The difference between Christianity & Libertarianism marks a line between America & the New America

Summary:  Recently the FM website has focused on the evolution of the America-that-Once-Was into the New America, and the propaganda that drives it. One of the great oddities of this is that we radically change, yet remain unaware of the change. Today we look at one example: Libertarianism, the anti-Christianity — so popular among Christian conservatives.

“But let us return to savor the irony of professed libertarians in the fold of Christ Church. … The Christian libertarian rejects governmental regulations by saying that God is the only authority to which they can submit. Consistent libertarians, however, argue that there can be no submission to any authority except individual conscience.”
— “The uneasy and contradictory alliance between Libertarianism and Christianity“, Nick Gier (Prof Philosophy, U ID)

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Contents

  1. Contrasting words of the Founders
  2. Relationship between Libertarianism & Objectivism
  3. Leave a comment
  4. For More Information about Libertarianism & Objectivism
  5. The 24 types of Libertarians

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(1) Contrasting words of the Founders

The profound differences between Christianity and Objectivism-Libertarianism (see section 4 for details) go far beyond the role of government — the subject which tends to obsess so many people today, but was not the primary focus of either Moses, Jesus, the Disciples, or Ayn Rand. All of these were very concerned with property, and the acquisitive instincts of the human soul. On this critical subject Christianity and Libertarianism are at opposite poles.  Since America was, to a large extent, founded on Christian principles, the growing popularity of libertarian values is another factor driving the evolution of the New America.

The following quotes illustrate the philosophical chasm across which much of America has leaped, the change in values and aspirations — which do, in often mysterious ways, deeply change people’s behavior and the way we structure our society. In a sense the deeds of a nation reflect the values of its people.

These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan in the wilderness …

If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart … and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin.

You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

— Deuteronomy 15:7-11

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My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
— Ayn Rand’s afterword in Atlas Shrugged (1957)

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. … By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
— I John 3:14-17

My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue.
— Interview with Ayn Rand in Playboy, March 1964

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
— Luke 12:33

The fact that a man has no claim on others (i.e., that it is not their moral duty to help him and that he cannot demand their help as his right) does not preclude or prohibit good will among men and does not make it immoral to offer or to accept voluntary, non-sacrificial assistance.

It is altruism that has corrupted and perverted human benevolence by regarding the giver as an object of immolation, and the receiver as a helplessly miserable object of pity who holds a mortgage on the lives of others—a doctrine which is extremely offensive to both parties, leaving men no choice but the roles of sacrificial victim or moral cannibal …

To view the question in its proper perspective, one must begin by rejecting altruism’s terms and all of its ugly emotional aftertaste—then take a fresh look at human relationships. It is morally proper to accept help, when it is offered, not as a moral duty, but as an act of good will and generosity, when the giver can afford it (i.e., when it does not involve self-sacrifice on his part), and when it is offered in response to the receiver’s virtues, not in response to his flaws, weaknesses or moral failures, and not on the ground of his need as such.

—  “The Question of Scholarships”, Ayn Rand, The Objectivist Newsletter, June 1966

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
— Hebrews 13:5

The proper method of judging when or whether one should help another person is by reference to one’s own rational self-interest and one’s own hierarchy of values: the time, money or effort one gives or the risk one takes should be proportionate to the value of the person in relation to one’s own happiness.”
— “The Ethics of Emergencies”, Ayn Rand, The Objectivist Newsletter, June 1966 — reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism (1964)

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
— 1 Timothy 6:10

(2)  The Relationship between Libertarianism and Objectivism

Both philosophical and political movements tend to develop factions largely indistinguishable to outsiders, but the subject of fierce debate among believers. Communism had Marxists, Trotskyites, and Maoists.  Modern conservatism has Libertarianism and Objectivism. Generally speaking, the latter is more-or-less a subset of the former.

The Cato Institute recently hosted a book forum with the authors of the two new Rand biographies, Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne C. Heller, and Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right by Jennifer Burns. Cato’s David Boaz ran the forum, setting the context, introducing the authors, and running the Q&A.

