Quotes for "Atlas Shrugged"

Ayn Rand

  • Eddie Willers pulled his shoulders straight, in conscientious self-discipline.
  • He had spent most of his childhood with the Taggart children, and now he worked for them, as his father and grandfather had worked for their father and grandfather.
  • "The minister said last Sunday that we must always reach for the best within us. What do you suppose is the best within us?" "I don't know." "We'll have to find out." She did not answer; she was looking away, up the railroad track.
  • When he was asked what he would want to do, he answered at once, "Whatever is right," and added, "You ought to do something great . . . I mean, the two of us together." "What?" she asked. He said, "I don't know. That's what we ought to find out. Not just what you said. Not just business and earning a living. Things like winning battles, or saving people out of fires, or climbing mountains." "What for?" she asked.
  • It's cracking to pieces, like this, all over the country, you can expect it anywhere, at any moment. But she felt no anger or anxiety; she had no time to feel.
  • She had watched his work for some time; she had always looked for sparks of competence, like a diamond prospector in an unpromising wasteland.
  • His title was that of Special Assistant to the Vice-President in Charge of Operation, and his main duty was to be her bodyguard against any waste of time.
  • "How long do you intend to talk in order to evade the issue, Jim?"
  • He never felt loneliness except when he was happy.
  • He was trying to learn to breathe against the scalding pain in his chest. He stood, cursing himself, because he had made up his mind that he would not be tired. After a while, he went back to his task; he decided that pain was not a valid reason for stopping,
  • He was thirty years old. What had gone on in the years between did not matter, just as pain had not mattered.
  • He touched the bracelet in his pocket. He had had it made from that first poured metal. It was for his wife. As he touched it, he realized suddenly that he had thought of an abstraction called "his wife"—not of the woman to whom he was married.
  • The house stood on a hill, rising before him like a big white bulk; it looked naked, with a few semi-colonial pillars for reluctant ornament; it had the cheerless look of a nudity not worth revealing.
  • She felt a bored indifference toward the immediate world around her, toward other children and adults alike. She took it as a regrettable accident, to be borne patiently for a while, that she happened to be imprisoned among people who were dull.
  • She hung around the tracks and the roundhouses like a humble student, but the humility had a touch of future pride, a pride to be earned.
  • Studying mathematics, she felt, quite simply and at once: "How great that men have done this" and "How wonderful that I'm so good at it." It was the joy of admiration and of one's own ability, growing together. Her feeling for the railroad was the same: worship of the skill that had gone to make it, of the ingenuity of someone's clean, reasoning mind, worship with a secret smile that said she would know how to make it better some day.
  • She was twelve years old when she told Eddie Willers that she would run the railroad when they grew up. She was fifteen when it occurred to her for the first time that women did not run railroads and that people might object. To hell with that, she thought—and never worried about it again.
  • She was armed against Jim by the conviction that he was not smart enough to harm the railroad too much
  • He was a man who had never accepted the creed that others had the right to stop him. He set his goal and moved toward it, his way as straight as one of his rails.
  • he was guilty of nothing, except that he earned his own fortune and never forgot that it was his.
  • I often wonder about the hours when a man sits alone, watching the smoke of a cigarette, thinking. I wonder what great things have come from such hours. When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire alive in his mind—and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a cigarette as his one expression."
  • That night, Richard Halley had walked the streets of the city till dawn, trying to find an answer to a question, which he did not find.
  • He stood without moving, a tall, emaciated man with graying hair. He did not bow, did not smile; he just stood there, looking at the crowd. His face had the quiet, earnest look of a man staring at a question.
  • The story said that Senor Francisco d'Anconia had granted an interview to the press in his suite at the Wayne-Falkland Hotel. He said that he had come to New York for two important reasons: a hat-check girl at the Cub Club, and the liverwurst at Moe's Delicatessen on Third Avenue.
  • All of that had been splashed over the newspapers for weeks. But Senor d'Anconia had nothing to say about it, when the reporters questioned him. Would he deny Mrs. Vail's story, they asked. "I never deny anything," he answered.
  • James Taggart glanced about the living room of his apartment, wondering what time it was; he did not feel like moving to find his watch.
  • The nature of their relationship had the same quality. There was no passion in it, no desire, no actual pleasure, not even a sense of shame. To them, the act of sex was neither joy nor sin. It meant nothing. They had heard that men and women were supposed to sleep together, so they did.
  • Nothing can make self-immolation proper. Nothing can give them the right to turn men into sacrificial animals. Nothing can make it moral to destroy the best. One can't be punished for being good. One can't be penalized for ability. If that is right, then we'd better start slaughtering one another, because there isn't any right at all in the world!"
  • "If that's the price of getting together, then I'll be damned if I want to live on the same earth with any human beings! If the rest of them can survive only by destroying us, then why should we wish them to survive?
  • "You should have been born about a hundred years earlier, kid. Then you would have had a chance." "To hell with that. I intend to make my own chance."
  • I am merely giving you a warning. Those who wish to deal with me, must do so on my terms or not at all. I do not make terms with incompetence. If you expect to earn money by carrying the oil I produce, you must be as good at your business as I am at mine. I wish this to be understood."
  • "You and I will always be there to save the country from the consequences of their actions."
  • "Hank, this is great." "Yes." He said it simply, openly. There was no flattered pleasure in his voice, and no modesty. This, she knew, was a tribute to her, the rarest one person could pay another: the tribute of feeling free to acknowledge one's own greatness, knowing that it is understood.
  • "Francisco, you're some kind of very high nobility, aren't you?" He answered, "Not yet. The reason my family has lasted for such a long lime is that none of us has ever been permitted to think he is born a d'Anconia. We are expected to become one."
  • The heirs of Sebastian d'Anconia had been an unbroken line of first sons, who knew how to bear his name. It was a tradition of the family that the man to disgrace them would be the heir who died, leaving the d'Anconia fortune no greater than he had received it.
  • Two things were impossible to him: to stand still or to move aimlessly.
  • 'What for?' " It was the first question he asked about any activity proposed to him—and nothing would make him act, if he found no valid answer.
  • Watching them, Dagny thought suddenly of the difference between Francisco and her brother Jim. Both of them smiled derisively. But Francisco seemed to laugh at things because he saw something much greater. Jim laughed as if he wanted to let nothing remain great.
  • Francisco answered courteously, "It is not advisable, lames, to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener."
  • She survived it. She was able to survive it, because she did not believe in suffering.
  • He had given Lillian none of his time for months—:no, he thought, for years; for the eight years of their marriage. He had no interest to spare for her interests, not even enough to learn just what they were.
  • He had never spared himself in any issue. When a problem came up at the mills, his first concern was to discover what error he had made; he did not search for anyone's fault but his own;
  • Right is whatever's good for society."
  • "No. I don't like people who speak or think in terms of gaining anybody's confidence. If one's actions are honest, one does not need the predated confidence of others, only their rational perception. The person who craves a moral blank check of that kind, has dishonest intentions, whether he admits it to himself or not."
  • "You told me what I was thinking just a while ago . . .” "You were?" ". . . only I didn't have the words for it," "Shall I tell you the rest of the words?"
  • "Why are you willing to carry them?" "Because they're a bunch of miserable children who struggle to remain alive, desperately and very badly, while I—I don't even notice the burden,"
  • "Why should you want to speak to me on such a subject?" "In the hope that you will remember it."
  • "There are too many people yelping that rails of Rearden Metal are unsafe. So I thought I'd give them something real to yelp about. Let them see a bridge of Rearden Metal." She looked at him and laughed aloud in simple delight. "Now what's that?" he asked. "Hank, I don't know anyone, not anyone in the world, who'd think of such an answer to people, in such circumstances—except you."
  • "I never believed that story. I thought by the time the sun was exhausted, men would find a substitute."
  • "So if there's no competent person left to do it, I'll have to mine my own copper, as I mine my own iron ore.
  • "We've done it, haven't we?" he said. In payment for every effort, for every sleepless night, for every silent thrust against despair, this moment was all she wanted. "Yes. We have."
  • "Dagny, are we . . . are we going to have that line built . . . on time?" It was strange to hear a note of plain emotion in his voice, the uncomplicated sound of animal fear. "God help this city, if we don't!" she answered.
  • There isn't any human spirit. Man is just a low-grade animal, without intellect, without soul, without virtues or moral values. An animal with only two capacities: to eat and to reproduce."
