The Peril of Ayn Rand's Selfishness

By Glen Wallace

What I have been increasingly coming to the conclusion is that Ayn Rand's brand of selfishness is no way to run a society. It is pure delusional fairy tale fantasy to think that everything will fall into place in the real world the way that Hayek imagined it would in his 'The Road to Serfdom'. We have seen in the real world that freemarket economics only leads to de facto monopolies and ever increasing concentration of wealth into fewer and fewer hands.

Communism, on the other hand, has been the most productive ideology in practice in the course of world history. In contemporary times we only need to look at, for example, the very rapid economic growth in communist China, including their high speed rail system that has become the world standard for high speed rail. Cuba has done remarkably well with their health care system; especially considering the sanctions and ongoing US embargo. Communist Cuba has done far more with each healthcare dollar than the US by a wide margin. Perhaps less healthy, but ironically, it is the wealthy elite in the US who in particular have long recognized that communist Cuba makes the best cigars in the world.

As I write this we are fast approaching the 50th anniversary of the moon landing; a government operation achieved by communal pooling of resources for the purpose of achieving a common goal. When private selfish ambitions are the guiding principle, we are left in the wake of a long list of abysmal failures such as Theranos, Enron, Lehman Brothers, Bernie Madoff, WorldCom.... and those are just some of the more famous examples of where selfishness leads. The TV series 'American Greed' has featured pieces covering those famous cases along with dozens of lesser known examples that highlight the peril and folly of allowing an economic system be guided by the pursuit of selfish interests.

No Ayn Rand, selfishness is NOT a virtue. The problem arises when those who have achieved marked financial success not only want to believe they deserve every penny in their name, they want to believe it is in societies best interest that everyone should be able to selfishly pursue unlimited wealth and if they succeed, be allowed to keep every penny of that wealth, regardless of how immense it becomes. As a result they are more than happy to come across an intellectual that validates their wishes. Additionally, those with wealth also tend to have influence and are therefore able to promote the intellectuals that otherwise would likely fade into the obscurity of history where they belong.