Capitalism-proponent and selfishness-exalting Ayn Rand is a perplexing, controversial figure who is revered by many and reviled by many others, with both camps being able to muster strong arguments in favor of their respective positions. Marc Gerstein, an investment analyst and financial writer who first got hooked on The Fountainhead back in the 1960s but has often been repulsed by what he has seen and heard from the Ayn Rand "community," offers a new approach to Objectivism, the individualism-exalting philosophy Rand offered to apply her ideas to the real world. Gerstein builds upon that which is most inspirational about Rand (mainly her novels) while replacing the radical Right dogma advocated by Rand and her followers with a centrist, practical perspective. When once challenged to explain her ideas while standing on one foot, Rand boiled Objectivism down to four key pillars: Metaphysics (facts are facts regardless of our feelings, hopes or wishes); Epistemology (reason is man's only guide to action); Ethics (man's pursuit of rational self-interest is highest moral purpose); and Politics (laissez-faire capitalism). Many critics, repelled by the self-absorbed and often mean-spirited application of Rand's ideas, dismiss her outright. Gerstein's does not do that. He fully recognizes that which is troublesome in Rand's output but sees much that is valuable. Using the latter as inspiration, he offers his upgrade, Objectivism 2.0, based on the following four pillars: Process (rational assessment and analysis of objective reality giving proper effect not just to abstract logic but also to that which we can observe); Ethics (man pursuing his rational self interest in the context of civilized society); Politics (democracy more particularly, the things democratically-established governments do to facilitate the pursuit of rational self-interest by all, not just a narrow powerful elite); and Economics (not merely capitalism or even laissez-faire capitalism, but successful capitalism, something Rand, who passed away in early 1982 just before the onset of capitalism’s greatest period, didn't really appreciate). This is not by any means the first critique of Ayn Rand ever offered. But it is unusual in that it is a critique, a detailed one at that, offered by a fan who seeks to bury the fanatic dogma, much of which she courted and espoused, and articulate an improved version of Objectivism that is based only of the best Rand had to offer.
About Marc H Gerstein
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Published January 12, 2013
by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Law & Philosophy.