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In the interest of finding out just what opponents say instead of just taking it on faith I went out about two months ago and bought a couple cheap Ayn Rand books, specifically "For the New Intellectuals" and "The Virtue of Selfishness", both of which are collections of essays plus extracts from her fiction work, with the much celebrated speeches given by her characters included.
I was prepared for her to be extraordinarily pro-capitalism, with some anti-Soviet stuff mixed in, but what shocked me was that her writings aren't for capitalism in a Libertarian sense but in a sense that goes into the territory of social darwinism and fascism. Libertarians, right libertarians , like those associated with the magazine "Liberty" can be interesting when they're talking about social issues that don't directly have to do with economics, and sometimes interesting in criticizing government waste. They usually don't veer into far right wing territory except in economic issues.
Ayn Rand's philosophy is based on creative people and their rights. She starts out "The Virtue of Selfishness" on a good note by suggesting that doing acts that people in society consider selfish in the sense of personal gratification and self advancement are actually positive. This can be very true in certain respects. But then she goes on to outline her theory of productive individuals, saying that people who do something to advance the world materially and culturally should be allowed to do whatever they want, should really be in charge of society, and should be able to keep whatever comes to them with no sense of greater societal obligation whatsoever. By productive people who contribute to material advancement she means people who do some sort of competitive innovation, in this case businessmen, bankers, inventors, engineers, her famous architects. Productive people and productive work conspicuously and explicitly excludes workers. Her societal ideal is based on the world being about individual survival, with the competitive capitalist business world being a modern incarnation of survival of the fittest. Since corporations make stuff and sell stuff in the market, and therefore have satisfaction of some sort theoretically as their standard of success and failure, this selfishness has positive social implications, meaning that forgetting about social responsibility in her view doesn't lead to absolutely nothing. Of course she's right, it leads to just a little bit above nothing.
The language of "Productive Work", which is the phrase she uses, combined with her characterization of workers as being lazy and stupid, with no initiative and ready to suck the life blood out of the worthwhile individuals of the community through strikes and legislation for social benefits recalls both fascist and racist theories about the same. According to the racist theorist the Count Gobineau white people are the creators of civilization, asians are uncreative and just capable of sustaining civilization, and blacks and others are the destroyers of civilization, people who are constitutionally inferior and will never be equal to white people in their capabilities. It's easy to see racial parallels with her theory of productive and unproductive work, and with the notion of the Slavic Soviets as taking property away from people because they were lazy, greedy, and incapable of creating that which they took. Gobineau was translated by Hitler into an anti-semitic form, with the caricature of the banker Jew getting fat off of society while contributing nothing creative or productive to it. Rand, for her part, included bankers as productive workers and seems only to have been racist to blacks in Africa, who she describes in "For the new intellectuals" as being exploited by "Witch doctors" and living in a world of superstition. Capitalists in her scheme don't necessarily belong to any race, which means she buys into something like the idea of a "natural aristocracy" that Thomas Jefferson, in one of his less equalitarian moments, described.
The creative people should be allowed to rise to the top and should prevent the Üntermenschen from instituting Statist programs and legislation that would restrain them, because these would sabotage the progress of society itself, leading to a sort of stagnation as the stupid, uncreative, workers take over. The collectivist ethic, as she calls it, must be resisted, as well as the influence of religious authority and, interestingly enough, pure warrior force. So she isn't a total social darwinist then, Genghis Khan wouldn't be welcome. But then racist apologists for Hitler contrasted his version of a strong man with that of Genghis Khan by saying that he represented civilization against degeneration. I'm thinking of Savitri Devi here. I digress though.
To kind of summarize I'll let Ms. Rand explain some of her thought via Atlas Shrugged. The idea behind Atlas Shrugged is that Rand's beloved creative and productive class goes on strike, these Atlases who are thought to hold up society, shrugging and letting society fall into disrepair, as the blacks take over. Whoops, she doesn't say that last part, that was Birth of a Nation, where the white slave masters are prohibited from exercising their authority over blacks anymore.
In any case, here she is on socialized medicine:
"That a doctor should have any right, desire or choice in the matter was regarded as irrelevant selfishness; his is not to choose, they said, only 'to serve.' That a man who's willing to work under compulsion is too dangerous a brute to entrust with a job in the stockyards--never occurred to those who proposed to help the sick by making life impossible for the healthy. I have often wondered at the smugness with which people assert their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, to violate my conscience, to stifle my mind--yet what is it that they expect to depend on, when they lie on an operating table under my hands? Their moral code has taught them to believe that it is safe to rely on the virtue of their victims. Well, that is the virtue I have withdrawn. Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce. Let them discover, in their operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man whose life they have throttled. It is not safe, if he is the sort of man who resents it--and still less safe, if he is the sort who doesn't."
The doctor in question has gone a strike with John Galt, but the meaning is clear: give us a six figure salary or we'll cut you in your sleep.
No more will the sickly victim class control the rights of doctors.
Heil bis die Sieg über die Sklaven! Hail the victory over the slaves.