Ayn Rand - What Is Capitalism? (full course)



ladies and gentlemen is Iron Man [Applause] ladies and gentlemen to begin at the beginning in once approach to political economy and to the evaluation of various social systems one must begin by identifying man's nature that is those essential characteristics which distinguish him from all other living species man's essential characteristic is his rational faculty man's mind is his basic means of survival his only means of gaining knowledge men cannot provide for his simplest physical needs without a process of thought he needs a process of thought to discover how to plant and grow his food or how to make weapons for hunting he needs a process of thought to discover how to light a fire how to weave cloth how to forge tools how to make a will how to make an airplane how to perform an appendectomy how to produce an electric light or an electronic tube or a cyclotron or a box of matches yet his life depends on such knowledge and only evolutional advocates consciousness a process of thought can provide a process of thought is an enormous ly complex process of identification and integration which only an individual mind can perform there is no such thing as a collective brain men can learn from one another but learning requires a process of thought on the part of every individual student man can cooperate in the discovery of new knowledge but such cooperation requires the independent exercise of his rational faculty by every individual scientist man is the only living species that can transmit and expand his store of knowledge from generation to generation but such transmission requires a process of thought on the part of the individual recipients as witness the breakdowns of civilization the dark ages in the history of mankind's progress when the accumulated knowledge of centuries vanished from the lives of men who were unable unwilling or forbidden to think in order to sustain his life every living species has to follow a certain course of action required by its nature the action required to sustain human life is primarily intellectual everything man needs has to be discovered by his mind and produced by his effort production is the application of reason to the problem of survival if some men do not choose the thing they can survive only by imitating and repeating a routine of work discovered by others but those others had to discover it or none would have survived if some men do not choose to think or to work they can survive temporarily only by looting the goods produced by others but those others had to produce them or none would have survived regardless of what choice is made in this issue by any man or by any number of men regardless of what blind irrational or evil course they may choose to pursue the fact remains that reason is man's means of survival and that men prosper or fail survive or perish in proportion to degree of their rationality since knowledge thinking and rational actions are properties of the individual since the choice to exercise his rational faculty or not depends on the individual man survival requires that those who think be free of the interference of those who don't since men are neither omniscient or infallible they must be free to agree or disagree to cooperate or to pursue their own independent course each according to his own rational judgment freedom is the fundamental requirement of man's mind a rational mind does not work under compulsion it does not subordinate its grasp of reality to anyone's orders directives or controls it does not sacrifice its knowledge its view of the truth to anyone's opinions threats wishes plans or welfare such a mind may be hampered by others it may be silenced proscribed imprisoned or destroyed it cannot be forced a gun is not an identity the social recognition of man's rational nature of the connection between his survival and his use of reason is the concept of individual rights rights are a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context they are derived from man's nature as a rational being and represents a necessary condition of his particular mode of survival the right to life is the source of all rights including the right to property for a fuller discussion of Rights I refer you to my articles on men's rights and the nature of government in my book capitalism the unknown ideal in regard to political economy property rights require special emphasis man has to work and produce in order to support his life he has to support his life by his own effort and by the guidance of his own mind if he cannot dispose of the product of his effort he cannot dispose of his effort if he cannot dispose of his effort he cannot dispose of his life without property rights no other rights can be practiced now bearing these facts in mind consider the question of what social system is appropriate to men a social system is a set of moral political economic principles embodied in society's laws institutions and government which determined the relationships the terms of association among the men living in a given geographical area there are only two fundamental questions or two aspects of the same question that determine the nature of any social system does a social system recognize individual rights and does a social system ban physical force from human relationships the answer to the second question is the practical implementation of the answer to the first is man a sovereign individual who owns his person his mind his life his work and its product or is he the property of the tribe the state the society the collective that may dispose of him in any way it places that may dictate his convictions prescribed the course of his life control his work and expropriate his product does men 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 this is the first question to answer the rest is consequences and practical implementations the basic issue is only is man free in mankind's history capitalism is the only system that answers yes capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights including property rights in which all property is privately owned the recognition of individual rights and Tails the banishment of physical force from human relationships basically rights can be violated only by means of force in a capitalist society no man or group may initiate the use of physical force against others the only function of the government in such a society is the task of protecting men's rights that is the task of protecting him from physical force the government acts as the agent of man's right of self-defense and may use force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use thus the government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of course under objective control it is the basic metaphysical fact of man's nature the connection between his survival and his use of reason that capitalism recognizes and protects in a capitalist society all human relationships are voluntary men are free to cooperate or not to deal with one another or not as their own individual