1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar
Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16197/what-is-your-plan-for-the-day-after-tomorrow/

What Is Your Plan for the Day After Tomorrow?

March 24, 2011 by

Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s masterpiece celebrating capitalism and the individual, is a rare accomplishment. It still holds up, more than ever. FULL ARTICLE by Theodore Phalan


RS March 24, 2011 at 8:46 am

“The morality of capitalism lies in the fact that it rewards producing for your fellow men.”

The article was good until this one sentence, insidiously inserted at the end, which contradicts everything stated before it and is totally contrary to what Ayn Rand actually said and what Atlas Shrugged was REALLY about.

“The moral justification of capitalism does not lie in the altruist claim that it represents the best way to achieve “the common good.” It is true that capitalism does—if that catch-phrase has any meaning—but this is merely a secondary consequence. The moral justification of capitalism lies in the fact that it is the only system consonant with man’s rational nature, that it protects man’s survival qua man, and that its ruling principle is: justice.”

“What Is Capitalism?” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 20

“If the good, the virtuous, the morally ideal is suffering and self-sacrifice—then, by that standard, capitalism had to be damned as evil. Capitalism does not tell men to suffer, but to pursue enjoyment and achievement, here, on earth—capitalism does not tell men to serve and sacrifice, but to produce and profit—capitalism does not preach passivity, humility, resignation, but independence, self-confidence, self-reliance—and, above all, capitalism does not permit anyone to expect or demand, to give or to take the unearned. In all human relationships—private or public, spiritual or material, social or political or economic or moral—capitalism requires that men be guided by a principle which is the antithesis of altruism: the principle of justice.

“The Intellectual Bankruptcy of Our Age,” The Voice of Reason

“What is the moral code of altruism? The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.

Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice—which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction—which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good.

Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime. The issue is whether you must keep buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you. The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence. The issue is whether man is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal. Any man of self-esteem will answer: “No.” Altruism says: “Yes.”

“Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World,”


Seattle March 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Fiat justitia, pereat mundus.

roy March 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Fiat iustitia ne pereat mundus

Seattle March 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm

What I said was indeed what I meant. It’s stupid to stick to a principle regardless of that principle’s consequences.

RS March 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm

And I too meant what I said but perhaps the meaning was lost so I will elaborate.

Any estimation of consequences, stupid/smart, good/bad, right/wrong, rational/irrational, constructive/destructive etc. also requires the application of a standard or principle so your argument is circular. it smuggles the presumption of a principle into the argument but fails to ever name it so the lack of a principle means that whatever happens to satisfy the expediency of the immediate moment with never a care for what happens next.

Seattle March 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Not quite what I meant. Let’s take the example of capitalism.

I think we both agree, in this universe, capitalism’s consequences are good. Let’s imagine an alternate universe where capitalism’s consequences are purely bad, and where socialism actually does work.

In this alternate universe, do the people living in it still have the moral imperative to institute capitalism over socialism? Of course not.

Altruism and selfishness are ultimately means. It’s the ends they accomplish that are important.

RS March 24, 2011 at 2:28 pm

@ Seattle

“Altruism and selfishness are ultimately means. It’s the ends they accomplish that are important.”

This conflates ends and means. It reverses purpose and action. A “mean” is only defined within a context of an “end”, a mean without an end is a purposeless act, an act based on whim not on purpose so a “mean” outside of that context is a floating abstraction.

Consider what you mean by “work”, such an estimation requires an end which you estimate a concrete (capitalism) against to establish if it advanced or frustrated the ultimate goal.

Altruism/Egoism are concepts that define which “end” is ultimate, others or self, it cannot be both an end and a mean at the same time or it becomes a stolen concept.

Seattle March 24, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Altruism/Egoism are concepts that define which “end” is ultimate, others or self, it cannot be both an end and a mean at the same time or it becomes a stolen concept.

As if those are the only options! I see no need for a goal system to mention any agents at all.

RS March 24, 2011 at 3:44 pm

@ Seattle,

who said anything about agents? if you are a thinking and acting being then you must have a reason or purpose for doing so otherwise why act? if you choose to think and act then what are your thoughts and actions meant to accomplish? the answer to these questions determine the “end” or “goal” you aim for by which your actions are the “means”. In this context there are only two fundamental alternatives, yourself or some “other” whether it be god, country, race, gender etc. It is black and white absolutist issue and it cannot be avoided no matter what you do.

Seattle March 24, 2011 at 5:59 pm

In this context there are only two fundamental alternatives, yourself or some “other” whether it be god, country, race, gender etc. It is black and white absolutist issue and it cannot be avoided no matter what you do.

