Ayn RandAyn Rand, [Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum] (1905-1982) Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter

Ayn Rand Quote

“Make no mistake about it -- and tell it to your Republican friends: capitalism and altruism cannot coexist in the same man or in the same society. Tell it to anyone who attempts to justify capitalism on the ground of the "public good" or the "general welfare" or "service to society" or the benefit it brings to the poor.  All these things are true, but they are the by-products, the secondary consequences of capitalism -- not its goal, purpose or moral justification.  The moral justification of capitalism is man's right to exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; it is the recognition that man -- every man -- is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others, not a sacrificial animal serving anyone's need.”

Ayn RandAyn Rand
~ Ayn Rand

Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World, A lecture delivered at Yale University on February 17, 1960, at Brooklyn College on April 4, 1960, and at Columbia University on May 5, 1960. Published as a pamphlet by the Nathaniel Branden Institute in 1967, and now included as a chapter in the book, Philosophy: Who Needs It

Ratings and Comments

Mike, Norwalk

Capitalism and altruism may or may not be conflicting isms. The here overview of capitalism is accurate enough. Here, altruism is only narrowly viewed as the despot's causation root (such as the forced goals of socialism). That may be accurate enough also. The 2 isms simply address 2 separate concepts. In a system that recognizes individual sovereignty, as does true and complete capitalism, the individual is free to have an unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others. For example: an individual may, through being frugal, have excess capital (a tangible exchange - means to financially invest with a tangible representation of labor = i.e. gold / silver coin, barter, etc.) and want to leaven a commercial activity that betters the lives of others. The author's focus on "public good" or the "general welfare" may make that the differential; capitalism is to the individual while the author's version of altruism is limited to the many. As a Christian, I recognize the by-products and secondary consequences of capitalism and am an advocate thereof while, most fundamentally, I have an unselfish regard for and devotion to the welfare of each and every brother and sister that exists within the family man.

Anonymous, Newport

Capitalism is a term invented by Karl Marx to smear the market system because of its frequent but unnecessary linkage with government intervention into the economy. Laissez faire aka laissez faire capitalism aka the free market is what libertarians favor. Separation of economy and state. rog

Ronw13, Oregon

" The ethics of Private Property is incompatible with the existence of a State defined as an agency that possesses a Compulsory, Territorial Monopoly of ultimate decision-making ( jurisdiction ) and/or the right to tax." ( Murray Rothbard ) Rand shoots herself in the foot with this quote. perhaps referring to the socialist within the party. Classical Economic Liberalism, called Free Market Capitalism. Care Giving is for those that care, but never at the expense of others. I am a Capitalist by birth, my caring is a choice.

E Archer, NYC

Depending on the definition of 'altruism,' Rand makes a valid argument. How one defines their own 'duty' is the distinction. Am I dutiful out of threat or compulsion, or is it my pleasure or a commitment voluntarily made? 'Altruistic' reasons are given to justify power grabs -- it's an age-old racket exercised by ruling classes worldwide.

Don Lee, Reno

She's has an extremist view on altruism. When I serve my wife dinner that I have cooked and gratitude is exchanged there is nothing wrong about it. In Darwin's number altruism work's quite nicely to bring home wealth. That is what Christians teach, and her stuff about altruism is so close to Marxism as to overlap his disgust of charity. 


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