Ayn Rand or Simone de Beauvoir?

Tom Stork at the Distributist Review outlines the internal contradictions that exist within the two main political groupings in our society: conservatives and liberals.

In short, liberals are aware of the danger of the unrestrained pursuit of wealth and are willing to employ the power of the state to ensure that wealth benefits the common good. However, when it comes to sexual ethics, the left advocates a laissez-faire attitude that totally ignores the harm to the common good that arises from unrestrained sexual appetite.

In similar fashion, the right is very aware of the detrimental effects of unrestrained pursuit of sexual pleasure but almost oblivious to the same danger that arises from the unrestrained pursuit of wealth.

Conservatives quite rightly point to the stabilizing influence of intact families and to the many benefits such families bring to the whole social fabric. They rightly are concerned that the selfish pursuit of individual pleasure harms others, such as children and abandoned spouses, as well as society as a whole. They likewise realize that when society allows free play to the passion for unrestrained sexual pleasure, people in general will begin to look at every relationship and transaction with solely an eye for their own personal pleasure. The desire for erotic satisfaction tends to color the whole of the life of society.

When it comes to the acquisition of wealth, an entirely different view exists:

Individuals want to get rich, only envious liberals and socialists want to prevent this. No matter how much the unrestrained pursuit of wealth may harm the common good, none of this matters. The effects of wage stagnation on marriages and families, the devastation of neighborhoods and cities by companies moving abroad simply in order to get the highest return on their investment with no regard for society—none of this matters. From being zealous for the common good and ready to place all manner of restraints on human conduct in the sexual realm, conservatives run to the other extreme and embrace a policy of laissez-faire when it comes to money. They even invent an ideology that pretends that the pursuit of private wealth somehow redounds to the benefit of all, despite much experience showing the falsity of this. It is hard to understand how conservatives do not see, or profess not to see, that the unrestrained and anti-social pursuit of money can do as much harm to the social fabric as the unrestrained pursuit of sexual pleasure. But conservatives do not see this. A disordered notion of freedom constitutes almost their entire approach to economic morality.

This contradiction is one of the reasons that I find it incredibly difficult to give my vote to either party. In reality, both of these political groupings represent values that I find to be profoundly at odds with both the teachings of Christ, the testimony of Scripture, and the reflections of the Church on ethical matters.

It is possible that, for the first time since I have been eligible to vote, I may this year refrain from doing so as a form of protest. It is difficult to cast a ballot and thereby affirm either the twisted machinations of a party obsessed with the devilish teaching of Ayn Rand or to a party so committed to sexual libertinism that it is willing to harm the very most vulnerable of those among us. What will it be? Will you choose Ayn Rand or Simone de Beauvoir?

What do you think? How do you reconcile the inherent tension in voting?

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