Capitalism is a social system–it’s a certain way of organizing society so that individuals can freely pursue life, prosperity, and happiness. Contrary to what we’re often taught, understanding capitalism is fundamentally a philosophic, not an economic, endeavor. That was Ayn Rand’s distinctive contribution. Here are a few of the best online resources I know of for understanding the philosophy of capitalism.
“What Is Capitalism?” by Ayn Rand. This talk–or rather the article Rand wrote based on this talk–is in my view the best single thing ever written about capitalism.
“Man’s Rights” by Ayn Rand. As Rand puts it in the first sentence of this essay, “If one wishes to advocate a free society—that is, capitalism—one must realize that its indispensable foundation is the principle of individual rights.” To understand individual rights, read this essay.
“Nature of Government” by Ayn Rand. Shows why a social system based on individual rights requires a rights-protecting government, in the model of the original American system.
“Atlas Shrugged: America’s Second Declaration of Independence” by Onkar Ghate. Why didn’t the system of limited government set up by the Founding Fathers last? And how does Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged set the stage for a lasting return to freedom? This magnificent talk answers those questions and many more. Here’s a written version of the talk (PDF).
“Individual Rights: A Revolutionary Idea” by Onkar Ghate. This talk significantly deepened my own understanding of individual rights.
“Atlas Shrugged and the Morality of Freedom” by Onkar Ghate. A companion piece to the previous talk, this is a clarifying explanation of the relationship between Ayn Rand’s morality of self-interest and the need for capitalism.
“Defending Capitalism” by Yaron Brook. Answers the question: What do people need to learn in order to embrace capitalism?