Acton Institute Powerblog

Less Ayn Rand, More Wilhelm Röpke

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wilhelm-ropkeSome Christian free market enthusiasts mistakenly believe we have to make a choice between socialism and Randianism. But as Joel Miller points out, there are far better intellectual leaders than Ayn Rand. Wilhelm Röpke is a prime example:

Capitalism has had many defenders. Some, rather than being anti-religious like Rand, are self-consciously Christian. Rand’s contemporary, Wilhelm Röpke, is one such example.

Looking back at the tremendous upheavals of the first half of the twentieth century, many responded by embracing socialism, both in Europe and even America. Not Röpke. A professional economist, he lectured, wrote several books, and was partly responsible for engineering Germany’s post-WWII recovery. One of his books, published one year after Atlas Shrugged hit the market, remains essential reading today.

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Socialism is a dead end, one that represses human freedom. But I don’t need Rand to tell me that. Rand’s critique is unnecessary and ultimately unhelpful because it is undergirded by an atheistic, anti-Christian philosophy. Our choice isn’t between socialism and Rand. We would be far better served by giving more space to people like Wilhelm Röpke.

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Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).


  • RogerMcKinney

    I can’t imagine a Christian free marketeer advocating Rand. She was a disgusting person. Promoting her will turn off any decent person. Ropke is a far better choice, but so are Adam Smith, Hayek, Mises, Lachmann, and many others.

  • Ayn Rand correctly pointed out that by basing ones advocacy of Capitalism on religious faith one implicitly granted that reason was on the side of Socialism.

    • RogerMcKinney

      That’s true only in the twisted mind of atheists who define religion as irrational. And it advertises Rand’s extreme ignorance of history. The Christian emphasis on reason gave birth to modern science and free markets. Rand was such an idiot in so many ways. I can hardly count them.

  • Joel Miller helpfully linked a free PDF of the Ropke book in his article. Also ask your local librarian to order Samuel Gregg’s ‘Wilhelm Ropke’s Political Economy’
    (Edward Elgar, April 2010)