Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Atlas Shrugged

I finally got around to reading Atlas Shrugged. Only took me 10 days, not bad. First half was great, had a whole dystopian economic apocalypse going for it. After that it began to slow down, and the last quarter was drearily painful. Last 200 or so pages were some of the driest reading I've had to plow through, disappointingly.

That being said, the book was plentiful in quotes. I'mma dump some of them, with no context or checking, because I'm tired and lazy.

After all, private property is a trusteeship held for the benefit of society as a whole."

The adversary she found herself forced to fight was not worth matching or beating; it was not a superior ability which she would have found honor in challenging; it was ineptitude

It had been a struggle without the relief of violence, without the recognition of finding a conscious enemy, with only a deaf wall to batter, a wall of the most effective soundproofing: indifference

So I want to be prepared to claim the greatest virtue of all—that I was a man who made money.

because I think that all those millions you're going to inherit are not for your personal pleasure, they are a trust for the benefit of the underprivileged and the poor, because I think that the person who doesn't realize this is the most depraved type of human being.

It was to raise everybody's standard of living and provide a roast of pork every Sunday for every man, woman, child and abortion in the People's State of Mexico.

as if he were suddenly asked to compete with a man who calculated steel mixtures by the formulas of numerology.

Reason, my dear fellow, is the most naive of all superstitions. (…) You suffer from the popular delusion of believing that things can be understood. (…) My dear madam, the duty of thinkers is not to explain, but to demonstrate that nothing can be explained.

What is the real essence of life, Mr. Eubank? "Suffering," said Balph Eubank. "Defeat and suffering."

If people were forbidden to buy a million copies of the same piece of trash, they would be forced to buy better books."

Plot is a primitive vulgarity in literature, said Balph Eubank contemptuously.

When the masses are destitute and yet there are goods available, it's idiotic to expect people to be stopped by some scrap of paper called a property deed.

Doesn't everyone believe that in order to get the goods, all you have to do is need them?

What is man's fate? Hasn't it always been to hope, but never to achieve? The wise man is the one- who does not attempt to hope.

Men are not open to truth or reason. They cannot be reached by a rational argument. The mind is powerless against them. Yet we have to deal with them.

"You see, Dr. Stadler, people don't want to think. And the deeper they get into trouble, the less they want to think. But by some sort of instinct, they feel that they ought to and it makes them feel guilty. So they'll bless and follow anyone who gives them a justification for not thinking.

Dagny had seen the way they walked in the streets, past their small drugstores, hardware stores and grocery markets: as if they hoped that the motions of their jobs would save them from looking ahead at the future.

They envy achievement, and their dream of greatness is a world where all men have become their acknowledged inferiors.

Money is the scourge of the men who attempt to reverse the law of causality—the men who seek to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind.

Oh, I can't answer you. I don't have any answers, my mind doesn't work that way, but I don't feel that you're right, so I know that you're wrong.

There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, 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. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens?

A viler evil than to murder a man, is to sell him suicide as an act of virtue. A viler evil than to throw a man into a sacrificial furnace, is to demand that he leap in, of his own will, and that he build the furnace, besides.

fighting an enemy more dangerous than weariness or fear: revulsion against the thought of having to deal with human beings.

I think that the only real moral crime that one man can commit against another is the attempt to create, by his words or actions, an impression of the contradictory, the impossible, the irrational, and thus shake the concept of rationality in his victim.

When people were starving, said the newspapers, one did not have to feel concern over the failures of business enterprises which were only private ventures for private profit.

not the look of understanding, but of a ferocious refusal to understand

Well, why not? Why should they have it, if we don't? Why should they stand above us? If we are to perish, let's make sure that we all perish together. Let's make sure that we leave them no chance to survive!

Nobody invents anything, he merely reflects what's floating in the social atmosphere. A genius is an intellectual scavenger and a greedy hoarder of the ideas which rightfully belong to society, from which he stole them.

All thought is theft. If we do away with private fortunes, we'll have a fairer distribution of wealth. If we do away with the genius, we'll have a fairer distribution of ideas.

Didn't they deliver every country of Europe, one after another, to committees of goons, just like this one here? Didn't they scream their heads off to shut out every burglar alarm and to break every padlock open for the goons?

No, but you do hear them telling the whip-beaten wretches that starvation is prosperity, that slavery is freedom, that torture chambers arc brother-love and that if the wretches don't understand it, then it's their own fault that they suffer, and it's the mangled corpses in the jail cellars who're to blame for all their troubles,

Others are the kind of scum I didn't think existed—they get the jobs and they know that we can't throw them out once they're in, so they make it clear that they don't intend to work for their pay and never did intend.

The college had taught him that the purpose of ideas is to fool those who are stupid enough to think.

in the belligerently righteous style of a third-rate tabloid; her economics consisted of the assertion that "we've got to help the poor."

When they were gone, he felt what one feels at the loss of a dream one had not known till after it was lost.

The plan was that everybody in the factory would work according to his ability, but would be paid according to his need.

the vicious competition of the profit system, where men had to compete for who'd do a better job than his fellows? Vicious, wasn't it? Well, they should have seen what it was like when we all had to compete with one another for who’d do the worst job possible.

Babies was the only item of production that didn't fall, but rose and kept on rising—because people had nothing else to do, I guess, and because they didn't have to care, the baby wasn't their burden, it was 'the family's.' In fact, the best chance you had of getting a raise and breathing easier for a while was a 'baby allowance.'

Your honesty was like a tool left at the mercy of the next man's dishonesty.

'How?' He turned and answered, 'I will stop the motor of the world. Then he walked out. We never saw him again.

Down what drain were they poured out there, our days, our lives and our energy?

when I heard an unspeakable evil being spoken in a tone of moral righteousness, I saw the root of the world's tragedy,

would not surrender them to the educational systems devised to stunt a child's brain, to convince him that reason is impotent, that existence is an irrational chaos with which he's unable to deal, and thus reduce him to a state of chronic terror.

that the new invention was an instrument of social welfare, which guaranteed general prosperity, and that anyone who doubted this self evident fact was an enemy of society, to be treated accordingly.

personal opinion is the one luxury that nobody can afford today

At a time like this, we can't afford the luxury of thinking!

She felt a stab of horror, the convulsion of a mind rejecting a sight that would destroy it—a stab like a swift recoil from the edge of insanity.

And the earth is littered with mangled cripples, who don't know what has hit them or why, who crawl as best they can on their crushed limbs through their lightless days, with no answer save that pain is the core of existence—and the traffic cops of morality chortle and tell them that man, by his nature, is unable to walk.

with the obscene insolence of a skeleton toward a living being, demanding that this pain be held as the highest of values.

The trouble with our modern world, Dr. Robert Stadler said over the radio, at the ceremonies launching the construction of the cyclotron, "is that too many people think too much. It is the cause of all our current fears and doubts. An enlightened citizenry should abandon the superstitious worship of logic and the outmoded reliance on reason.

A morality that dares to tell you to find happiness in the renunciation of your happiness—to value the failure of your values—is an insolent negation of morality.

that an attempt to gain a value by deceiving the mind of others is an act of raising your victims to a position higher than reality

And that is precisely the goal of your morality, the duty that your code demands of you. Give to that which you do not enjoy, serve that which you do not admire, submit to that which you consider evil—surrender the world to the values of others, deny, reject, renounce your self.

The modern mystics of muscle who offer you the fraudulent alternative of 'human rights' versus 'property rights,' as if one could exist without the other

~ Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand