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Frozen Fishsticks

Dec 5, 2015

The doorbell was ringing like an alarm, In a long, demanding scream,
broken by the impatient stabs of someone's frantic finger.

Leaping out of bed, Dagny noticed the cold, pale sunlight of late morning
and a clock on a distant spire marking the hour of ten. She had worked at the
office till four A.M. and had left word not to expect her till noon.

The white face ungroomed by panic, that confronted her when she threw the
door open, was James Taggart.

"He's gone!" he cried.


"Hank Rearden! He's gone, quit, vanished, disappeared!"

She stood still for a moment, holding the belt of the dressing gown she
had been tying; then, as the full knowledge reached her, her hands jerked the
belt tight— as if snapping her body in two at the waistline-
while she burst out laughing. It was a sound of triumph.

He stared at her in bewilderment. "What's the matter with you?" he gasped.
"Haven't you understood?"

"Come in, Jim, " she said, turning contemptuously, walking into the living
room. "Oh yes, I've understood."

"He's quit! Gone! Gone like all the others! Left his mills, his bank
accounts, his property, everything! Just vanished! Took some clothing and
whatever he had in the safe in his apartment— they found a safe left open in
his bedroom, open and empty— that ' s all! No word, no note, no explanation!
They called me from Washington, but it's all over town! The news, I mean, the
story! They can't keep it quiet!

They've tried to, but . . . Nobody knows how it got out, but it went
through the mills like one of those furnace break-outs, the word that he'd
gone, and then . . . before anyone could stop it, a whole bunch of them
vanished! The superintendent, the chief metallurgist, the chief engineer,
Rearden 's secretary, even the hospital doctor! And God knows how many others!
Deserting, the bastards! Deserting us, in spite of all the penalties we've
set up! He's quit and the rest are quitting and those mills are just left
there, standing still! Do you understand what that means?"

"Do you?" she asked.

He had thrown his story at her, sentence by sentence, as if trying to
knock the smile off her face, an odd, unmoving smile of bitterness and
triumph; he had failed. "It's a national catastrophe! What's the matter with
you? Don't you see that it's a fatal blow? It will break the last of the
country's morale and economy! We can't let him vanish! You've got to bring
him back ! "

Her smile disappeared.

"You can!" he cried. "You're the only one who can! He's your lover, isn't
he? . . . Oh, don't look like that! It's no time for squeamishness !

It's no time for anything except that we've got to have him! You must know
where he is! You can find him! You must reach him and bring him back!"

The way she now looked at him was worse than her smile— she looked as if
she were seeing him naked and would not endure the sight much longer. "I
can't bring him back," she said, not raising her voice.

"And I wouldn't, if I could. Now get out of here."

"But the national catastrophe—"

"Get out."

She did not notice his exit. She stood alone in the middle of her living
room, her head dropping, her shoulders sagging, while she was smiling, a
smile of pain, of tenderness, of greeting to Hank Rearden. She wondered dimly

why she should feel so glad that he had found liberation, so certain that he
was right, and yet refuse herself the same deliverance. Two sentences were
beating in her mind; one was the triumphant sweep of: He's free, he's out of
their reach!— the other was like a prayer of dedication: There's still a
chance to win, but let me be the only victim. . . .

It was strange— she thought, in the days that followed, looking at the men
around her— that catastrophe had made them aware of Hank Rearden with an
intensity that his achievements had not aroused, as if the paths of their
consciousness were open to disaster, but not to value.

Some spoke of him in shrill curses— others whispered, with a look of guilt
and terror, as if a nameless retribution were now to descend upon them— some
tried, with hysterical evasiveness, to act as if nothing had happened.

The newspapers, like puppets on tangled strings, were shouting with the
same belligerence and on the same dates: "It is social treason to ascribe too
much importance to Hank Rearden 's desertion and to undermine public morale by
the old-fashioned belief that an individual can be of any significance to
society." "It is social treason to spread rumors about the disappearance of
Hank Rearden. Mr. Rearden has not disappeared, he is in his office, running
his mills, as usual, and there has been no trouble at Rearden Steel, except a
minor disturbance, a private scuffle among some workers." "It is social
treason to cast an unpatriotic light upon the tragic loss of Hank Rearden.
Mr. Rearden has not deserted, he was killed in an automobile accident on his
way to work, and his grief -stricken family has insisted on a private
funeral . "

It was strange, she thought, to obtain news by means of nothing but
denials, as if existence had ceased, facts had vanished and only the frantic
negatives uttered by officials and columnists gave any clue to the reality
they were denying. "It is not true that the Miller Steel Foundry of New
Jersey has gone out of business." "It is not true that the Jansen Motor
Company of Michigan has closed its doors." "It is a vicious, anti-social lie
that manufacturers of steel products are collapsing under the threat of a
steel shortage. There is no reason to expect a steel shortage." "It is a
slanderous, unfounded rumor that a Steel Unification Plan had been in the
making and that it had been favored by Mr.

Orren Boyle. Mr. Boyle's attorney has issued an emphatic denial and has
assured the press that Mr. Boyle is now vehemently opposed to any such plan.
Mr. Boyle, at the moment, is suffering from a nervous breakdown."

But some news could be witnessed in the streets of New York, in the cold,
dank twilight of autumn evenings: a crowd gathered in front of a hardware
store, where the owner had thrown the doors open, inviting people to help
themselves to the last of his meager stock, while he laughed in shrieking
sobs and went smashing his plate-glass windows—

a crowd gathered at the door of a run-down apartment house, where a police
ambulance stood waiting, while the bodies of a man, his wife and their three
children were being removed from a gas-filled room; the man had been a small
manufacturer of steel castings.

If they see Hank Rearden ' s value now— she thought— why didn't they see it
sooner? Why hadn't they averted their own doom and spared him his years of
thankless torture? She found no answer.

In the silence of sleepless nights, she thought that Hank Rearden and she
had now changed places: he was in Atlantis and she was locked out by a screen
of light— he was, perhaps, calling to her as she had called to his struggling
airplane, but no signal could reach her through that screen.

Yet the screen split open for one brief break— for the length of a letter
she received a week after he vanished. The envelope bore no return address,
only the postmark of some hamlet in Colorado. The letter contained two
sentences: I have met him. I don't blame you.


She sat still for a long time, looking at the letter, as if unable to move
or to feel. She felt nothing, she thought, then noticed that her shoulders
were trembling in a faint, continuous shudder, then grasped that the tearing
violence within her was made of an exultant tribute, of gratitude and of
despair— her tribute to the victory that the meeting of these two men implied,
the final victory of both— her gratitude that those in Atlantis still regarded
her as one of them and had granted her the exception of receiving a message—
the despair of the knowledge that her blankness was a struggle not to hear
the questions she was now hearing. Had Gait abandoned her? Had he gone to the
valley to meet his greatest conquest? Would he come back? Had he given her
up? The unendurable was not that these questions had no answer, but that the
answer was so simply, so easily within her reach and that she had no right to
take a step to reach it.

She had made no attempt to see him. Every morning, for a month, on
entering her office, she had been conscious, not of the room around her, but
of the tunnels below, under the floors of the building— and she had worked,
feeling as if some marginal part of her brain was computing figures, reading
reports, making decisions in a rush of lifeless activity, while her living
mind was inactive and still, frozen in contemplation, forbidden to move
beyond the sentence: He's down there. The only inquiry she had permitted
herself had been a glance at the payroll list of the Terminal workers. She
had seen the name: Gait, John. The list had carried it, openly, for over
twelve years. She had seen an address next to the name— and, for a month, had
struggled to forget it.

It had seemed hard to live through that month— yet now, as she looked at
the letter, the thought that Gait had gone was still harder to bear. Even the
struggle of resisting his proximity had been a link to him, a price to pay, a
victory achieved in his name. Now there was nothing, except a question that
was not to be asked. His presence in the tunnels had been her motor through
those days— just as his presence in the city had been her motor through the
months of that summer— just as his presence somewhere in the world had been
her motor through the years before she ever heard his name. Now she felt as
if her motor, too, had stopped.

She went on, with the bright, pure glitter of a five-dollar gold piece,
which she kept in her pocket, as her last drop of fuel. She went on,
protected from the world around her by a last armor: indifference.

The newspapers did not mention the outbreaks of violence that had begun to
burst across the country— but she watched them through the reports of train
conductors about bullet-riddled cars, dismantled tracks, attacked trains,
besieged stations, in. Nebraska, in Oregon, in Texas, in Montana— the futile,
doomed outbreaks, prompted by nothing but despair, ending in nothing but
destruction. Some were the explosions of local gangs; some spread wider.
There were districts that rose in blind rebellion, arrested the local
officials, expelled the agents of Washington, killed the tax collectors— then,
announcing their secession from the country, went on to the final extreme of
the very evil that had destroyed them, as if fighting murder with suicide:
went on to seize all property within their reach, to declare community
bondage of all to all, and to perish within a week, their meager loot
consumed, in the bloody hatred of all for all, in the chaos of no rule save
that of the gun, to perish under the lethargic thrust of a few worn soldiers
sent out from Washington to bring order to the ruins.

The newspapers did not mention it. The editorials went on speaking of
self-denial as the road to future progress, of self-sacrifice as the moral
imperative, of greed as the enemy, of love as the solution— their threadbare
phrases as sickeningly sweet as the odor of ether in a hospital.

Rumors went spreading through the country in whispers of cynical terror-
yet people read the newspapers and acted as if they believed what they read,
each competing with the others on who would keep most blindly silent, each
pretending that he did not know what he knew, each striving to believe that
the unnamed was the unreal. It was as if a volcano were cracking open, yet
the people at the foot of the mountain ignored the sudden fissures, the black
fumes, the boiling trickles, and went on believing that their only danger was
to acknowledge the reality of these signs.

"Listen to Mr. Thompson's report on the world crisis, November 22!"

It was the first acknowledgment of the unacknowledged. The announcements
began to appear a week in advance and went ringing across the country. "Mr.
Thompson will give the people a report on the world crisis! Listen to Mr.
Thompson on every radio station and television channel at 8 P.M., on November
22 ! "

First, the front pages of the newspapers and the shouts of the radio
voices had explained it: "To counteract the fears and rumors spread by the
enemies of the people, Mr. Thompson will address the country on November 22
and will give us a full report on the state of the world in this solemn
moment of global crisis. Mr. Thompson will put an end to those sinister
forces whose purpose is to keep us in terror and despair. He will bring light
into the darkness of the world and will show us the way out of our tragic
problems— a stern way, as befits the gravity of this hour, but a way of glory,
as granted by the rebirth of light.

Mr. Thompson's address will be carried by every radio station in this
country and in all countries throughout the world, wherever radio waves may
still be heard."

Then the chorus broke loose and went growing day by day. "Listen to Mr.
Thompson on November 22!" said daily headlines. "Don't forget Mr. Thompson on
November 22!" cried radio stations at the end of every program. "Mr. Thompson
will tell you the truth!" said placards in subways and buses— then posters on
the walls of buildings —then billboards on deserted highways.

"Don't despair! Listen to Mr. Thompson!" said pennants on government cars,
"Don't give up! Listen to Mr. Thompson!" said banners in offices and shops.
"Have faith! Listen to Mr. Thompson!" said voices in churches. "Mr. Thompson
will give you the answer!" wrote army airplanes across the sky, the letters
dissolving in space, and only the last two words remaining by the time the
sentence was completed.

Public loud-speakers were built in the squares of New York for the day of
the speech, and came to rasping life once an hour, in time with the ringing
of distant clocks, to send over the worn rattle of the traffic, over the
heads of the shabby crowds, the sonorous, mechanical cry of an alarm-toned
voice: "Listen to Mr. Thompson's report on the world crisis, November 22 ! "—a
cry rolling through the frosted air and vanishing among the foggy roof tops,
under the blank page of a calendar that bore no date.

On the afternoon of November 22, James Taggart told Dagny that Mr.
Thompson wished to meet her for a conference before the broadcast.

"In Washington?" she asked incredulously, glancing at her watch.

"Well, I must say that you haven't been reading the newspapers or keeping
track of important events. Don't you know that Mr. Thompson is to broadcast
from New York? He has come here to confer with the leaders of industry, as
well as of labor, science, the professions, and the best of the country's
leadership in general. He has requested that I bring you to the conference."

"Where is it to be held?"

"At the broadcasting studio."

"They don't expect me to speak on the air in support of their policies, do

"Don't worry, they wouldn't let you near a microphone! They just want to
hear your opinion, and you can't refuse, not in a national emergency, not
when it's an invitation from Mr. Thompson in person!" He spoke impatiently,
avoiding her eyes.

"When is that conference to be held?"

"At seven-thirty."

"Not much time to give to a conference about a national emergency, is it?"

"Mr. Thompson is a very busy man. Now please don't argue, don't start
being difficult, I don't see what you're—"

"All right," she said indifferently, "I'll come," and added, prompted by
the kind of feeling that would have made her reluctant to venture without a
witness into a conference of gangsters, "but I'll bring Eddie Willers along
with me, "

He frowned, considering it for a moment, with a look of annoyance more
than anxiety. "Oh, all right, if you wish," he snapped, shrugging.

She came to the broadcasting studio with James Taggart as a policeman at
one side of her and Eddie Willers as a bodyguard at the other.

Taggart 's face was resentful and tense, Eddie ' s— resigned, yet wondering
and curious. A stage set of pasteboard walls had been erected in a corner of
the vast, dim space, representing a stiffly traditional suggestion of a cross
between a stately drawing room and a modest study. A semicircle of empty
armchairs filled the set, suggesting a grouping from a family album, with
microphones dangling like bait at the end of long poles extended for fishing
among the chairs.

