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Atlas Shrugged is a novel by Ayn Rand, first published in 1957 in the United States. It was Rand's fourth, longest, and last novel, and she considered it her magnum opus in the realm of fiction writing.
- Except as otherwise noted, page numbers correspond to the hardcover Random House edition (1957)
Part One: Non-Contradiction
Chapter One: The Theme
- He liked to observe emotions; they were like red lanterns strung along the dark unknown of another's personality, marking vulnerable points.
- p. 20 ; description of James Taggart
Chapter Three: The Top and the Bottom
- 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.
- p. 51 ; description of Dagny Taggart
Chapter Four: The Immovable Movers
- There is no necessity for pain—why, then, is the worst pain reserved for those who will not accept its necessity?—we who hold the love and the secret of joy, to what punishment have we been sentenced for it, and by whom?
- p. 67 ; thoughts of Dagny Taggart
Chapter Five: The Climax of the d'Anconias
- "It is not advisable, James, to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener."
- p. 99 ; Francisco d'Anconia to James Taggart
Chapter Six: The Non-Commercial
- "Man? What is man? He's just a collection of chemicals with delusions of grandeur."
- p. 131 ; Dr. Simon Pritchett to a group of guests
- "I don't like people who speak or think in terms of gaining anybody's confidence. If one's actions are honest, one does not need the predated confidence of others, only their rational perception. The person who craves a moral blank check of that kind, has dishonest intentions, whether he admits it to himself or not."
- p. 146 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Hank Rearden
Chapter Seven: The Exploiters and the Exploited
- "Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong."
- p. 199 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Dagny Taggart
- He saw for the first time that he had never known fear because, against any disaster, he had held the omnipotent cure of being able to act. No, he thought, not an assurance of victory—who can ever have that?—only the chance to act, which is all one needs. Now he was contemplating, impersonally and for the first time, the real heart of terror: being delivered to destruction with one's hands tied behind one's back.
- p. 214 ; thoughts of Hank Rearden
- As the tunnel came closer, they saw, at the edge of the sky far to the south, in a void of space and rock, a spot of living fire twisting in the wind. They did not know what it was and did not care to learn. ... As the train went into the tunnel, the flame of Wyatt's Torch was the last thing they saw on earth.
Chapter Eight: The John Galt Line
- She thought: To find a feeling that would hold, as their sum, as their final expression, the purpose of all the things she loved on earth . . . To find a consciousness like her own, who would be the meaning of her world, as she would be of his . . . No, not Francisco d'Anconia, not Hank Rearden, not any man she had ever met or admired . . . A man who existed only in her knowledge of her capacity for an emotion she had never felt, but would have given her life to experience.
- p. 220 ; thoughts of Dagny Taggart
- "Inasmuch as the formula of Rearden Metal is my own personal secret, and in view of the fact that the Metal costs much less to produce than you boys can imagine, I expect to skin the public to the tune of a profit of twenty-five per cent in the next few years."
"What do you mean, skin the public, Mr. Rearden?" asked the boy. "If it's true, as I've read in your ads, that your Metal will last three times longer than any other and at half the price, wouldn't the public be getting a bargain?"
"Oh, have you noticed that?"
- p. 235 ; Hank Rearden and nameless boy at press conference
- Wasn't it evil to wish without moving—or to move without aim?
- p. 241 ; thoughts of Dagny Taggart
Chapter Nine: The Sacred and the Profane
- "Do you know what that banquet was like? It's as if they'd heard that there are values one is supposed to honor and this is what one does to honor them—so they went through the motions, like ghosts pulled by some sort of distant echoes from a better age. I . . . I couldn't stand it."
- p. 276 ; Hank Rearden to Dagny Taggart
Chapter Ten: Wyatt's Torch
- "Don't ever get angry at a man for stating the truth."
- p. 297 ; Dagny Taggart to Hank Rearden
- "I am leaving it as I found it. Take over. It's yours."
- p. 336 ; sign left by Ellis Wyatt at the foot of the burning hill of Wyatt Oil
Part Two: Either-Or
Chapter One: The Man who Belonged On Earth
- "You see, Dr. Stadler, people don't want to think. And the deeper they get into trouble, the less they want to think. But by some sort of instinct, they feel that they ought to and it makes them feel guilty. So they'll bless and follow anyone who gives them a justification for not thinking. Anyone who makes a virtue—a highly intellectual virtue—out of what they know to be their sin, their weakness and their guilt."
