Radical Capitalism

Course Description:

There are those who advocate the benefit of market economies and then there are radicals for capitalism. From privatizing the police to abolishing the Federal Reserve, radical capitalist thinkers, and their followers, argue that markets are more efficient and morally superior than government. This class examines the philosophical ideas and social movement spawned by these thinkers. This class especially focuses on debates within radical capitalist theory and the divisions this has created. The works of Hayek, Mises, Nozick, Rand, and Rothbard will figure centrally in this course. Issues critically examined within this course include the legitimacy of government, the nature of the market, the morality of selfishness, conflicts between utility and rights, and the private provision of what are typically considered government services.

Course objectives include the following:

• Examine various theories about capitalism

• Nuance understanding of different free market ideologies

• Examine consensus and lack thereof between different theorists

• Explore conflicts and syntheses of ideas in philosophy and economics

• Define what we mean—both personally and collectively—when we use the terms capitalism, free market, and laissez faire

Learning Outcomes include the following:

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

• Reading course materials effectively, reflecting comprehension

• Understand the similarities and differences in radical capitalist arguments.

• Identify the intellectual motivation of authors, institutions, and activists.

• Engage in critical thinking by analyzing, evaluating, and articulating the strengths and weaknesses of arguments covered in class

• Understand the criteria by which they judge the arguments covered in class

• Apply definitions of capitalism to enhance critical examination of current events and issues.

• Express ideas, facts and arguments in a written format that depicts competency in the use of syntax, organization, and style

Teaching Philosophy:

My classes are student centered in multiple ways. First, I expect no more of you than I do of myself. You are a full time student with other classes and responsibilities. I am a fulltime faculty, with other classes and responsibilities. Making this a rewarding class means recognizing that it is not the only thing in our lives, but that it is an important part for at least the current semester. A course that demands too little is a waste of time, and a course that demands too much is an unfair drain on your other obligations. Since this is the first time I have taught this course I shall constantly monitor work load and progress to make any necessary changes.

Second, I am here to help you get the education you want. That is how I perceive my role as professor and facilitator. I completely dedicated to helping you with any questions or problems you encounter with the course material. Within the rules laid out by this syllabus, I also do my best to help students balance other obligations with this course. However, I do not read minds. Getting the education you want requires that you communicate with me.

Third, helping students does not mean doing whatever they ask. It also does not mean agreeing with everything that is said in class. You are no more expected to agree with the professor than the professor to agree with you. In fact my general philosophy in life comes to the fore here. I will challenge you on your thoughts and arguments. Most likely, in all our exchanges, I will never completely agree with you. I will do my best to make sure of it. My goal is to help you explore and formulate your ideas on business. I do not believe this is best served by a great deal of head nodding. I will also show you how this can be done in a supportive and civil manner. Showing true respect for any idea means engaging that idea and asking the person why they hold that idea. While it is hard work, it is an enjoyable process; it is also why they killed Socrates. I will do my best, with your guidance, to strike a happy balance.

Finally, I enjoy answering questions. Not everything is an argument. There will be many occasions when we are mutually involved in an exploration of ideas and practices. If there is something you do not understand, or would like clarified, please ask. You can ask either on the Discussion Boards or by emailing me. If your email is not of a personal nature, I may post the answer on my Blog as well as emailing it.

Required Texts:

1) Atlas Shrugged (Mass Market Paperback)

Author: Ayn Rand

Mass Market Paperback: 1088 pages

Publisher: Signet (September 1, 1996)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0451191145

ISBN-13: 978-0451191144

Price: $8.99

2) Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Edition [DELUXE EDITION] (Paperback)

Author: Milton Friedman

Paperback: 230 pages

Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (November 15, 2002)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0226264211

ISBN-13: 978-0226264219

Price: $16.00

3) Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement (Paperback)

Author: Brian Doherty

Paperback: 752 pages

Publisher: PublicAffairs (May 26, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1586485725

ISBN-13: 978-1586485726

Price: $21.95

Other readings posted in “Weekly Sessions” in Blackboard.

• Discussion Boards: 10 pts. each week = 130 pts. total

• 5 page papers: 100 points each = 200 pts. total

• Midterm and Final Exams: 100 points each = 200 pts. total

• Course point total = 530 pts

As a percentage of total points final grades are determined as follows:

A (93%)

A- (90%-92.51%)

B+ (87%-89.5%)

B (83% – 86.51%) B- (80%-82.51%)

C+ (77%-79.5%)

C (73%-76.51%)

C- (70%-72.51%)

D+ (67%-69.5%) D (63%-66.51%) D- (60%-62.51%)

F (Below 59.5%)

F (Below 59.5%)

F (Below 59.5%)



The purpose of the papers is to critically engage the readings of the course. Papers should be at least 5 pages in length with standard margins and 12 point font. Students are encouraged to use their discussion board posts as early drafts for sections of the paper. Potential topics will be discussed in class.