judgments convictions and interested date they can deal with one another only in terms of and by means of reason that is by means of discussion persuasion and contractual agreement by a voluntary choice to mutual benefit the right to agree with others is not a problem in any society it is the right to disagree that is crucial it is the institution of private property that protects and implements the right to disagree and thus keeps the road open to man's most valuable attribute the key mind this is the Cardinal difference between capitalism and any form of collectivism the moral justification of capitalism does not lie in the altruist claim that it represents the best way to achieve the common good it is true that capitalism does if that catchphrase has any meaning but this is merely a secondary consequence the moral justification of capitalism lies in the fact that it is the only system consonant with man's rational nature that it protects man's survival qua men and that its ruling principle is justice every social system is based explicitly or implicitly on some theory of ethics the tribal notion of the common good has served as the moral justification of most social systems and of all tyrannies in history the degree of a society's enslavement or freedom corresponded to the degree to which that tribal slogan was involved or ignored the common good or the public interest is an undefined an undefinable concept there is no such entity as the tribe or the public the tribe or the public or society is only a number of individual men nothing can be good for the tribe as such good and value pertain only to a living organism to an individual living organism not to a disembodied aggregates of relationships when the common good of a society is regarded as something apart from and superior to the individual good of its members it means that the good of some men takes precedence over the good of others with those others consigned to the status of sacrificial animals what makes the victims accept it and permit a society to perpetrate a moral atrocity of that kind the answer lies in philosophy in philosophical theories on the nature of moral values there are in essence three schools of thought on the nature of the good the intrinsic the subjective and the objective the intrinsic theory holds that the good is inherent in certain things or actions as such regardless of their context and consequences regardless of any benefit or injury they may cause to the actors and subjects involved it is a theory that divorces the concept of good from beneficiaries and the concept of value from value and purpose claiming that the good is good in by and of itself the subjective theory holds that the good bears no relation to the facts of reality that it is the product of a man's consciousness created by his feelings desires intuitions or whims and that it is merely and arbitrary posture or an emotional commitment the intrinsic theory holds that the good resides in some sort of reality independent of man's consciousness the subjective theory holds that the good resides in man's consciousness independent of reality the objective theory holds that the good is neither an attribute of things in themselves nor of men's emotional states but an evaluation of the facts of reality by man's consciousness according to a rational standard of valid rational in this context means derived from the facts of reality and validated by a process of reason the objective theory holds that the good is an aspect of reality in relation to men and that it must be discovered not invented by men fundamental to an objective theory of values is the question of value to whom and for what an objective Theory does not permit context dropping or concept stealing it does not permit the separation of value from purpose of the good from benefices and of man's actions from reason of all the social systems in mankind's history capitalism is the only system based on an objective theory of values the intrinsic theory and the subjectivist theory or a mixture of both are the necessary base of every dictatorship tyranny or variant of the absolute state whether they are held consciously subconsciously in the explicit form of a philosophers treatise or in the implicit cares of its occurs in an average man's feelings these theories make it possible for a man to believe that the good is independent of man's mind and can be achieved by physical force if a man believes that the good is intrinsic in certain actions he will not hesitate to force others to perform them if he believes that the human benefit or injury caused by such actions is of no significance he will regard a sea of blood as of no significance if he believes that the beneficiaries of such actions are irrelevant or interchangeable he will regard a wholesale slaughter as his moral duty in the service of a quote higher good unquote it is the intrinsic theory of values that produces a robbed spear a Lenin Stalin or a Hitler it is not an accident that Eichmann was a Kantian if a man believes that the good is a matter of arbitrary subjective choice the issue of good or evil becomes for him an issue of my feelings or there's no bridge understanding or communication is possible to him reason is the only means of communication among men and an objectively perceivable reality is their only common frame of reference when these are invalidated that is held to be irrelevant in the field of morality force becomes man's only way of dealing with one another if the subjectivist wants to pursue some social ideal of his own he feels morally entitled to force man what for their own good unquote since he feels that he is right and that there is nothing to oppose him but their misguided feelings thus in practice the proponents of the intrinsic and the subjective schools meet and blend it is doubtful whether anyone can hold either of the theories as an actual if mistaken conviction but both serve as a rationalization of power lust and a rule by brute force unleashing the potential dictator and disarming his victims the objective theory of values is the only moral theory incompatible with rule by force capitalism is the only system based implicitly on an objective theory of values and the historic tragedy is that this has never been made explicit if one knows that the good is objective that is determined by the nature of reality but to be discovered by man's mind one knows that an attempt to achieve the good by physical force is a monstrous contradiction in terms which negates morality at its root by destroying man's capacity to recognize the good that is his capacity to value force invalidates and paralyzes a man's judgment demanding that he act against it thus rendering him morally impotent a value which one is forced to accept at the price of surrendering one's mind is not a value to anyone the forcibly mindless can neither judge nor choose nor value an attempt to achieve the good by force is like an attempt to provide a man with a picture gallery at the price of cutting out his eyes values cannot exist cannot be valued outside