- "Miss Taggart, do you know the hallmark of the second-rater? It's resentment of another man's achievement. Those touchy mediocrities who sit trembling lest someone's work prove greater than their own—they have no inkling of the loneliness that comes when you reach the top. The loneliness for an equal— for a mind to respect and an achievement to admire. They bare their teeth at you from out of their rat holes, thinking that you take pleasure in letting your brilliance dim them—while you'd give a year of your life to see a flicker of talent anywhere among them. They envy achievement, and their dream of greatness is a world where all men have become their acknowledged inferiors. They don't know that that dream is the infallible proof of mediocrity, because that sort of world is what the man of achievement would not be able to bear."
- p. 358 ; Dr. Robert Stadler to Dagny Taggart
- "Have you ever felt the longing for someone you could admire? For something, not to look down at, but up to?"
- Dr. Robert Stadler to Dagny Taggart
- "I'd take no pride in any hopeless longing. I wouldn't hold a stillborn aspiration. I'd want to have it, to make it, to live it."
- p. 368 ; Hank Rearden to Dagny Taggart
Chapter Two: The Aristocracy of Pull
- "There was a time when men were afraid that somebody would reveal some secret of theirs that was unknown to their fellows. Nowadays, they're afraid that somebody will name what everybody knows. Have you practical people ever thought that that's all it would take to blast your whole, big, complex structure, with all your laws and guns—just somebody naming the exact nature of what it is you're doing?"
- "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?"
- p. 410 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Bertram Scudder
- "Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions—and you'll learn that man's mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth."
- p. 410 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Bertram Scudder
- "But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is made—before it can be looted or mooched—made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced."
- pp. 410-411 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Bertram Scudder
- "Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best that your money can find. And when men live by trade—with reason, not force, as their final arbiter—it is the best product that wins, the best performance, the man of best judgment and highest ability—and the degree of a man's productiveness is the degree of his reward. This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money. Is this what you consider evil?"
- p. 411 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Bertram Scudder
- "Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires."
- p. 411 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Bertram Scudder
- "Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants; money will not give him a code of values, if he's evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he's evaded the choice of what to seek. Money will not buy intelligence for the fool, or admiration for the coward, or respect for the incompetent. The man who attempts to purchase the brains of his superiors to serve him, with his money replacing his judgment, ends up becoming the victim of his inferiors. The men of intelligence desert him, but the cheats and the frauds come flocking to him, drawn by a law which he has not yet discovered; that no man may be smaller than his money. Is that the reason why you call it evil?"
- pp. 411-412 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Bertram Scudder
- "Let me give you a tip on a clue to men's characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it. Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another—their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun."
- p. 412 ; Francisco d'Anconia’ to Bertram Scudder
- "In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law, men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims—then money becomes its creators' avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they've passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter."
- p. 413 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Bertram Scudder
- "When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion—when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing—when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors—when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you—when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice—you may know that your society is doomed."
- p. 413 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Bertram Scudder
- "When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, 'Who is destroying the world?' You are."
- pp. 413-414 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Bertram Scudder
- "Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns—or dollars. Take your choice—there is no other—and your time is running out."
- p. 415 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Bertram Scudder
- "Madam, when we'll see men dying of starvation around us, your heart won't be of any earthly use to save them. And I'm heartless enough to say that when you'll scream, 'But I didn't know it!'—you will not be forgiven."
- p. 415 ; Francisco d'Anconia to nameless woman with earrings
Chapter Three: White Blackmail
- "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals. Well, 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. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kinds of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted—and you create a nation of lawbreakers—and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."
- "When you felt proud of the rail of the John Galt Line," said Francisco, the measured rhythm of his voice giving a ruthless clarity to his words, "what sort of men did you think of? Did you want to see that Line used by your equals—by giants of productive energy, such as Ellis Wyatt, whom it would help to reach higher and still higher achievements of their own?"
"Yes," said Rearden eagerly.
"Did you want to see it used by men who could not equal the power of your mind, but who would equal your moral integrity—men such as Eddie Willers—who could never invent your Metal, but who would do their best, work as hard as you did, live by their own effort, and—riding on your rail—give a moment's silent thanks to the man who gave them more than they could give him?"
"Yes," said Rearden gently.
"Did you want to see it used by whining rotters who never rouse themselves to any effort, who do not possess the ability of a filing clerk, but demand the income of a company president, who drift from failure to failure and expect you to pay their bills, who hold their wishing as an equivalent of your work and their need as a higher claim to reward than your effort, who demand that you serve them, who demand that it be the aim of your life to serve them, who demand that your strength be the voiceless, rightless, unpaid, unrewarded slave of their impotence, who proclaim that you are born to serfdom by reason of your genius, while they are born to rule by the grace of incompetence, that yours is only to give, but theirs only to take, that yours is to produce, but theirs to consume, that you are not to be paid, neither in matter nor in spirit, neither by wealth nor by recognition nor by respect nor by gratitude—so that they would ride on your rail and sneer at you and curse you, since they owe you nothing, not even the effort of taking off their hats which you paid for? Would this be what you wanted? Would you feel proud of it?"
