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TheVirtueofSelfishness:ANewConceptofEgoism

byAynRand
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Istheconceptofvalue,ofgoodorevilanarbitraryhumaninvention,unrelatedto,
underivedfromandunsupportedbyanyfactsofrealityorisitbasedonametaphysical
fact,onanunalterableconditionofmansexistence?(Iusethewordmetaphysicalto
mean:thatwhichpertainstoreality,tothenatureofthings,toexistence.)Doesanarbitrary
humanconvention,amerecustom,decreethatmanmustguidehisactionsbyasetof
principlesoristhereafactofrealitythatdemandsit?Isethicstheprovinceofwhims:of
personalemotions,socialedictsandmysticrevelationsorisittheprovinceofreason?Is
ethicsasubjectiveluxuryoranobjectivenecessity?
Inthesorryrecordofthehistoryofmankindsethicswithafewrare,andunsuccessful,
exceptionsmoralistshaveregardedethicsastheprovinceofwhims,thatis:ofthe
irrational.Someofthemdidsoexplicitly,byintentionothersimplicitly,bydefault.A
whimisadesireexperiencedbyapersonwhodoesnotknowanddoesnotcareto
discoveritscause.
Mostphilosopherstooktheexistenceofethicsforgranted,asthegiven,asahistoricalfact,
andwerenotconcernedwithdiscoveringitsmetaphysicalcauseorobjectivevalidation.
Manyattemptedtobreakthetraditionalmonopolyofmysticisminthefieldofethicsand,
allegedly,todefinearational,scientific,nonreligiousmorality.Buttheirattemptsconsisted
oftryingtojustifythemonsocialgrounds,merelysubstitutingsocietyforGod.
Theavowedmysticsheldthearbitrary,unaccountablewillofGodasthestandardofthe
goodandasthevalidationoftheirethics.Theneomysticsreplaceditwiththegoodof
society,thuscollapsingintothecircularityofadefinitionsuchasthestandardofthegood
isthatwhichisgoodforsociety.Thismeant,inlogicand,today,inworldwide
practicethatsocietystandsaboveanyprinciplesofethics,sinceitisthesource,
standardandcriterionofethics,sincethegoodiswhateveritwills,whateverithappens
toassertasitsownwelfareandpleasure.Thismeantthatsocietymaydoanythingit
pleases,sincethegoodiswhateveritchoosestodobecauseitchoosestodoit.Andsince
thereisnosuchentityassociety,sincesocietyisonlyanumberofindividualmenthis
meantthatsomemen(themajorityoranygangthatclaimstobeitsspokesman)are
ethicallyentitledtopursueanywhims(oranyatrocities)theydesiretopursue,whileother
menareethicallyobligedtospendtheirlivesintheserviceofthatgangsdesires.
Thiscouldhardlybecalledrational,yetmostphilosophershavenowdecidedtodeclarethat
reasonhasfailed,thatethicsisoutsidethepowerofreason,thatnorationalethicscanever
bedefined,andthatinthefieldofethicsinthechoiceofhisvalues,ofhisactions,ofhis
pursuits,ofhislifesgoalsmanmustbeguidedbysomethingotherthanreason.Bywhat?

Faithinstinctintuitionrevelationfeelingtasteurgewishwhim.Today,asin
thepast,mostphilosophersagreethattheultimatestandardofethicsiswhim(theycallit
arbitrarypostulateorsubjectivechoiceoremotionalcommitment)andthebattleis
onlyoverthequestionorwhosewhim:onesownorsocietysorthedictatorsorGods.
Whateverelsetheymaydisagreeabout,todaysmoralistsagreethatethicsisasubjective
issueandthatthethreethingsbarredfromitsfieldare:reasonmindreality.
Ifyouwonderwhytheworldisnowcollapsingtoalowerandeverlowerrungofhell,this
isthereason.Ifyouwanttosavecivilization,itisthispremiseofmodernethicsandofall
ethicalhistorythatyoumustchallenge.Tochallengethebasicpremiseofanydiscipline,
onemustbeginatthebeginning.Inethics,onemustbeginbyasking:Whatarevalues?
Whydoesmanneedthem?Valueisthatwhichoneactstogainand/orkeep.Theconcept
valueisnotaprimary;itpresupposesananswertothequestion:ofvaluetowhomand
forwhat?Itpresupposesanentitycapableofactingtoachieveagoalinthefaceofan
alternative.Wherenoalternativeexists,nogoalsandnovaluesarepossible.
IquotefromGaltsspeech:Thereisonlyonefundamentalalternativeintheuniverse:
existenceornonexistenceanditpertainstoasingleclassofentities:tolivingorganisms.
Theexistenceofinanimatematterisunconditional,theexistenceoflifeisnot:itdepends
onaspecificcourseofaction.Itisonlyalivingorganismthatfacesaconstantalternative:
theissueoflifeordeath.Lifeisaprocessofself-sustainingandself-generatedaction.Ifan
organismfailsinthataction,itdies;itschemicalelementsremain,butitslifegoesoutof
existence.ItisonlytheconceptofLifethatmakestheconceptofValuepossible.Itisonly
toalivingentitythatthingscanbegoodorevil.
Tomakethispointfullyclear,trytoimagineanimmortal,indestructiblerobot,anentity
whichmovesandacts,butwhichcannotbeaffectedbyanything,whichcannotbechanged
inanyrespect,whichcannotbedamaged,injuredordestroyed.Suchanentitywouldnot
beabletohaveanyvalues;itwouldhavenothingtogainortolose;itcouldnotregard
anythingasfororagainstit,asservingorthreateningitswelfare,asfulfillingorfrustrating
itsinterests.Itcouldhavenointerestsandnogoals.Onlyalivingentitycanhavegoalsor
canoriginatethem.Anditisonlyalivingorganismthathasthecapacityforself-generated,
goal-directedaction.Onthephysicallevel,thefunctionsofalllivingorganisms,fromthe
simplesttothemostcomplexfromthenutritivefunctioninthesinglecellofanamoebato
thebloodcirculationinthebodyofamanareactionsgeneratedbytheorganismitself
anddirectedtoasinglegoal:themaintenanceoftheorganismslife.
