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Ayn Rand

Everyone has the right to make his own decisions, but none has the right to force his decision on others.”

Religion is a primitive form of philosophy, [the] attempt to offer a comprehensive view of reality. (The Objectivist Feb 1966)

Anyone who fights for the Future lives in it today.
('Romantic Manifesto')

In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.
{WMail Issue #12}

Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think.
{WMail Issue #14}

Capitalism demands the best of every man – his rationality – and rewards him accordingly. It leaves every man free to choose the work he likes, to specialize in it, to trade his product for the products of others, and to go as far on the road of achievement as his ability and ambition will carry him.
('For the New Intellectual' 1961)

Did you really think we want those laws observed? said Dr. Ferris. We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean it... There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power 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 kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be
much easier to deal with. ('Atlas Shrugged' 1957) {WMail Issue #23}

The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction [that] you give it. ('John Galt Speech' 1957) {WMail Issue #26}

Great men can't be ruled. {WMail Issue #26}

The skyline of New York is a monument of a splendour that no pyramids or palaces will ever equal or approach. {WMail Issue #27}

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.
{WMail Issue #29}

It is not a question of whether man chooses to be guided by [philosophy]: he is not equipped to live without it. {WMail Issue #30}

The most depraved type of human being ... (is) the man without a purpose. ('Atlas Shrugged' 1957) {WMail Issue #33}

There's nothing of any importance except how well you do your work.
('Atlas Shrugged' 1957) {WMail Issue #33}

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.
('Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal' 1966) {WMail Issue #34}

Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values. ('Atlas Shrugged' 1957) {WMail Issue #35}

The [U.S.] Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals ... it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government ... it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizen's protection against the government. {WMail Issue #36}

Reason, the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses, is man's basic tool of survival. {WMail Issue #45}

A rational man is guided by his thinking – by a process of Reason – not by his feelings and desires. {WMail Issue #45}

Reason is man's basic means of survival. {WMail Issue #45}

Reason is a faculty that man has to exercise by choice. {WMail Issue #45}

We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality. {WMail Issue #48}


To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion.

Philosophy is the goal toward which religion was only a helplessly blind groping.

Intellectual honesty is the only tool required.

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. (appendix to 'Atlas Shrugged')

[T]he only real moral crime that one man can commit against another is the attempt to create, by his words or actions, an impression of the contradictory, the impossible, the irrational, and thus shake the concept of rationality in his victim.

If I were to speak your kind of language, I would say that man's only moral commandment is: Thou shalt think. But a 'moral commandment' is a contradiction in terms. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood, not the obeyed. The moral is the rational, and reason accepts no commandments.

I consider National Review the worst and most dangerous magazine in America. The kind of defense that it offers to capitalism results in nothing except the discrediting and destruction of capitalism ... because it ties capitalism to religion. (Playboy Interview March 1964)

Money is the barometer of a society's virtue.

So you think that money is the root of all evil.
Have you ever asked what is the root of all money?
(Francisco's Money Speech in 'Atlas Shrugged')

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. ('The Fountainhead' 1943)

Upper classes are a nation's past; the middle class is its future.

There is a level of cowardice lower than that of the conformist: the fashionable non-conformist.

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.

Whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man's nature and of life's potential. ('The Fountainhead' 1943)

The moral justification of capitalism does not lie in the altruist claim that it represents the best way to achieve 'the common good.' It is true that capitalism does – if that catch-phrase has any meaning – but this is merely a secondary consequence. The moral justification for capitalism lies in the fact that it is the only system consonant with man's rational nature, that it protects man's survival qua man, and that its ruling principle is: justice.

Guilt is a rope that wears thin.

The three cardinal values of the Objectivist ethics ... are: Reason, Purpose, Self-Esteem, with their three corresponding virtues: Rationality, Productiveness, Pride.

Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values. ('Atlas Shrugged' 1957)

It is not advisable, James, to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener.
('Atlas Shrugged' 1957)

I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction. ('Anthem' 1946)

The Argument from Intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence.
('The Virtue of Selfishness' 1964)

I am an innovator. This is a term of distinction, a term of honor, rather than something to hide or apologize for. Anyone who has new or valuable ideas to offer stands outside the intellectual status quo. But the status quo is not a stream, let alone a 'mainstream'. It is a stagnant swamp. It is the innovators who carry mankind forward. (Playboy Interview March 1964)

What is greatness? I will answer: it is the capacity to live by the three fundamental values of John Galt: reason, purpose, self-esteem.
(Playboy Interview March 1964)

Definitions are the guardians of rationality, the first line of defense against the chaos of mental disintegration.

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.

To know one's own desires, their meaning and their costs requires the highest human virtue: Rationality.

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.

No concept man forms is valid unless he integrates it without contradiction into the sum of his knowledge.

I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; 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. This – the supremacy of reason – was, is and will be the primary concern of my work, and the essence of Objectivism. ('Brief Summary', The Objectivist Sept 1971)

What objectivity and the study of philosophy requires is not an 'open mind,' but an active mind - a mind able and eagerly willing to examine ideas, but to examine them criticially. (Philosophical Detection in 'Philosophy: Who Needs It')

When I say 'capitalism,' I mean a pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism – with a separation of economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as a separation of state and church.
(The Objectivist Ethics in 'The Virtue of Selfishness')

You have no choice about the necessity to integrate your observations, your experiences, your knowledge into abstract ideas, i.e., into principles. Your only choice is whether these principles are true or false, whether they represent your conscious, rational convictions – or a grab-bag of notions snatched at random, whose sources, validity, context and consequences you do not know, notions which, more often that not, you would drop like a hot potato if you knew. ('Philosophy: Who Needs It')

Capitalism is the only system that can make freedom, individuality, and the pursuit of values possible in practice. ('Romantic Manifesto')

In order to live, man must act; in order to act, he must make choices; in order to make choices, he must define a code of values; in order to define a code of values, he must know what he is and where he is – i.e. he must know his own nature (including his means of knowledge) and the nature of the universe in which he acts – i.e. he needs metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, which means: philosophy. He cannot escape from this need; his only alternative is whether the philosophy guiding him is to be chosen by his mind or by chance.

If a dedication page were to precede the total of my work, it would read: To the glory of Man. ('Romantic Manifesto')

Show me your achievement, and the knowledge will give me courage for mine.
('The Fountainhead' 1943)

Altruism declares that any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one's own benefit is evil. Thus the beneficiary of an action is the only criterion of moral value – and so long as that beneficiary is anybody than oneself, anything goes.

The man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap.

The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity.

Why do they always teach us that it's easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It's the hardest thing in the world--to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want.

Le bonheur est un état de plaisir non-contradictoire... Le bonheur est accessible aux seules personnes raisonnables, des personnes qui n'ont que des objectifs raisonnables, qui ne cherchent que des valeurs raisonnables, et qui ne trouvent leur plaisir que dans des actes raisonnables.
('La Virtue Egoist')
Happiness is a state of non-contradictory joy ... Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions.
('The Virtue of Selfishness')

The objectivist ethics holds man's life as the standard of value
– and his own life as the ethical purpose of every individual man.

Productive work is the central purpose of a rational man's life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values. Reason is the source, the precondition of his productive work – pride is the result.

To hold an unchanging youth is to reach at the end, the vision with which one started.

The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours. But to win it requires total dedication and a total break with the world of your past, with the doctrine that man is sacrificial animal who exists for the pleasure of others. Fight for the value of your person. Fight for the virtue of your pride. Fight for the essence, which is man, for his sovereign rational mind. Fight with the radiant certainty and the absolute rectitude of knowing that yours is the morality of life and yours is the battle for any achievement, any value, any grandeur, any goodness, any joy that has ever existed on this earth.
John Galt quote that ended AR's last public speech (New Orleans Nov 1981)

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