"I'd blast that rail first," said Rearden, his lips white.
"Then why don't you do it, Mr. Rearden? Of the three kinds of men I described—which men are being destroyed and which are using your Line today?"
They heard the distant metal heartbeats of the mills through the long thread of silence.
"What I described last," said Francisco, "is any man who proclaims his right to a single penny of another man's effort."
- "All your life, you have heard yourself denounced, not for your faults, but for your greatest virtues. You have been hated, not for your mistakes, but for your achievements. You have been scorned for all those qualities of character which are your highest pride. You have been called selfish for the courage of acting on your own judgment and bearing sole responsibility for your own life. You have been called arrogant for your independent mind. You have been called cruel for your unyielding integrity. You have been called anti-social for the vision that made you venture upon undiscovered roads. You have been called ruthless for the strength and self-discipline of your drive to your purpose. You have been called greedy for the magnificence of your power to create wealth. You, who've expended an inconceivable flow of energy, have been called a parasite. You, who've created abundance where there had been nothing but wastelands and helpless, starving men before you, have been called a robber. You, who've kept them all alive, have been called an exploiter. You, the purest and most moral man among them, have been sneered at as a 'vulgar materialist.' Have you stopped to ask them: by what right?—by what code?—by what standard?"
- p. 454 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Hank Rearden
- "The worst guilt is to accept an undeserved guilt."
- p. 455 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Hank Rearden
- "Your own moral code—the one you lived by, but never stated, acknowledged or defended—was the code that preserves man's existence. If you were punished for it, what was the nature of those who punished you? Yours was the code of life. What, then, is theirs?"
- p. 455 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Hank Rearden
- "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 upon his shoulders-what would you tell him to do?"
"I . . . don't know. What . . . could he do? What would you tell him?"
- p. 455 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Hank Rearden
Chapter Four: The Sanction of the Victim
- "I thought that any human being who accepts the help of another, knows that good will is the giver's only motive and that good will is the payment he owes in return. But I see that I was wrong. You were getting your food unearned and you concluded that affection did not have to be earned, either. You concluded that I was the safest person in the world for you to spit on, precisely because I held you by the throat. You concluded that I wouldn't want to remind you of it and that I would be tied by the fear of hurting your feelings. All right, let's get it straight: you're an object of charity who's exhausted his credit long ago."
- p. 469 ; Hank Rearden to Philip Rearden
- "Who is the public? What does it hold as its good? There was a time when men believed that 'the good' was a concept to be defined by a code of moral values and that no man had the right to seek his good through the violation of the rights of another. If it is now believed that my fellow men may sacrifice me in any manner they please for the sake of whatever they believe to be their own good, if they believe that they may seize my property simply because they need it—well, so does any burglar. There is only this difference: the burglar does not ask me to sanction his act."
- p. 477 ; Hank Rearden to panel of judges
- "If you choose to deal with men by means of compulsion, do so. But you will discover that you need the voluntary co-operation of your victims, in many more ways than you can see at present. And your victims should discover that it is their own volition—which you cannot force—that makes you possible. I choose to be consistent and I will obey you in the manner you demand. Whatever you wish me to do, I will do it at the point of a gun. If you sentence me to jail, you will have to send armed men to carry me there—I will not volunteer to move. If you fine me, you will have to seize my property to collect the fine—I will not volunteer to pay it. If you believe that you have the right to force me—use your guns openly. I will not help you to disguise the nature of your action."
- p. 479 ; Hank Rearden to panel of judges
- "I refuse to accept as guilt the fact of my own existence and the fact that I must work in order to support it. I refuse to accept as guilt the fact that I am able to do it and to do it well. I refuse to accept as guilt the fact that I am able to do it better than most people—the fact that my work is of greater value than the work of my neighbors and that more men are willing to pay me. I refuse to apologize for my ability—I refuse to apologize for my success—I refuse to apologize for my money. If this is evil, make the most of it. If this is what the public finds harmful to its interests, let the public destroy me. This is my code—and I will accept no other."
- p. 480 ; Hank Rearden to panel of judges
- "If it were true that men could achieve their good by means of turning some men into sacrificial animals, and I were asked to immolate myself for the sake of creatures who wanted to survive at the price of my blood, if I were asked to serve the interests of society apart from, above and against my own—I would refuse, I would reject it as the most contemptible evil, I would fight it with every power I possess, I would fight the whole of mankind, if one minute were all I could last before I were murdered, I would fight in the full confidence of the justice of my battle and of a living being’s right to exist. Let there be no misunderstanding about me. If it is now the belief of my fellow men, who call themselves the public, that their good requires victims, then I say: 'The public be damned, I will have no part of it!'"