Anorganismslifedependsontwofactors:thematerialorfuelwhichitneedsfromthe
outside,fromitsphysicalbackground,andtheactionofitsownbody,theactionofusing
thatfuelproperly.Whatstandarddetermineswhatisproperinthiscontext?Thestandard
istheorganismslife,or:thatwhichisrequiredfortheorganismssurvival.Nochoiceis
opentoanorganisminthisissue:thatwhichisrequiredforitssurvivalisdeterminedbyits
nature,bythekindofentityitis.Manyvariations,manyformsofadaptationtoits
backgroundarepossibletoanorganism,includingthepossibilityofexistingforawhileina
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crippled,disabled,ordiseasedcondition,butthefundamentalalternativeofitsexistence
remainsthesame:ifanorganismfailsinthebasicfunctionsrequiredbyitsnatureifan
amoebasprotoplasmstopsassimilatingfood,orifamansheartstopsbeatingthe
organismdies.Inafundamentalsense,stillnessistheantithesisoflife.Lifecanbekeptin
existenceonlybyaconstantprocessofself-sustainingaction.Thegoalofthataction,the
ultimatevaluewhich,tobekept,mustbegainedthroughitseverymoment,isthe
organismslife.Anultimatevalueisthatfinalgoalorendtowhichalllessergoalsarethe
meansanditsetsthestandardbywhichalllessergoalsareevaluated.Anorganismslife
isitsstandardofvalue:thatwhichfurthersitslifeisthegood,thatwhichthreatensitisthe
evil.
Withoutanultimategoalorend,therecanbenolessergoalsormeans:aseriesofmeans
goingoffintoaninfiniteprogressiontowardanonexistentendisametaphysicaland
epistemologicalimpossibility.Itisonlyanultimategoal,anendinitself,thatmakesthe
existenceofvaluespossible.
Metaphysically,lifeistheonlyphenomenonthatisanendinitself:avaluegainedandkept
byaconstantprocessofaction.Epistemologically,theconceptofvalueisgenetically
dependentuponandderivedfromtheantecedentconceptoflife.Tospeakofvalueas
apartfromlifeisworsethanacontradictioninterms.ItisonlytheconceptofLifethat
makestheconceptofValuepossible.
Inanswertothosephilosopherswhoclaimthatnorelationcanbeestablishedbetween
ultimateendsorvaluesandthefactsofreality,letmestressthatthefactthatlivingentities
existandfunctionnecessitatestheexistenceofvaluesandofanultimatevaluewhichfor
anygivenlivingentityisitsownlife.Thusthevalidationofvaluejudgmentsistobe
achievedbyreferencetothefactsofreality.Thefactthatalivingentityis,determineswhat
itoughttodo.
Nowinwhatmannerdoesahumanbeingdiscovertheconceptofvalue?Bywhatmeans
doeshefirstbecomeawareoftheissueofgoodorevilinitssimplestform?Bymeansofthe
physicalsensationofpleasureorpain.Justassensationsarethefirststepofthe
developmentofhumanconsciousnessintherealmofcognition,sotheyareitsfirststepin
evaluation.Thecapacitytoexperiencepleasureorpainisinnateinamansbody;itispart
ofhisnature,partofthekindofentityheis.Hehasnochoiceaboutit,andhehasnochoice
aboutthestandardthatdetermineswhatwillmakehimexperiencethephysicalsensation
ofpleasureorofpain.Whatisthatstandard?Hislife.
Thepleasure-painmechanisminthebodyofman,andinthebodiesofalltheliving
organismsthatpossessthefacultyofconsciousness,servesasanautomaticguardianofthe
organismslife.Thephysicalsensationofpleasureisasignalindicatingthattheorganismis
pursuingtherightcourseofaction.Thephysicalsensationofpainisawarningsignalof
danger,indicatingthattheorganismispursuingthewrongcourseofaction,thatsomething
isimpairingtheproperfunctionofitsbody,whichrequiresactiontocorrectit.Thebest
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illustrationofthiscanbeseenintherare,freakcasesofchildrenwhoarebornwithoutthe
capacitytoexperiencephysicalpain;suchchildrendonotsurviveforlong;theyhaveno
meansofdiscoveringwhatcaninjurethem,nowarningsignals,andthusaminorcutcan
developintoadeadlyinfection,oramajorillnesscanremainundetecteduntilitistoolate
tofightit.
Consciousnessforthoselivingorganismswhichpossessitisthebasicmeansofsurvival.
Thesimplerorganisms,likeplants,cansurvivebymeansoftheirautomaticphysical
functions.Thehigherorganisms,suchasanimalsandman,cannot:theirneedsaremore
complexandtherangeoftheiractionsiswider.Thephysicalfunctionsoftheirbodiescan
performautomaticallyonlythetaskofusingfuel,butcannotobtainthatfuel.Toobtainit,
thehigherorganismsneedthefacultyofconsciousness.
Aplantcanobtainitsfoodfromthesoilinwhichitgrows.Ananimalhastohuntforit.Man
hastoproduceit.Aplanthasnochoiceofaction;thegoalsitpursuesareautomaticand
innate,determinedbyitsnature.Nourishment,water,sunlightarethevaluesitsnaturehas
setittoseek.Itslifeisthestandardofvaluedirectingitsactions.Therearealternativesin
theconditionsitencountersinitsphysicalbackgroundsuchasheatorfrost,droughtor
floodandtherearecertainactionswhichitisabletoperformtocombatadverse
conditions,suchastheabilityofsomeplantstogrowandcrawlfromunderarocktoreach
thesunlight.Butwhatevertheconditions,thereisnoalternativeinaplantsfunction:itacts
automaticallytofurtheritslife,itcannotactforitsowndestruction.
Therangeofactionsrequiredforthesurvivalofthehigherorganismsiswider:itis
proportionatetotherangeoftheirconsciousness.Anorganismthatpossessesonlythe
facultyofsensationisguidedbythepleasure-painmechanismofitsbody,thatis:byan
automaticknowledgeandanautomaticcodeofvalues.Itslifeisthestandardofvalue
directingitsactions.Withintherangeofactionpossibletoit,itactsautomaticallytofurther
itslifeandcannotactforitsowndestruction.
Manhasnoautomaticcodeofsurvival.Hehasnoautomaticcourseofaction,noautomatic
setofvalues.Hissensesdonottellhimautomaticallywhatisgoodforhimorevil,whatwill
benefithislifeorendangerit,whatgoalsheshouldpursueandwhatmeanswillachieve
them,whatvalueshislifedependson,whatcourseofactionitrequires.Hisown
consciousnesshastodiscovertheanswerstoallthesequestionsbuthisconsciousnesswill
notfunctionautomatically.Man,thehighestlivingspeciesonthisearththebeingwhose
consciousnesshasalimitlesscapacityforgainingknowledgemanistheonlylivingentity
bornwithoutanyguaranteeofremainingconsciousatall.Mansparticulardistinctionfrom
allotherlivingspeciesisthefactthathisconsciousnessisvolitional.
