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Despite the purposely provocative title, this post is intended to provoke serious discussion. In a discussion in another thread, I said that I found Objectivism to be too simplistic and that this view underlies most of my posts. Here I will make it explicit. My jumping-off point was a discussion of the “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” maxim. As a teenager, this maxim had significant resonance for me, but I have since realized it was derived from an overly simplistic worldview. I find Objectivism to have much truth within it, but to suffer from the same fault of simplicity (though obviously in a different direction). Far from being the outgrowth of “monstrous evil” as Ayn Rand argues, the maxim reflects a hopelessly naive view of mankind’s nature and altruistic instincts. The “monstrous evil” that does, I agree, result from this maxim and other Communist ideas is, I would argue, a certain but unintended consequence of this naivety. But, first, a digression: while I believe the maxim reflects an overly optimistic view of human nature, it also reflects an extremely pessimistic view of human potential. That is, the maxim essentially assumes that there will be no “surplus” created by human endeavours. It assumes that the full realization of everybody’s abilities still creates only enough to satisfy everybody’s needs. There would be no surplus that can be used to satisfy people’s wants and desires. First, the maxim is naive in assuming that everybody would desire to work to their full abilities without any incentive to do so other than seeing their needs and everyone else’s being satisfied. As such, it saps the creative vigour of healthy competition and drains the very desire to work. The “pie” that is created will necessarily be less than the one that could be created. Second, the maxim is naive in assuming that there is some objective or natural way to determine whether people are fulfilling their abilities or what people’s true needs are. Rand’s parable of Twentieth Century Motor Company in Atlas Shrugged (AS) – as well as Orwell’s Animal Farm (AF) – show the monstrous evil that results: there is no need for me to spell it out here. The opportunistic and immoral (like AS’s Gerald and Ivy Starnes or the pigs in AF) will always take advantage of this naivety. But even the hardworking ordinary people, like the TWMC workers in AS, will necessarily be corrupted by trying to make these impossible determinations (although Boxer, the horse in AF, never was corrupted). Now, I come to the title of my post. I think that Objectivism’s worldview is equally naive and simplistic. It assumes that, left to their own in a laissez faire environment, the “best and the brightest” will compete and achieve in a fashion consistent with Objectivist morality. Hank Reardon is AS’s Boxer the horse. He is never corrupted by the power that he could wield using his phenomenal intellect, but instead always focuses on his work. He will not collude with his competitors or lobby for legislation that favors his industry. But how does this compare with what the titans of industry do in real life? The Robber Barons were clearly men of great intellect and capability – the railroads could never have been built without them. But they used collusion, bribery, violence and many other vices – vices that Objectivism soundly condemns – to further increase their fortunes and their power. My argument is two-fold. Objectivist or capitalist principles are necessary and proper in order to create the surplus that mankind is capable of creating while giving people meaning for their exertions. But collectivist principles (e.g., democracy itself) and regulation are necessary to tame the excesses that will naturally result from giving unrestrained power to the elite and to ensure a fairer and more just society. Both Objectivist or Collectivist philosophies alone are overly simplistic and necessarily will result in injustice and evil.