Aimed at both the intelligent layman and the professional economist, and written in
language that both can understand, this book is the most comprehensive and intellectually
powerful explanation of the nature and value of laissez-faire capitalism that has ever
been written. It represents a twofold major integration of truths previously discovered by
other writers, combined with numerous original contributions made by the author himself.
Within economic theory, it integrates leading ideas of the Austrian school with needlessly
abandoned doctrines of the British classical school. It further integrates such
reconstituted economic theory with essential elements of Ayn Rand's philosophy of
Objectivism. (The Austrian school has been the main school of procapitalist economic
thought since 1871; von Mises is its most important member, followed by Böhm-Bawerk. The
British classical school was the main school of procapitalist economic thought prior to
1871; Adam Smith and David Ricardo are its most important members.)
On the foundation of these integrations, Dr. Reisman is able to develop the numerous
major original contributions that the book presents on the subjects of profits, wages,
saving, capital accumulation, aggregate economic accounting, monopoly, and natural
resources, among other vital subjects. Based on the same foundation, the book presents the
most powerful critiques of Marx, Keynes, the pure-and-perfect competition doctrine, and
environmentalism to be found anywhere.
A leading part of its trenchant economic analysis is a consistent demonstration of the
natural harmony of the rational self-interests of all men under capitalismof
businessmen and wage earners, of consumers and producers, of men of all races and
nationalities, including immigrants and the native born, and of competitors of all levels
of abilityconsonances most will find astonishing, given the prevailing
misunderstandings of capitalism in the present day.
The book's importance and appeal to a general audience are evident in its description
of prevailing attitudes toward capitalism and its challenge to learn why they are all
completely wrong and the cause of self-destructive political behavior on a massive scale.
For those with the intellectual courage to accept a challenge of having many of their
firmest and most cherished beliefs reduced by unanswerable logic to the status of Dark-Age
superstitions, here are some of the beliefs that Reisman's book demolishes: The profit
motive is the cause of starvation wages, exhausting hours, sweatshops, and child labor; of
monopolies, inflation, depressions, wars, imperialism, and racism. Saving is hoarding.
Competition is the law of the jungle. Economic inequality is unjust and the legitimate
basis for class warfare. Economic progress is a ravaging of the planet and, in the form of
improvements in efficiency, a cause of unemployment and depressions. War and destruction
or additional peacetime government spending are necessary to prevent unemployment under
capitalism. Economic activity other than manual labor is parasitical. Businessmen and
capitalists are recipients of "unearned income" and are "exploiters."
The stock and commodity markets are "gambling casinos"; retailers and
wholesalers are "middlemen," having no function but that of adding
"markups" to the prices charged by farmers and manufacturers; advertisers are
inherently guilty of fraudthe fraud of attempting to induce people to desire the
goods that capitalism showers on them, but that they allegedly have no natural or
legitimate basis for desiring. (These are all common accusations that are bandied about
again and again ad nauseam, in the media, in novels and plays, in classrooms and lecture
On the basis of such mistaken beliefs, Reisman shows, "people turn to the
government: for social justice'; for protection and aid, in the form of labor and
social legislation; for reason and order, in the form of government planning.' They
demand and for the most part have long ago obtained: progressive income and inheritance
taxation; minimum-wage and maximum-hours laws; laws giving special privileges and
immunities to labor unions; antitrust legislation; social security legislation; public
education; public housing; socialized medicine; nationalized or municipalized post
offices, utilities, railroads, subways, and bus lines; subsidies for farmers, shippers,
manufacturers, borrowers, lenders, the unemployed, students, tenants, and the needy and
allegedly needy of every description."
Reisman's book flies in the face of all such anticapitalistic ideas and demands. Its
thesis is that never have so many people been so ignorant and confused about a subject so
important, as most people now are about economics and capitalism. It argues that in its
logically consistent form of laissez-faire capitalismthat is, with the powers of
government limited to those of national defense and the administration of
justicecapitalism is a system of economic progress and prosperity for all, and is a
precondition of world peace. Following an exhaustive economic analysis of virtually every
aspect of capitalism, the book's concluding chapter is devoted to the presentation of a
long-range political-economic program for the achievement of a fully capitalist society.
Because its advocacy of capitalism is based in large measure on the author's own,
original contributions to economic theory, this is a book that the professional economist
can profit from as much as the general reader. For it is sure to constitute as wide and
profound a challenge to the theoretical preconceptions of today's economists as it does to
the political preconceptions of today's laymen.
Almost the length of a volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica in terms both of number of
pages and content per page, the book incorporates in little more than three of its twenty
chapters an updated and expanded version of the material presented in Dr. Reisman's
previous book The Government Against the Economy.
Simply put, Capitalism:
A Treatise on Economics is the philosophically
and intellectually strongest book in the defense of laissez-faire capitalism that can be
found anywhere in the world at the present time. It is state of the art in economic theory
and political philosophy. At the same time, however, it can serve as a textbook
(introductory, intermediate, or advanced), in which capacity it provides a complete and
effective alternative and antidote to what is taught in such texts as Samuelson and all
the Samuelson clones and will educate professors as well as students.
