• What an Asshole #35 - Ayn Rand

    In no other era in human history would it be possible to understand Ayn Rand. Ours is a conflicted time. Both science and popular consciousness have come to increasingly understand the interconnection of all things, both great and small. It is a time in which it is nearly impossible to talk of the “Atomic Ant”, let alone an “Atomic Aardvark”. Yet, at the same time as this rising consciousness, there is a simultaneous upsurge in human alienation, isolation, and degradation, a direct reflection of the social relations underlying that consciousness. It’s a lucky thing, then, that Ayn Rand arrived in the nick of time to remind us that the rich are alienated too… or so she would have reminded us if she had had any interest in lecturing anyone but the rich. Luckily, for them, the possibility of becoming the “Atomic Man” is all too real provided that they embrace the traits previously despised by all as evidence of soullessness and self-aggrandizement.

    The ultimate gusano, Rand intended to become the Chernyshevsky (of whom, she was certainly aware) of the right-wing, but lacked his literary talent. When combined with an incoherent ideology, the result was more like the one-liners of Henny Youngman yet without the slightest trace of humorous intent - not What is to be Undone, but more of an “I'm OK, You're OK”, for social parasites of every description.
    And if Ayn Rand is only Ann Landers plus reactionary politics, that’s OK. Crap prose is allowed because it is “philosophy”. Sound bite “philosophy” is encouraged because of its “literary quality”. In fact, it is as an ancestor of the platinitudal “self-help” book that her work really soars: “How to become a Self-Absorbed Vampire in 50 Easy Steps while Proclaiming Every Vice as a Virtue”.

    But, Rand’s influence doesn’t end here. Hers is group therapy; an encounter session for the Coalition of the Chilling. Rand creates a mutual admiration society for succubi, membership conditioned merely on this brand of personal enlightenment.

    In her own words…

    On Capitalism
    "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."

    "Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think."

    "Money is the barometer of a society's virtue."

    "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."

    "Capitalism is the only system that can make freedom, individuality, and the pursuit of values possible in practice."

    "So you think that money is the root of all evil.
    Have you ever asked what is the root of all money?"

    "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 John Birch Society is "futile, because they are not for capitalism but merely against communism."

    “Just as man can't exist without his body, so no rights can exist without the right to translate one's rights into reality, to think, to work and keep the results, which means: the right of property.”

    “Only the man who does not need it, is fit to inherit wealth, the man who would make his fortune no matter where he started.”
    On “Me”

    "Man — every man — is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others."

    The individual "must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life."

    "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."

    "The question isn't who is going to let me, it's who is going to stop me."

    "I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction."

    "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."

    "Great men can't be ruled."

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

    “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.”

    “If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject.”

    “The truth is not for all men, but only for those who seek it.”

    “Anything may be betrayed, anyone may be forgiven, but not those who lack the courage of their own greatness.”

    “It does not matter that only a few in each generation will grasp and achieve the full reality of man's proper stature—and the rest will betray it. It is those few that move the world and give life its meaning—and it is those few that I have always sought to address. The rest are no concern of mine; it is not me or "The Fountainhead" that they will betray: it is their own souls.”

    “To achieve, you need thought. You have to know what you are doing and that's real power.”

    “Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps, down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision.”

    “Love is an expression and assertion of self-esteem, a response to one's own values in the person of another. One gains a profoundly personal, selfish joy from the mere existence of the person one loves. It is one's own personal, selfish happiness that one seeks, earns, and derives from love.”

    “Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason.”
    On “You”

    "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."

    "There's nothing of any importance except how well you do your work."

    "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."

    "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."

    "Guilt is a rope that wears thin."

    "Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values."

    "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."

    "Show me your achievement, and the knowledge will give me courage for mine."

    "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."

    "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."

    “Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be waiting for us in our graves - or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth.”

    “There can be no such thing, in law or in morality, as actions forbidden to an individual, but permitted to a mob”

    “’Mediocrity’ doesn't mean average intelligence, it means an average intelligence that resents and envies its betters.”

    “The verdict you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life.”

    “Don't help me or serve me, but let me see it once, because I need it. Don't work for my happiness, my brothers—show me yours—show me that it is possible—show me your achievement—and the knowledge will give me the courage for mine.

    “The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live”

    “You must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the secondary consequences.”

    “Evil requires the sanction of the victim.”

    “The worst guilt is to accept an unearned guilt.”

    “It only stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master.”

    “The truth is not for all men, but only for those who seek it.”

    “When man learns to understand and control his own behavior as well as he is learning to understand and control the behavior of crop plants and domestic animals, he may be justified in believing that he has become civilized.”
    On and On

    "I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York's skyline, the sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need? 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.”

    "The skyline of New York is a monument of a splendor that no pyramids or palaces will ever equal or approach."

    "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."

    "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.”

    “The difference between a welfare state and a totalitarian state is a matter of time.”

    “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.”

    “Whoever claims the right to redistribute the wealth produced by others is claiming the right to treat human beings as chattel.”

    “Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter.”

    “Every aspect of Western culture needs a new code of ethics - a rational ethics - as a precondition of rebirth.”

    “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”

    “Every man builds his world in his own image. He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice.”

    “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.”

    “Man's unique reward, however, is that while animals survive by adjusting themselves to their background, man survives by adjusting his background to himself.”

    Sources for Quotations:


    Rand has been accused of being a Nazi enabler. That is hardly fair. Just as surely, Rand enables Libertarians, Neo-cons, pedophiles, serial killers, imperialists, pimps, mercenaries, stock brokers, secret polluters, oil company executives, racists, torturers, embezzlers, people who kick dogs, corrupt officials of every shape and description, CIA agents, drug dealers, corporate directors, slave owners, Fascists, neo-Fascists, crypto-Fascists, anarcho-Fascists, Holocaust deniers, rapists, Malthusians, assassins, car-jackers, investment bankers, immigration agents, scabs, Ronald Reagan, confidential informants, Augusto Pinochet, sellouts, demagogues, Congressmen, “creation scientists”, Mafioso, Ponzi schemers, and people who franchise Pay-Day Loan offices.

    It’s Benito Mussolini inserting himself as the hero of a Horatio Alger story. Jay Gatsby doesn’t die at the end of the novel; he founds Blackwater. Mr. Smith goes to Washington and changes his name to Jeffrey Dahmer.

    Whenever mud sinks below the sea of humanity and thus declares, by its very muddiness, not only that it stands apart from the rest, but is entitled to feed off of the flesh and bone left behind, there is the spirit of Rand to declare a New Virtue for the New Man.

    I’m OK… You’re OK…
    This article was originally published in forum thread: What an Asshole #35 - Ayn Rand started by anaxarchos View original post