Paper Grading:

Papers will be assessed in the following categories. Each category is worth 20 points for a total of 100 points.

I Grammar, spelling, typographical errors, correct word usage, and standard use of the language.

II Organization, paragraph structure, argument flow, arranging sentences and paragraphs so that there is a clear and smooth transition of thoughts.

III References to readings or class discussions, accurate citations, good use of examples or quotations, demonstration that the author has knowledge about the subject.

IV Sound argument, synthesis, comparison, good thinking, presentation of ideas with follow-up to support or back up ideas, use of reasoning to support positions, evaluation, persuasiveness, analysis.

V Accomplished goals of assignment, or addressed goals of assignment. Demonstrated achievement of course learning goals or objectives. The student did what they were asked to do in the description of the assignment.

Bonus: up to 5 pts – Creativity, innovative or impressive use of style, cleverness, innovation, avoiding tedious style or cliché, synthesis, novel ideas about application.


Exams are open book open note. I will give you at least 90 minutes for each exam. Exams will consist of multiple choice, true/false and short essay questions covering the readings, lecture notes, and discussion boards.


Participation is carried out mainly through the Discussion Board. Online, and on campus, students are expected to participate in discussion boards every week. Discussion boards for each week will close seven days after the end of that week. For example week 1 ends on 1/28, the discussion board for week 1 will close on 2/4. This effectively gives two weeks to participate in any discussion board. Students who fail to participate will get a zero grade for that week’s discussion board grade.

There will be multiple discussion questions. Unless stated otherwise, students are expected to at least answer two discussion questions and comment on the post of one other person. That makes for at least three meaningful posts each week. Students may also post, and comment on, an outside article or blog as part of their required participation. Remember, good posts are thought out and articulate. Simply pasting a link you like is not participation without thoughtful comment. You should post these under the “Current Events” thread.

Redundant posts count for less. Do not say the exact same thing as someone before you. If you think you are too close, you probably are and should move on to answering another question.

Please also take note, this is the required minimum. To earn an “A” with three posts, all three must be excellent. Additional good posts can help your participation grade.

Participation Grading:

The quality of the posts is vital. There is no mathematical formula for determining participation grades. The following list is a guide to help you in the proper direction.

No Credit/Zero

Simply repeating what someone else says.

One word answers or purely emotive responses e.g. “Yeah, that was great! I was thinking the same thing.”

Thread bears no relation to the topic at hand.

Failure to use any grammar or punctuation. Thread composed of texting language e.g. “ur gr8”

7 pts

Thread many similarities to other posts.

Brief answers that do not explain the topic. e.g. “For Hobbes, justice is property.”

Thread bears minimal relation to the topic. Makes people pause and think “How is this related?”

Thread containing 3 to 4 mistakes in grammar or spelling.

8 or 9 pts

Thread contains some similarities to other posts.

Sufficient writing to answer the question. Defines terms and references readings. Reader understands clearly what the poster is talking about.

Thread is relevant to the topic. People do not need to pause and think “How is this relevant?”

Thread Contains 1-2 grammar or spelling errors.

10 pts

Thread is new.

Post answers question and clearly explains answer. Post sees implications and connections that go beyond initial question.

Thread is relevant to the topic and makes readers see topic in a new light.

Thread contains 0-1 grammar or spelling errors.


Attendance at every class session is expected for on campus students. Classroom attendance is an integral part of this learning experience both for you and those around you. However, sometimes things happen that must be dealt with at the expense of class time. You may miss one class session without penalty or questions.  That is a week of classes. Each additional absence will result in a penalty of a third of a letter grade. Students concerned about possible illness or other troubles that would keep them from class ought to save this days. I hope that tragedy avoids us all this semester, but in the event of a death of a family member, please bring me a signed note from the funeral home director. This will give you a third class absence that will not count towards your total. There are no other excused absences.

Reading and Assignment Schedule:

On Campus Lecture

(Thursday) Online Study Week

(Friday – Thursday) On Campus Lecture (Thursday) Readings Assignments

Week 1 1/21 (1/22 – 1/28) 1/28 Keynes: “End of Laissez Faire” (9pages)

Doherty: Introduction “Reviving an American Radical Tradition” (20 pages)

Mises: “Profit Management” & “Bureaucratic Management” (37 pages) Discussion Board (DB)

