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JJPierce's Comments

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Who Isn't John Galt? Part 2

Commented Aug 30, 2009 at 08:51:25 in Politics

“I think part of the problem here is terminology. "Altruism" as condemned by Rand was an absolutist ethic formulated by Auguste Comte which ordained that the individual live ONLY for others. She contrasted this with "benevolence," which values the well-being of others as well as one's own. But that is easy to overlook, because Rand was so obsessive in defending the virtue of "selfishness" and "greed," surely knowing that these words don't mean the same to most people as she maintained they did to her. If you want to see a true icon of a benevolent capitalist in fiction, look to Andrew Undershaft in Bernard Shaw's MAJOR BARBARA (Gabriel Pascal's 1941 movie version is terrific!).

Another point that has to be made is that, generally speaking, neither those who love capitalism or those who hate it make any distinction between Bill Gates and, say, Ken Lay. REAL capitalists actually PRODUCE something. Can anybody seriously argue that we haven't gotten our money's worth out of personal computers? What have we gotten from Ken Lay or the vultures of Wall Street? Gordon Gecko famously quipped that greed is good, but less famously expressed his contempt for producing value ("I create nothing. I own.). There's a fundamental distinction that has to be made between productive capitalism and its counterfeit on Wall Street and Washington -- where our own version of Russia's Putinism reigns, as witness those no-bid contracts Cheney steered to his pals at Haliburton for shoddy work.”