Glenn Beck, David Barton, Assault Rifle Company Working on Self-Sufficient Libertarian Communes

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SharperIron's picture
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Glenn Beck, David Barton, Assault Rifle Company Working on Self-Sufficient Libertarian Communes

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“[M]edia personality Glenn Beck has announced that he will build a community based upon “Galt’s Gulch,” the libertarian community featured in Ayn Rand’s fictional work, Atlas Shrugged”  Full story

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Rand? Communes?

First, I'm pretty sure these groups aren't styling themselves 'communes'!

Second, why in the world does any conservative think Ayn Rand's thought is a good model?

It's no wonder conservatives are finding it so difficult to be persuasive with the general population (and young evangelicals especially)

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Aaron Blumer wrote: Second,

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Second, why in the world does any conservative think Ayn Rand's thought is a good model?

It's no wonder conservatives are finding it so difficult to be persuasive with the general population (and young evangelicals especially)

Exactly. Why Rand is a hero to any Christian is an absolute mystery to me. I am convinced that Beck, Hannity and crowd have done far more damage than help to conservatism. Their problem is that to make their money and keep their ratings, they have to preach to the choir, which is hungry for red meat nonsense that completely turns off everyone else. 

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Rand is popular with

Rand is popular with conservatives because she had a good handle on notions of personal liberty and how markets react to government intervention.  Also, she writes a great novel. 

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DavidO wrote: Rand is popular

DavidO wrote:

Rand is popular with conservatives because she had a good handle on notions of personal liberty and how markets react to government intervention.  Also, she writes a great novel. 

Well yes, some of her teaching resonates with any conservative. But the question is how a Christian can ignore the fact that her worldview was anti-God and her idea of capitalism is anti-God. Her extreme conservative viewpoint is certainly no more Christian than the extreme liberal alternative. Probably less so in fact. 

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I'm not enamored with Glenn Beck

I'm not enamored with Glenn Beck

"Fringe" comes to mind!

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GregH wrote:But the question

GregH wrote:
But the question is how a Christian can ignore the fact that her worldview was anti-God and her idea of capitalism is anti-God.

I suppose we could dig her up and burn her bones. Biggrin

Lots of conservatives have elements of their worldview/personal behavior that are unchristian.  Lots of SIers probably voted in the last election for someone who doesn't believe Jesus was God.  Welcome to politics. 

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Sigh...

Sigh... David, I couldn't care less about Ayn Rand's corpse and I don't need your lecture about politics. It is not that Ayn Rand had "elements" of unchristian philosophy. It is that her philosophy was unchristian period.

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GregH wrote: DavidO

GregH wrote:

DavidO wrote:

Rand is popular with conservatives because she had a good handle on notions of personal liberty and how markets react to government intervention.  Also, she writes a great novel. 

Well yes, some of her teaching resonates with any conservative. But the question is how a Christian can ignore the fact that her worldview was anti-God and her idea of capitalism is anti-God. Her extreme conservative viewpoint is certainly no more Christian than the extreme liberal alternative. Probably less so in fact. 

Greg,

I don't much about Rand. Could you explain where her "idea of capitalism is anti God?"

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

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The most obvious was her idea

The most obvious was her idea was the way she viewed self reliance. She believed that it is immoral to help other people. In her world, altruism is a dirty word and selfishness is a virtue. The general idea was everyone should just take care of themselves.

She was an atheist and despised those of faith. To her, reason was all that was necessary. 

There are many resources online that discuss her philosophy and it doesn't take long to see the problems. Here is one example: http://conservapedia.com/Ayn_Rand

 

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Ok, not to nitpick, but I will

Why is SI describing the arms company as an "Assault" weapon company. Do you understand what an assault weapon actually is, and why the leftist media and liberals glommed onto that purposefully inaccurate term? Just wondering...

SamH

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The SI title

quotes the linked-to article's title.

SamH wrote:

Why is SI describing the arms company as an "Assault" weapon company. Do you understand what an assault weapon actually is, and why the leftist media and liberals glommed onto that purposefully inaccurate term? Just wondering...

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

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Hey Rob's right

 

 

Even Defining ‘Assault Rifles’ Is Complicated

Even the NY Times admits that the definition is fuzzy

"a catchy name to identify this new type of gun."