Justastheautomaticvaluesdirectingthefunctionsofaplantsbodyaresufficientforits
survival,butarenotsufficientforananimalssotheautomaticvaluesprovidedbythe
sensory-perceptualmechanismofitsconsciousnessaresufficienttoguideananimal,but
arenotsufficientforman.Mansactionsandsurvivalrequiretheguidanceofconceptual
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valuesderivedfromconceptualknowledge.Butconceptualknowledgecannotbeacquired
automatically.
Aconceptisamentalintegrationoftwoormoreperceptualconcretes,whichareisolated
byaprocessofabstractionandunitedbymeansofaspecificdefinition.Everywordof
manslanguage,withtheexceptionofpropernames,denotesaconcept,anabstractionthat
standsforanunlimitednumberofconcretesofaspecifickind.Itisbyorganizinghis
perceptualmaterialintoconcepts,andhisconceptsintowiderandstillwiderconceptsthat
manisabletograspandretain,toidentifyandintegrateanunlimitedamountof
knowledge,aknowledgeextendingbeyondtheimmediateperceptionsofanygiven,
immediatemoment.Manssenseorgansfunctionautomatically;mansbrainintegrateshis
sensedataintoperceptsautomatically;buttheprocessofintegratingperceptsinto
conceptstheprocessofabstractionandofconcept-formationisnotautomatic.
Theprocessofconcept-formationdoesnotconsistmerelyofgraspingafewsimple
abstractions,suchaschair,table,hot,cold,andoflearningtospeak.Itconsistsofa
methodofusingonesconsciousness,bestdesignatedbythetermconceptualizing.Itis
notapassivestateofregisteringrandomimpressions.Itisanactivelysustainedprocessof
identifyingonesimpressionsinconceptualterms,ofintegratingeveryeventandevery
observationintoaconceptualcontext,ofgraspingrelationships,differences,similaritiesin
onesperceptualmaterialandofabstractingthemintonewconcepts,ofdrawing
inferences,ofmakingdeductions,ofreachingconclusions,ofaskingnewquestionsand
discoveringnewanswersandexpandingonesknowledgeintoanever-growingsum.The
facultythatdirectsthisprocess,thefacultythatworksbymeansofconcepts,is:reason.The
processisthinking.
Reasonisthefacultythatidentifiesandintegratesthematerialprovidedbymanssenses.It
isafacultythatmanhastoexercisebychoice.Thinkingisnotanautomaticfunction.In
anyhourandissueofhislife,manisfreetothinkortoevadethateffort.Thinkingrequires
astateoffull,focusedawareness.Theactoffocusingonesconsciousnessisvolitional.Man
canfocushismindtoafull,active,purposefullydirectedawarenessofrealityorhecan
unfocusitandlethimselfdriftinasemiconsciousdaze,merelyreactingtoanychance
stimulusoftheimmediatemoment,atthemercyofhisundirectedsensory-perceptual
mechanismandofanyrandom,associationalconnectionsitmighthappentomake.
Consciousnessforthoselivingorganismswhichpossessitisthebasicmeansofsurvival.
Forman,thebasicmeansofsurvivalisreason.Mancannotsurvive,asanimalsdo,bythe
guidanceofmerepercepts.Asensationofhungerwilltellhimthatheneedsfood(ifhehas
learnedtoidentifyitashunger),butitwillnottellhimhowtoobtainhisfoodanditwill
nottellhimwhatfoodisgoodforhimorpoisonous.Hecannotprovideforhissimplest
physicalneedswithoutaprocessofthought.Heneedsaprocessofthoughttodiscoverhow
toplantandgrowhisfoodorhowtomakeweaponsforhunting.Hisperceptsmightlead
himtoacave,ifoneisavailablebuttobuildthesimplestshelter,heneedsaprocessof
thought.Noperceptsandnoinstinctswilltellhimhowtolightafire,howtoweavecloth,
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howtoforgetools,howtomakeawheel,howtomakeanairplane,howtoperforman
appendectomy,howtoproduceanelectriclightbulboranelectronictubeoracyclotronor
aboxofmatches.Yethislifedependsonsuchknowledgeandonlyavolitionalactofhis
consciousness,aprocessofthought,canprovideit.
Butmansresponsibilitygoesstillfurther:aprocessofthoughtisnotautomaticnor
instinctivenorinvoluntarynorinfallible.Manhastoinitiateit,sustainit,andbear
responsibilityforitsresults.Hehastodiscoverhowtotellwhatistrueorfalseandhowto
correcthisownerrors;hehastodiscoverhowtovalidatehisconcepts,hisconclusions,his
knowledge;hehastodiscovertherulesofthought,thelawsoflogic,todirecthisthinking.
Naturegiveshimnoautomaticguaranteeoftheefficacyofhismentaleffort.
Nothingisgiventomanonearthexceptapotentialandthematerialwithwhichto
actualizeit.Thepotentialisasuperlativemachine:hismind;butitisamachinewithouta
sparkplug,amachineofwhichhisownwillhastobethesparkplug,theself-starterand
driver;hehastodiscoverhowtouseitandhehastokeepitinconstantaction.The
materialistheentireuniverse,withnolimitsettotheknowledgehecanacquireandtothe
enjoymentoflifehecanachieve.Buteverythingheneedsordesireshastobelearned,
discovered,andproducedbyhim,byhisownchoice,byhisowneffort,byhisownmind.
Abeingwhodoesnotknowautomaticallywhatistrueorfalse,cannotknowautomatically
whatisrightorwrong,whatisgoodforhimorevil.Yetheneedsthatknowledgeinorderto
live.Heisnotexemptfromthelawsofreality,heisaspecificorganismofaspecificnature
thatrequiresspecificactionstosustainhislife.Hecannotachievehissurvivalbyarbitrary
meansnorbyrandommotionsnorbyblindurgesnorbychancenorbywhim.Thatwhich
hissurvivalrequiresissetbyhisnatureandisnotopentohischoice.Whatisopentohis
choiceisonlywhetherhewilldiscoveritornot,whetherhewillchoosetherightgoalsand
valuesornot.Heisfreetomakethewrongchoice,butnotfreetosucceedwithit.Heisfree
toevadereality,heisfreetounfocushismindandstumbleblindlydownanyroadhe
pleases,butnotfreetoavoidtheabyssherefusestosee.Knowledge,foranyconscious
organism,isthemeansofsurvival;toalivingconsciousness,everyisimpliesanought.
