by Lynn Mandaville
When I was a teenager of about 17, and my father was a devout Republican and firm believer in the capitalist system, Pop encouraged me to read Ayn Rand. He said it would temper my youthful liberalism and my belief in a more socialistic approach to American society.
I gave her more than a fair try, and I simply found “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” unreadable, much the way I later found John Irving unreadable. I attempted both Rand books at least three times each. Never made it past the first hundred pages.
Even later, in my 50s, when I tried her again, I still couldn’t get into the books. But this time I found her characters abhorrent and her philosophy overly simplistic and impossibly rigid.
Pop called her a leading advocate for the virtues of selfishness, that hers was a philosophy of enlightened self-interest, and I didn’t disagree with him.
Socialism in its purest form is, I believe, what columnist Army Bob most rails against. And by hisown admission, something with which he is obsessed. Therefore, his opinion about socialism should be read with a sense of wariness.
Socialism does, indeed, squelch entrepreneurship and creativity by making everyone equal.
Capitalism, its antithesis, seeks to make everyone unequal by virtue of those who can accumulate the most wealth at the expense of those who toil for them.
Both, at their worst extremes, do not allow for all individuals to grow to their best potentials, and capitalism does not provide a mechanism to take care of those who fall through the cracks in the system.
It behooves a true CIVIL-ization – particularly one that claims a Christian ethic for caring and providing for the least among them – to rise to its highest aspirations and find that sweet spot between the two philosophies where reasonable financial rewards come to those who are high achievers, while a modicum of responsibility is shown by those to whom much has been given by offering a hand to those less fortunate or able.
To advocate for one extreme or the other is, in my opinion, not a reasonable nor a noble pursuit.
It is possible for one to modify one’s beliefs without abandoning them completely.
Pop, by the way, became a Democrat and a liberal in the early 1970s, declaring Rand to be overrated, and misguided by her past experience. He became something of a philanthropist within his modest means, while still participating in the capitalist system and paying his fair share of taxes.