Anthem (novella): Wikis

Advertisements
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Anthem  
Anthem.jpg
1st edition cover
Author Ayn Rand
Language English
Genre(s) Science Fiction
Publisher Cassell (London)
Publication date 1938 (original), 1946 (revised)
Pages 146
ISBN ISBN 978-0-525-94015-9 (50th anniversary edition)
OCLC Number 32132103
Dewey Decimal 813/.52 20
LC Classification PS3535.A547 A7 1995

Anthem is a dystopian fiction novella by Ayn Rand, first published in 1938. It takes place at some unspecified future date when mankind has entered another dark age as a result of the evils of irrationality and collectivism and the weaknesses of socialistic thinking and economics. Technological advancement is now carefully planned (when it is allowed to occur at all) and the concept of individuality has been eliminated (for example, the word "I" has disappeared from the language). As is common in her work, Rand draws a clear distinction between the "socialist/communal" values of equality and brotherhood and the "productive/capitalist" values of achievement and individuality.

Contents

Characters

Equality 7-2521 is described as "six feet tall, 21 years old male" (Gladstein, 1995, p.49). According to 'The New Ayn Rand Companion', Equality 7-2521 "experiments with electricity to become a literal and figurative bringer of light, similar to 'Prometheus'" (Gladstein, 1995, p.49). He is named the "Unconquered" by Liberty.

Liberty 5-3000 is the love interest of Equality 7-2521. She is described as being "brave and single-minded. Her eyes are dark and project a hard, glowing, and fearless quality. She knows no guilt" (Gladstein, 1995, p. 52). She is named the "Golden One" by Equality.

Plot summary

Equality 7-2521, writing in a tunnel under the earth, explains his background, the society around him, and his emigration. His exclusive use of plural pronouns (we, our, they) to refer to himself and others is immediately obvious. The idea of the World Council was to eliminate all individualist ideas. It was so stressed, that people were burned at the stake for saying an Unspeakable Word (I, Me, Myself, and Egos). He recounts his early life. He was raised, like all children in the world of Anthem, away from his parents in the Home of the Infants, then transferred to the Home of the Students, where he began his schooling. Later, he realized that he was born with a "curse": He is eager to think and question, and unwilling to give up himself for others, which violates the principles upon which Anthem's society is founded. He excelled in math and science, and dreamed of becoming a Scholar. However, a Council of Vocations assigned all people to their jobs, and he was assigned to the Home of the Street Sweepers.

Equality accepts his profession willingly in order to repent for his transgression (his desire to learn). He works with International 4-8818 and Union 5-3992. International is exceptionally tall, a great artist (which is his transgression, as only people chosen to be artists may draw), and Equality's only friend (having a friend also being a crime because, in Anthem's society, one is not supposed to prefer one of one's brothers over the rest). Union, "they of the half-brain," suffers from epilepsy.

However, Equality remains curious. One day, he finds the entrance to a subway tunnel in his assigned work area and explores it, despite International 4-8818's protests that an action unauthorized by a Council is forbidden. Equality realizes that the tunnel is left over from the Unmentionable Times, before the creation of Anthem's society, and is curious about it. During the daily three hour-long play, he leaves the rest of the community at the theater and enters the tunnel and undertakes scientific experiments.

Working outside the City one day, by a field, Equality meets and falls in love with a woman, Liberty 5-3000, whom he names "The Golden One." Also, Liberty 5-3000 names Equality "The Unconquered."

Continuing his scientific work, he rediscovers electricity (which he, until the book nears its conclusion, calls the "power of the sky") and the light bulb. He decides to take his inventions to the World Council of Scholars, so that they will recognize his talent and allow him to work with them. He is still motivated by a socially instilled need to aid his fellow citizens. However, one night he spends too much time in the underground tunnel and his absence from the Home of the Street Sweepers is noticed, and he is arrested and then sent to the Palace of Corrective Detention, from which he easily escapes after being tortured.

The day after his escape, he walks in on the World Council of Scholars and presents his work to them. Horrified, they reject it because it was not authorized by a Council and threatens to upset the equilibrium of their world. When they try to destroy his invention, he takes it and flees into the forest (called the Uncharted Forest) outside the City.

Upon entering the Uncharted Forest, Equality begins to realize that he is free, that he no longer must wake up every morning with his brothers to sweep the streets. (It's important to note that it was illegal for men of the City to enter or even think of the Forest, therefore he was not pursued once he crossed its threshold). He can "rise, or run, or leap, or fall down again." Now that he sees this, he is not stricken with the sense that he will die at the fangs of the beasts of the forest as a result of his transgressions. He develops a new understanding of the world and his place in it.