Manisfreetochoosenottobeconscious,butnotfreetoescapethepenaltyof
unconsciousness:destruction.Manistheonlylivingspeciesthathasthepowertoactashis
owndestroyerandthatisthewayhehasactedthroughmostofhishistory.
What,then,aretherightgoalsformantopursue?Whatarethevalueshissurvival
requires?Thatisthequestiontobeansweredbythescienceofethics.Andthis,ladiesand
gentlemen,iswhymanneedsacodeofethics.Ethicsisnotamysticfantasynorasocial
conventionnoradispensable,subjectiveluxury,tobeswitchedordiscardedinany
emergency.Ethicsisanobjective,metaphysicalnecessityofmanssurvivalnotbythe
graceofthesupernaturalnorofyourneighborsnorofyourwhims,butbythegraceof
realityandthenatureoflife.
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IquotefromGaltsspeech:Manhasbeencalledarationalbeing,butrationalityisamatter
ofchoicethealternativehisnatureoffershimis:rationalbeingorsuicidalanimal.Man
hastobemanbychoice;hehastoholdhislifeasavaluebychoice;hehastolearnto
sustainitbychoice;hehastodiscoverthevaluesitrequiresandpracticehisvirtuesby
choice.Acodeofvaluesacceptedbychoiceisacodeofmorality.Thestandardofvalueof
Objectivistethicsthestandardbywhichonejudgeswhatisgoodorevilismanslife,or
thatrequiredformanssurvivalquaman.
Sincereasonismansbasicmeansofsurvival,thatwhichispropertothelifeofarational
beingisthegood;thatwhichnegates,opposesordestroysitistheevil.Sinceeverything
manneedshastobediscoveredbyhisownmindandproducedbyhisowneffort,thetwo
essentialsofthemethodofsurvivalpropertoarationalbeingare:thinkingandproductive
work.Ifsomemendonotchoosetothink,butsurvivebyimitatingandrepeating,like
trainedanimals,theroutineofsoundsandmotionstheylearnedfromothers,nevermaking
anefforttounderstandtheirownwork,itstillremainstruethattheirsurvivalismade
possibleonlybythosewhodidchoosetothinkanddiscoverthemotionstheyarerepeating.
Thesurvivalofsuchmentalparasitesdependsonblindchance;theirunfocusedmindsare
unabletoknowwhomtoimitate,whosemotionsitissafetofollow.Theyarethemenwho
marchintotheabyss,trailingafteranydestroyerwhopromisesthemtoassumethe
responsibilitytheyevade:theresponsibilityofbeingconscious.Ifsomemenattemptto
survivebymeansofbruteforceorfraud,bylooting,robbing,cheatingorenslavingthemen
whoproduce,itstillremainstruethattheirsurvivalismadepossibleonlybytheirvictims,
onlybythemenwhochoosetothinkandtoproducethegoodswhichthey,thelooters,are
seizing.Suchlootersareparasitesincapableofsurvival,whoexistbydestroyingthosewho
arecapable,thosewhoarepursuingacourseofactionpropertoman.
Themenwhoattempttosurvive,notbymeansofreason,butbyforce,areattemptingto
survivebythemethodofanimals.Butjustasanimalswouldnotbeabletosurviveby
attemptingthemethodofplants,byrejectinglocomotionandwaitingforthesoiltofeed
themsomencannotsurvivebyattemptingthemethodofanimals,byrejectingreasonand
countingonproductivementoserveastheirprey.Suchlootersmayachievetheirgoalsfor
therangeofamoment,atthepriceofdestruction:thedestructionoftheirvictimsandtheir
own.Thinkofanycriminaloranydictatorship.
Mancannotsurvive,likeananimal,byactingontherangeofthemoment.Ananimalslife
consistsofaseriesofseparatecycles,repeatedoverandoveragain,suchasthecycleof
breedingitsyoung,orofstoringfoodforthewinter;ananimalsconsciousnesscannot
integrateitsentirelifespan;itcancarryjustsofar,thentheanimalhastobeginthecycleall
overagain,withnoconnectiontothepast.Manslifeisacontinuouswhole:forgoodorevil,
everyday,yearanddecadeofhislifeholdsthesumofallthedaysbehindhim.Hecanalter
hischoices,heisfreetochangethedirectionofhiscourse,heisevenfree,inmanycases,to

atonefortheconsequencesofhispastbutheisnotfreetoescapethem,nortolivehislife
withimpunityontherangeofthemoment,likeananimal,aplayboyorathug.
Ifheistosucceedatthetaskofsurvival,ifhisactionsarenottobeaimedathisown
destruction,manhastochoosehiscourse,hisgoals,hisvaluesinthecontextandtermsofa
lifetime.Nosensations,percepts,urgesorinstinctscandoit;onlyamindcan.Suchisthe
meaningofthedefinition:thatwhichisrequiredformanssurvivalquaman.Itdoesnot
meanamomentaryoramerelyphysicalsurvival.Itdoesnotmeanthemomentaryphysical
survivalofamindlessbrute,waitingforanotherbrutetocrushhisskull.Itdoesnotmean
themomentaryphysicalsurvivalofacrawlingaggregateofmuscleswhoiswillingtoaccept
anyterms,obeyanythugandsurrenderanyvalues,forthesakeofwhatisknownas
survivalatanyprice,whichmayormaynotlastaweekorayear.Manssurvivalqua
manmeanstheterms,methods,conditionsandgoalsrequiredforthesurvivalofa
rationalbeingthroughthewholeofhislifespaninallthoseaspectsofexistencewhichare
opentohischoice.Mancannotsurviveasanythingbutman.Hecanabandonhismeansof
survival,hismind,hecanturnhimselfintoasubhumancreatureandhecanturnhislife
intoabriefspanofagonyjustashisbodycanexistforawhileintheprocessof
disintegrationbydisease.Buthecannotsucceed,asasubhuman,inachievinganythingbut
thesubhumanastheuglyhorroroftheanti-rationalperiodsofmankindshistorycan
demonstrate.Manhastobemanbychoice,anditisthetaskofethicstoteachhimhowto
livelikeman.
