She thought that laissez-faire capitalism is the only social system capable of promoting human rights. But how did she explain that if she did at all?

There are so many problems with laissez-faire capitalism (and capitalism in whole) and I don't see how can it be the best choice to promote rights. If you want to ask me what is the problem with capitalism: it promotes tricking (actually deception). Thus the one who tricks (and the one who does not care about others in fact) will be higher in social hierarchy in such society.

But since such person will be higher in society, it could do the politics, through mass media and mercenaries, which are oppresing those who are lower in hierarchy. And this is, in my view, fail of laissez-faire capitalism.

Actually, the most confusing part is that laissez-faire capitalism is the only social system that allows promotion of rights. While I already skeptical on that it at all really does it's work, I'm even more skeptical on that there is nothing elsethat promotes human rights. Then what actually makes laissez-faire capitalism (in her view) as the best one and what actually did Rand compare to decide what society would be the best?

  • I understand that philosopher Max Stirner was involved with an organization called the Union of Egoists; but of course there is no union of egoists! I feel we will need more cooperation than ever this century and I believe the libertarian approach is naive. Property, which is a bundle of rights, is needed to pay for a lawyer to enforce those rights. Therefore, only those with property have real rights; the poor can get help from volunteer lawyers, but this is not always available. But I have only read a small part of one of Rand's books.
    – Gordon
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 11:10
  • And why do I say this? Because it is impossible to have a union of egoists, whether on the right or on the left. It does not work.
    – Gordon
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 14:51
  • @Gordon, well, it depends on how you treat egoism. I accept psychological egoism, thus, it is impossible for human not to be egoist. But then it is possible to be both althruist and egoist. Anyway, that negates contradictions in "Union of Egoists".
    – rus9384
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 14:58
  • 1
    @Gordon, what I mean is that altruism caused by own desires and will. Since they are own desires, it means altruists are egoists as well. But then the concept of egoism becomes useless and must be changed by another concept denoting "ill-treatment of other people".
    – rus9384
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 15:13
  • Yes, I see the point you are making. Good point.
    – Gordon
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 22:26

2 Answers 2


Rand defines capitalism as follows: “Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.” (Rand, Ayn, Capitalism the Unknown Ideal). In such a system initiation of physical force is banned from human relationships because of the emphasis on the protection of individual rights. No individual or group may initiate the use of physical force against another. There is no coercion. Relationships are voluntary. Hence, no exploitation, no fraud, no theft, no slavery is permitted—because each of these things requires the initiation of physical force.

This does not mean that force is not possible, but rather that force is legally banned from human relationships. The government, under a capitalist system, has the sole responsibility to protect individual rights. Since it would be redundant to restate her full case here, I will provide just some highlights and identify a few common misconceptions. For a fuller treatment of the subject, I strongly recommend reading Capitalism the Unknown Ideal.

First, note that capitalism is defined as a “social system based on the recognition of individual rights.” Rand defined things in terms of essentials. She worked to identify the most significant, most fundamental distinguishing characteristic of a thing when developing a definition. Note that capitalism is not defined as a “system of competition,” a “market driven system,” or even the “the system that provides the greatest good for the greatest number.” While these things may be true, they are not the critical distinguishing characteristic. The protection of rights is the distinguishing characteristic.

Second, when a non-essential characteristic is used to define capitalism, lots of questions become overly complex. For example, how can a free market automatically guarantee protection of individual rights? It cannot, unless the free market arises naturally as a consequence of capitalism—the system that protects individual rights. Most of the arguments leveled against capitalism use the straw man attack: Capitalism is X. X is bad. Therefore, capitalism is bad. If X is anything other than “a social system that based on the recognition of individual rights…” the argument is using a non-essential characteristic to define and attack capitalism.

Third, a key to understanding capitalism is to recognize that in practice it is a system that involved voluntary trade (no force, no coercion, no fraud, no deception, no theft, no exploitation, no slavery). Within a capitalist system each individual is free to trade (or not trade) with anyone else, and the role of the government is merely to ensure that individuals or groups who initiate force are punished and the rights of the individual are protected. Note, the individual—not any group—is the appropriate unit of a society. Also note that the government is the servant of the people not the other way around.

Finally, the unique achievement of the United States was the explicit protection of individual rights (See the US Constitution). This protection of individual rights led to the sudden dramatic and undeniable prosperity in the US and abroad—directly to the extent that capitalism was allowed to spread. Although the word was originally used pejoratively (https://www.libertarianism.org/encyclopedia/capitalism) capitalism currently has a neutral status to most people—instead of the elevated status and honored it deserves.

  • I see now. I define myself as "A man of undeniable intelligence who is always right". Now I can say that everyone who ignores my words is fool. But that's not how should language work... One point Rand makes: market itself (with no government) does not protect invidual rights. My point is that market is non-essential and even redundant with further automation. But this deserves my upvote.
    – rus9384
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 6:13

In laissez faire capitalism, each person has the right to take or refuse any offer of trade, and is also free to make offers of trade. To do anything you need access to physical objects. To the extent that government infringes your property rights, the government uses force to stop you from using the means required to implement your rights. So laissez faire capitalism is required if you are going to exercise your rights.

Some people think the government should provide certain goods as rights, e.g. - healthcare. But since healthcare has to be provided by somebody producing the goods required to treat people this would infringe his property rights.

Now, you write:

If you want to ask me what is the problem with capitalism: it promotes tricking (actually deception). Thus the one who tricks (and the one who does not care about others in fact) will be higher in social hierarchy in such society.

In laissez faire capitalism, you are allowed to acquire property by trade or gift. Deceiving people to get their property is fraud. If you commit fraud you can be prosecuted. In addition, trying to maintain fraud in the long term requires keeping track of what lies you have told people. This is difficult because if you keep records of your lies that is evidence that could be used to prosecute you. And in any case, in some situations you may not have access to records and you would have to make something up on the spot. This is difficult to do while maintaining consistency since you can't refer to what actually happened to check your recollection. So it's not in your self interest to acquire property by deception.

You haven't said what material you have read by Rand. If you're interested in reading more, you might want to try "The Virtue of Selfishness" and "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal".

  • Well, but thus not explain why it is the only just system. E.g. why can't we reject market economy? Not in favor of planned economy, there are possible alternatives to both.
    – rus9384
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 13:12
  • What alternatives do you have in mind?
    – alanf
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 15:00
  • Replace money with multi-level social status system. In such system there obviously is no market, but this is not planned economy as well, because there is no plan.
    – rus9384
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 15:35
  • Without money, you have indirect exchange and no means of calculating the efficiency of a business: wiki.mises.org/wiki/Money This would limit our ability to use resources to such an extent that it would destroy civilisation. You would have computers, no internet, no running water, no medicine, no food apart from what you could grow or hunt yourself. Almost everybody now alive would die.
    – alanf
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 8:57
  • Efficiency of business? Well, money only represent it, not defining it. Efficiency of business is the fact: how many goods one made or how many services one provided. Methods won't be really different. Empolyers do not fire employees based on money: it is impossible to say which worker works bad referring only to earnings.
    – rus9384
    Commented May 10, 2018 at 9:16

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