I am writing to comment on the article “Capitalism on Campus” [Dec. 23 Xpress].
The ethical philosophy of Ayn Rand is completely insane. According to Rand, an individual acts rationally only when he or she acts in ways that promote his or her own life. This is ethical egoism, and there doesn’t seem to be anything ethical about egoism.
Ethics involves the study of how one being treats other beings. Since an ethical act always involves more than one person, ethical egoism can hardly be called any sort of ethical philosophy. In fact, it seems to me that Rand’s philosophy is the philosophy of a psychopath. It is also inconsistent for the world of laissez-faire capitalism.
Rand believed that the only social system consistent with her version of egoism is one that protects the individual rights of everyone. This means the egoist would not support slavery, a system in which a person profits from the labor of another person. Yet, laissez-faire capitalism is the epitome of a system where one person profits from the labor of another person. The employee will receive some compensation, but the surplus value created through the employee’s labor benefits investors who did nothing more than loan money to the entrepreneur for capital. Sure, they took a risk, but risk-taking is not labor—it is a gamble. And if the gamble doesn’t pay off, the bust affects far many more people than just the investors, likewise infringing on other people’s rights.
Considering how questionable Rand’s theories are, I see no reason why anyone else of normal intelligence would accept them without question. That is why I am not a bit concerned about Rand’s ideas in the college classroom. It will be a great opportunity for much smarter folks to rip Ayn Rand to shreds.
— Thad Eckard