Books: The Market Economy A Reader, Edited by James Doti and Dwight Lee

by | Jan 9, 2002

This anthology is basically flawed.

This anthology is basically flawed. Although its aim is to offer readings in support of a free market, most of the selections consist of economically weak and morally compromising arguments. Nonetheless, two considerations make this book worth reading.

One is the handful of pieces—including two by Ayn Rand—which do articulate a cogent, powerful defense of capitalism. The second is the instructive lesson—albeit unintended—of how indefensible capitalism would be if one had to rely on the arguments offered by standard conservatives.

It is perversely illuminating to see the fallacious views of people whom the world regards as staunch advocates of capitalism. One shudders at reading, for example, this assertion by Friedrich von Hayek: “The case for individual freedom rests chiefly on the inevitable ignorance of all of us,” and the free market system represents “rules which experience has shown to serve best on the whole, though we do not know what will be the consequences of obeying them.” Likewise, this assertion by Milton Friedman: “Our principles offer no hard and fast line how far it is appropriate to use government.

In any particular case of the proposed intervention, we must make up a balance sheet, listing separately the advantages and disadvantages.” If—as conservatives typically argue—capitalism rests on ignorance, faith, and pragmatism, why wouldn’t any person of intelligence, rationality, and principle embrace socialism? In a more positive vein, there are two selections by Ayn Rand (“The Nature of Government” and Hank Rearden’s courtroom speech from Atlas Shrugged).

There is also an essay by Ludwig von Mises on the impracticality of socialism, and two by Frederic Bastiat on protectionism and competition. It is more of these articles—in which capitalism is unequivocally upheld—that would have constituted a true anthology on capitalism.

This review is made available by the Ayn Rand Bookstore (formerly Second Renaissance Books)

The Ayn Rand Bookstore (formerly Second Renaissance Books) is your source for books and lectures for those interested in Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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