Selfishness, as defined by Rand, is a play on words in order to hook people’s attention. It is a classic marketing trick. It assists her in marketing her ideas specifically because the word ‘selfish’ has negative connotations.
While she uses the word ‘selfishness’ the general idea is used by other writes as any one of: individualism, responsibility, enlightened self interest, or pragmatic self interest.
The purpose of the idea of self interest is epistemic: you can’t KNOW enough to work for other people’s interest in a division of knowledge and labor. In a division of knowledge and labor, you can’t KNOW very much. We’re necessarily ignorant. Our view of the world is very limited. It’s simply a proscription for ‘think globally, act locally’. So, self interest, or selfishness is simply a play on words for the purpose of making us look at individual responsibility inversely – as taking care of others by taking care of ourselves, rather than as the duty that we have to one another to take care of ourselves.
Rand was trying very hard to market individualism and freedom during a period of socialist expansion, when there was rampant false attribution of success to the soviet model by western sycophantic pseudo intellectuals – the soviet model that had destroyed her family. So she is making a play on words to hook your attention.
There is nothing in rand that is not, at least in implication, in Adam Smith or Frederic Bastiat.
Hayek tries to remind us that the source of freedom that we know as Classical Liberalism was a product of the English empirical pursuit of science, and the analysis of data that had accumulated by the 18th century, as the middle class grew in size. But that at the same time, the French were pursuing the concept of freedom as a REACTION to the english, by RATIONAL or verbal reasoning, rather than by data – the germanic protestant versus latin catholic approach to life shows up everywhere.
These rational arguments are moral arguments. Moral arguments are by definition specious. But they are easier to digest by the common person, and easier to manipulate by politicians.
In large part, the language of freedom was distributed by translation that were made from french literature using the french interpretation in rational terms of english empirical principles and reasoning. So the language we use today to discuss freedom has become the rational of the french, rather than the empirical of the english. This french rationalism is where marx obtained the foundation of socialism and communism.