Ayn Rand

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Ayn Rand (2 February 19056 March 1982) was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system called Objectivism.

Quotes[edit]

Atlas Shrugged (1957)[edit]

Main article: Atlas Shrugged
Who is John Galt?
  • That time and those people are upon you!
  • You seek escape from pain. We seek the achievement of happiness. You exist for the sake of avoiding punishment. We exist for the sake of earning rewards. Threats will not make us function; fear is not our incentive. It is not death that we wish to avoid, but life that we wish to live. You, who have lost the concept of the difference, you who claim that fear and joy are incentives of equal power—and secretly add that fear is the more “practical”—you do not wish to live, and only fear of death still holds you to the existence you have damned.
  • One is that a man doesn't want people to know he's rich. Another is that he doesn't want them to learn how he got that way.
  • The choice--the dedication to one's highest potential--is made by accepting the fact that the noblest act you have ever performed is the act of your mind in the process of grasping that two and two make four.
  • Look around you: what you have done to society, you have done it first within your soul; one is the image of the other. This dismal wreckage, which is now your world, is the physical form of the treason you committed to your values, to your friends, to your defenders, to your future, to your country, to yourself.
  • We will rebuild America’s system on the moral premise which had been its foundation, but which you treated as a guilty underground, in your frantic evasion of the conflict between that premise and your mystic morality: the premise that man is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others, that man’s life, his freedom, his happiness are his by inalienable right.
  • I am, therefore I'll think
  • Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification
  • I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
  • In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.
  • Honest people are never touchy about the matter of being trusted.
  • It is not advisable, James, to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener.
  • So you think that money is the root of all evil? Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?
  • Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason.
  • The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it.
  • The good, say the mystics of spirit, is God, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man's power to conceive- a definition that invalidates man's consciousness and nullifies his concepts of existence. Man's mind, say the mystics of spirit, must be subordinated to the will of God. Man's standard of value, say the mystics of spirit, is the pleasure of God, whose standards are beyond man's power of comprehension and must be accepted on faith. The purpose of man's life is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question.
  • For centuries, the battle of morality was fought between those who claimed that your life belongs to God and those who claimed that it belongs to your neighbors - between those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of ghosts in heaven and those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of incompetents on earth. And no one came to say that your life belongs to you and that the good is to live it.
  • Haven't I? -- he thought. Haven't I thought of it since the first time I saw you? Haven't I thought of nothing else for two years?... He sat motionless, looking at her. He heard the words he never allowed himself to form, the words he had felt, known, yet had not faced, had hoped to destroy by never letting them be within his own mind, Now it was as sudden and shocking as if he were saying it to her…Since the first time I saw you.... Nothing but your body, that mouth of yours, and the way your eyes would look at me, if... Through every sentence I ever said to you, through every conference you thought were so safe, through the importance of all the issues we discussed... You trusted me, didn't you? To recognize greatness? To think of you as you deserved -- as if you were a man?
  • Love is our response to our highest values.
  • Through centuries of scourges and disasters, brought about by your code of morality, you have cried that your code had been broken, that the scourges were punishment for breaking it, that men were too weak and too selfish to spill all the blood it required. You damned men, you damned existence, you damned this earth, but never dared to question your code. Your victims took the blame and struggled on, with your curses as reward for their martyrdom - while you went on crying that your code was noble, but human nature was not good enough to practice it. And no one rose to ask the question: Good? - by what standard?
  • She was twelve years old when she told Eddie Willers that she would run the railroad when they grew up. She was fifteen when it occurred to her for the first time that women did not run railroads and that people might object. To hell with that, she thought---and never worried about it again.
  • Rationality is the recognition of the fact that existence exists, that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving it, which is thinking...
  • Love is the expression of one's values, the greatest reward you can earn for the moral qualities you have achieved in your character and person, the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another.
  • I refuse to accept as guilt the fact of my own existence.
  • If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose- because it contains all the others- the fact that they were the people who created the phrase "to make money". No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity- to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created.
  • Litigants obey the verdict of a tribunal solely on the premise that there is an objective rule of conduct, which they both accept.
  • I'm working to improve my methods, and every hour I save is an hour added to my life.
  • “Every dictator is a mystic, and every mystic is a potential dictator. A mystic craves obedience from men, not their agreement. He wants them to surrender their consciousness to his assertions, his edicts, his wishes, his whims - as his consciousness is surrendered to theirs. He wants to deal with men by means of faith and force - he finds no satisfaction in their consent if he must earn it by means of facts and reason. Reason is the enemy he dreads and, simultaneously, considers precarious: reason, to him, is a means of deception, he feels that men possess some power more potent than reason - and only their causeless belief or their forced obedience can give him a sense of security, a proof that he has gained control of the mystic endowment he lacked. His lust is to command, not to convince: conviction requires an act of independence and press on the absolute of an objective reality. What he seeks is power over reality and over men’s means of perceiving it, their mind, the power to interpose his will between existence and consciousness, as if, by agreeing to fake the reality he orders them to fake, men would, in fact, create it."
  • “No matter whose welfare he professes to serve, be it the welfare of God or of that disembodied gargoyle he describes as ‘The People,’ no matter what ideal he proclaims in terms of some supernatural dimension - in fact, in reality, on earth, his ideal is death, his craving is to kill, his only satisfaction is to torture."
  • “Destruction is the only end that the mystics’ creed has ever achieved, as it is the only end that, you see them achieving today, and if the ravages wrought by their acts have not made them question their doctrines, if they profess to be moved by love, yet are not deterred by piles of human corpses, it is because the truth about their souls is worse than the obscene excuse you have allowed them, the excuse that the end justifies the means and that the horrors they practice are means to nobler ends. The truth is that those horrors are their ends."
  • …guilt is a rope that wears thin...
    • Part Three / Chapter 4
  • A desire presupposes the possibility of action to achieve it; action presupposes a goal which is worth achieving.
    • Part Two / Chapter 1
  • All work is an act of philosophy.
    • Part Three / Chapter 1
  • In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This is John Galt Speaking
  • An inventor is a man who asks 'Why?' of the universe and lets nothing stand between the answer and his mind.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This Is John Galt Speaking
  • Existence exists—and the act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This Is John Galt Speaking
  • Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where the gun begins.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This Is John Galt Speaking
  • Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This Is John Galt Speaking
  • Man cannot survive except by gaining knowledge, and reason is his only means to gain it. Reason is the faculty that perceives, identifies and integrates the material provided by his senses. The task of his senses is to give him the evidence of existence, but the task of identifying it belongs to his reason, his senses tell him only that something is, but what it is must be learned by his mind.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This Is John Galt Speaking
  • “If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders—what would you tell him to do?” " To Shrug."
  • My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
  • "Contradictions do not exist". "Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises". "You will find that one of them is wrong".
  • "Parties are intended to be celebrations, and celebrations should be only for those who have something to celebrate".
  • "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."
  • "I am the man who knew what made it possible and who chose consistently to practice and to be what you had practiced and been in that one moment."

