Early in college, I read a novel entitled The Fountainhead. In it the main character Howard Roark, a student of architecture chooses his own path towards ideals and creation. It was for these reasons he got expelled from school and goes to work for a befallen architect in the city.
Although, his choice to retain to his individual needs and not abide to the mass was successful, it also created for him hardships in life, those of which comes about from powerful figures who loves him but at the same time want to see him fail. The conflict of selfishness and the greed of capitalism will be assessed as it is tackled throughout the story.
When Ayn Rand published this book, few accepted it. However by word of mouth, the journey towards reaching commercial mainstream brought Ayn’s philosophy of objectivism to life. Within a short time span and nearly 5 decades later, her novel is still read widely today. Her influence continues to spread as radicals for capitalism refer to her ideals and thoughts as being relevant to our times.
Recently, I went to a lecture which is the first in a series that will be held downtown in Chicago, Illinois. My husband and I wanted to learn more about how Ayn’s philosophy can help bring back the system that made America great. Thus, our hopes was to learn more about ideals outside of our usual day to day life in the grind.
Surprisingly, there was a lot to ponder on. Not only did we find Dr. Yaron Brook, president of Ayn Rand Center, who spook at the lecture informative, we also found his thoughts quite understandable. So I want to attempt to tie in what I’ve learn with the online market today. Especially on the grounds of making money on the internet.
Are capitalists immoral?
Before we touch upon morals, let’s discuss about capitalism. Capitalism is a social system, not an economic system, in which the sole interest of the individual is dominant. It is based upon the principle of individual rights. Thus, our wants will feed an economic system of which a free market will allow us to pursue further what we like.
One of those likes is making money. That’s always a goal upon everyone’s plate whether it’s now or later. When you start to make enough or make too much, the question on the moral of your profit strategies is challenged. Thus, we like to find faults with those who are successful with their profits in large numbers.
For this, we tend to seek help from big brother to break them down. Yet, in the process we’re destroying a free market to which our freedom to make money was build on. I can understand that most of this foundation is heavily leaned towards crooks, liars and cheaters but that’s the stigma that is pierced onto capitalists. Why? The game here is what Ayn Rand calls producers and looters as explained by Dr. Brook.
It is the producers who make life possible: who keep grocery shelves stocked; who discover new lifesaving drugs; who make computers faster, buildings taller, and airplanes safer.
The looters, on the other hand, leech off the wealth created by producers.
This is relevant online today in web 2.0. With opportunities becoming more accessible, to members all over the world, anyone can make money with just an internet connection and their computer. Take affiliate marketing for example, if you don’t have a product to sell, making your way through someone else’s creation is possible. Thus, the true producers here aren’t the affiliates, although it seems that way, but it’s the creators.
Now the online community in the making money online niche is still young, however the ideals of capitalism can be affixed here. Everyone is for themselves. Our selfish reasons of which we want life, liberty and pursuit of happiness is the driving factor much like Howard Roark’s character is presented in The Fountainhead.
Despite what anyone says, honing a craft and making yourself stand apart from the crowd is a right we all strive to embrace. It is our own individual right to challenge ourselves in a free market and profit from it at the same time. But the last thing you want in the process is an intervention of which in this respect is the government.
Here I’ll introduce the laissez-faire concept which basically means to let be where the state and private industry is separated from one another yet coexist. Most importantly, the state does not impose tariffs, restrictions or monopolies on the private industry. However, we all need to follow some rules of conduct and moral values in order for chaos or evil to not prevail. Thus, we need a defense.
The government plays a role here in this situation. It is only for the need of protection from those who may attack us or do us harm in the process of acting on our own self-interest, not to aid those who want us to fail. This thought here is kind of hard to grasp because the cross between producers and looters can sometimes be hard to see as Dr. Brook explains.
As government becomes more entangled in our economic affairs, even the (producers) of the world are forced to lobby Washington – not to reap unearned rewards, but to protect themselves from the (looters). (It’s no accident that before Microsoft came under antitrust fire, it spent virtually nothing on lobbyists, while today it spends many millions.) What’s more, many businessmen are mixed cases – part producer, part political profiteer.
Yet, entrepreneurs consistently are making money whether there is any moral subjection to them or not. It’s a matter of perspective as I have spoke earlier this week. It’s more about the wants of our lives and credibility through action which we’ve build with our own two hands. Having the outlet to speak our mind and spread our philosophy on work, lifestyle and beyond. Overall, the new age of influence is all about value.
Whether value has any moral grounds to an individual who is into making money online is a matter of marketing. Seth Godin explained it best in his book entitled Permission Marketing. You have to give it to people who want it and sometimes they want it so badly, they will be mad if you don’t deliver.
I got a note from a Daily Candy reader the other day. He was upset because for three days in a row, his Daily Candy newsletter hadn’t come. That’s permission.
Permission is like dating. You don’t start by asking for the sale at first impression. You earn the right, over time, bit by bit.
Permission doesn’t have to be a one-way broadcast medium. The internet means you can treat different people differently, and it demands that you figure out how to let your permission base choose what they hear and in what format.
When I launched my book that coined this phrase 9 years ago, I offered people a third of the book for free in exchange for an email address. And I never, ever did anything with those addresses again. That wasn’t part of the deal. No follow ups, no new products. A deal’s a deal.
If it sounds like you need humility and patience to do permission marketing, you’re right. That’s why so few companies do it properly. The best shortcut, in this case, is no shortcut at all.
So we have a choice to turn off the noise and listen to the voices we want to listen to. We also have the right to disagree and not participate in something which we have no interest in or have been burned from.
The point is, our reliance on regulating trade and letting the market lean towards the hands of a higher power, which in this case is the government, can deprive us from our rights to challenge the system. While it will protect us from the looters of the world, as producers being forced to stop producing is what makes the free market fail. Thus, our weak economy in a sense is an essence of that.
We can’t turn off the way we think or how we want to live. Our need to live for ourselves to make it possible through our desire to pursue our self-interest is what makes capitalism work. For these reasons, Ayn Rand philosophy is relevant to our times as it encompasses our need as a producer, most importantly as entrepreneurs, to create new products that will influence many in thought, lifestyle and design.
MORE ABOUT Ayn Rand AND Dr. Yaron Brook
Ayn Rand emigrated to America from Russia. Her real name is Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum. In her early career life, she worked in Hollywood where she wrote screenplays and later some of her best known novels – Anthem, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Through these works, her philosophy of Objectivism was presented and she continued the process by writing a newsletter called the Objectivist.
Listen as Ayn Rand introduces you to her philosophy of objectivism.
Today, Ayn’s novels and essays continue to inspire, influence and is even a cause for debate on the reasons of the objectifying being in all aspects of life. Further information can be found from the Ayn Rand Institute, a non-profit foundation providing education on her philosophy. It includes upcoming lectures, articles and essay contests for student from high school to college to win thousands of dollars in prizes each year.
Teachers as are also able to request FREE books to teach at home or to their students in the classroom. It comes with study guides, questionnaires and teaching tools to get the most out of Ayn Rand’s philosophy.
Dr. Yaron Brook is president and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. He emigrated to the States from Israel and studied Finance. He is also a managing partner to an investing consultant business based in San Jose, CA.
Dr. Brook is frequently seen and heard on radio and newscasts all over the US and the world. He travels frequently to talk about finance and ethics that includes Ayn Rand’s philosophy. Not only that he writes articles that incorporate how her ideals are relevant to our times.