Reposted from LitHub
Many would be surprised to learn that classic Russian literature offers special insight into the ongoing American economic crisis. In a very real way, this crisis derives from a “defunct economist,” a man who is all but forgotten today, especially outside Russian borders. Nikolai Chernyshevsky (1828-89) was one of the great destructive influences of the past two centuries. His philosophy of “rational egoism,” as he presented it in his history-shaping novel WhatIsto Be Done? Some Stories about the New People (1863), would later become the foundation of Ayn Rand’s objectivism. At first glance this is surprising since Chernyshevsky is Russia’s great native socialist and Rand our very own arch-capitalist: it would seem that there must be a flaw either in the logic of rational egoism or in the logic of objectivism—or in both.