The Fountainhead (1943)[edit]

Main article: The Fountainhead
  • A building has integrity, just like a man, and just as seldom.
  • The mind is the attribute of man. When man is born, he comes into existence with only one weapon with him- The reasoning mind.
  • Only by accepting total compulsion can we achieve total freedom. [Spoken by Ellsworth Toohey, the main antagonist of the book.]
  • People were his [Keating's] protection against people. Howard Roark had no sense of people.
  • One can't love man without hating most of the creatures who pretend to bear his name.
  • Worry is a waste of emotional reserve.
  • There is a stage of worship which makes the worshipper himself an object of reverence.
  • Every form of happiness is private. Our greatest moments are personal, self-motivated, not to be touched.
  • You know how people long to be eternal. But they die with every day that passes. When you meet them, they’re not what you met last. In any given hour, they kill some part of themselves. They change, they deny, they contradict--and they call it growth. At the end there’s nothing left, nothing unreversed or unbetrayed; as if there had never been an entity, only a succession of adjectives fading in and out on an unformed mass.
  • Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.
  • Whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man's nature and of life's potential.
  • His face was closed like a safety vault; things locked in safety vaults are valuable; men did not care to feel that.
  • Show me your achievement - and the knowledge will give me courage for mine.
  • She could not have reached this white serenity except as the sum of all the colors, of all the violence she had known.
  • They talked quietly, with a feeling of companionship such as that of an old married couple; as if he had possessed her body, and the wonder of it had long since been consumed, and nothing remained but an untroubled intimacy.
  • I am a man who does not exist for others.
  • ...the person who loves everybody and feels at home everywhere is the true hater of mankind. He expects nothing of men, so no form of depravity can outrage him.
  • I have come here to say that I do not recognize anyone's right to one minute of my life.... It had to be said. The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing.
  • I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York's skyline. Particularly when one can't see the details. Just the shapes. The shapes and the thought that made them. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need? And then people tell me about pilgrimages to some dank pesthole in a jungle where they go to do homage to a crumbling temple, to a leering stone monster with a pot belly, created by some leprous savage. Is it beauty and genius they want to see? Do they seek a sense of the sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the Hudson, look and kneel. When I see the city from my window - no, I don't feel how small I am - but I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body.
  • Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received--hatred. The great creators--the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors--stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The first airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.
  • A leash is only a rope with a noose on both ends.
  • To say 'I love you' one must know first how to say the 'I.'
  • I can accept anything, except what seems to be the easiest for most people: the half-way, the almost, the just-about, the in-between.
  • Anything may be betrayed, anyone may be forgiven. But not those who lack the courage of their own greatness.
  • From the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have comes from a single attribute of man - the function of his reasoning mind.
  • It stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there's someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master.
  • Every loneliness is a pinnacle.
  • There’s so much nonsense about human inconstancy and the transience of all emotions. I've always thought that a feeling which changes never existed in the first place. - Gail Wynand
  • It would be kinder to acknowledge people’s existence by hating them. - Peter Keating
  • Hands do perspire when held too long. - Ellsworth Toohey
  • I inherit nothing. I stand at the end of no tradition. I may, perhaps, stand at the beginning of one.
  • I’d like to be avenged for the fact that I have nothing to be avenged for.
  • We’re all so tied together. We’re all in a net, the net is waiting, and we’re pushed into it by one single desire. You want a thing and it’s precious to you. Do you who is standing ready to tear it out of your hands? You can’t know, it may be so involved and so far away, but someone is ready, and you’re afraid of them all. And you cringe and you crawl and you beg and you accept them- just so they’ll let you keep it. And look at whom you come to accept.
