Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
A good book
on 28 May 2011
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.