TheObjectivistethicsholdsmanslifeasthestandardofvalueandhisownlifeasthe
ethicalpurposeofeveryindividualman.Thetaskofapplyingthisprincipletoaconcrete,
specificpurposethepurposeoflivingalifepropertoarationalbeingbelongstoevery
individualman,andthelifehehastoliveishisown.Manmustchoosehisactions,values
andgoalsbythestandardofthatwhichispropertomaninordertoachieve,maintain,
fulfillandenjoythatultimatevalue,thatendinitself,whichishisownlife.Valueisthat
whichoneactstogainand/orkeepvirtueistheactbywhichonegainsand/orkeepsit.
ThethreecardinalvaluesoftheObjectivistethicsthethreevalueswhich,together,arethe
meanstoandtherealizationofonesultimatevalue,onesownlifeare:Reason,Purpose,
Self-Esteem,withtheirthreecorrespondingvirtues:Rationality,Productiveness,Pride.
Productiveworkisthecentralpurposeofarationalmanslife,thecentralvaluethat
integratesanddeterminesthehierarchyofallhisothervalues.Reasonisthesource,the
preconditionofhisproductiveworkprideistheresult.Rationalityismansbasicvirtue,
thesourceofallhisothervirtues.
Mansbasicvice,thesourceofallhisevils,istheactofunfocusinghismind,thesuspension
ofhisconsciousness,whichisnotblindness,buttherefusaltosee,notignorance,butthe
refusaltoknow.Irrationalityistherejectionofmansmeansofsurvivaland,therefore,a
commitmenttoacourseofblinddestruction;thatwhichisanti-mind,isanti-life.

ThevirtueofRationalitymeanstherecognitionandacceptanceofreasonasonesonly
sourceofknowledge,onesonlyjudgeofvaluesandonesonlyguidetoaction.Itmeans
onestotalcommitmenttoastateoffull,consciousawareness,tothemaintenanceofafull
mentalfocusinallissues,inallchoices,inallofoneswakinghours.Itmeansa
commitmenttothefullestperceptionofrealitywithinonespowerandtotheconstant,
activeexpansionofonesperception,i.e.,ofonesknowledge.Itmeansacommitmenttothe
realityofonesownexistence,i.e.,totheprinciplethatallofonesgoals,valuesandactions
takeplaceinrealityand,therefore,thatonemustneverplaceanyvalueorconsideration
whatsoeveraboveonesperceptionofreality.Itmeansacommitmenttotheprinciplethat
allofonesconvictions,values,goals,desiresandactionsmustbebasedon,derivedfrom,
chosenandvalidatedbyaprocessofthoughtaspreciseandscrupulousaprocessof
thought,directedbyasruthlesslystrictanapplicationoflogic,asonesfullestcapacity
permits.Itmeansonesacceptanceoftheresponsibilityofformingonesownjudgments
andoflivingbytheworkofonesownmind(whichisthevirtueofIndependence).Itmeans
thatonemustneversacrificeonesconvictionstotheopinionsorwishesofothers(whichis
thevirtueofIntegrity)thatonemustneverattempttofakerealityinanymanner(which
isthevirtueofHonesty)thatonemustneverseekorgranttheunearnedandundeserved,
neitherinmatternorinspirit(whichisthevirtueofJustice).Itmeansthatonemustnever
desireeffectswithoutcauses,andthatonemustneverenactacausewithoutassumingfull
responsibilityforitseffectsthatonemustneveractlikeazombie,i.e.,withoutknowing
onesownpurposesandmotivesthatonemustnevermakeanydecisions,formany
convictionsorseekanyvaluesoutofcontext,i.e.,apartfromoragainstthetotal,integrated
sumofonesknowledgeand,aboveall,thatonemustneverseektogetawaywith
contradictions.Itmeanstherejectionofanyformofmysticism,i.e.,anyclaimtosome
nonsensory,nonrational,nondefinable,supernaturalsourceofknowledge.Itmeansa
commitmenttoreason,notinsporadicfitsoronselectedissuesorinspecialemergencies,
butasapermanentwayoflife.
ThevirtueofProductivenessistherecognitionofthefactthatproductiveworkisthe
processbywhichmansmindsustainshislife,theprocessthatsetsmanfreeofthe
necessitytoadjusthimselftohisbackground,asallanimalsdo,andgiveshimthepowerto
adjusthisbackgroundtohimself.Productiveworkistheroadofmansunlimited
achievementandcallsuponthehighestattributesofhischaracter:hiscreativeability,his
ambitiousness,hisself-assertiveness,hisrefusaltobearuncontesteddisasters,his
dedicationtothegoalofreshapingtheearthintheimageofhisvalues.Productivework
doesnotmeantheunfocusedperformanceofthemotionsofsomejob.Itmeansthe
consciouslychosenpursuitofaproductivecareer,inanylineofrationalendeavor,greator
modest,onanylevelofability.Itisnotthedegreeofamansabilitynorthescaleofhiswork
thatisethicallyrelevanthere,butthefullestandmostpurposefuluseofhismind.
ThevirtueofPrideistherecognitionofthefactthatasmanmustproducethephysical
valuesheneedstosustainhislife,sohemustacquirethevaluesofcharacterthatmakehis
lifeworthsustainingthatasmanisabeingofself-madewealth,soheisabeingof
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self-madesoul(AtlasShrugged).ThevirtueofPridecanbestbedescribedbytheterm:
moralambitiousness.Itmeansthatonemustearntherighttoholdoneselfasonesown
highestvaluebyachievingonesownmoralperfectionwhichoneachievesbynever
acceptinganycodeofirrationalvirtuesimpossibletopracticeandbyneverfailingto
practicethevirtuesoneknowstoberationalbyneveracceptinganunearnedguiltand
neverearningany,or,ifonehasearnedit,neverleavingituncorrectedbynever
resigningoneselfpassivelytoanyflawsinonescharacterbyneverplacinganyconcern,
wish,fearormoodofthemomentabovetherealityofonesownself-esteem.And,above
all,itmeansonesrejectionoftheroleofasacrificialanimal,therejectionofanydoctrine
thatpreachesself-immolationasamoralvirtueorduty.
ThebasicsocialprincipleoftheObjectivistethicsisthatjustaslifeisanendinitself,soevery
livinghumanbeingisanendinhimself,notthemeanstotheendsorthewelfareof
othersand,therefore,thatmanmustliveforhisownsake,neithersacrificinghimselfto
othersnorsacrificingotherstohimself.Toliveforhisownsakemeansthattheachievement
ofhisownhappinessismanshighestmoralpurpose.Inpsychologicalterms,theissueof
manssurvivaldoesnotconfronthisconsciousnessasanissueoflifeordeath,butasan
issueofhappinessorsuffering.Happinessisthesuccessfulstateoflife,sufferingisthe
warningsignaloffailure,ofdeath.