On his second day of living in the forest, Equality stumbles upon the Golden One, Liberty 5-3000, who has followed him from the City. They embrace, struggling to express their feelings for each other as they do not know how to think of themselves as individuals. They find and enter a house from the Unmentionable Times in the mountains, perfectly preserved for hundreds of years by thick overgrowth, and decide to live in it.

While reading books from the house's library, Equality and Liberty discover that the Unspeakable Word, the one that carries the penalty of death, is "Ego." Recognizing its sacred value and the individuality it expresses, they give themselves new names from the books: Equality becomes 'Prometheus', and Liberty becomes 'Gaea'. As the book closes, Prometheus talks about the past, wonders how men could give up their individuality, and charts a future in which they will regain it.

The last word of the book, 'EGO', is inscribed by Prometheus on a rock.

Allusions

In Chapter 12, Rand alludes to Greek mythology renaming her two main characters Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000. Equality is renamed Prometheus, an allusion to the Titan who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mankind. Liberty is renamed Gaea, an allusion to the titan of the earth and mother of the Gods.

I have read of a man who lived many thousands of years ago, and of all the names in these books, his is the one I wish to bear. He took the light of the gods and he brought it to men, and he taught men to be gods. And he suffered for his deed as all bearers of light must suffer. His name was Prometheus.

And I have read of a goddess who was the mother of the earth and of all the gods. Her name was Gaea. Let this be your name, my Golden One, for you are to be the mother of a new kind of gods.[1]

History

Advertisements

Development

Rand, as a teenager living in Soviet Russia, initially conceived Anthem as a play.[2] After migrating to the United States, Rand didn't think of writing Anthem there, but reconsidered after reading a short story in the Saturday Evening Post set in the future:

It was just an adventure story, but what interested me was the fact that it was the first time I saw a fantastic story in print—rather than the folks-next-door sort of serials. What impressed me was the fact that they would publish such a story. And so I thought that if they didn't mind fantasy, I would like to try Anthem.

I was working on the plot of The Fountainhead at that time... I was doing architectural research, but there was no writing I could do yet, and I had to take time off once in a while to write something. So I wrote Anthem that summer of 1937.[3]

It is widely believed that the story in question was By the Waters of Babylon by Stephen Vincent Benét, which was published as "The Place of the Gods" in the July 31, 1937 edition of "The Saturday Evening Post".

Ayn Rand's working title was Ego. Leonard Peikoff explains the meaning behind this title: "[Rand] is (implicitly) upholding the central principles of her philosophy and of her heroes: reason, values, volition, individualism." Thinking that the original title was too blunt, unemotional, and would give away too much of the theme, Rand changed the title to Anthem. "The present novel, in Miss Rand's mind, was from the outset an ode to man's ego. It was not difficult, therefore, to change the working title: to move from 'ego' to 'ode' or 'anthem', leaving the object celebrated by the ode to be discovered by the reader."[4]

There are similarities between Anthem and the earlier novel, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, another author who had lived in communist Russia. These include:

  1. A novel taking the form of a secret diary or journal.
  2. People having numbers instead of names.
  3. Sexuality is highly regulated.
  4. A sort of 'hive mind' thought in the people of the dystopia.
  5. A male influenced positively by a female character.

There are also a number of differences between the two stories. For example, the society of We is in no scientific or technological decay, featuring X-rays, airplanes, microphones, and so on. In contrast, the people of Anthem believe that the world is flat and the sun revolves around it, and that bleeding people is a decent form of medicine. The similarities have led to speculation about whether Rand's story was directly influenced by Zamyatin's.[5][6] However, there is little evidence that Rand was influenced by or even read Zamyatin's work, and she never mentioned it in discussions of her life in Russia.[5][7]

Publication history

Initially, Rand planned on publishing Anthem as a magazine story or serial, but her agent encouraged her to publish it as a book. She submitted it simultaneously to Macmillan Publishers in America (who published Rand's earlier novel, We The Living) and Cassell in England. "Cassell accepted it immediately... Macmillan turned it down; their comment was: the author does not understand socialism."[8]

After the success of Rand's novel The Fountainhead, a revised 2nd edition of Anthem was published in 1946. The original English edition (Cassell 1938) entered the public domain in the United States in 1966, due to the failure to renew its copyright after 28 years as then required by US law. A 50th Anniversary Edition was published in 1995 including a appendix which reproduces the entire original British edition with Ayn Rand's handwritten editorial changes.

