Paul Ryan and Objectivism
Rejecting Rand in Favor of Aquinas
by Thomas M. Miovas, Jr.
There is a very interesting story about Paul Ryan and Objectivism now that Ryan has been chosen to be the Vice-Presidential candidate along side Mitt Romney for President come this November election cycle. In the story, it is claimed that Ryan has rejected Ayn Rand in favor of Thomas Aquinas to be his intellectual guidance for national policy. When Ryan first announced that he liked Ayn Rand, the Marxist / Leftist jumped all over him trying to get him to drop her in favor of the policies of the Left -- which is more Socialism and a government run economy. Looks like to some extend they succeeded in that Ryan has explicitly dropped Rand as an intellectual guidance position. However, Ayn Rand still had some influence on him and he has spoken out in favor of capitalism due to this influence.
That Ryan has chosen Thomas Aquinas as his new intellectual leader is also encouraging, in that it was Thomas Aquinas who brought mankind out of the Dark Ages and into the Renaissance, where reason was held in high esteem for the first time since Ancient Greece and Athens. I'm not really sure if Aquinas would have been in favor of capitalism or not, but he was most definitely in favor of reason as an absolute, bringing forth the argument that God gave you a mind and that it is important to use it to understand His Creation based upon the evidence of the senses which give us a direct connection to the Beauty and Rational Operations of God's Universe. And Aquinas helped to re-introduce Aristotle to the West, thereby setting up the grounds for a rational culture based upon reason and reality. These positions did eventually lead to The Age of Reason and The Enlightenment, and to the founding of the United States of America and the full recognition of individual rights. So, Ryan is in great company to defend capitalism and man's rights qua individual against the collectivism and unreason of the Marxist Left, even though he will waver a bit here and there due to his dropping of Ayn Rand as an explicit guide.
But even if Ryan does waver in his support of individual rights and capitalism, the very fact that he was once in support of Ayn Rand will help to bring the ideas of Objectivism to the forefront of intellectual debates this election cycle. The Leftist will bring it up against Romney and Ryan in order to throw selfishness into their face, but they will bring it up. This will give Objectivist intellectual activists a great setting for exposing more people to Ayn Rand and to hit upon key issues that might be made more explicit due to the mud slinging. And I certain encourage admirers and followers of Ayn Rand and Objectivism to take full advantage of the intellectual debate that will ensue due to this attempt to cower Romney and Ryan into dropping capitalism in favor of socialism.
Added on Edit: In this context, it is worth noting that The University of Dallas, my Alma Matter, and a staunch Catholic university, has a pretty decent Masters of Business degree program. While I was living in the Dallas area, I often thought about joining that degree / career course, and my career would have been entirely different had I done so, but the costs and the fact that I thought getting a degree in Physics and Philosophy might get me into management without an MBA prevented me from taking advantage of this course. Besides, I didn't really want to get an MBA from a Catholic perspective, but the point is that at least they do have a business oriented degree program.
Just saw an interview of Paul Ryan on Fox News Channel, and I don't think his position will be a threat to Objectivism in any way whatsoever. He says he was inspired by Ayn Rand's novels and the politics presented in there, and acknowledged that Ayn Rand came from the Soviet Union and that he doesn't want us to sink that far into State control, but he says he is not for Objectivism on the grounds that it is atheistic and claims that Objectivism contradicts what she presents in her novels -- which leads me to believe that he doesn't understand either the novels or Objectivism, so it is good that he is distancing himself from Objectivism. Besides, his policies are not full capitalism, he only wants to tinker around the edges, so I'm glad he is stating publicly that he is against Objectivism.