the full context of a man's life needs goals and knowledge the objective view of values permeates the entire structure of a capitalist society the recognition of individual rights implies the recognition of the fact that the good is not an ineffable abstraction in some supernatural dimension but a value pertaining to reality to this earth to the lives of individual human beings note the right to the pursuit of happiness it implies that the good cannot be divorced from beneficiaries that men are not to be regarded as interchangeable and that no man or tribe may attempt to achieve the good of some at the price of the emulation of others the free market represents the social application of an objective theory of values since values are to be discovered by man's mind men must be free to discover them to think to study to translate their knowledge into physical form to offer their products for trade to judge them and to choose be it a material goods or an idea a loaf of bread or a philosophical treatise since values are established contextually every man must judge for himself in the context of his own knowledge goals and interests since values are determined by the nature of reality it is reality that serves as man's ultimate arbiter if a man's judgment is right the rewards are his if it is wrong he is his only victim it is in regard to a free market that the distinction between an intrinsic subjective and objective view of values is particularly important to understand the market value of a product is not an intrinsic value not a value in itself hanging in a vacuum every market never loses sight of the question of value to whom and within the broad field of objectivity the market value of a product does not reflect its philosophically objective value but only its socially objective value by philosophically objective I mean a value estimated from the standpoint of the best possible to men that is by the criterion of the most rational mind possessing the greatest knowledge in a given category in a given period and in a defined context nothing can be estimated in an undefined context for instance it can be rationally proved that the airplane is objectively of immeasurably greater value to men to men at his best than the bicycle and that the works of Victor Hugo are objectively of immeasurably greater values and true confession magazines but if a given man's intellectual potential can barely manage to enjoy true confessions there is no reason why his meager earnings the product of his effort should be spent on books he cannot read or on subsidizing the airplane industry if his own transportation needs do not extend beyond the range of a bicycle nor is there any reason why the rest of mankind should be held down to the level of his literary taste his engineering capacity and his income values are not determined by fired nor by majority rule just as the number of its adherents is not a proof of an ideas truth or falsehood of an art works merit or demerit of a products efficacy or in efficacy so the free market value of goods or services does not necessarily represent their philosophically objective value but only is their socially objective value that is the sum of the individual judgments of all the men involved in trade at a given time the sum of what they valued each in the context of his own life thus a manufacturer of lipstick may well make a greater fortune than a manufacturer of microscopes even though it can be rationally demonstrated that microscopes are scientifically more valuable than lipstick but valuable to whom a microscope is of no value to a little stenographer struggling to make living a lipstick to her may mean the difference between self confidence and self doubt between glamour and Rajai this does not mean however that the various ruling a free-market are subjective if the stenographer spends all her money on cosmetics and has none left to pay for the use of a microscope for a visit to the doctor when she needs it she learns a better method of budgeting her income the free market serves as her teacher she has no way to penalize others for her mistakes if she budgets rationally the microscope is always available to serve her own specific needs and no more as far as she is concerned she is not taxed to support an entire Hospital a research laboratory or a spaceships journey to the moon within her own productive power she does pay a part of the cost of scientific achievements when and as she needs a she has no social duty her own life is her only responsibility and the only thing that the capitalist system requires of her is the thing that nature requires rationality that is that she live an act to the best of her own judgment within every category of goods and services offered on a free market it is the purveyor of the best product at the cheapest price who wins the greatest financial rewards in that field not automatically nor immediately nor by fire but by virtue of the free market which teaches every participant to look for the objective best within the category of his own competence and penalizes those who act on irrational considerations now observe that the free market does not level man down to some common denominator that the intellectual criteria of the majority do not rule every market or a free society and that the exceptional man the innovators the intellectual Giants are not held down by the majority in fact it is the members of this exceptional minority who lift the whole of a free society to the level of their own achievements while rising further and ever further a free market is a continuous process that cannot be held still and upward crosses the demands the best the most rational of everyman and rewards him accordingly while the majority have barely assimilated the value of the automobile the creative minority introduces the airplane the majority learn by demonstration the minority is free to demonstrate the philosophically objective value of a new product serves as the teacher for those who are willing to exercise their rational faculty each to the extent of his ability those who are unwilling remain unrewarded as well as those who aspire to more than their ability produces the stagnant the irrational the subjectivist have no power to stop their betters the small minority of adults who are unable rather than unwilling to work have to rely on voluntary charity misfortune is not a claim to slave labor there is no such thing as the right to consume control and destroys those without whom one would not be able to survive as to depressions and mass unemployment they are not caused by the free market but by government interference into the economy the mental parasites the imitators who attempt to cater to what they think is the public's known tastes are constantly being beaten by the innovators whose products praise the public's knowledge and taste to ever higher levels it is in this sense that the free market is ruled not by the consumers but by the producers the most successful ones are those who discover new fields of production fields which had not been