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"Capitalism" Summary

By George Reisman

economics | 1096 pages | Published in 1996

ISBN_13: 9780915463732

Estimated read time: 4 min read

One Sentence Summary

An authoritative defense of capitalism as the only moral and practical economic system.


In the book "Capitalism" by George Reisman, the author provides a comprehensive exploration of the principles and benefits of capitalism. Reisman presents a strong defense of the economic system, arguing for its superiority over other alternatives. Drawing on both theory and historical evidence, this book offers a compelling analysis of capitalism's positive impact on individual freedom, prosperity, and social progress.

Brief Synopsis

"Capitalism" begins with a detailed explanation of the economic principles that underpin capitalism. Reisman emphasizes the role of private property, voluntary exchange, and the division of labor in creating wealth and improving living standards. He counters common misconceptions about capitalism, such as the idea that it is based on exploitation or leads to inequality.

The book then explores the historical context of capitalism, tracing its origins and development. Reisman highlights the significant improvements in living conditions that have resulted from the adoption of capitalist principles. He also examines the failures of alternative economic systems, such as socialism and interventionism, and their negative consequences for societies.

Throughout the book, Reisman provides a rigorous analysis of the key elements of capitalism, including profit and loss, entrepreneurship, competition, and the role of government. He argues that capitalism allows for the efficient allocation of resources, encourages innovation, and creates the conditions for widespread prosperity.

Main Events

Chapter 1Introduction to the principles of capitalism
Chapter 2The role of private property and voluntary exchange
Chapter 3The division of labor and specialization
Chapter 4Capitalism's impact on living standards throughout history
Chapter 5Critiques of capitalism and their refutations
Chapter 6The failure of alternative economic systems
Chapter 7The importance of profit and loss
Chapter 8The role of entrepreneurship in capitalism
Chapter 9The benefits of competition
Chapter 10The role of government in a capitalist society
Chapter 11Capitalism and economic progress
Chapter 12Capitalism and individual freedom

Main Characters

  1. George Reisman - The author and economist who presents a strong defense of capitalism.
  2. Various historical figures - Reisman references numerous individuals throughout history who have played significant roles in the development and promotion of capitalism.

Themes and Insights


  1. The power of capitalism: Reisman highlights the incredible capacity of capitalism to generate wealth, improve living standards, and promote social progress.
  2. Individual freedom: The book emphasizes the importance of individual freedom as a fundamental aspect of capitalism, allowing individuals to pursue their own goals and interests.


  1. Capitalism and prosperity: Reisman provides a wealth of evidence and analysis to demonstrate how capitalism has consistently led to increased prosperity and improved living conditions.
  2. Efficiency and innovation: The author argues that capitalism's profit motive and competitive environment encourage efficiency and innovation, driving economic growth and technological advancement.

Reader's Takeaway

"Capitalism" is a thought-provoking and informative book that challenges common misconceptions about capitalism and presents a compelling case for its effectiveness. Readers will gain a deep understanding of the economic principles underlying capitalism and the positive impact it can have on society. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in economics, political philosophy, and the role of capitalism in shaping our world.


"Capitalism" by George Reisman is a thorough examination of the principles and benefits of capitalism. Through a combination of theory and historical analysis, Reisman presents a compelling case for the superiority of capitalism as an economic system. The book challenges common misconceptions and provides readers with a deep understanding of the fundamental principles that underpin capitalism's success. "Capitalism" is a must-read for anyone seeking to gain insights into the power and potential of this economic system.

Capitalism FAQ

  1. What is the main theme of the book 'Capitalism'?

    The main theme of the book 'Capitalism' by George Reisman is to present a comprehensive defense of laissez-faire capitalism and its superiority over alternative economic systems.

  2. Who is the author of 'Capitalism'?

    The author of 'Capitalism' is George Reisman, an American economist and professor.

  3. Is 'Capitalism' an academic book?

    Yes, 'Capitalism' is an academic book that provides a detailed analysis and theoretical framework to support the principles of laissez-faire capitalism.

  4. Does the book discuss the history of capitalism?

    Yes, 'Capitalism' covers the historical development of capitalism and its impact on society, economy, and individual liberty.

  5. What are some key concepts explored in 'Capitalism'?

    Some key concepts explored in 'Capitalism' include the role of individual rights, the importance of private property, the benefits of free markets, and the destructive nature of government intervention in the economy.

  6. Is 'Capitalism' suitable for readers with no background in economics?

    While 'Capitalism' is a comprehensive and scholarly work, it is written in a way that can be understood by readers with no background in economics. The author explains complex concepts in a clear and accessible manner.

  7. Does 'Capitalism' address criticisms of capitalism?

    Yes, 'Capitalism' addresses common criticisms of capitalism, such as income inequality and exploitation, and provides counterarguments based on economic principles and empirical evidence.

  8. Is 'Capitalism' a political book?

    'Capitalism' primarily focuses on economic principles and the benefits of laissez-faire capitalism. While it touches on political aspects, its main emphasis is on the economic system.

  9. Are there real-world examples and case studies discussed in 'Capitalism'?

    Yes, 'Capitalism' includes numerous real-world examples and case studies to illustrate the principles and outcomes of capitalism in practice.

  10. Where can I find more information about George Reisman's work?

    You can find more information about George Reisman and his work, including 'Capitalism,' on his official website or by searching for his publications and interviews online.