  • "It's no use, lady," said the old bum beside her. She had to raise her head. She had to smile in amusement, at him and at herself. "It isn't?" she asked. "No. Forget it. You're only fooling yourself." "About what?" "About anything being worth a damn. It's dust, lady, all of it, dust and blood. Don't believe the dreams they pump you full of, and you won't get hurt."
  • The man sighed and rose to his feet. "I hope you will not have cause to regret your decision, Mr. Rearden," he said; the tone of his voice was suggesting the opposite.
  • His effort was focused on keeping his voice quiet; he could not control his words. The words were forced out of him by the unbelieving. bewildered indignation of a child screaming in denial at his first encounter with evil.
  • "Miss Taggart," he said gaily, "I'm curious about you, I'm curious whenever anything upsets a precedent. As a rule, visitors are a painful duty to me. I'm frankly astonished that I should feel such a simple pleasure in seeing you here. Do you know what it's like to feel suddenly that one can talk without the strain of trying to force some sort of understanding out of a vacuum?"
  • "Miss Taggart," he had said to her once, "I never expect to encounter intelligence. That I should find it here is such an astonishing relief!"
  • "What, then, directs men's actions?" He shrugged. "The expediency of the moment,"
  • "Questions of truth do not enter into social issues. No principles have ever had any effect on society."
  • People have been criticizing the Institute, because, they say, we have not produced enough. The public has been demanding economy. In times like these, when their fat little comforts are threatened, you may be sure that science is the first thing men will sacrifice.
  • "You're young," he said. "At your age, I had the same faith in the unlimited power of reason. The same brilliant vision of man as a rational being.
  • "What do you like about it?" "I hate it! I hate the doom you're all waiting for, the giving up, and that senseless question that always sounds like a cry for help. I'm sick of hearing pleas for John Galt. I'm going to fight him."
  • "If it weren't for the yellow fools, there wouldn't be any risk in it at all. But we have to beat them. We will.”
  • "Philip is unhappy." "Well?" "He feels it's not right that he should have to depend on your charity and live on handouts and never be able to count on a single dollar of his own." "Well!" he said with a startled smile. "I've been waiting for him to realize that." "It isn't right for a sensitive man to be in such a position." "It certainly isn't." "I'm glad you agree with me. So what you have to do is give him a job."
  • "But he knows nothing about the steel business!" "What has that got to do with it? He needs a job." "But he couldn't do the work." "He needs to gain self-confidence and to feel important."
  • "You're the most immoral man living—you think of nothing but justice!
  • The memory of that look remained in his mind, like a warning signal telling him that he had glimpsed an issue which he had to understand.
  • "That's your cruelty, that's what's mean and selfish about you. If you loved your brother, you'd give him a job he didn't deserve, precisely because he didn't deserve it—that would be true love and kindness and brotherhood. Else what's love for? If a man deserves a job, there's no virtue in giving it to him. Virtue is the giving of the undeserved."
  • Now he saw that in postponing this moment for hours, he had not been guilty of evasion: he had not thought of it, because there was nothing to think. Thought—he told himself quietly—is a weapon one uses in order to act. No action was possible. Thought is the tool by which one makes a choice. No choice was left to him.
  • Yet everybody knows that it's she who's still running Taggart Transcontinental. Why does she have to hide the magnificent job she's doing? Why are they giving her no credit? Why are they robbing her of her achievement—with me as the receiver of stolen goods? Why are they doing everything in their power to make it impossible for her to succeed, when she's all they've got standing between them and destruction? Why are they torturing her in return for saving their lives? . . .
  • She did not know the nature of her loneliness. The only words that named it were: This is not the world I expected.
  • And the government money, he thought suddenly, the money now given to him as payment for his property, where had that come from? Whose work had provided it?
  • Then, when he could think again, Rearden knew what the boy he had been would have felt: a desire to step on the obscene thing which was Larkin and grind every wet bit of it out of existence. He had never experienced an emotion o[ this kind. It took him a few moments to realize that this was what men called hatred.
  • Don't dwell on any of it—thought Rearden, through the silence of many evenings, fighting the sudden access of that new emotion which he did not want to feel—there is an unspeakable evil in the world, you know it, and it's no use dwelling on the details of it. You must work a little harder. Just a little harder. Don't let it win. The beams and girders of the Rearden Metal
  • Don't dwell on any of it—thought Rearden, through the silence of many evenings, fighting the sudden access of that new emotion which he did not want to feel—there is an unspeakable evil in the world, you know it, and it's no use dwelling on the details of it. You must work a little harder. Just a little harder. Don't let it win.
  • We're driving an express, and they're riding on the roof, making a lot of noise about being leaders. Why should we care? We have enough power to carry them along—haven't we?"
  • People said it because other people said it. They did not know why it was being said and heard everywhere. They did not give or ask for reasons. "Reason," Dr. Pritchett had told them, "is the most naive of all superstitions."
  • A few businessmen thought that one should think about the possibility that there might be commercial value in Rearden Metal. They undertook a survey of the question. They did not hire metallurgists to examine samples, nor engineers to visit the site of construction. They took a public poll.
  • A group that called itself "Committee of Disinterested Citizens" collected signatures on a petition demanding a year's study of the John Galt Line by government experts before the first train were allowed to run. The petition stated that its signers had no motive other than "a sense of civic duty." The first signatures were those of Balph Eubank and Mort Liddy. The petition was given a great deal of space and comment in all the newspapers. The consideration it received was respectful, because it came from people who were disinterested.
  • My dear sister does not happen to be a human being, but just an internal combustion engine, so one must not wonder at her success."
  • If you think that I need your men more than they need me, choose accordingly. If you know that I can run an engine, but they can't build a railroad, choose according to that.
  • The reporters who came to the press conference in the office of the John Galt Line were young men who had been trained to think that their job consisted of concealing from the world the nature of its events. It was their daily duty to serve as audience for some public- figure who made utterances about the public good, in phrases carefully chosen to convey no meaning. It was their daily job to sling words together in any combination they pleased, so long as the words did not fall into a sequence saying something specific.
  • Ownership—she thought, glancing back at him—weren't there those who knew nothing of its nature and doubted its reality? No, it was not made of papers, seals, grants and permissions. There it was—in his eyes.
  • The telegraph wires ran a race with the train, rising and falling from pole to pole, in an even rhythm, like the cardiograph record of a steady heartbeat written across the sky. She looked ahead, at
  • The telegraph wires ran a race with the train, rising and falling from pole to pole, in an even rhythm, like the cardiograph record of a steady heartbeat written across the sky.
  • She was making her way back toward the cab, feeling that she wanted to laugh, to kneel or to lift her arms, wishing she were able to release the thing she felt, knowing that it had no form of expression.
  • They are alive, she thought, but their soul operates them by remote control. Their soul is in every man who has the capacity to equal this achievement.
  • "Do you live here alone, like this, miles away from everything?" Wyatt pointed at the window. "I'm a couple of steps away from—everything." "What about people?" "I have guest rooms for the kind of people who come to see me on business. I want as many miles as possible between myself and all the other kinds."
  • "Why do you worry so much about the great men?" he asked. "What are you, a hero worshipper of some kind?" She turned to look at him and he saw the light of an inner smile, while her face remained solemnly grave; it was the most eloquently personal glance he had ever seen directed at himself, while she answered in a quiet, impersonal voice, "Mr. Taggart, what else is there to look up to?"
  • She's a hard, insensitive woman who spends her life building tracks and bridges, not for any great ideal, but only because that's what she enjoys doing. If she enjoys it, what is there to admire about her doing it?
  • The hint of desire that he felt, was no more than a sense of physical discomfort. The sharpest impulse in his mind, nagging him to action, was not the thought of the girl, but of all the men who would not pass up an opportunity of this kind. He admitted to himself that she was a much better person than Betty Pope, perhaps the best person ever offered to him. The admission left him indifferent. He felt no more than he had felt for Betty Pope. He felt nothing. The prospect of experiencing pleasure was not worth the effort; he had no desire to experience pleasure.
  • He said he'd be afraid to speak to you, if he ever had the chance. He's right. That future that they're all talking and trembling about—it will be as you made it, because you had the courage none of them could conceive of.
  • "What are you going to do, if more of them move out?" "Wait and see." Mr. Mowen glanced up dubiously: he could not tell whether the answer was intended to apply to him or to the young man.
