Everything Rand wrote about economics, politics and social theory assumes an economy of scarcity. She assumes a second-wave, industrial civilization. Her followers seem to take this premise for granted as well. Given this premise, all subsequent social reasoning and conclusions focus on exclusive property rights, how to achieve and apply just principles for establishing them, money, and the industrial social organization. But we are already in the process of transcending that kind of society, heading into a third-wave, post-industrial era. In the not too distant future, we can already see a glimmer of an abundant society.
There have been some cultural anthropological studies comparing social groups living in abundance - the international jet set, indigenous native tribes of pleasant climates, and the Open Source community where hackers produce software without any economical need to do so. These different social groups show some remarkable similarities. Productivity, respect, reputation and status are still important in these groups - and the means to achieve them is to give things away. The more you can produce and give away, the more you establish yourself as an abundant producer and boundless creator. This is radically different from the frugality and preoccupation with exclusive property rights associated with industrial second-wave civilization. One way to understand this difference, is to think of it as a trade involving immaterial currency. There is material abundance on the personal and consumer-related levels, since everyone can have their nanomachines produce whatever they want. Instantly and endlessly reproducible material objects and resources have no market value or function as they would in a scarcity economy. What does have value? Recognition of one's virtues, skills and achievements. That is the currency of post-industrial civilization. Such recognition is "scarce" because it must be earned, therefore it becomes the currency in a materially abundant culture.
Much of today's ideological and cultural conflicts can be seen as a conflict between two incompatible currency systems: the traditional industrial, material currency system, and the emerging post-industrial immaterial currency system. The conflict between these two systems will continue to grow deeper (until we leap-frog into abundance), and it is already a more important and fundamental societal conflict than the traditional left-right or socialist-conservative conflict which belongs within the industrial paradigm. Everyone who claims allegiance to progress and the future should embrace the emergent post-industrial paradigm, and promote choices, practices and policies that will further and hasten its arrival. This includes stepping out of the industrial paradigm and stop wasting time and energy on outdated concepts like left-wing and right-wing.
Many Objectivists claim a lost Golden Age, a static and ideal state the eclipse and decay of which, so reminiscent of the Christian concept of the Garden of Eden and Man's Fall, they seek to return to or recreate. For some it is the fifties. Or the 19th century. Or ancient Greece. I think this mindset is not only factually wrong (ignoring very real limitations and bad aspects of those periods), but wrong on principle as well. I like a lot about 2000 Earth culture. There's a lot I don't like, or even hate, and want to change. But I wouldn't trade this period for any previous period in human history. The Golden Age is now. This is what the idea of progress really means. (THE CULTURE AS AN IDEAL SOCIETY, a "Premises of Post-Objectivism" essay)