The intelligent, open-minded reader who seeks to understand the
economics and politics of the modern world (along with much of its
closely related history and social and cultural phenomena), and what is
required to improve mankind's lot in these two vital areas, need look no
further than to this book. Reading it is an essential requirement for
understanding and improving the modern world.
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Here Is What Prominent Readers and
Publications Say About
CAPITALISM: A TREATISE ON ECONOMICS
"Reisman's exposure of modern mercantilist
fallacies takes its place alongside that of Adam Smith."
- James Buchanan,
Nobel Laureate in Economics, 1986
magnum opus on the nature of capitalism, one that has
depth, breadth, foresight and style. It is a book on economics that stands head and
shoulders above all others as a monumental tribute to the human capacity to engage in
productive work and the moral worth of a system of principles wherein such work is fully
appreciated. While detailed and touching on nearly every possible nuance of the subject,
this is a very readable book which anticipates all the questions and objections educated,
thoughtful people may have about an economic system
that has not been given its full and proper due by anyone before Reisman took up the task.
Ludwig von Mises would be gratified to know how one of his students has carried forth the
task he began."
- Tibor Machan,
Professor of Philosophy,
"Reisman develops powerful and highly original theories of
aggregate profit and interest, savings and capital accumulation, wages, and aggregate
economic accounting. At once an introductory, intermediate, and advanced text, as well as
a mine of information on current political and economic issues, Capitalism advances
economic theory by several leagues and paves the way for a genuine twenty-first century
- Jerry Kirkpatrick,
Professor of Marketing,
California State Polytechnic University
Capitalism is the most rigorous and
relentless case for laissez-faire capitalism written in our time. It is both a brilliant
rebuttal of the charges against the market order and a discerning master plan for the
restoration of capitalism."
- Hans Sennholz,
Foundation for Economic Education
"Reisman has compiled one of the best
defenses of the economics and morality of liberty I've seen written in recent years."
- Walter E. Williams,
Professor of Economics,
George Mason University
"For two full academic years prior to its publication I had
the fortunate opportunity to use working manuscripts of Capitalism as primary
readings for my graduate business economics classes at Johns Hopkins University. The
student response has been overwhelmingly positive. Capitalism's value as a treatise
that provides a comprehensive, logically consistent view of the economic world cannot be
overstated. It is brilliantly structured and offers the best integration of important new
economic insights and time-tested truths available anywhere."
- Robert D. Miller,
Johns Hopkins University
"The most important tome about Austrian economics since
Ludwig von Mises' Human Action and Murray Rothbard's Man, Economy, and State."
- 1997 Foundation for Economic Education Book Catalogue
"A sweeping and compelling case for the free market, which,
as Professor Reisman shows, is the key to civilization."
- Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.,
Ludwig von Mises Institute
"There are only a few truly great economic classics.
Reisman's Capitalism takes its place among them as the leading defense of
capitalism. . . . Reisman has taken a complex subject and made it understandable. In my
experience, students who have read this work come away believing that economic principles
are important and that economics actually makes sense."
- George A. Mangiero,
Associate Professor of Economics,
probably the most remarkable textbook written by any economist in this century. It is a
book that will broaden the horizons of economics students at the same time that it
challenges and provokes their professors. It is, quite simply, must reading for anyone
interested in economics."
- Larry J. Sechrest,
Associate Professor of Economics,
Sul Ross State University
"George Reisman has written a profound, often brilliant
work, full of fascinating and valuable insights, wisdom and vision. It is seldom that I
find myself underlining or putting exclamation points in the margins of nearly every page
of a book. . . . I have learned much from Reisman's magnum opus and recommend it highly to
all readers who want to expand their vision of economic reality."
"A synthesis of Austrian and classical
economics, including refutations of all the leading fallacies of our era."
Liberty Tree Review and Catalog
"Dr. Reisman has accumulated new evidence,
building on Adam Smith and von Mises to give us the economic masterwork of our age. . . .
is meant to be a lifetime companion."
Conservative Book Club
"An expositon and defense of
capitalism on a par with those of Mises and Hayek . . . ."
- The Free Radical
"Reisman's ringing manifesto for laissez-faire capitalism
free of all government influence is at once a conservative polemic and a monumental
treatise, brimming with original theories, that is remarkable for its depth, scope and
Publishers Weekly (click to see the full text of this review)
"Overall, Capitalism is a book you
would want in your library if you want to know what a consistent, intelligent advocate of
capitalism would say on almost any economic issue."
(click to see the full text of this review)
"Reisman offers the most comprehensive defense of
capitalism ever written. . . Capitalism is a classic."
see the full text of this review)
See Numerous Readers' Reviews at
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Below is the contents of the book in brief (part and chapter headings only).