Sincemanhasnoautomaticknowledge,hecanhavenoautomaticvalues;sincehehasno
innateideas,hecanhavenoinnatevaluejudgments.Manisbornwithanemotional
mechanism,justasheisbornwithacognitivemechanism;but,atbirth,botharetabula
rasa.Itismanscognitivefaculty,hismind,thatdeterminesthecontentofboth.Mans
emotionalmechanismislikeanelectroniccomputer,whichhismindhastoprogramand
theprogrammingconsistsofthevalueshismindchooses.Butsincetheworkofmansmind
isnotautomatic,hisvalues,likeallhispremises,aretheproducteitherofhisthinkingor
hisevasions:manchooseshisvaluesbyaconsciousprocessofthoughtoracceptsthemby
default,bysubconsciousassociations,onfaith,onsomeonesauthority,bysomeformof
socialosmosisorblindimitation.
Emotionsareproducedbymanspremises,heldconsciouslyorsubconsciously,explicitlyor
implicitly.Manhasnochoiceabouthiscapacitytofeelthatsomethingisgoodforhimor
evil,butwhathewillconsidergoodorevil,whatwillgivehimjoyorpain,whathewilllove
orhate,desireorfear,dependsonhisstandardofvalue.Ifhechoosesirrationalvalues,he
switcheshisemotionalmechanismfromtheroleofhisguardiantotheroleofhisdestroyer.
Theirrationalistheimpossible;itisthatwhichcontradictsthefactsofreality;factscannot
bealteredbyawish,buttheycandestroythewisher.Ifamandesiresandpursues
contradictionsifhewantstohavehiscakeandeatit,toohedisintegrateshis
consciousness;heturnshisinnerlifeintoacivilwarofblindforcesengagedindark,
incoherent,pointless,meaninglessconflicts(whichistheinnerstateofmostpeopletoday).
Happinessisthatstateofconsciousnesswhichproceedsfromtheachievementofones
values.Ifamanvaluesproductivework,hishappinessisthemeasureofhissuccessinthe
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serviceofhislife.Neitherlifenorhappinesscanbeachievedbythepursuitofirrational
whims.Justasmanisfreetoattempttosurvivebyanyrandommeans,asaparasite,
moocherorlooter,butnotfreetosucceedatitbeyondtherangeofthemomentsoheis
freetoseekhishappinessinanyirrationalfraud,anywhim,anydelusion,anymindless
escapefromreality,butnotfreetosucceedatitbeyondtherangeofthemomentnorto
escapetheconsequences.IquotefromGalt:Happinessisastateofnon-contradictory
joyajoywithoutpenaltyorguilt,ajoythatdoesntclashwithanyofyourvaluesand
doesntworkforyourowndestruction....Happinessispossibleonlytoarationalman,the
manwhodesiresnothingbutrationalgoals,seeksnothingbutrationalvaluesandfindshis
joyinnothingbutrationalactions.
Themaintenanceoflifeandthepursuitofhappinessarenottwoseparateissues.Tohold
onesownlifeasonesultimatevalue,andonesownhappinessasoneshighestpurposeare
twoaspectsofthesameachievement.Existentially,theactivityofpursuingrationalgoalsis
theactivityofmaintainingoneslife;psychologically,itsresult,reward,andconcomitantis
anemotionalstateofhappiness.Itisbyexperiencinghappinessthatonelivesoneslife,in
anyhour,year,orthewholeofit.Andwhenoneexperiencesthekindofpurehappiness
thatisanendinitself,thekindthatmakesonethink,Thisisworthlivingfor,whatoneis
greetingandaffirminginemotionaltermsisthemetaphysicalfactthatlifeisanendinitself.
Buttherelationshipofcausetoeffectcannotbereversed.Itisonlybyacceptingmanslife
asonesprimaryandbypursuingtherationalvaluesitrequiresthatonecanachieve
happinessnotbytakinghappinessassomeundefined,irreducibleprimaryandthen
attemptingtolivebyitsguidance.Ifyouachievethatwhichisthegoodbyarational
standardofvalue,itwillnecessarilymakeyouhappy;butthatwhichmakesyouhappy,by
someundefinedemotionalstandard,isnotnecessarilythegood.Totakewhatevermakes
onehappyasaguidetoactionmeans:tobeguidedbynothingbutonesemotionalwhims.
Emotionsarenottoolsofcognition;tobeguidedbywhimsbydesireswhosesource,
natureandmeaningonedoesnotknowistoturnoneselfintoablindrobot,operatedby
unknowabledemons(byonesstaleevasions),arobotknockingitsstagnantbrainsout
againstthewallsofrealitywhichitrefusestosee.
Thisisthefallacyinherentinhedonisminanyvariantofethicalhedonism,personalor
social,individual,orcollective.Happinesscanproperlybethepurposeofethics,butnot
thestandard.Thetaskofethicsistodefinemanspropercodeofvaluesandthustogive
himthemeansofachievinghappiness.Todeclare,asethicalhedonistsdo,thattheproper
valueiswhatevergivesyoupleasureistodeclarethatthepropervalueiswhateveryou
happentovaluewhichisanactofintellectualandphilosophicalabdication,anactwhich
merelyproclaimsthefutilityofethicsandinvitesallmentoplayitdeuceswild.
Thephilosopherswhoattemptedtodeviseanallegedlyrationalcodeofethicsgave
mankindnothingbutachoiceofwhims:theselfishpursuitofonesownwhims(suchas
theethicsofNietzsche)orselflessservicetothewhimsofothers(suchastheethicsof
Bentham,Mill,Comteandofallsocialhedonists,whethertheyallowedmantoincludehis
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ownwhimsamongthemillionsofothersoradvisedhimtoturnhimselfintoatotally
selflessshmoothatseekstobeeatenbyothers).