Week 2 1/28 (1/29 – 2/4) 2/4 Atlas Shrugged (AS) Part One, I – V

Hayek “Why the Worst Get on Top” (19 pages) DB

Week 3 (2/5 – 2/11) 2/11 AS: Part One, VI – IX

Doherty: Chapter 2 “Austrian Roadblocks” pp. 67- 84 DB

Week 4 (2/12 – 2/18) 2/18 AS: Part One, X; Part Two I & II

Doherty: Chapter 2 “Austrian Roadblocks” pp. pp. 84 – 111 First Paper Due


Week 5 (2/19 – 2/25) 2/25 AS: Part Two III – V

Friedman: Chapter 1 “The Relation Between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom” (14 pages) DB

Week 6 (2/26 – 3/4) 3/4 AS: Part Two VI – VIII

Friedman: Chapter 2 The role of Government in a Free Society (14 pages) DB

Week 7 (3/5 – 3/11) 3/11 AS: Part Two IX & X

Rothbard: For a New Liberty pp. 21-44 (Audio at http://mises.org/media/1695)

Midterm & DB

Weeks 8 & 9 AS: Part Three I – VI

(See Below for Schedule)

Week 8 Friday, Saturday, Sunday

12,13,14 (Active online class)

Monday March 15 – Sunday March 21st. Spring Break

Week 9


22 Back to work. Regularly scheduled online course work.

24 Thursday On Campus Lecture

AS: Part Three I – VI

Week 10 (3/26 – 4/1) 4/1 AS: VII “This is John Galt Speaking” DB

Week 11 (4/2 – 4/8) 4/8

No on-campus class. All work online.

Doherty: Chapter 4 “Fighting for Freedom” pp. 149-225

Bastiat: “Petition”; “The Broken Window” (5 pages) Second Paper Due 4/8

Week 12 (4/9 – 4/15) 4/15 Doherty: Chapter 5 “Objectivism, Anarcho Capitalism and the Effects of Psychedelics on Faith and Freedom” pp. 225 – 291

Rothbard: FNL “ Public Sector III: Police, Law, and the Courts” 219-247


Wednesday, April 14 – Furlough day.

Week 13 (4/16 – 4/22) 4/22 Doherty: Chapter 6 “The Goldwater Movement, The Objectivist Crackup, and the Hippies of the Right” pp. 291-389

Hayek: “Why I am not a Conservative” DB

Week 14 (4/23 – 4/29) 4/29 Divisions Continue: Money

Friedman: Chapter III

Sennholz: “The Value of Money”

Rothbard: FNL “Inflation and the Business Cycle” DB

Week 15 (4/30 – 5/6) 5/6 Divisions and agreement cont’

Friedman: Chapters XI & XII

Rothbard: “Welfare and the Welfare State” pp. 174 – 198 DB

Week 16


Bonus (5/7 – 5/12) 5/13 Doherty: Chapter 9 “Twilight of the Libertarian Gods” & “Epilogue” 537-619 Final Exam & DB


Reasonable accommodations are available for students who have a documented disability that affects their learning. A documented disability can include: physical, psychological, or health issues, vision, hearing, cognitive, or learning impairments, and emotional or attentional disorders. All accommodations must be approved through the Office of Disability Services (ODS) (217-206-6666), HRB 80. Please notify the instructor during the first week of class of any accommodations needed for the course. While O.D.S. does accept late applications, accommodations are not retroactive.


Any time you use words or ideas that are not your own, you must give credit to the author, whether or not you are quoting directly from that author. Failure to do so constitutes plagiarism, a serious academic violation.  Penalties for plagiarism may vary depending upon the extent of the problem, but are always serious. In the Honors program this is a violation of the Honor Code and of the Campus “Academic Integrity Policy” approved in the Spring of 2008. For more information on this policy please see http://www.uis.edu/campussenate/AcademicIntegrity.htm . Be sure to consult with your instructor or the Center for Teaching and Learning in Brookens 460 if you have questions about what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it. Please note that borrowing from fellow students without proper attribution constitutes plagiarism.

Taught as LIS 360 Radical Capitalism at the University of Illinois, Springfield

Author: William Kline, Ph.D.

About William Kline

William Kline is an associate professor in the department of Business Administration at the University of Illinois, Springfield.
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One Response to Radical Capitalism

  1. Scott Thompson says:

    Dr. Kline,

    I found your course Podcast for Radical Capitalism on Apple’s iTunes U and have enjoyed listening to it as an extension of my first reading of Atlas Shrugged. This is the first time I’ve read Ayn Rand and I have found it to be absolutely fascinating (and, I must admit, a bit frightening given the current political climate). Your insights offered through the course have been a valuable addition to my enjoyment of the book.

    I thank you, and by extension your university for going through the trouble of making the course available on iTunes U. I also thank you for making your reading list available on the libertystudies.org web site. I will enjoy looking at some of the additional material presented through that list.

    I appreciate your work and wish you the best throughout the Christmas season and the New Year!


    Scott Thompson
    Plano, Texas

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