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Reblogged:A Cargo-Cult Rand Reference

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Scrolling through Instapundit for the first time in quite a while this morning, I happened upon the following Glenn Reynolds post, which I quote in its entirety:
THE RETURN OF THE PRIMITIVE WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE A HOW-TO MANUAL: We Are Re-Paganizing. "A world that embraced infanticide would not necessarily look anything like Nazi Germany. It would probably look like ancient Rome. Or, indeed, twenty-first-century Canada." [formatting and link in original]
Reynolds and other bloggers there occasionally mention Rand's works, including Return of the Primitive, and that often using the stock phrase we see above.

In fact, the book clocks in at 68 hits according to Google. My memory serves me correctly that such references are used to pillory "the left," e.g., Ayn Rand's Return of the Primitive: a warning for the rest of us, a how-to guide for the left.

This apparently includes even when the left manages to get an issue right, like abortion.

While one can hope such references cause a few readers to pick up the book, the one above is both amusing and frustrating: Anyone aware that Ayn Rand supports a woman's right to an abortion will see the irony of using one of her works to imply that abortion is "primitive."

But the irony hardly ends there: Rand's philosophy of Objectivism -- the perspective from which she wrote that book and which enabled her to make so many of the "prophecies" conservatives tout when it suits them -- also leads to the conclusion that America's founding principles are secular and that religion is actually antithetical to our country's ideals and well-being.

Her student, Leonard Peikoff argues this at length in "Religion vs. America," where he notes in part:
Religion means orienting one's existence around faith, God, and a life of service -- and correspondingly of downgrading or condemning four key elements: reason, nature, the self, and man. Religion cannot be equated with values or morality or even philosophy as such; it represents a specific approach to philosophic issues, including a specific code of morality.

What effect does this approach have on human life? We do not have to answer by theoretical deduction, because Western history has been a succession of religious and unreligious periods. The modern world, including America, is a product of two of these periods: of Greco-Roman civilization and of medieval Christianity. So, to enable us to understand America, let us first look at the historical evidence from these two periods; let us look at their stand on religion and at the practical consequences of this stand. Then we will have no trouble grasping the base and essence of the United States.
Regulars here know where this is heading. I recommend curious passers-by read -- or listen to -- the whole thing.

The West has been shaped by two competing influences, Greco-Roman culture (which gave us the philosophy behind America's founding) and Judaeo-Christian tradition, which is the antithetical religious influence.

"Re-paganizing" is a smear of abortion akin to smearing atheists as leftists, like Dennis Prager does both wrongly and as if it's a bodily function. Most conservatives know that Rand -- an atheist -- wasn't a leftist. Likewise, infanticide (as the linked article notes was practiced by the Romans en route to equating it to abortion) is wrong (and opposed by Ayn Rand for the same reason she supports abortion.

But none of that stops the antiabortionists from using infanticide to tar abortion advocates or anyone else who doesn't take the Christian religion on faith, as "primitive" by citing Ayn Rand -- of all people! -- in cargo-cult fashion.

If antiabortionists are happy to spout such ignorance or play it so loose with facts, why should we listen to them at all?

-- CAV

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