Ayn Rand’s unqualified endorsement of laissez-faire capitalism represents a second instance of non-contradictory integration. For example, prior to the capitalist revolution of the 18th century Enlightenment, Europeans lived under monarchical despotism and in miserable penury. But the principle of individual rights liberated commoners from bondage to the aristocrats, freed them to pursue their own happiness and to deploy their rational minds in that quest; freed them to advance in every field of human endeavor-including applied science and technology-and thereby enormously boosted both living standards and life expectancies.
Further, her support of capitalism integrates not merely with historical knowledge but with the science of economics, which establishes that only the free market system is capable of creating a widespread abundance of consumer goods-and that statism of any form, emphatically including all types of socialism, leads necessarily to widespread destitution. One critical principle in this regard is that the freedom of the capitalist system liberates every man to employ his mind in the production of the values required by human life. When man’s survival instrument is unrestrained, more men will survive, for longer periods of time, and at higher living standards.
Above all, advocacy of capitalism coheres with the rational principles of philosophy that Ayn Rand herself identified. For example, because men need to egoistically achieve values in order to live, they must have the legal right to pursue them; therefore, the principle of individual rights, and a limited Constitutional government to protect such rights, is necessary.
Related, since the mind is mankind’s survival instrument, men must be free to apply their rational judgment to questions of practical life without need to gain permission, including that of the state. Virtue requires men to be consistently rational-and capitalism, by protecting each individual’s inalienable right to employ his own mind, is the sole system that enables them to be so.
A final moral point: since (according to Objectivism) the good is that which promotes man’s life on earth, capitalism, by enabling the explosion of creative, life-giving advances proceeding from the protection of men’s right to their own lives and minds, is a good of virtually unprecedented historical proportions.
Deeper, rationality (and its method of objectivity) are required of men because of the metaphysical truth of the primacy of existence principle. Capitalism- the sole system liberating men’s rational minds-is thereby the sole system fully congruent with this deepest truth of reality. On the polemical side, the opposite of capitalism-statism in any of its manifestations- repeatedly violates the right of individuals to their own lives and minds, and consequently leads predictably to brutal repression, economic collapse, and mass murder.
In brief, Ayn Rand’s full support of laissez-faire capitalism is the only conclusion that integrates without contradiction into an enormous body of knowledge from history, economics, ethics, and deeper philosophy. By contrast, a cognitive claim that cannot be integrated without contradiction into the sum of a rational man’s knowledge must be rejected. For example, an independent thinker will be led to question the continued apologia for Communism on the part of the Western intelligentsia. “Deaths under Stalin were greatly exaggerated,” he hears-or “Ho Chi Minh was the George Washington of Vietnam”-or “Under Mao, at least every Chinese received a bowl of rice per day”–etc. But, the rational thinker will realize, Communism holds that no individual possesses a right to his own life-and that each man must exist for the state.
This, he recognizes, is a principle held in common with the Nazis. Further, like National Socialism, Communism is a totalitarian manifestation, with closed borders, suppressed intellectual expression, and concentration camps or gulags. People die seeking escape to the West, he knows, not vice-versa; indeed, they die merely for speaking their minds. Today, he might even be aware of state-of-the-art research into the archives of former Communist regimes revealing a numbing total of 100 million murders in 80 years. Further, he’s read (or remembers) that the brutal suppression led to severe economic collapse, to widespread famine, e.g., in Soviet Russia, China, and North Korea, and that massive food shipments from America and other freer nations were necessary to save lives.