The best leadership of the country, that stood about in nervous clusters,
had the look of a remnant sale in a bankrupt store: she saw Wesley Mouch,
Eugene Lawson, Chick Morrison, Tinky Holloway, Dr.

Floyd Ferris, Dr. Simon Pritchett, Ma Chalmers, Fred Kinnan, and a seedy
handful of businessmen among whom the half-scared, half-flattered figure of
Mr. Mowen of the Amalgamated Switch and Signal Company was, incredibly,
intended to represent an industrial tycoon.

But the figure that gave her an instant's shock was Dr. Robert Stadler.
She had not known that a face could age so greatly within the brief space of
one year: the look of timeless energy, of boyish eagerness, was gone, and
nothing remained of the face except the lines of contemptuous bitterness. He
stood alone, apart from the others, and she saw the moment when his eyes saw
her enter; he looked like a man in a whorehouse who had accepted the nature
of his surroundings until suddenly caught there by his wife: it was a look of
guilt in the process of becoming hatred. Then she saw Robert Stadler, the
scientist, turn away as if he had not seen her— as if his refusal to see could
wipe a fact out of existence.

Mr. Thompson was pacing among the groups, snapping at random bystanders,
in the restless manner of a man of action who feels contempt for the duty of
making speeches. He was clutching a sheaf of typewritten pages, as if it were
a bundle of old clothing about to be discarded.

James Taggart caught him in mid-step, to say uncertainly and loudly, "Mr.
Thompson, may I present my sister, Miss Dagny Taggart?"

"So nice of you to come, Miss Taggart," said Mr. Thompson, shaking her
hand as if she were another voter from back home whose name he had never
heard before; then he marched briskly off.

"Where's the conference, Jim?" she asked, and glanced at the clock: it was
a huge white dial with a black hand slicing the minutes, like a knife moving
toward the hour of eight.

"I can't help it! I don't run this show!" he snapped.

Eddie Willers glanced at her with a look of bitterly patient astonishment,
and stepped closer to her side.

A radio receiver was playing a program of military marches broadcast from
another studio, half-drowning the fragments of nervous voices, of hastily
aimless steps, of screeching machinery being pulled to focus upon the
drawing-room set.

"Stay tuned to hear Mr. Thompson's report on the world crisis at eight
P.M.!" cried the martial voice of an announcer, from the radio receiver— when
the hand on the dial reached the hour of 7:45, "Step on it, boys, step on
it!" snapped Mr. Thompson, while the radio burst into another march.

It was 7:50 when Chick Morrison, the Morale Conditioner, who seemed to be
in charge, cried, "AH right, boys and girls, all right, let's take our
places!" waving a bunch of notepaper, like a baton, toward the light-flooded
circle of armchairs.

Mr. Thompson thudded down upon the central chair, in the manner of
grabbing a vacant seat in a subway.

Chick Morrison's assistants were herding the crowd toward the circle of

"A happy family, " Chick Morrison explained, "the country must see us as a
big, united, happy— What ' s the matter with that thing?"

The radio music had gone off abruptly, choking on an odd little gasp of
static, cut in the middle of a ringing phrase. It was 7:51. He shrugged and
went on: "—happy family. Hurry up, boys. Take close-ups of Mr. Thompson,
first. "

The hand of the clock went slicing off the minutes, while press
photographers clicked their cameras at Mr. Thompson's" sourly impatient face.

"Mr. Thompson will sit between science and industry!" Chick Morrison
announced. "Dr. Stadler, please— the chair on Mr. Thompson's left. Miss
Taggart— this way, please— on Mr. Thompson's right."

Dr. Stadler obeyed. She did not move.

"It's not just for the press, it's for the television audiences," Chick
Morrison explained to her, in the tone of an inducement.

She made a step forward. "I will not take part in this program," she said
evenly, addressing Mr. Thompson.

"You won't?" he asked blankly, with the kind of look he would have worn if
one of the flower vases had suddenly refused to perform its part.

"Dagny, for Christ's sake!" cried James Taggart in panic.

"What's the matter with her?" asked Mr. Thompson.

"But, Miss Taggart! Why?" cried Chick Morrison.

"You all know why," she said to the faces around her. "You should have
known better than to try that again, "

"Miss Taggart!" yelled Chick Morrison, as she turned to go. "It's a
national emer— "

Then a man came rushing toward Mr. Thompson, and she stopped, as did
everyone else— and the look on the man's face swept the crowd into an abruptly
total silence. He was the station's chief engineer, and it was odd to see a
look of primitive terror struggling against his remnant of civilized control.

"Mr. Thompson," he said, "we ... we might have to delay the broadcast."

"What?" cried Mr. Thompson.

The hand of the dial stood at 7:58.

"We're trying to fix it, Mr. Thompson, we're trying to find out what it is
. . . but we might not be on time and—"

"What are you talking about? What happened?"
"We're trying to locate the—"
"What happened?"

. "I don't know! But . . . We . . we can't get on the air, Mr.
Thompson . "

There was a moment of silence, then Mr. Thompson asked, his voice
unnaturally low, "Are you crazy?"

"I must be. I wish I were. I can't make it out. The station is dead."
"Mechanical trouble?" yelled Mr. Thompson, leaping to his feet.
"Mechanical trouble, God damn you, at a time like this? If that's how you
run this station—"

The chief engineer shook his head slowly, in the manner of an adult who is
reluctant to frighten a child. "It's not this station, Mr. Thompson," he said
softly. "It's every station in the country, as far as we've been able to
check. And there is no mechanical trouble. Neither here nor elsewhere. The
equipment is in order, in perfect order, and they all report the same, but .
. . but all radio stations went off the air at seven-fifty-one, and . . . and
nobody can discover why."

"But—" cried Mr. Thompson, stopped, glanced about him and screamed, "Not
tonight! You can't let it happen tonight! You've got to get me on the air!"

"Mr. Thompson," the man said slowly, "we've called the electronic
laboratory of the State Science Institute. They . . . they've never seen
anything like it. They said it might be a natural phenomenon, some sort of
cosmic disturbance of an unprecedented kind, only—"


"Only they don't think it is. We don't, either. They said it looks like
radio waves, but of a frequency never produced before, never observed
anywhere, never discovered by anybody."

No one answered him. In a moment, he went on, his voice oddly solemn: "It
looks like a wall of radio waves jamming the air, and we can't get through
it, we can't touch it, we can't break it. . . . What's more, we can't locate
its source, not by any of our usual methods. . . .

Those waves seem to come from a transmitter that . . . that makes any
known to us look like a child's toy!"

"But that's not possible!" The cry came from behind Mr. Thompson and they
all whirled in its direction, startled by its note of peculiar terror; it
came from Dr. Stadler. "There's no such thing! There's nobody on earth to
make it ! "

The chief engineer spread his hands out. "That's it, Dr. Stadler,"
he said wearily. "It can't be possible. It shouldn't be possible. But
there it is."

"Well, do something about it!" cried Mr. Thompson to the crowd at large.
No one answered or moved.

"I won't permit this!" cried Mr. Thompson. "I won't permit it! Tonight of
all nights! I've got to make that speech! Do something! Solve it, whatever it
is! I order you to solve it!"

The chief engineer was looking at him blankly.

"I'll fire the lot of you for this! I'll fire every electronic engineer in
the country! I'll put the whole profession on trial for sabotage, desertion
and treason! Do you hear me? Now do something, God damn you!

Do something!"

The chief engineer was looking at him impassively, as if words were not
conveying anything any longer.

"Isn't there anybody around to obey an order?" cried Mr. Thompson. "Isn't
there a brain left in this country?"

The hand of the clock reached the dot of 8:00.

"Ladies and gentlemen, " said a voice that came from the radio receiver— a
man's clear, calm, implacable voice, the kind of voice that had not been
heard on the airwaves for years— "Mr. Thompson will not speak to you tonight.
His time is up. I have taken it over. You were to hear a report on the world
crisis. That is what you are going to hear."

Three gasps of recognition greeted the voice, but nobody had the power to
notice them among the sounds of the crowd, which were beyond the stage of
cries. One was a gasp of triumph, another— of terror, the third— of

bewilderment. Three persons had recognized the speaker: Dagny, Dr. Stadler,
Eddie Willers. Nobody glanced at Eddie Willers; but Dagny and Dr. Stadler
glanced at each other. She saw that his face was distorted by as evil a
terror as one could ever bear to see; he saw that she knew and that the way
she looked at him was as if the speaker had slapped his face.

"For twelve years, you have been asking: Who is John Gait? This is John
Gait speaking. I am the man who loves his life. I am the man who does not
sacrifice his love or his values. I am the man who has deprived you of
victims and thus has destroyed your world, and if you wish to know why you
are perishing— you who dread knowledge— I am the man who will now tell you."

The chief engineer was the only one able to move; he ran to a television
set and struggled frantically with its dials. But the screen remained empty;
the speaker had not chosen to be seen. Only his voice filled the airways of
the country— of the world, thought the chief engineer— sounding as if he were
speaking here, in this room, not to a group, but to one man; it was not the
tone of addressing a meeting, but the tone of addressing a mind.

"You have heard it said that this is an age of moral crisis. You have said
it yourself, half in fear, half in hope that the words had no meaning.

You have cried that man's sins are destroying the world and you have
cursed human nature for its unwillingness to practice the virtues you
demanded. Since virtue, to you, consists of sacrifice, you have demanded more
sacrifices at every successive disaster. In the name of a return to morality,
you have sacrificed all those evils which you held as the cause of your
plight. You have sacrificed justice to mercy. You have sacrificed
independence to unity. You have sacrificed reason to faith.

You have sacrificed wealth to need. You have sacrificed self-esteem to
self-denial. You have sacrificed happiness to duty.

"You have destroyed all that which you held to be evil and achieved all
that which you held to be good. Why, then, do you shrink in horror from the
sight of the world around you? That world is not the product of your sins, it
is the product and the image of your virtues. It is your moral ideal brought
into reality in its full and final perfection. You have fought for it, you
have dreamed of it, you have wished it, and I —I am the man who has granted
you your wish.

"Your ideal had an implacable enemy, which your code of morality was
designed to destroy. I have withdrawn that enemy. I have taken it out of your
way and out of your reach. I have removed the source of all those evils you
were sacrificing one by one. I have ended your battle. I have stopped your
motor. I have deprived your world of man's mind.

"Men do not live by the mind, you say? I have withdrawn those who do. The
mind is impotent, you say? I have withdrawn those whose mind isn't. There are
values higher than the mind, you say? I have withdrawn those for whom there
aren ' t .

"While you were dragging to your sacrificial altars the men of justice, of
independence, of reason, of wealth, of self-esteem— I beat you to it, I
reached them first. I told them the nature of the game you were playing and
the nature of that moral code of yours, which they had been too innocently
generous to grasp. I showed them the way to live by another morality— mine . It
is mine that they chose to follow.

"All the men who have vanished, the men you hated, yet dreaded to lose, it
is I who have taken them away from you. Do not attempt to find us. We do not
choose to be found. Do not cry that it is our duty to serve you. We do not
recognize such duty- Do not cry that you need us. We do not consider need a
claim. Do not cry that you own us. You don't, Do not beg us to return. We are
on strike, we, the men of the mind.

"We are on strike against self-immolation. We are on strike against the
creed of unearned rewards and unrewarded duties. We are on strike against the

dogma that the pursuit of one's happiness is evil. We are on strike against
the doctrine that life is guilt.

"There is a difference between our strike and all those you've practiced
for centuries: our strike consists, not of making demands, but of granting
them. We are evil, according to your morality. We have chosen not to harm you
any longer. We are useless, according to your economics. We have chosen not
to exploit you any longer. We are dangerous and to be shackled, according to
your politics. We have chosen not to endanger you, nor to wear the shackles
any longer. We are only an illusion, according to your philosophy. We have
chosen not to blind you any longer and have left you free to face reality— the
reality you wanted, the world as you see it now, a world without mind.

"We have granted you everything you demanded of us, we who had always been
the givers, but have only now understood it. We have no demands to present to
you, no terms to bargain about, no compromise to reach. You have nothing to
offer us. We do not need you.

"Are you now crying: No, this was not what you wanted? A mindless world of
ruins was not your goal? You did not want us to leave you? You moral
cannibals, I know that you've always known what it was that you wanted. But
your game is up, because now we know it, too.

"Through centuries of scourges and disasters, brought about by your code
of morality, you have cried that your code had been broken, that the scourges
were punishment for breaking it, that men were too weak and too selfish to
spill al ! the blood it required. 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. And no one rose to ask the question: Good?— by
what standard?

"You wanted to know John Gait's identity. I am the man who has asked that
question .

"Yes, this is an age of moral crisis. Yes, you are bearing punishment for
your evil. But it is not man who is now on trial and it is not human nature
that will take the blame. It is your moral code that's through, this time.
Your moral code has reached its climax, the blind alley at the end of its
course. And if you wish to go on living, what you now need is not to return
to morality— you who have never known any—

but to discover it.

"You have heard no concepts of morality but the mystical or the social.
You have been taught that morality is a code of behavior imposed on you by
whim, the whim of a supernatural power or the whim of society, to serve God's
purpose or your neighbor's welfare, to please an authority beyond the grave
or else next door— but not to serve your life or pleasure. Your pleasure, you
have been taught, is to be found in immorality, your interests would best be
served by evil, and any moral code must be designed not for you, but against
you, not to further your life, but to drain it.

"For centuries, the battle of morality was fought between those who
claimed that your life belongs to God and those who claimed that it belongs
to your neighbors— between those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice
for the sake of ghosts in heaven and those who preached that the good is
self-sacrifice for the sake of incompetents on earth. And no one came to say
that your life belongs to you and that the good is to live it.

