August 15, 2012


Paul Ryan: Realist or Neocon? (Jacob Heilbrunn, August 15, 2012, National Interest)

The issue of Paul Ryan's foreign policy views is starting to attract some attention among the pundit class. Andrew Sullivan asked yesterday, "Is Paul Ryan A Neocon?" It's a fair question. [...]

How much of this justifies deeming Ryan a "neocon" may be questioned. But there is another, more compelling reason--apart from these Kremlinological tidbits--to surmise that Ryan is sympathetic to neocon views. It is this: the surprising thing would be if Ryan rejected neocon theology. The doctrine is dominant in the GOP. 

No, theology is dominant in the GOP.  Neocon doctrine is a pale substitute so that the secular can at least ape some of the language of the party. Believing in God means that Mr. Ryan has no need for such.

Likewise, his faith prevents him from being a libertarian, Atlas Spurned (JENNIFER BURNS, 8/14/12, NY Times)

[W]hen his embrace of Rand drew fire from Catholic leaders, Mr. Ryan reversed course with a speed that would make his running mate, Mitt Romney, proud. "Don't give me Ayn Rand," he told National Review earlier this year. "Give me Thomas Aquinas." He claimed that his austere budget was motivated by the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, which holds that issues should be handled at the most local level possible, rather than Rand's anti-government views.

This retreat to religion would have infuriated Rand, who believed it was impossible to separate government policies from their moral and philosophical underpinnings. Policies motivated by Christian values, which she called "the best kindergarten of communism possible," were inherently corrupt.

Free-market capitalism, she said, needed a new, secular morality of selfishness, one she promoted in her novels, nonfiction and newsletters. Conservative contemporaries would have none of it: William F. Buckley Jr. criticized her "desiccated philosophy" and Whittaker Chambers dubbed her "Big Sister."

Mr. Ryan's rise is a telling index of how far conservatism has evolved from its founding principles. The creators of the movement embraced the free market, but shied from Rand's promotion of capitalism as a moral system. They emphasized the practical benefits of capitalism, not its ethics. Their fidelity to Christianity grew into a staunch social conservatism that Rand fought against in vain.



Posted by at August 15, 2012 1:04 PM

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