Capitalism is the social system based on the individual’s right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.
When I say ‘capitalism,’ I mean a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism — with a separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.”
— AYN RAND
What is capitalism?
Capitalism (from the Latin word capta, meaning “head”) is the social system of the Enlightenment, that unleashes the power of the human mind (reason), by banning the initiation of physical force from all relationships, resulting in a culture of peace, progress, and prosperity for all.
The term capitalism is used here in the broader political sense, i.e., a free society, and not just in the narrower economic sense, i.e., a free market. Capitalism is not just an economic system (free-market) that can be grafted onto any political structure but is a complex, integrated social system that depends on a specific ethical, political, legal, economic, and cultural foundation.
What is a capitalist?
A capitalist is a philosophical advocate of laissez-faire capitalism, regardless of how economically rich or poor they are.
Within the specialized domain of economics, a person who owns a business is recognized as a capitalist, regardless of whether one advocates capitalism politically or not. Friedrich Engels is regarded economically as a capitalist because he is a factory owner, though politically Engels is a communist as co-author of The Communist Manifesto. Similarly, philosopher Ayn Rand is regarded economically as a novelist as the author of the best-selling novel Atlas Shrugged, though politically Rand is a self-described “radical for capitalism.”
Engels is a communist, and Rand a capitalist, not because of their accumulated wealth, but because of their ideas.
To discover if you are a capitalist take the Capitalism Tour.
A visual presentation of the nature of capitalism (estimated time 6 minutes). It is the most popular feature of this site.
Capitalism Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) covers subjects ranging from antitrust and individualism to selfishness and socialism to help you “chew” the ideas introduced in the tour.
Explore the rich literature of Capitalism. The library features a selection of books on capitalism like Ayn Rand’s classic Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
Capitalism Magazine is a daily magazine featuring articles defending individual rights.
Every week the Voice of Capitalism Newsletter delivers capitalism related news, events, and book recommendations to your email box for free.
Our blog, Capitalism Review, highlights articles of interest from around the web on Capitalism.
Before you browse the questions in this FAQ, please go through the Capitalism Tour. This FAQ assumes you are familiar with the material provided in the Tour.
“One of the most revolutionary and powerful works on capitalism—and on politics—that has ever been published.”—Barron’s magazine