"Both sides agreed that morality demands the surrender of your self
interest and of your mind, that the moral and the practical are opposites,
that morality is not the province of reason, but the province of faith and
force. Both sides agreed that no rational morality is possible, that there is
no right or wrong in reason— that in reason there's no reason to be moral.

"Whatever else they fought about, it was against man's mind that all your
moralists have stood united. It was man's mind that all their schemes and
systems were intended to despoil and destroy. Now choose to perish or to
learn that the anti-mind is the anti-life.

"Man's mind is his basic tool of survival. Life is given to him, survival
is not. His body is given to him, its sustenance is not. His mind is given to
him, its content is not. To remain alive, he must act, and before he can act
he must know the nature and purpose of his action. He cannot obtain his food
without a knowledge of food and of the way to obtain it. He cannot dig a
ditch— or build a cyclotron— without a knowledge of his aim and of the means to
achieve it. To remain alive, he must think.

"But to think is an act of choice. The key to what you so recklessly call
'human nature, ' the open secret you live with, yet dread to name, is the fact
that man is a being of volitional consciousness. Reason does not work
automatically; thinking is not a mechanical process; the connections of logic
are not made by instinct. The function of your stomach, lungs or heart is
automatic; the function of your mind is not. In any hour and issue of your
life, you are free to think or to evade that effort. But you are not free to
escape from your nature, from the fact that reason is your means of survival—
so that for you, who are a human being, the question 'to be or not to be' is
the question 'to think or not to think.'

"A being of volitional consciousness has no automatic course of behavior.
He needs a code of values to guide his actions. 'Value' is that which one
acts to gain and keep, 'virtue' is the action by which one gains and keeps
it. 'Value' presupposes an answer to the question: of value to whom and for
what? 'Value' presupposes a standard, a purpose and the necessity of action
in the face of an alternative. Where there are no alternatives, no values are
possible .

"There is only one fundamental alternative in the universe: existence or
non-existence— and it pertains to a single class of entities: to living
organisms. The existence of inanimate matter is unconditional, the existence
of life is not: it depends on a specific course of action. Matter is
indestructible, it changes its forms, but it cannot cease to exist. It is
only a living organism that faces a constant alternative: the issue of life
or death. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action. If
an organism fails in that action, it dies; its chemical elements remain, but
its life goes out of existence. It is only the concept of 'Life'

that makes the concept of 'Value' possible. It is only to a living entity
that things can be good or evil.

"A plant must feed itself in order to live; the sunlight, the water, the
chemicals it needs are the values its nature has set it to pursue; its life
is the standard of value directing its actions. But a plant has no choice of
action; there are alternatives in the conditions it encounters, but there is
no alternative in its function: it acts automatically to further its life, it
cannot act for its own destruction.

"An animal is equipped for sustaining its life; its senses provide it with
an automatic code of action, an automatic knowledge of what is good for it or
evil. It has no power to extend its knowledge or to evade it. In conditions
where its knowledge proves inadequate, it dies. But so long as it lives, it
acts on its knowledge, with automatic safety and no power of choice, it is
unable to ignore its own good, unable to decide to choose the evil and act as
its own destroyer.

"Man has no automatic code of survival. His particular distinction from
all other living species is the necessity to act in the face of alternatives
by means of volitional choice. He has no automatic knowledge of what is good
for him or evil, what values his life depends on, what course of action it
requires. Are you prattling about an instinct of self preservation? An

instinct of self-preservation is precisely what man does not possess. An
'instinct' is an unerring and automatic form of knowledge. A desire is not an
instinct. A desire to live does not give you the knowledge required for
living. And even man's desire to live is not automatic: your secret evil
today is that (hat is the desire you do not hold. Your fear of death is not a
love for life and will not give you the knowledge needed to keep it. Man must
obtain his knowledge and choose his actions by a process of thinking, which
nature will not force him to perform. Man has the power to act as his own
destroyer— and that is the way he has acted through most of his history.

"A living entity that regarded its means of survival as evil, would not
survive. A plant that struggled to mangle its roots, a bird that fought to
break its wings would not remain for long in the existence they affronted.
But the history of man has been a struggle to deny and to destroy his mind.

"Man has been called a rational being, but rationality is a matter of
choice— and the alternative his nature offers him is: rational being or
suicidal animal, Man has to be man— by choice; he has to hold his life as a
value— by choice; he has to learn to sustain it— by choice; he has to discover
the values it requires and practice his virtues— by choice.

"A code of values accepted by choice is a code of morality.

"Whoever you are, you who are hearing me now, I am speaking to whatever
living remnant is left uncorrupted within you, to the remnant of the human,
to your mind, and I say: There is a morality of reason, a morality proper to
man, and Man's Life is its standard of value.

"AH that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; all
that which destroys it is the evil.

"Man's life, as required by his nature, is not the life of a mindless
brute, of a looting thug or a mooching mystic, but the life of a thinking
being— not life by means of force or fraud, but life by means of achievement—
not survival at any price, since there's only one price that pays for man's
survival: reason.

"Man's life is the standard of morality, but your own life is its purpose.
If existence on earth is your goal, you must choose your actions and values
by the standard of that which is proper to man— for the purpose of preserving,
fulfilling and enjoying the irreplaceable value which is your life.

"Since life requires a specific course of action, any other course will
destroy it- A being who does not hold his own life as the motive and goal of
his actions, is acting on the motive and standard of death. Such a being is a
metaphysical monstrosity, struggling to oppose, negate and contradict the
fact of his own existence, running blindly amuck on a trail of destruction,
capable of nothing but pain.

"Happiness is the successful state of life, pain is an agent of death.

Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the
achievement of one's values. A morality that dares to tell you to find
happiness in the renunciation of your happiness— to value the failure of your
values— is an insolent negation of morality. A doctrine that gives you, as an
ideal, the role of a sacrificial animal seeking slaughter on the altars of
others, is giving you death as your standard. By the grace of reality and the
nature of life, man— every man— is an end in himself, he exists for his own
sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.

"But neither life nor happiness can be achieved by the pursuit of
irrational whims. Just as man is free to attempt to survive in any random
manner, but will perish unless he lives as his nature requires, so he is free
to seek his happiness in any mindless fraud, but the torture of frustration
is all he will find, unless he seeks the happiness proper to man. The purpose
of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and
live .

"Sweep aside those parasites of subsidized classrooms, who live on the
profits of the mind of others and proclaim that man needs no morality, no
values, no code of behavior. They, who pose as scientists and claim that man
is only an animal, do not grant him inclusion in the law of existence they
have granted to the lowest of insects. They recognize that every living
species has a way of survival demanded by its nature, they do not claim that
a fish can live out of water or that a dog can live without its sense of
smell— but man, they claim, the most complex of beings, man can survive in any
way whatever, man has no identity, no nature, and there's no practical reason
why he cannot live with his means of survival destroyed, with his mind
throttled and placed at the disposal of any orders they might care to issue.

"Sweep aside those hatred-eaten mystics, who pose as friends of humanity
and preach that the highest virtue man can practice is to hold his own life
as of no value. Do they tell you that the purpose of morality is to curb
man's instinct of self-preservation? It is for the purpose of self-
preservation that man needs a code of morality. The only man who desires to
be moral is the man who desires to live.

"No, you do not have to live; it is your basic act of choice; but if you
choose to live, you must live as a man— by the work and the judgment of your
mind .

"No, you do not have to live as a man; it is an act of moral choice. But
you cannot live as anything else— and the alternative is that state of living
death which you now see within you and around you, the state of a thing unfit
for existence, no longer human and less than animal, a thing that knows
nothing but pain and drags itself through its span of years in the agony of
unthinking self-destruction.

"No, you do not have to think; it is an act of moral choice. But someone
had to think to keep you alive; if you choose to default, you default on
existence and you pass the deficit to some moral man, expecting him to
sacrifice his good for the sake of letting you survive by your evil.

"No, you do not have to be a man; but today those who are, are not there
any longer. I have removed your means of survival— your victims.

"If you wish to know how I have done it and what I told them to make them
quit, you are hearing it now. I told them, in essence, the statement I am
making tonight. They were men who had lived by my code, but had not known how
great a virtue it represented. I made them see it. I brought them, not a re-
evaluation, but only an identification of their values.

"We, the men of the mind, are now on strike against you in the name of a
single axiom, which is the root of our moral code, just as the root of yours
is the wish to escape it: the axiom that existence exists.

"Existence exists— and the act of grasping that statement implies two
corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one
exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of
perceiving that which exists.

"If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with
nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms. A consciousness
conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could
identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something. If
that which you claim to perceive does not exist, what you possess is not
consciousness .

"Whatever the degree of your knowledge, these two— existence and
consciousness— are axioms you cannot escape, these two are the irreducible
primaries implied in any action you undertake, in any part of your knowledge
and in its sum, from the first ray of light you perceive at the start of your
life to the widest erudition you might acquire at its end. Whether you know
the shape of a pebble or the structure of a solar system, the axioms remain
the same: that it exists and that you know it.

"To exist is to be something, as distinguished from the nothing of non-
existence, it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific
attributes. Centuries ago, the man who was— no matter what his errors —the
greatest of. your philosophers, has stated the formula defining the concept
of existence and the rule of all knowledge: A is A. A. thing is itself. You
have never grasped the meaning of his statement. I am here to complete it:
Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification.

"Whatever you choose to consider, be it an object, an attribute or an
action, the law of identity remains the same. A leaf cannot be a stone at the
same time, it cannot be all red and all green at the same time, it cannot
freeze and burn at the same time. A is A. Or, if you wish it stated in
simpler language: You cannot have your cake and eat it, too.

"Are you seeking to know what is wrong with the world? AH the disasters
that have wrecked your world, came from your leadersl attempt to evade the
fact that A is A. All the secret evil you dread to face within you and all
the pain you have ever endured, came from your own attempt to evade the fact
that A is A. The purpose of those who taught you to evade it, was to make you
forget that Man is Man.

"Man cannot survive except by gaining knowledge, and reason is his only
means to gain it. Reason is the faculty that perceives, identifies and
integrates the material provided by his senses. The task of his senses is to
give him the evidence of existence, but the task of identifying it belongs to
his reason, his senses tell him only that something is, but what it is must
be learned by his mind.

"All thinking is a process of identification and integration. Man
perceives a blob of color; by integrating the evidence of his sight and his
touch, he learns to identity it as a solid object: he learns to identify the
object as a table; he learns that the table is made of wood; he learns that
the wood consists of cells, that the cells consist of molecules, that the
molecules consist of atoms. All through this process, the work of his mind
consists of answers to a single question: What is it? His means to establish
the truth of his answers is logic, and logic rests on the axiom that
existence exists. Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification.

A contradiction cannot exist. An atom is itself, and so is the universe;
neither can contradict its own identity; nor can a part contradict the whole.
No concept man forms is valid unless he integrates it without contradiction
into the total sum of his knowledge. To arrive at a contradiction is to
confess an error in one's thinking; to maintain a contradiction is to
abdicate one's mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality.

"Reality is that which exists; the unreal does not exist; the unreal is
merely that negation of existence which is the content of a human
consciousness when it attempts to abandon reason. Truth is the recognition of
reality; reason, man's only means of knowledge, is his only standard of
truth .

"The most depraved sentence you can now utter is to ask: Whose reason? The
answer is: Yours. No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your
own mind that has to acquire it. It is only with your own knowledge that you
can deal. It is only your own knowledge that you can claim to possess or ask
others to consider. Your mind is your only judge of truth— and if others
dissent from your verdict, reality is the court of final appeal. Nothing but
a man's mind can perform that complex, delicate, crucial process of
identification which is thinking. Nothing can direct the process but his own
judgment. Nothing can direct his judgment but his moral integrity.

"You who speak of a 'moral instinct' as if it were some separate endowment
opposed to reason— man's reason is his moral faculty. A process of reason is a
process of constant choice in answer to the question: True or False?— Right or
Wrong? Is a seed to be planted in soil in order to grow— right or wrong? Is a

man's wound to be disinfected in order to save his life— right or wrong? Does
the nature of atmospheric electricity permit it to be converted into kinetic
power— right or wrong? It is the answers to such questions that gave you
everything you have— and the answers came from a man's mind, a mind of
intransigent devotion to that which is right.

"A rational process is a moral process. You may make an error at any step
of it, with nothing to protect you but your own severity, or you may try to
cheat, to fake the evidence and evade the effort of the quest— but if devotion
to truth is the hallmark of morality, then there is no greater, nobler, more
heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility
of thinking.

"That which you call your soul or spirit is your consciousness, and that
which you call 'free will' is your mind's freedom to think or not, the only
will you have, your only freedom, the choice that controls all the choices
you make and determines your life and your character.

"Thinking is man's only basic virtue, from which all the others proceed.
And his basic vice, the source of all his evils, is that nameless act which
all of you practice, but struggle never to admit: the act of blanking out,
the willful suspension of one's consciousness, the refusal to think— not
blindness, but the refusal to see; not ignorance, but the refusal to know. It
is the act of unfocusing your mind and inducing an inner fog to escape the
responsibility of judgment— on the unstated premise that a thing will not
exist if only you refuse to identify it, that A will not be A so long as you
do not pronounce the verdict 'It is.'

Non-thinking is an act of annihilation, a wish to negate existence, an
attempt to wipe out reality. But existence exists; reality is not to be wiped
out, it will merely wipe out the wiper. By refusing to say 'It is,'

you are refusing to say 'I am.' By suspending your judgment, you are
negating your person. When a man declares: 'Who am I to know?'— he is
declaring: 'Who am I to live?'

"This, in every hour and every issue, is your basic moral choice: thinking
or non-thinking, existence or non-existence, A or non-A, entity or zero.

"To the extent to which a man is rational, life is the premise directing
his actions. To the extent to which he is irrational, the premise directing
his actions is death.

