Rand was Right: Self-Interest IS Good for Society, Collectivism is Detrimental to It

The author of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, promoted a philosophy of self-interest as the ideal for society.  While there is a major flaw in her reasoning (primarily that, in the world she envisioned, a lack of any internal control will inevitably lead to the rise of tyrants), her philosophy does assert an eternal truth.  But it wasn’t until I read Mamet’s book, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture, that I fully understood why so many on the Left disagree.  You see, the problem is that too few on the Left understand the difference between greed and ambition.  As Mamet explains it (and I agree), greed—the character trait to which the Left claims to object – is a sin, and therefore, harmful to society.  But ambition is virtuous and beneficial to society.  One destroys by sapping the efforts of others, the other drives all constructive human activity.  Where the Left seems to miss the point is that their desire for the property that was justly earned by ambitious people is actually greed, as is the desire for the power to control how other peoples’ money should be distributed.

You see, “greed” does not have to apply only to money: it can apply to anything one desires.  And when greed is allowed to grow to the point that it leads one to trample on the rights and property of other people, it becomes sinful and destructive.  In the case of those who seek money for the sake of money, then greed is as destructive as those who seek power.  In both cases, such greed inevitably leads to the compulsion to control others, and that is a sin against the other person’s conscience.  However, when the drive is simply to create or achieve, then society is built up and carried forward.  If a secondary result is that the ambitious person should grow wealthy, there is no greed.  That is just the result of other people paying for the service provided by that person’s ambition.  In other words, wealth that results from the service of other people is not greed. So, where ambition drives advancement, greed saps the efforts of the ambitious.  Where ambition builds up, greed tears down and destroys.

At this point, all that remains is for the intellectually honest person to acknowledge that the collective rests upon the need for coercion.  Once that fact is acknowledged, the conclusion naturally follows: individual self-interest can be beneficial to society, but collectivism is always destructive.

28 thoughts on “Rand was Right: Self-Interest IS Good for Society, Collectivism is Detrimental to It

  1. there is nothing wrong with coercion. How is coercion bad? People will always be coerced. what the important question is, is not whether or not coercion will exist, but who coerces you?

  2. Pingback: The Clearest Illustration of the Leftist Mind You’ll EVER See!!! | The Rio Norte Line

  3. This kind of mindset is exactly why I asked the progressives to explain how their policies are compatible with the Constitution. This kind of thought process would have been unthinkable by the men who were responsible for our founding…and yes, I know that there were slaves in America at the time but as has been pointed out, this was a significant issue with the Founders as well. I’m sure that Komrade Karl thinks he isn’t supporting the institution of slavery – but he is. Coercion is like pregnancy, there is no such thing as being a “little bit” pregnant and there is no such thing as a little coercion – they both start out small and end up causing a lot of pain before birth.

  4. Joe is right. Karl must be banished and very soon. He is a danger to all of us on this site, he should not be allowed to speak. We must protect others from Karl’s “bad ideas”. What if children were to hear Karl?. We must stop Karl for the children. Remember, anything we do to stop Karl is justified…….because its for the children.


  5. The only reason I get it is because I have been surrounded by the Prog mindset for 25 years now. I owned a Biz in San Francisco & heard this kind of caca everyday although even I was surprised that the Progs turned so much towards communism because surely I thought even they could see what a loser that is, but I’ve come to understand Progs really don’t care what mechanism they use to rule us only that they do indeed, rule us.

    The reason I have been able to survive here all these yrs is that basically I believe in a live and let live philosophy. My folks told me immigrants (legal ones) came to America to be able to have some freedom, follow their own drummer in Biz, religion, etc. I believed in that philosophy too. But Progs live to tell you and I what to do, it’s what makes them tick. Stop by on garbage day and listen to the garbage guy who didn’t graduate from high school lecture my husband in broken English who was in college at 16 and grad school at 20. It’s quite a lesson in How Progs think, the garbage man is an extension of govt which is good & my Republican, thinks for himself hubby is bad and needs some COERCION!

    Karl would be pleased!

    I’m off to Nordys to meet my BFF, everyone have a great day on RNL.

  6. Coercion in action
    1. enforcing border and immigration laws
    2. charging taxes for the maintenance of the infrastructure and defense of the nation
    3. environmental laws, no one has the right to dump nuclear waste, even if they own the dump site. Also you can own a factory or car but the environmental pollution from it, travels and effects everyone else.
    4. traffic lights and stop signs
    5. DUI laws

    How can you all be against democratic rule? Does the right of one individual to commit whatever action he wishes trump the wish of the people to have a safe, clean country with functioning infrastructure.

    • Except none of what you pointed out is coercion…except maybe taxes – but even then, the right to lay and collect taxes is a constitutional provision that was agreed to by the citizens of the country. The way the tax laws are being enforced could be defined as coercive but the permission for the government to collect is not.

      The legal definition of coercion is this: The intimidation of a victim to compel the individual to do some act against his or her will by the use of psychological pressure, physical force, or threats.

      Which none of your examples meet because we agree to them. Enforcing a penalty for a law that is agreed to by society is not coercive as long as that law is enforced equally.

      We aren’t against democracy but democracy doesn’t guarantee freedom. It has been pointed out for centuries that democratic societies are subject to tyranny of the majority if clear protections – like our Constitution – are ignored.

      • What if the people decide to amend the constitution to end private property and it passes, would that be coercion? Because there is no disagreement with that on my part. Is arrest, jail time, fines not “psychological pressure, physical force, or threats?”

        • Karl,

          It is very difficult to reason with an irrational person, but we’ll keep trying.

          Under Natural Law, we could amend the constitution to eliminate real estate as property, but NOT money or personal possessions. We have a Natural Right to these things (as long as they are rightfully acquired), therefore, we cannot “agree” to contract them away. Furthermore, if society says they are taking them anyway, we then have the Natural Right to self-defense against what is now coercion.

          As for jail: yes, that is coercion, but, as long as the law justifying it is in agreement with Natural law, it is JUSTIFIED through the Natural Right of self-defense. YOU AND YOURS are trying to justify OFFENSIVE coercion to justify the trampling of Natural Rights/Natural Law, and that is a violation of the natural order — which is why Marxism cannot and will never work.

          • Natural law doesn’t exists. Law is not material and unchangeable. The idea that there is a natural law and somehow applies to everyone is ridiculous. Natural anything is ridiculous. The only laws that do exist in nature are the laws of motion, thermodynamics and gravity, those truly cannot be broken. Natural laws and rights on the other hand have been broken time and again, and sometimes don’t even exist, which means natural law is neither a law or “natual.” Joe’s and many other right-winger’s, feelings about right and wrong does not equal natural law.

            • Karl,

              If natural law doesn’t exist, then why do you feel there is some sort of injustice happening?

              In case you missed what just happened to you, that was a logical beat-down on the order of a nuclear weapon going off on your position — but I doubt you’ll ever understand that.

            • karl – Do you not have the “natural” right to exist in peace, without being physically attacked? Do you have to have a law or “legality” to grant you that right? Do you not have a natural right to work (let’s call it) for money or goods in order to provide for yourself or your family? Without these natural rights (or laws), you can’t justify your existence on this planet.

  7. Joe, you draw a fair distinction between greed and ambition. Although I did not care for Ms. Rand’s book, I believe an important point is overlooked due to her zealous denunciation of communism. Her tale made it quite obvious that corruption was perhaps an equally devastating evil. Perhaps we should consider the corruption of our capitalist economy the root cause of a tendency to move in a more socialist direction.

  8. Pingback: Refuting Comrade Karl — Again | The Rio Norte Line

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