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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique defence of freedom
This riveting compilation of 26 essays includes contributions by Alan Greenspan, Nathaniel Branden and Robert Hessen. It is primarily a treatise on the moral aspects of capitalism. The themes revolve around human nature and mankind’s relationship to existence. Capitalism is advocated because it is the only system compatible with the life of a rational being...
Published on 5 Nov 2005 by Pieter Uys

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great promise, moderate execution.
Ayn Rand's book on Capitalism presents itself as a philosophical alternative to "Das Kapital", it explains that Capitalism needs this "psycho-epistemological" viewpoint in order to provide would-be defenders of Capitalism with a basis to defend it. The book presents a fundamental "moral" basis of Capitalism in a self-assertive, powerful collection of essays which does...
Published on 25 April 2010 by Wordy


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique defence of freedom, 5 Nov 2005
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This riveting compilation of 26 essays includes contributions by Alan Greenspan, Nathaniel Branden and Robert Hessen. It is primarily a treatise on the moral aspects of capitalism. The themes revolve around human nature and mankind’s relationship to existence. Capitalism is advocated because it is the only system compatible with the life of a rational being.
Rand claims that the classical defenders and modern apologists of capitalism are by default responsible for undermining it. In her view, they are unwilling or unable to fight the battle on moral-philosophical grounds.
The essays provide a plethora of gripping insights and novel angles. Rand detests the idea of using altruism to defend capitalism. She proposes rationality instead, with a ruling principle of justice.
I do not necessarily agree with her on this but I enjoy Rand’s scathing criticism of conservatism’s perceived fallacies. Her vitriolic dissection of the 3 conservative strains is highly amusing! She identifies and attacks the Religious and the Traditionalists but really unleashes the sharp edge of her scorn on those who defend capitalism from the argument of mankind’s depravity.
In the essay Requiem For Man, she savages the encyclical Populorum Progressio by Pope Paul VI, in which she also rips apart the reactions to it by publications like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine.
The book consists of two parts. The first is Theory And History, which includes essays on inter alia war, the persecution of big business, antitrust, gold and economic freedom, property status of the airwaves, and patents and copyrights.
Part two: Current State, includes essays on the anatomy of compromise, the art of smearing, rule by consensus as a form of fascism, and the student rebellion. The final two essays: Man’s Rights and The Nature Of Government, appear in the appendix.
Whatever the flaws in Rand’s Objectivist philosophy, this book remains a brilliant and unique defence of freedom and capitalism. Moreover, history has proved Rand a prescient thinker who was correct in many of her analyses.
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal ranks among the very best of her non-fiction works. It is highly engaging, thought-provoking and often quite amusing. The book concludes with an index and a bibliography listing titles by Henry Hazlitt, Isabel Paterson and Ludwig von Mises, amongst others.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing human-rights and economics together, 30 Mar 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (Signet Shakespeare) (Mass Market Paperback)
Ayn Rand's book is not about religious cultivism - usually the only argument that critics manage to articulate. It is about the missing ideological link between human rights (individual rights) and economics. This book should be regarded as food for thought - claiming that only a free economy can be part of a free society. This is true by definition but Rand is simply one of the few non-technical minds that put it to paper without equations. (That government intervention is restricting our wealth and personal freedom has been proven infinite times before.) Another striking feature is the non-scientific assumption about man's selfish altruism. It was only decades later that her non-scientific assumptions were actually confirmed by the major biologists of our time. It is true that many of her arguments skip scientific explanations - but she is never dangerously far off from our biological and economic understanding of humans. A must read for every open mind. A must read for those who believe in the possibility of doing good for themselves and others at the same time.
As a European - I know that 99% of all academics in Europe have never come even close to thinking about similiar ideas. That is restricitng their understanding of the US altogether...
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great promise, moderate execution., 25 April 2010
This review is from: Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (Signet Shakespeare) (Mass Market Paperback)
Ayn Rand's book on Capitalism presents itself as a philosophical alternative to "Das Kapital", it explains that Capitalism needs this "psycho-epistemological" viewpoint in order to provide would-be defenders of Capitalism with a basis to defend it. The book presents a fundamental "moral" basis of Capitalism in a self-assertive, powerful collection of essays which does brilliantly in some respects, yet fails to make a clear case for Capitalism.

I will quickly analyse why.

While you will find a well fought defence of Capitalism, especially in the first few chapters, which provide a brilliant beginning on "What is Capitalism" with a very concise and precise essay by Nathaniel Branden on "Common Fallacies of Capitalism", there exist a few critical flaws which prevent this book from being the one stop book for Capitalism as a theory.

First, the book divides itself into two parts, one relevant for the books purpose, the other not. While the first half on the "Theory and History" of Capitalism has the majority of its essays both well written and suited towards the purpose of defending Capitalism, the second half concerns itself with "Current events", which are set in the 1960's and fail to be convincing in the timeless manner a work like this should aspire to.
The latter essays drone on too long about New York times articles, speeches made by students and a document made by the Pope. Rather than rely on academic writing and an erudite approach to constructing an argument, we are treated with extremely irritating slang words (the childish repetition of "Blank Out" when Ayn Rand or her followers feel like they have found a critical gap in someone else's argument), petty elitist slurs, and *worst* of all, the belief that quoting John Galt from Atlas shrugged (a fiction novel) INCESSANTLY, is somehow a legitimate way of making an argument.

Presenting Capitalism as a theory (a theory which I endorse fully and passionately) requires not resorting to fiction as a substitute for scholarship, and presenting the argument from an intelligent *objective* perspective (ie: not have half the book set in the 1960's). All these things erode the foundation of a serious work, and cheapen the case made.

In conclusion, there is a great deal to this book that you can walk away with as useful, illuminating knowledge. It presents Capitalism from a necessarily different standpoint than is often taken by Capitalisms other defenders, and it enriches anyone who is interested in the subject. It falls short of being a stand-alone work on the defence of Capitalism however, and for the reasons above I would be hesitant to recommend it to anyone as a "read it front to back" book. If I did I would have to advise the reading of only certain chapters, for the fear that others may actually harm the case of Capitalism by the methods which Rand uses to defend it. Passion and force are attributes that helps Rand in this regard, coarse slurs and fiction quoting do not.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique defence of freedom, 5 Nov 2005
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This riveting compilation of 26 essays includes contributions by Alan Greenspan, Nathaniel Branden and Robert Hessen. It is primarily a treatise on the moral aspects of capitalism. The themes revolve around human nature and mankind’s relationship to existence. Capitalism is advocated because it is the only system compatible with the life of a rational being.
Rand claims that the classical defenders and modern apologists of capitalism are by default responsible for undermining it. In her view, they are unwilling or unable to fight the battle on moral-philosophical grounds.
The essays provide a plethora of gripping insights and novel angles. Rand detests the idea of using altruism to defend capitalism. She proposes rationality instead, with a ruling principle of justice.
I do not necessarily agree with her on this but I enjoy Rand’s scathing criticism of conservatism’s perceived fallacies. Her vitriolic dissection of the 3 conservative strains is highly amusing! She identifies and attacks the Religious and the Traditionalists but really unleashes the sharp edge of her scorn on those who defend capitalism from the argument of mankind’s depravity.
In the essay Requiem For Man, she savages the encyclical Populorum Progressio by Pope Paul VI, in which she also rips apart the reactions to it by publications like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine.
The book consists of two parts. The first is Theory And History, which includes essays on inter alia war, the persecution of big business, antitrust, gold and economic freedom, property status of the airwaves, and patents and copyrights.
Part two: Current State, includes essays on the anatomy of compromise, the art of smearing, rule by consensus as a form of fascism, and the student rebellion. The final two essays: Man’s Rights and The Nature Of Government, appear in the appendix.
Whatever the flaws in Rand’s Objectivist philosophy, this book remains a brilliant and unique defence of freedom and capitalism. Moreover, history has proved Rand a prescient thinker who was correct in many of her analyses.
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal ranks among the very best of her non-fiction works. It is highly engaging, thought-provoking and often quite amusing. The book concludes with an index and a bibliography listing titles by Henry Hazlitt, Isabel Paterson and Ludwig von Mises, amongst others.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest books of all time, 29 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (Signet Shakespeare) (Mass Market Paperback)
One of the greatest books of all time. My bible. Love it or hate it, Ayn Rand and her friends are very difficult to argue with. I usually find, that people complain about the "evils" of Capitalism without even understanding the meaning of the term (as this book repeatedly illustrates).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brush up, 20 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (Signet Shakespeare) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is definitly a brush up on your old multi syllabal vocabulary. But even though the articles stem from the sixties, they are just as valid today.
Recommend especially "Root of war"
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3.0 out of 5 stars Some useful points explained better,elsewhere..., 23 Feb 2013
By 
os - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (Signet Shakespeare) (Mass Market Paperback)
Ayn Rand is one of those writers who seems to inspire great devotion amongst those see value in her work. For many others readers in economics and politics her voice seems endlessly strident, shrill and without any attempt at appreciating complexity or shades of meaning in Human affairs. She is by no means a philosopher or trained economist. She is the literary equivalent of the sort of fixated orator that one might expect to hear at Speakers Corner-loud, perhaps occasionally persuasive with maybe an interesting theme to discuss,but without the academic tools or depth of research to give a convincing overview of the topic in hand.

The value of Rand's work lies in one or two central ideas. Firstly, that Capitalism,however defined has delivered wealth and opportunity for millions of people.It has done all this in spite of government. Secondly,Capitalism means freedom. Good point,but hardly novel. The freedom that Rand speaks of is the freedom of self-determination. Individual people and business should be free of taxes and regulation wherever possible because happiness and wealth will follow. She says that 'selfishness' is 'good',when she really means, 'self interest' is good. Self interest does not preclude the possibility of helping others. For instance,a business might train workers in order to improve productivity,benefiting both parties, not just one. If you read chapter 1 on defining Capitalism and chapter 8 on the effects on the industrial revolution on women then you'll have got most of the juice that this book has to offer. Rand and her co-contributors also have some interesting comments on anti-trust laws with regard to railroads and a number of refreshingly pro-business views that are well worth reading, but its definitely a case of separating the wheat from the chaff.