"You who prattle that morality is social and that man would need no
morality on a desert island— it is on a desert island that he would need it
most. 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.

"If I were to speak your kind of language, I would say that man's only
moral commandment is: Thou shall think. But a 'moral commandment' is a
contradiction in terms. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the
understood, not the obeyed. The moral is the rational, and reason accepts no
commandments .

"My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom:
existence exists— and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from
these. To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values
of his life: Reason— Purpose— Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of
knowledge— Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must
proceed to achieve— Self -esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is
competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is
worthy of living. These three values imply and require all of man's virtues,
and all his virtues pertain to the relation of existence and consciousness:

rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness,
pride .

"Rationality is the recognition of the fact that existence exists, that
nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of
perceiving it, which is thinking— that the mind is one's only judge of values
and one's only guide of action— that reason is an absolute that permits no
compromise— that a concession to the irrational invalidates one's
consciousness and turns it from the task of perceiving to the task of faking
reality— that the alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a
short-circuit destroying the mind— that the acceptance of a mystical invention
is a wish for the annihilation of existence and, properly, annihilates one's
consciousness .

"Independence is the recognition of the fact that yours is the
responsibility of judgment and nothing can help you escape it— that no
substitute can do your thinking, as no pinch-hitter can live your life—

that the vilest form of self-abasement and self-destruction is the
subordination of your mind to the mind of another, the acceptance of an
authority over your brain, the acceptance of his assertions as facts, his
say-so as truth, his edicts as middle-man between your consciousness and your
existence .

"Integrity is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake your
consciousness, just as honesty is the recognition of the fact that you cannot
fake existence— that man is an indivisible entity, an integrated unit of two
attributes: of matter and consciousness, and that he may permit no breach
between body and mind, between action and thought, between his life and his
convictions— that, like a judge impervious to public opinion, he may not
sacrifice his convictions to the wishes of others, be it the whole of mankind
shouting pleas or threats against him— that courage and confidence are
practical necessities, that courage is the practical form of being true to
existence, of being true to truth, and confidence is the practical form of
being true to one's own consciousness.

"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 an attempt to gain a value by deceiving the mind of others is an
act of raising your victims to a position higher than reality, where you
become a pawn of their blindness, a slave of their non-thinking and their
evasions, while their intelligence, their rationality, their perceptiveness
become the enemies you have to dread and flee— that you do not care to live as
a dependent, least of all a dependent on the stupidity of others, or as a
fool whose source of values is the fools he succeeds in fooling— that honesty
is not a social duty, not a sacrifice for the sake of others, but the most
profoundly selfish virtue man can practice: his refusal to sacrifice the
reality of his own existence to the deluded consciousness of others.

"Justice is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake the character
of men as you cannot fake the character of nature, that you must judge all
men as conscientiously as you judge inanimate objects, with the same respect
for truth, with the same incorruptible vision, by as pure and as rational a
process of identification— that every man must be judged for what he is and
treated accordingly, that just as you do not pay a higher price for a rusty
chunk of scrap than for a piece of shining metal, so you do not value a
rotter above a hero— that your moral appraisal is the coin paying men for
their virtues or vices, and this payment demands of you as scrupulous an
honor as you bring to financial transactions— that to withhold your contempt
from men's vices is an act of moral counterfeiting, and to withhold your
admiration from their virtues is an act of moral embezzlement— that to place
any other concern higher than justice is to devaluate your moral currency and
defraud the good in favor of the evil, since only the good can lose by a

default of justice and only the evil can profit— and that the bottom of the
pit at the end of that road, the act of moral bankruptcy, is to punish men
for their virtues and reward them for their vices, that that is the collapse
to full depravity, the Black Mass of the worship of death, the dedication of
your consciousness to the destruction of existence.

"Productiveness is your acceptance of morality, your recognition of the
fact that you choose to live— that productive work is the process by which
man's consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring
knowledge and shaping matter to fit one's purpose, of translating an idea
into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one's values— that
all work is creative work ft done by a thinking mind, and no work is creative
if done by a blank who repeats in uncritical stupor a routine he has learned
from others— that your work is yours to choose, and the choice is as wide as
your mind, that nothing more is possible to you and nothing less is human—
that to cheat your way into a job bigger than your mind can handle is to
become a fear corroded ape on borrowed motions and borrowed time, and to
settle down into a job that requires less than your mind's full capacity is
to cut your motor and sentence yourself to another kind of motion: decay— that
your work is the process of achieving your values, and to lose your ambition
for values is to lose your ambition to live— that your body is a machine, but
your mind is its driver, and you must drive as far as your mind will take
you, with achievement as the goal of your road— that the man who has no
purpose is a machine that coasts downhill at the mercy of any boulder to
crash in the first chance ditch, that the man who stifles his mind is a
stalled machine slowly going to rust, that the man who lets a leader
prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap, and the man
who makes another man his goal is a hitchhiker no driver should ever pick up—
that your work is the purpose of your life, and you must speed past any
killer who assumes the right to stop you, that any value you might find
outside your work, any other loyalty or love, can be only travelers you
choose to share your journey and must be travelers going on their own power
in the same direction.

"Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value
and, like all of man's values, it has to be earned— that of any achievements
open to you, the one that makes all others possible is the creation of your
own character— that your character, your actions, your desires, your emotions
are the products of the premises held by your mind— that as man must produce
the physical values he needs to sustain his life, so he must acquire the
values of character that make his life worth sustaining— that as man is a
being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul— that to live
requires a sense of self-value, but man, who has no automatic values, has no
automatic sense of self-esteem and must earn it by shaping his soul in the
image of his moral ideal, in the image of Man, the rational being he is born
able to create, but must create by choice— that the first precondition of
self-esteem is that radiant selfishness of soul which desires the best in all
things, in values of matter and spirit, a soul that seeks above all else to
achieve its own moral perfection, valuing nothing higher than itself— and that
the proof of an achieved self-esteem is your soul's shudder of contempt and
rebellion against the role of a sacrificial animal, against the vile
impertinence of any creed that proposes to immolate the irreplaceable value
which is your consciousness and the incomparable glory which is your
existence to the blind evasions and the stagnant decay of others.

"Are you beginning to see who is John Gait? I am the man who has earned
the thing you did not fight for, the thing you have renounced, betrayed,
corrupted, yet were unable fully to destroy and are now hiding as your guilty
secret, spending your Me in apologies to every professional cannibal, lest it
be discovered that somewhere within you, you still long to say what I am now

saying to the hearing of the whole of mankind: I am proud of my own value and
of the fact that I wish to live.

"This wish— which you share, yet submerge as an evil— is the only remnant of
the good within you, but it is a wish one must learn to deserve. His own
happiness is man's only moral purpose, but only his own virtue can achieve
it. Virtue is not an end in itself. Virtue is not its own reward or
sacrificial fodder for the reward of evil. Life is the reward of virtue— and
happiness is the goal and the reward of life.

"Just as your body has two fundamental sensations, pleasure and pain, as
signs of its welfare or injury, as a barometer of its basic alternative, life
or death, so your consciousness has two fundamental emotions, joy and
suffering, in answer to the same alternative. Your emotions are estimates of
that which furthers your life or threatens it, lightning calculators giving
you a sum of your profit or loss. You have no choice about your capacity to
feel that something is good for you or evil, but what you will consider good
or evil, what will give you joy or pain, what you will love or hate, desire
or fear, depends on your standard of value. Emotions are inherent in your
nature, but their content is dictated by your mind. Your emotional capacity
is an empty motor, and your values are the fuel with which your mind fills
it. If you choose a mix of contradictions, it will clog your motor, corrode
your transmission and wreck you on your first attempt to move with a machine
which you, the driver, have corrupted.

"If you hold the irrational as your standard of value and the impossible
as your concept of the good, if you long for rewards you have not earned, for
a fortune or a love you don't deserve, for a loophole in the law of
causality, for an A that becomes non-A at your whim, if you desire the
opposite of existence— you will reach it. Do not cry, when you reach it, that
life is frustration and that happiness is impossible to man; check your fuel:
it brought you where you wanted to go.

"Happiness is not to be achieved at the command of emotional whims.
Happiness is not the satisfaction of whatever irrational wishes you might
blindly attempt to indulge. Happiness is a state of non contradictory joy— a
joy without penalty or guilt, a joy that does not clash with any of your
values and does not work for your own destruction, not the joy of escaping
from your mind, but of using your mind's fullest power, not the joy of faking
reality, but of achieving values that are real, not the joy of a drunkard,
but of a producer. Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who
desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and
finds his joy in nothing but rational actions.

"Just as I support my life, neither by robbery nor alms, but by my own
effort, so I do not seek to derive my happiness from the injury or the favor
of others, but earn it by my own achievement. Just as I do not consider the
pleasure of others as the goal of my life, so I do not consider my pleasure
as the goal of the lives of others. Just as there are no contradictions in my
values and no conflicts among my desires— so there are no victims and no
conflicts of interest among rational men, men who do not desire the unearned
and do not view one another with a cannibal's lust, men who neither make
sacrifices nor accept them.

"The symbol of all relationships among such men, the moral symbol of
respect for human beings, is the trader. We, who live by values, not by loot,
are traders, both in matter and in spirit. A trader is a man who earns what
he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. A trader does not ask to be
paid for his failures, nor does he ask to be loved for his flaws, A trader
does not squander his body as fodder or his soul as alms. Just as he does not
give his work except in trade for material values, so he does not give the
values of his spirit— his love, his friendship, his esteem— except in payment
and in trade for human virtues, in payment for his own selfish pleasure,

which he receives from men he can respect. The mystic parasites who have,
throughout the ages, reviled the traders and held them in contempt, while
honoring the beggars and the looters, have known the secret motive of their
sneers: a trader is the entity they dread— a man of justice.
"Do you ask what moral obligation I owe to my fellow men?

None— except the obligation I owe to myself, to material objects and to all
of existence: rationality. I deal with men as my nature and theirs demands:
by means of reason. I seek or desire nothing from them except such relations
as they care to enter of their own voluntary choice.

It is only with their mind that I can deal and only for my own self
interest, when they see that my interest coincides with theirs. When they
don't, I enter no relationship; I let dissenters go their way and I do not
swerve from mine. I win by means of nothing but logic and I surrender to
nothing but logic. I do not surrender my reason or deal with men who
surrender theirs. I have nothing to gain from fools or cowards; I have no
benefits to seek from human vices: from stupidity, dishonesty or fear. The
only value men can offer me is the work of their mind. When I disagree with a
rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will
learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit.

"Whatever may be open to disagreement, there is one act of evil that may
not, the act that no man may commit against others and no man may sanction or
forgive. So long as men desire to live together, no man may initiate— do you
hear me? no man may start— the use of physical force against others.

"To interpose the threat of physical destruction between a man and his
perception of reality, is to negate and paralyze his means of survival; to
force him to act against his own judgment, is like forcing him to act against
his own sight. Whoever, to whatever purpose or extent, initiates the use of
force, is a killer acting on the premise of death in a manner wider than
murder: the premise of destroying man's capacity to live.

"Do not open your mouth to tell me that your mind has convinced you of
your right to force my mind. Force and mind are opposites; morality ends
where a gun begins. When you declare that men are irrational animals and
propose to treat them as such, you define thereby your own character and can
no longer claim the sanction of reason— as no advocate of contradictions can
claim it. There can be no 'right' to destroy the source of rights, the only
means of judging right and wrong: the mind.

"To force a man to drop his own mind and to accept your will as a
substitute, with a gun in. place of a syllogism, with terror in place of
proof, and death as the final argument— is to attempt to exist in defiance of
reality. Reality demands of man that he act for his own rational interest;
your gun demands of him that he act against it. Reality threatens man with
death if he does not act on his rational judgment; you threaten him with
death if he does. You place him into a world where the price of his life is
the surrender of all the virtues required by life— and death by a process of
gradual destruction is all that you and your system will achieve, when death
is made to be the ruling power, the winning argument in a society of men.

"Be it a highwayman who confronts a traveler with the ultimatum: 'Your
money or your life, ' or a politician who confronts a country with the
ultimatum: 'Your children's education or your life, ' the meaning of that
ultimatum is: 'Your mind or your life'— and neither is possible to man without
the other.

"If there are degrees of evil, it is hard to say who is the more
contemptible: the brute who assumes the right to force the mind of others or
the moral degenerate who grants to others the right to force his mind.

That is the moral absolute one does not leave open to debate. 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. I

do not place my moral sanction upon a murderer's wish to kill me. When a man
attempts to deal with me by force, I answer him— by force.

"It is only as retaliation that force may be used and only against the man
who starts its use. No, I do not share his evil or sink to his concept of
morality: I merely grant him his choice, destruction, the only destruction he
had the right to choose: his own. He uses force to seize a value; I use it
only to destroy destruction. A holdup man seeks to gain wealth by killing me;
I do not grow richer by killing a holdup man. I seek no values by means of
evil, nor do I surrender my values to evil.

"In the name of all the producers who had kept you alive and received your
death ultimatums in payment, I now answer you with a single ultimatum of our
own: Our work or your guns. You can choose either; you can't have both. We do
not initiate the use of force against others or submit to force at their
hands. If you desire ever again to live in an industrial society, it will be
on our moral terms. Our terms and our motive power are the antithesis of
yours. You have been using fear as your weapon and have been bringing death
to man as his punishment for rejecting your morality. We offer him life as
his reward for accepting ours.

