In the early ’60s I was married to a Harvard M.Arch student. Like many of his fellows, he thought of himself as a future Howard Roark and carried Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead around like a bible. Even then, even before I awakened from our cultural trance, that book, and its religion of selfishness, made me shudder. Who would have thought, back then, that it would worm its way so deeply into America’s psyche? Until Occupy, even impoverished people tended to blame themselves, thinking that if only they were smarter, or more disciplined, then they too, would be rich. And see this.
Chomsky explains how elites’ obsession with short-term personal gain threatens humanity.
January 14, 2013
In an interview broadcast on Al Jazeera English, Noam Chomsky argues that people who have the most privilege owe the most to society. “The more privilege you have the more responsibility you have,” says Chomsky, “It’s elementary.”
Asked why the opposite seems to be true in America, where many wealthy people refuse to give up their time or money to help those in need, Chomsky replies that the lack of public responsibility among many elites makes sense; after all, if you’ve devoted your life to enriching yourself and wealth is what you value the most, you don’t care as much about other people. But it goes beyond that, argues Chomsky. “It’s also institutional. In its more pathological form, it’s Ayn Rand ideology: ‘I just don’t care about anyone else. I’m only interested in benefiting myself. That’s good and noble.”
“It’s responsibility to yourself. You’re maximizing your own short-term gain.”
Beyond the financial crash brought on by Wall Street greed, another area where short-term gain presents a dire threat to humanity is climate change. “It’s imminent that global warming will cause a major catastrophe … if you don’t pay attention to it because it’s an externality: ‘I’m interested in gain, not what happens to my grandchildren’ — then you’re going to accelerate the disaster.”
Watch the rest of the video below. (h/t Raw Story).