known to exist a given product may not be appreciated at once particularly if it is too radical and innovation but barring irrelevant accidents it wins in the long run it is in this sense that the free market is not ruled by the intellectual criteria of the majority which prevail only at and for any given moment the free market is ruled by those who are able to see and plan long range and the better the mind the longer during the economic value of a man's work is determined on a free market by a single principle by the voluntary consent of those who are willing to trade him their work or products in return this is the moral meaning of the law of supply and demand it represents the total rejection of two vicious doctrines the tribal premise and altruism it represents the recognition of the fact that man is not the property not the servant of the tribe that a man works in order to support his own life as by his nature he must that he has to be guided by his own rational self-interest and if he wants to trade with others he cannot expect sacrificial victims that is he cannot expect to receive values without trading commensurate values in return the sole criterion of what is commensurate in this context is the free voluntary uncoerced judgment of the traders the Magnificent progress achieved by capitalism in a brief span of time the spectacular improvement in the conditions of man's existence on earth is a matter of historical record it is not to be hidden evaded or explained away by all the propaganda of capitalism's enemies but what needs special emphasis is the fact that this progress was achieved by non sacrificial means progress cannot be achieved by force privations by squeezing a so called social surplus out of starving victims progress can come only out of individual surplus that is from the work the energy the creative overabundance of those men whose ability produces more than their personal consumption requires those who are intellectually and financially able to seek the new to improve on the known to move forward in a capitalist society where such men are free to function and to take their own risks progress is not a matter of sacrificing to some distant future it is part of the living present it is the normal and natural it is achieved as and while men live and enjoy their lives now consider the alternative the tribal society where all men throw their efforts values ambitions and goals into a tribal poo or common pot then wait hungrily at its rim while the leader of a clique of cooks stirs it with a bayonet in one hand and a blank check on all their lives in the other the most consistent example of such a system is the union of socialists republics half a century ago the Soviet rulers commanded their subjects to be patient bear privations and make sacrifices for the sake of industrializing the country promising that this was only temporary that industrialization would bring some abundance and Soviet progress would surpass the capitalistic West today Soviet Russia is still unable to feed her people while the rulers scrambled to copy borrow or steal the technological achievements of the West's industrialization is not a static goal it is a dynamic process with a rapid rate of obsolescence so the retched serves of a plan tribal economy who starved while waiting for electric generators and tractors are now starving while waiting for atomic power and interplanetary travel thus in a people's state the progress of science is a threat to the people and every advance is taken out of the people's shrinking Heights this was not the history of capitalism America's abundance was not created by public sacrifices to the common good but by the productive genius of freemen who pursued their own personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes they did not starve the people to pay for America's industrialization they gave the people better jobs higher wages and cheaper goods with every new machines they invented with every scientific discovery or technological advance and thus the whole country was moving forward and profiting not suffering every step of the way do not however make the error of reversing cause and effect the good of the country was made possible precisely by the fact that it was not forced on anyone as a moral goal or duty it was merely an effect the cause was a man's right to pursue his own good it is this right not its consequences that represents the moral justification of capitalism but this right is incompatible with the intrinsic or the subjective theory of values with the altruist morality and the tribal premise it is obvious which human attribute one rejects when one rejects objectivity and in view of capitalism's record it is obvious against which human attribute the authorized morality and the tribal premise stand united against man's mind against intelligence particularly against intelligence apply to the problems of human survival that is productive ability while altruism seeks to rob intelligence of its rewards by asserting that the moral duty of the competent is to serve the incompetent and sacrifice themselves to anyone's need the tribal premise goes a step further it denies the existence of intelligence and of its role in the production of wealth it is morally obscene to regard wealth as an anonymous tribal product and to talk about redistributing it the view that wealth is the result of some undifferentiated collective process that we all did something and it's impossible to tell who did what therefore some sort of equalitarian distribution is necessary might have been appropriate in the primordial jungle with a savage horde moving borders by crude physical labor though even there someone had to initiate and organize the moving to hold that view in an industrial society where individual achievements are a matter of public record is so crass innovation that even to give it the benefit of the doubt is an obscenity observe how seldom and how inadequately the issue of human intelligence is discussed in the writings of the tribal status altruist irritations observe how carefully today's advocates of a mixed economy avoid and evade any mention of intelligence or ability in their approach to political economic issues in their claims demands and pressure group warfare over the looting of the court total social product first quarter it is often asked why was capitalism destroyed in spite of its incomparably be netizen record the answer lies in the realm of philosophy capitalism could not survive in a culture dominated by mysticism and altruism no social system and no human institution or activity of any kind can survive without a moral base on the basis of the altruist morality capitalism had to be and was them from the start the guiltiest men today are not the collectivist the guiltiest men are those who lacking the courage to challenge mysticism and altruism attempt to bypass the issues of reason and morality and attempt to defend the only rational and moral system in mankind's history capitalism on any grounds other than rational and moral thank you you