"You who are worshippers of the zero— you have never discovered that
achieving life is not the equivalent of avoiding death. Joy is not 'the
absence of pain, ' intelligence is not 'the absence of stupidity, ' light is
not 'the absence of darkness, ' an entity is not 'the absence of a nonentity.'
Building is not done by abstaining from demolition; centuries of sitting and
waiting in such abstinence will not raise one single girder for you to
abstain from demolishing— and now you can no longer say to me, the builder:
'Produce, and feed us in exchange for our not destroying your production.' I
am answering in the name of all your victims: Perish with and in your own
void. Existence is not a negation of negatives. Evil, not value, is an
absence and a negation, evil is impotent and has no power but that which we
let it extort from. us. Perish, because we have learned that a zero cannot
hold a mortgage over life.

"You seek escape from pain. We seek the achievement of happiness.

You exist for the sake of avoiding punishment. We exist for the sake of
earning rewards. Threats will not make us function; fear is not our
incentive. It is not death that we wish to avoid, but life that we wish to
live .

"You, who have lost the concept of the difference, you who claim that fear
and joy are incentives of equal power— and secretly add that fear is the more
' practical ' —you do not wish to live, and only fear of death still holds you
to the existence you have damned. You dart in panic through the trap of your
days, looking for the exit you have closed, running from a pursuer you dare
not name to a terror you dare not acknowledge, and the greater your terror
the greater your dread of the only act that could save you: thinking. The
purpose of your struggle is not to know, not to grasp or name or hear the
thing I shall now state to your hearing: that yours is the Morality of Death.

"Death is the standard of your values, death is your chosen goal, and you
have to keep running, since there is no escape from the pursuer who is out to
destroy you or from the knowledge that that pursuer is yourself. Stop
running, for once— there is no place to run-
stand naked, as you dread to stand, but as I see you, and take a look at
what you dared to call a moral code.

"Damnation is the start of your morality, destruction is its purpose,
means and end. Your code begins by damning man as evil, then demands that he
practice a good which it defines as impossible for him to practice. It
demands, as his first proof of virtue, that he accept his own depravity
without proof. It demands that he start, not with a standard of value, but

with a standard of evil, which is himself, by means of which he is then to
define the good: the good is that which he is not.

"It does not matter who then becomes the profiteer on his renounced glory
and tormented soul, a mystic God with some incomprehensible design or any
passer-by whose rotting sores are held as some inexplicable claim upon him— it
does not matter, the good is not for him to understand, his duty is to crawl
through years of penance, atoning for the guilt of his existence to any stray
collector of unintelligible debts, his only concept of a value is a zero: the
good is that which is non-man.

"The name of this monstrous absurdity is Original Sin, "A sin without
volition is a slap at morality and an insolent contradiction in terms: that
which is outside the possibility of choice is outside the province of
morality. If man is evil by birth, he has no will, no power to change it; if
he has no will, he can be neither good nor evil; a robot is amoral. To hold,
as man's sin, a fact not open to his choice is a mockery of morality. To hold
man's nature as his sin is a mockery of nature. To punish him for a crime he
committed before he was born is a mockery of justice. To hold him guilty in a
matter where no innocence exists is a mockery of reason. To destroy morality,
nature, justice and reason by means of a single concept is a feat of evil
hardly to be matched. Yet that is the root of your code.

"Do not hide behind the cowardly evasion that man is born with free will,
but with a 'tendency' to evil. A free will saddled with a tendency is. like a
game with loaded dice. It forces man to struggle through the effort of
playing, to bear responsibility and pay for the game, but the decision is
weighted in favor of a tendency that he had no power to escape. If the
tendency is of his choice, he cannot possess it at birth; if it is not of his
choice, his will is not free.

"What is the nature of the guilt that your teachers call his Original Sin?
What are the evils man acquired when he fell from a state they consider
perfection? Their myth declares that he ate the fruit of the tree of
knowledge— he acquired a mind and became a rational being.

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.

His evil, they charge, is that he's man. His guilt, they charge, is that
he lives.

"They call it a morality of mercy and a doctrine of love for man.

"No, they say, they do not preach that man is evil, the evil is only that
alien object: his body. No, they say, they do not wish to kill him, they only
wish to make him lose his body. They seek to help him, they say, against his
pain— and they point at the torture rack to which they've tied him, the rack
with two wheels that pull him in opposite directions, the rack of the
doctrine that splits his soul and body.

"They have cut man in two, setting one half against the other. They have
taught him that his body and his consciousness are two enemies engaged in
deadly conflict, two antagonists of opposite natures, contradictory claims,
incompatible needs, that to benefit one is to injure the other, that his soul
belongs to a supernatural realm, but his body is an evil prison holding it in
bondage to this earth— and that the good is to defeat his body, to undermine

it by years of patient struggle, digging his way to that glorious jail-break
which leads into the freedom of the grave.

"They have taught man that he is a hopeless misfit made of two elements,
both symbols of death. A body without a soul is a corpse, a soul without a
body is a ghost— yet such is their image of man's nature: the battleground of
a struggle between a corpse and a ghost, a corpse endowed with some evil
volition of its own and a ghost endowed with the knowledge that everything
known to man is non-existent, that only the unknowable exists.

"Do you observe what human faculty that doctrine was designed to ignore?
It was man's mind that had to be negated in order to make him fall apart.
Once he surrendered reason, he was left at the mercy of two monsters whom he
could not fathom or control: of a body moved by unaccountable instincts and
of a soul moved by mystic revelations-
he was left as the passively ravaged victim of a battle between a robot
and a dictaphone.

"And as he now crawls through the wreckage, groping blindly for a way to
live, your teachers offer him the help of a morality that proclaims that
he'll find no solution, and must seek no fulfillment on earth. Real
existence, they tell him, is that which he cannot perceive, true
consciousness is the faculty of perceiving the non-existent— and if he is
unable to understand it, that is the proof that his existence is evil and
his. consciousness impotent.

"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. Both demand the surrender of your mind, one to their
revelations, the other to their reflexes. No matter how loudly they posture
in the roles of irreconcilable antagonists, their moral codes are alike, and
so are their aims: in matter— the enslavement of man's body, in spirit— the
destruction of his mind.

"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. The
good, say the mystics of muscle, is Society— a thing which they define as an
organism that possesses no physical form, a super-being embodied in no one in
particular and everyone in general except yourself. Man's mind, say the
mystics of spirit, must be subordinated to the will of God, Man's mind, say
the mystics of muscle, must be subordinated to the will of Society. Man's
standard of value, say the mystics of spirit, is the pleasure of God, whose
standards are beyond man's power of comprehension and must be accepted on
faith. Man's standard of value, say the mystics of muscle, is the pleasure of
Society, whose standards are beyond man's right of judgment and must be
obeyed as a primary absolute. 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. His reward, say the mystics of muscle, will be given on
earth— to his great-grandchildren.

"Self ishness— say both— is man's evil. Man's good— say both— is to give up his
personal desires, to deny himself, renounce himself, surrender; man's good is
to negate the life he lives. Sacrifice— cry both— is the essence of morality,
the highest virtue within man's reach.

"Whoever is now within reach of my voice, whoever is man the victim, not
man the killer, I am speaking at the deathbed of your mind, at the brink of
that darkness in which you're drowning, and if there still remains within you
the power to struggle to hold on to those fading sparks which had been
yourself— use it now. The word that has destroyed you is 'sacrifice.' Use the

last of your strength to understand its meaning. You're still alive. You have
a chance.

" 'Sacrifice' does not mean the rejection of the worthless, but of the
precious. 'Sacrifice' does not mean the rejection of the evil for the sake of
the good, but of the good for the sake of the evil. 'Sacrifice'

is the surrender of that which you value in favor of that which you don't.

"If you exchange a penny for a dollar, it is not a sacrifice; if you
exchange a dollar for a penny, it is. If you achieve the career you wanted,
after years of struggle, it is not a sacrifice; if you then renounce it for
the sake of a rival, it is. If you own a bottle of milk and give it to your
starving child, it is not a sacrifice; if you give it to your neighbor's
child and let your own die, it is.

"If you give money to help a friend, it is not a sacrifice; if you give it
to a worthless stranger, it is. If you give your friend a sum you can afford,
it is not a sacrifice; if you give him money at the cost of your own
discomfort, it is only a partial virtue, according to this sort of moral
standard; if you give him money at the cost of disaster to yourself—

that is the virtue of sacrifice in full.

"If you renounce all personal desires and dedicate your life to those you
love, you do not achieve full virtue: you still retain a value of your own,
which is your love. If you devote your life to random strangers, it is an act
of greater virtue. If you devote your life to serving men you hate— that is
the greatest of the virtues you can practice, "A sacrifice is the surrender
of a value. Full sacrifice is full surrender of all values. If you wish to
achieve full virtue, you must seek no gratitude in return for your sacrifice,
no praise, no love, no admiration, no self-esteem, not even the pride of
being virtuous; the faintest trace of any gain dilutes your virtue. If you
pursue a course of action that does not taint your life by any joy, that
brings you no value in matter, no value in spirit, no gain, no profit, no
reward— if you achieve this state of total zero, you have achieved the ideal
of moral perfection.

"You are told that moral perfection is impossible to man— and, by this
standard, it is. You cannot achieve it so long as you live, but the value of
your life and of your person is gauged by how closely you succeed in
approaching that ideal zero which is death.

"If you start, however, as a passionless blank, as a vegetable seeking to
be eaten, with no values to reject and no wishes to renounce, you will not
win the crown of sacrifice. It is not a sacrifice to renounce the unwanted.
It is not a sacrifice to give your life for others, if death is your personal
desire. To achieve the virtue of sacrifice, you must want to live, you must
love it, you must burn with passion for this earth and for all the splendor
it can give you— you must feel the twist of every knife as it slashes your
desires away from your reach and drains your love out of your body. It is not
mere death that the morality of sacrifice holds out to you as an ideal, but
death by slow torture.

"Do not remind me that it pertains only to this life on earth. I am
concerned with no other. Neither are you.

"If you wish to save the last of your dignity, do not call your best
actions a 'sacrifice': that term brands you as immoral. If a mother buys food
for her hungry child rather than a hat for herself, it is not a sacrifice:
she values the child higher than the hat; but it is a sacrifice to the kind
of mother whose higher value is the hat, who would prefer her child to starve
and feeds him only from a sense of duty. If a man dies fighting for his own
freedom, it is not a sacrifice: he is not willing to live as a slave; but it
is a sacrifice to the kind of man who's willing.

If a man refuses to sell his convictions, it is not a sacrifice, unless he
is the sort of man who has no convictions.

"Sacrifice could be proper only for those who have nothing to sacrifice— no
values, no standards, no j udgment— those whose desires are irrational whims,
blindly conceived and lightly surrendered. For a man of moral stature, whose
desires are born of rational values, sacrifice is the surrender of the right
to the wrong, of the good to the evil.

"The creed of sacrifice is a morality for the immoral— a morality that
declares its own bankruptcy by confessing that it can't impart to men any
personal stake in virtues or values, and that their souls are sewers of
depravity, which they must be taught to sacrifice. By its own confession, it
is impotent to teach men to be good and can only subject them to constant
punishment .

"Are you thinking, in some foggy stupor, that it's only material values
that your morality requires you to sacrifice? And what do you think are
material values? Matter has no value except as a means for the satisfaction
of human desires. Matter is only a tool of human values.

To what service are you asked to give the material tools your virtue has
produced? To the service of that which you regard as evil: to a principle you
do not share, to a person you do not respect, to the achievement of a purpose
opposed to your own— else your gift is not a sacrifice.

"Your morality tells you to renounce the material world and to divorce
your values from matter. A man whose values are given no expression in
material form, whose existence is unrelated to his ideals, whose actions
contradict his convictions, is a cheap little hypocrite-
yet that is the man who obeys your morality and divorces his values from
matter. The man who loves one woman, but sleeps with another—

the man who admires the talent of a worker, but hires another— the man who
considers one cause to be just, but donates his money to the support of
another— the man who holds high standards of craftsmanship, but devotes his
effort to the production of trash— these are the men who have renounced
matter, the men who believe that the values of their spirit cannot be brought
into material reality.

"Do you say it is the spirit that such men have renounced? Yes, of course.
You cannot have one without the other. You are an indivisible entity of
matter and consciousness. Renounce your consciousness and you become a brute.
Renounce your body and you become a fake.

Renounce the material world and you surrender it to evil.

"And that is precisely the goal of your morality, the duty that your code
demands of you. Give to that which you do not enjoy, serve that which you do
not admire, submit to that which you consider evil-
surrender the world to the values of others, deny, reject, renounce your
self. Your self is your mind; renounce it and you become a chunk of meat
ready for any cannibal to swallow.

"It is your mind that they want you to surrender— all those who preach the
creed of sacrifice, whatever their tags or their motives, whether they demand
it for the sake of your soul or of your body, whether they promise you
another life in heaven or a full stomach on this earth. Those who start by
saying: 'It is selfish to pursue your own wishes, you must sacrifice them to
the wishes of others'— end up by saying: 'It is selfish to uphold your
convictions, you must sacrifice them to the convictions of others.'

"This much is true: the most selfish of all things is the independent mind
that recognizes no authority higher than its own and no value higher than its
judgment of truth. You are asked to sacrifice your intellectual integrity,
your logic, your reason, your standard of truth—

in favor of becoming a prostitute whose standard is the greatest good for
the greatest number.

"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. Your standard of virtue is not an object, not
an act, not a principle, but an intention. You need no proof, no reasons, no
success, you need not achieve in fact the good of others —all you need to
know is that your motive was the good of others, not your own. Your only
definition of the good is a negation: the good is the 'non-good for me.'

"Your code— which boasts that it upholds eternal, absolute, objective moral
values and scorns the conditional, the relative and the subjective —your code
hands out, as its version of the absolute, the following rule of moral
conduct: If you wish it, it's evil; if others wish it, it's good; if the
motive of your action is your welfare, don't do it; if the motive is the
welfare of others, then anything goes.

"As this double- j ointed, 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 and their needs: their right is conferred upon
them by a negative, by the fact that they are 'non-you.'