Influence

The work has inspired many musical pieces, including full-length albums. According to Enzo Stuarti, Pat Boone composed the music and his friend Frank Lovejoy wrote the lyrics of the song "Prelude", featured in the album Stuarti Arrives at Carnegie Hall. The song begins with a line right out of Anthem. In another point of the song it reads: "...I guard my treasures: my thought, my will, my land, and my freedom. And the greatest of these is freedom." In Anthem, it reads: "...I guard my treasures: my thought, my will, my land, my freedom. And the greatest of these is freedom." A memo to Rand dated May 4, 1964, mentions the unauthorized adaptation, but there is no indication that she took any legal action.[9]

The artwork of Arch Enemy's album Anthems of Rebellion, as well as the thematic and lyrical content of the songs, draws heavily on the world portrayed by Rand. Anthem is also credited by Neil Peart for influencing Rush's "2112" which mirrors the plot, structure, and theme of Anthem, and the band also released a song called "Anthem".

The Libertarian Futurist Society awarded Anthem the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 1987.

Notes

  1. ^ Rand 1995, pp. 98–99
  2. ^ Peikoff, Leonard, "Introduction" in Rand 1995, p. viii
  3. ^ Peikoff, Leonard, "Introduction" in Rand 1995, p. ix
  4. ^ Peikoff, Leonard, "Introduction" in Rand 1995, p. vi
  5. ^ a b Saint-Andre, Peter (Spring 2003). "Zamyatin and Rand". Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 4 (2): 285–304. http://books.stpeter.im/rand/zamyatin-rand.html. 
  6. ^ Gimpelevich, Zina (1997). "‘We’ and ‘I’ in Zamyatin's We and Rand's Anthem". Germano-Slavica 10 (1): 13–23. 
  7. ^ Milgram, Shosana. "Anthem in the Context of Related Literary Works," in Mayhew 2005, pp. 136–141
  8. ^ Peikoff, Leonard, "Introduction" in Rand 1995, p. x
  9. ^ Britting, Jeff. "Adapting Anthem: Projects that Were and Might Have Been," in Mayhew 2005, pp. 66–67

Works cited

  • Gladstein, M.R. (1999). The new Ayn Rand companion. Westport: Greenwood Press
  • Mayhew, Robert, ed (2005). Essays on Ayn Rand's Anthem. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. ISBN 0-7391-1030-6. 
  • Rand, Ayn (1995) [1938]. Anthem. Introduction and appendix by Leonard Peikoff (50th anniversary ed.). New York: Dutton. ISBN 0-525-94015-4. 

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Ayn Rand article)

From Wikiquote

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

Contents

Sourced

Atlas Shrugged

Merge-arrow.svg
It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Atlas Shrugged. (Discuss)
  • 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?
  • Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason.
  • The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it.
  • The good, say the mystics of spirit, is God, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man's power to conceive- a definition that invalidates man's consciousness and nullifies his concepts of existence. Man's mind, say the mystics of spirit, must be subordinated to the will of God. Man's standard of value, say the mystics of spirit, is the pleasure of God, whose standards are beyond man's power of comprehension and must be accepted on faith. The purpose of man's life is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question.
  • For centuries, the battle of morality was fought between those who claimed that your life belongs to God and those who claimed that it belongs to your neighbors - between those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of ghosts in heaven and those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of incompetents on earth. And no one came to say that your life belongs to you and that the good is to live it.
  • Haven't I? -- he thought. Haven't I thought of it since the first time I saw you? Haven't I thought of nothing else for two years?... He sat motionless, looking at her. He heard the words he never allowed himself to form, the words he had felt, known, yet had not faced, had hoped to destroy by never letting them be within his own mind, Now it was as sudden and shocking as if he were saying it to her…Since the first time I saw you.... Nothing but your body, that mouth of yours, and the way your eyes would look at me, if... Through every sentence I ever said to you, through every conference you thought were so safe, through the importance of all the issues we discussed... You trusted me, didn't you? To recognize greatness? To think of you as you deserved -- as if you were a man?
  • Love is our response to our highest values.
  • Through centuries of scourges and disasters, brought about by your code of morality, you have cried that your code had been broken, that the scourges were punishment for breaking it, that men were too weak and too selfish to spill all the blood it required. You damned men, you damned existence, you damned this earth, but never dared to question your code. Your victims took the blame and struggled on, with your curses as reward for their martyrdom - while you went on crying that your code was noble, but human nature was not good enough to practice it. And no one rose to ask the question: Good? - by what standard?
  • She was twelve years old when she told Eddie Willers that she would run the railroad when they grew up. She was fifteen when it occurred to her for the first time that women did not run railroads and that people might object. To hell with that, she thought---and never worried about it again.
  • Rationality is the recognition of the fact that existence exists, that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving it, which is thinking...
  • Love is the expression of one's values, the greatest reward you can earn for the moral qualities you have achieved in your character and person, the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another.
  • 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.
  • Litigants obey the verdict of a tribunal solely on the premise that there is an objective rule of conduct, which they both accept.
  • I'm working to improve my methods, and every hour I save is an hour added to my life.
  • …guilt is a rope that wears thin...
    • Part Three / Chapter 4
  • A desire presupposes the possibility of action to achieve it; action presupposes a goal which is worth achieving.
    • Part Two / Chapter 1
  • All work is an act of philosophy.
    • Part Three / Chapter 1
  • In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This is John Galt Speaking
  • An inventor is a man who asks 'Why?' of the universe and lets nothing stand between the answer and his mind.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This Is John Galt Speaking
  • Existence exists—and the act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This Is John Galt Speaking
  • Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where the gun begins.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This Is John Galt Speaking
  • Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This Is John Galt Speaking
  • Man cannot survive except by gaining knowledge, and reason is his only means to gain it. Reason is the faculty that perceives, identifies and integrates the material provided by his senses. The task of his senses is to give him the evidence of existence, but the task of identifying it belongs to his reason, his senses tell him only that something is, but what it is must be learned by his mind.
    • Part Three / Chapter 7 This Is John Galt Speaking
  • “If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders—what would you tell him to do?” " To Shrug."
  • My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
  • "Contradictions do not exist". "Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises". "You will find that one of them is wrong".
  • "Parties are intended to be celebrations, and celebrations should be only for those who have something to celebrate".