Comments
  1. Ayn Rand's analysis is very compelling. In particular, I thought her insights about the anthropology of humankind and the role that thinking has in relation of creating a world with products that reflect humankind's inner potential were very though provocing. I think that her ontology in terms of the three perspective of moral values (intrinsic, subjective, and objective) provides a useful way of examining and criticize the foundation of certain political systems.

    However, Rand's analysis of capitalism is somewhat questionable. While she relates back to certain free market principles dating back to John Locke and Adam Smith, it lacks a good analysis of what capitalism really relies on, namely, profit.

    If we look at how profit is made, there needs to be a surplus where people work for an extra amount of time for free in oder to create profit. This really affects the amount of free time and leisure that individuals can access in order to develop their interests and potential. Ironically, she brings forward certain questions such as "useful for who?", "profitable for who?", or "valuable for who?" She mentions them with the objective of showing just how free individuals are in a free market society in a market of values competing for attention. However, capitalism itself can lead either multi-billionaire corporations or a the tyranny of the majority to determine values where the voice of the individual is silenced and pushed aside. Capitalism also can silence individuals by using laws and legal inforcement to coerce people.

    While I think that Rand does provide a good and compelling analysis, she relies on many assumptions which today are very questionable. In addition, her links between her views on the anthropology of humankind and its affinity with capitalism can be quite sweeping. Nevertheless, I thought that this was an engaging lecture. I wish we had more intellectuals like Rand in our current times.

