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Sunday, November 30, 2003

Signs of Impending Judgment.

In each of the past three centuries, Almighty God has seen fit to reveal His displeasure with the direction of the human race in various and sundry ways. One of the more subtle, but unusually frightening, methods is to permit the world to endure half-baked European (or European-bred) philosophers who spew, emit and otherwise rave at tedious length about The Great Idea™ which explains all and assures salvation--from something. Usually the Idea™ saves its adherents from rationality, tradition, decency, etc., but that's not important now. Almost invariably, the undercooked secular prophet is an appalling human being whose love for his abstract crusade is only exceeded by his hatred for his fellow man and man's inexcusable failings. The greatest of these failings, of course, is the inability to embrace The Great Idea™.

In short, every century has produced these ravers as surely as surely as an outhouse reeks in August. In the 18th Century, we received Rousseau. In the 19th Century, Karl Marx and Herbert Spencer fell to earth. In the 20th--Lord, take your pick.

For my money, the worst is the fungal skin rash popularity of the Russian-born Ayn (rhymes with "mine") Rand. The West shipped Lenin to Russia, and the Rodina expelled Rand across the Atlantic. Talk about your Hobson's choice of repulsive secular messianic dwarfs. Rand is not caked with gore, but that's her sole recommendation.

In addition to her editor-destroying verbosity (throwing Atlas Shrugged is a felony in all fifty states, Guam and Puerto Rico), Rand is noteworthy for her Great Idea™: "Objectivism," which purports to exalt human reason. More accurately, it is the Worship of the Autonomous Self Through Ayn Rand as Mediator. For an "objective", but (too-mildly) critical evaluation of the failings of full-bore Randism by a former associate and paramour, go here.

In essence, she and her followers extoll a utilitarian capitalistic self-interest (called, yes, "selfishness") as the basis for society, and deride the notion of altruism (especially in its religious form) as an irrational impediment to the proper social order, inasmuch as it holds back the productive betters. In reality, it's as dogmatic a world view as that held by any Spanish Inquisitor. Perhaps the ultimate expression of her philosophy was seen at her funeral, where a flower arrangment in the form of a six foot tall dollar sign was the prominent symbol.

More than twenty years after her death, she continues to be the queen bee of an obtuse and adoring hive of rank utilitarians ("Randys") that consume her sofa-proppers to the tune of 250,000 books a year. By any standard of measure, that's a lot of college sophomores and others who suffer from arrested mental development. Not to mention much lost shade for no good purpose.

Consider, for example, the Randy position on abortion.

Freedom is slavery. War is peace. Objectivism is morally sane. You get the idea.

With that in mind, I present to you the Randy take on Thanksgiving (via Fr. Johansen).

Many Americans make Thanksgiving into a religious festival. They agree with Lincoln, who, upon declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, said that "we have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven." They ascribe our material abundance to God's efforts, not man's.

That view is a slap in the face of any person who has worked an honest day in his life. The appropriate values for this holiday are not faith and charity, but thought and production. The proper thanks for one's wealth goes not to some mystical deity but to oneself, if one has earned that wealth.

The liberal tells us that the food on our Thanksgiving plate is the result of mindless, meaningless labor. The conservative tells us that it is the result of supernatural grace. Neither believes that it represents an individual's achievement.

But wealth is not generated by sheer muscle; India, for example, has far more manual laborers than does the United States. Nor is it generated by praying for God's blessing; Iran, for example, is far more religious. If the liberal and conservative views of wealth are correct, why aren't those countries awash in riches?

See what I mean? Believe it or not, that's not the most ridiculous section of the article. The most ridiculous is found in the footer, where it identifies the author's employer and job title. It takes a lot of education to eradicate common sense, but it appears American universities are up to the task.

Duke University School of Business: Building the Enrons of Tomorrow, One Student at a Time.

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