The Fountainhead

Merge-arrow.svg
It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into The Fountainhead. (Discuss)
  • A house can have integrity, just like a person, and just as seldom.
  • Only by accepting total compulsion can we achieve total freedom.
  • People were his [Keating's] protection against people. Howard Roark had no sense of people.
  • One can't love man without hating most of the creatures who pretend to bear his name.
  • Worry is a waste of emotional reserve.
  • There is a stage of worship which makes the worshipper himself an object of reverence.
  • Every form of happiness is private. Our greatest moments are personal, self-motivated, not to be touched.
  • You know how people long to be eternal. But they die with every day that passes. When you meet them, they’re not what you met last. In any given hour, they kill some part of themselves. They change, they deny, they contradict--and they call it growth. At the end there’s nothing left, nothing unreversed or unbetrayed; as if there had never been an entity, only a succession of adjectives fading in and out on an unformed mass.
  • Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.
  • Whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man's nature and of life's potential.
  • His face was closed like a safety vault; things locked in safety vaults are valuable; men did not care to feel that.
  • Show me your achievement - and the knowledge will give me courage for mine.
  • She could not have reached this white serenity except as the sum of all the colors, of all the violence she had known.
  • They talked quietly, with a feeling of companionship such as that of an old married couple; as if he had possessed her body, and the wonder of it had long since been consumed, and nothing remained but an untroubled intimacy.
  • I am a man who does not exist for others.
  • ...the person who loves everybody and feels at home everywhere is the true hater of mankind. He expects nothing of men, so no form of depravity can outrage him.
  • I have come here to say that I do not recognize anyone's right to one minute of my life.... It had to be said. The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing.
  • I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York's skyline. Particularly when one can't see the details. Just the shapes. The shapes and the thought that made them. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need? And then people tell me about pilgrimages to some dank pesthole in a jungle where they go to do homage to a crumbling temple, to a leering stone monster with a pot belly, created by some leprous savage. Is it beauty and genius they want to see? Do they seek a sense of the sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the Hudson, look and kneel. When I see the city from my window - no, I don't feel how small I am - but I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body.
  • Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received--hatred. The great creators--the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors--stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The first airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.
  • A leash is only a rope with a noose on both ends.
  • To say 'I love you' one must know first how to say the 'I.'
  • I can accept anything, except what seems to be the easiest for most people: the half-way, the almost, the just-about, the in-between.
  • Anything may be betrayed, anyone may be forgiven. But not those who lack the courage of their own greatness.
  • From the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have comes from a single attribute of man - the function of his reasoning mind..
  • It stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there's someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master.
  • Every Loneliness is a pinnacle

Anthem

  • I am. I think. I will.
  • I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction.
  • And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: 'I.'
  • Neither am I the means to any end others may wish to accomplish. I am not a tool for their use. I am not a servant of their needs. I am not a bandage for their wounds, I am not a sacrifice on their altars.
  • There is nothing to take a man's freedom away from him, save other men. To be free, a man must be free of his brothers.
  • This miracle of me is mine to own and keep, and mine to guard, and mine to use, and mine to kneel before...The fortune of my spirit is not to be blown into coins of brass and flung to the winds as alms for the poor of spirit.
  • I shall choose friends among men, but neither slaves nor masters. And I shall choose only such as please me, and them I shall love and respect, but neither command nor obey. And we shall join our hands when we wish, or walk alone when we so desire.
  • In the temple of his spirit, each man is alone.