  • You want it to look like a hybrid beast produced by crossing the bastards of ten different species until you get a creature without guts, without heart or brain, a creature all pelt, tail, claws and feathers.
  • You must only be patient. Because on your side you have reason- oh, I know, it’s something no one really wants to have on his side- and against you, you have just a vague, fat, blind inertia.
  • The shortest distance between two points is not a straight line- it’s a middleman. And the more middlemen, the shorter. Such is the psychology of a pretzel.
  • What’s the most horrible experience you can imagine? To me- it’s being left, unarmed, in a sealed cell with a drooling beast of prey or a maniac who’s has some disease that’s eaten his brain out. You’d have nothing but your own voice- your voice and your thought. You’d scream to that creature why it should not touch you, you’d have the most eloquent words, the unanswerable words, you’d become the vessel of the absolute truth. And you’d see living eyes watching you and you’d know that the thing can’t hear you, that it can’t be reached, not reached, not in any way, yet it’s breathing and moving there before you with a purpose of its own. That’s horror. Well, that’s what’s hanging over the world, prowling somewhere through mankind, that same thing, something closed, mindless, utterly wanton, but something with an aim and cunning of it’s own.
  • I was thinking of people who say that happiness is impossible on earth. Look how hard they all try to find some joy in life. Look how they struggle for it. Why should any living creature exist in pain? By what conceivable right can anyone demand that a human being exist for anything but for his own joy? Every one of them wants it. Every part of him wants it. But they never find it. I wonder why.
  • Don’t allow man to be happy. Happiness is self contained and self-sufficient. Happy men have no time and no use for you. Happy men are free men. So kill their joy of living. Take away from them whatever is dear or important to them. Never let them have what they want [….]Unhappy men will come to you. They’ll need you. They’ll come to you for consolation, for support, for escape. Nature allows no vacuum. Empty man’s soul-and the space is yours to fill.
  • No creator was prompted by a desire to serve his brothers, for his brothers rejected the gift he offered and that gift destroyed the slothful routine of their lives. His truth was his only motive.
  • The creators were not selfless. It is the whole secret of their power-that it was self-sufficient, self-motivated, self-generated. A first cause, a fount of energy, a life force, a Prime Mover. The creator served nothing and no one. He lived for himself.
  • Men learn from one another. But all learning is only the exchange of material. No man can give another the capacity to think. Yet that capacity is our only means of survival.
  • She thought: They say the heart of the earth is made of fire. It is held imprisoned and silent. But at times it breaks through the clay, the iron, the granite, and shoots out to freedom. Then it becomes a thing like this.

Anthem (1937)[edit]

  • "I am. I think. I will."
  • I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction.
  • And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: 'I.'
  • Neither am I the means to any end others may wish to accomplish. I am not a tool for their use. I am not a servant of their needs. I am not a bandage for their wounds, I am not a sacrifice on their altars.
  • There is nothing to take a man's freedom away from him, save other men. To be free, a man must be free of his brothers.
  • This miracle of me is mine to own and keep, and mine to guard, and mine to use, and mine to kneel before...The fortune of my spirit is not to be blown into coins of brass and flung to the winds as alms for the poor of spirit.
  • I shall choose friends among men, but neither slaves nor masters. And I shall choose only such as please me, and them I shall love and respect, but neither command nor obey. And we shall join our hands when we wish, or walk alone when we so desire.
  • In the temple of his spirit, each man is alone.
  • It is not good to feel too much joy, nor to be glad that our body lives. For we matter not and it must not matter to us whether we live or die, which is to be as our brothers will it. But we, Equality 7-2521, are glad to be living. If this is a vice, then we wish no virtue.
  • No single one can possess greater wisdom than the many scholars who are elected by all the men for their wisdom. Yet we can. We do. We have fought against saying it, but now it is said. We do not care. We forget all men, all laws and all things save our metals and our wires. So much is still to be learned! So long a road lies before us, and what care we if we must travel it alone!

