Optimism, Joy, Hope, Capitalism, and Christmas Cards

by Henry L. on November 8, 2007

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Well I just need to move right on with my business here and complete the work of another blog posting. I need a little pick-me-up-optimism after that last post. So, where do I see optimism, joy, and hope? I see it everywhere in life and in business and especially in capitalism. Our great American corporate culture of business innovation, capital markets, and public investment is inspirational when you look at it all with the right perspective. Oddly enough, a place where I draw great strength and optimism a lot lately has been in the news. I haven’t read much of the coverage. I haven’t really been taking journalism too seriously for the past few years. But, it was hard not to notice the Wall Street Journal article touting business men and women drawing strength and rationalization for corporate behavior from Ayn Rand’s writings. Yes, I gather strength and a certain rationalization from her writings. Especially the approximately 32 page long section of Ayn Rand’s book, The Fountainhead, which I sometimes reference to business colleagues. I find it immeasurably helpful in business, in life, and in corporate affairs at my Christmas Card company. I will attempt to paraphrase it ever so briefly and concisely:

The protagonist, architect corporate businessman Howard Roark, is wary of business clients and their inflated corporate egos. He is feeling a bit beaten down and comes to a turning point in his career and his profession. He, if I recall correctly, is depressed. He is feeling downtrodden and oppressed by the amazing business world and corporate achievements of the “world” represented in towering glass and steel buildings. He gazes skyward and wonders how and where he will make his impression on this world. He feels a futility as he is gazing upwards at the towering structures of corporate America. What business does he have thinking he could ever be in the company of the great architects and working men that had labored to create the amazing skyscrapers he stood beneath? Towering structures of steel and glass loom over him, belittling him. But then, suddenly, revelation comes to Howard. His perspective shifts his paradigm of the world, its businesses, corporations, and monument changes. He is enlightened. He suddenly sees all of mans’ accomplishments as a legacy, as a communal continuum of excellence and achievement. He sees his work in a new light. His legacy is to add to the amazing achievement in whatever small way. His perspective is shifted from one of jealously, belittlement, and comparison of his to theirs to a perspective of inclusion, ownership, and pride in their accomplishments as his and ours. He suddenly gains a beautiful appreciation and admiration instead of an oppressed feeling of smallness and irrelevance.

Ayn Rand’s writings have long been misinterpreted bent and twisted. In fact, back in her day she was accused of being a socialist. Her theories of “Objectivism” do have a twinge of communal versus individual. But there is real power in these pages I refer to in The Fountainhead. I will make it my business when I get off of this airplane to find the passage and update this post. I will have to make it my business to reread that section. I wonder how accurate my recollection is? I wonder what the law is about copywrite? If I want to contact the company that published this book will the Corporation’s lawyers let me post an excerpt? I’d think it would help their business to let people like me tout passages in this manner? I wonder if all of the publishing companies “company lawyers” react the same way?

I think I might have to make it my business to write some more about Ayn Rand and do more justice to her beliefs and how they fit in the company of Corporate America and Capitalism. It’s a topic I enjoy and I think you might want to make it your business to come back and read some more and share your opinions and comments with me.

Until next time,
A much cheerier traveling guy

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