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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.
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on 10 February 2015
This is a fascinating book. Although you might not agree entirely with Ayn Rands views it brings home how governments and organisations manipulate and distort.
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on 23 August 2017
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on 20 February 2014
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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on 14 June 2017
This is undoubtedly one of my favourite books. It is full of essays, with clear and concise defence of Capitalism. It's a brilliant book for picking up when you have 5 minutes and time to read a quick essay.

I found myself enjoying Alan Greenspan's essays more than I thought. He really could be Dr Stadler. How can a proponent of a Gold Standard then become the head of the immoral, Federal Reserve and then inadvertently help cause the 2008 crises, with the help of Bill Clinton. It truly is Atlas Shrugged coming to life. (Check out John Allison lectures on the financial crises on YouTube. His explanation is truly remarkable and brilliantly explained).

Capitalism is truly the only moral political and economic system. I honestly think, if this book was more widely read, it would change the world.
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on 5 November 2005
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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on 30 November 1998
Ayn Rand's political and economic philosophies are not much different than the libertarian's platform. Although at times Rand seems to be repitive, she is still able to convey the importance of a free market economy, and the dangers of government interference. The book is definitely worth a read for those who adhere to a mixed or socialist economy philosophy. However, as a graduate of economics, I must complain about the utter lack of empiricism in the book and some misinterpretations of the Sherman Antitrust laws.
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on 10 March 1999
Reviewer Scott Ryan (SandGRyan@worldnet.att.net) gets it almost right: this volume is as good as Rand gets. And it's certainly a pleasure to read a review from someone capable of evaluating Rand critically.
Nevertheless Rand places too much weight on her own allegedly *moral* basis of capitalism. Capitalism doesn't depend on egocentrism, just on a favorable view of the pursuit of human well-being. Rand sees capitalism as something requiring the special efforts of a handful of productive geniuses, when in fact capitalism is simply what peaceful people do spontaneously in the absence of restrictive government regulation.
Anyone who wants to learn about the free market is invited to read the works of its most consistent proponents - Ludwig von Mises (especially HUMAN ACTION) and Murray Rothbard (especially MAN, ECONOMY AND STATE). Rand says nothing important in this volume of essays that isn't said better somewhere else.
Rand refers favorably to Mises (and even cites his works in the bibliography in this volume), but she never understood Mises' approach to foundational issues. Rothbard was associated with Objectivism for a while but got kicked out because his wife was a Christian (and refused to become an atheist even after Rand and her then-henchman Nathaniel Branden "proved" to her that God didn't exist). Both of these men have far better credentials as economists than Rand ever had as a "philosopher."
So I suppose Ryan is right that if you plan to read just *one* volume of Rand's nonfiction, this isn't a bad choice. But frankly, you could just skip her altogether and thereby avoid the risk of getting sucked into her mind-numbing cult.
Capitalism doesn't answer to this paranoid woman. And her self-lobotomized followers don't answer to capitalism either. Proof: the *only* items her cult has "produced" are mindless rehashes of her work and sycophantic volumes *about* her. If "Objectivism" were what it's cracked up to be, its closest adherents would be creative geniuses instead of Randroid nerds.
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on 30 July 1999
To hear some 'Objectivists' tell it, anyone who thinks this book is not the world's finest defence of 'capatilism' (and who thinks bad spelling indicates a failure to attend to *details* which portends ill for one's ability to evaluate 'philosophy' critically) must be some sort of evil 'second-hander' who has not risen beyond the 'perceptive level' (may I assume that is the same as the 'perceptual level'?).
Readers of this work should note that both its author and its defenders engage in the same technique: attacking the motives and 'psycho-epistemologies' of those who have anything negative to say about either 'capatilism' or the book itself.
Ayn Rand was so clearly not a 'philosopher' that I hesitate to use that word in the same sentence as her name. She was an anti-philosopher, a propagandist, a cult leader, a demagogue, a self-appointed Messiah of 'Capatilism', an ill-educated and ill-read megalomaniac who knew little economics and even less philosophy. There were, and are, much more able defenders of 'capatilism' than she - and the hard fact is that people who misspell 'capitalism' are thereby indicating unfamiliarity with them (and thus insufficient competence in the field to review this book adequately).
Neither their reviews nor those of the 'psychologisers' are to be trusted.
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on 18 September 2000
True philosophy demolishing all the commie/socialist ranting propaganda we get shoved down our face by virtually everyone here in Great Britain (not least the lefty bureaucracy that is the European Union).
If Rand's ideas aren't the most sensible and moral ones ever then I'm Karl Marx! ...
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