Ayn Rand and Altruism
The objectivist idea that man exists solely as himself and has no rational orientation toward his species or toward the planet is not consistent with reality. If man was that and solely that, then it would not be fulfilling for people to be of assistance to others. And yet some of the most fulfilling work that I've done (and I've worked in a variety of capacities, including some highly paying ones) was charity work. And there are any number of other people who find joy in doing work that helps others or that benefits - their country, their species, their planet, the people they care about and even the people from whom they have nothing to expect in return; many of whom are much more dedicated to such things than I am.
In recent research it has been found that bonobos operate according to the game theory. Game theory seeks to maximize the benefit of each party involved and of the whole situation. Recent studies have also shown that there is a gene for altruism. If universe is rational and man has evolved, then there is a reason for these adaptations, and the reason is as follows: They help the species to survive.
Any number of major contributors, including to what business has now to sell, were driven not by self-interest but by species-interest or life-interest. Most scientists don't get paid very much for the effort and education it takes them to get there, and yet their work is foundational to both technology and psychology; which means that their work is foundational to what business sells and to how it sells it. Making altruism a dirty word was the worst aspect of Ayn Rand's philosophy. Vast things are owed to altruists, including much of what business has; and it's important from time to time to remind people of that.
Clearly there was valuable thought in Ayn Rand, and her support for genius, passion, individuality and prosperity was a great intellectual accomplishment. However there are any number of ideas that she had that one can do well enough without. Altruism can be a rational, even an enjoyable, pursuit; and to damn it as she did was a great disfavor done to the people and places that stood to be influenced by her work.
A more rational understanding of people would be one that recognizes the existence not solely of man as himself, but also as a part of the species and as a part of life, and recognizes the implications of this: Namely that man would have orienation toward his self, toward his species and toward life. It is just as rational - and just as natural - for people to seek the well-being of their species and of the planet on which they live as it is for them to pursue monetary self-interest. So that while Ayn Rand was right to affirm self-interest, she was wrong to deny the rest of the human makeup. And it is an error that has had a disastrous effect everywhere that it has been applied.