Quote of the day—Ayn Rand

Observe the paradoxes built up about capitalism. It has been called a system of selfishness (which, in my sense of the term, it is) — yet it is the only system that drew men to unite on a large scale into great countries, and peacefully to cooperate across national boundaries, while all the collectivist, internationalist, One-World systems are splitting the world into Balkanized tribes.

Capitalism has been called a system of greed — yet it is the system that raised the standard of living of its poorest citizens to heights no collectivist system has ever begun to equal, and no tribal gang can conceive of.

Capitalism has been called nationalistic — yet it is the only system that banished ethnicity, and made it possible, in the United States, for men of various, formerly antagonistic nationalities to live together in peace.

Capitalism has been called cruel — yet it brought such hope, progress and general good will that the young people of today, who have not seen it, find it hard to believe.

As to pride, dignity, self-confidence, self-esteem — these are characteristics that mark a man for martyrdom in a tribal society and under any social system except capitalism.

Ayn Rand
The Voice of Reason
[I have nothing to add.—Joe]

7 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Ayn Rand

  1. She was SO CLOSE. First; I no longer use the C-word. The very name, Capitalism, was created by Marxists (or was it Marx himself?). It is an insult. The name, being an “ism” implies a worship of capital, or that capital, as in “theism”, rules all other things. “He who has the gold makes the rules” is what Marx is saying, but that’s not liberty. So no; “capitalism” is an unnecessary and misleading term. All one needs is “liberty”.

    A respect for the rights of individuals is “capitalism” because it prohibits coercive interference in favor of freedom of action and of association, and respect for personal property. It’s as simple as that. (Actually all of those “freedoms” start with, and flow from, respect for personal property)

    Therefore “Capitalism” (which is properly termed “Liberty”) means only one thing; respect for personal property. And of course it must be reciprocal or it isn’t liberty.

    Also she fails (or rather refuses) to acknowledge the Judeo/Christian origins of so-called “capitalism” (actually our American Principles). Our promised (not current) form of government is more Biblical in nature than most if not all others.

    On that note, I point out that pride is among the Seven Deadly Sins. Say not that you are “proud” of this or “proud” of that. Rather, say that you are pleased. Or happy. Or grateful. Pride is a killer, one way or another, and it will creep in and mess you up, harming you and those around you, in way you may not appreciate until it’s too late.

    • “Also she fails (or rather refuses) to acknowledge the Judeo/Christian origins of so-called “capitalism” (actually our American Principles).” True in a way, but it misses the point. I like her approach to the subject because she derives liberty from first principles without needing to refer to any religious basis. That allows the argument to work with people who are not Jews or Christians.
      A variation on this is the “non-aggression principle” articulated by Neil Smith. It’s a formalization of a principle well understood by the Founders and expressed in various ways by a number of them. Neil says that “it is the only way that carnivores [meaning: humans] can safely interact with one another”. He too does not rely on religious principles to make his argument.
      You certainly can apply religious principles in all of this, and by doing so strengthen the case when talking to people who share that religion. That makes perfect sense to me. But it doesn’t diminish Rand’s writing that she takes a different (and to me, broader) approach.

    • she fails (or rather refuses) to acknowledge the Judeo/Christian origins of so-called “capitalism” (actually our American Principles). Our promised (not current) form of government is more Biblical in nature than most if not all others.

      Except for seven out of the ten commandments. The exceptions being “Thou shall not kill (murder) people”, “Thou shall not steal”, and “Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor” which can reasonably be said to be part form of government.

      Oh, and that thing called “God” which shows up occasionally in religious texts but doesn’t make even a single appearance in the U.S. Constitution.

      • The first two of those commandments are covered by self defense (interpreted correctly, i.e., the right to defend yourself not just against attacks on your life but also against attacks on your property, since there is no morally meaningful difference between the two). The third is mostly a concern if you have an oversized government.

        • Of course. I’m saying that except for those three the Ten Commandments, a core portion of Christianity, does not apply to our form of government. Hence, I find it difficult to conclude “our American Principles” are of Judeo/Christian origin.

  2. As Dan here pointed out, as an “ism” “capitalism” is a choice. A choice among peers of choices. Subtle moral equivalence.

  3. Let’s be clear also on the fact that liberty, and its natural condition of free markets, results in peace, amity, and a higher standard of living even for those at the lowest economic levels (especially, it could be said, for those at the lowest levels), and all the rest as Rand enumerates. Those things come, not as a goal for central planners, but as a RESULT (a symptom, if you will) of respecting human rights.

    And THAT is precisely why liberty is opposed. Therefore, do not make the mistake of “correcting” the Marxists and other authoritarians by upholding and illustrating the many and various positive outcomes of liberty. You will be taken for an idiot. They hate those positive outcomes. The frustration, separation, stagnation, decline, and ultimately mass destruction, all of which result from authoritarian systems, are features, not bugs.

    And anyway, arguing outcomes is what authoritarians do. “If “WE” do this or if “WE” do not do that, then this outcome will result…”

    That’s not how liberty works. Don’t fall into the trap of arguing outcomes, because now you’re fighting on the enemy’s turf in the enemy’s way. We uphold the righteousness of respecting human rights for its own sake, because it is the right way. The outcomes (though they will be wonderful) are then none of our business.

    In short, it is the principle which guides us, not the (real or imagined) outcome. Some people would call that “faith”. You can call it “doing what’s right, come what may”. It is our nuclear arsenal against authoritarians and all other forms of criminals which, we usually forget, is right at our fingertips.

    We fail, when we fail (and our forefathers have failed), for no other reason beyond a failure to understand and practice the above.

    And all of that is so simple that most of us reject it purely for its simplicity; because nothing of such awesome power can be THAT simple and easy.

    And so it is that we struggle because we struggle.

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