  • "Why are they all running to Colorado?” he asked. "What have they got down there that we haven't got?" The young man grinned. "Maybe it's something you've got that they haven't got." "What?" The young man did not answer. "I don't see it. It's a backward, primitive, unenlightened place. They don't even have a modern government. It's the worst government in any state. The laziest. It does nothing—outside of keeping law courts and a police department. It doesn't do anything for the people. It doesn't help anybody. I don't see why all our best companies want to run there."
  • "You know, the worst part of the banquet was that the only wish of every person present was to get it over with,"
  • He glanced at her. "Do you need me?" She answered, her voice earnest, "Desperately." He laughed. "No. Not the way I meant. You didn't say it the way they do."
  • "The worst thing about people is not the insults they hand out, but the compliments. I couldn't bear the kind they spouted tonight, particularly when they kept saying how much everybody needs me—they, the city, the country and the whole world, I guess. Apparently, their idea of the height of glory is to deal with people who need them. I can't stand people who need me."
  • He was no worse than anybody, only smarter.
  • Moments later, when she saw the look of control returning to his face, she said, "Don't ever get angry at a man for stating the truth."
  • What were the weapons, she thought, in a realm where reason was not a weapon any longer? It was a realm she could not enter.
  • It did not seem real to her, here, under the ground. Thinking of it here, she knew she could have no part in Jim's battle. There was no action she could take against the men of undefined thought, of unnamed motives, of unstated purposes, of unspecified morality. There was nothing she could say to them—nothing would be heard or answered.
  • She was snapping the words dryly, absently, without thinking. Her mind was on a question mark, racing over every possible answer.
  • When an economist referred to him once as an audacious gambler, Mulligan said, "The reason why you'll never get rich is because you think that what I do is gambling."
  • "Do you know how much I've always loved it—being alive?"
  • There is only one helpful suggestion that I can give you: By the essence and nature of existence, contradictions cannot exist. If you find it inconceivable that an invention of genius should be abandoned among ruins, and that a philosopher should wish to work as a cook in a diner—check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong."
  • "But laws shouldn't be passed that way, so quickly." "They're not laws, they're directives." "Then it's illegal." "It's not illegal, because the Legislature passed a law last month giving him the power to issue directives."
  • In a break between mountains, lighting the sky, throwing a glow that swayed on the roofs and walls of the station, the hill of Wyatt Oil was a solid sheet of flame. Later, when they told her that Ellis Wyatt had vanished, leaving nothing behind but a board he had nailed to a post at the foot of the hill, when she looked at his handwriting on the board, she felt as if she had almost known that these would be the words: "I am leaving it as I found it. Take over. It's yours."
  • Dr. Ferris was late—an astonishing matter—late for an appointment with him—Dr. Floyd Ferris, the valet of science, who had always faced him in a manner that suggested an apology for having but one hat to take off.
  • he, who had once despised interviews, had talked eagerly, lengthily, too lengthily, seeing a promise of intelligence in the novelist's face, feeling a causeless, desperate need to be understood. The article had come out as a collection of sentences that gave him exorbitant praise and garbled every thought he had expressed.
  • The only crusaders for 'sense' are the studious type of adolescent old maid who can't find a boy friend,
  • a precarious time like ours—by
  • He shrugged. Resting on the belief that self-mockery is an act of virtue, the shrug was the emotional equivalent of the sentence: You're Robert Stadler, don't act like a high-school neurotic.
  • you must take into consideration the fact that we had to spend three full months just to put out the fire, which has now been totally—almost totally—extinguished.
  • The project is fully successful." "Have you produced any oil?" "No, but we have succeeded in forcing a flow from one of the wells, to the extent of six and a half gallons.
  • "Do you think, then, that the content deserved a more dignified form of presentation?" The voice was so innocently smooth that Dr. Stadler could not decide whether this was mockery.
  • "But, good God! The feeblest imbecile should be able to see the glaring contradictions in every one of your statements." "Let us put it this way, Dr. Stadler: the man who doesn't see that, deserves to believe all my statements."
  • She had forced herself to call him, against the resistance of some immovable point within her that felt like brakes slammed tight. She had argued against herself. She had thought: I deal with men like Jim and Orren Boyle—his guilt is less than theirs—why can't I speak to him?
  • She watched him as he read. She saw the professional assurance in the swift, scanning motion of his eyes, at first, then the pause, then the growing intentness, then a movement of his lips which, from another man, would have been a whistle or a gasp. She saw him stop for long minutes and look off, as if his mind were racing over countless sudden trails, trying to follow them all—she saw him leaf back through the pages, then stop, then force himself to read on, as if he were torn between his eagerness to continue and his eagerness to seize all the possibilities breaking open before his vision. She saw his silent excitement, she knew that he had forgotten her office, her existence,
  • . . . And that's odd . . . because an ability of this kind couldn't have passed unnoticed anywhere . . . somebody would have called him to my attention . . . they always sent promising young physicists to me. . . . Did you say you found this in the research laboratory of a plain, commercial motor factory?" "Yes." "That's odd. What was he doing in such a place?" "Designing a motor."
  • Have you ever felt the longing for someone you could admire? For something, not to look down at, but up to?"
  • They have no way of knowing what he feels when surrounded by inferiors—hatred? no, not hatred, but boredom the terrible, hopeless, draining, paralyzing boredom. Of what account are praise and adulation from men whom you don't respect?
  • “Miss Taggart, do you know the hallmark of the second-rater? It's resentment of another man's achievement. Those touchy mediocrities who sit trembling lest someone's work prove greater than their own—they have no inkling of the loneliness that comes when you reach the top.
  • They were silent, then he said, "I knew a John Galt once. Only he died long ago." "Who was he?" "I used to think that he was still alive. But now I'm certain that he must have died. He had such a mind that, had he lived, the whole world would have been talking of him by now." "But the whole world is talking of him."
  • He turned away, without a word, when anybody mentioned to him what everybody knew: the quick fortunes that were being made on Rearden Metal. "Well, no," people said in drawing rooms, "you mustn’t call it a black market, because it isn't, really. Nobody is selling the Metal illegally. They're just selling their right to it. Not selling really, just pooling their shares." He did not want to know the insect intricacy of the deals through which the "shares" were sold and pooled—nor how a manufacturer in Virginia had produced, in two months, five thousand tons of castings made of Rearden Metal—nor what man in Washington was that manufacturer's unlisted partner. He knew that their profit on a ton of Rearden Metal was five times larger than his own. He said nothing. Everybody had a right to the Metal, except himself.
  • "You know, Mr. Rearden, there are no absolute standards. We can't go by rigid principles, we've got to be flexible, we've got to adjust to the reality of the day and act on the expediency of the moment." "Run along, punk. Go and try to pour a ton of steel without rigid principles, on the expediency of the moment."
  • "You can't doubt such a thing as that, Mr. Rearden!" "Why can't 1?" "But you can't." "If I can't, then that would make it an absolute and you said there aren't any absolutes." "That's different." "How is it different?" "It's the government." "You mean, there aren't any absolutes except the government?"
  • "I am not helping you to pretend that this is any sort of amicable discussion. It isn't.
  • The only pride of her workday was not that it had been lived, but that it had been survived.
  • The hours ahead, like all her nights with him, would be added, she thought, to that savings account of one's life where moments of time are stored in the pride of having been lived.
  • He belonged in the countryside, she thought—he belonged everywhere—he was a man who belonged on earth—and then she thought of the words which were more exact: he was a man to whom the earth belonged, the man at home on earth and in control.
  • Walking through the darkness of the streets, on his way to her apartment, Rearden kept his hands in his coat pockets and his arms pressed to his sides, because he felt that he did not want to touch anything or brush against anyone. He had never experienced it before —this sense of revulsion that was not aroused by any particular object, but seemed to flood everything around him, making the city seem sodden. He could understand disgust for any one thing, and he could fight that thing with the healthy indignation of knowing that it did not belong in the world; but this was new to him—this feeling that the world was a loathsome place where he did not want to belong.
  • He had had no advice to give them, no solution to offer; his ingenuity, which had made him famous as the man who would always find a way to keep production going, had not been able to discover a way to save them. But they had all known that there was no way; ingenuity was a virtue of the mind—and in the issue confronting them, the mind had been discarded as irrelevant long ago.
  • the man who invented that motor . . . he did exist, didn't he?"
