Sunday, April 20, 2014
Questions About Ayn Rand
Written on September 28th, 2011
Rand criticized altruism as the precept that one should give up his life and welfare for others while demanding that others do the same.
She said, “It’s fine to help other people if you want to” “when and if those others mean something to you selfishly”, and she did not consider reciprocating gifts to others – even those whom one loves – as a moral duty.
In light of these comments, it appears that what Rand most abhorred was not the act of giving to others so much as the promotion of the idea that one should feel obligated to give to others.
She also characterized reciprocal altruism as “an exchange of… presents that neither party wants”.
Did Rand fail to take into account the free-market principle of subjective value; i.e., the idea that transactions which are mutually voluntary are always mutually beneficial by the subjective standards of all parties to the transactions?
How can those who subscribe to Rand’s philosophy – evidently equating the feeling of moral obligation with coercion and force themselves – simultaneously advocate the abolition of obviously coercive Statist social-welfare programs while actively discouraging charitable giving to those disadvantaged whom they do not know and expect the disadvantaged to receive any benefit from the moralistic capitalist system which Rand recommends be practiced?
How is the Randian capitalist who – when asked to participate in a mutually-voluntary transaction (which would not take place unless each party found the transaction to be in his mutual interest and benefit) – feels it appropriate to actively discourage charitable giving to the disadvantaged (even at the risk of their prolonged suffering and death) any different from the socialist laborer who consents to have profit extracted from him by a capitalist entrepreneur, and then unionizes his fellow employees, and actively encourages workplace democracy as well as the eventual violent overthrow of the capitalist system?
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