Rand vs Richard Dawkins

One difference between Ayn Rand’s selfishness economics and Richard Dawkins’ selfish gene economics is Dawkins’ open acknowledgment of cannibalism.

Dawkins says, “We might suppose intuitively that the runt himself should go on struggling to the last, but the theory does not necessarily predict this… he should give up and preferably let himself be eaten by his litter-mates or his parents.[1]” “Indeed it may pay (the mother) to feed (the runt) to his brothers and sisters, or to eat him herself, and use him to make milk.[2]

As Dawkins points out, the logical extension of the selfish gene theory is cannibalism; therefore, application of the selfish gene theory to economics would result in an economic system we could call cannibalistic.

For example, the fad economic concept of “lions and gazelles” has a cannibalistic subtext. Supposedly, some among us in the market place are “gazelles” being chased by others of us who are “lions”. In the fable as promulgated by Thomas Friedman, the daily result is infinitely faster lions chasing infinitely faster gazelles[3]. In the version as expressed by Dennis Miller[4], gazelles are eaten by lions.

Abstracting people into make-believe animals is not as horrifying as saying that some people, calling themselves lions, prey on their own kind causing death, starvation and deprivation through economic ruin.

Rand says: “No man or group may initiate the use of force against others.[5]” Rand gives a clear injunction against coercive violence in business dealings. Her injunction by extension prohibits predatory cannibalism. Her invective against leeches, moochers and parasites in altruistic economic systems are anti-cannibal. She calls altruism moral cannibalism, and it seems to be an insult[6].

However, Rand’s restriction of the government to retaliatory action in her laissez-faire system[7] would mean there would be no regulatory monitoring to ensure consent or prevent deception.  She is against any “laws to protect the weak, the uninformed, the unsuspecting and the gullible” (pg. 183,  Philosophy: Who needs it) from the predatory among us.


[1] The selfish gene pg 140

[2]The Selfish Gene, pg. 134

[3] Lexus and Olive Tree, what page?

[4] on You Tube

[5] What is capitalism pg 19

[6] The objectivist ethics, pg 30, The Virtue of Selfishness

[7] What is capitalism pg 19