  • It was I who had to tell him that he wasn't a looter, but my customer and friend. That's what he needed from me. And that's what Dr. Stadler needed from you—it was you who had to act as if he were a great man who had never tried to destroy your rail and my Metal. I don't know what it is that they think they accomplish—but they want us to pretend that we sec the world as they pretend they see it. They need some sort of sanction from us. I don't know the nature of that sanction—but. Dagny, I know that if we value our lives, we must not give it to them. If they put you on a torture rack, don't give it to them. Let them destroy your railroad and my mills, but don't give it to them. Because I know this much: I know that that's our only chance."
  • A hint of the smile remained in his features at all times, particularly when he listened; it was a look of good-natured amusement, as if he were swiftly and patiently discarding the irrelevant in the words he heard and going straight to the point a moment ahead of the speaker.
  • Standing alone in his half-darkened room, Rearden noted that the prospect of going to jail left him blankly indifferent. He remembered the time when, aged fourteen, faint with hunger, he would not steal fruit from a sidewalk stand. Now, the possibility of being sent to jail—H this dinner was a felony—meant no more to him than the possibility of being run over by a truck: an ugly physical accident without any moral significance.
  • Orren Boyle and Bertram Scudder were men who used words as a public instrument, to be avoided in the privacy of one's own mind.
  • But what the hell!—it's all right with me, that's the way to share things around, only don't you try to fool me, Jimmy. Save the act for the suckers."
  • Now take Wesley, for instance. You promised him the assistant's job in the Bureau of National Planning—for double-crossing Rearden, at the time of the Equalization of Opportunity Bill. You had the connections to do it, and that's what I asked you to do—in exchange for the Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule, where I had the connections. So Wesley did his part, and you saw to it that you got it all on paper—oh sure, I know that you've got written proof of the kind of deals he pulled to help pass that bill, while he was taking Rearden's money to defeat it and keeping Rearden off guard. They were pretty ugly deals. It would be pretty messy for Mr. Mouch, if it all came out in public. So you kept your promise and you got the job for him, because you thought you had him. And so you did. And he paid off pretty handsomely, didn't he? But it works only just so long. After a while, Mr. Wesley Mouch might get to be so powerful and the scandal so old, that nobody will care how he got his start or whom he double-crossed. Nothing lasts forever. Wesley was Rearden's man, and then he was your man, and he might be somebody else's man tomorrow "
  • I'll put you in your place. I'm Mrs. Taggart. I'm the woman in this family now." "That's quite all right," said Dagny. "I'm the man.”
  • "t did underestimate you," he said slowly. "Oh, well, that's an error I'm willing to help you correct.
  • "—but you, Mr. Taggart, would know that a man who lives on a higher plane cannot be understood or appreciated. It's a hopeless struggle—trying to obtain support for literature from a world ruled by businessmen.
  • Your manners have never been glued to you too solidly—you always lose them in an emergency, and that's the time when one needs them most."
  • "Be careful, James. If you try to pretend that you don't understand me, I'm going to make it much clearer."
  • Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor—your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money.
  • "Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions—and you'll learn that man's mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.
  • Money is made—before it can be looted or mooched—made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced.
  • "Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants:
  • Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they've passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.
  • When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion—when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing—when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors—when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you—when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice—you may know that your society is doomed.
  • Do not ask, 'Who is destroying the world?' You are.
  • Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded.
  • "When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good.
  • That phrase about the evil of money, which you mouth with such righteous recklessness, comes from a time when wealth was produced by the labor of slaves—slaves who repeated the motions once discovered by somebody's mind and left unimproved for centuries.
  • "Madame, when we'll see men dying of starvation around us, your heart won't be of any earthly use to save them. And I'm heartless enough to say that when you'll scream, 'But I didn't know it!'—you will not be forgiven."
  • Rearden noticed that Francisco had led him aside, away from the group, in so skillfully natural a manner that neither he nor the others had known it was being done intentionally.
  • "It might take me a few years, but I will prove to you that these are the things I do not laugh about."
  • There are no evil thoughts except one: the refusal to think.
  • That woman and all those like her keep evading the thoughts which they know to be good. You keep pushing out of your mind the thoughts which you believe to be evil.
  • "No," said Rearden; it was almost a whisper, he had to keep his voice down, he was afraid that he would hear himself scream it, "no . . . if this is the key to you, no, don't expect me to cheer you . . . you didn't have the strength to fight them . . . you chose the easiest, most vicious way . . . deliberate destruction . . . the destruction of an achievement you hadn't produced and couldn't match. . . ."
  • His face had the expression which, these days, was the mark of an honest man: an expression of bewilderment.
  • if there's one thing I loathe, it's to speak of my own suffering—that should be no one's concern but mine.
  • I don't accept sacrifices and I don't make them.
  • "I'm saying that I didn't know what it meant, to like a man, I didn't know how much I missed it—until I met him,"
  • "That's what's strange about him. I know that he's a liar, a loafer, a cheap playboy, the most viciously irresponsible waste of a human being I ever imagined possible. Yet, when I look at him, I feel that if ever there was a man to whom I would entrust my life, he's the one."
  • There was neither thought nor feeling left in him, nothing but a sense that merged the remnants of both, the sense of congratulation upon the greatest victory he had ever demanded of himself: that Lillian had walked out of the hotel suite alive.
  • He talked earnestly, but in a casual manner, as if they both understood that this was not the main subject of their interview; yet, oddly, he spoke not in the tone of a foreword, but in the tone of a postscript, as if the main subject had been settled long ago.
  • this would necessitate our letting a lot of lousy bureaucrats"—Dr. Ferris smiled with disarming frankness—"oh yes, we are as unpopular with one another as we are with you private citizens—it
  • As a biologist, Dr. Ferris had always been fascinated by the theory that animals had the capacity to smell fear; he had tried to develop a similar capacity in himself. Watching Rearden, he concluded that the man had long since decided to give in—because he caught no trace of any fear.
  • "We've waited a long time to get something on you. You honest men are such a problem and such a headache. But we knew you'd slip sooner or later—and this is just what we wanted."
  • I know why you sold him the Metal—it's because you need him to get coal from. So you take a chance on going to jail and paying huge fines, just to keep on the good side of Ken Danagger. Do you call that good business? Now, make a deal with us and just let Mr. Danagger understand that if he doesn't toe the line, he'll go to jail, but you won't, because you've got friends he hasn't got—and you'll never have to worry about your coal supply from then on. Now that's the modern way of doing business.
  • 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.
  • "Are you going to be as impractical as that?" "The evaluation of an action as 'practical,' Dr. Ferris, depends on what it is that one wishes to practice."
  • Rearden had pressed a button; Miss Ives entered the office. "Dr. Ferris has become confused and has lost his way, Miss Ives," said Rearden. "Will you escort him out please?"
  • He sat in a pose he had never permitted himself before, a pose he had resented as the most vulgar symbol of the businessman—he sat leaning back in his chair, with his feet on his desk—and it seemed to her that the posture had an air of peculiar nobility, that it was not the pose of a stuffy executive, but of a young crusader.
  • "Why should I leave a deed or a will? I don't want to help the looters to pretend that private property still exists. I am complying with the system which they have established. They do not need me, they say, they only need my coal. Let them take it."
  • "The only man I ever loved." It came from Ken Danagger, who had never expressed anything more personal than "Look here, Rearden."
  • "Don't worry. I'm not going to vanish. Let them all give up and stop working. I won't. I don't know my limit and don't care. All I have to know is that I can't be stopped."
  • "You take pride in setting no limit to your endurance, Mr. Rearden, because you think that you are doing right. What if you aren't? What if you're placing your virtue in the service of evil and letting it become a tool for the destruction of everything you love, respect and admire? Why don't you uphold your own code of values among men as you do among iron smelters? You who won't allow one per cent of impurity into an alloy of metal—what have you allowed into your moral code?"
  • "Mr. Rearden," said Francisco, his voice solemnly calm, "if you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders—what would you tell him to do?"
  • "You know," said Rearden, "everything you said here was true. But that was only part of the story. The other part is what we've done tonight. Don't you see? We're able to act. They're not. So it's we who'll win in the long run, no matter what they do to us."
  • He turned to look at Lillian. He was seeing the full extent of her failure—in the immensity of his own indifference. The droning stream of her insults was like the sound of a distant riveting machine, a long, impotent pressure that reached nothing within him. He had heard her studied reminders of his guilt on every evening he had spent at home in the past three months. But guilt had been the one emotion he had found himself unable to feel. The punishment she had wanted to inflict on him was the torture of shame; what she had inflicted was the torture of boredom.
  • An issue of guilt, he thought, had to rest on his own acceptance of the code of justice that pronounced him guilty. He did not accept it; he never had. His virtues, all the virtues she needed to achieve his punishment, came from another code and lived by another standard.
  • He felt no guilt, no shame, no regret, no dishonor. He felt no concern for any verdict she chose to pass upon him: he had lost respect for her judgment long ago. And the sole chain still holding him was only a last remnant of pity.
  • To count upon his virtue and use it as an instrument of torture, to practice blackmail with the victim's generosity as sole means of extortion, to accept the gift of a man's good will and turn it into a tool for the giver's destruction . . . he sat very still, contemplating the formula of so monstrous an evil that he was able to name it, but not to believe it possible.
  • "Do you—" The judge stumbled; he had not expected it to be that easy. "Do you throw yourself upon the mercy of this court?" "I do not recognize this court's right to try me."
  • "A prisoner brought to trial can defend himself only if there is an objective principle of justice recognized by his judges, a principle upholding his rights, which they may not violate and which he can invoke. The law, by which you are trying me, holds that there are no principles, that I have no rights and that you may do with me whatever you please. Very well. Do it."
  • And your victims should discover that it is their own volition—which you cannot force—that makes you possible. I choose to be consistent and I will obey you in the manner you demand. Whatever you wish me to do, I will do it at the point of a gun.
  • I will not help you to preserve an appearance of rationality by entering a debate in which a gun is the final argument. I will not help you to pretend that you are administering justice." "But the law compels you to volunteer a defense!" There was laughter at the back of the courtroom. "That is the flaw in your theory, gentlemen," said Rearden gravely, "and I will not help you out of it. If you choose to deal with men by means of compulsion, do so. But you will discover that you need the voluntary co-operation of your victims, in many more ways than you can see at present.
  • If this is what has beaten us, he thought, the guilt is ours.
  • "What I said at the trial, was it true or not?" "It's going to be misquoted and misunderstood." "Was it true or not?" "The public is too dumb to grapple with such issues." "Was it true or not?" "It's no time to boast about being rich—when the populace is starving. It's just goading them on to seize everything."
  • "I am sorry, gentlemen," said Rearden, "that I will be obliged to save your goddamn necks along with mine."
  • traffic—Rearden sat in his room at the Wayne-Falkland Hotel, fighting an enemy more dangerous than weariness or fear: revulsion against the thought of having to deal with human beings.
  • But, in fact, a man's sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life.
  • "How could men who're afraid to hold an unqualified opinion about the weather, fight Nat Taggart? How could they seize his achievement, if he chose to defend it? Dagny, he fought with every weapon he possessed, except the most important one. They could not have won, if we —he and the rest of us—had not given the world away to them."
  • "Well, if you think you do, I must say that for my part I don't understand you at all. I don't know what it is you're doing." "Why, I'm just setting things straight—so that you'll know that I know how much you need me.
  • It was a sense of freedom, as if he stood alone in the midst of an endless sweep of clean air, with only the memory of some weight that had been torn off his shoulders. It was the feeling of an immense deliverance. It was the knowledge that it did not matter to him what Lillian felt, what she suffered or what became of her, and more: not only that it did not matter, but the shining, guiltless knowledge that it did not have to matter.
  • The sole secret of his rise in life was the fact that he was a product of chance and knew it and aspired to nothing else.
  • From then on, people helped Wesley Mouch to advance, for the same reason as that which had prompted Uncle Julius: they were people who believed that mediocrity was safe.
  • By the situation of the moment, they had concluded that Wesley Mouch was a man of superlative skill and cunning, since millions aspired to power, but he was the one who had achieved it.
  • "Do I get the Board, Wesley?" he asked casually. "The selection of the specific personnel is only a technical detail," said Mouch pleasantly. "Suppose we discuss it later, you and I?" Everybody in the room knew that this meant the answer Yes.
  • We won't have to decide. Nobody will be permitted to decide anything. It will be decided once and for all."
  • "Still, I'm worried. The intellectuals are our friends. We don't want to lose them. They can make an awful lot of trouble."
  • Intellectuals? You might have to worry about any other breed of men, but not about the modern intellectuals: they'll swallow anything. I don't feel so safe about the lousiest wharf rat in the longshoremen's union: he's liable to remember suddenly that he is a man—and then I won't be able to keep him in line. But the intellectuals? That's the one thing they've forgotten long ago. I guess it's the one thing that all their education was aimed to make them forget. Do anything you please to the intellectuals. They'll take it."
  • If a man has ever stolen a dime, you can impose on him the punishment intended for a bank robber and he will take it. He'll bear any form of misery, he'll feel that he deserves no better.
  • "I'm thinking of it, too. I'm thinking of a certain' tycoon who is in a position to blast us to pieces. Whether we'll recover the pieces or not, is hard to tell. God knows what is liable to happen at a hysterical time like the present and in a situation as delicate as this. Anything can throw everything off balance. Blow up the whole works. And if there's anyone who wants to do it, he does. He does and can. He knows the real issue, he knows the things which must not be said—and he is not afraid to say them.
  • "Say," asked Kinnan, "how is the emergency to end if everything is to stand still?" "Don't be theoretical," said Mouch impatiently. "We've got to deal with the situation of the moment. Don't bother about minor details, so long as the broad outlines of our policy are clear. We'll have the power. We'll be able to solve any problem and answer any question."
  • The exhaustion was gone by the time she stepped back into the office. No matter what night preceded it, she had never known a morning when she did not feel the rise of a quiet excitement that became a tightening energy in her body and a hunger for action in her mind—because this was the beginning of day and it was a day of her life.
  • I'll be at the lodge in Woodstock." It was an old hunting cabin in a forest of the Berkshire Mountains, which she had inherited from her father and had not visited for years.
  • "Now why do you want to do that?" asked Rearden, smiling, but his smile vanished when he heard the boy answer earnestly: "Because I want, for once, to do something moral."
  • Glancing at the paper, Rearden wondered whether it was a deliberate mockery of decency, or so low an estimate of their victims' intelligence, that had made the designers of this paper print the text across a faint drawing of the Statue of Liberty.
  • You mustn't blame those people too much. It's an interesting characteristic of epochs such as ours that people begin to be afraid of saying the things they want to say—and afraid, when questioned, to remain silent about things they'd prefer never to utter. That is to be expected.
  • He works very hard at making sure that no decision can ever be pinned down on him, so that he won't be blamed for anything. You see, his purpose is not to operate a railroad, but to hold a job.
  • He carried a gun in his pocket, as advised by the policemen of the radio car that patrolled the roads; they had warned him that no road was safe after dark, these days. He felt, with a touch of mirthless amusement, that the gun had been needed at the mills, not in the peaceful safety of loneliness and night; what could some starving vagrant take from him, compared to what had been taken by men who claimed to be his protectors?
  • He had once built his fortune, starting out with empty hands; now he had to rebuild his life, starting out with an empty spirit.
  • "When robbery is done in open daylight by sanction of the law, as it is done today, then any act of honor or restitution has to be hidden underground."
  • "But what sort of life have you chosen? To what purpose are you giving your mind?" "To the cause of my love." "Which is what?" "Justice." "Served by being a pirate?" "By working for the day when I won't have to be a pirate any longer."
  • I cannot compute all the money that has been extorted from you—in hidden taxes, in regulations, in wasted time, in lost effort, in energy spent to overcome artificial obstacles. I cannot compute the sum, but if you wish to see its magnitude —look around you. The extent of the misery now spreading through this once prosperous country is the extent of the injustice which you have suffered.
  • Many of my friends do not approve of the course I've chosen. But we all choose different ways to fight the same battle—and this is mine."
  • If men like Boyle think that force is all they need to rob their betters—let them see what happens when one of their betters chooses to resort to force.
  • When all of Europe put into practice the ideas which he bad preached, he came to live in America.
  • The woman in Roomette 9, Car No. 12, was a housewife who believed that she had the right to elect politicians, of whom she knew nothing, to control giant industries, of which she had no knowledge.
  • "The men of ability? I do not care what or if they are made to suffer. They must be penalized in order to support the incompetent. Frankly, I do not care whether this is just or not. I take pride in not caring to grant any justice to the able, where mercy to the needy is concerned."
  • Dagny, your enemies are destroying you by means of your own power. Your generosity and your endurance are their only tools. Your unrequited rectitude is the only hold they have upon you. They know it. You don't. The day when you'll discover it is the only thing they dread.