- p. 481 ; Hank Rearden to panel of judges
- "He was seeing the enormity of the smallness of the enemy who was destroying the world. He felt as if, after a journey of years through a landscape of devastation, past the ruins of great factories, the wrecks of powerful engines, the bodies of invincible men, he had come upon the despoiler, expecting to find a giant—and had found a rat eager to scurry for cover at the first sound of a human step. If this is what has beaten us, he thought, the guilt is ours."
- p. 483 ; thoughts of Hank Rearden
- "Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a man's sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself. [...] He will always be attracted to the woman who reflects his deepest vision of himself, the woman whose surrender permits him to experience—or to fake—a sense of self-esteem. The man who is proudly certain of his own value, will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer—because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement, not the possession of a brainless slut."
- pp. 489-490 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Hank Rearden
- "Let a man corrupt his values and his view of existence, let him profess that love is not self-enjoyment but self-denial, that virtue consists, not of pride, but of pity or pain or weakness or sacrifice, that the noblest love is born, not of admiration, but of charity, not in response to values, but in response to flaws—and he will have cut himself in two. His body will not obey him, it will not respond, it will make him impotent toward the woman he professes to love and draw him to the lowest type of whore he can find. His body will always follow the ultimate logic of his deepest convictions; if he believes that flaws are values, he has damned existence as evil and only the evil will attract him. He has damned himself and he will feel that depravity is all he is worthy of enjoying."
- p. 490 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Hank Rearden
Chapter Five: Account Overdrawn
- “The nation which had once held the creed that greatness is achieved by production, is now told that it is achieved by squalor.”
- p. 498 ; Francisco d'Anconia (press interview)
Chapter Six: Miracle Metal
- "We don't have to go to extremes," said Mouch hastily. "We don't want to frighten people. We want to have them on our side. Our top problem is, will they . . . will they accept it at all?"
Chapter Seven: The Moratorium on Brains
- "What I actually am, Mr. Rearden, is a policeman. It is a policeman's duty to protect men from criminals—criminals being those who seize wealth by force. It is a policeman's duty to retrieve stolen property and return it to its owners. But when robbery becomes the purpose of the law, and the policeman's duty becomes, not the protection, but the plunder of property—then it is an outlaw who has to become a policeman."
Chapter Eight: By Our Love
- "Dagny, you're more fortunate than I. Taggart Transcontinental is a delicate piece of precision machinery. It will not last long without you. It cannot be run by slave labor. They will mercifully destroy it for you and you won't have to see it serving the looters. But copper mining is a simpler job. D'Anconia Copper could have lasted for generations of looters and slaves. Crudely, miserably, ineptly—but it could have lasted and helped them to last. I had to destroy it myself."
- pp. 616-617 ; ‘Francisco d'Anconia’ to Dagny TDggart
- "It seems monstrously wrong to surrender the world to the looters, and monstrously wrong to live under their rule. I can neither give up nor go back. I can neither exist without work nor work as a serf. I had always thought that any sort of battle was proper, anything, except renunciation. I'm not sure we're right to quit, you and I, when we should have fought them. But there is no way to fight. It's surrender, if we leave—and surrender, if we remain. I don't know what is right any longer."
"Check your premises, Dagny. Contradictions don't exist."
- p. 618 ; Dagny Taggart and Francisco d'Anconia
- "We never demanded the one payment that the world owed us—and we let our best reward go to the worst of men. The error was made centuries ago, it was made by Sebastian d'Anconia, by Nat Taggart, by every man who fed the world and received no thanks in return. You don't know what is right any longer? Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish—we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world—but we let our enemies write its moral code."
- p. 619 ; Francisco d'Anconia to Dagny Taggart
Chapter Ten: The Sign of the Dollar
- "Well, there was something that happened at that plant where I worked for twenty years. It was when the old man died and his heirs took over. There were three of them, two sons and a daughter, and they brought a new plan to run the factory. They let us vote on it, too, and everybody—almost everybody—voted for it. We didn't know. We thought it was good. No, that's not true, either. We thought that we were supposed to think it was good. The plan was that everybody in the factory would work according to his ability, but would be paid according to his need."
- pp. 660-661 ; Jeff Allen to Dagny Taggart
- "What's whose ability and which of whose needs comes first? When it's all one pot, you can't let any man decide what his own needs are, can you? If you did, he might claim that he needs a yacht—and if his feelings are all you have to go by, he might prove it, too. Why not? If it's not right for me to own a car until I've worked myself into a hospital ward, earning a car for every loafer and every naked savage on earth—why can't he demand a yacht from me, too, if I still have the ability not to have collapsed?"
- pp. 661-662 ; Jeff Allen to Dagny Taggart
- "It took us just one meeting to discover that we had become beggars—rotten, whining, sniveling beggars, all of us, because no man could claim his pay as his rightful earning, he had no rights and no earnings, his work didn't belong to him, it belonged to 'the family', and they owed him nothing in return, and the only claim he had on them was his 'need'—so he had to beg in public for relief from his needs, like any lousy moocher, listing all his troubles and miseries, down to his patched drawers and his wife's head colds, hoping that 'the family' would throw him the alms. He had to claim miseries, because it's miseries, not work, that had become the coin of the realm—so it turned into a contest between six thousand panhandlers, each claiming that his need was worse than his brother's. How else could it be done? Do you care to guess what happened, what sort of men kept quiet, feeling shame, and what sort got away with the jackpot?"
- p. 662 ; Jeff Allen to Dagny Taggart
- "Drink, of course, was what we all turned to, some more, some less. Don't ask how we got the money for it. When all the decent pleasures are forbidden, there's always ways to get the rotten ones. You don't break into grocery stores after dark and you don't pick your fellow's pockets to buy classical symphonies or fishing tackle, but if it's to get stinking drunk and forget—you do."
- p. 664 ; Jeff Allen to Dagny Taggart
- "Any man who tried to play straight, had to refuse himself everything. He lost his taste for any pleasure, he hated to smoke a nickel's worth of tobacco or chew a stick of gum, worrying whether somebody had more need for that nickel. He felt ashamed of every mouthful of food he swallowed, wondering whose weary nights of overtime had paid for it, knowing that his food was not his by right, miserably wishing to be cheated rather than to cheat, to be a sucker, but not a blood-sucker. He wouldn't marry, he wouldn't help his folks back home, he wouldn't put an extra burden on 'the family.' Besides, if he still had some sort of sense of responsibility, he couldn't marry or bring children into the world, when he could plan nothing, promise nothing, count on nothing. But the shiftless and irresponsible had a field day of it. They bred babies, they got girls into trouble, they dragged in every worthless relative they had from all over the country, every unmarried pregnant sister, for an extra 'disability allowance,' they got more sicknesses than any doctor could disprove, they ruined their clothing, their furniture, their homes—what the hell, 'the family' was paying for it! They found more ways of getting in 'need' than the rest of us could ever imagine—they developed a special skill for it, which was the only ability they showed."
- p. 664; Jeff Allen to Dagny Taggart
- "God help us, ma'am! Do you see what we saw? We saw that we'd been given a law to live by, a moral law, they called it, which punished those who observed it—for observing it. The more you tried to live up to it, the more you suffered; the more you cheated it, the bigger reward you got."
- p. 665 ; Jeff Allen to Dagny Taggart
- "Nobody can divide a factory's income among thousands of people, without some sort of a gauge to measure people's value. Her gauge was bootlicking. Selfless? In her father's time, all of his money wouldn't have given him a chance to speak to his lousiest wiper and get away with it, as she spoke to our best skilled workers and their wives. She had pale eyes that looked fishy, cold and dead. And if you ever want to see pure evil, you should have seen the way her eyes glinted when she watched some man who'd talked back to her once and who'd just heard his name on the list of those getting nothing above basic pittance. And when you saw it, you saw the real motive of any person who's ever preached the slogan: 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need'."
- pp. 667-668 ; Jeff Allen to Dagny Taggart (describing Ivy Starnes)
- "The guff gave us a chance to pass off as virtue something that we'd be ashamed to admit otherwise. There wasn't a man voting for it who didn't think that under a setup of this kind he'd muscle in on the profits of the men abler than himself. There wasn't a man rich and smart enough but that he didn't think that somebody was richer and smarter, and this plan would give him a share of his better's wealth and brain. But while he was thinking that he'd get unearned benefits from the men above, he forgot about the men below who'd get unearned benefits, too. He forgot about all his inferiors who'd rush to drain him just as he hoped to drain his superiors. The worker who liked the idea that his need entitled him to a limousine like his boss's, forgot that every bum and beggar on earth would come howling that their need entitled them to an icebox like his own. That was our real motive when we voted—that was the truth of it—but we didn't like to think it, so the less we liked it, the louder we yelled about our love for the common good."
- p. 668 ; Jeff Allen to Dagny Taggart
- "What good would our need do to a power plant when its generators stopped because of our defective engines? What good would it do to a man caught on an operating table when the electric light went out? What good would it do to the passengers of a plane when its motor failed in mid-air? And if they bought our product, not because of its merit, but because of our need, would that be the good, the right, the moral thing to do for the owner of that power plant, the surgeon in that hospital, the maker of that plane? Yet this was the moral law that the professors and leaders and thinkers had wanted to establish all over the earth. If this is what it did in a single small town where we all knew one another, do you care to think what it would do on a world scale?"
