Ayn Rand began her writing career as an anti-socialist, and, perhaps to some, a seemingly anti-social, original thinker who taught that achievement is the aim of life, and that men are responsible for the ideas that they choose to accept.
Outside the concentration camps, which all collectivists felt necessary to establish in order to physically exterminate the last vestiges of freedom, the color of communism was not "red." It was "gray." My childhood memories of communist Czechoslovakia are filled with gray skies, gray streets, gray houses, and gray masses of joyless people. My family, like most families in the Soviet bloc, had its share of "problems" with the communist authorities. My great uncle, because of his alleged anti-communist activities, was sent to mine uranium for Soviet nuclear weapons. My childhood memories of communist Czechoslovakia are filled with gray masses of joyless people. Like so many others, I understood early on that communism was both murderous and a gargantuan economic failure. But recognition of communist failings does not automatically translate into love for capitalism. Millions of people around the world continue to see capitalism as a prerequisite for wealth creation, yet abhor its moral premises. They tolerate capitalism as a necessary evil. Such half-hearted commitment to capitalism is dangerous. On an ethical level, it legitimizes envy and theft. On a practical level, it makes capitalism less effective in producing economic growth. I first understood the importance of a moral defense of capitalism when, as a university student in Great Britain, I read Ayn Rand 's Atlas Shrugged . In that book, Rand identifies the...
One of my favorite photographs of  Ayn Rand  dates back to 1961. In it, she is the only woman at the President's Advanced Round Table of the American Management Association, surrounded by executives who are dressed in what still passes for casual business attire. It is an improbable image. What is this popular novelist and self-professed philosopher doing at such a meeting, and what could she possibly have to say about building profitable businesses and successful careers? Lots, as it turns out.
People do generous things. They give directions to strangers, contribute to charities, volunteer in hospitals, send food and supplies to earthquake victims. Actions like these are usually described as altruistic, in contrast to the pursuit of self-interest. In a free society, most of our interactions with people involve trade: we provide values to others only on terms that benefit ourselves. Generosity, however, means providing someone with a value that is not part of a definite trade, without the expectation of a definite return.


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