Non-fiction 19 Feb 2005 16:53

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

coverCapitalism: The Unknown Ideal
Ayn Rand

The book is a collection of essays on capitalism and objectivism (Rand’s philosophical system); most of them are by Ayn Rand herself, but a few are contributed by Nathaniel Branden and Alan Greenspan (yes, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve).

Ayn’s intention with the book is to provide a moral and philosophical basis for capitalism (which, for her, means an economical system with private property, very limited government intervention and absolute respect for individual rights). Some of the essays are somewhat topical (the book was first published in the late 60s), dealing with the Vietnam war and the student protests in Berkeley. Still, in each essay, Rand’s ideas are explained and her ideology made clear; you don’t need to know the details of the events being discussed.

Most of all, what comes forward is her despair that capitalism is being overrun by socialist and fascist policies implemented by governments with no ideological views and accepted by populations too ignorant to realize that they’re giving up their freedom and rights in exchange for… nothing, really.

Rand’s capitalism seems to be as utopic as the “ideal” socialism preached by the left; still, her ideas are sound and worth thinking about. In today’s political climate, some of them are even more revolutionary than communist dreams. If you’ve read any of her other books (Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead etc.) you will recognize many of the same ideas in this one; it’s the same philosophy, this time in a non-fiction setting. Worth a read.

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