16 June 2011

Ayn Rand & the Soul of Capitalism

Years after her death, Ayn Rand remains one of the world's most controversial and widely read authors, though I have never liked her philosophy of Objectivism. (If you wish to know about Objectivism, then click here.)

In the last few days, I have revisited Rand's works, and yes, rereading both 'The Fountainhead' and 'Atlas Shrugged' has not changed my perspective on Rand's 'I, Me, Myself' philosophy. Just digest this Randian idea: 'Selfishness is a virtue' and 'altruism is immoral'. 

In this space, I wish to share two interesting pieces on Rand's ideas.

  • Peter Farrell on 'How self-destructive narcissists are sabotaging Adam Smith's ideal'. (Marketwatch)
  • Stephen Prothero, a Professor of Religion at Boston University, dwells on the hypocrisy of the Republican Party's love for Rand's philosophy and how it rebels against the core beliefs of the right-wing party. (USA Today)
Have you read Ayn Rand? If yes, what do you think about her ideas? Please post your ideas in the comments section. 


arvind....in trans said...

Don't mind , but given a chance in her era, I will marry her.I can give few reasons why I admire her totally. She outrightly rejects altruism and advocates capitalism.(Capitalism- an unknown ideal), This encourages a healthy environment where people due to their selfish desire work harder to earn better, live better, capitalists due to their I, me , myself approach toil harder for themselves. In the process they grow bigger, earn more money, expand , encourage more employment.The greed for self works for all.Though She encourages selfishness, she doesn't avoid rationality.Rational selfishness is good for the mankind.

Let me know If I sounded dumb :)

arvind....in trans said...

btw, beautiful links, both marketwatch and USA Today. loved the both.

Bharat C. Jain said...

No, you do not sound dumb, Arvind. You are entitled to your opinion, like everybody else is.

Subramanyam K.V. said...

Hi Sir,
I was your student in 2008 (subbu :-) fighting for that seat in TISS .)

I read fountainhead way back in 2006 , back then I loved it, partly because of its focus on personal excellence,I too dreamt of being a la Howard Roark back then.

But as time passed and I saw more of the world and when I revisited the book recently, I did not like her attitude of glorifying only the best in the business.She hates the average performer, which is the bone of contention or me .

The factor called chance(I would say chance , someone else would say luck/fate etc.) affects our lives a lot and its only in very few cases "Passion of a person meets his/her profession" due to which we see many average performers around us.I cannot imagine a workplace running fine with out the average perfomer over there.

Then the idea of "I,me,myself" is dangerous and has the potential to blow away all that moral boundaries of business,family and society.

All said and done , I still love some characters from the fountainhead , I like Dominique mainly for the conversations at times the way that character speaks , I like it.

I had beenreading Atlas Shrugged but did not finish partly because I was getting too biased with one side of the story .

thank you

Anonymous said...

No one is truly and completely altruistic. Those who feel that they are even a little altruistic, actually getting comfort/pleasure in doing it; they selfishly strive to be unselfish. The selfish ones as perceived are those who look for their own welfare, thinking others are responsible and capable of handling themselves. without selfishness there is no progress. :)

Santosh said...

Anything to "LIKE" first we have to understand it.I feel this is the reason why many dont like Ayan Rand's "Objectivism".SELFISHNESS which she protrays in her works is not what we assume.Its "divine" thinking about onself in sacred way.She never in her works debated to hurt others for our sake."I,ME,MYSELF" is the best way to live in its purest sense.I remind you my favourite quote by fredrich nietsche "People dont want to know truth bcoz they dont want their illusions be destroyed".And i even quote one sentence which reflects Rand's exact idea of selfishness "I AM NOT A SADIST TO WISH SOMEONE TO CRY WHEN I DIE"..Apart from this i dont like Ayand Rand's law of identity..

Rajendra said...

Ayn Rand is popular philosopher and novelist at least in terms of book sales.In a survey, it is revealed that ayn rand books got 2nd place in sales next to bible. It is impossible to every one to reach that stage. I have seen many people who buys her books and quote from it but they never understand even a single line of her work. I read her works i.e; Fountain Head, Atlas shrugged , the virtue of selfishness(Ayn rand and Nathaniel Branden articles), which changed my life in terms of my thought process and looking at the things and understanding them. She never insisted anyone to follow her ideas. She expressed her thoughts, which is the beauty of any kind of free society, what i feel is.
Regarding her influence on people, i would like to explain it by quoting friedrich nietzsche quote.." Man has no ears for what experience has not gave him an access through. If he agrees something, he knows it already"..So, people who like ayn rand work and follows her objectivist principles like me,before reading her work we had the though of ayn rand sub consciously. The same book might have been read by thousands of others like you, who are more intelligent, but it might not effect them.

BTW:- She is misinterpreted by many people and accused her with the reason of preaching I, ME & MYSELF. The fact is, she never did. She merely opposed Cannibalism i.e; sacrificing oneself for other who is lesser value or non-value.She said that, you can help, take risk,or even sacrifice your life to the ones if they mean something selfishly to you, but not to strangers who is lesser value than you.It is explained perfectly in "THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS". I request Ayn Rand haters to go through it.

Anonymous said...

I strongly agree with Rajendra.

Nayan Saraf said...

I like two quotes from her book "The Fountainhead". They are:
1) I can die for you, but i cannot live for you.
2) To say 'I love you', one must know how to say 'I'..