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Ayn Rand
1905 - 1982

Russian-born Ayn Rand came to America at the age of twenty-one and published her first novel, We The Living, in 1936. Publication of The Fountainhead (1943), and Atlas Shrugged (1957) gained her international acclaim as both a novelist and a political philosopher. The objectivist philosophy that she advanced is still widely and hotly debated.

Books by Ayn Rand
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Atlas Shrugged
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Fountainhead, The
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We are on strike, we, the men of the mind. We are on strike against self-immolation. We are on strike against the creed of unearned rewards and unrewarded duties. We are on strike against the dogma that the pursuit of one's happiness is evil. We are on strike against the doctrine that life is guilt.

1957 - from Atlas Shrugged
Today, when a concerted effort is made to obliterate this point, it cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals - that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government - that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizen's protection against the government.

[Re: support of "liberals" for social engineering] The grim joke is on them: their alleged 'ideals' have paved the way, not toward socialism, but toward fascism. The collector of their efforts is not the helplessly, brainlessly virtuous 'little man' of their flat-footed imagination and shopworn fiction, but the worst type of predatory rich, the rich-by-force, the rich-by-political- privilege, the type who has no chance under capitalism, but who is always there to cash in on every collectivist 'noble experiment.'

1966 - from Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
I am interested in politics so that one day I will not have to be interested in politics.

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

A humanitarian who starts with declarations of love for mankind ends with a sea of blood. It goes on and will go on so long as men believe that an action is good if it is unselfish. That permits the altruist to act and forces his victims to bear it. The leaders of collectivist movements ask nothing for themselves. But observe the results.

1947 - from The Fountainhead
There can be no such thing, in law or in morality, as actions forbidden to an individual, but permitted to a mob.

Independence is the recognition of the fact that yours is the responsibility of judgment and nothing can help you escape it -- that no substitute can do your thinking, as no pinch-hitter can live your life -- that the vilest form of self-abasement and self-destruction is the subordination of your mind to the mind of another, the acceptance of an authority over your brain, the acceptance of his assertions as facts, his say-so as truth, his edicts as middle-man between your consciousness and your existence.

1957 - from Atlas Shrugged
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.

from a letter
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 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.

The 'common good' of a collective a race, a class, a state was the claim and justification of every tyranny ever established over men.

Unjust laws have to be fought ideologically; they cannot be fought or corrected by means of mere disobedience and futile martyrdom.

There is a fundamental conviction which some people never acquire, some hold only in their youth, and a few hold to the end of their days - the conviction that IDEAS MATTER. In one's youth that conviction is experienced as a self-evident absolute, and one is unable fully to believe that there are people who do not share it. That ideas matter means that knowledge matters, that truth matters, that one's mind matters. And the radiance of that certainty, in the process of growing up, is the best aspect of youth.

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).

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.

from The Nature of Government
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 right to agree with others is not a problem in any society; it is the right to disagree that is crucial. It is the institution of private property that protects and implements the right to disagree...

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

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.

1943 - from The Fountainhead
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.

If it's dangerous to allow individuals to protect themselves, how much more dangerous it is to give that power to government?

1957 - from Atlas Shrugged