The space of possible mind designs is a bit larger than that. It is perfectly possible to construct a mind that feels uneasiness only about, say, the existence of cheesecake. It would go around destroying cheesecakes and preventing cheesecakes from being made. To call such a thing selfish OR altruistic, as we humans use the terms to describe ourselves, would be a clear mistake.

RS March 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm

lol, and here I was presuming we WERE talking about humans. my mistake. perhaps an alternative mind would be compeled by its nature to do such a thing but if it were a living entity we are hypothesising about then it would still boil down to doing what it does in order to survive long enough to procreate, otherwise such an entity would not exist long enought to warrant study.

Seattle March 24, 2011 at 7:19 pm

My argument does apply to humans. Total self-absorption and total self-sacrifice are far from the only options we have.

RS March 24, 2011 at 7:50 pm

@ Seattle,

“Total self-absorption and total self-sacrifice are far from the only options we have.”

But here the difference is only one of degree and not one of basic principle. That is unless you had some 3rd option in mind? Perhaps you have discovered some new attribute of human nature that is yet unknown to modern philosophers and scientists? I admit that it is surely possible but highly unlikely to change anything in a fundamental sense.

Seattle March 24, 2011 at 8:06 pm

I’d more venture to say that altruism and egoism, in the sense Rand meant these terms, never existed at all. We are far more complicated than that.

RS March 24, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Statements such as this almost always follow with an appeal to mysticism of one form or another. Would you care to elaborate without resorting to scripture or the “greater good” of this or that?

Seattle March 25, 2011 at 10:45 am

I love ice cream. When I sit down for a bowl, I do not think “The profits from this purchase will be reinvested as capital and used to make ever-more products for the commonweal” NOR do I think “Through the enjoyment of this pleasure I will further along my personal self-fulfillment.”

I just think “Mmm, yummy.”

J. Murray March 25, 2011 at 10:49 am

What? You don’t think, “This ice cream is sour and horrible because the company that made it isn’t unionized and they’re exploiting the workers and externalizing costs by not paying a carbon tax”?

Anyway, there isn’t any such creature as true altruism as there is always some benefit to the one performing the charitable act, such as adding good deeds to the account to get into Heaven, or simply enjoying the chemical high that it provides. Even the sense of “I’m better than you” that some individuals partake in is a benefit.

If charity were miserable, unpleasant, were given no special consideration to the afterlife of one’s belief structure, and actively made you feel bad, no one would do it.

RS March 25, 2011 at 10:58 am

all you have done is condensed the explicit meaning of this:

““Through the enjoyment of this pleasure I will further along my personal self-fulfillment.”

into the implicit meaning of this:

“Mmm, yummy.”

The fact that you enjoy a personal treat and have taken action to acquire it means that you have fulfilled a personal value through the virtue of your actions. That can be nothing less than an inherently selfish act.

If, on the other hand, you retained the same value (i.e. enjoyment of ice cream) but then chose to drink old dishwater instead (as some aesthetic monks used to do), that would be an inherently altruistic and self-sacrificial act.

RS March 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm

an out of context phrase can be equally applied to anything

Fiat anarchia, pereat mundus.

Fiat socialistica, pereat mundus.

Fiat fascistica, pereat mundus.

Fiat communistica, pereat mundus.

Fiat x,y,x, pereat mundus.

Fiat nihilistica, pereat mundus.

It means nothing and stands for nothing.

Mart Grams March 24, 2011 at 9:00 am

Where can one find Galt’s Gorge in today’s world? Where can a free man go to be rewarded, be free, serve his greater good????? Where is the world is freedom?

RS March 24, 2011 at 9:12 am

AR would say that it is up to you to make that world for your own sake and not rely on asking others to make it for you and to tell you where and when it is time to get on the train once it has already been built and rolling.

Braden Talbot March 24, 2011 at 11:04 am

The internet?

Xavier March 24, 2011 at 11:11 am

I am a college student setting everything up for the PT/5 Flags Theory.

Essentially we beleive no one with common sense gives all their assets or allegiance to any one flag. The Five Flag Theory will help you conduct all your business safely and effectively. You set up in several nations to acheive “perpetual traveler” status to avoid the state from ever reaching you.

Flag 1: Business Base
These are places where you make your money. They must be different from your personal fiscal domicile, the place where you legally reside.

Flag 2: Passport & Citizenship
These should be from a country unconcerned about offshore citizens and what they do outside its borders.