  • Dagny, theirs is the morality of kidnappers. They use your love of virtue as a hostage. They know that you'll bear anything in order to work and produce, because you know that achievement is man's highest moral purpose, that he can't exist without it, and your love of virtue is your love of life. They count on you to assume any burden. They count on you to feel that no effort is too great in the service of your love.
  • "It was. It isn't any longer. Leave it to them. It won't do them any good. Let it go. We don't need it. We can rebuild it. They can't. We'll survive without it. They won't."
  • Dagny, learn to understand the nature of your own power and you'll understand the paradox you now see around you. You do not have to depend on any material possessions, they depend on you, you create them, you own the one and only tool of production. Wherever you are, you will always be able to produce.
  • "But it's a crime! It's a crime against the nation. Don't you know that?" "No." "It's against the law!" "Yes."
  • "Do you realize that you're a traitor?" yelled Taggart. Eddie asked quietly, 'To whom?"
  • They did not notice Taggart, as they did not notice the furniture around them.
  • If they find some case where it doesn't work, have them tell the stooge that Directive 10-289 does not provide for local injunctions, that an injunction has to be brought against our headquarters and that they have to sue me, if they wish to stop us." "Is that true?" "How do I know? How can anybody know? But by the time they untangle it and decide whatever it is they please to decide—our track will be built." "I see."
  • "I can't stand by and watch what they did at that tunnel. I can't accept what they're all accepting—Francisco, it's the thing we thought so monstrous, you and I!—the belief that disasters are one's natural fate, to be borne, not fought. I can't accept submission. I can't accept helplessness. I can't accept renunciation.
  • He reached for her hand and slipped her fingers under his face to let his mouth rest against her palm for a moment, so gently that she felt his motive more than his touch.
  • free to achieve—she
  • And if anybody had doubts, he felt guilty and kept his mouth shut—because they made it sound like anyone who'd oppose the plan was a child killer at heart and less than a human being. They told us that this plan would achieve a noble ideal.
  • None of us knew just how the plan would work, but every one of us thought that the next fellow knew it.
  • we had become beggars—rotten, whining, sniveling beggars, all of us, because no man could claim his pay as his rightful earning, he had no rights and no earnings, his work didn't belong to him, it belonged to 'the family,' and they owed him nothing in return, and the only claim he had on them was his 'need'—so he had to beg in public for relief from his needs, like any lousy moocher, listing all his troubles and miseries, down to his patched drawers and his wife's head colds, hoping that 'the family' would throw him the alms. He had to claim miseries, because it's miseries, not work, that had become the coin of the realm—so it turned into a contest among six thousand panhandlers, each claiming that his need was worse than his brother's.
  • We began to hide whatever ability we had, to slow down and watch like hawks that we never worked any faster or better than the next fellow. What else could we do, when we knew that if we did our best for 'the family,' it's not thanks or rewards that we'd get, but punishment?
  • We saw that we'd been given a law to live by, a moral law, they called it, which punished those who observed it—for observing it. The more you tried to live up to it, the more you suffered; the more you cheated it, the bigger reward you got. Your honesty was like a tool left at the mercy of the next man's dishonesty. The honest ones paid, the dishonest collected.
  • We began to spy on one another, each hoping to catch the others lying about their needs, so as to cut their 'allowance' at the next meeting.
  • calling him a great social crusader.
  • We kept losing our men, they kept escaping from the factory like from a pesthole—till we had nothing left except the men of need, but none of the men of ability.
  • "What makes you think that Ivy Starnes's purpose is life?"
  • "We can rest, if you feel tired, Miss Taggart." "I'm all right. We have no time to feel tired." "That's our great error, Miss Taggart. We ought to take the time, some day."
  • ATLANTIS
  • "That night . . . twelve years ago . . . a spring night when you walked out of a meeting of six thousand murderers—that story is true, isn't it?" "Yes." "You told them that you would stop the motor of the world." "I have." "What have you done?" "I've done nothing, Miss Taggart. And that's the whole of my secret."
  • She glanced at Stockton with curiosity. "Aren't you training a man who could become your most dangerous competitor?" "That's the only sort of men I like to hire. Dagny, have you lived too long among the looters? Have you come to think that one man's ability is a threat to another?"
  • "But it stands to reason, doesn't it?" "I've given up expecting reason." "That's what one must never give up," said Ken Danagger.
  • 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.
  • "We never make assertions, Miss Taggart," said Hugh Akston. "That is the moral crime peculiar to our enemies. We do not tell—we show. We do not claim—we prove. It is not your obedience that we seek to win, but your rational conviction.
  • Yes, it could save the world. . . . No, it will not be published outside." "Why?" she cried. "Why? What are you doing, all of you?" "We are on strike," said John Galt.
  • The despoiling of reason has been the motive of every anti-reason creed on earth. The despoiling of ability has been the purpose of every creed that preached self-sacrifice.
  • This is the new ideal, the goal to aim at, the purpose to live for, and all men are to be rewarded according to how close they approach it. This is the age of the common man, they tell us—a title which any man may claim to the extent of such distinction as he has managed not to achieve. He will rise to a rank of nobility by means of the effort he has failed to make, he will be honored for such virtue as he has not displayed, and he will be paid for the goods which he did not produce.
  • What we are now asked to worship, what had once been dressed as God or king, is the naked, twisted, mindless figure of the human Incompetent.
  • This does not worry the looters of the moment. Their plan—like all the plans of all the royal looters of the past—is only that the loot shall last their lifetime.
  • "Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill? That was what I would not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun. I would not let them dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or the conditions of my work, or my choice of patients, or the amount of my reward.
  • Their moral code has taught them to believe that it is safe to rely on the virtue of their victims. Well, that is the virtue I have withdrawn. Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce. Let them discover, in their operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man whose life they have throttled.
  • I have often wondered at the smugness with which people assert their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, to violate my conscience, to stifle my mind—yet what is it that they expect to depend on, when they lie on an operating table under my hands?
  • "And you?" she asked. "You were first. What made you come to it?" He chuckled, "My refusal to be born with any original sin." "What do you mean?" "I have never felt guilty of my ability. I have never felt guilty of my mind. I have never felt guilty of being a man. I accepted no unearned guilt, and thus was free to earn and to know my own value.
  • "What did you tell them to make them abandon everything?" "I told them that they were right."
  • They say that it's hard for men to agree. You'd be surprised how easy it is—when both parties hold as their moral absolute that neither exists for the sake of the other and that reason is their only means of trade.
  • "Will you give me time?" "Your time is not ours to give. Take your time. You alone can decide what you'll choose to do, and when. We know the cost of that decision. We've paid it. That you've come here might now make it easier for you—or harder."
  • He turned to go, he stopped on the threshold and added: "This is the room I never intended you to occupy. Good night, Miss Taggart."
  • She noticed that Danneskjold was studying Galt's face, as if he, too, found the incident inexplicable. Galt held his glance, deliberately and openly, as if challenging him to find the explanation and promising that he would fail.
  • We do not think that tragedy is our natural fate and we do not live in chronic dread of disaster. We do not expect disaster until we have specific reason to expect it—and when we encounter it, we are free to fight it. It is not happiness, but suffering that we consider unnatural. It is not success, but calamity that we regard as the abnormal exception in human life."
  • "She can live through it, Miss Taggart, because we do not hold the belief that this earth is a realm of misery where man is doomed to destruction.
  • I'm still what I was, and you'll always see it, and you'll always grant me the same response, even if there's a greater one that you grant to another man. No matter what you feel for him, it will not change what you feel for me, and it won't be treason to either, because it comes from the same root, it's the same payment in answer to the same values.
  • "It's your acceptance of this place that I want. What good would it do me, to have your physical presence without any meaning? That's the kind of faked reality by which most people cheat themselves of their lives. I'm not capable of it." He turned to go. "And neither are you. Good night, Miss Taggart."
  • from the conscious judgment of a mind able to judge my work by the standard of the same values that went to write it—I mean, not the fact that you felt, but that you felt what I wished you to feel, not the fact that you admire my work, but that you admire it for the things I wished to be admired."
  • At the end of that lecture, John got up to ask me a question. It was a question which, as a teacher, I would have been proud to hear from a student who'd taken six years of philosophy. It was a question pertaining to Plato's metaphysics, which Plato hadn't had the sense to ask of himself.
  • Oh yes, I would have killed—but whom was there to kill? It was everyone and no one, there was no single enemy, no center and no villain, it was not the simpering social worker incapable of earning a penny or the thieving bureaucrat scared of his own shadow, it was the whole of the earth rolling into an obscenity of horror, pushed by the hand of every would-be decent man who believed that need is holier than ability, and pity is holier than justice.
  • "Every man builds his world in his own image," he said. "He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice.
  • She looked at him, her head lifted, knowing what chance he was rejecting. She thought that no man of the outer world would have said this to her at this moment—she thought of the world's code that worshipped white lies as an act of mercy—she felt a stab of revulsion against that code, suddenly seeing its full ugliness for the first time—she felt an enormous pride for the tight, clean face of the man before her—he saw the shape of her mouth drawn firm in self-control, yet softened by some tremulous emotion, while she answered quietly, "Thank you. You're right."
  • "Nobody stays here by faking reality in any manner whatever."
  • "No one's happiness but my own is in my power to achieve or to destroy. You should have had more respect for him and for me than to fear what you had feared."
  • "If any part of your uncertainty,” said Galt, "is a conflict between your heart and your mind—follow your mind."
  • "Consider the reasons which make us certain that we are right," said Hugh Akston, "but not the fact that we are certain. If you are not convinced, ignore our certainty. Don't be tempted to substitute our judgment for your own,"
  • But so long as I choose to go on living, I can't desert a battle which I think is mine to fight"
  • "You're leaving as our friend," said Midas Mulligan, "and we'll be fighting everything you'll do, because we know you're wrong, but it's not you that we'll be damning."
  • The only man never to be redeemed is the man without passion."
  • "Dagny, all three of us are in love"—she jerked her head to him—"with the same thing, no matter what its forms. Don't wonder why you feel no breach among us. You'll be one of us, so long as you'll remain in love with your rails and your engines—and they'll lead you back to us, no matter how many times you lose your way.
  • "I want you to know this. I started my life with a single absolute: that the world was mine to shape in the image of my highest values and never to be given up to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle"—you
  • You will not enter it until you learn that you do not need to convince or to conquer the world. When you learn it, you will see that through all the years of your struggle, nothing had barred you from Atlantis and there were no chains to hold you, except the chains you were willing to wear.
  • The crowd was rustling with jerky movements and high-pitched whispers. People were looking at one another, rising uncertainly and dropping down again, restlessly demanding anything but this pause. There was a sound of submerged hysteria in the whispers. They seemed to be waiting to be told what to think.
  • The tone of the voice was obvious now: it was the tone of a thug. "A personal opinion is the one luxury that nobody can afford today."
  • what is an illustrious name nowadays? In whose eyes?" His arm swept over the grandstands. "In the eyes of people such as you see around you? If they will believe, when so told, that an instrument of death is a tool of prosperity—would they not believe it if they were told that Robert Stadler is a traitor and an enemy of the State? Would you then rely on the fact that this is not true? Are you thinking of truth, Dr. Stadler? Questions of truth do not enter into social issues. Principles have no influence on public affairs.
  • " 'We are those who do not disconnect the values of their minds from the actions of their bodies.'
  • a man with an immense capacity for the enjoyment of existence.
  • His wife, the Senora Gonzales, was a small, attractive woman, not as beautiful as she assumed,
  • He tried to force himself to enjoy it: money, he thought, had been his motive, money, nothing worse. Wasn't that a normal motive? A valid one? Wasn't that what they all were after, the Wyatts, the Reardens, the d'Anconias? . . . He jerked his head to stop it: he felt as if his thoughts were slipping down a dangerous blind alley, the end of which he must never permit himself to see.
  • He knew—the moment he saw Cherryl's silent, poised figure as she rose at his entrance into her room—that this was more dangerous than he had allowed himself to know and that he would not find what he wanted. But danger, to him, was a signal to shut off his sight, suspend his judgment and pursue an unaltered course, on the unstated premise that the danger would remain unreal by the sovereign power of his wish not to see it—like a foghorn within him, blowing, not to sound a warning, but to summon the fog.
  • She tried to repeat it, but she felt as if her hands were slipping on the polish, as if the sentence would not stave off terror any longer—because she was beginning to understand.
  • If you don't know, the thing to do is not to get scared, but to learn.
  • She felt an instant of terror at the first touch of a concept she had not known to be possible: What if Jim was not taken in by them?
  • She had learned, in the slums of her childhood, that honest people were never touchy about the matter of being trusted,
  • He seemed to want her to consider him great, but never dare ascribe any specific content to his greatness.
  • "You bet I've worked hard. My work is bigger than any job you can hope to imagine. It's above anything that grubbing mechanics like Rearden and my sister, are doing. Whatever they do, I can undo it. Let them build a track—I can come and break it, just like that!"
  • The things he said about his suffering were lies, she thought; but the suffering was real;
  • You want unearned love. You want unearned admiration. You want unearned greatness. You want to be a man like Hank Rearden without the necessity of being what he is. Without the necessity of being anything. Without . . . the necessity . . . of being."
  • "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.
  • "Yes . . . Yes, I feel that there's no chance for me to exist, if they do . . . no chance, no room, no world I can cope with. . . . I don't want to feel it, I keep pushing it back, but it's coming closer and 1 know I have no place to run. . . . I can't explain what it feels like, I can't catch hold of it—and that's part of the terror, that you can't catch hold of anything—it's as if the whole world were suddenly destroyed, but not by an explosion—an explosion is something hard and solid—but destroyed by . . . by some horrible kind of softening . . . as if nothing were solid, nothing held any shape at all, and you could poke your finger through stone walls and the stone would give, like jelly, and mountains would slither, and buildings would switch their shapes like clouds—and that would be the end of the world, not fire and brimstone, but goo."
  • "You've taken some terrible beatings . . . maybe worse than I did . . . worse than any of us. . . . What held you through it?" "The knowledge that my life is the highest of values, too high to give up without a fight."
  • "Dagny, how did you do it? How did you manage to remain unmangled?" "By holding to just one rule." "Which?" "To place nothing—nothing—above the verdict of my own mind."
  • The impatient tone, the peremptory movement with which she sat down were a confession of weakness: by the rules of their unwritten language, one did not assume a demanding manner unless one were seeking a favor and had no value—no threat—to barter.
  • Lillian was slipping, he thought—and he experienced the pleasure of dealing with an inadequate adversary.
  • "He did notice my existence—even though I can't lay railroad tracks for him and erect bridges to the glory of his Metal. I can't build his mills—but I can destroy them. I can't produce his Metal—but I can take it away from him. I can't bring men down to their knees in admiration—but I can bring them down to their knees."
  • She had always thought of evil as purposeful, as a means to some end; what she was seeing now was evil for evil's sake.
  • If she went in—she thought, stumbling past—if she faced them and begged them for help, "What is your guilt?" they would ask her. "Drink? Dope? Pregnancy? Shoplifting?" She would answer, "I have no guilt, I am innocent, but I'm—" "Sorry. We have no concern for the pain of the innocent."
  • What were they counting on? Those who had once simpered: "I don't want to destroy the rich, I only want to seize a little of their surplus to help the poor, just a little, they'll never miss it!"—then, later, had snapped: "The tycoons can stand being squeezed, they've amassed enough to last them for three generations"—then, later, had yelled: "Why should the people suffer while businessmen have reserves to last a year?"—now were screaming: "Why should we starve while some people have reserves to last a week?"
  • "Well . . ." There was no explosion, no anger—only the feebly uncertain voice of a man on the verge of abdication. "Well . . . what would you want me to do?" "Give up." He looked at her blankly. "Give up—all of you, you and your Washington friends and your looting planners and the whole of your cannibal philosophy. Give up and get out of the way and let those of us who can, start from scratch out of the ruins."
  • "I'm not going to help you pretend—by arguing with you—that the reality you're talking about is not what it is, that there's still a way to make it work and to save your neck. There isn't."
  • "But you haven't said a word!" "I said everything I had to say, three years ago. I told you where your course would take you. It has."
