Tribune Papers (Asheville, NC)
In the early pages, I felt as if I was reading Atlas Shrugged without the love scenes. The so-called absurdities of power run-amok were not Rand’s inventions, but merely a fictitious portrayal of history repeating itself.
Rand expects her heroes to live by the same moral code in business as they do in their personal lives, so Dagny’s statement is clearly intended to be a general principle. She takes it for granted that in a capitalist utopia, every trade would benefit both parties. The reason she believes this is that in her worldview, it’s only the government, or some other illegitimate source of coercive power like a nagging wife, which can force a person to make a trade that disadvantages them. If there were no coercion and people were free to choose, then trades that weren’t mutually beneficial wouldn’t be made, and we’d all be better off.
This assertion showcases Ayn Rand’s almost childlike naivete about how her theories would play out in practice. Eliminating government as she wants wouldn’t decrease coercion at all. In fact, it would increase it.