Whenadesire,regardlessofitsnatureorcause,istakenasanethicalprimary,andthe
gratificationofanyandalldesiresistakenasanethicalgoal(suchasthegreatest
happinessofthegreatestnumber)menhavenochoicebuttohate,fearandfightone
another,becausetheirdesiresandtheirinterestswillnecessarilyclash.Ifdesireisthe
ethicalstandard,thenonemansdesiretoproduceandanothermansdesiretorobhim
haveequalethicalvalidity;onemansdesiretobefreeandanothermansdesiretoenslave
himhaveequalethicalvalidity;onemansdesiretobelovedandadmiredforhisvirtues
andanothermansdesireforundeservedloveandunearnedadmirationhaveequalethical
validity.Andifthefrustrationofanydesireconstitutesasacrifice,thenamanwhoownsan
automobileandisrobbedofit,isbeingsacrificed,butsoisthemanwhowantsoraspires
toanautomobilewhichtheownerrefusestogivehimandthesetwosacrificeshave
equalethicalstatus.Ifso,thenmansonlychoiceistoroborberobbed,todestroyorbe
destroyed,tosacrificeotherstoanydesireofhisownortosacrificehimselftoanydesireof
others;thenmansonlyethicalalternativeistobeasadistoramasochist.
Themoralcannibalismofallhedonistandaltruistdoctrinesliesinthepremisethatthe
happinessofonemannecessitatestheinjuryofanother.Today,mostpeopleholdthis
premiseasanabsolutenottobequestioned.Andwhenonespeaksofmansrighttoexist
forhisownsake,forhisownrationalself-interest,mostpeopleassumeautomaticallythat
thismeanshisrighttosacrificeothers.Suchanassumptionisaconfessionoftheirown
beliefthattoinjure,enslave,robormurderothersisinmansself-interestwhichhemust
selflesslyrenounce.Theideathatmansself-interestcanbeservedonlybyanon-sacrificial
relationshipwithothershasneveroccurredtothosehumanitarianapostlesof
unselfishness,whoproclaimtheirdesiretoachievethebrotherhoodofmen.Anditwillnot
occurtothem,ortoanyone,solongastheconceptrationalisomittedfromthecontextof
values,desires,self-interestandethics.
TheObjectivistethicsproudlyadvocatesandupholdsrationalselfishnesswhichmeans:
thevaluesrequiredformanssurvivalquamanwhichmeans:thevaluesrequiredfor
humansurvival,notthevaluesproducedbythedesires,theemotions,thefeelings,the
whimsortheneedsofirrationalbrutes,whohaveneveroutgrowntheprimordialpractice
ofhumansacrifices,haveneverdiscoveredanindustrialsocietyandcanconceiveofno
self-interestbutthatofgrabbingthelootofthemoment.
TheObjectivistethicsholdsthathumangooddoesnotrequirehumansacrificesandcannot
beachievedbythesacrificeofanyonetoanyone.Itholdsthattherationalinterestsofmen
donotclashthatthereisnoconflictofinterestsamongmenwhodonotdesirethe
unearned,whodonotmakesacrificesnoracceptthem,whodealwithoneanotherastraders,
givingvalueforvalue.Theprincipleoftradeistheonlyrationalethicalprincipleforall

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humanrelationships,personalandsocial,privateandpublic,spiritualandmaterial.Itis
theprincipleofjustice.
Atraderisamanwhoearnswhathegetsanddoesntgiveortaketheundeserved.He
doesnttreatmenasmastersorslaves,butasindependentequals.Hedealswithmenby
meansofafree,voluntary,unforced,uncoercedexchangeanexchangewhichbenefits
bothpartiesbytheirownindependentjudgment.Atraderdoesntexpecttobepaidforhis
defaults,onlyforhisachievements.Hedoesntswitchtootherstheburdenofhisfailures,
andhedoesnotmortgagehislifeintobondagetothefailuresofothers.
Inspiritualissues(byspiritualImean:pertainingtomansmind)thecurrencyor
mediumofexchangeisdifferent,buttheprincipleisthesame.Love,friendship,respect,
admirationaretheemotionalresponseofonemantothevirtuesofanother,thespiritual
paymentgiveninexchangeforthepersonal,selfishpleasurewhichonemanderivesfrom
thevirtuesofanothermanscharacter.Onlyabruteoranaltruistwouldclaimthatthe
appreciationofanotherpersonsvirtuesisanactofselflessness,thatasfarasonesown
selfishinterestandpleasureareconcerned,itmakesnodifferencewhetheronedealswith
ageniusorafool,whetheronemeetsaheroorathug,whetheronemarriesanideal
womanorslut.Inspiritualissues,atraderisamanwhodoesnotseektobelovedforhis
weaknessesorflaws,onlyforhisvirtues,andwhodoesnotgranthislovetotheweaknesses
orflawsofothers,onlytotheirvirtues.
Toloveistovalue.Onlyarationallyselfishman,amanofself-esteem,iscapableof
lovebecauseheistheonlymancapableofholdingfirm,consistent,uncompromising,
unbetrayedvalues.Themanwhodoesnotvaluehimself,cannotvalueanythingoranyone.
Itisonlyonthebasisofrationalselfishnessonthebasisofjusticethatmencanbefitto
livetogetherinafree,peaceful,prosperous,benevolent,rationalsociety.
3
Canmanderiveanypersonalbenefitfromlivinginahumansociety?Yesifitisahuman
society.Thetwogreatvaluestobegainedfromsocialexistenceare:knowledgeandtrade.
Manistheonlyspeciesthatcantransmitandexpandhisstoreofknowledgefrom
generationtogeneration;theknowledgepotentiallyavailabletomanisgreaterthanany
onemancouldbegintoacquireinhisownlife-span;everymangainsanincalculable
benefitfromtheknowledgediscoveredbyothers.Thesecondgreatbenefitisthedivisionof
labor:itenablesamantodevotehisefforttoaparticularfieldofworkandtotradewith
otherswhospecializeinotherfields.Thisformofcooperationallowsallmenwhotakepart
inittoachieveagreaterknowledge,skillandproductivereturnontheireffortthanthey
couldachieveifeachhadtoproduceeverythingheneeds,onadesertislandorona
self-sustainingfarm.
Buttheseverybenefitsindicate,delimit,anddefinewhatkindofmencanbeofvalueto
oneanotherandinwhatkindofsociety:onlyrational,productive,independentmenina
rational,productive,freesociety.Parasites,moochers,looters,brutesandthugscanbeofno
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valuetoahumanbeingnorcanhegainanybenefitfromlivinginasocietygearedtotheir
needs,demands,andprotection,asocietythattreatshimasasacrificialanimaland
penalizeshimforhisvirtuesinordertorewardthemfortheirvices,whichmeans:a
societybasedontheethicsofaltruism.Nosocietycanbeofvaluetomanslifeifthepriceis
thesurrenderofhisrighttohislife.
ThebasicpoliticalprincipleoftheObjectivistethicsis:nomanmayinitiatetheuseof
physicalforceagainstothers.Noman,group,society,orgovernmenthastherightto
assumetheroleofacriminalandinitiatetheuseofphysicalcompulsionagainstanyman.
