroughly collectivist and it was made that way by centuries of Christianity. Solzhenitsyn himself was a typical traditionalist. It should come as no surprise that the likes of Larry Auster admire Solzhenitsyn and cite him as a traditionalist hero.

Solzhenitsyn’s criticism of the West was the conservative one, namely that the West was decaying because of abandoning Christianity and embracing atheism. Wiki has him quoted as saying something essentially identical to what Whittaker Chambers said about ‘Atlas Shrugged’—that it is “the calamity of an autonomous, irreligious humanistic consciousness.”

He also wrote this:

“[The West] has made man the measure of all things on earth—imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now paying for the mistakes which were not properly appraised at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility.”

He is essentially prescribing Christianity as an antidote for Communism. And Putin is beginning to follow through on that. The Czars may yet return to rule Russia once more.

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Mark P. writes:

Not to repeat myself, but I think your item deserves a repeat of my earlier point elsewhere in your blog. The more individual freedom people have, the more concerned they are about how they are treated. When the concern for personal treatment becomes great enough, people demand government do something about it. Freedom then becomes constrained.

In other words, people want to avoid the petty tyrannies the existence of which they imagine as the result of enjoying unprecedented individual freedom, so they elected a major tyranny to suppress the petty ones.

Hannon writes:

Those Randians, in the Russia entry, reassert their dread at the thought of any configuration of man and religion, especially when Christianity looks as if it will get a boost somewhere in the world.

At their own intellectual peril, perhaps a greater source of fear for them than even the vitality of religion itself, they forget this quote from G. K. Chesterton:

“The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.”

They should pin this up in their dorm rooms.

LA replies:

But the Randians don’t even have reason. They have a set of ideological slogans and formulaic phrases from the writings of Ayn Rand that they repeat like robots and call “reason.”

Hannon replies:

This was very insightful and useful for me:

“They don’t understand that tyranny is nothing other than the complete freedom of the will, namely the will of the tyrant himself….”

Something profound to think about. It would be as a jolt to many armchair philosophers. It also makes me think of one of the keys to religion: submission to the idea that the will has natural, proximate limitations. Something else must fill the void of the wandering soul. Anyone with any sense can see that this is precisely why the great majority of the world’s people are believers of some kind.

LA replies:

Don’t thank me, thank Plato. What I said comes from Book VIII and the first part of Book IX of The Republic, culminating in Plato’s discussion of the psychology of the tyrannical man.

August 3

Sage McLaughlin writes:

With respect to the Randians and freedom, may I recommend this line from G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy? It seems very apt to the discussion:

“I may, it is true, twist orthodoxy so as partly to justify a tyrant. But I can easily make up a German philosophy to justify him entirely.”

Tim W. writes:

One thing I’ve noticed from debating Randians is that they have no idea how difficult freedom is to maintain. They see it as part of the environment, a sort of low hanging fruit that will grow on its own if we just stop letting the weeds known as culture, faith, and traditional standards choke it out. They also think freedom is a cornucopia, an unlimited supply, and that freedoms can expand forever without ever clashing with another freedom. When a clash inevitably occurs, Randians are at a loss to explain it. They rationalize it by dehumanizing the traditional or faith-based side of the conflict.

This explains why libertarians are always in a state of outrage over restrictions on sodomy, strip clubs, or street drugs. They foam at the mouth over seat belt laws. But they never show any special outrage over a law forcing a Christian dating service to provide same-sex match-ups. If pressed they’ll say they oppose that law, but it doesn’t really enrage them, and over time they’ll accept it because they don’t regard people of faith as being particularly worthy of having their liberty respected. It would not be unfair to call libertarians the shock troops of the anarcho-tyranny.

LA replies:

Yes. Since the liberal reconstruction of society consists of (1) suppressing traditional morality and standards, while (2) liberating and giving dictatorial power to liberal morality and standards, the libertarians, who are in the forefront of the demand for freedom from traditional restraints, are the shock troops of the liberal PC tyranny.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 02, 2009 08:54 PM | Send

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