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The 25 Greatest Quotes from Ayn Rand
In honor of Ayn Rand’s death almost 41 years ago on March 6, 1982
Ayn Rand was certainly one of the most influential people on the Right in the last century. Most conservatives I know have read some of her work and Atlas Shrugged is arguably the most influential book among conservatives other than Bible. In one sense, this is surprising not just because Atlas Shrugged is fiction, but because it’s fiction with not particularly good dialogue that doesn’t translate well to the big screen. What Rand was so incredibly good at was creating a world that perfectly captured the concerns of freedom-loving conservatives who worried about the fate of their country if socialism and big government continued to advance. Today? Ayn Rand’s work is more relevant than ever and if you haven’t read it, you should. Read these quotes and you will understand why.
25) "Do not keep silent when your own ideas and values are being attacked. If a dictatorship ever comes to this country, it will be by the fault of those who keep silent. We are still free enough to speak. Do we have time? No one can tell."
24) "You have all heard the old bromide to the effect that man has his eyes on the stars and his feet in the mud. It is usually taken to mean that man's reason and his physical senses are the element pulling him down to the mud while his mystical, super-rational emotions are the element that lifts him to the stars. This is the grimmest inversion of many in mankind's history. But, last summer, reality offered you a literal dramatization of the truth. It is man's irrational emotions that bring him down to the mud. It is man's reason that lifts him to the stars."
23) ) "Man's unique reward, however, is that while animals survive by adjusting themselves to their background, man survives by adjusting his background to himself. If a drought strikes them, animals perish - man builds irrigation canals; if a flood strikes them, animals perish - man builds dams; if a carnivorous pack attacks them animals perish - man writes the Constitution of the United States. But one does not obtain food, safety or freedom - by instinct."
22) "Capitalism has created the highest standard of living ever known on earth. The evidence is incontrovertible. The contrast between West and East Berlin is the latest demonstration, like a laboratory experiment for all to see. Yet those who are loudest in proclaiming their desire to eliminate poverty are loudest in denouncing capitalism. Man's well-being is not their goal."
21) "Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent."
20) "The difference between a welfare state and a totalitarian state is a matter of time."
19) "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."
18) "Statism survives by looting; a free country survives by production."
17) "And what is the state but a servant and a convenience for a large number of people, just like the electric light and the plumbing system? And wouldn't it be preposterous to claim that men must exist for their plumbing, not the plumbing for the men."
16) ) "And this is the whole shabby secret: to some men, the sight of an achievement is a reproach, a reminder that their own lives are irrational, and that there is no loophole - no escape from reason and reality."
15) "Every government interference in the economy consists of giving an unearned benefit, extorted by force, to some men at the expense of others."
14) "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)."
13) "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."
12) "A businessman cannot force you to buy his product; if he makes a mistake, he suffers the consequences; if he fails, he takes the loss. If a bureaucrat makes a mistake, you suffer the consequences; if he fails, he passes the loss on to you."
11) "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."
10) "If a society is to be free, its government has to be controlled."
9) "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."
8) "There is no difference between communism and socialism, except in the means of achieving the same ultimate end: communism proposes to enslave men by force, socialism—by vote. It is merely the difference between murder and suicide."
7) "The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me."
6) "The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody had decided not to see."
5) "The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other - until one day when they are suddenly declared to be the country's official ideology."
4) "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."
3) “You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.”
2) "We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force."
1) "When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion - when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing - when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors - when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns, and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot."