They had rejected the soul-body dichotomy, with its two corollaries: the impotence of man's mind and the damnation of this earth; they had rejected the doctrine of suffering as man's metaphysical fate, they proclaimed man's right to the pursuit of happiness and were determined to establish on earth the conditions required for man's proper existence, by the "unaided" power of their intellect.
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It's the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money.... Let me give you a tip on men's characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it. Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the...bell of an approaching looter.
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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.
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If you surrender everything to the government and give it total power to plan the whole economy, this will not guarantee your economic security, but it will guarantee the descent of the entire nation to a level of miserable poverty--as the practical results of every totalitarian economy, communist or fascist, have demonstrated.
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In proportion to the mental energy he spent, the man who creates a new invention receives but a small percentage of his value in terms of material payment, no matter what fortune he makes, no matter what millions he earns. But the man who works as a janitor in the factory producing that invention, receives an enormous payment in proportion to the mental effort that his job requires of him. And the same is true of all men between, on all levels of ambition and ability.
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There are two principles on which all men of intellectual integrity and good will can agree, as a 'basic minimum,' as a precondition of any discussion, co-operation or movement toward an intellectual Renaissance. . . . They are not axioms, but until a man has proved them to himself and has accepted them, he is not fit for an intellectual discussion. These two principles are: a. that emotions are not tools of cognition; b. that no man has the right to initiate the use of physical force against others.
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Whenever anyone accuses some person of being 'unfeeling,' he means that that person is just. He means that that person has no causeless emotions and will not grant him a feeling which he does not deserve. He means that 'to feel' is to go against reason, against moral values, against reality.
What you think is an illusion created by your glands, your emotions and, in the last analysis, by the content of your stomach. That gray matter you're so proud of is like a mirror in an amusement park which transmits to you nothing but distorted signals from reality forever beyond your grasp.
Rationalization is a cover-up, a process of providing one's emotions with a false identity, of giving them spurious explanations and justifications - in order to hide one's motives, not just from others, but primarily from oneself. The price of rationalizing is the hampering, the distortion, and, ultimately, the destruction of one's cognitive faculty. Rationalization is a process not of perceiving reality, but of attempting to make reality fit one's emotions.
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So long as men desire to live together, no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. . . . When a man attempts to deal with me by force, I answer him by force. It is only as retaliation that force may be used and only against the man who starts its use. No, I do not share his evil or sink to his concept of morality: I merely grant him his choice, destruction, the only destruction he had the right to choose: his own.
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A rational process is a moral process. You may make an error at any step of it, with nothing to protect you but your own severity, or you may try to cheat, to fake the evidence and evade the effort of the quest - but if devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality, then there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.
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If you want to save capitalism there is only one type of argument that you should adopt, the only one that has ever won in any moral issue: the argument from self-esteem. Check your premises, convince yourself of the rightness of your cause, then fight for capitalism with full, moral certainty.
Then no rightful cause was left, and the pain of anger was turning into the shameful pain of submission. He had no right to condemn anyone - he thought - to denounce anything, to fight and die joyously, claiming the sanctity of virtue. The broken promises, the unconfessed desires, the betrayal, the deceit, the lies, the fraud - he was guilty of them all. What form of corruption could he scorn? Degrees do not matter, he thought; one does not bargain about inches of evil.
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A chronic lack of pleasure, of any enjoyable, rewarding or stimulating experiences, produces a slow, gradual, day-by-day erosion of man's emotional vitality, which he may ignore or repress, but which is recorded by the relentless computer of his subconscious mechanism that registers an ebbing flow, then a trickle, then a few last drops of fuel--until the day when his inner motor stops and he wonders desperately why he has no desire to go on, unable to find any definable cause of his hopeless, chronic sense of exhaustion.
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I sat there beside him till morning - and as I watched his face in the starlight, then the first ray of the sun on his untroubled forehead and closed eyelids, what I experienced was not a prayer, I do not pray, but that state of spirit at which a prayer is a misguided attempt: a full, confident, affirming self-dedication to my love of the right, to the certainty that the right would win and that this boy would have the kind of future he deserved. . . . I did not expect it to be as great as this - or as hard.
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What I want you to understand, is the full evil of those who claim to have become convinced that this earth, by its nature, is a realm of malevolence where the good has no chance to win. Let them check their premises. Let them check their standards of value. Let them check - before they grant themselves the unspeakable license of evil-as-necessity - whether they know what is the good and what are the conditions it requires.
The truly and deliberately evil men are a very small minority; it is the appeaser who unleashes them on mankind; it is the appeaser's intellectual abdication that invites them to take over. When a culture's dominant trend is geared to irrationality, the thugs win over the appeasers. When intellectual leaders fail to foster the best in the mixed, unformed, vacillating character of people at large, the thugs are sure to bring out the worst. When the ablest men turn into cowards, the average men turn into brutes.
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The plot of a movie is its motor. It is not an accident that people call pictures 'vehicles' for stars. A vehicle has to move. A plotless story is like an expensive car with a wonderful body design, luxurious seats, upholstery, headlights (production, direction, cast) - and no motor under its hood. That is why it gets nowhere.
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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.
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. To imagine a heaven and then not to dream of it, but to demand it.
No man may initiate the use of physical force against others. No man-or group or society or government-has the right to assume the role of a criminal and initiate the use of physical compulsion against any man. Men have the right to use physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. The ethical principle involved is simple and clear-cut: it is the difference between murder and self-defense.
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The necessary consequence of man's right to life is his right to self-defense. In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. All the reasons which make the initiation of physical force an evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative. If some "pacifist" society renounced the retaliatory use of force, it would be left helplessly at the mercy of the first thug who decided to be immoral. Such a society would achieve the opposite of its intention: instead of abolishing evil, it would encourage and reward it.
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Theirs is the banner in my hand. And I wish I had the power to tell them that the despair of their hearts was not to be final, and their night was not without hope. For the battle they lost can never be lost. For that which they died to save can never perish. Through all the darkness, through all the shame of which men are capable, the spirit of man will remain alive on this earth. It may sleep, but it will awaken. It may wear chains, but it will break through. And man will go on. Man, not men. ~Equality 7-2521 (as Prometheus), pgs 103-104
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I am neither foe nor friend to my brothers, but such as each of them shall deserve of me. And to earn my love, my brothers must do more than to have been born. I do not grant my love without reason, nor to any chance passer-by who may wish to claim it. I honor men with my love. But honor is a thing to be earned.
Everything has strings leading to everything else. We're all so tied together. We're all in a net, the net is waiting, and we're pushed into it by one single desire. You want a thing and it's precious to you. Do you know who is standing ready to tear it out of your hands? You can't know, it may be so involved and so far away, but someone is ready, and you're afraid of them all. And you cringe and you crawl and you beg and you accept them--just so they'll let you keep it. And look at whom you come to accept.
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