Flag 3: Domicile
This should be a tax haven with good communications. A place where wealthy, productive people can be creative, live, relax, prosper and enjoy themselves. Such a place should not be threatened by war or revolution and preferably should enjoy good levels of banking secrecy.

Flag 4: Asset Repository
This should be a place from which assets, securities and business affairs can be managed anonymously by proxy.

Flag 5: Playgrounds
These are places where you would actually physically spend your time.


Paul Stephens March 24, 2011 at 4:59 pm

This is the right question, but the answer isn’t a geographical place or location.
For me, the answer is to prioritize – LIBERTY FIRST! Without real freedom to think, believe, act, etc., nothing else really matters. And that is why all the vapid “Republican” and “Pro-capitalism” stuff only digs us a deeper hole. Just because Rand defined “Capitalism” as “individual freedom” and a “moral system” doesn’t make it so. Everyone else defines it as rule by a wealthy elite – the owners of capital. And since she explicitly defends the “minimal state” with a “monopoly on the use of force,” you’d just as well forget about a defense of freedom and individualism from her.
No, I’m not a Rand hater, and I’d venture to say, I spent as much time and intellectual effort mastering her system as anyone here. And I still think her analysis is largely correct. But these few flaws (defending elitism and capitalism) negate all the other good things she did and said.

RS March 24, 2011 at 7:53 pm

read this…


it pretty much resolves these so called “flaws”.

Joe March 24, 2011 at 11:46 am

Just one small comment about a quote from Atlas Shrugged. There is a misquote about the phrase:
“Money is the root of all evil.” The correct phrase is: “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.” See Timothy 6:10. I guess you can give Ayn a pass since she was an atheist and probably was not very close to the scriptures.
I read Atlas Shrugged at an early age and I was totally blown away. It was like a friend I never could find because what she was saying spoke to me and gave me explanations that matched my thoughts.

RS March 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm

@ Joe,

I think you misunderstand the nature of this argument. Rand is drawing a connection between the function of money as a “tool” that is used solely for the purpose of exchanging “things” that people have produced and the moral judgements people make regarding it.

“Loving” this tool is the same as “loving” the process of production and trade for which it is used, which is the same as “loving” the creative potential of man made actual. If loving this is “evil” then the “good” can only be its opposite, i.e. the destruction of that potential.

Joe March 24, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I do understand what Ayn meant and the nature of the argument. I did find it unusual for Ayn to misquote such a common verse in the bible. In a way I think she is making a bigger statement about religion in general. She could be saying that look what religion has taught you and you don’t understand. You use religion as justification for the altruristic welfare state.

Joe March 24, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Actually I have answered my own question about Ayn knowing the exact verse. She did know. If you read futher down in Atlas Shrugged Francisco brings up the “love” of money.
The above link gives the whole speech. Since the speech has a copyright I couldn’t just copy the specific paragraph. It is always good to read the whole speech anyway.

Frank March 24, 2011 at 11:49 am

“…Rand make[s] the argument for … a minimal state…”

The US federal government started off with a minimal state. Look at it now. The problem with minimal states is that they contain the DNA for a leviathan. They’re like dormant spores that wait for optimal conditions to spread their life-choking vines across the landscape.

Jefferson was a minarchist but saw the dangers inherent with the state:

“…private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as by private extravagance. And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering. Then begins, indeed, the bellum omnium in omnia [war of all against all], which some philosophers observing to be so general in this world, have mistaken it for the natural, instead of the abusive state of man.”

Barry Loberfeld March 24, 2011 at 12:30 pm

“A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on …”


That last thought returns us to the question: What limits the limited welfare state? Not only has “liberalism” meant ever greater economic controls, but now it means the application of socialist ideology to social issues. This has always been a dubious dichotomy — Is a book a manufactured product or an expressed idea? — and one that didn’t exist among either the classical liberals or the Marxist regimes. Yet a surging number of voices tell us that “equality” demands, not only a redistribution of wealth, but also the banning of speech — not only an end to “economic violence,” but also the suppression of “verbal violence.” How this rhetoric translates into reality can be glimpsed by looking north. The legal perversity that pornography constitutes the criminal “exploitation” and “objectification” of women — a linguistic legerdemain whereby bourgeois feminists exculpate their own capitalist occupations as the “exploitation” and “objectification” of the proletariat, thus metamorphosing themselves from class oppressors into gender victims — was affirmed by the Canadian Supreme Court. This idea, in turn, evolved into that of “hate speech,” which was extended to “protect” other groups, such as homosexuals. So now when the Rev. Jerry Falwell airs his show in Canada, he must edit his preachings on homosexuality, which are not protected by freedom of religion or freedom of speech. Here is a “welfare state” that has gone well beyond taxing millionaires to house orphans.

