Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gilder in World on Ayn Rand, capitalism, and self-interests

Interviewed by Marvin Olasky...

Ayn Rand, in her last public speech in 1982, just before she died, attacked you furiously. What got her goat?
Altruism. She thought I was ascribing altruism to capitalism. Altruism in her theory is the foundation of socialism, and she thought capitalism is supported by egoism or by individual fulfillment above all. She was blinded in part by her atheism. If you read her books, her characters lead sacrificial lives in order to serve others in many instances. But her objectivist philosophy denies the existence of God, and she found my Christian orientation obnoxious. I said businesses succeed by serving others.

Many on the left also equate capitalism with egoism, and for that reason hate it.
Capitalists do not get to follow their own dreams, whatever they may be. Academic intellectuals can propagate their ideas whether anyone wants to hear them or not. They can enforce their whims if they join the government—but capitalists cannot succeed without serving others....
Why does the left associate self-interest with capitalism rather than socialism?

Self-interest is an all-purpose agency. To say it drives capitalism: How does that distinguish capitalism from any other­ system? Self-interest certainly could be said to drive socialism as well, because what a greedy, self-interested person wants is guaranteed returns....


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