Ayn Rand, Money, and the True Materialists

ayn rand colorCurrently reading through a rather fascinating analysis of Atlas Shrugged titled Clash of Titans: Atlas Shrugged, John Galt & Jesus Christ by Tom Pratt, Chad Brand. I’ve previously corresponded with Dr. Brand, and am grateful his engagement in political economy from an Evangelical-Baptist perspective. The authors, Brand and Pratt, are both Evangelicals who provide helpful critique of Rand’s work while avoiding total evisceration on one extreme and unreserved affirmation on the other. I will be providing some more excerpts in future posts from this work, but here is a helpful analysis of how money and “true materialism” is understood in Rand’s thought:

Money has meaning to Rand and her heroes only as it expresses what it takes to produce wealth.  Otherwise it is merely paper with fraudulent printing on it.  Not surprisingly her characters have no use for currency that is not backed by the actual value of gold, and wealth consists in the accumulation of the benefits of productive labor, not in the looting of others’ goods.  One cannot truly enjoy the nature of money as a means of exchange unless productivity and creativity have invested it with meaning outside its intrinsic nature.  One’s happiness is already achieved in the process of creating it, so dissipating it in slovenly activities such as casual sex and drunkenness or indulgent feasting and public spectacle actually defeat the goal of happiness that was achieved in the creation of wealth in the first place.  Those who merely acquire money through various means of theft or fraudulent business or as a payoff for political favors and business cooperation in the destruction of competitors or as recipients of “benefits” not earned through labor and the application of the mind are the true “materialists,” for their acquired money has no connection to productivity. (location 311: Clash of Titans: Atlas Shrugged, John Galt & Jesus Christ by Tom Pratt, Chad Brand)

© 2013, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.

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