Last month, I decided that one of my “big themes” for 2015 would be to spend more time being vocally concerned about the influence of Ayn Rand.

I plan to make a lot of sweeping statements and mass generalisations. After all, that’s what she did. And it seemed to work.

Although I can’t quite tell if it was the sweeping statements that did all the work – or if it was more the fact that she was probably a psychopath, and clever enough to form an economic cult.

ayn rand psychopath 2
Or: “Who am I to deny anyone a valuable life lesson? It’s not my job to protect their feelings. Live and learn, boys. Live and learn.”
ayn rand psychopath 1
Megalomania much?
Said every evil psychopath ever.

But a disclaimer: I don’t think that all psychopaths are evil. Psychopaths, as I understand it, lack the chemical ability to experience empathy. But the absence of empathy is not the absence of morality. If you do something because you believe it to be the right thing, surely that’s at least equivalent to doing it because you feel bad for the person? If anything, it’s more noble. And let’s not pretend like empathy is always a great moral gauge. It’s a valuable indicator – but it’s not the only way to do good things.

Of course – the lack of empathy does put you at more risk of indiscriminate annihilation. But it’s not a given.

That said

This post is not really about Ayn Rand yet. Mainly because I’m still trying to work out how to articulate my concern over her “selfishness is the highest form of altruism” paradigm.

But what I do want to show is how that paradigm has influenced right wing ideology. And for that, I’m going to rely on this awesome infographic from a new book that I’m working through (“Information is Beautiful” – and it really is).

Check it out:


To me, it seems that the biggest ideological rift is around whether taking care of the individual is in the best interests of society (Right Wing), or whether taking care of the society is in the best interests of the individual (Left Wing).

To be continued.

Rolling Alpha posts opinions on finance, economics, and the corporate life in general. Follow me on Twitter @RollingAlpha, and on Facebook at