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This is as good as she gets
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.