"Individuals have innate
nobility and that the highest duty of every individual is to flourish by
realising that potential."
- Alan Greenspan, on the ethics of Ayn Rand
The man at the top
of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him,
but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual
bonus from others to add to the value of his time. The man at the bottom
who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes
nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all of their brains.
Such is the nature of the 'competition' between the strong and the weak
of the intellect. Such is the pattern of 'exploitation' for which you have
damned the strong.
- Atlas Shrugged
"Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think."
"Morality pertains only to the sphere of man's free will - only to those actions which are open to his choice."
"The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities."
"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."
"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."
"To know one's own desires, their meaning and their costs requires the highest human virtue: Rationality."
"Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life."
"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."
"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."
"Altruism does not mean mere kindness or generosity, but the sacrifice of the best among men to the worst, the sacrifice of virtues to flaws, of ability to incompetence, of progress to stagnation--and the subordinating of all life and of all values to the claims of anyone's suffering."
"The man who produces while others dispose of his product is a slave." "It stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there is service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be master."
"I am interested in politics so that one day I will not have to be interested in politics."
"Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man's genetic lineage - the notion that a man's intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character or actions, but by the character and actions of a collective of ancestors."
"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 only resort to force only against those who start the use of force."
"I most emphatically advocate a black-and-white view of the world. Let us define this. What is meant by the expression 'black and white'? It means good and evil. Before you can identify anything as gray, as middle of the road, you have to know what is black and what is white, because gray is merely a mixture of the two. And when you have established that one alternative is good and the other is evil, there is no justification for the choice of a mixture. There is no justification ever for choosing any part of what you know to be evil."
"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 this strength, and
the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders...
what would you tell him to do?"
"I... don't know. What... could he do? What would you tell him?"
"There is only one kind of men who have never been on strike in human history. Every other kind and class have stopped, when they wished, and have presented demands to the world, claiming to be indispensible - 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."
"The word 'We' is as lime poured over men, which sets and hardens to stone, and crushes all beneath it, and that which is white and that which is black are lost equally in the grey of it."
"To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion."
"The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value. Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice - which means: self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction - which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good."
Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom; a free mind and a free market are corollaries.
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 airplane was considered impossible... But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.
'The greatest good
for the greatest number' is one of the most vicious slogans ever foisted
on humanity. This slogan has no concrete specific meaning. There is no
way to interpret it benevolently, but a great many ways in which it can
be used to justify the most vicious actions. What is the definition of
"the good" in this slogan? None, except: whatever is good for the greatest
number. Who, in any particular issue, decides what is good for the greatest
number? Why, the greatest number.
If you consider this moral, you would have to approve of the following examples, which are exact applications of this slogan in practice: fifty-one percent of humanity enslaving the other forty-nine; nine hungry cannibals eating the tenth one; a lynching mob murdering a man whom they consider dangerous to the community. There were seventy million Germans in Germany and six hundred thousand Jews. The greatest number (the Germans) supported the Nazi government which told them that their greatest good would be served by exterminating the smaller number (the Jews) and grabbing their property. This was the horrible achieved in practice by a vicious slogan accepted in theory. But, you might say, the majority in all these examples did not achieve any real good fro itself either? No. It didn't. Because "the good" is not determined by counting numbers and is not acheived by the sacrifice of anyone to anyone.
CAPITALISM : THE UNKNOWN
"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 adn 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."
"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."
Freedom, in a political context, means freedom from government coercion. It does not mean freedom from the landlord, or freedom from the employer, or freedom from the laws of nature which do not provide men with automatic prosperity. It means freedom from the coercive power of the state--and nothing else.
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.
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.
Do not make the mistake...of thinking that a worker is a slave and that he holds his job by his employer's permission. He does not hold it by permission - but by contract, that is, by a voluntary mutual agreement. A worker can quit his job; a slave cannot.
All wealth is produced by somebody and belongs to somebody.
In order to sustain life, every living species has to follow a certain course of action required by its nature. 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. Production is the application of reason to the problem of survival.
Is man a sovereign
individual who owns his person, his mind, his life, his work and its products
- or is he the property of the tribe (the state, the society, the collective)
that may dispose of him in any way it pleases, that may dictate his convictions,
prescribe the course of his life, control his work and expropriate his
products? Does man have the right to exist for his own sake - or is he
born into bondage, as an indentured servant who must keep buying his life
by serving the tribe but can never acquire it free and clear?
...In mankind's history, capitalism is the only system that answers : Yes.
Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.
Now observe that a free market does not level men down to some common denominator - that the intellectual criteria of the majority do not rule a free market or a free society.... while the majority had barely assimilated the value of the automobile, the creative minority introduces the airplane.
The economic value of a man's work is determined, on a free market, by a single principle : by the voluntary consent of those who are willing to trade him their work or products in return. This is the moral meaning of the law of supply and demand.
Why should Elvis Presley make more money than Albert Einstein? The answer is : Because men work in order to support and enjoy their own lives - and if many men find value in Elvis Presley, they are entitled to spend their money on their own pleasure.
