September 18, 2018

Practical Objectivism: The Virtues of Capitalism

The self. The thing which cannot be sacrificed, or compromised to fit within anyone’s idea of life, except one’s own. It is the very tenant that is behind the idea of capitalism, which incidentally is also the most moral of economic systems, regardless of what popular opinion, or the public has persuasively been trying to push forward. Why? Precisely because of its main tenant.

Yaron Brook, the Israeli-American president of the Ayn Rand Institute has become one of the main propagators of the ideals of Objectivism, and the ideas of the ‘individual’ within the Israeli state. Yet, I fear that although Atlas Shrugged sales are soaring, not enough people are hearing the message it has been propagating for the last 50 years: the importance of individualism, especially today when collectivism, and “groupthink” is becoming increasingly prevalent.

Brook has taken Ayn Rand’s ideas about selfishness and their rational application within one’s life and has shown that one can reasonably live like Howard Roark, Hank Rearden, and Dagny Taggart. It basically amounts to one simple concept: the pursuit of happiness. Of course the issue is far more complicated than that, as a 1000 page novel itself was not enough to completely cover the philosophical framework of the idea that man and woman hold their lives in their own hands, and that all free societies are only truly free if based on laissez -faire capitalism. Still, how true is this? The short answer is true. The long answer is more than one would think.

It is through capitalism that one is able to achieve one’s individuality, as through one’s labour and work one may find his/her happiness, as Ayn Rand said, not through others, not by working for others, but simply for oneself. All of Brook’s seminars, lectures, and book all point to one thing: the practical side of Objectivism, and the ultimate benefits of living in a democratic society.

Israel of course is the perfect example of a democracy within a sea of tyranny, and an even better example of the benefits of capitalism which has prompted the world to name Israel the “start-up nation”. Brook, although denounces Zionism because of its collectivist ideas, praises Israel for the one thing which must be recognized: out of all the countries in the Middle East, Arabs have the most freedoms in Israel- the Jewish state. I disagree with Brook’s view of Zionism, as I vehemently believe that it is in fact the materialization of freedom, and in this case that of the dreams of individuals to live a better, freer life. In a sense Zionism is freedom, that from oppression from those who have use collectivist mindsets to subdue the Jewish people throughout history. However, that is a different issue. There is more to Israel than its political system. Economics which although play on mixed-policies has had an enormous role in the way Israel has turned out today.

Is capitalism a good thing?

Unlike what you have been told, Israel has not been a “group effort”, rather it was the work of individuals that each played a role in the creation of this country. It was the arrival of men and women who worked for their own good to make a better life for themselves, that led to Israel’s stance in the world today. Each individual created, produced and profited, which in turn held Israel’s society up- regardless of the socialist principles that the government has instilled upon its people. You are wrong if you believe that Israel has become the great nation it is today through kibbutzim and social policies. No. It is the product of individual men and women, who sought achievement, who sought happiness for their own selves. The businessmen, the entrepreneurs, the men who did not achieve great heights but worked with such passion, that they molded deserts into agricultural farmland, villages into cities, and a barren place into a nation.

The virtues of capitalism, which are the ability to achieve, accomplish, and to build on one’s own terms without the involuntary need of others, is what propelled Israel to one of the most prominent countries in the world, and when compared to the collectivist natures of the countries that it is surrounded by, it is obvious why. Let us not forget that Israel is 19th on UN’s list of Human Development Index, which ranks it amid other European and other Western countries. How do you think it got there in only 66 years?

People need to realize that individuals such as Brook, are not in fact the ones who are advocating an immoral idea, rather it is those who make us believe that somehow men and women have a right to the unearned. Capitalism has made Israel a prosperous place, one which is only second behind the United States in technological innovation. Even if you deny all the virtues of capitalism, you cannot deny that.