OK, so maybe I am late to the party, but I have been ignorant of who Ayn Rand was and what her contributions were to the ideologies of today related to capitalism and the libertarian movement. I am still reading and watching stories about her and her beliefs, but I know enough now to provide some commentary out of my discomfort.
I’d heard her name mentioned, but was unaware of her moral philosophy of objectivism, built on the foundation of self-interest and the pursuit of personal happiness; with utter disregard for other’s pursuit or their natural right to happiness. The appeal of objectivism to many who lean in the direction of libertarianism, is the alignment of her moral philosophy with the dominant ideology in business: the purpose of business is to maximize shareholder wealth. With self-interest as the assumed foundation of both, it’s easy to see how what Rand calls the virtue of greed is fully aligned with the pursuit of personal wealth. Her hedonist view of life and its moral implications endorse what many see as the evil done by, yet justified in business.
While objectivism has its place among the spectrum of moral philosophies, I question whether it is the right and proper moral philosophy for those practicing and leading business in a free market economy. I fear that because of its easy alignment with the dominant ideology mentioned above, that many use it to establish their belief system for the protection of freedom and liberty. In doing so, they push out any Christian moral philosophy. Can there be any more incongruent moral philosophies than a Christian or Catholic moral philosophy and that of objectivism? At first blush, I don’t think so. Yet, when it comes to the protection of freedom and liberty, the Church leans heavily in the direction of private property rights and the value proposition of free markets. This would on the surface indicate an alignment with free markets. Yet the church vehemently opposes using others as means to an end and prompts those of the faith to live virtuous and holy lives. Anyone else confused? No wonder people gather on the ends of the socialism and libertarianism ends of the spectrum! Free markets aligned with Rand’s moral philosophy of objectivism and a Catholic moral philosophy are arguably irreconcilable.
Does that mean free markets and a Catholic moral philosophy are irreconcilable? No, but it does indicate, that if objectivism aligns well with the dominant ideology, that a Catholic moral philosophy is incongruent with the dominant ideology: the purpose of business is to maximize shareholder wealth. More to come . . .