Kyle Thompson's Reviews > Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

Capitalism by Ayn Rand
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Jul 04, 12

Read in March, 2012

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 laissez-faire capitalism, Smith preached only "free-trade" capitalism. Rand wanted no laws, rules, regulations hindering the free market, while Smith seemed to want a few; not too many, though.

Rand stated in this book throughout, that the reason why Capitalism is "Unknown" and never really fully was, is because it has lacked a philosophical/moral reasoning and justification for it. Rand believed that you cannot rely on the economic arguments for capitalism, as that is not sufficient. The real justification lies in the philosophical realm and that no one was presenting it properly to the masses. She says that (circa 1960's) Conservatives were worse than the liberals, as they had every opportunity to defend capitalism to the fullest extent, but never did. They just allowed the liberals to run all over their presentation, and they constantly backed down in fear.

There are many other articles in this book written by Nathaniel Branden, Alan Greenspan, and Robert Hessen- all of which are very good, and go well with the overall narrative/idea. This book answered a lot of the questions that I had, and which are still being debated and talked about today, i.e., monopolies, big business, corporations, small businesses, anti trust, child labor, unions, minimum wage, gold standard et. al. It is very comprehensive I must say; but it is also easily understandable and well presented. Rand and her ideas like to K.I.S.S.

I read "The Virtue of Selfishness" before this, and it fits very nicely into the moral and philosophical framework of "Capitalism", you must know those justifications before you can begin to understand her reasoning on anything else. I am now going to read Rand's "Philosophy: Who Needs It?"
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