While it’s certainly a minority, there seems to be are a few Christian voices out there I’ve come across who find Ayn Rand appealing. Demonstrating the radical antithesis of Rand’s philosophy to Christian and genuinely humanist thought is so easy, one wonders where to start. Rand herself gladly admitted that her philosophy attacks our “contemporary American way of life, Judeo-Christian religion, [and] rule by majority will,” and that she “scorns churches and the concept of God.”
At the center of Rand’s libertarian ethic is the individual ego. While traditionally egoism was considered the heart of original sin, Rand flippantly raised it as the standard of her new morality. Humanity’s problem is that we do not love ourselves enough. Christians have nothing to learn from Ayn Rand that is not better said and more soundly concluded by any number of thinkers. Between a social ethic that flows from Christian reflection and one that results from Rand’s premises, there is only accidental coincidence on a vanishingly few number of points.
Whittaker Chambers—one of the Cold War’s greatest anti-Communists—unmasked Rand in National Review after her mainstream debut. And so long as undeveloped intellectual palates swallow the cold gruel of Rand’s “philosophy,” Chambers’ 1957 critical article of Atlas Shrugged remains the go-to prescription:
Nor has the author, apparently, brooded on the degree to which, in a wicked world, a materialism of the Right and a materialism of the Left first surprisingly resemble, then, in action, tend to blend each with each, because, while differing at the top in avowed purpose, and possibly in conflict there, at bottom they are much the same thing. The embarrassing similarities between Hitler’s National Socialism and Stalin’s brand of Communism are familiar. For the world, as seen in materialist view from the Right, scarcely differs from the same world seen in materialist view from the Left. The question becomes chiefly: who is to run that world in whose interests, or perhaps, at best, who can run it more efficiently?
Rand is as much a materialist as the communists she despised. Instead of a dictatorship of the proletariat, she proposed an oligarchy of the economic elite. It is only because Rand and Marx are estranged philosophic twins that her ideology is so systematically individualist on every point in response to the collectivist ideas he spawned.
Once any political theory evacuates a holistic account of the human person and society, it becomes an ideology and provokes an ideological alter-ego. The ideologies of collectivism in the twentieth century reduced the human person to an economic cog and treated society as a machine—the state became absolute. The ideology of individualism reduced the human person to an economic island and treated community as a commoditized matrix—the individual became absolute.
Rand simply replaced the hammer and cycle with the dollar sign.