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Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  3,296 Ratings  ·  149 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
Kelly Murray
Mar 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Sep 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny to read a young Alan Greenspan's arguments for eliminating the federal reserve and returning to the gold standard.
Andrej Drapal
Do I admire the philosophical works of Ayn Rand because I agree with her, or because they're precisely written? Both.

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal is above book review. It demands a higher level of evaluations: a list of absolutes.

- Every sentence that contains the word welfare also contains the word Fascists - so true.

- She posits that the most oppressed people in the United States are not women, blacks, gays, but entrepreneurs. The sad truth lies in the fact, that US are but one example of suc
Ayn Rand #1 for me. I chose this book instead of Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead, because this is a subject that I'm vaguely aware of. Rand attacks every economic system other than capitalism. This is by no means an economics treatise. She acknowledges the need for a free-market(no intervention from Govt), why businessmen are the scapegoats for any market failure.

Capitalism is the only economic system which protects the individual rights. The period 1814-1914 is the only century marked in hi
Ericka Clou
I did not give this 4 stars because I agree with most of it or even half of it. I gave it 4 stars because I do think she did a good job of conveying her ideas, and the essays made me think about my views and examine whether they were based on faulty assumptions. Also, I found this book much easier and more entertaining than other Rand books I've read.

Here are just a few issues I had with Rand's ideas. She seems to willfully ignore basic economic concepts such as the tragedy of the commons. ToC i
Feb 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 14, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 26, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Two words: Raving lunacy
P. H.
Oct 28, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
May 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Steve Hadfield
Although I'm not an 'objectivist', I did love this book. Rand does a great job of giving her philosophy in a compelling way, lots of examples and logical argumentation. I don't agree with her dismissing of faith, but her disagreement is with those using their faith to make illogical arguments concerning economics. I had to agree with her points. Too many jump on the socialism bandwagon that assuming that human nature is 'good' which is the only way for the idealistic view of socialism could ever ...more
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only novel by Ayn Rand I've read is Atlas Shrugged, which, quite frankly, I thought was atrocious. I was interested in the ideas Rand presents in it, but it just doesn't work as a novel, in my opinion. Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, which Ayn Rand says in the introduction "is a nonfiction footnote to Atlas Shrugged," is far more palatable, since it's just a collection of essays instead of a collection of essays under the guise of fiction.

I can't say I agree with everything written by Rand an
John Boettcher
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My copy of this book is so highlighted and written in that it is almost an entirely different book! One of the great defenses of TRUE capitalism, not the watered down version we have today, which politicians would like us to THINK is a free market.

Read it and you will see what I am talking about. Even if you HATE capitalism and think that the world is being run by giant, evil corporations and the only way to keep them in line is to have the government pull the reigns in, you should STILL read t
Jeremy Egerer
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I've ever read on capitalism, period. Easy to read, powerfully written, and unexpectedly profound, Rand covers everything from the introduction of statism into the American economy to crony capitalism to common myths about free markets and the inevitable results of bad philosophy on daily life. Absolutely worth sharing -- will make you wary of commies and leftists in general.
Michalis Rizos
Ayn Rand is proponent of natural rights classical liberalism, she names it "objectivism" because she liked being unique, arguing that capitalism and free markets are the only economic systems compatible with men's natural rights that derive not from God or from state but from man's nature. The last two articles on natural rights and on the proper role of government are exceptional. If you liked the book read also Nozick's Anarchy State and Utopia.

May 24, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Reading essays by Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan, et al isn't the most entertaining of reads, and was quite rough at times. I'd prefer to read the theories they have in novel form (Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, etc), though there were some essays that were scarily on-point regarding the current economic situation.
Greg Powers
Oct 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 11, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Read this only if: 1) you don't already know that capitalism is an ideal, 2) you really like to read lecture notes, or 3) you have a goal to read everything Ayn Rand ever read. Unfortunately, in my case, only #3 applied.
Nov 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Who owns your life? Ayn Rand’s answer to that question differs from every ruler, political and religious leader, and media personality in history. Her answer likely differs from yours. Her answer is that your whole life belongs to you alone.

From this foundational principle, Rand builds her philosophy and attacks all others. The firmness of her convictions yields a purity of thought that leaves no room for compromise. The implications of her answer are deep and vast.

But what’s the big deal; isn’
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a collection of essays by various authors (though mostly Rand) explaining why Capitalism (pure unrestricted Capitalism) is the only moral economic system in existence. It was published in the 1960’s and is strangely relevant today.

The authors rail on collectivism and the mixed economy. They attack the Sherman Act and criticize protesters in Berkeley. If an idea promotes, or an action results in force upon one person or group by another, the authors destroy the philosophical underpin
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a series of essays by Ayn Rand and others, including former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan. They were written mostly from 1962 to 1967.

Reading these in 2017 is interesting in that it illustrates that the arguments and issues (and even the names!) have not changed in the intervening 50 years. You will read about students at the University of California Berkeley using violence in the name of free speech to suppress speech with which they disagree and California Governo
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this about 4 years back. I feel this is an eye-opener for anyone who is totally oblivious to the idea of capitalism. The more you read the more clearer you become in understanding capitalism as not just a successful model for growth and prosperity but the only successful model among several other political science theories. Remember Ayan Rand is a Russian who migrated and settled in the United States like several other immigrants and her understanding of the country's political and econom ...more
Eunjun Choo
It's an economic perspective that succeeds her virtue of selfishness. It's Ayn Rand. Love her strong writing style, which although at times are brutal, it's still pretty effective in my opinion. I still prefer her virtue of selfishness over this, but still really enjoyed this collection of her essays along with Branden and even Greenspan's essays. Many of the old essays about the capitalism and the Fed are surprisingly still very relevant today. Although the 2008 crash may led many people to hav ...more
Nitin Sharma
Is Ayn Rand the best advocate of true capitalism? It seems so with her taking the philosophical route rather than defending it by diluting its fundamentals like others. It seems cold and unrealistic to follow her way in today's circumstances but that is not the failure of idea of capitalism. It is because of the mixed economy that capitalism takes blame for the socialism part. It is the truth. The only issue that i cant get my head around is if the right to education is ethical or not.
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
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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...
“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.)”
“Capitalism was the only system in history where wealth was not acquired by looting, but by production, not by force, but by trade, the only system that stood for man's right to his own mind, to his work, to his life, to his happiness, to himself.” 7 likes
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