- p. 669 ; Jeff Allen to Dagny Taggart
- "'I will put an end to this, once and for all,' he said. His voice was clear and without feeling. That was all he said and started to walk out. He walked down the length of the place, in the white light, not hurrying and not noticing any of us. Nobody moved to stop him. Gerald Starnes cried suddenly after him, 'How?' He turned and answered, 'I will stop the motor of the world.' Then he walked out."
- p. 671 ; Jeff Allen to Dagny Taggart
Part Three: A is A
Chapter One: Atlantis
- "Miss Taggart, we have no laws in this valley, no rules, no formal organization of any kind. We come here because we want to rest. But we have certain customs, which we all observe, because they pertain to the things we need to rest from. So I'll warn you now that there is one word which is forbidden in this valley: the word ‘give.’"
- She smiled. "I know, this is a place where one employs nothing but aristocrats for the lousiest kind of jobs."
"They’re all aristocrats, that's true," said Wyatt, "because they know that there's no such thing as a lousy job—only lousy men who don't care to do it."
- p. 721 ; Ellis Wyatt to Dagny Taggart
- "What's wealth but the means of expanding one's life? There's two ways one can do it: either by producing more or by producing it faster. And that's what I'm doing: I'm manufacturing time."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm producing everything I need, I'm working to improve my methods, and every hour I save is an hour added to my life."
- pp. 721-722 ; Ellis Wyatt and Dagny Taggart
- "Here, we trade achievements, not failures—values, not needs. We're free of one another, yet we all grow together. Wealth, Dagny? What greater wealth is there than to own your life and to spend it on growing? Every living thing must grow. It can't stand still. It must grow or perish."
- p. 722 ; Ellis Wyatt to Dagny Taggart
- "There is only one kind of men who have never been on strike in the whole of human history. Every other kind and class has stopped, when they so wished, and have presented demands to the world, claiming to be indispensable—except the men who have carried the world on their shoulders, have kept it alive, have endured torture as sole payment, but have never walked out on the human race. Well, their turn has come. Let the world discover who they are, what they do and what happens when they refuse to function. This is the strike of the men of the mind, Miss Taggart. This is the mind on strike."
- p. 738 ; John Galt to Dagny Taggart
- "We've heard so much about strikes, and about the dependence of the uncommon man upon the common. We've heard it shouted that the industrialist is a parasite, that his workers support him, create his wealth, make his luxury possible—and what would happen to him if they walked out? Very well. I intend to show the world who depends on whom, who supports whom, who is the source of wealth, who makes whose livelihood possible and what happens to whom when who walks out."
- p. 741 ; John Galt to Dagny Taggart
- "I quit when medicine was placed under State control, some years ago. Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill? That was what I would not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun. I would not let them dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or the conditions of my work, or my choice of patients, or the amount of my reward. I observed that in all the discussions that preceded the enslavement of medicine, men discussed everything—except the desires of the doctors. Men considered only the 'welfare' of the patients, with no thought for those who were to provide it."
- p. 744 ; Doctor Thomas Hendricks to Dagny Taggart
- "I have often wondered at the smugness with which people assert their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, to violate my conscience, to stifle my mind—yet what is it that they expect to depend on, when they lie on an operating table under my hands? Their moral code has taught them to believe that it is safe to rely on the virtue of their victims. Well, that is the virtue I have withdrawn. Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce. Let them discover, in their operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man whose life they have throttled. It is not safe, if he is the sort of man who resents it—and still less safe, if he is the sort who doesn't."
- p. 744 ; Doctor Thomas Hendricks to Dagny Taggart
Chapter Two: The Utopia of Greed
- "We do not hold the belief that this earth is a realm of misery where man is doomed to destruction. We do not think that tragedy is our natural fate and we do not live in chronic dread of disaster. We do not expect disaster until we have specific reason to expect it—and when we encounter it, we are free to fight it. It is not happiness, but suffering that we consider unnatural. It is not success, but calamity that we regard as the abnormal exception in human life."
- p. 759 ; Ragnar Danneskjöld to Dagny Taggart
- "Every man builds his world in his own image. He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice. If he abdicates his power, he abdicates the status of man, and the grinding chaos of the irrational is what he achieves as his sphere of existence—by his own choice."
- p.791 ; Dr. Hugh Akston to Dagny Taggart
- "Did it ever occur to you, Miss Taggart, that there is no conflict of interests among men, neither in business nor in trade nor in their most personal desires—if they omit the irrational from their view of the possible and destruction from their view of the practical? There is no conflict, and no call for sacrifice, and no man is a threat to the aims of another—if men understand that reality is an absolute not to be faked, that lies do not work, that the unearned cannot be had, that the undeserved cannot be given, that the destruction of a value which is, will not bring value to that which isn't. The businessman who wishes to gain a market by throttling a superior competitor, the worker who wants a share of his employer's wealth, the artist who envies a rival's higher talent—they're all wishing facts out of existence, and destruction is the only means of their wish. If they pursue it, they will not achieve a market, a fortune, or an immortal fame—they will merely destroy production, employment and art. A wish for the irrational is not to be achieved, whether the sacrificial victims are willing or not. But men will not cease to desire the impossible and will not lose their longing to destroy—so long as self-destruction and self-sacrifice are preached to them as the practical means of achieving the happiness of the recipients."
"No one’s happiness but my own is in my power to achieve or to destroy."
- p. 798 ; John Galt to Dagny Taggart
- "I started my life with a single absolute: that the world was mine to shape in the image of my highest values and never to be given up to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle."
- p. 812 ; Dagny Taggart to John Galt
Chapter Three: Anti-Greed
- "People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I've learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one's reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one's master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person's view requires to be faked. And if one gains the immediate purpose of the lie - the price one pays is the destruction of what the gain was intended to serve. The man who lies to the world is the world's slave from then on."
Chapter Four: Anti-Life
- She had learned, in the slums of her childhood, that honest people were never touchy about the matter of being trusted.
- p. 876 ; thoughts of Cherryl Taggart
- "All of you welfare preachers—it's not unearned money that you're after. You want handouts, but of a different kind. I'm a gold-digger of the spirit, you said, because I look for value. Then you, the welfare preachers . . . it's the spirit that you want to loot. I never thought and nobody ever told us how it could be thought of and what it would mean—the unearned in spirit. But that is what you want. You want unearned love. You want unearned admiration. You want unearned greatness. You want to be a man like Hank Rearden without the necessity of being what he is. Without the necessity of being anything. Without . . . the necessity . . . of being."
- p. 884 ; Cherryl Taggart to James Taggart
- "Guilt is a rope that wears thin."
- p. 895 ; James Taggart to Lillian Rearden
Chapter Seven: "This is John Galt Speaking"
- "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."
- pp. 1011-1012 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "Man's mind is his basic tool of survival. Life is given to him; survival is not. His body is given to him, its sustenance is not. His mind is given to him, its contents are not. To remain alive, he must act, and before he can act he must know the nature and purpose of his action."
- p. 1012 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "To arrive at a contradiction is to confess an error in one's thinking; to maintain a contradiction is to abdicate one's mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality."
- pp. 1016-1017 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "Devotion to truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking."
- p. 1017 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "The man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap."
- p. 1020 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit."
- p. 1023 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where a gun begins."
- p. 1023 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "Achieving life is not the equivalent of avoiding death."
- p. 1024 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "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 we wish to avoid, but life that we wish to live."
- p. 1024 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "The good, say the mystics of the 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. The good, say the mystics of muscle, is Society—a thing which they define as an organism that possesses no physical form, a super-being embodied in no one in particular and everyone in general except yourself [...] The purpose of man’s life, say both, is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question."
- p. 1027 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "It's not a sacrifice to renounce the unwanted. It is not a sacrifice to give your life for others, if death is your personal desire. To achieve the virtue of sacrifice, you must want to live, you must love it, you must burn with passion for this Earth and for all the splendor it can give you—you must feel the twist of every knife as it slashes your desires away from your reach and drains your love out of your body. It is not mere death that the morality of sacrifice holds out to you as an ideal, but death by slow torture."
- p. 1028 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "From the rites of the jungle witch-doctors, which distorted reality into grotesque absurdities, stunted the minds of their victims and kept them in terror of the supernatural for stagnant stretches of centuries—to the supernatural doctrines of the Middle Ages, which kept men huddling on the mud floors of their hovels, in terror that the devil might steal the soup they had worked eighteen hours to earn—to the seedy little smiling professor who assures you that your brain has no capacity to think, that you have no means of perception and must blindly obey the omnipotent will of that supernatural force: Society—all of it is the same performance for the same and only purpose: to reduce you to the kind of pulp that has surrendered the validity of its consciousness."
"But it cannot be done to you without your consent. If you permit it to be done, you deserve it."
- p. 1044 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "Power-lust is a weed that grows only in the vacant lots of an abandoned mind."
- p. 1045 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "You propose to establish a social order based on the following tenets: that you're incompetent to run your own life, but competent to run the lives of others—that you're unfit to exist in freedom, but fit to become an omnipotent ruler—that you're unable to earn your living by use of your own intelligence, but able to judge politicians and vote them into jobs of total power over arts you have never seen, over sciences you have never studied, over achievements of which you have no knowledge, over the gigantic industries where you, by your own definition of capacity, would be unable successfully to fill the job of assistant greaser."