"For those of you who might ask questions, your code provides a
consolation prize and booby-trap: it is for your own happiness, it says, that
you must serve the happiness of others, the only way to achieve your joy is
to give it up to others, the only way to achieve your prosperity is to
surrender your wealth to others, the only way to protect your life is to
protect all men except yourself— and if you find no joy in this procedure, it
is your own fault and the proof of your evil; if you were good, you would
find your happiness in providing a banquet for others, and your dignity in
existing on such crumbs as they might care to toss you.

"You who have no standard of self-esteem, accept the guilt and dare not
ask the questions. But you know the unadmitted answer, refusing to
acknowledge what you see, what hidden premise moves your world.

You know it, not in honest statement, but as a dark uneasiness within you,
while you flounder between guiltily cheating and grudgingly practicing a
principle too vicious to name.

"I, who do not accept the unearned, neither in values nor in guilt, am
here to ask the questions you evaded. Why is it moral to serve the happiness
of others, but not your own? If enjoyment is a value, why is it moral when
experienced by others, but immoral when experienced by you? If the sensation
of eating a cake is a value, why is it an immoral indulgence in your stomach,
but a moral goal for you to achieve in the stomach of others? Why is it
immoral for you to desire, but moral for others to do so? Why is it immoral
to produce a value and keep it, but moral to give it away? And if it is not
moral for you to keep a value, why is it moral for others to accept it? If
you are selfless and virtuous when you give it, are they not selfish and
vicious when they take it?

Does virtue consist of serving vice? Is the moral purpose of those who are
good, self-immolation for the sake of those who are evil?

'The answer you evade, the monstrous answer is: No, the takers are not
evil, provided they did not earn the value you gave them. It is not immoral
for them to accept it, provided they are unable to produce it, unable to
deserve it, unable to give you any value in return. It is not immoral for
them to enjoy it, provided they do not obtain it by right.

"Such is the secret core of your creed, the other half of your double
standard: it is immoral to live by your own effort, but moral to live by the
effort of others— it is immoral to consume your own product, but moral to
consume the products of others— it is immoral to earn, but moral to mooch— it
is the parasites who are the moral justification for the existence of the
producers, but the existence of the parasites is an end in itself— it is evil
to profit by achievement, but good to profit by sacrifice— it is evil to
create your own happiness, but good to enjoy it at the price of the blood of
others .

"Your code divides mankind into two castes and commands them to live by
opposite rules: those who may desire anything and those who may desire
nothing, the chosen and the damned, the riders and the carriers, the eaters
and the eaten. What standard determines your caste? What passkey admits you
to the moral elite? The passkey is lack of value.

"Whatever the value involved, it is your lack of it that gives you a claim
upon those who don't lack it. It is your need that gives you a claim to
rewards. If you are able to satisfy your need, your ability annuls your right
to satisfy it. But a need you are unable to satisfy gives you first right to
the lives of mankind.

"If you succeed, any man who fails is your master; if you fail, any man
who succeeds is your serf. Whether your failure is just or not, whether your
wishes are rational or not, whether your misfortune is undeserved or the
result of your vices, it is misfortune that gives you a right to rewards. It
is pain, regardless of its nature or cause, pain as a primary absolute, that
gives you a mortgage on all of existence.

"If you heal your pain by your own effort, you receive no moral credit:
your code regards it scornfully as an act of self-interest. Whatever value
you seek to acquire, be it wealth or food or love or rights, if you acquire
it by means of your virtue, your code does not regard it as a moral
acquisition: you occasion no loss to anyone, it is a trade, not alms; a
payment, not a sacrifice. The deserved belongs in the selfish, commercial
realm of mutual profit; it is only the undeserved that calls for that moral
transaction which consists of profit to one at the price of disaster to the
other. To demand rewards for your virtue is selfish and immoral; it is your
lack of virtue that transforms your demand into a moral right.

"A morality that holds need as a claim, holds emptiness— nonexistence— as
its standard of value; it rewards an absence, a defect: weakness, inability,
incompetence, suffering, disease, disaster, the lack, the fault, the flaw— the
zero .

"Who provides the account to pay these claims? Those who are cursed for
being non-zeros, each to the extent of his distance from that ideal. Since
all values are the product of virtues, the degree of your virtue is used as
the measure of your penalty; the degree of your faults is used as the measure
of your gain. Your code declares that the rational man must sacrifice himself
to the irrational, the independent man to parasites, the honest man to the
dishonest, the man of justice to the unjust, the productive man to thieving
loafers, the man of integrity to compromising knaves, the man of self-esteem
to sniveling neurotics. Do you wonder at the meanness of soul in those you
see around you? The man who achieves these virtues will not accept your moral
code; the man who accepts your moral code will not achieve these virtues.

"Under a morality of sacrifice, the first value you sacrifice is morality;
the next is self-esteem. When need is the standard, every man is both victim
and parasite. As a victim, he must labor to fill the needs of others, leaving
himself in the position of a parasite whose needs must be filled by others.
He cannot approach his fellow men except in one of two disgraceful roles: he
is both a beggar and a sucker.

"You fear the man who has a dollar less than you, that dollar is
rightfully his, he makes you feel like a moral defrauder. You hate the man
who has a dollar more than you, that dollar is rightfully yours, he makes you
feel that you are morally defrauded. The man below is a source of your guilt,
the man above is a source of your frustration. You do not know what to
surrender or demand, when to give and when to grab, what pleasure in life is
rightfully yours and what debt is still unpaid to others— you struggle to
evade, as 'theory,' the knowledge that by the moral standard you've accepted
you are guilty every moment of your life, there is no mouthful of food you
swallow that is not needed by someone somewhere on earth— and you give up the
problem in blind resentment, you conclude that moral perfection is not to be
achieved or desired, that you will muddle through by snatching as snatch can
and by avoiding the eyes of the young, of those who look at you as if self-
esteem were possible and they expected you to have it Guilt is all that you
retain within your soul— and so does every other man, as he goes past,
avoiding your eyes. Do you wonder why your morality has not achieved
brotherhood on earth or the good will of man to man?

"The justification of sacrifice, that your morality propounds, is more
corrupt than the corruption it purports to justify. The motive of your
sacrifice, it tells you, should be love— the love you ought to feel for every
man. A morality that professes the belief that the values of the spirit are
more precious than matter, a morality that teaches you to scorn a whore who
gives her body indiscriminately to all men— this same morality demands that
you surrender your soul to promiscuous love for all comers.

"As there can be no causeless wealth, so there can be no causeless love or
any sort of causeless emotion. An emotion is a response to a fact of reality,
an estimate dictated by your standards. To love is to value.

The man who tells you that it is possible to value without values, to love
those whom you appraise as worthless, is the man who tells you that it is
possible to grow rich by consuming without producing and that paper money is
as valuable as gold.

"Observe that he does not expect you to feel a causeless fear. When his
kind get into power, they are expert at contriving means of terror, at giving
you ample cause to feel the fear by which they desire to rule you. But when
it comes to love, the highest of emotions, you permit them to shriek at you
accusingly that you are a moral delinquent if you're incapable of feeling
causeless love. When a man feels fear without reason, you call him to the
attention of a psychiatrist; you are not 1034 so careful to protect the
meaning, the nature and the dignity of love.

"Love is the expression of one's values, the greatest reward you can earn
for the moral qualities you have achieved in your character and person, the
emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of
another. Your morality demands that you divorce your love from values and
hand it down to any vagrant, not as response to his worth, but as response to
his need, not as reward, but as alms, not as a payment for virtues, but as a
blank check on vices. Your morality tells you that the purpose of love is to
set you free of the bonds of morality, that love is superior to moral
judgment, that true love transcends, forgives and survives every manner of
evil in Its object, and the greater the love the greater the depravity it
permits to the loved. To love a man for his virtues is paltry and human, it
tells you; to love him for his flaws is divine. To love those who are worthy
of it is self-interest; to love the unworthy is sacrifice. You owe your love
to 'those who don't deserve it, and the less they deserve it, the more love
you owe them— the more loathsome the object, the nobler your love— the more
unfastidious your love, the greater your virtue— and if you can bring your
soul to the state of a dump heap that welcomes anything on equal terms, if

you can cease to value moral values, you have achieved the state of moral
perfection .

"Such is your morality of sacrifice and such are the twin ideals it
offers: to refashion the life of your body in the image of a human
stockyards, and the life of your spirit in the image of a dump.

"Such was your goal— and you've reached it. Why do you now moan complaints
about man's impotence and the futility of human aspirations? Because you were
unable to prosper by seeking destruction? Because you were unable to find joy
by worshipping pain? Because you were unable to live by holding death as your
standard of value?

"The degree of your ability to live was the degree to which you broke your
moral code, yet you believe that those who preach it are friends of humanity,
you damn yourself and dare not question their motives or their goals. Take a
look at them now, when you face your last choice— and if you choose to perish,
do so with full knowledge of how cheaply how small an enemy has claimed your

"The mystics of both schools, who preach the creed of sacrifice, are germs
that attack you through a single sore: your fear of relying on your mind.
They tell you that they possess a means of knowledge higher than the mind, a
mode of consciousness superior to reason— like a special pull with some
bureaucrat of the universe who gives them secret tips withheld from others.
The mystics of spirit declare that they possess an extra sense you lack: this
special sixth sense consists of contradicting the whole of the knowledge of
your five. The mystics of muscle do not bother to assert any claim to
extrasensory perception: they merely declare that your senses are not valid,
and that their wisdom consists of perceiving your blindness by some manner of
unspecified means. Both kinds demand that you invalidate your own
consciousness and surrender yourself into their power. They offer you, as
proof of their superior knowledge, the fact that they assert the opposite of
everything you know, and as proof of their superior ability to deal with
existence, the fact that they lead you to misery, self-sacrifice, starvation,
destruction .

"They claim that they perceive a mode of being superior to your existence
on this earth. The mystics of spirit call it 'another dimension, ' which
consists of denying dimensions. The mystics of muscle call it 'the future, '
which consists of denying the present. To exist is to possess identity. What
identity are they able to give to their superior realm?

They keep telling you what it is not, but never tell you what it is. All
their identifications consist of negating: God is that which no human mind
can know, they say— and proceed to demand that you consider it knowledge— God
is non-man, heaven is non-earth, soul is non-body, virtue is non-profit, A is
non-A, perception is non-sensory, knowledge is non-reason. Their definitions
are not acts of defining, but of wiping out.

"It is only the metaphysics of a leech that would cling to the idea of a
universe where a zero is a standard of identification. A leech would want to
seek escape from the necessity to name its own nature— escape from the
necessity to know that the substance on which it builds its private universe
is blood.

"What is the nature of that superior world to which they sacrifice the
world that exists? The mystics of spirit curse matter, the mystics of muscle
curse profit. The first wish men to profit by renouncing the earth, the
second wish men to inherit the earth by renouncing all profit. Their non-
material, non-profit worlds are realms where rivers run with milk and coffee,
where wine spurts from rocks at their command, where pastry drops on them
from clouds at the price of opening their mouth. On this material, profit-
chasing earth, an enormous investment of virtue— of intelligence, integrity,
energy, skill— is required to construct a railroad to carry them the distance

of one mile; in their nonmaterial, non-profit world, they travel from planet
to planet at the cost of a wish. If an honest person asks them: 'How?'— they
answer with righteous scorn that a 'how' is the concept of vulgar realists;
the concept of superior spirits is 'Somehow.' On this earth restricted by
matter and profit, rewards are achieved by thought; in a world set free of
such restrictions, rewards are achieved by wishing.

"And that is the whole of their shabby secret. The secret of all their
esoteric philosophies, of all their dialectics and super-senses, of their
evasive eyes and snarling words, the secret for which they destroy
civilization, language, industries and lives, the secret for which they
pierce "their own eyes and eardrums, grind out their senses, blank out their
minds, the purpose for which they dissolve the absolutes of reason, logic,
matter, existence, reality— is to erect upon that plastic fog a single holy
absolute: their Wish.

"The restriction they seek to escape is the law of identity. The freedom
they seek is freedom from the fact that an A will remain an A, no matter what
their tears or tantrums— that a river will not bring them milk, no matter what
their hunger— that water will not run uphill, no matter what comforts they
could gain if it did, and if they want to lift it to the roof of a
skyscraper, they must do it by a process of thought and labor, in which the
nature of an inch of pipe line counts, but their feelings do not— that their
feelings are impotent to alter the course of a single speck of dust in space
or the nature of any action they have committed.

"Those who tell you that man is unable to perceive a reality undistorted
by his senses, mean that they are unwilling to perceive a reality undistorted
by their feelings. 'Things as they are' are things as perceived by your mind;
divorce them from reason and they become 'things as perceived by your
wishes . '

"There is no honest revolt against reason— and when you accept any part of
their creed, your motive is to get away with something your reason would not
permit you to attempt. The freedom you seek is freedom from the fact that if
you stole your wealth, you are a scoundrel, no matter how much you give to
charity or how many prayers you recite— that if you sleep with sluts, you're
not a worthy husband, no matter how anxiously you feel that you love your
wife next morning— that you are an entity, not a series of random pieces
scattered through a universe where nothing sticks and nothing commits you to
anything., the universe of a child's nightmare where identities switch and
swim, where the rotter and the hero are interchangeable parts arbitrarily
assumed at will— that you are a man— that you are an entity— that you are.

"No matter how eagerly you claim that the goal of your mystic wishing is a
higher mode of life, the rebellion against identity is the wish for non-
existence. The desire not to be anything is the desire not to be.

