Rand Rules the Right, Right?
Wrong, but Michael Lind likes to think so:
It is merciful, perhaps, that Buckley did not live to see the detested Ayn Rand become the central intellectual figure on the right. Until recently the only prominent conservative known to have been influenced at one point by the Evita of the nerds was Alan Greenspan, and he was given a pass for a youthful indiscretion. Now two of the stars of the emergent right, Ron Paul and Paul Ryan, are professed disciples of the Mary Baker Eddy of egotism…..
…..this is great news for American progressivism. In the last third of the 20th century, many liberals who supported New Deal economic policies defected to the right on the basis of the Cold War or the culture war. Now that the Cold War and the culture war are over, what remains is the class war. And in the class war, the libertarians are on the side of the classes…..
True, thanks to the popular backlash against the bailouts and the unpopular healthcare bill, the Democrats will suffer losses in the midterm elections. The Randian right will claim that Republican gains in Congress are proof that the American people share their goal of abolishing Social Security and Medicare. They should be encouraged in that belief….
The biggest danger is that Democrats will misinterpret the coming electoral setbacks to mean that they need to move in a libertarian direction…..
Obama's instinct is to appease those who attack him, so there is a danger that he might move (further) to the market fundamentalist right. But Obama is not the Democratic Party, and the party's progressive base is increasingly hostile to Carter-Clinton-Obama neoliberalism.
So bring it on, geeky disciples of Ayn Rand. Gird thy loins and put on thy Spock ears. Demand the abolition of Social Security and Medicare! Call for reducing the U.S. military to the Coast Guard! Insist on tolling every highway and street in America and selling America's infrastructure assets to foreign corporations and foreign sovereign wealth funds! Go Galt!
Bring it on! Even confined to a wheelchair, Franklin Roosevelt can defeat Ayn Rand.
There is a bundle of goofiness contained in the full piece, including the notion that Ron Paul and Paul Ryan are now the undisputed thought leaders of the GOP (or full-on Randians), and a cynical realpolitik that says that since Americans want government to spend more than it could ever have forever, we are gonna keep taxing and taxing, spending and spending, and electing and electing, forever, never mind demographics or debt. The people want their free stuff, so libertarians will forever be irrelevant. (I also seriously doubt his contention that it was American voters unalloyed love of overseas belligerance that kept the GOP electoral coalition successful once it wisely ditched its irrelevant libertarianoid quasi-isolation after Taft died.)
The American Conservative is cutting on Lind's overestimating the Randianism of even Paul and Ryan, and of falling for the old GOP two-step of pretending to anti-government sentiment when they are out of power. And in a smart but arguable post over at Unqualified Offerings, Thoreau takes his own look at Lind's "libertarians have taken over the Republican Party" idea and concludes:
I'm not writing this to defend libertarianism from the charge of being infiltrated by the GOP. I'm writing this to argue that the GOP has not been overcome by libertarianism. Those are two entirely different things. From where I sit, I see some useful idiots for the GOP in the libertarian ranks, but I see precious little libertarianism animating the Republicans.
My Reason magazine cover story from December 2009 on why the right isn't ready for Rand.