Laissez-faire capitalism, according to Ayn Rand, is not just an ideal but an unknown ideal. Few grasp its meaning, history, economics, or moral justification. In Capitalism, Rand sets out to remedy that.
Rand argues that capitalism is “a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.” In practice, this means that a capitalist society is one in which the government performs a single function: it protects individual rights by banning “physical force from human relationships.”
Pure capitalism, she concludes, has never existed: but in the countries that approached it, with America in the second half of the nineteenth century leading the way, the individual was able to flourish. This is because capitalism is the only system that fully recognizes that man is the rational being who “has the right to exist for his own sake,” free from coercion by others.