He agreed with a Liberty magazine review of Heller’s book, saying that “There can be no question about the fact that Rand remains America’s most influential libertarian, with the possible exception of Milton Friedman, and America’s most influential novelist of ideas.” Extending this, Boaz characterized Atlas Shrugged as a libertarian book, and Rand as a libertarian who has done more than anybody in our time to introduce people to libertarian ideas.

What got my attention was Boaz’s treatment of the elephant in the room: he chuckled that many listening may wince at his talking that way, that indeed Rand would have disagreed with being classified as a libertarian (this would be an understatement) and that “many of her fans maintain that point even now.” He dismissed all of this, saying in effect that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck. You see, “anybody who believes in individual rights, free enterprise, and strictly limited government is a libertarian. And Ayn Rand certainly did.”

— “Libertarian vs. Objectivist Thinking“, Greg Perkins reporting about a book forum hosted by Cato Institute on 28 October 2009.

Articles about the differences:

  1. Objectivists and Libertarians“, David Boaz (EVP of Cato, bio here), IOSJournal, August 1997 — “all Objectivists are necessarily libertarians, though not all libertarians are Objectivists.”
  2. What was Ayn Rand’s view of the libertarian movement?“, Ayn Rand Institute
  3. Libertarianism And Objectivism: Compatible?“, William R. Thomas, The Atlas Society
  4. Wikipedia entries on Libertarianism and Objectivism, Libertarian Christianity, and Christian Libertarianism.

(3)  For More Information

Articles about Libertarianism:

  1. Recommended: If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride — A Pony!“, John & Belle Have a Blog, 6 March 2004 — One of the best political posts, ever.
  2. What I Think About Atlas Shrugged“, John Scalzi (sci-fi writer, bio), 1 October 2010
  3. The liberty of local bullies“, Noah Smith (student), 26 November 2011 — How Ron Paul fits in the broader currents of libertarian thought
  4. Why Don’t Libertarians Care About Ron Paul’s Bigoted Newsletters?“, James Kirchick, The New Republic, 22 December 2011 — A very good question.
  5. The American Right and Ayn Rand: A Love Story“, Travis Benton, 14 August 2012
  6. Conservatives once ridiculed Ayn Rand“, Michael Lind, Salon, 8 August 2013 — “Today’s doltish conservatives, like Paul Ryan, worship her. But their forebears called Rand’s work ‘preposterous'”
  7. Where are you on the Political Compass —  libertarian-authoratarian and liberal-conservative?

Other posts about Libertarianism:

  1. All you need to know about Ayn Rand, savior of modern conservatism, 22 March 2009
  2. A modern conservative dresses up Mr. Potter to suit our libertarian fashions, 17 November 2011
  3. Ron Paul’s exotic past tells us much about him, the GOP, libertarians – and about us, 27 December 2011
  4. Choose your team: our election is a conflict between long-dead philosophers, 12 September 2012

(5) Barry Deutsch looks at the 24 types of Libertarians

From his website Ampersand:

By Barry Deutsch
By Barry Deutsch

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3 thoughts on “The difference between Christianity & Libertarianism marks a line between America & the New America

  1. For the past 30 years, the Right has simultaneously been trying to make both “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” into reality. That the two are nearly mutually exclusive doesn’t deter them one bit.

    About the only synthesis of the two that makes sense comes from a commenter at Balloon Juice.

    “[I]f you combined both together– theocracy and kleptocracy– you’d end up with the USA looking remarkably like modern Saudi Arabia…but with nukes. That’s what Grover Norquist has been attempting for 30 years to turn us into: a police state run by religious fanatics for the benefit of a handful of the very rich.”

    1. Neon,

      That’s a great point, that the visions of the Right have deep internal contradictions. Another example are the Evangelical Libertarians, two fundamentally opposed philosophies.

      On the other hand, that is probably just noise. The carnival barker’s patter. The deep internal consistency lies in the Right’s allegiance to the interests of the 1%.

      An example of this is the loud claims of to the death fidelity to the concerns of social conservatives, GOP candidates in office tend to pay the little attention. The 1%s economic, regulatory, and national security policies get all the love.

  2. If you wish to know how libertarians regard the State and any of its acts, simply think of the State as a criminal band, and all of the libertarian attitudes will logically fall into place -Murray Rothbard

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