Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

South African Rand

Posted by Jerry on April 3, 2007

A recent article issued from Johannesburg and written by Eusebius McKaiser, a doctoral philosophy candidate and Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, pointedly states that South African policymakers can certainly learn much from Rand’s philosphy of individualism and rational self-interest. 

McKaiser argues that the country should deliberately focus on promoting capitalism as the method of alleviating social evils and permit unhindered, individual self-actualization  in order to empower the black community.

Of course, being that Rand formulated a very radical philosophy, McKaiser’s persuasive method in the article reveals some traces of comprimising on Rand’s philosophy and softening her extreme positions in order to make it palatable to the South African audience. For example, upon reading the article, one gets the sense that he defends capitalism and selfishness on the grounds of the positive benefits it engenders in communities–that the poor are enriched and the standard of living is raised. This is an “end justifies the means” argument, which is an extremely flimsy base upon which to defend capitalism–or any idea for that matter. Rand defended capitalism by establishing an ethical and moral connection between politics and metaphysics, i.e., man’s nature.

Given the volitional nature of man, a world comprising entirely of rational men and women is both a logical and an empirical impossibility. The most one can hope for is that at least the ones who wield influence on important levels of academia, government, and industry act on rational principles. McKaiser’s article is one good indication of Objectivism’s gaining respect and reexamination among academics and policymakers around the world.  

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