Quote of the week...please share your favourite line from Ayn Rand's writings

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Anti-Business Mentality

In the Indian society, businessman are not regarded highly enough as of various cultural reasons and prejudices. Much of it had to do with the caste system, but it can’t be solely attributed to it. The situation is universal, though there are variations in the degree of the bias from country to country. The reasons behind it as obvious, as it would become evident in these words of Ayn Rand: “Throughout men's history, money was always seized by looters of one brand or another, whose names changed, but whose method remained the same: to seize wealth by force and to keep the producers bound, demeaned, defamed, deprived of honour. Yet through all the centuries of stagnation and starvation, men exalted the looters, as aristocrats of the sword, as aristocrats of birth, as aristocrats of the bureau, and despised the producers, as slaves, as traders, as shopkeepers--as industrialists.”

People instinctively grasp that some men rightly deserve their wealth, and for many, nothing can be more unbearable than this. People hate Capitalism for the same reason, that it rewards people based on their socially objective value. Moser put it eloquently, though sympathizing with people plagued by such notions : “Life in a society in which success would exclusively depend on personal merit would simply be unbearable. “

All this is not to say that businessmen never acquire their wealth through devious means. No advocate of Capitalism, as far as I know, had said that businessmen are angels, and would always act in their rational self-interest. Omkar Ghate reminds us in his column in Forbes that being pro business is not the same as “assuaging the desires of the business lobby.” One of the most common arguments (It is not exactly an argument) I hear against her works is that it worships businessmen and corporations. Now, this is not true at all. What is intended is just that businessmen perform a very important, and often underestimated function. Many of her villains, her critics forget, are the worst kind of statists .

In the words of Ghate , “The true producer Rand shows, makes just one demand of Washington: "Get the hell out of my way!" If we can extort any sense out of statist arguments, it would be just that businessmen bribe Government officials and get things done. This much is true. However, it doesn’t follow from this alone that further regulations are the answer. It is the regulations that got us here. We are in big trouble when the alleged defenders of capitalism themselves call for more and more regulation!

1 comment:

  1. Shanu,

    I believe that your hypothesis that "People instinctively grasp that some men rightly deserve their wealth, and for many, nothing can be more unbearable than this.." would be true only for a few people, not many.

    I believe that most Indians dislike wealthy people because of two main reasons: either they believe the wealth is unfairly earned, or they can't appreciate (because of their lack of mental capacity) how an entrepreneur creates value.

    I know that AR said that this was the age of envy where people hated good for being good. However, I also see around me that most people admire self-made men such as Tendulkar, Narayan Murthy, Amir Khan (actor), etc.