We The Living (1936)[edit]

  • Do you believe in God, Andrei? No. Neither do I. But that's a favorite question of mine. An upside-down question, you know. What do you mean? Well, if I asked people whether they believed in life, they'd never understand what I meant. It's a bad question. It can mean so much that it really means nothing. So I ask them if they believe in God. And if they say they do—then, I know they don't believe in life. Why? Because, you see, God—whatever anyone chooses to call God—is one's highest conception of the highest possible. And whoever places his highest conception above his own possibility thinks very little of himself and his life. It's a rare gift, you know, to feel reverence for your own life and to want the best, the greatest, the highest possible, here, now, for your very own. To imagine a heaven and then not to dream of it, but to demand it.
    • Source: We The Living Part One Chapter 9
  • There is no such thing as duty. If you know that a thing is right, you want to do it. If you don't want to do it—it isn't right. If it's right and you don't want to do it—you don't know what right is and you're not a man.
    • Source: We The Living Part One Chapter 6
  • There is only one thing that matters and that we'll remember. The rest doesn't matter. I don't care what life is to be nor what it does to us. But it won't break us. Neither you nor me. That's our only weapon. That's the only banner we can hold against all those others around us. That's all we have to know about the future.
  • The highest thing in a man is not his god. It's that in him which knows the reverence due a god. You are my highest reverence.
    • Source: We The Living Last Page
  • A moment or an eternity—did it matter? Life, undefeated, existed and could exist. She smiled, her last smile, to so much that had been possible.

Philosophy: Who Needs It (1982)[edit]

  • I can say — not as a patriotic bromide, but with full knowledge of the necessary metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, political, and aesthetic roots — that the United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world.
  • There are only two means by which men can deal with one another: guns or logic. Force or persuasion. Those who know that they cannot win by means of logic, have always resorted to guns.
  • The conservatives see man as a body freely roaming the earth, building sand piles or factories—with an electronic computer inside his skull, controlled from Washington. The liberals see man as a soul freewheeling to the farthest reaches of the universe—but wearing chains from nose to toes when he crosses the street to buy a loaf of bread.

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966)[edit]

  • The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles.
  • In a capitalist society, all human relationships are voluntary. Men are free to cooperate or not, to deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgments, convictions and interests dictate.
  • America's abundance was created not by public sacrifices to the common good, but by the productive genius of free men who pursued their own personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes. They did not starve the people to pay for America's industrialization. They gave the people better jobs, higher wages, and cheaper goods with every new machine they invented, with every scientific discovery or technological advance- and thus the whole country was moving forward and profiting, not suffering, every step of the way.
  • Economic power is exercised by means of a positive, by offering men a reward, an incentive, a payment, a value; political power is exercised by means of a negative, by the threat of punishment, injury, imprisonment, destruction. The businessman's tool is values; the bureaucrat's tool is fear.
  • A gun is not an argument.
  • When the common good of a society is regarded as something apart from and superior to the individual good of its members, it means that the good of some men takes precedence over the good of others, with those others consigned to the status of sacrificial animals.
  • An attempt to achieve the good by force is like an attempt to provide a man with a picture gallery at the price of cutting out his eyes.
  • Businessmen are the one group that distinguishes capitalism and the American way of life from the totalitarian statism that is swallowing the rest of the world. All the other social groups- workers, farmers, professional men, scientists, soldiers- exist under dictatorships, even though they exist in chains, in terror, in misery, and in progressive self-destruction. But there is no such group as businessmen under a dictatorship. Their place is taken by armed thugs: by bureaucrats and commissars. Businessmen are the symbol of a free society- the symbol of America.
  • Every government interference in the economy consists of giving an unearned benefit, extorted by force, to some men at the expense of others.
  • Every movement that seeks to enslave a country, every dictatorship or potential dictatorship, needs some minority group as a scapegoat which it can blame for the nation's troubles and use as a justification of its own demands for dictatorial powers. In Soviet Russia, the scapegoat was the bourgeoisie; in Nazi Germany, it was the Jewish people; in America, it is the businessmen.
  • It is futile to fight against, if one does not know what one is fighting for.
  • Remember also that the smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights, cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.
  • Capitalism has created the highest standard of living ever known on earth. The evidence is incontrovertible. The contrast between West and East Berlin is the latest demonstration, like a laboratory experiment for all to see. Yet those who are loudest in proclaiming their desire to eliminate poverty are loudest in denouncing capitalism. Man’s well-being is not their goal.

The Virtue of Selfishness (1964)[edit]

