Cover of "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal"
Cover of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

I finally finished CAPITALISM: THE UNKNOWN IDEAL by Ayn Rand.  I’d been struggling with it, because she writes with a precision and intensity on which my lazy reading style has difficulty focusing.  Regardless, she nails it.  I’ll have to write a book about it sometime.  I recommend it. 

The first 3 chapters are particularly cogent on individual rights and economic freedom.  From Chp. 1:

“Is man a sovereign individual who owns his person, his mind, his life, his work and its products—or is he the property of the tribe (the state, the society, the collective) that may dispose of him in any way it pleases, that may dictate his convictions, prescribe the course of his life, control his work and expropriate his products? Does man have the right to exist for his own sake—or is he born in bondage, as an indentured servant who must keep buying his life by serving the tribe but can never acquire it free and clear?”

THAT is the question, isn’t it?  And her answer:

“Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.”

CUI – 22. The Cashing-In: The Student “Rebellion”, about the 1960’s student occupation of Berkeley and the Free Speech Movement is compelling in its applicability to the current occupation of the Wisconsin State House by protesting public workers.

Says Ayn:

“But there is no justification, in a civilized society, for the kind of mass civil disobedience that involves the violation of the rights of others—regardless of whether the demonstrators’ goal is good or evil. The end does not justify the means. No one’s rights can be secured by the violation of the rights of others. Mass disobedience is an assault on the concept of rights: it is a mob’s defiance of legality as such.

The forcible occupation of another man’s property or the obstruction of a public thoroughfare is so blatant a violation of rights that an attempt to justify it becomes an abrogation of morality. An individual has no right to do a “sit-in” in the home or office of a person he disagrees with—and he does not acquire such a right by joining a gang. Rights are not a matter of numbers—and there can be no such thing, in law or in morality, as actions forbidden to an individual, but permitted to a mob.”

Next up: DISMANTLING AMERICA by Thomas Sowell.  He is no slouch either.

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