It’s all really very easy to understand as the philosophic analogue to Mises’ economic analysis. The initial introduction of a socialist law into a liberal society forces the question: Do we accept or reject this violation of the liberal ethic? If we accept it, we set a precedent for the next proposed socialist law. We have made a very clear moral decision — collectivism trumps individualism. In contrast to the cynicism that leads to a deluge of special interest groups, this trend involves taking ideas seriously — i.e., recognizing the mutual exclusiveness of the capitalist and socialist paradigms, and thus the imperative to choose one. It acknowledges the hypocrisy — the incoherence — of bringing the socialist outlook to issue A but not issue B, to the “economic” issue but not the “social” issue.

Mrhuh March 24, 2011 at 3:28 pm

RS’s first post helps explain why it is that I’ve always had a problem with Ayn Rand. She claimed that altruism is destructive while selfishness is a virtue, but who’s really more selfish, Circuit City who admitted to bankruptcy and decided to belly up or the Big Banks and Big Auto who lobbied for massive bailouts. Daniel Taggart was in fact the most selfish person since he constantly lobbied the government for bailouts while Hank Reardan is hardly some money-grubbing, selfish guy.

Telling people to “not serve and sacrifice, but rather to produce and profit” ignores the fact that profit can only come by not spending all of one’s money on enjoyments.

“Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible.”

This is absolute rubbish right here. Saying that altruism and some self-restraint and self-sacrifice makes respect for the rights of others impossible is so Orwellian, it’s not funny. All of this makes me a little embarassed that I was first introduced to the libertarian movement through Rand to begin with. Luckily I found my way to the Mises Institute and the writing of Mises and Rothbard, which made made far more sense and were more grounded in reality.

RS March 24, 2011 at 4:01 pm


I would say you have a very myopic understanding of what Rand was actually saying. You are viewing her statements out of context and through the typical lense of pop culture rather than identifying your own philisophical premises and hers and then critically comparing them logically to see which is more or less correct with respect to reality. Simply plucking a few catchphrases out of the air and reject them simply because they differ from your own is not a very productive way to find truth.

Anyway, selfishness and altruism as Ayn Rand identified them have to do with how a person fundamentally defines values. Do values come from the individual or do they come from somewhere else, some “other”? That was the major theme of The Fountainhead. Atlas Shrugged is more about how those two views play out in society. I would suggest you do some more reading of her fiction and more importantly, her non fiction before making any final conclusions.

Inquisitor March 24, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Rand is an Aristotelian. Her brand of “selfishness” is not what people assumes to mean lack of consideration for others but a form of enlightened self-interest. This isn’t hard to grasp.

Freedom Fighter March 24, 2011 at 4:30 pm

“Ayn Rand’s masterpiece celebrating capitalism and the individual,”

What’s so wrong about solidarity and union makes force ?

I feel that as an individual, I don’t have what it takes to make a living. I need a hand up, not a handout. I need individuals who will trust me enough to hire me and give me my chance, sadly nobody wants to hire me except the military, I don’t know if I have what it takes to endure the punishment of basic training.

Franklin March 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm

“I feel that as an individual, I don’t have what it takes to make a living.”

Fix that mindset, and the rest shall follow.

Freedom Fighter March 24, 2011 at 6:00 pm

“Fix that mindset, and the rest shall follow.”

Yes master corporal !

RS March 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm

@Freedom Fighter,

So how does “your needs” put an unchosen obligation on others to satisfy them? How are you “entitled” to these things that you say you “need” and who is obligated to provide them to you?

J. Murray March 24, 2011 at 5:37 pm

It doesn’t matter what we do, life is going to suck pretty badly. Gold, guns, and ammo aren’t going to bring back the economics of scale that will inevitably be destroyed by this experiment in socialism. It’s all a matter of how to cushion the suck.

Vanmind April 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Definitely a low-quality work of fiction. “We The Living” was her only worthy literary output, because it came from an a posteriori knowledge (know what you write) instead of trying to invent a fictional account of a priori economic theory.

Hazlitt’s “Time Will Run Back” is another sad example of such poor fiction.

RS April 17, 2011 at 7:21 pm


“Any theory that propounds an opposition between the logical and the empirical, represents a failure to grasp the nature of logic and its role in human cognition. Man’s knowledge is not acquired by logic apart from experience or by experience apart from logic, but by the application of logic to experience. All truths are the product of a logical identification of the facts of experience.”

Leonard Peikoff “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy

for more on this fallacy, go here:


Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: