ayn rand Quotes

Ayn Rand Quotes

Birth Date: 1905-02-02 (Thursday, February 2nd, 1905)
Date of Death: 1982-03-06 (Saturday, March 6th, 1982)

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Quotes

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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?
    • The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it.
    • Rationality is the recognition of the fact that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving 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 require. 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.
    • Why ask useless questions? How deep is the ocean? How high is the sky? Who is John Galt?
    • 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.
    • :guilt is a rope that wears thin...
    • A desire presupposes the possibility of action to achieve it; action presupposes a goal which is worth achieving.
    • All work is an act of philosophy.
    • The purpose of philosophy is not to help men find the meaning of life but to prove to them that there is none.
    • An inventor is a man who asks 'Why?' of the universe and lets nothing stand between the answer and his mind.
    • 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.
    • Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where the gun begins.
    • Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.
    • A house can have integrity, just like a person, and just as seldom.
    • People were his 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 worshiper himself an object of reverence.
    • Every form of happiness is private. Our greatest moments are personal, self-motivated, not to be touched.
    • 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.
    • For 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..
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 heighest thing in a man is not his god. It's that in him which knows the reverence due a god. You are my heighest reverence.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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).
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • ...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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • The worst evil that you can do, psychologically, is to laugh at yourself. That means spitting in your own face.
    • What is greatness? I will answer: it is the capacity to live by the three fundamental values of John Galt: reason, purpose, self-esteem.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Even if smog were a risk to human life, we must remember that life in nature, without technology, is wholesale death.
    • 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.
    • I am not looking for intelligent disagreement any longer.... What I am looking for is intelligent agreement.
    • 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.
    • I guard my treasures: my thought, my will, my freedom. And the greatest of these is freedom.
    • If devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality, then there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.
    • I'm working to improve my methods, and every hour I save is an hour added to my life.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • In the temple of his spirit, each man is alone.
    • In western civilization, the period ruled by mysticism is known as the 'Dark Ages' and the 'Middle Ages'. I will assume that you know the nature of that period and the state of human existence in those ages. The Renaissance broke the rules of the mystics. Renaissance means the rebirth. Few people today will care to remind you that it was a rebirth of reason - of man's mind.
    • 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).
    • Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.
    • Inflation is not caused by the actions of private citizens, but *by the government*: by an artificial expansion of the money supply required to support deficit spending. No private embezzlers or bank robbers in history have ever plundered people's savings on a scale comparable to the plunder perpetrated by the fiscal policies of statist governments.
    • Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom; a free mind and a free market are corollaries.
    • It is a grave error to suppose that a dictatorship rules a nation by means of strict, rigid laws which are obeyed and enforced with rigorous, military precision. Such a rule would be evil, but almost bearable; men could endure the harshest edicts, provided these edicts were known, specific and stable; it is not the known that breaks men's spirits, but the unpredictable. A dictatorship has to be capricious; it has to rule by means of the unexpected, the incomprehensible, the wantonly irrational; it has to deal not in death, but in sudden death; a state of chronic uncertainty is what men are psychologically unable to bear.
    • It is not justice or equal treatment that you grant to men when you abstain equally from praising men's virtues and from condemning men's vices. When your impartial attitude declares, in effect, that neither the good nor the evil may expect anything from you - whom do you betray and whom do you encourage?
    • It is the metaphysically given that must be accepted: it cannot be changed. It is the man-made that must never be accepted uncritically: it must be judged, then accepted or rejected and changed when necessary.
    • It makes no difference whether government controls allegedly favor the interests of labor or business, of the poor or the rich, of a special class or a special race: the results are the same. The notion that a dictatorship can benefit any one social group at the expense of others is a worn remnant of the Marxist mythology of class warfare, refuted by half a century of factual evidence. All men are victims and losers under a dictatorship; nobody wins-except the ruling clique.
    • 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.
    • Just as life is an end in itself, so every living human being is an end in himself, not the means to the ends or the welfare of others - and, therefore, man must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.(Introduction to Anthem)
    • Just as man's physical existence was liberated when he grasped that 'nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed', so his consciousness will be liberated when grasps that nature, to be apprehended, must be obeyed - that the rules of cognition must be derived from the nature of existence and the nature, the identity, of his cognitive faculty.
    • Justice does exist in the world, whether people choose to practice it or not. The men of ability are being avenged. The avenger is reality. Its weapon is slow, silent, invisible, and men perceive it only by its consequences - by the gutted ruins and the moans of agony it leaves in its wake. The name of the weapon is: *inflation*.
