Ayn Rand argues that the principle of individual rights is the foundation of a free society—and that capitalism is the only system that can protect those rights. In this lesson, Dr. Ghate and Dr. Salmieri analyze Rand’s essay “What Is Capitalism?” and answer students’ questions. Topics discussed include Rand’s take on political economy as a new field in the nineteenth century, the fundamental distinguishing characteristics among social systems, Rand’s definition of capitalism and a comparison with other definitions, three theories of the good, the ethical theory presupposed by capitalism, capitalism’s rejection of collectivism and tribalism, its embrace of reason and production, and its legal protections of property rights and the right to disagree.