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Actually, it's not a "new

Actually, it's not a "new type of weapon."  The seminal design is the StG 44\MP44.  The "Sturm" in Sturmgewehr means storm as in storming a castle.  Assault rifle is the English translation.  The StG 44 was developed by the Germans during WW2.  44 refers to the year (1944) the weapon went into general issue.  It inspired Mikhail Kalashnikov's design of the AK-47; the first of many follow ons.

Jim wrote:
Even Defining ‘Assault Rifles’ Is Complicated Even the NY Times admits that the definition is fuzzy "a catchy name to identify this new type of gun."

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

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. . . her philosophy was

. . . her philosophy was unchristian period.
 

Her philosophy rejected God.  But she was right about some things.  Her work is not useless to a believer; for instance, I think there is alot of overlap between Objectivism and what you (GregH) call a Christian worldview.

Also, who is the truly Christian conservative philosopher we believers should champion?

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I never said she was not

I never said she was not right about some things. I never said her work was useless. What I said was I can't understand why she is a hero to some Christians. I lean her direction from a fiscal perspective (though I don't go nearly as far) so yes there is an overlap in that way.

An overlap between Objectivism and a Christian world view? Sure that is true on the surface but the underpinnings are drastically different. Who or what was the final authority in Rand's worldview and what is the final authority in a Christian worldview? It is interesting that Rand arrived at some similar conclusions that we would but that does not make her compatible at all with a Christian worldview. As John Piper would argue in the link below, that probably makes her views more dangerous. 

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/articles/the-ethics-of-ayn-rand (Someone emailed this to me today and I thought I would pass it along.)

As to your last question, I don't know a "truly Christian conservative philosopher" that we believers should champion. But I would hope that does not mean we have to scrape the bottom of the barrel and champion Ayn Rand.

 

 

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Yeah, I don't know any

Yeah, I don't know any either, and I'm not for championing any of them, so to speak. 

I do find Rand useful, provocative, and accessible because of the format in which she presents much of her thought.   A good "gateway" to conservative thought. 

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Christian Philosophers

The only Christian philosophers I know of are apologists; such as William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland and Alvin Plantigna. These guys really are philosophers and are very good. Craig and Moreland are more Wesleyan in their theology. Plantigna is Reformed. They use philosophy, to a large extent, to defend the faith.

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Il. He blogs here

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I'd actually suggest that Ayn

I'd actually suggest that Ayn Rand is far more correct than the general neo-conservatism in the Republican party today.

And I also believe that a lot of what she says is actually very Christian--really, her objectivism, taken to its logical end, actually demands a creator. And what she saw as good in man was actually the imago dei shining through--she just didn't acknowledge that. And if she had [acknowledged it], then she wouldn't have gone off course on the "not helping other" idea. Because mercy isn't actually rewarding evil with good (as she believed), it's actually, in fact, an equitable trade--because a human bestowing mercy is responding to the absolute value of the image of God in even a person that's doing evil.

So her underpinnings were actually far closer to being Christian than you'd like to believe, though she didn't realize it.

As to Piper's essay, I'd highly recommend reading it. But GregH seems to be suggesting that Piper, like so many other Christians, strongly warns against the evils of Ayn Rand as if she's to be avoided at all costs. But if you read the essay, you'll find that he's incredibly appreciate of her writing. And he's amazed at how closely it parallels his Christian Hedonism. And he's right: her logical system is as consistent as a human can make it--starting out with the axiom "Existence exists." The only thing she missed as that the starting axiom is actually "God exists"--which necessarily implies that "Existence exists." She came so incredibly close!

It really constantly astounds me how vitriolic many Christians are against Rand. I actually like to think of her as an apologist for treasuring God in all things (though she'd be posthumously offended!) When I read her writing, I coming away with a much greater realization of the amazing order that God created in his universe. And I come away with a greater appreciation for how amazing that means he is.

In summary, I don't think you're scraping the bottom of the barrel at all to read or recommend Ayn Rand. In fact, I'd suggest most Christians would actually do very well to read her writing.

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Rand

Didn't realize so many were interested in Rand... I'm not sure how many have read her.

Philosophically, she invented a system called Objectivism. As a philosophical system, it's pretty derivative. To the degree I understand it (which is always a qualifier I have to attach to philosophy because I'm never entirely sure what these people are trying to say... or if their devotees know either) it's pretty derivative and sencond rate.

