I agree with Objectivism on many points, mostly pertaining to industry, but my conclusions, existentially, differ. I'd like to share some of their fine points.
1)If Rand were to ask me what my premise was, I'd say "the individual, their agency and their pursuit of happiness". In my Venn diagram of life the individual is compromised of two means of perception, the initial (the individual), and the external, which subdivides into three categories: one's perception by their society minor (whatever societies they place personal investment in, family, friends, etc.), one's perception by their society major (their community, state, province or nation) and the last by the universe (nature, essentially). While every living being is born and dies alone, nobody is, by dint of human context, an island. Sorry, Ayn, you need us as much as we need you: if nothing else for context. There is no human race without human beings: but, and this is where Marx went off the rails (if his Manifesto is *any* indication), each human is and should be held accountable as a responsible agent; inasmuch as their mental and physical facilities permit.
2)My list of priorities are as follows: Myself and my loved ones, and everything else. My lover, were I so inclined, would fall into the first category. Whether or not my immediate concerns take precedence depends on my loved ones and their virtues. Rand is correct when she says love should never be unconditional. It should always be based on virtue: if you're a dick, I have no reason to unconditionally love you, save for a lack of self esteem.
If anyone tries to inject any Jewish carpenters into this conversation, they'd better stop before they start: there is nothing charming about a father allowing his son to be tortured and murdered in the name of preserving a creature his father designed to worship him. This is a despicable premise by any stretch and no amount of snugly sophistry can negate its nefarious plot. The ultimate symbol of charity is based on a perversely flawed logic, stemming from an unverifiable hypothesis.
There is no such thing as selflessness, because every decision is motivated by self-awareness and free will. What someone means when they say someone's being "selfless" is they're prioritizing the preservation of a self-determined principle or virtue over their immediate physical or emotional wellbeing. If I, for instance, push a child out of the way of a runaway truck, I'm not doing it because I'm "selfless": I'm doing it because, to me, my love of that person and their life, and what it represents to me, is worth more than my immediate love of my body. I'm still doing something out of self-interest, the self-interest, however, is motivated by something existential more than temporal. Children are precious, and the whole point anyone exists. Their life, in this case, is more important than my own. Moreover, anyone in that instance is an innocent, because i presume all people innocent until proven guilty: so, of course, I'm going to spare an innocent from an unjust death I can circumvent. My self-interest hasn't vanished, it's merely more sophisticated than concerns only of the body. My belief in the presumption of innocence before guilt takes precedent, my belief that no innocent should die unjustly takes precedent; my love of children and belief everyone who can observe and enjoy it deserves a lifetime takes precedent; my love of humanity as a human being takes precedent. At no part am I acting selflessly, my fingerprints are all over this decision.
For anyone about to quote the Biblical definition of charity or love, please save yourself some time: a definition of a word in a work of fiction is not an argument. An argument is an argument. So long as my frontal lobe is in intact, my individuality, personality and capacity to reason right from wrong means I am self-motivated, thus self-interested, in everything I do and say. There is no such thing as an absence of self, except a complete absence of self: which is cognitive oblivion. I either think, reason and act based on my own wants and needs or I don't think, reason or act at all. There is no middle ground.
3)I have often heard it said, 'It's better to give than to receive.'
Well, speaking as someone who's done both, the correct answer is, 'Yes, but it's best to earn.' And everyone should earn their keep: no one's "need" supersedes their responsibility, as an individual agent, to achieve by their own merits; because what constitutes a "need" is subjective, what is not is one's capacity to physically create or sell goods and services: because that capacity is dictated by values determined in a free market. A free market where private parties collaborate in the pursuit of separate and mutual self interest. As Adam Smith so summarized, capitalism works like this: "Give me that which I want, and I will give you that which you want." Want, not need, is the motivation in any buy, and money is the currency of an industrialist's virtue; when their merits are not compromised by theft or fraud.
To clarify, yes, "need" might be one's ultimate goal, but any buyer in need obviously wants something; and their wants, not their needs, should be the foremost concern of their private partners. In business, the professional should remain professional and the personal should remain personal. If you're a giving soul, that's wonderful: be charitable on your own time, in private. When you're conducting business the mantra should be "profits, profits, profits", because it's economically nonsensical to allow anyone to professionally benefit at your expense. Anything less and capitalism ceases to be a meritocracy. Irrespective of how well off you are, there are consequences incalculable to patronizing mediocrity and incompetence. Especially if your economy consists of more than just yourself. For instance, you might think you're being charitable giving your idiot cousin a break by giving him or her a desk job, but you're certainly not doing your employees or your customers any favors; and their personal interests are what enable your soft and tender heart in the first place. Keep business business and let charity be charity: never commingle the two.