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Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
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Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  2,527 ratings  ·  108 reviews
The foundations of capitalism are being battered by a flood of altruism, which is the cause of the modern world's collapse. This is the view of Ayn Rand, a view so radically opposed to prevailing attitudes that it constitutes a major philosophic revolution. In this series of essays, she presents her stand on the persecution of big business, the causes of war, the default o...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published July 15th 1986 by Signet Book (first published 1966)
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Do I hate the "philosophical" works of Ayn Rand because I disagree with her, or because they're atrociously written? Both.

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal is below book review. It demands a an even more vulgar form of critique: a list of failures.

- Every sentence that contains the word welfare also contains the word Fascist.

- She posits that the most oppressed people in the United States are not women, blacks, gays, but-wait for it-rich businessmen (emphasis on "men"). At last a voice for the und...more
Funny to read a young Alan Greenspan's arguments for eliminating the federal reserve and returning to the gold standard.
What a book! If the Obama administration would read and heed-- Wow, would we ever have an awesome revival of financial abundance and most importantly, FREEDOM, in our country! Ms. Rand is absolutely brilliant.

I was especially cheering her on with her ideas of privatizing education. The government has no business being in the business or regulation of education.

I didn't agree with everything she said, and I cringed at some of her descriptions of "savages". Nor do I agree with her that capitalism...more
Kelly Murray
This is the cherry that tops the Ayn Rand sundae I've been consuming for the past 2 1/2 years. Capitalism really is an unknown ideal, and it's a shame that it was never given an honest chance to fully manifest. What we have now is nowhere near capitalism- we're on a downward slippery slope to socialism...which I'm dreading more with each passing law. She had it right all along. I find it amazing that someone could be so dead-on in predicting what the future would be like if we had kept going in...more
This book is a collection of essays on capitalism. While the book was published in 1986, some essays in the book were written as far back as the 60s. As a compendium of essays can do, without carefully selecting included content, some of the essays seem to stray from the main emphasis of the whole. This seemed to be the case especially in the essay about the Berkely demonstrations. While issues of capitalism were addressed, it didn't have the strong economics emphasis that most of the book had....more
Otto Lehto
Most infuriating, I was going to give it two stars, but the consistency and occasional flashes of brilliance forced me to recant and admit it: the book, despite (and because of) its author's frightful dogmatism, succeeds in driving home an ideological agenda masterfully.

I still think Virtue of Selfishness is the superior book (mostly because that one is shorter and less of a rant), but Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal is a worthy follow-up.

Now, I think all libertarians should steer clear of Rand's...more
I finally finished CAPITALISM: THE UNKNOWN IDEAL by Ayn Rand. I'd been struggling with it, because she writes with a precision and intensity on which my lazy reading style has difficulty focusing. Regardless, she nails it. I'll have to write a book about it sometime. I recommend it.

The first 3 chapters are particularly cogent on individual rights and economic freedom. From Chp. 1:

"Is man a sovereign individual who owns his person, his mind, his life, his work and its products—or is he the prope...more
When is this nonsense going to die its long overdue death? This books is a collection of misrepresentations, misunderstandings, straw man arguments, opinions, and conjecture. Some of her musings were never anything more than that, some were proven wrong by science or course of history, but bottom line, when you largely quote your own works of fiction as "proof" for your "theories", you're bound to be wrong at least some of the time. This book is wrong most of the time.
Greg Powers
Read it! Read it! Read it! If you want to know why capitalism works read this book! This should be a must read for any public official or anybody who intends to venture into an intellectual debate about the virtues of the various economic systems. This book was the first purely economic book I ever read and started my leg-tingling love affair with studying the free market.
I gave this two stars for two reasons, One for each star, 1. When looking more into what Rand says, her whole notion of life and people is flawed 2. Capitalism isn't a perfect idea as she claims it to be. I can blab on like she does and sell books too.
This book by novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, (author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead") is a treatise on the politico-economic branch of her philosophy of Objectivism. The arguments put forth provide the moral backing that capitalism has always lacked, and without which it is doomed to destruction.

The essays included cover a wide range of topics: from the necessity of an economy based on a gold standard, to the reason why a free nation cannot benefit from the initiation of a war, to...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Ayn Rand was once asked if she could present the essence of her philosophy while standing on one foot. She answered: Metaphysics: Objective Reality; Epistemology: Reason; Ethics: Self-interest; Politics: Capitalism. I first encountered Ayn Rand through her works of fiction as a young woman barely out of my teens. Back then I was already an atheist, one with a great belief in science and reason. There was nothing in her "metaphysics" or "epistemology" that I found the least bit surprising or cont...more
I would consider myself to be an objectivist in Ayn Rand's sense. Furthermore, I would have to preface this review with the qualification that if one is not familiar with objectivism then this book can (and has been) misconstrued. It is important to understand that free market capitalism is not the basis but an effect of the objectivist philosophy.