  • Man is the only living species that has the power to act as his own destroyer—and that is the way he has acted through most of his history.
  • The men who attempt to survive, not by means of reason, but by means of force, are attempting to survive by the method of animals.
  • Neither life nor happiness can be achieved by the pursuit of irrational whims. Just as man is free to attempt to survive by any random means, as a parasite, a moocher or a looter, but not free to succeed at it beyond the range of the moment—so he is free to seek his happiness in any irrational fraud, any whim, any delusion, any mindless escape from reality, but not free to succeed at it beyond the range of the moment nor to escape the consequences.
  • The only proper, moral purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence—to protect his right to his own life, to his own liberty, to his own property and to the pursuit of his own happiness. Without property rights, no other rights are possible.
  • When I say “capitalism,” I mean a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism—with a separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.
  • Poverty, ignorance, illness and other problems of that kind are not metaphysical emergencies. By the metaphysical nature of man and of existence, man has to maintain his life by his own effort; the values he needs—such as wealth or knowledge—are not given to him automatically, as a gift of nature, but have to be discovered and achieved by his own thinking and work.
  • When one observes the nightmare of the desperate efforts made by hundreds of thousands of people struggling to escape from the socialized countries of Europe, to escape over barbed-wire fences, under machine-gun fire—one can no longer believe that socialism, in any of its forms, is motivated by benevolence and by the desire to achieve men’s welfare.
  • When you consider socialism, do not fool yourself about its nature. Remember that there is no such dichotomy as “human rights” versus “property rights.” No human rights can exist without property rights.
  • Capitalism is the only system where such men are free to function and where progress is accompanied, not by forced privations, but by a constant rise in the general level of prosperity, of consumption and of enjoyment of life.
  • Observe, in politics, that the term extremism has become a synonym of "evil," regardless of the content of the issue (the evil is not what you are extreme about, but that you are "extreme"—i.e., consistent).
  • Since only an individual man can possess rights, the expression “individual rights” is a redundancy (which one has to use for purposes of clarification in today’s intellectual chaos). But the expression “collective rights” is a contradiction in terms.
  • Man’s rights can be violated only by the use of physical force. It is only by means of physical force that one man can deprive another of his life, or enslave him, or rob him, or prevent him from pursuing his own goals, or compel him to act against his own rational judgment.
  • Any group or “collective,” large or small, is only a number of individuals. A group can have no rights other than the rights of its individual members.
  • When a man declares: "There are no blacks and whites [in morality]" he is making a psychological confession, and what he means is: "I am unwilling to be wholly good—and please don't regard me as wholly evil!"
  • Errors of knowledge are not breaches of morality; no proper moral code can demand infallibility or omniscience.
  • Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism.  It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man's genetic lineage—the notion that a man's intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry.  Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.
Racism claims that the content of a man's mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man's convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical forces beyond his control.  This is the caveman's version of the doctrine of innate ideas—or of inherited knowledge—which has been thoroughly refuted by philosophy and science.  Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes.  It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various breeds of animals, but not between animals and men.[1]
  • A genius is a genius, regardless of the number of morons who belong to the same race—and a moron is a moron, regardless of the number of geniuses who share his racial origin.[2]
  • The skyline of New York is a monument of a splendor that no pyramids or palaces will ever equal or approach.
  • All the reasons which made the initiation of physical force evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative.
  • Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.
  • The moral precept to adopt...is: Judge, and be prepared to be judged.
  • Ask yourself why totalitarian dictatorships find it necessary to pour money and effort into propaganda for their own helpless, chained, gagged slaves, who have no means of protest or defense. The answer is that even the humblest peasant or the lowest savage would rise in blind rebellion, were he to realize that he is being immolated, not to some incomprehensible noble purpose, but to plain, naked human evil.
  • The moral cannibalism of all hedonist and altruist doctrines lies in the premise that the happiness of one man necessitates the injury of another.
  • Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).

The Voice of Reason (1989)[edit]

  • A culture is made — or destroyed — by its articulate voices.
  • Aristotle may be regarded as the cultural barometer of Western history. Whenever his influence dominated the scene, it paved the way for one of history's brilliant eras; whenever it fell, so did mankind.
  • Every coercive monopoly was created by government intervention into the economy: by special privileges, such as franchises or subsidies, which closed the entry of competitors into a given field, by legislative action.

The Ayn Rand Letter (1971–1976)[edit]

  • Thanksgiving is a typically American holiday... The lavish meal is a symbol of the fact that abundant consumption is the result and reward of production.
  • The right to vote is a consequence, not a primary cause, of a free social system—and its value depends on the constitutional structure implementing and strictly delimiting the voters' power; unlimited majority rule is an instance of the principle of tyranny.
  • Competition is a by-product of productive work, not its goal. A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.
  • Honor is self-esteem made visible in action.

The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (1971)[edit]

  • ...observe that in all the propaganda of the ecologists—amidst all their appeals to nature and pleas for 'harmony with nature'—there is no discussion of man's needs and the requirements of his survival. Man is treated as if he were an unnatural phenomenon. Man cannot survive in the kind of state of nature that the ecologists envision—i.e., on the level of sea urchins or polar bears...
  • There is a level of cowardice lower than that of the conformist: the fashionable non-conformist.
  • A crime is the violation of the right(s) of other men by force (or fraud). It is only the initiation of physical force against others- i.e., the recourse to violence- that can be classified as a crime in a free society (as distinguished from a civil wrong). Ideas, in a free society, are not a crime- and neither can they serve as the justification of a crime.
  • By the same principle, the government may not give special leniency to the perpetrator of a crime, on the grounds of the nature of his ideas.
  • An Asian peasant who labors through all of his waking hours, with tools created in Biblical times—a South American aborigine who is devoured by piranha in a jungle stream—an African who is bitten by the tsetse fly—an Arab whose teeth are green with decay in his mouth—these do live with their 'natural environment,' but are scarcely able to appreciate its beauty. Try to tell a Chinese mother, whose child is dying of cholera: 'Should one do everything one can? Of course not.' Try to tell a Russian housewife, who trudges miles on foot in sub-zero weather in order to spend hours standing in line at a state store dispensing food rations, that America is defiled by shopping centers, expressways and family cars.
  • Contrary to the ecologists, nature does not stand still and does not maintain the kind of equilibrium that guarantees the survival of any particular species - least of all the survival of her greatest and most fragile product: man.

