In this 1967 lecture, Ayn Rand argues that capitalism is the only moral social system—the only system which is consistent with man’s nature as a rational being, and therefore the only system that protects his ability to engage in the kinds of productive activities that his life and happiness require.
Rand covers such topics as the nature of man and the role of reason in his life, individual rights and freedom, differing views of “the good” and the social systems that they produce, the purpose and proper functions of government, her definition of “capitalism,” and why only capitalism—a system of voluntary interaction among free people—is the system of human flourishing.
“What is Capitalism?” originally appeared as an article in the November and December 1965 editions of Rand’s periodical, The Objectivist Newsletter. Rand first delivered it as a lecture on March 22, 1967, to students in the “Conceptual Foundations of Business” course at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business. This recording is from Rand’s annual address in Boston, on April 16, 1967, at The Ford Hall Forum—which, founded in 1908, is America’s oldest continuously-operating public lecture series. The article “What is Capitalism?” was anthologized in Rand’s 1967 book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.