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal is a collection of essays by Rand, Alan Greenspan, and others. It addresses several questions that are often brought up...more
Kyle Thompson
I had just finished reading Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations" when I picked this up. I said in my review of Smith's "The Wealth of Nations", that it was the best economics book I had ever read, as it was simple, cogent, and articulate. But now having read Rand's "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" I feel I might have to take that back.

Rand's book is very easy to understand, just as Smith's was. But Rand's view on capitalism differs in some ways from Smith's. While Rand preached a complete laisse...more
Derek Peffer
Would I call it a good read (get it?Goodreads?). No...but had you given it to me with the express purpose to enlighten me into the political controversies of the 1960's onward. Not occluding our last political debate here in 2012 with its United States presidential election, I'd say Rand might well be a soothsayer. More likely though, a lot of stupid people read her work and in very dark terms, "put into production, politically speaking". And oh boy did a philosophy manufacture! I remember one i...more
Michael Connolly
Great title. Ayn Rand makes the point that it is not fair to compare the reality of capitalism, with all of its faults, to a utopian socialist ideal, which socialism's proponents claim has never been tried. Either we should compare the reality of capitalism in the U.S.A. to the reality of socialism in the Soviet Union, or we should compare the capitalist ideal to the socialist ideal. Capitalism in the United States is far from the utopian ideal that Rand envisions, for two reasons. The first rea...more
Kyle Pratt
Capitalism, by Ayn Rand, is a collection of 26 essays that discuss more than what the title would lead you to believe. Most articles were written by Rand, while a few were penned by others including a much younger Alan Greenspan. Rand opens the book with a chapter called "What is Capitalism." Greenspan writes on antitrust law and gold. Economics is rarely exciting, but the authors manage to make in interesting.

One editorial review posted on the page for Capitalism states that the book...more
A collection of essays written mostly by Ayn Rand, this book did a good job of getting out the over all message of Individual Rights superseding the collective.

Some of the most interesting bits I found were the parallels between the arguments taking place circa the mid- to late-1960's and today; we seem to still be facing all of the arguments coming out of D.C. now that we were then. Things like the false dichotomies of "whether government should do X or Y", when the question needs to be, "shoul...more
Jun 28, 2011 Matt rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matt by: Jenny
The immorality of altruism...Conventional wisdom has always seemed to say that capitalism is a cut-throat system that rewards selfishness and materialism, leaving most of society out in the cold. Collectivism, on the other hand, is a fair and thoughtful system that provides for society as a whole. I had heard plenty about Ayn Rand over the years, but haven't read any of her books until now. Her contribution to the defense of capitalism is huge as I have never heard such well formed arguments. Ra...more
dead letter office
her nonfiction is better than her fiction, in that she doesn't feel compelled to construct anything resembling a "plot" (not her strong suit), and she restrains some of her impulses toward soaring, melodramatic rhetoric since she can't dump it off on some character. (she does manage to find a way around this by REPEATEDLY quoting her own fiction to back up her nonfictional points, which i think is an inversion peculiarly ayn randian in its egocentricity.)

free market capitalism is her religion (s...more
- In 1967 I began undergraduate studies in the College of Letters and Science at the University of Wisconsin. Within a year I had chosen Economics as my major and embarked on a path to fulfill the requirements of that degree. Shortly before, I had discovered the works of Ayn Rand and this volume, which was first published in 1966, joined with volumes of Hayek, Friedman and Mises as part of my auxiliary reading in the economics of capitalism. I say auxiliary because, except in the history of econ...more
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal was a(nother) really thought-provoking book from the ever subtle Ayn Rand (she is not subtle). At the very least, she is quite consistent (and adamant). Despite managing to quote herself more than any other source, she takes the time to highlight numerous articles from her "Scrapbook of Evil" in order to intellectually disembowel the woeful authors. It is stimulating reading. Seriously. Especially if you enjoy mind-bendingly complicated sentence structure. And tirad...more
This is a great book! It masterfully explains why capitalism is the best system for freedom and progress, and why individual rights are more important than 'the collective good'. Although it was written more than fifty years ago, it presents the exact issues we are dealing with today, from minimum wage increases to ideas of 'fairness' and 'equality'. It is a great, great book, the first thing I've ever read from Ayn Rand. She was absolutely right on.
Pratik Patnaik
Technically the rating should have been 3 on 5, but I rated it 4 because of the sheer importance of this work. One of the best collection of essays on Capitalism. Ayn Rand is brilliant but importantly the other essays are also very good. Mind you, it's not an easy read, but if you like the subject, there is no other better book which I can suggest.
Christopher Hall
Very very interesting. I should really write a little review, but then you would be stealing my hard work, which you have not earned yourself, which would make me your slave. So instead I will just say that you should read the 1st half of this book because it is thought provoking and very relevant in today’s economic environment, despite being nearly 40 years old.
I’m enjoying reading these collections of essays by Ayn Rand and her pals on the philosophy of individual rights. This volume showed how the preservation of individual rights is closely related to the economic theory of capitalism. I was also interested in the appendix about her views on the nature of government.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: "No thought, knowledge, or consistency is required in order to destroy; unremitting thought, enormous knowledge, and a ruthless consistency are required in order to achi...more
Jesse Crockett
Let him with something have everything, and him with nothing have less than nothing. If you love this logic, then you would really like this book, which isn't so much philosophy as agenda, manifesto, something that tells you what to believe, what to think, what to feel, and how to react.
In this collection of essays by Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden, Alan Greenspan, and Robert Hessen, one finds the Objectivist views on capitalism, conservatism, war, and altruism.

