Readers of Atlas Shrugged are struck by the moral fire of
Ayn Rand’s defense of business and capitalism. She does not merely
regard capitalism as a practical means to some “common good,” but as a
profoundly moral social system. It is, she wrote, “the only system geared to
the life of a rational being.”
In Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, which Ayn Rand called “a
nonfiction footnote to Atlas Shrugged,” she and others explain
the social system that has “never been properly understood and defended—and
whose very existence has been denied.” That system is laissez-faire
capitalism: a social system in which the government is exclusively devoted to
the protection of individual rights, including property rights, and therefore
in which there exists absolutely no government intervention in the economy.
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal is not a treatise on the economics
of capitalism, but a collection of essays on the philosophy of capitalism: the
basic truths and
principles that make capitalism the only moral and practical
social system—the only system consistent with man’s nature and the
requirements of his life—the only one that enables each individual to reach
his full, glorious potential.
Capitalism features Ayn Rand’s landmark essay “What Is
Capitalism?” in which she explains the view of
metaphysics, and human nature that is necessary for a proper understanding and
defense of capitalism.
In other essays, Rand explains how the principles of individual rights and
laissez-faire can resolve such issues as the nature of patents and copyrights
and the property status of airwaves.
Other essays in the book address the true history and functioning of
capitalism, demolishing many widespread myths about it. Among the issues
covered are explanations of why capitalism is the key to peace, and statism,
the cause of war—how depressions are caused by government intervention—how
capitalism put an end to child labor—and why capitalism doesn’t lead to
Finally, Capitalism features several essays by Rand, in which she
analyzes the conflict between capitalism and statism in the political
developments of the 20th century. While many of the news events she
analyzes (such as the 1964 Republican convention) are mostly forgotten, her
penetrating analysis gives insights and teaches lessons about
conservatives and liberals,
domestic policy and foreign policy that remain relevant to this day.
Just a few of her insights are: how America’s moral appeasement of the
United Nations diminishes our reputation and undermines our interests—how liberals
succeed at smearing capitalism as “extremist”—why conservatives fail to
defend capitalism—why antitrust laws are profoundly unjust—why a political
ideology is necessary and why its opposite, the seeking of political
“consensus,” is destructive.
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal is must-reading for anyone who wants
to understand capitalism and discover Ayn Rand’s ground-breaking
political philosophy and moral defense of laissez-faire.
—Purchase Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal at the Ayn Rand Bookstore.