    • Love, friendship, respect, admiration are the emotional response of one man to the virtues of another, the spiritual payment given in exchange for the personal, selfish pleasure which one man derives from the virtues of another man's character. Only a brute or an altruist would claim that the appreciation of another person's virtues is an act of selflessness, that as far as one's own selfish interest and pleasure are concerned, it makes no difference whether one deals with a genius or a fool, whether one meets a hero or a thug, whether one marries an ideal woman or a slut.
    • Loyalty is like rubber: one can stretch it so far and then - it snaps.
    • 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.
    • Man's character is the product of his premises.
    • Men have been taught that it is a virtue to agree with others. But the creator is the man who disagrees. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to swim with the current. But the creator is the man who goes against the current. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to stand together. But the creator is the man who stands alone.
    • Men have been taught that the ego is the synonym of evil, and selflessness the ideal of virtue. But the creator is the egoist in the absolute sense, and the selfless man is the one who does not think, feel, judge or act. These are function of the self.
    • Men have been taught that the highest virtue is not to achieve, but to give. Yet one cannot give that which has not been created. Creation comes before distribution- or there will be nothing to distribute. The need of the creator comes before the need of any possible beneficiary. Yet we are taught to admire the second-hander who dispenses gifts he has not produced above the man who made the gifts possible. We praise an act of charity. We shrug at an act of achievement.
    • Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason.
    • 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.
    • Neither life nor happiness can be achieved by the pursuit of irrational whims. Just as a 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 not to escape the consequences.
    • No concept man forms is valid unless he integrates it without contradiction into the sum of his knowledge.
    • No one's happiness but my own is in my power to achieve or to destroy.
    • Nobody respects an altruist, neither in private life nor in international affairs. An altruist is a person who keeps sacrificing himself and his values, which means: sacrificing his friends to his enemies, his allies to his protagonists, his interests to any cry for help, his strength to anyone's weakness, his convictions to anyone's wishes, the truth to any lie, the good to any evil.
    • One's own independent judgment is the means by which one must choose one's actions, but it is not a moral criterion nor a moral validation; only reference to a demonstrable principle can validate one's choices.
    • Philosophy studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of man's relationship to existence. & In the realm of cognition, the special sciences are the trees, but philosophy is the soil which makes the forest possible.
    • Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent.
    • Politics is based on three other philosophical disciplines: metaphysics, epistemology and ethics- on a theory of man's nature and of man's relationship to existence. It is only on such a base that one can formulate a consistent political theory and achieve it in practice. When, however, men attempt to rush into politics without such a base, the result is that embarrassing conglomeration of impotence, futility, inconsistency and superficiality which is loosely designated today as conservatism.
    • Poverty is not a mortgage on the labor of others - misfortune is not a mortgage on achievement - failure is not a mortgage on success - suffering is not a claim check, and its relief is not the goal of existence - man is not a sacrificial animal on anyone's altar nor for anyone's cause - life is not one huge hospital.
    • Power-lust is a weed that grows only in the vacant lot of an empty mind.
    • Rights are moral principles which define and protect a man's freedom of action,but impose no obligation on other men.
    • Since there is no such entity as 'the public,' since the public is merely a number of individuals, the idea that 'the public interest' supersedes private interests and rights can have but one meaning: that the interests and rights of some individuals take precedence over the interests and rights of others.
    • Since time immemorial and pre-industrial, 'greed' has been the accusation hurled at the rich by the concrete-bound illiterates who were unable to conceive of the source of wealth or of the motivation of those who produce it.
    • Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life
    • That something happened to you is of no importance to anyone, not even to you. The important thing about you is what you choose to make happen - your values and choices. That which happened by accident - what family you were born into, in what country, and where you went to school - is totally unimportant.
    • The action required to sustain human life is primarily intellectual: everything man needs has to be discovered by his mind and produced by his effort.
    • The basic need of the creator is independence. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion. It cannot be curbed, sacrificed or subordinated to any consideration whatsoever. It demands total independence in function and in motive. To a creator, all relations with men are secondary.
    • The desire not to be anything is the desire not to be.
    • The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it.
    • The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody had decided not to see.
    • The men who are not interested in philosophy need it most urgently; they are most helplessly in its power.
    • The Middle Ages were an era of mysticism, ruled by blind faith and blind obedience to the dogma that faith is superior to reason. The Renaissance was specifically the rebirth of reason, the liberation of man's mind, the triumph of rationality over mysticism - a faltering, incomplete, but impassioned triumph that led to the birth of science, of individualism, of freedom.
    • The moral cannibalism of all hedonist and altruist doctrines lies in the premise that the happiness of one man necessitates the injury of another.
    • The moral precept to adopt...is: Judge, and be prepared to be judged.
    • The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man's rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence... The only proper functions of a 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 or fraud by others, and to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law.