It is a cogent and well-argued defence of capitalism in the Randian sense and therefore will (as all of her works) be polarising. Yet her arguments are logical. But yet it is her dogmatism and unwavering belief in her definitions of altruism and capitalism that prove difficult to read. There are many critiques of Objectivi...more
I've been listening to the audio CDs during my commute to and from work an have been loving it!! Some of the CDs were quite scratched and a little hard to decipher at times so I am definitely going to have to buy a hardcopy of the book later down the line when I have space and a bigger living area. I would definitely like a good copy to have for life. While I definitely do not agree with Ayn Rand's belief of what exactly evil is, I think she's right on about almost everything else. I think she i...more
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  • Ominous Parallels
  • Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q & A
  • Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand's Ideas Can End Big Government
  • Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis
  • The God of the Machine
  • The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism
  • The Constitution of Liberty
  • The Ethics of Liberty
  • The Passion of Ayn Rand
  • Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and the Government Bailout Will Make Things Worse
  • Economic Sophisms
  • Free to Choose: A Personal Statement
  • The Failure of the New Economics
  • The Austrian Theory of the Trade Cycle and Other Essays
Alisa Rosenbaum was born in pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg to a prosperous Jewish family. When the Bolsheviks requisitioned the pharmacy owned by her father, Fronz, the Rosenbaums fled to the Crimea. Alisa returned to the city (renamed Leningrad) to attend the university, but in 1926 relatives who had already settled in America offered her the chance of joining them there. With money from the sa...more
More about Ayn Rand...
Atlas Shrugged The Fountainhead Anthem We the Living The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism

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“Since knowledge, thinking, and rational action are properties of the individual, since the choice to exercise his rational faculty or not depends on the individual, man’s survival requires that those who think be free of the interference of those who don’t. Since men are neither omniscient nor infallible, they must be free to agree or disagree, to cooperate or to pursue their own independent course, each according to his own rational judgment. Freedom is the fundamental requirement of man’s mind.

A rational mind does not work under compulsion; it does not subordinate its grasp of reality to anyone’s orders, directives, or controls; it does not sacrifice its knowledge, its view of the truth, to anyone’s opinions, threats, wishes, plans, or “welfare.” Such a mind may be hampered by others, it may be silenced, proscribed, imprisoned, or destroyed; it cannot be forced; a gun is not an argument. (An example and symbol of this attitude is Galileo.)

It is from the work and the inviolate integrity of such minds—from the intransigent innovators—that all of mankind’s knowledge and achievements have come. (See The Fountainhead.) It is to such minds that mankind owes its survival. (See Atlas Shrugged.)”
“This is said to civilized men who are to venture into countries where sacred cows are fed, while children are left to starve - where female infants are killed or abandoned by the roadside- where men go blind, medical help being forbidden by their religion - where women are mutilated, to insure their fidelity - where unspeakable tortures are ceremonially inflicted on prisoners - where cannibalism is practiced.
Are these the ‘cultural riches’ which a Western man is to greet with ‘brotherly love’? Are these the ‘valuable elements’ which he is to admire and adopt? Are these the ‘fields’ in which he is not to regard himself as superior? And when he discovers entire populations rotting alive in such conditions, is he not to acknowledge, with a burning stab of pride - of pride and gratitude - the achievements of his nation and his culture, of the men who created them and left him a nobler heritage to carry forward?”
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