"Your teachers, the mystics of both schools, have reversed causality in
their consciousness, then strive to reverse it in existence. They take their
emotions as a cause, and their mind as a passive effect. They make their
emotions their tool for perceiving reality. They hold their desires as an
irreducible primary, as a fact superseding all facts. An honest man does not
desire until he has identified the object of his desire. He says: 'It is,
therefore I want it.' They say: 'I want it, therefore it is.'

"They want to cheat the axiom of existence and consciousness, they want
their consciousness to be an instrument not of perceiving but of creating
existence, and existence to be not the object but the subject of their
consciousness— they want to be that God they created in their image and
likeness, who creates a universe out of a void by means of an arbitrary whim.
But reality is not to be cheated. What they achieve is the opposite of their
desire. They want an omnipotent power over existence; instead, they lose the

power of their consciousness. By refusing to know, they condemn themselves to
the horror of a perpetual unknown.

"Those irrational wishes that draw you to their creed, those emotions you
worship as an idol, on whose altar you sacrifice the earth, that dark,
incoherent passion within you, which you take as the voice of God or of your
glands, is nothing more than the corpse of your mind.

An emotion that clashes with your reason, an emotion that you cannot
explain or control, is only the carcass of that stale thinking which you
forbade your mind to revise.

"Whenever you committed the evil of refusing to think and to see, of
exempting from the absolute of reality some one small wish of yours, whenever
you chose to say: Let me withdraw from the judgment of reason the cookies I
stole, or the existence of God, let me have my one irrational whim and I will
be a man of reason about all else— that was the act of subverting your
consciousness, the act of corrupting your mind. Your mind then became a fixed
jury who takes orders from a secret underworld, whose verdict distorts the
evidence to fit an absolute it dares not touch— and a censored reality is the
result, a splintered reality where the bits you chose to see are floating
among the chasms of those you didn't, held together by that embalming fluid
of the mind which is an emotion exempted from thought.

"The links you strive to drown are causal connections. The enemy you seek
to defeat is the law of causality: it permits you no miracles.

The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action. Al !

actions are caused by entities. The nature of an action is caused and
determined by the nature of the entities that act; a thing cannot act in
contradiction to its nature. An action not caused by an entity would be
caused by a zero, which would mean a zero controlling a thing, a nonentity
controlling an entity, the non-existent ruling the existent— which is the
universe of your teachers' desire, the cause of their doctrines of causeless
action, the reason of their revolt against reason, the goal of their
morality, their politics, their economics, the ideal they strive for: the
reign of the zero.

"The law of identity does not permit you to have your cake and eat it,
too. The law of causality does not permit you to eat your cake before you
have it. But if you drown both laws in the blanks of your mind, if you
pretend to yourself and to others that you don't see— then you can try to
proclaim your right to eat your cake today and mine tomorrow, you can preach
that the way to have a cake is to eat it first, before you bake it, that the
way to produce is to start by consuming, that "all wishers have an equal
claim to all things, since nothing is caused by anything. The corollary of
the causeless in matter is the unearned in spirit.

"Whenever you rebel against causality, your motive is the fraudulent
desire, not to escape it, but worse: to reverse it. You want unearned love,
as if love, the effect, could give you personal value, the cause—

you want unearned admiration, as if admiration, the effect, could give you
virtue, the cause— you want unearned wealth, as if wealth, the effect, could
give you ability, the cause— you plead for mercy, mercy, not justice, as if an
unearned forgiveness could wipe out the cause of your plea. And to indulge
your ugly little shams, you support the doctrines of your teachers, while
they run hog-wild proclaiming that spending, the effect, creates riches, the
cause, that machinery, the effect, creates intelligence, the cause, that your
sexual desires, the effect, create your philosophical values, the cause.

"Who pays for the orgy? Who causes the causeless? Who are the victims,
condemned to remain unacknowledged and to perish in silence, lest their agony
disturb your pretense that they do not exist? We are, we, the men of the
mind .

"We are the cause of all the values that you covet, we who perform the
process of thinking, which is the process of defining identity and
discovering causal connections. We taught you to know, to speak, to produce,
to desire, to love. You who abandon reason— were it not for us who preserve
it, you would not be able to fulfill or even to conceive your wishes. You
would not be able to desire the clothes that had not been made, the
automobile that had not been invented, the money that had not been devised,
as exchange for goods that did not exist, the admiration that had not been
experienced for men who had achieved nothing, the love that belongs and
pertains only to those who preserve their capacity to think, to choose, to
value .

"You— who leap like a savage out of the jungle of your feelings into the
Fifth Avenue of our New York and proclaim that you want to keep the electric
lights, but to destroy the generators— it is our wealth that you use while
destroying us, it is our values that you use while damning us, it is our
language that you use while denying the mind.

"Just as your mystics of spirit invented their heaven in the image of our
earth, omitting our existence, and promised you rewards created by miracle
out of non-matter— so your modern mystics of muscle omit our existence and
promise you a heaven where matter shapes itself of its own causeless will
into all the rewards desired by your non-mind.

"For centuries, the mystics of spirit had existed by running a protection
racket— by making life on earth unbearable, then charging you for consolation
and relief, by forbidding all the virtues that make existence possible, then
riding on the shoulders of your guilt, by declaring production and joy to be
sins, then collecting blackmail from the sinners. We, the men of the mind,
were the unnamed victims of their creed, we who were willing to break their
moral code and to bear damnation for the sin of reason— we who thought and
acted, while they wished and prayed— we who were moral outcasts, we who were
bootleggers of life when life was held to be a crime— while they basked in
moral glory for the virtue of surpassing material greed and of distributing
in selfless charity the material goods produced by— blank-out .

"Now we are chained and commanded to produce by savages who do not grant
us even the identification of sinners— by savages who proclaim that we do not
exist, then threaten to deprive us of the life we don't possess, if we fail
to provide them with the goods we don't produce. Now we are expected to
continue running railroads and to know the minute when a train will arrive
after crossing the span of a continent, we are expected to continue running
steel mills and to know the molecular structure of every drop of metal in the
cables of your bridges and in the body of the airplanes that support you in

while the tribes of your grotesque little mystics of muscle fight over the
carcass of our world, gibbering in sounds of non-language that there are no
principles, no absolutes, no knowledge, no mind.

"Dropping below the level of a savage, who believes that the magic words
he utters have the power to alter reality, they believe that reality can be
altered by the power of the words they do not utter— and their magic tool is
the blank-out, the pretense that nothing can come into existence past the
voodoo of their refusal to identify it.

"As they feed on stolen wealth in body, so they feed on stolen concepts in
mind, and proclaim that honesty consists of refusing to know that one is
stealing. As they use effects while denying causes, so they use our concepts
while denying the roots and the existence of the concepts they are using. As
they seek, not to build, but to take over industrial plants, so they seek,
not to think, but to take over human thinking.

"As they proclaim that the only requirement for running a factory is the
ability to turn the cranks of the machines, and blank out the question of who

created the factory— so they proclaim that there are no entities, that nothing
exists but motion, and blank out the fact that motion presupposes the thing
which moves, that without the concept of entity, there can be no such concept
as 'motion.' As they proclaim their right to consume the unearned, and blank
out the question of who's to produce it— so they proclaim that there is no law
of identity, that nothing exists but change, and blank out the fact that
change presupposes the concepts of what changes, from what and to what, that
without the law of identity no such concept as 'change' is possible. As they
rob an industrialist while denying his value, so they seek to seize power
over all of existence while denying that existence exists.

" 'We know that we know nothing, ' they chatter, blanking out the fact that
they are claiming knowledge— ' There are no absolutes, ' they chatter, blanking
out the fact that they are uttering an absolute— ' You cannot prove that you
exist or that you're conscious,' they chatter, blanking out the fact that
proof presupposes existence, consciousness and a complex chain of knowledge:
the existence of something to know, of a consciousness able to know it, and
of a knowledge that has learned to distinguish between such concepts as the
proved and the unproved.

"When a savage who has not learned to speak declares that existence must
be proved, he is asking you to prove it by means of nonexistence— when he
declares that your consciousness must be proved, he is asking you to prove it
by means of unconsciousness— he is asking you to step into a void outside of
existence and consciousness to give him proof of both— he is asking you to
become a zero gaining knowledge about a zero, "When he declares that an axiom
is a matter of arbitrary choice and he doesn't choose to accept the axiom
that he exists, he blanks out the fact that he has accepted it by uttering
that sentence, that the only way to reject it is to shut one's mouth, expound
no theories and die.

"An axiom is a statement that identifies the base of knowledge and of any
further statement pertaining to that knowledge, a statement necessarily
contained in all others, whether any particular speaker chooses to identify
it or not. An axiom is a proposition that defeats its opponents by the fact
that they have to accept it and use it in the process of any attempt to deny
it. Let the caveman who does not choose to accept the axiom of identity, try
to present his theory without using the concept of identity or any concept
derived from it— let the anthropoid who does not choose to accept the
existence of nouns, try to devise a language without nouns, adjectives or
verbs— let the witchdoctor who does not choose to accept the validity of
sensory perception, try to prove it without using the data he obtained by
sensory perception —let the head-hunter who does not choose to accept the
validity of logic, try to prove it without using logic— let the pigmy who
proclaims that a skyscraper needs no foundation after it reaches its fiftieth
story, yank the base from under his building, not yours— let the cannibal who
snarls that the freedom of man's mind was needed to create an industrial
civilization, but is not needed to maintain it, be given an arrowhead and
bearskin, not a university chair of economics.

"Do you think they are taking you back to dark ages? They are taking you
back to darker ages than any your history has known. Their goal is not the
era of pre-science, but the era of pre-language . Their purpose is to deprive
you of the concept on which man's mind, his life and his culture depend: the
concept of an objective reality. Identify the development of a human
consciousness— and you will know the purpose of their creed.

"A savage is a being who has not grasped that A is A and that reality is
real. He has arrested his mind at the level of a baby's, at the stage when a
consciousness acquires its initial sensory perceptions and has not learned to
distinguish solid objects. It is to a baby that the world appears as a blur
of motion, without things that move— and the birth of his mind is the day when

he grasps that the streak that keeps flickering past him is his mother and
the whirl beyond her is a curtain, that the two are solid entities and
neither can turn into the other, that they are what they are, that they
exist. The day when he grasps that matter has no volition is the day when he
grasps that he has— and this is his birth as a human being. The day when he
grasps that the reflection he sees in a mirror is not a delusion, that it is
real, but it is not himself, that the mirage he sees in a desert is not a
delusion, that the air and the light rays that cause it are real, but it is
not a city, it is a city's reflection— the day when he grasps that he is not a
passive recipient of the sensations of any given moment, that his senses do
not provide him with automatic knowledge in separate snatches independent of
context, but only with the material of knowledge, which his mind must learn
to integrate— the day when he grasps that his senses cannot deceive him, that
physical objects cannot act without causes, that his organs of perception are
physical and have no volition, no power to invent or to distort, that the
evidence they give him is an absolute, but his mind must learn to understand
it, his mind must discover the nature, the causes, the full context of his
sensory material, his mind must identify the things that he perceives— that is
the day of his birth as a thinker and scientist.

"We are the men who reach that day; you are the men who choose to reach it
partly; a savage is a man who never does.

"To a savage, the world is a place of unintelligible miracles where
anything is possible to inanimate matter and nothing is possible to him.

His world is not the unknown, but that irrational horror: the unknowable.
He believes that physical objects are endowed with a mysterious volition,
moved by causeless, unpredictable whims, while he is a helpless pawn at the
mercy of forces beyond his control. He believes that nature is ruled by
demons who possess an omnipotent power and that reality is their fluid
plaything, where they can turn his bowl of meal into a snake and his wife
into a beetle at any moment, where the A he has never discovered can be any
non-A they choose, where the only knowledge he possesses is that he must not
attempt to know. He can count on nothing, he can only wish, and he spends his
life on wishing, on begging his demons to grant him his wishes by the
arbitrary power of their will, giving them credit when they do, taking the
blame when they don't, offering them sacrifices in token of his gratitude and
sacrifices in token of his guilt, crawling on his belly in fear and worship
of sun and moon and wind and rain and of any thug who announces himself as
their spokesman, provided his words are unintelligible and his mask
sufficiently frightening— he wishes, begs and crawls, and dies, leaving you,
as a record of his view of existence, the distorted monstrosities of his
idols, part-man, part-animal, part-spider, the embodiments of the world of

"His is the intellectual state of your modern teachers and his is the
world to which they want to bring you.

"If you wonder by what means they propose to do it, walk into any college
classroom and you will hear your professors teaching your children that man
can be certain of nothing, that his consciousness has no validity whatever,
that he can learn no facts and no laws of existence, that he's incapable of
knowing an objective reality. What, then, is his standard of knowledge and
truth? Whatever others believe, is their answer. There is no knowledge, they
teach, there's only faith: your belief that you exist is an act of faith, no
more valid than another's faith in his right to kill you; the axioms of
science are an act of faith, no more valid than a mystic's faith in
revelations; the belief that electric light can be produced by a generator is
an act of faith, no more valid than the belief that it can be produced by a
rabbit's foot kissed under a stepladder on the first of the moon— truth is
whatever people want it to be, and people are everyone except yourself;

reality is whatever people choose to say it is, there are no objective facts,
there are only people's arbitrary wishes— a man who seeks knowledge in a
laboratory by means of test tubes and logic is an old-fashioned,
superstitious fool; a true scientist is a man who goes around taking public
polls— and if it weren't for the selfish greed of the manufacturers of steel
girders, who have a vested interest in obstructing the progress of science,
you would learn that New York City does not exist, because a poll of the
entire population of the world would tell you by a landslide majority that
their beliefs forbid its existence.

"For centuries, the mystics of spirit have proclaimed that faith is
superior to reason, but have not dared deny the existence of reason.