Apollo and Dionysus (1969)[edit]

It is man's irrational emotions that bring him down to the mud...
...It is man's reason that lifts him to the stars.
  • [On the attendees at the launch of Apollo 11] Those people were not a stampeding herd, nor a manipulated mob; they did not wreck the Florida communities, they did not devastate the countryside, they did not throw themselves, like whining thugs, at the mercy of their victims - they did not create any victims. They came as responsible individuals able to project the reality of two or three days ahead, and to provide for their own needs. There were people of every age, creed, color, educational level and economic status. They lived and slept in tents, or in their cars, some for several days, in great discomfort and unbearable heat; they did it gamely, cheerfully, gaily; they projected a general feeling of confident goodwill, the bond of a common enthusiasm; they created a public spectacle of responsible privacy - and they departed as they had come, without benefit of press agents.
  • One of the paradoxes of our age is the fact that the intellectuals, the politicians, and all the sundry voices that choke like asthma the throat of our communications media, have never gasped and stuttered so loudly about their devotion to the public good, and about the people's will as the supreme criterion of value - and never have they been so grossly indifferent to the people. The reason, obviously, is that collectivist slogans serve as the rationalization for those who intend, not to follow the people, but to rule them.
  • The most profound breach in this country is not between the rich and the poor, but between the people and the intellectuals. In their view of life, the American people are predominantly Apollonian. The mainstream intellectuals are Dionysian. This means the people are reality-oriented, common sense-oriented, technology-oriented. The intellectuals call this "materialistic," and "middle-class." The intellectuals are emotion-oriented, and seek in panic an escape from a reality they are unable to deal with, and from a technological civilization that ignores their feelings.
  • And this is the whole shabby secret: to some men, the sight of an achievement is a reproach, a reminder that their own lives are irrational, and that there is no loophole - no escape from reason and reality. Their resentment is the cornered Dionysian element baring its teeth.
  • Some day, the world will discover that, without thought, there can be no love.
  • [The hippies] were told that love - indiscriminate love for one's fellow man - is the highest virtue, and they obeyed. They were told that the merging of one's self with a herd, tribe, or community is the noblest way for a man to live, and they obeyed. There isn't a philosophical idea of today's establishment which they have not accepted, which they do not share. When they discovered this philosophy did not work, because in fact it cannot work, the hippies had neither the wit nor the courage to challenge it. They found, instead, an outlet for their impotent frustration by accusing their elders of hypocrisy, as if hypocrisy were the only obstacle to the realization of their dreams. And, left blindly, helplessly lobotomized in the face of an inexplicable reality that is not amenable to their feelings, they have no recourse but the shouting of obscenities at anything that frustrates their whims; at man, or at the rainy sky, indiscriminately, with no concept of the difference. It is typical of today's culture that the proponents of seething, raging hostility are taken as advocates of love.
  • There is a kind of malicious wink, a contemptuous sneer in the public voices claiming the hippies as heroes. The hippies are a desperate herd looking for a master, to be taken over by anyone - anyone who would tell them how to live without demanding the effort of thinking. Theirs is the mentality ready for a fuhrer.
  • The hippies are the living demonstration of what it means to give up reason, and to rely on one's primeval instincts, urges, intuitions, and whims. With such tools, they are unable to grasp even what is needed to satisfy their wishes; for example, the wish to have a festival. Where would they be without the charity of the local "squares" who fed them? Where would they be without the fifty doctors rushed from New York to save their lives? Without the automobiles that brought them to the festival? Without the soda pop and beer they substituted for water? Without the helicopters that brought the entertainers? Without all the achievements of the technological civilization they denounce? Left to their own devices, they literally didn't know enough to come in out of the rain.
  • It is fear that drives [the hippies] to seek the warmth, the protection, the safety of a herd. When they speak of merging themselves into a "greater whole," it is their fear that they hope to drown in the undemanding waves of unfastidious human bodies - and what they hope to fish out of that pool is the momentary illusion of an unearned personal significance.
  • Is there any doubt that drug addiction is an escape from an unbearable inner state - from a reality that one cannot deal with - from an atrophying mind one can never fully destroy? If Apollonian reason were unnatural to man, and Dionysian intuition brought him closer to nature and truth, the apostles of irrationality would not have to resort to drugs. Happy, self-confident men do not seek to get stoned. Drug addiction is the attempt to obliterate one's consciousness, the quest for a deliberately-induced insanity. As such, it is so obscene and evil that any doubt about the moral character of its practitioners is itself an obscenity.
  • You have all heard the old bromide to the effect that man has his eyes on the stars and his feet in the mud. It is usually taken to mean that man's reason and his physical senses are the element pulling him down to the mud while his mystical, super-rational emotions are the element that lifts him to the stars. This is the grimmest inversion of many in mankind's history. But, last summer, reality offered you a literal dramatization of the truth. It is man's irrational emotions that bring him down to the mud. It is man's reason that lifts him to the stars.