  • There, she thought, was the ultimate goal of all that loose academic prattle which businessmen had ignored for years, the goal of all the slipshod definitions, the sloppy generalities, the soupy abstractions, all claiming that obedience to objective reality is the same as obedience to the State, that there is no difference between a law of nature and a bureaucrat's directive, that a hungry man is not free, that man must be released from the tyranny of food, shelter and clothing—all of it, for years, that the day might come when Nat Taggart, the realist, would be asked to consider the will of Cuffy Meigs as a fact of nature, irrevocable and absolute like steel, rails and gravitation, to accept the Meigs made world as an objective, unchangeable reality—then to continue producing abundance in that world. There was the goal of all those con men of library and classroom, who sold their revelations as reason, their "instincts" as science, their cravings as knowledge, the goal of all the savages of the non-objective, the non-absolute, the relative, the tentative, the probable—the savages who, seeing a farmer gather a harvest, can consider it only as a mystic phenomenon unbound by the law of causality and created by the farmer's omnipotent whim, who then proceed to seize the farmer, to chain him, to deprive him of tools, of seeds, of water, of soil, to push him out on a barren rock and to command: "Now grow a harvest and feed us!"
  • Distantly, as on the margin of her mind, she could see what sort of game the men behind the shrieking phones had played and lost. They seemed far away, like tiny commas squirming on the white field under the lens of a microscope. She wondered how they could ever expect to be taken seriously when a Francisco d'Anconia was possible on earth.
  • there was an air of awed uncertainty in people's manner—uncertainty of their own moral precepts, awe in the presence of two persons who dared to be certain of being right.
  • He had been unable to tell whether Philip was sneaking to avoid him or waiting to catch his attention; it had looked like both.
  • "Everybody is entitled to a livelihood . . . How am I going to get it, if nobody gives me my chance?" "How did I get mine?" "I wasn't born owning a steel plant." "Was I?" "I can do anything you can—if you'll teach me." "Who taught me?"
  • "It's a moral imperative, universally conceded in our day and age, that every man is entitled to a job." His voice rose: "I'm entitled to it!" "You are? Go on, then, collect your claim." "Uh?" "Collect your job. Pick it off the bush where you think it grows."
  • "But we'd better keep it on a friendly basis," said Philip. "You'd better," said Rearden and walked away.
  • And yet—he thought —through all the generations of political extortion, it was not the looting bureaucrats who had taken the blame, but the chained industrialists, not the men who peddled legal favors, but the men who were forced to buy them; and through all those generations of crusades against corruption, the remedy had always been, not the liberating of the victims, but the granting of wider powers for extortion to the extortionists.
  • The Terminal manager was absent. The chief engineer could not be found; he had been seen at the Terminal two hours ago, not since. The assistant manager had exhausted his power of initiative by volunteering to call her. The others volunteered nothing.
  • I love you more than my life, I who have taught men how life is to be loved.
  • The lust that drives others to enslave an empire, had become, in her limits, a passion for power over him. She had set out to break him, as if, unable to equal his value, she could surpass it by destroying it, as if the measure of his greatness would thus become the measure of hers,
  • Her line of attack, which he had found so baffling, had been constant and clear—it was his self-esteem she had sought to destroy, knowing that a man who surrenders his value is at the mercy of anyone's will; it was his moral purity she had struggled to breach, it was his confident rectitude she had wanted to shatter by means of the poison of guilt—as if, were he to collapse, his depravity would give her a right to hers.
  • "It's a sound, practical Plan!" snapped James Taggart unexpectedly, with an angry edge of sudden animation in his voice. "It will work! It has to work! We want it to work!"
  • no one rose to ask the question: Good?—by what standard?
  • You damned man, you damned existence, you damned this earth, but never dared to question your code. Your victims took the blame and struggled on, with your curses as reward for their martyrdom—while you went on crying that your code was noble, but human nature was not good enough to practice it.
  • "Man's mind is his basic tool of survival. Life is given to him, survival is not.
  • Your fear of death is not a love for life and will not give you the knowledge needed to keep it.
  • The moral is the rational, and reason accepts no commandments.
  • Let him try to claim, when there are no victims to pay for it, that a rock is a house, that sand is clothing, that food will drop into his mouth without cause or effort, that he will collect a harvest tomorrow by devouring his stock seed today—and reality will wipe him out, as he deserves; reality will show him that life is a value to be bought and that thinking is the only coin noble enough to buy it.
  • "Honesty is the recognition of the fact that the unreal is unreal and can have no value, that neither love nor fame nor cash is a value if obtained by fraud—that
  • When a man attempts to deal with me by force, I answer him—by force.
  • I do not grant the terms of reason to men who propose to deprive me of reason. I do not enter discussions with neighbors who think they can forbid me to think.
  • evil is impotent and has no power but that which we let it extort from. us.
  • It was the knowledge of good and evil—he became a moral being. He was sentenced to earn his bread by his labor—he became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience desire—he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which they damn him are reason, morality, creativeness, joy—all the cardinal values of his existence. It is not his vices that their myth of man's fall is designed to explain and condemn, it is not his errors that they hold as his guilt, but the essence of his nature as man. Whatever he was—that robot in the Garden of Eden, who existed without mind, without values, without labor, without love—he was not man. "Man's fall, according to your teachers, was that he gained the virtues required to live. These virtues, by their standard, are his Sin.
  • "As products of the split between man's soul and body, there are two kinds of teachers of the Morality of Death: the mystics of spirit and the mystics of muscle, whom you call the spiritualists and the materialists, those who believe in consciousness without existence and those who believe in existence without consciousness.
  • "The good, say the mystics of spirit, is God, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man's power to conceive—a definition that invalidates man's consciousness and nullifies his concepts of existence.
  • His reward, say the mystics of muscle, will be given on earth—to his great-grandchildren.
  • The purpose of man's life, say both, is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question. His reward, say the mystics of spirit, will be given to him beyond the grave.
  • "If you search your code for guidance, for an answer to the question: 'What is the good?'—the only answer you will find is 'The good of others.' The good is whatever others wish, whatever you feel they feel they wish, or whatever you feel they ought to feel. 'The good of others' is a magic formula that transforms anything into gold, a formula to be recited as a guarantee of moral glory and as a fumigator for any action, even the slaughter of a continent.
  • "As this double-jointed, double-standard morality splits you in half, so it splits mankind into two enemy camps: one is you, the other is all the rest of humanity. You are the only outcast who has no right to wish or live. You are the only servant, the rest are the masters, you are the only giver, the rest are the takers, you are the eternal debtor, the rest are the creditors never to be paid off. You must not question their right to your sacrifice, or the nature of their wishes
  • "There is no honest revolt against reason—and
  • the axiom of identity,
  • "But it cannot be done to you without your consent. If you permit it to be done, you deserve it.
  • But their swinish indulgence in plundered luxury is not enjoyment, it is escape. They do not want to own your fortune, they want you to lose it; they do not want to succeed, they want you to fail; they do not want to live, they want you to die; they desire nothing, they hate existence, and they keep running, each trying not to learn that the object of his hatred is himself.
  • "I have called out on strike the kind of martyrs who had never deserted you before. I have given them the weapon they had lacked: the knowledge of their own moral value. I have taught them that the world is ours, whenever we choose to claim it,
  • You will not sneak by with the rest of your lifespan. I have foreshortened the usual course of history and have let you discover the nature of the payment you had hoped to switch to the shoulders of others.
  • "There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice.
  • you wonder why the looters' conquests keep creeping closer to your doors—and you blame it on human stupidity, declaring that the masses are impervious to reason.
  • No man can survive the moment of pronouncing himself irredeemably evil; should he do it, his next moment is insanity or suicide.
  • A country's political system is based on its code of morality.
  • "The machine, the frozen form of a living intelligence,
  • The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time. The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all of their brains. Such is the nature of the 'competition' between the strong and the weak of the intellect. Such is the pattern of 'exploitation' for which you have damned the strong.
  • Withdraw your sanction. Withdraw your support. Do not try to live on your enemies' terms or to win at a game where they're setting the rules.
  • Since you're captive, act as a captive, do not help them pretend that you're free. Be the silent, incorruptible enemy they dread. When they force you, obey—but do not volunteer. Never volunteer a step in their direction, or a wish, or a plea, or a purpose.
  • "Well, what on earth do you want?" "What on earth do I need you for?" "Huh?" "What have you got to offer me that I couldn't get without you?"
  • "What I've got to offer you is your life.” "It's not yours to offer, Mr. Thompson," said Galt softly.
  • "But I, who do, should obey them?"
  • A second guard stood on the landing at the turn of the stairs, looking down at them and listening. "What's your business?" "Copper-mining." "Huh? I mean, who are you?"
  • "What's your business?"
  • "The only philosophical debt I can acknowledge is to Aristotle. I most emphatically disagree with a great many parts of his philosophy—but his definition of the laws of logic and of the means of human knowledge is so great an achievement that his errors are irrelevant by comparison.