THE MAID AND THE PIT BULL
"From Napoleon to the present, French politicians of all leanings have invoked her memory” (Wikipedia).
The quote refers to Joan of Arc. Here, though, the image invoking her memory is not that of the Maid of Orleans, but of the Pit Bull of capitalism, Ayn Rand. Yes, that’s the same Rand Texas Congressman Ron Paul chose as the namesake for his son, the Kentucky ophthalmologist running for the U.S. Senate.
Since repeatedly confusing his area of medicine with podiatry by fitting his foot in his mouth (the better to say what he really thinks), Rand has taken to appearing in scrubs. Presumably, this authenticates his status as a healer, a man anxious to treat the nation’s ills.
So it makes sense to reflect on his namesake Ayn Rand, suited up in full armor on a poster at a Tea Party rally last month in Naples, Florida. Mounted on horseback as military leaders always are, Saint Ayn is carrying the colors into battle. This time, it’s not the Siege of Orleans in the fifteenth century, but the Thermopylae of twenty-first century America, the pitched battle between her loyal troops—the Pauls for instance-- and the dark forces who support laws protecting civil rights, oversight of business, programs like Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, the Interstate highway system, the Tennessee Valley Authority—or anything else that compromises the religion of laissez faire capitalism.
Whereas Saint Joan “asserted that she had visions from God that told her to recover her homeland from English domination late in the Hundred Years’ War” (Wikipedia again), Saint Ayn had Big Ideas. If not heaven-sent, they certainly summoned her to recruit followers for the purpose of recovering her adopted homeland from liberalism. Even though Rand was a lifelong atheist, she and all those in her camp lay claim to what can only be thought of as divine guidance. How else is it possible to make sense of such certainty in the need to protect the sanctity of the profit motive against oversight and regulation? How else is it possible to believe BP needs a champion?
Make no mistake: seeing economics in terms of laws as immutable as those governing nature is nothing more or less than religion. And the way to be true to the faith is to believe (if not to say) that God has blessed laissez faire capitalism, and that He insists on an ideological purity not seen since Mao’s Cultural Revolution.
That’s just about how far you have to go in order to fully grasp how people in our own time—not at the end of the Middle Ages—have turned themselves over to “visions” of the sort that lead to Rand Paul. In or out of scrubs, he needs to be understood not in terms of secular principles, but in those of medieval scholastic theology. That is, with notions having little to do with life here on twenty-first century Planet Earth.