- p. 1049 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world. Reality is an absolute, existence is an absolute, a speck of dust is an absolute and so is a human life. Whether you live or die is an absolute. Whether you have a piece of bread or not, is an absolute. Whether you eat your bread or see it vanish into a looter's stomach, is an absolute."
- p. 1054 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil."
- p. 1054 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "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."
- p. 1054 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "To fear to face an issue is to believe that the worst is true."
- p. 1056 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life."
- p. 1058 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "Learn to distinguish the difference between errors of knowledge and breaches of morality. An error of knowledge is not a moral flaw, […] a breach of morality is the conscious choice of an action you know to be evil, or a willful evasion of knowledge, a suspension of sight and of thought. That which you do not know, is not a moral charge against you; but that which you refuse to know, is an account of infamy growing in your soul. Make every allowance for errors of knowledge; do not forgive or accept any breach of morality."
- p. 1059 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "The modern mystics of muscle who offer you the fraudulent alternative of 'human rights' versus 'property rights,' as if one could exist without the other, are making a last, grotesque attempt to revive the doctrine of soul versus body."
- p. 1062 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "Only a ghost can exist without material property; only a slave can work with no right to the product of his effort. The doctrine that 'human rights' are superior to 'property rights' simply means that some human beings have the right to make property out of others; since the competent have nothing to gain from the incompetent, it means the right of the incompetent to own their betters and to use them as productive cattle."
- p. 1062 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man's rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man's self-defense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach and fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law."
- p. 1062 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "You called it selfish and cruel that men should trade value for value—you have now established an unselfish society where they trade extortion for extortion. Your system is a legal civil war, where men gang up on one another and struggle for possession of the law, which they use as a club over rivals, till another gang wrests it from their clutch and clubs them with it in their turn, all of them clamoring protestations of service to an unnamed public's unspecified good. You had said that you saw no difference between economic power and political power, between the power of money and the power of guns—no difference between reward and punishment, between purchase and plunder, between pleasure and fear, between life and death. You are learning the difference now."
- pp. 1065-1066 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it."
- p. 1066 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "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."
- Chapter VII ("This Is John Galt Speaking"), p. 1069 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
- "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."
- p. 1069 ; John Galt (radio broadcast)
Chapter Eight: The Egoist
- "Never think of pain or danger or enemies a moment longer than is necessary to fight them."
- p. 1092 ; John Galt to Dagny Taggart
Chapter Nine: The Generator
- "Get the hell out of my way!"
- p. 1125 ; John Galt (television broadcast)
About Atlas Shrugged
- From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: "To a gas chamber — go!"
- Whittaker Chambers, "Big Sister is Watching You" in National Review (28 December 1957)
- Atlas Shrugged is not merely a novel. It is also — or may I say: first of all — a cogent analysis of the evils that plague our society…. You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: "You are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the effort of men who are better than you."
- Ludwig von Mises, letter to Rand (23 January 1958), quoted in Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism (2007)
- There have even been outright bad writers blessed by the visitation of a poetic title. Ayn Rand had one with The Fountainhead, and another with Atlas Shrugged: a bit of a mouthful... Yet if those were not two of the worst books ever written - the worst books ever written don't even get published - they were certainly among the worst books ever to be taken seriously.
- Clive James, Cultural Amnesia (2007), p. 80
- I never made it through either of Rand’s two big novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. To enjoy either, I suspect, you had to have encountered Rand in adolescence, when so many of life’s lasting enthusiasms are forged. In recent years, a few friends have urged Rand on me, and I dutifully tried both novels more than once. Each time, I found myself oscillating between fits of the giggles, at the awful prose, and irritation, at the jejune philosophy.
- Like her other works of fiction and nonfiction, the book Atlas Shrugged manages to be both deeply sinister and deeply ridiculous, which isn’t so easy to do.
Today there is a very small minority of economists who take her ideas seriously. There are virtually no biologists, anthropologists, sociologists, ethologists, geneticists or evolutionary theorists who do. Her ideas about the individual simply do not fit the objective research about how our species behaves and prospers.
- The Sinister Folly of Ayn Rand, Jesse Larner. Huffpost (20 November 2007)
- There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.
- (T)he idealized world Ayn Rand has created to facilitate her wishful theorizing has no more logical connection to our real one than a world in which an author has imagined humanity ruled by intelligent cups of yogurt. This is most obviously revealed by the fact that in Ayn Rand’s world, a man who self-righteously instigates the collapse of society, thereby inevitably killing millions if not billions of people, is portrayed as a messiah figure rather than as a genocidal prick, which is what he’d be anywhere else.