The Romantic Manifesto (1969)[edit]

  • Anyone who fights for the future, lives in it today.
  • Definitions are the guardians of rationality, the first line of defense against the chaos of mental disintegration.
  • An artist reveals his naked soul in his work - and so, gentle reader, do you when you respond to it.
  • Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent.

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • Do you know that my personal crusade in life (in the philosophical sense) is not merely to fight collectivism, nor to fight altruism? These are only consequences, effects, not causes. I am out after the real cause, the real root of evil on earth — the irrational.
    • Source: Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, 2009, p. 100
  • If you mean whose side one should be on, Israel or the Arabs, I would certainly say Israel because it’s the advanced, technological, civilized country amidst a group of almost totally primitive savages who have not changed for years and who are racist and who resent Israel because it’s bringing industry, intelligence, and modern technology into their stagnation."
    • Source: Q and A session during taping of Donohue, Live in New York [3]
  • The Arabs are one of the least developed cultures. They are typically nomads. Their culture is primitive, and they resent Israel because it's the sole beachhead of modern science and civilization on their continent. When you have civilized men fighting savages, you support the civilized men, no matter who they are."
    • Source: Ayn Rand Ford Hall Forum lecture, 1974, text published on the website of The Ayn Rand Institute [4]
  • They (Native Americans) didn't have any rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using. What was it that they were fighting for, when they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their 'right' to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or a few caves above it. Any white person who brings the element of civilization has the right to take over this continent.
    • Source: Q and A session following her address to the graduating class of The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, March 6, 1974 - found in Endgame: Resistance, by Derrick Jensen, Seven Stories Press, 2006, pg 220
  • It took centuries of intellectual, philosophical development to achieve political freedom. It was a long struggle, stretching from Aristotle to John Locke to the Founding Fathers. The system they established was not based on unlimited majority but on its opposite: on individual rights, which were not to be alienated by majority vote or minority plotting. The individual was not left at the mercy of his neighbors or his leaders: the Constitutional system of checks and balances was scientifically devised to protect him from both. This was the great American achievement—and if concern for the actual welfare of other nations were our present leaders' motive, this is what we should have been teaching the world. Instead, we are deluding the ignorant and the semi-savage by telling them that no political knowledge is necessary—that our system is only a matter of subjective preference—that any prehistorical form of tribal tyranny, gang rule, and slaughter will do just as well, with our sanction and support. It is thus that we encourage the spectacle of Algerian workers marching through the streets [in the 1962 Civil War] and shouting the demand: "Work, not blood!"—without knowing what great knowledge and virtue are required to achieve it. In the same way, in 1917, the Russian peasants were demanding: "Land and Freedom!" But Lenin and Stalin is what they got. In 1933, the Germans were demanding: "Room to live!" But what they got was Hitler. In 1793, the French were shouting: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!" What they got was Napoleon. In 1776, the Americans were proclaiming "The Rights of Man"—and, led by political philosophers, they achieved it. No revolution, no matter how justified, and no movement, no matter how popular, has ever succeeded without a political philosophy to guide it, to set its direction and goal.
    • Source: The Ayn Rand Column
  • "The people of Algiers marched through the streets of the city, in desperate protest against the new threat of civil war, shouting: 'We want peace! We want a government!' How are they to go about getting it? Through the years of civil war, they had been united, not by any political philosophy, but only by a racial issue. They were fighting, not for any program, but only against French rule. When they won their independence, they fell apart - into rival tribes and armed 'willayas' fighting one another"
    • Source: The Ayn Rand Column 'Blind Chaos'
  • The worst evil that you can do, psychologically, is to laugh at yourself. That means spitting in your own face.
    • Source: Question period following Lecture 11 of Leonard Peikoff's series "The Philosophy of Objectivism," 1976
  • What is greatness? I will answer: it is the capacity to live by the three fundamental values of John Galt: reason, purpose, self-esteem.
    • Source: Playboy Interview (March 1964)
  • “Free competition enforced by law” is a grotesque contradiction in terms.
    • Source: The Objectivist Newsletter “Antitrust: The Rule of Unreason,” The Objectivist Newsletter, Feb. 1962, 1
  • Let no man posture as an advocate of peace if he proposes or supports any social system that initiates the use of force against individual men, in any form.
    • Source: For the New Intellectual
  • Man—every man—is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life.
    • Source: The Ayn Rand Column ‘Introducing Objectivism’
  • Even if smog were a risk to human life, we must remember that life in nature, without technology, is wholesale death.
    • Source: The Objectivist February 1971
  • I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows.
    • Source: Introducing Objectivism. The Objectivist Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 8. August, 1962. p. 35.
  • Now, I don’t care to discuss the alleged complaints American Indians have against this country. I believe, with good reason, the most unsympathetic Hollywood portrayal of Indians and what they did to the white man. They had no right to a country merely because they were born here and then acted like savages. The white man did not conquer this country...
    • Source: Address To The Graduating Class Of The United States Military Academy at West Point, 1974