It's empiricist rationalism on individualism steroids.

But more to the point for our purposes, it's not only profoundly unChristian but profoundly unconservative because it proposes not only that man can be the measure of all things but that each individual human can be the measure of all things.

Ethically, Rand's system turns the act of giving into the greatest of human sins.

All I can say good about Shrugged is that it does a good job exposing the folly of nihilism and egalitarianism... but it has nothing better to offer in their place. As far as economics go, the whole economic angle is really just the sprinkles on the icing on the cake. She does see the insidious self-destructive power in ideals-driven centralized economies... and understands how shackling achievers hurts everyone.

So, basically she takes some time-tested and proven economic ideas and bolts them on to a rotting corpse of a worldview. Nice.

--

When I read Atlas Shrugged a couple of years ago, I took a ton of notes and intended to write something about it ... along the lines of "Why Rand is no friend to conservatives." But decided it didn't need writing. I'm getting more interested in doing that now.

To generalize, the views of Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, John Adams, on up through Russel Kirk and Thomas Sowell are quite different from those of Rand. There are overlapping ideas, but the context they put them in is quite different.

For starters all of these conservative thinkers have highly valued the role of society as a check on the individual. Would Rand agree with Hobbes that the human left to himself is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short" or more with Rousseau that human beings are good by nature and that society is the source of most our problems? Which of these two was the Leftist?

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Aaron Blumer wrote:Didn't

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Didn't realize so many were interested in Rand... I'm not sure how many have read her.

Many of us (I can actually say that about myself and several friends) are actually reading her writing. A lot.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
But more to the point for our purposes, it's not only profoundly unChristian but profoundly unconservative because it proposes not only that man can be the measure of all things but that each individual human can be the measure of all things.

I disagree that it's profoundly unchristian. I believe it certainly gets certain things wrong, but only to the degree that its conclusions would be changed by the axiom "God exists." As Piper helpfully catalogs, a good portion of the philosophy doesn't really change at all with/without this axiom. The reason for that is simple: Rand's starting axiom (Existence exists) is actually an implication of the axiom that God exists. And so a large portion of the system actually necessarily follows from the existence of God. Making that (majority) part actually profoundly Christian.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Ethically, Rand's system turns the act of giving into the greatest of human sins.

This is 1.) A mischaracterization of Rand's claims and 2.) Focusing one one part of the whole. Why it's a mischaracterization: a.) She's not claiming that "giving" is wrong so much as she's claiming that "trading a greater value for a lesser value" is wrong. Since she doesn't understand the value of the imago dei, she believes the implication of that princple (fair trading) is that giving is wrong, but her principle, on a human level, is actually correct. As I mentioned earlier, when human beings give mercy, it is actually for one's own benefit: it recognizes the value of the imago dei and actually works to further the satisfaction of the one giving mercy by desiring to see that person love Christ--thus increasing the mercy giver's joy tremendously. This is not my own idea, I'm borrowing a great deal from Piper and others here. Also, b.) she's also arguing against "forced giving", which I would hope you wouldn't disagree with her conclusion that that's wrong. As Doug Wilson is keen to point out, theft is still theft even if the majority vote for it (entitlements/redistribution.)

Aaron Blumer wrote:
When I read Atlas Shrugged a couple of years ago, I took a ton of notes and intended to write something about it ... along the lines of "Why Rand is no friend to conservatives." But decided it didn't need writing. I'm getting more interested in doing that now.

The irony to that is that my generation believes that she is actually what conservatism *should* be. Around the 90s and on unfortunately neo-conservatism took over the conservative movement to a large degree. And it brought with it the moral mess of both terrible economics and unjust wars. Both are moral evils.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
For starters all of these conservative thinkers have highly valued the role of society as a check on the individual. Would Rand agree with Hobbes that the human left to himself is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short" or more with Rousseau that human beings are good by nature and that society is the source of most our problems? Which of these two was the Leftist?

But the correct one is actually somewhat in the middle. We must define our understanding of man in a way that manages to meld the twin truths that man is corrupted by sin, but also retains the imago dei.

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Non-aggression principle

I'm also interested that no one has brought up what is one of the lynchpins of the whole thing: the non-aggression principle.