We The Living

  • 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.
    • Source: We The Living Part One Chapter 9
  • There is no such thing as duty. If you know that a thing is right, you want to do it. If you don't want to do it—it isn't right. If it's right and you don't want to do it—you don't know what right is and you're not a man.
    • Source: We The Living Part One Chapter 6
  • There is only one thing that matters and that we'll remember. The rest doesn't matter. I don't care what life is to be nor what it does to us. But it won't break us. Neither you nor me. That's our only weapon. That's the only banner we can hold against all those others around us. That's all we have to know about the future.
  • The highest thing in a man is not his god. It's that in him which knows the reverence due a god. You are my highest reverence.
    • Source: We The Living Last Page
  • A moment or an eternity—did it matter? Life, undefeated, existed and could exist.

Philosophy: Who Needs It

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

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

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

The Virtue of Selfishness

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

The Voice of Reason

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

The Ayn Rand Letter

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

The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution

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

The Romantic Manifesto

  • 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.
  • Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent.

Miscellaneous

  • It took centuries of intellectual, philosophical development to achieve political freedom. It was a long struggle, stretching from Aristotle to John Locke to the Founding Fathers. The system they established was not based on unlimited majority but on its opposite: on individual rights, which were not to be alienated by majority vote or minority plotting. The individual was not left at the mercy of his neighbors or his leaders: the Constitutional system of checks and balances was scientifically devised to protect him from both. This was the great American achievement—and if concern for the actual welfare of other nations were our present leaders' motive, this is what we should have been teaching the world. Instead, we are deluding the ignorant and the semi-savage by telling them that no political knowledge is necessary—that our system is only a matter of subjective preference—that any prehistorical form of tribal tyranny, gang rule, and slaughter will do just as well, with our sanction and support. It is thus that we encourage the spectacle of Algerian workers marching through the streets [in the 1962 Civil War] and shouting the demand: "Work, not blood!"—without knowing what great knowledge and virtue are required to achieve it. In the same way, in 1917, the Russian peasants were demanding: "Land and Freedom!" But Lenin and Stalin is what they got. In 1933, the Germans were demanding: "Room to live!" But what they got was Hitler. In 1793, the French were shouting: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!" What they got was Napoleon. In 1776, the Americans were proclaiming "The Rights of Man"—and, led by political philosophers, they achieved it. No revolution, no matter how justified, and no movement, no matter how popular, has ever succeeded without a political philosophy to guide it, to set its direction and goal.
    • Source: The Ayn Rand Column
  • "The people of Algiers marched through the streets of the city, in desperate protest against the new threat of civil war, shouting: 'We want peace! We want a government!' How are they to go about getting it? Through the years of civil war, they had been united, not by any political philosophy, but only by a racial issue. They were fighting, not for any program, but only against French rule. When they won their independence, they fell apart - into rival tribes and armed 'willayas' fighting one another"
    • Source: The Ayn Rand Column 'Blind Chaos'
  • The worst evil that you can do, psychologically, is to laugh at yourself. That means spitting in your own face.
    • Source: Question period following Lecture 11 of Leonard Peikoff's series "The Philosophy of Objectivism," 1976
  • What is greatness? I will answer: it is the capacity to live by the three fundamental values of John Galt: reason, purpose, self-esteem.
    • Source: Playboy Interview (March 1964)
  • “Free competition enforced by law” is a grotesque contradiction in terms.
    • Source: The Objectivist Newsletter “Antitrust: The Rule of Unreason,” The Objectivist Newsletter, Feb. 1962, 1
  • Let no man posture as an advocate of peace if he proposes or supports any social system that initiates the use of force against individual men, in any form.
    • Source: For the New Intellectual
  • Man—every man—is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life.
    • Source: The Ayn Rand Column ‘Introducing Objectivism’
  • Even if smog were a risk to human life, we must remember that life in nature, without technology, is wholesale death.
    • Source: The Objectivist February 1971
  • I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows.
    • Source: Introducing Objectivism. The Objectivist Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 8. August, 1962. p. 35.
  • I am not looking for intelligent disagreement any longer.... What I am looking for is intelligent agreement.
    • Source: conversations with the philosopher John Hospers[1]

References

  1. McLemee, Scott. "The Heirs of Ayn Rand: Has Objectivism Gone Subjective?" Retrieved May 26, 2006.

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message