“It's the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money.... Let me give you a tip on men's characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it. Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the...bell of an approaching looter.” -Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand was special, and not in a good way. She was a caustic, belligerent herald of the apocalypse that is raw, uncontrolled capitalism. And yet, Rand was simply a product of her time. [Keep in mind that this is not supposed to be an exhaustive analysis of the rise of Randian concepts, but just a loose overview of some of the things that led to the development of her ideas, so don’t troll me for being somewhat inaccurate, nerds. -TC]
Following the American Civil War, people from the North migrated to the South to run for political office in order to foster change in the form of civil rights, economic growth, and found public school systems, though some did go to capitalize on the reconstruction boom. Hundreds of white women moved South to teach, while white men opened banks and offered high interest loans to those who sought to start businesses. It was an odd mix of capitalist and socialist drives.
Following World War I (also known as The Great War and The War To End All Wars), America entered the Roarin’ Twenties, a period of strong economic, industrial, and cultural growth and change. Women gained the right to vote in many States. Air travel became a thing. The money was flowing. Ayn Rand left Russia to the United States in 1926, just three years before The Crash of 1929. She left what, at the time, was a dying Czarist Russia facing a growing revolutionary force living in crushing poverty, only to see the explosive crash of the American economy in 1929.
After World War II there was another explosive period of economic growth and expansion. What the people saw, and not what was actually happening, was the government swoop in to take people and resources to get killed and destroyed, and that the private sector would swoop in afterwards and fix things up, make new things, give people jobs and money, and build entire communities through the apparent power and benevolence of Capitalism. Of course, we know that isn’t the accurate truth. Many of the companies that built the roads and dams and office buildings that towered into the sky were supported by plans devised and funded by the efforts of the US Government (think New Deal and PWA). But that’s not what people saw in their home towns.
For her part, Rand saw capitalism, integrated with what she would call "objectivism", as the only way out for a truly free society. It was Capitalism that swarmed over the American landscape, transforming the troubled cities and towns into a gleaming series of metropolitan meccas, glittering with wealth and power and influence whilst ignoring the vast number of people that worked their asses off to make it happen, often to the sole benefit of a small number of people. Sort of like what we have today.
Objectivism holds that there is no greater moral goal than achieving happiness. But one cannot achieve happiness by wish or whim. Fundamentally, it requires rational respect for the facts of reality, including the facts about our human nature and needs. Happiness requires that one live by objective principles, including moral integrity and respect for the rights of others. Politically, Objectivists advocate laissez-faire capitalism. Under capitalism, a strictly limited government protects each person's rights to life, liberty, and property and forbids that anyone initiate force against anyone else. The heroes of Objectivism are achievers who build businesses, invent technologies, and create art and ideas, depending on their own talents and on trade with other independent people to reach their goals. [SOURCE: The Atlas Society]
What you won’t often hear these days, however, is that objectivists give no fucks for the so-called undeserving, and that’s a really important flaw in Objectivism. Rand gives all credit to the solitary, strong, rational capitalist who does what he wants, when he wants, and however he achieves that is good as long as it is all in the name on his happiness. This ideology enshrines selfishness and puts selflessness in the corner, facing the wall, wearing a dunce cap, which likely has you asking, “What about all of the backs upon which these powerful individuals have lifted themselves up?”
Jon Donne wrote in 1624 in his work entitled Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions,
No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
It was written in old English, but its message is clear. No man is an island. If a stone is washed away from the shore, that land is the lesser for it. Donne wrote of a fact that we have known for many, many centuries; that we all make our experience here on this spinning rock in space, and Rand’s ideas that rugged individualism where selfishness is countenanced as vital is just piffle. I’d like to see John Galt build a bridge or cure cancer by himself.
We’re All In This Together, Whether We Like It Or Not
Aside from the despicable fact that Rand’s objectivism promotes the idea that only “producers” deserve to exist and all others should be allowed to fall away, the simple idea that money is a viable foundation for all things is just ridiculous. If it isn’t clear by now, money is a horrible influence on society. Money makes people hate each other, creates an environment where sanctioned and illegal theft and corruption is rampant, and ruins good people who have only ever done good by their fellow humans. Money is destructive and stifles the advancement of humanity as a whole.
[No, I’m not ignoring the influences of religion and political ideologies, but this piece is about money. -TC]
The only problem is that it’s everywhere. Currency is so deeply ingrained into our social fabric that we can’t just rip it out and cast it aside, and that’s a problem because we need to. If we don’t, the future of humanity will remain in the hands of those who are unscrupulous enough to steal it from everyone else. It is the Oroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. Money feeds the most depraved aspects of humanity which, in turn, makes money for those who engage in these deleterious behaviors. Money is a stand-in for power, and as we all know, "might makes right". So, if money is so important, how do you get rid of it?
You use money to kill money.
Yes, that sounds a tad cryptic, but bear with me. It’s a lot easier that you might think. It is, however, critical that you understand that what I’m about to discuss isn’t a step-by-step plan of action, but an idea to force money out of society and create a new form of society that just works, embraces equality and civil rights and abhors oppression, hate, fear, and disenfranchisement.
- First, freeze prices on everything, like bullet time in The Matrix. Jail time for price gouging. There needs to be a "No Scumbag" provision to shut down corruption at its root. Besides, as you’ll see, there will be no effective value in raising prices or cheating.
- Second, flood the economy with an unlimited amount of money. Mint a fuckton of those trillion dollar coins and jam them into circulation.
- Third, doing this works because it doesn’t fundamentally change how society works, it just levels the playing field at which everyone plays. “When everyone is special, no one is special.” -The Incredibles.
Now, everyone is rich. With prices frozen, anyone can buy what they want and what they need. Housing will be built for the homeless, hunger will be eliminated, money will be spent on research of all kinds, goods and services will be distributed all around the world. The list of things that can get done is far too long for me to get right. Infrastructure, public transit, space exploration, development of renewable energy sources, the end of slavery, the drug trade, piracy, dictatorships, religious and ideological oppression, the expansion of education, the increase in workplace happiness as people move to the jobs they want instead of the ones they have to take just to keep their families afloat.
While some will go hog wild and do some rather insane things, most people will get along with the business of life. People will follow their hearts. That’s because you can’t significantly change the nature of human behavior just by making everyone rich. Money will effectively become a method of tracking transactions, and slowly, over time, money will be replaced with processes, and lose all value. It will be replaced with the value that is inherent to all humans, to share and live and love and create and invent and do amazing things that we all know we can.
We’ll all just be people, all working towards enriching humanity and preserving our existence for, hopefully, many thousands of years to come.