It is never right for human beings to initiate force against another human being. It is only justified in response to aggression. And this is one of Rand's biggest arguments: that all of the economic injustices of "forced giving" (what a profoundly oxymoronic) are morally evil precisely because they involve the use of aggression to achieve their end. (That's not the only reason they're evil, but it is a big one.)

I believe very strongly that the conservative movement (and by extension, the Republican party) will never be able to argue effectively against abortion unless it embraces the NAP. Hypocrisy may not make an argument invalid, but it sure does make it difficult for people to believe. And one cannot argue strongly for the sacred nature of live within the womb while simultaneously arguing for such moral evils as pre-emptive war, countless assassinations of both US citizens and non-citizens, and countless drone strikes against children and first responders (with both the circular logic of defining militants as being militants because they are in a strike zone rather than the other way around and the double-tap strategy of firing secondary strikes closely after the initial strikes to kill medical personnel.)

Interestingly enough, the younger generation is more strongly pro-life that those that came before it, but is also far more non-interventionist in contrast to the neo-conservative, hawkish, war-as-the-first-option mentality that often preceded it.

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Interesting you bring that up

Interesting you bring that up about abortion because Rand was very pro-abortion. Doesn't that make her inconsistent in your view?

I have read her books, some of them multiple times and I have to say I just don't get it. I just don't see her as some great thinker. Her views seem half-baked in some cases to me. Perhaps the best thing going for her was choosing to get her ideas out in novels which does make her accessible. That is of course until you get to that hideous 100+ page sermon she preaches toward the end of Atlas Shrugged.

 

 

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GregH wrote:Interesting you

GregH wrote:
Interesting you bring that up about abortion because Rand was very pro-abortion. Doesn't that make her inconsistent in your view?

Yes! But that's precisely because she missed the first axiom, that God exists. As a friend of mine put it recently, "Oddly, when Ayn's [Rand] logic fails, it is often because God is the missing piece needed to validate her conclusions." The fact that her outworkings were wrong doesn't necessarily mean the principles were wrong--it could just mean (as I believe) that she was missing all of the information necessarily to apply the principles correctly.

GregH wrote:
I have read her books, some of them multiple times and I have to say I just don't get it. I just don't see her as some great thinker. Her views seem half-baked in some cases to me.

But you don't agree with her principles. Since those principles necessarily logically follow from her starting axiom (an axiom which you would affirm), of course you aren't going to get it, or you're going to see the ideas as half-baked. This is precisely because you disagree with the principles but not the axiom. So unless the logic is flawed, then you're backed into the corner. Which, in all reality, is the beauty of Rand as a philosopher: unlike the modern philosophy which she detests so highly, she's intending to merely work out all of the necessary implication's from one's starting axiom--that is in contrast to so much "philosophy" which sits around in the armchair and dreams up stuff that either has no starting point or denies it by claiming contradictions.

GregH wrote:
That is of course until you get to that hideous 100+ page sermon she preaches toward the end of Atlas Shrugged.

I think that that's one of the best parts! I mean, certainly it's not amusement material like so many novels are, but it's not intended to be. It's meant to be the completely description of a perfectly consistent philosophy [whether it was *fully* consistent is irrelevant, that was her intention] that encompasses all of life.

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Shrugged

In Shrugged, Rand has one of her most representative characters make some kind of superlative statement (or internal reflection) about the greatest evil a human being can commit. As I recall, it is to give. (Of course, if you give something in exchange for something of equal or greater value, you're not giving. The book expressly mocks altruism.)

Unfortunately, I don't have access to the notes I made during my reading. What would be helpful is a digital searchable copy.

Anyone remember what the oath was that people had to swear to gain citizenship in Galt's Gulch?

Rand does more than deny that God exists. She denies that there is a transcendent moral order that must be revealed to (or discovered by) human beings. And this idea is probably the central tenet of historic conservatism.

In Shrugged, D. Taggart lives out the Rand philosophy not ony in her economics but her sexual ethics. She considers it noble to have another man's husband. Enlightened self interest.

I recommend Jay W. Richard's observations about Rand in Money Greed and God. They're brief but clear and well reasoned.

What Rand gets right others got right before her. Can't see the point in using her at all.

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Galt's oath

Found the oath. To gain citizenship in what Rand sees as the ideal community:

I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

About as unChristian as you can get.... especially as the central commitment of a community.

Matt 10:39  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. ESV

Luke 14:26  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. ESV