Which wants are "fundamental", beyond a cave, a bearskin and a chunk of raw meat?
The actual war profiteers of all mixed economies were and are of that type : men with political pull who acquire fortunes by government favour, during or after a war - fortunes which could not have been acquired on a free market.
But the question is : what breeds poverty? If you look at the world of today and if you look back at history, you will see the answer : the degree of a country's freedom is the degree of its prosperity.
Consider the evil of judging people by a double standard and of denying to some the rights granted to others. Today's "liberals" recognize the workers' (the majority's) right to their livelihood (their wages), but deny the businessman's (the minority's) right to their livelihood (their profits). If workers struggle for higher wages, this is hailed as "social gains", if businessmen struggle for higher profits, this is damned as "selfish greed".
Under the antitrsut laws, a man becomes a criminal from the moment he goes into business, no matter what he does. If he complies with one of these laws, he faces criminal prosecution under several others. For instance, if he charges prices which some bureaucrats judge as too h8igh, he can be prosecuted for monopoly, or, rather, for a successful "intent to monopolize"; if he charges prices lower than those of his competitors, he can be prosecuted for "unfair competition" or "restraint of trade"; and if he charges the same prices as his competitors, he can be prosecuted for "collusion" or "conspiracy".
It is often though that the field of mining is particularly vulnerable to the establishment of monopolies, since the materials extracted from the earth exist in limited quantity and since, it is believed, some firm might gain control of all the sources of some raw material. But observe that International Nickel of Canada produces more than two-thirds of all the world's nickel - yet it does not charge monopoly prices. It prices its products as though it had a great many competitors - and the truth is that it does have a great many competitors. Nickel is competing with aluminium and a variety of other materials. The seldom recognized principle involved in such cases is that no single product, commodity, or material is or can be indispensible to an economy regardless of price. A commodity can be only relatively preferable to other commodities. The free market is its own protector.
It (the 1929 Depression) provides one of the most eloquent illustrations of the disastrous consequenes of a "planned" economy. In a free economy, when an individual businessman makes an error of economic judgment, he (and perhaps those who immediately deal with him) suffers the consequences; in a controlled economy, when a central planner makes an error of economic judgment, the whole country suffers the consequences.
Since the start of the Industrial Revolution and capitalism, wage rates have risen steadily - as an inevitable economic consequence of rising capital accumulation, technological process, and industrial expansion. As capitalism created countless countless new markets, so it created an ever-widening market for labour: it multiplied the number and kinds of jobs available, increased the demand and competition for the worker's services, and thus drove wage rates upward. It was the economic self-interest of employers that led them to raise wages and shorten working hours - not the pressure of labour unions.
As a result of the
fact that education has been tax-supported for such a long time, most people
find it difficult to project an alternative. Yet there is nothing unique
about education that distinguishes it from the many other human needs which
are filled by private enterprise. If, for many years, the government had
undertaken to provide all the citizens with shoes, and if someone were
subsequently to propose that this field should be turned over to private
enterprise, he would doubtless be told indignantly: "What! Do you want
everyone except the rich to walk around barefoot?"
But the shoe industry is doing its job with immeasurably greater competence than public education is doing its job.
Child labour was not ended by legislative fiat; child labour ended when it became economically unnecessary for children to earn wages in order to survive - when the income of their parents became sufficient to support them.
From "Atlas Shrugged"
"So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Aconia. "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?
"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.
"To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will. Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except by the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return. Money permits you to obtain for your goods and your labor that which they are worth to the men who buy them, but no more. Money permits no deals except those to mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders. Money demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss--the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery--that you must offer them values, not wounds--that the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of GOODS. 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 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, then 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?
"Or did you say it's the LOVE of money that's the root of all evil? To love a thing is to know and love its nature. To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men. It's the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is the loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money--and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it. They know they are able to deserve it."
"Money will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires."
"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."
"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. The words 'to make money' hold the essence of human morality.
"As a basic step of self-esteem, learn to treat as the mark of a cannibal any man's demand for your help. To demand it is to claim that your life is his property - and loathsome as such claim might be, there is still something more loathsome: your agreement. Do you ask if it is ever proper to help another man? No - if he claims it as his right or as a moral duty that you owe him. Yes - if such is your own desire based on your own selfish pleasure in the value of his person and struggle. Suffering as such is not a value; only man's fight against suffering, is. If you choose to help a man who suffers, do it only on the grounds of his virtues, of his fight to recover, of his rational record, or of the fact that he suffers unjustly; then your action is still a trade, and his virtue is a payment for your help. But to help a man who has no virtues, to help him on the ground of his suffering as such, to accept his faults, his need, as a claim - is to accept the mortgage of a zero on your values. A man who has no virtues is a hater of existence who act on the premise of death; to help him is to sanction his evil and to support his career of destruction..
I have been told that 'Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology' was required reading at the Xerox PARC lab where OOP was invented, but this may be merely an urban legend.
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