Menhavetherighttousephysicalforceonlyinretaliationandagainstthosewhoinitiate
itsuse.Theethicalprincipleinvolvedissimpleandclear-cut:itisthedifferencebetween
murderandself-defense.Aholdupmanseekstogainavalue,wealth,bykillinghisvictim;
thevictimdoesntgrowricherbykillingaholdupman.Theprincipleis:nomanmayobtain
anyvaluesfromothersbyresortingtophysicalforce.
Theonlyproper,moralpurposeofagovernmentistoprotectmansrights,whichmeans:to
protecthimfromphysicalviolencetoprotecthisrighttohisownlife,tohisownliberty,to
hisownpropertyandtothepursuitofhisownhappiness.Withoutpropertyrights,noother
rightsarepossible.Iwillnotattempt,inabrieflecture,todiscussthepoliticaltheoryof
Objectivism.ThosewhoareinterestedwillfinditpresentedinfulldetailinAtlasShrugged.
Iwillsayonlythateverypoliticalsystemisbasedonandderivedfromatheoryof
ethicsandthattheObjectivistethicsisthemoralbaseneededbythatpolitico-economic
systemwhich,today,isbeingdestroyedallovertheworld,destroyedpreciselyforlackofa
moral,philosophicaldefenseandvalidation:theoriginalAmericansystem,Capitalism.Ifit
perishes,itwillperishbydefault,undiscoveredandunidentified:noothersubjecthasever
beenhiddenbysomanydistortions,misconceptionsandmisrepresentations.Today,few
peopleknowwhatcapitalismis,howitworksandwhatwasitsactualhistory.
WhenIsaycapitalism,Imeanafull,pure,uncontrolled,unregulatedlaissez-faire
capitalism--withseparationofstateandeconomics,inthesamewayandforthesame
reasonsastheseparationofstateandchurch.Apuresystemofcapitalismhasneveryet
existed,noteveninAmerica;variousdegreesofgovernmentcontrolhadbeenundercutting
anddistortingitfromthestart.Capitalismisnotthesystemofthepast;itisthesystemof
thefutureifmankindistohaveafuture.(Forthoseinterestedinthehistoryand
psychologicalcausesofthehistoricaltreasonagainstcapitalism,Idiscusstheminmybook
FortheNewIntellectual.)
Thepresentdiscussionhastobeconfinedtothesubjectofethics.Ihavepresentedthe
barestessentialsofmysystem,buttheyaresufficienttoindicateinwhatmannerthe
Objectivistethicsisthemoralityoflifeasagainstthethreemajorschoolsofethicaltheory,
themystic,thesocial,thesubjective,whichhavebroughttheworldtoitspresentstateand
whichrepresentthemoralityofdeath.Thesethreeschoolsdifferonlyintheirmethodof
approach,notincontent.Incontent,theyaremerelyvariantsofaltruism,theethicaltheory
whichregardsmanasasacrificialanimal,whichholdsthatmanhasnorighttoexistforhis
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ownsake,thatservicetoothersistheonlyjustificationofhisexistence,andthat
self-sacrificeishishighestmoralduty,virtue,andvalue.Thedifferencesoccuronlyinthe
questionofwhoistobesacrificedtowhom.Renunciation,resignation,self-denial,and
everyotherformofsuffering,includingself-destruction,arethevirtuesaltruismadvocates.
Thesearetheonlythingsthepractitionersofaltruismhaveachievedandareachieving
now.Observethatthesethreeschoolsofethicaltheoryareanti-life,notmerelyincontent,but
intheirmethodofapproach:
Themystictheoryofethicsisexplicitlybasedonthepremisethatthestandardofvalueof
mansethicsissetbeyondthegrave,bythelawsorrequirementsofanother,supernatural
dimension,thatethicsisimpossibleformantopractice,thatitisunsuitedforandopposed
tomanslifeonearth,andthatmanmusttaketheblameforitandsufferthroughthewhole
ofhisearthlyexistence,toatonefortheguiltofbeingunabletopracticetheimpracticable.
TheDarkAgesandtheMiddleAgesaretheexistentialmonumenttothistheoryofethics.
ThesocialtheoryofethicssubstitutessocietyforGodandalthoughitclaimsthatitschief
concernislifeonearth,itisnotthelifeofman,notthelifeofanindividual,butthelifeofa
disembodiedentity,thecollective,which,inrelationtoeveryindividual,consistsof
everybodyexcepthimself.Asfarastheindividualisconcerned,hisethicaldutyistobethe
selfless,voiceless,rightlessslaveofanyneed,claimordemandassertedbyothers.The
mottodogeatdogwhichisnotapplicabletocapitalismnortodogsisapplicabletothe
socialtheoryofethics.TheexistentialmonumentstothistheoryareNaziGermanyand
SovietRussia.
Thesubjectivisttheoryofethicsis,strictlyspeaking,notatheory,butanegationofethics.
Andmore:itisanegationofreality,anegationnotmerelyofmansexistence,butofall
existence.Onlytheconceptofafluid,plastic,indeterminateHeracliteanuniversecould
permitanyonetothinkortopreachthatmanneedsnoobjectiveprinciplesofaction,that
realitygiveshimablankcheckonvalues,thatanythinghecarestopickasthegoodorthe
evil,willdo,thatamanswhimisavalidmoralstandard,andthattheonlyquestionishow
togetawaywithit.Therealmonumenttothistheoryisthepresentstateofourculture.
Itisnotmensimmoralitythatisresponsibleforthecollapsenowthreateningtodestroythe
civilizedworld,butthekindofmoralitiesmenhavebeentoldtopractice.Theresponsibility
belongstothephilosophersofaltruism.Theyhavenocausetobeshockedbythespectacle
oftheirownsuccess,andnorighttodamnhumannature:menhaveobeyedthemandhave
broughttheirmoralidealsintofullreality.Itisphilosophythatsetsmensgoalsand
determinestheircourse;itisonlyphilosophythatcansavethemnow.Today,theworldis
facingachoice:ifcivilizationistosurvive,itisthealtruistmoralitythatmenhavetoreject.
IwillclosewiththewordsofJohnGalt,whichIaddress,ashedid,toallthemoralistsof
altruism,pastorpresent:Youhavebeenusingfearasyourweaponandhavebeen
bringingdeathtomanashispunishmentforrejectingyourmorality.Weofferhimlifeas
hisrewardforacceptingours.
15