The real problem with Rand is that there is very little room for discussion. Even your staunch Conservative is not safe from a hand bagging from the author. She reads like someone who has overdosed on Nietzsche,except Nietzsche has a sense of humour. Having definite principles as an individual is a laudable aspect of a persons character ,it could be argued. However, democratically elected governments soon find that 'principle' becomes an impediment sooner or later. Trying to create growth ,employment and have some sort of eye on general social welfare,however defined,requires a degree of flexibility that would be an anathema to Rand. Failure to agree with Rand means you are a 'Statist', Socialist or fascist. It is her way or the road to collectivist perdition. Take your choice. She talks of freedom, but has no time for the masses and to read her on the subject of big business men,you would think she was was wanting them canonised for their efforts. And please don't her started on aid, the Catholic Church and charity. You'll regret it!

So, Rand on Capitalism has some value, but be selective. Better, still if you are of a Libertarian persuasion why not just read Freidman or Hayek? They have the same message, but they convey their message more concisely and with infinitely more intellectual muscle. They also have the advantage of not constantly quoting chunks of their own writing as if that was sufficient evidence of erudition or proof.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good book, 28 May 2011
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This review is from: Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (Signet Shakespeare) (Mass Market Paperback)
The book is a good collection of essays on various points which relate to the main theme of Capitalism. Rand offers a defense of Capitalism and why it is the only system that we know of that yields a great amount of material and civil development whilst retaining and promoting the liberty of the individual. The defense is however offered in the context of her own philosophy and her argument therefore relies upon the premises of her system of morality and rationality. Throughout the work she introduced the concepts of moral 'principle' and 'ideology' and builds a case for why these are important by making examples of various events, citing article extracts and so on in order to analyze and produce her evidence.

The promotion of Capitalism on moral ideals and practical examples are often contrasted against the purported effects of altruistic/Socialist consequences and actions of a controlling government. Rand introduced the term 'Statist' to describe systems and those who ascribe control and planning as means to achieve their goals, in this context the control is mainly economic. I believe Rand and her associates offer a compelling case against political control of the market by examining the direct and indirect negative effects whilst offering in turn the benefits of a free market. In the true Libertarian inspired tradition of concern for the rights of the individual, the ultimate effects of Statist control are portrayed as devastating to the rights and freedom of the individual.

A number of essays included are by Nathaniel Branden and Alan Greenspan. Greenspan provides the backbone of the book through his analysis of the technicalities of a free market system and how it is superior to those who receive government aid, he also provides a potent portrayal of how a mixed economy can be abused through government bureaucratic controls, e.g lobbyists by those who under a free system would be unable to exploit such structures that government interference creates.

Branden himself covers the practical effects on institutions such as education, however I feel that in his arguments he is a little vague as to the ultimate effect that such measures of reform would have. He also covers the topic of 'Alienation' rebutting the Hegelian/Marxist mystic concept of the term and proposing in favour a case for people as being alienated through the lack of self-esteem and happiness due to lack of rational decision and personal freedom. However I feel this is a point so abstract as to perhaps question the concept of 'Alienation' itself.

The whole book therefore rests on the premise that historically Capitalism in it's semi-enabled forms during the 19th century and early twentieth were not exploitative systems of class struggle or disproportionate wealth but rather a revolutionary system of development for all through the ability of rational individuals.

The only weak points that I feel this book has, at least from the view of an acceptance of a majority of Objectivist premises or arguments is that Rand herself begins to repeat the same points frequently in the later chapters, perhaps however it is a means to show the depth of the issues, however I felt that it did impact negatively on the fluidity of the read itself. And also Branden's vagueness as I already mentioned, I feel let the book down, had he been more concise with his conclusions, I could well have rated this book with five stars.

Overall a good book for someone seeking a defense of Capitalism on practical and philosophical grounds.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best introductions to capitalism ever., 7 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (Signet Shakespeare) (Mass Market Paperback)
There are a million books defended the morality of socialismbut Rand is virtually alone in defending capitalism as a moral system (rather than just as an economic system). Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal is thus critically important and a must read for any serious student of political economy.
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16 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CAPITALISM EXPLAINED, 29 Jan 2002
This review is from: Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (Signet Shakespeare) (Mass Market Paperback)
If like me your slightly bewildered and confused with the sudden rise in the anti-capitalist movement and not quite sure what to make of it all, then look no further than "Capitalism: the unknown ideal". In less than 350 pages Ayn Rand sets out in clear English exactly what capitalism means to the ordinary person and dismantles the entire case for socialism and the anti-capitalism , I highly recommend this book!
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Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (Signet Shakespeare)
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (Signet Shakespeare) by Ayn Rand (Mass Market Paperback - 29 May 2008)
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