Noumenalself makes some good points in his second post on Tracinski’s series.
Tracinski is impressed that in the field of economics there are a few people such as Julian Simon and Manmohan Singh who got it right and changed the world for the better, and they acted in today’s culture with its bad philosophy.
How do we explain their achievement? I would say man has free will and some individuals can think about reality first-hand and get it right. These remarkable individuals are the exceptions in our bad culture that prove the rule.
It is true that many people do good work every day and even advance civilization. Remember, it is impossible to be consistently anti-life without immediately committing suicide. Every breath is taken on an implicit pro-life premise. So irrational philosophies are inconsistent and contradictory. In assessing a culture’s philosophical trend, one has to make sure to understand what is fundamental and what is a contradiction. The fact that religious people continue to live on earth and enjoy the modern world instead of locking themselves in medieval-like cells does not make their philosophy any better. (The more consistently religious our culture becomes, then the more we will see people actually becoming monks and hermits and renouncing the pleasures of this world.)
We are grateful for the contradictions among those who hold irrational philosophies; their lack of seriousness buys us time for a rational philosophy to spread.
The world is still, as Ayn Rand put it, perishing in an orgy of self-sacrifice. Only the spread of a philosophy of reality, reason and rational self-interest will turn around the downward course of civilization.