  2. Ayn Rand, the greatest Illuminati Zionist whore, and I mean whore in the fullest of meaning of whore. Yea guys she was fucking a Rothschild back in the day, both being Zionist Communist Jews, in fact, An Atlas Shrugged is total Illuminati dogma. But hey you lil Milleniall kiddies (socialist cunts) can't see it as the universities you lil pricks attended after getting out of your Moms basements, teach that SJW socialist garbage. Go back to your safe space lol, I just hope that the generation that the you waste of skin, Milleniall, Snowflakes bring in can get the world back to reality it deserves. Only after you candy-ass, socialist, over educated, waste cases drag the world into your disillusioned psychosis of self pandering. But hey just a thought, lol.

  3. Very appreciated and thankful that I had found this video. I'm into business administration in general. I had learned fruitfully from this video on this topic.

  4. Surprised that she became an economic guru in America, every sentence that she started to make from the beginning is a bs.

  5. Capitalism is land and businesses owned by corporations just as the same in the USA where business land most of it is owned by corporations. Meaning that corporations have most of its power to control employers. It's based on your survival to maintain it. It's a free market of competition.

  6. What do you think about people that have been born with poor conditions and less possibilities that others? Is it right? To play the same game, the rules and initial conditions must be the same. If someone is paying the consequences of its parents, then, the individulism is broken! On the other hand, the final consequence of capitalism is the concentration of good in a few people wich mean that the rest aren't working for theirself profit but for only a few. Could you give any solution for these issues that under my point of view are contradictions of the capitalism? Thank you very much!

  7. Too bad liberals are too stupid to understand objectivism. They are exactly the type of people, that the next Hitler/Stalin/Lenin/Mao are counting on for power.

  8. Bull Shit
    Einstein was a global socialist
    il y a 2 jours
    Soviet Russia was a lot poorer than USA when it started but came closer to the US but after the Nazis destroyed the country, it had to start by zero again. All of this does not matter as the USSR was not a socialist democracy but authoritarian regime.

  9. One of the great tragedies of our Anti-Reason, anti-intellectual world is that introducing things like this to the general public is akin to teaching children calculus before they get the hang of multiplication and division. SO much more fundamental knowledge is needed first, like what IS philosophy, WHY do we need it (or DO we need it?), what are its main branches, how does all that lead to Capitalism (or ANY social/political/economic system), etc.

    Without answers to these, Capitalism is (at best) a "floating abstraction" in peoples' minds, unconnected to reality, and at worst a sinister unintelligible "enemy" that they cannot understand, so it must be defeated. THIS is where our Government-Run Socialist (Mis)Educational Indoctrination Centers has taken us.

  10. "Men are not to be regarded as interchangeable. No man or tribe may attempt to achieve the good of SOME at the price of the immolation of others." (24:41). Try explaining that to the Globalists, or to the 'LEFTIES' and 'FEMINISTS' who support ISLAM; which most definitely seeks to achieve the 'good' of some (MUSLIMS) through the immolation of others (ALL non-Muslims!).

  11. Ayn Rand – quite correctly – identifies "man's nature" as the crucial factor within Capitalism. However, it is that very 'nature' which perverts and pollutes Capitalism, or Communism, or Socialism, or any other 'ism' you care to invent. For, at its heart, MAN'S NATURE is a religious question. There is wisdom in many of the World's true great religions (with the exception of ISLAM) which Capitalism ignores at its peril. Man's nature REQUIRES 'regulating'. If we ignore this fact, we get the Sir Phillip Greens, or Martin Sorrells, of this World. We are inherently GREEDY (just look at the thriving 'claims industry'); and Capitalism has no answer to that.

  12. The problem with capitalism is that the farmer plows the ground, pays for the fertilizer, pays for the equipment, pays for the fuel, plants the seed, weeds the field, harvests the crop … and then the landlord arrives, and although the landlord has done nothing productive, he takes half the crop.

  13. a good place to start, until problems arise that require solutions the free market doesn't offer. individuals and businesses can be evil and amass authority too.

  14. Really great course. I went through it earlier on the Campus website, but its great that its getting posted on Youtube too.

    This lecture is timeless.

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