    • The only purpose of education is to teach a student how to live his life-by developing his mind and equipping him to deal with reality. The training he needs is theoretical, i.e., conceptual. He has to be taught to think, to understand, to integrate, to prove. He has to be taught the essentials of the knowledge discovered in the past-and he has to be equipped to acquire further knowledge by his own effort.
    • The precept: Judge not, that ye be not judged ... is an abdication of moral responsibility: it is a moral blank check one gives to others in exchange for a moral blank check one expects for oneself.
    • The purpose of all art is the objectification of values.
    • The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.
    • The right of a nation to determine its own form of government does not include the right to establish a slave society (that is, to legalize the enslavement of some men by others). There is no such thing as the right to enslave. A nation can do it, just as a man can become a criminal- but neither can do it by right.
    • The right to agree with others is not a problem in any society; it is the right to disagree that is crucial. It is the institution of private property that protects and implements the right to disagree...
    • The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow.
    • The verdict you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life.
    • There are four characteristics which brand a country unmistakably as a dictatorship: one-party rule- executions without trial or with a mock trial, for political offenses- the nationalization or expropriation of private property- and censorship. A country guilty of these outrages forfeits any moral prerogatives, any claim to national rights or sovereignty, and becomes an outlaw.
    • 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.
    • There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.
    • There can be no such thing as a political crime under the American system of law. Since an individual has the right to hold and to propagate any ideas he chooses (obviously including political ideas), the government may not infringe his right; it may neither penalize nor reward him for his ideas; it may not take any judicial cognizance whatever of his ideology. 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.
    • There can be no such thing, in law or in morality, as actions forbidden to an individual, but permitted to a mob.
    • There is no escape from the fact that men have to make choices; so long as men have to make choices, there is no escape from moral values; so long as moral values are at stake, no moral neutrality is possible. To abstain from condemning a torturer, is to become an accessory to the torture and murder of his victims.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • They proclaim that every man is entitled to exist without labor and, the laws of reality to the contrary notwithstanding, is entitled to receive his minimum sustenance his food, his clothes, his shelter, with no effort on his part, as his due and his birthright. To receive it, from whom?
    • Thinking men cannot be ruled.
    • Thought does not bow to authority.
    • Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision.
    • 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.
    • To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion.
    • To discuss evil in a manner implying neutrality, is to sanction it.
    • To fear to face an issue is to believe the worst is true.
    • To know one's own desires, their meaning and their costs requires the highest human virtue: rationality.
    • To love is to value. Only a rationally selfish man, a man of self-esteem, is capable of love - because he is the only man capable of holding firm, consistent, uncompromising, unbetrayed values. The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone
    • To preserve one's mind intact through a modern college education is a test of courage and endurance, but the battle is worth it and the stakes are the highest possible to man: the survival of reason. {from The Comprachicos}
    • To rest one's case on faith means to concede that reason is on the side of one's enemies- that one has no rational arguments to offer.
    • To the extent that a man is guided by his rational judgment, he acts in accordance with the requirements of his nature and, to that extent, succeeds in achieving a human form of survival and well-being; to the extent that he acts irrationally, he acts as his own destroyer.
    • Today, when a concerted effort is made to obliterate this point, it cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals- that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government- that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizen's protection against the government.
    • Unjust laws have to be fought ideologically; they cannot be fought or corrected by means of mere disobedience and futile martyrdom.
    • Volumes can be and have been written about the issue of freedom versus dictatorship, but, in essence, it comes down to a single question: do you consider it moral to treat men as sacrificial animals and to rule them by physical force?
    • We cannot fight against anything, unless we fight for something -- and what we must fight for is the supremacy of reason, and a view of man as a rational being.
    • Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think.
    • What they have to discover, what all the efforts of capitalism's enemies are frantically aimed at hiding, is the fact that capitalism is not merely the 'practical,' but the only moral system in history.
    • Whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man's nature and of life's potential
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • When personal judgement is inoperative (or forbidden), men's first concern is not how to choose, but how to justify their choice.
    • Whether you know the shape of a pebble or the structure of a solar system, the axioms remain the same: that it exists and that you know it.
    • Words are a lens to focus one's mind.
    • I want to see, real, living, and in the hours of my own days, that glory I create as an illusion. I want it real. I want to know that there is someone, somewhere, who wants it, too. Or else what is the use of seeing it, and working, and burning oneself for an impossible vision? A spirit, too, needs fuel. It can run dry.
    • America is the land of the uncommon man. It is the land where man is free to develop his genius -- and to get its just rewards.
    • When I die, I hope to go to Heaven, whatever the Hell that is.
    • ayn rand

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