Quotes about Rand[edit]

Alphabetized by author
  • For she [Rand] further holds that objective reality is readily accessible by solitary individuals using words and logic alone. This proposition -- rejected by nearly all modern scientists -- is essentially a restatement of the Platonic worldview, a fundamental axiom of which is that the universe is made up of ideal essences or 'values' (the term Rand preferred) that can be discovered, dispassionately examined, and _objectively_ analyzed by those few bold minds who are able to finally free themselves from hoary assumptions of the past. Once freed, any truly rational individual must, by simply applying verbal reasoning, independently reach the same set of fundamental conclusions about life, justice and the universe. (Naturally, any mind that fails to do so must, by definition, not yet be free.)
  • Rand has not often had a positive reception from the ethics community for a number of reasons. The major one is that she championed self‐interest loudly and forcefully. For an ethics community committed to the view that morality means restraining and sacrificing self interest this could mean only one thing: She must be urging the strong to do whatever they feel like to the weak. That view, given the long history of ethics, could simply be rejected out of hand. 
But such a rejection evaluates Rand’s advocacy of self‐interest from within a set of premises about economics and human nature that she rejects. She rejects the belief that ethics starts by taking conflicts of interest as fundamental. She rejects the view that ethics starts by reacting to scarce resources; she rejects the view that ethics starts by reacting to the nasty things some people want to do to each other; and she rejects the view that ethics starts by asking what to do about the poor and unable.
    • Philosopher Stephen Hicks, “Ayn Rand and Contemporary Business Ethics,” in Journal of Accounting, Ethics & Public Policy, Volume 3, Number 1 (Winter 2003), pp. 1-26
  • [F]rom the initial outline Ayn Rand provided, a very rich and powerful philosophy emerges – e.g., it solves such problems as science versus free will and moral responsibility, knowledge versus the fact of fallibility. Merely because Rand’s ideas were not born in academe or developed in full detail by her, it cannot be concluded that they are unsound.
  • I have to say I found Ayn Rand’s philosophy laughable. It was "a white supremacist dreams of the master race," burnt in an early-20th century form. Her ideas didn’t really appeal to me, but they seemed to be the kind of ideas that people would espouse, people who might secretly believe themselves to be part of the elite, and not part of the excluded majority.
    • Writer Alan Moore, in Comic Book Artist #9 (August 2000) "The Charlton Comics Story: 1945-1968" by Jon B. Cooke
  • Rand tended to believe that questions of fact could be determined by the manipulation of vague terms. This tendency is most clearly illustrated in her so-called "metaphysical" theory of reality, in which she tries to demonstrate the objectivity of reality and validate causality on the basis of cognitively empty tautologies such as "existence exists" and "A is A."
    • Grey Nyquist, Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature, iUniverse, 2001.
  • But all of Rand's heroic capitalists triumph in industries that are now dead or bleeding. It's easy to write potboilers that posit sharp moral distinctions between the makers and takers when you live in a big-shouldered factory world where people still make things.
  • Ayn Rand is one of the most widely read philosophers of the twentieth century. … Academics have often dismissed her ideas as "pop" philosophy. As a best-selling novelist, a controversial, flamboyant polemicist, and a woman in a male dominated profession, Rand remained outside the academy throughout her life. Her works had inspired passionate responses that echo the uncompromising nature of her moral vision. In many cases, her audiences were either cultish in their devotion or savage in their attacks. The left was infuriated by her anticommunist, procapitalist politics, whereas the right was disgusted by her atheism and civil libertarianism.
  • This odd little woman is attempting to give a moral sanction to greed and self interest, and to pull it off she must at times indulge in purest Orwellian newspeak of the "freedom is slavery" sort. What interests me most about her is not the absurdity of her "philosophy," but the size of her audience (in my campaign for the House she was the one writer people knew and talked about). She has a great attraction for simple people who are puzzled by organized society, who object to paying taxes, who dislike the "welfare" state, who feel guilt at the thought of the suffering of others but who would like to harden their hearts. For them, she has an enticing prescription: altruism is the root of all evil, self-interest is the only good, and if you're dumb or incompetent that's your lookout.
  • Ayn Rand’s "philosophy" is nearly perfect in its immorality.
    • Gore Vidal, Comment, in Esquire (Esquire Publishing Company, 1961), Pt. 2, p. 27.

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