THE CAPITALIST READER by Lawrence S.--Ed. Stepelevich


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An anthology whose selections center around attacks on state control and other market interference, starting with a few paragraphs on free trade by Adam Smith. The thirteen other contributors largely represent the Austrian School and its American affiliate headed by Milton Friedman. Generalized scorn toward ""'great' men in the world--legislators, organizers, do-gooders, leaders of the people, fathers of nations, and so on and so on""--is distilled by Frederic Bastiat, a Frenchman who wrote a counter-declaration to the Communist Manifesto in 1848. The longest essay, by post-WW II economist Wilhelm Roepke, explains the benefits of ""ordered anarchy"" with auspicious citations as a substitute for analysis; Ludwig von Mises writes that ""true capitalism"" involves rugged individualism, but Ayn Rand is the only one to stress, in vague fashion, positive creativity, while Louis Kelso in ""Property and Justice"" makes Robinson Crusoe a small employer. The book badly needs an interpretive introduction to accompany the biographical glosses at the end. It seems to be aimed at aggravating a general reader's fears of ""bigness"" rather than acclaiming capitalism per se; indeed, not only the crimes and perils of capitalism but its exciting accomplishments are missing from the selections, which emphasize formal structures rather than historical development. In consequence, the volume as a whole is as gray and dry as ""statism"" itself.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Arlington House