What is Capitalism?
Capitalism is a social system based on the principle of individual rights.
Politically, capitalism is the system of laissez-faire (freedom) based on individualism, as opposed to collectivism/statism. Individualism regards the individual as a sovereign, independent being with an inalienable right to their own life. Collectivism/statism (i.e., socialism, fascism, racism, etc.) holds that the rights of the individual may be sacrificed for the benefit of the collective/society (i.e., state, nation, race, etc.)
Legally, capitalism operates under a rule of law (as opposed to a rule of man) whose purpose is the protection of individual rights.
Economically, when freedom under the rule of law is applied to the sphere of production and trade, its result is the free-market.
Culturally, when such freedom is applied to the arts, relationships, technology, and the sciences, it leads to human flourishing, peace, and progress.
For a further explanation of these political, legal, economic and cultural interrelationships take The Capitalism Tour (estimated time 10 minutes).
Intellectually “chew” the ideas brought up in the tour by browsing the Capitalism FAQ.
“One of the most revolutionary and powerful works on capitalism—and on politics—that has ever been published.”—Barron’s magazine
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand
"No politico-economic system in history has ever proved its value so eloquently or has benefited mankind so greatly as capitalism—and none has ever been attacked so savagely, viciously, and blindly. The flood of misinformation, misrepresentation, distortion, and outright falsehood about capitalism is such that the young people of today have no idea (and virtually no way of discovering any idea) of its actual nature."
"...By their silence—by their evasion of the clash between capitalism and altruism—it is capitalism's alleged champions who are responsible for the fact that capitalism is being destroyed without a hearing, without a trial, without any public knowledge of its principles, its nature, its history, or its moral meaning. It is being destroyed in the manner of a nightmare lynching—as if a blind, despair-crazed mob were burning a straw man, not knowing that the grotesquely deformed bundle of straw is hiding the living body of the ideal."
"The method of capitalism's destruction rests on never letting the world discover what it is that is being destroyed—on never allowing it to be identified within the hearing of the young."
"The purpose of this book is to Identify it."
-- AYN RAND (from the Introduction)