Their heirs and product, the mystics of muscle, have completed their job
and achieved their dream: they proclaim that everything is faith, and call it
a revolt against believing. As revolt against unproved assertions, they
proclaim that nothing can be proved; as revolt against supernatural
knowledge, they proclaim that no knowledge is possible; as revolt against the
enemies of science, they proclaim that science is superstition; as revolt
against the enslavement of the mind, they proclaim that there is no mind.

"If you surrender your power to perceive, if you accept the switch of your
standard from the objective to the collective and wait for mankind to tell
you what to think, you will find another switch taking place before the eyes
you have renounced: you will find that your teachers become the rulers of the
collective, and if you then refuse to obey them, protesting that they are not
the whole of mankind, they will answer: 'By what means do you know that we
are not? Are, brother?

Where did you get that old-fashioned term? '

"If you doubt that such is their purpose, observe with what passionate
consistency the mystics of muscle are striving to make you forget that a
concept such as 'mind' has ever existed. Observe the twists of undefined
verbiage, the words with rubber meanings, the terms left floating in
midstream, by means of which they try to get around the recognition of the
concept of 'thinking.' Your consciousness, they tell you, consists of
'reflexes,' 'reactions,' 'experiences,' 'urges,' and 'drives'

—and refuse to identify the means by which they acquired that knowledge,
to identify the act they are performing when they tell it or the act you are
performing when you listen. Words have the power to 'condition' you, they say
and refuse to identify the reason why words have the power to change your—
blank-out. A student reading a book understands it through a process of—
blank-out. A scientist working on an invention is engaged in the activity of—
blank-out. A psychologist helping a neurotic to solve a problem and untangle
a conflict, does it by means of— blank-out . An industrialist— blank-out— there
is no such person. A factory is a 'natural resource, ' like a tree, a rock or
a mud puddle.

"The problem of production, they tell you, has been solved and deserves no
study or concern; the only problem left for your 'reflexes' to solve is now
the problem of distribution. Who solved the problem of production? Humanity,
they answer. What was the solution? The goods are here. How did they get
here? Somehow. What caused it? Nothing has causes.

"They proclaim that every man born is entitled to exist without labor and,
the laws of reality to the contrary notwithstanding, is entitled to receive
his 'minimum sustenance ' —his food, his clothes, his shelter— with no effort on
his part, as his due and his birthright. To receive it— from whom? Blank-out.
Every man, they announce, owns an equal share of the technological benefits
created in the world.

Created— by whom? Blank-out. Frantic cowards who posture as defenders of
industrialists now define the purpose of economics as 'an adjustment between
the unlimited desires of men and the goods supplied in limited quantity. '

Supplied— by whom? Blank-out. Intellectual hoodlums who pose as professors,
shrug away the thinkers of the past by declaring that their social theories
were based on the impractical assumption that man was a rational being— but
since men are not rational, they declare, there ought to be established a
system that will make it possible for them to exist while being irrational,
which means: while defying reality. Who will make it possible? Blank-out. Any
stray mediocrity rushes into print with plans to control the production of
mankind— and whoever agrees or disagrees with his statistics, no one questions
his right to enforce his plans by means of a gun. Enforce— on whom? Blank-out.
Random females with causeless incomes flitter on trips around the globe and
return to deliver the message that the backward peoples of the world demand a
higher standard of living. Demand— of whom? Blank-out.

"And to forestall any inquiry into the cause of the difference between a
jungle village and New York City, they resort to the ultimate obscenity of
explaining man's industrial progress— skyscrapers , cable bridges, power
motors, railroad trains— by declaring that man is an animal who possesses an
'instinct of tool-making.'

"Did you wonder what is wrong with the world? You are now seeing the
climax of the creed of the uncaused and unearned. All your gangs of mystics,
of spirit or muscle, are fighting one another for power to rule you, snarling
that love is the solution for all the problems of your spirit and that a whip
is the solution for all the problems of your body—

you who have agreed to have no mind. Granting man less dignity than they
grant to cattle, ignoring what an animal trainer could tell them— that no
animal can be trained by fear, that a tortured elephant will trample its
torturer, but will not work for him or carry his burdens —they expect man to
continue to produce electronic tubes, supersonic airplanes, atom-smashing
engines and interstellar telescopes, with his ration of meat for reward and a
lash on his back for incentive.

"Make no mistake about the character of mystics. To undercut your
consciousness has always been their only purpose throughout the ages —and
power, the power to rule you by force, has always been their only lust.

"From the rites of the jungle witch-doctors, which distorted reality into
grotesque absurdities, stunted the minds of their victims and kept them in
terror of the supernatural for stagnant stretches of centuries—

to the supernatural doctrines of the Middle Ages, which kept men huddling
on the mud floors of their hovels, in terror that the devil might steal the
soup they had worked eighteen hours to earn— to the seedy little smiling
professor who assures you that your brain has no capacity to think, that you
have no means of perception and must blindly obey the omnipotent will of that
supernatural force: Society— all of it is the same performance for the same
and only purpose: to reduce you to the kind of pulp that has surrendered the
validity of its consciousness.

"But it cannot be done to you without your consent. If you permit it to be
done, you deserve it.

"When you listen to a mystic's harangue on the impotence of the human mind
and begin to doubt your consciousness, not his, when you permit your
precariously semi-rational state to be shaken by any assertion and decide it
is safer to trust his superior certainty and knowledge, the joke is on both
of you: your sanction is the only source of certainty he has. The
supernatural power that a mystic dreads, the unknowable spirit he worships,
the consciousness he considers omnipotent is— yours.

A mystic is a man who surrendered his mind at its first encounter with the
minds of others. Somewhere in. the distant reaches of his childhood, when his
own understanding of reality clashed with the assertions of others, with
their arbitrary orders and contradictory demands, he gave in to so craven a

fear of dependence that he renounced his rational faculty. At the crossroads
of the choice between 'I know' and 'They say, '

he chose the authority of others, he chose to submit rather than to
understand, to believe rather than to think. Faith in the supernatural begins
as faith in the superiority of others. His surrender took the form of the
feeling that he must hide his lack of understanding, that others possess some
mysterious knowledge of which he alone is deprived, that reality is whatever
they want it to be, through some means forever denied to him.

"From then on, afraid to think, he is left at the mercy of unidentified
feelings. His feelings become his only guide, his only remnant of personal
identity, he clings to them with ferocious possessiveness—

and whatever thinking he does is devoted to the struggle of hiding from
himself that the nature of his feelings is terror.

"When a mystic declares that he feels the existence of a power superior to
reason, he feels it all right, but that power is not an omniscient super-
spirit of the universe, it is the consciousness of any passer-by to whom he
has surrendered his own. A mystic is driven by the urge to impress, to cheat,
to flatter, to deceive, to force that omnipotent consciousness of others.
'They' are his only key to reality, he feels that he cannot exist save by
harnessing their mysterious power and extorting their unaccountable consent,
'They' are his only means of perception and, like a blind man who depends on
the sight of a dog, he feels he must leash them in order to live. To control
the consciousness of others becomes his only passion; power-lust is a weed
that grows only in the vacant lots of an abandoned mind.

"Every dictator is a mystic, and every mystic is a potential dictator.

A mystic craves obedience from men, not their agreement. He wants them to
surrender their consciousness to his assertions, his edicts, his wishes, his
whims— as his consciousness is surrendered to theirs. He wants to deal with
men by means of faith and force— he finds no satisfaction in their consent if
he must earn it by means of facts and reason. Reason is the enemy he dreads
and, simultaneously, considers precarious; reason, to him, is a means of
deception; he feels that men possess some power more potent than reason— and
only their causeless belief or their forced obedience can give him a sense of
security, a proof that he has gained control of the mystic endowment he

His lust is to command, not to convince: conviction requires an act of
independence and rests on the absolute of an objective reality. What he seeks
is power over reality and over men's means of perceiving it, their mind, the
power to interpose his will between existence and consciousness, as if, by
agreeing to fake the reality he orders them to fake, men would, in fact,
create it.

"Just as the mystic is a parasite in matter, who expropriates the wealth
created by others— just as he is a parasite in spirit, who

plunders the ideas created by others— so he falls below the level of a
lunatic who creates his own distortion of reality, to the level of a parasite
of lunacy who seeks a distortion created by others.

"There is only one state that fulfills the mystic's longing for infinity,
non-causality, non-identity: death. No matter what unintelligible causes he
ascribes to his incommunicable feelings, whoever rejects reality rejects
existence— and the feelings that move him from then on are hatred for all the
values of man's life, and lust for all the evils that destroy it, A mystic
relishes the spectacle of suffering, of poverty, subservience and terror;
these give him a feeling of triumph, a proof of the defeat of rational
reality. But no other reality exists.

"No matter whose welfare he professes to serve, be it the welfare of God
or of that disembodied gargoyle he describes as 'The People, '

no matter what ideal he proclaims in terms of some supernatural dimension-
in fact, in reality, on earth, his ideal is death, his craving is to kill,
his only satisfaction is to torture.

"Destruction is the only end that the mystics' creed has ever achieved, as
it is the only end that you see them achieving today, and if the ravages
wrought by their acts have not made them question their doctrines, if they
profess to be moved by love, yet are not deterred by piles of human corpses,
it is because the truth about their souls is worse than the obscene excuse
you have allowed them, the excuse that the end justifies the means and that
the horrors they practice are means to nobler ends. The truth is that those
horrors are their ends.

"You who ' re depraved enough to believe that you could adjust yourself to a
mystic's dictatorship and could please him by obeying his orders— there is no
way to please him; when you obey, he will reverse his orders; he seeks
obedience for the sake of obedience and destruction for the sake of
destruction. You who are craven enough to believe that you can make terms
with a mystic by giving in to his extortions-
there is no way to buy him off, the bribe he wants is your life, as slowly
or as fast as you are willing to give it in— and the monster he seeks to bribe
is the hidden blank-out in his mind, which drives him to kill in order not to
learn that the death he desires is his own.

"You who are innocent enough to believe that the forces let loose in your
world today are moved by greed for material plunder— the mystics ' scramble for
spoils is only a screen to conceal from their mind the nature of their
motive. Wealth is a means of human life, and they clamor for wealth in
imitation of living beings, to pretend to themselves that they desire to
live. 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.

"You who've never grasped the nature of evil, you who describe them as
'misguided idealists ' —may the God you invented forgive you!—

they are the essence of evil, they, those anti-living objects who seek, by
devouring the world, to fill the selfless zero of their soul. It is not your
wealth that they're after. Theirs is a conspiracy against the mind, which
means: against life and man.

"It is a conspiracy without leader or direction, and the random little
thugs of the moment who cash in on the agony of one land or another are
chance scum riding the torrent from the broken dam of the sewer of centuries,
from the reservoir of hatred for reason, for logic, for ability, for
achievement, for joy, stored by every whining anti-human who ever preached
the superiority of the 'heart' over the mind.

"It is a conspiracy of all those who seek, not to live, but to get away
with living, those who seek to cut just one small corner of reality and are
drawn, by feeling, to all the others who are busy cutting other corners— a
conspiracy that unites by links of evasion all those who pursue a zero as a
value: the professor who, unable to think, takes pleasure in crippling the
mind of his students, the businessman who, to protect his stagnation, takes
pleasure in chaining the ability of competitors, the neurotic who, to defend
his self-loathing, takes pleasure in breaking men of self-esteem, the
incompetent who takes pleasure in defeating achievement, the mediocrity who
takes pleasure in demolishing greatness, the eunuch who takes pleasure in the
castration of all pleasure— and all their intellectual munition-makers, all
those who preach that the immolation of virtue will transform vices into
virtue .

Death is the premise at the root of their theories, death is the goal of
their actions in practice— and you are the last of their victims.

"We, who were the living buffers between you and the nature of your creed,
are no longer there to save you from the effects of your chosen beliefs. We
are no longer willing to pay with our lives the debts you incurred in yours
or the moral deficit piled up by all the generations behind you. You had been
living on borrowed time— and I am the man who has called in the loan.

"I am the man whose existence your blank-outs were intended to permit you
to ignore. I am the man whom you did not want either to live or to die. You
did not want me to live, because you were afraid of knowing that I carried
the responsibility you dropped and that your lives depended upon me; you did
not want me to die, because you knew it.

"Twelve years ago, when I worked in your world, I was an inventor.

I was one of a profession that came last in human history and will be
first to vanish on the way back to the sub-human. An inventor is a man who
asks 'Why?' of the universe and lets nothing stand between the answer and his
mind .

"Like the man who discovered the use of steam or the man who discovered
the use of oil, I discovered a source of energy which was available since the
birth of the globe, but which men had not known how to use except as an
object of worship, of terror and of legends about a thundering god. I
completed the experimental model of a motor that would have made a fortune
for me and for those who had hired me, a motor that would have raised the
efficiency of every human installation using power and would have added the
gift of higher productivity to every hour you spend at earning your living.

"Then, one night at a factory meeting, I heard myself sentenced to death
by reason of my achievement. I heard three parasites assert that my brain and
my life were their property, that my right to exist was conditional and
depended on the satisfaction of their desires. The purpose of my ability,
they said, was to serve the needs of those who were less able. I had no right
to live, they said, by reason of my competence for living; their right to
live was unconditional, by reason of their incompetence.

"Then I saw what was wrong with the world, I saw what destroyed men and
nations, and where the battle for life had to be fought. I saw that the enemy
was an inverted morality— and that my sanction was its only power. I saw that
evil was impotent— that evil was the irrational, the blind, the anti-real— and
that the only weapon of its triumph was the willingness of the good to serve
it. Just as the parasites around me were proclaiming their helpless
dependence on my mind and were expecting me voluntarily to accept a slavery
they had no power to enforce, just as they were counting on my self-
immolation to provide them with the means of their plan— so throughout the
world and throughout men's history, in every version and form, from the
extortions of loafing relatives to the atrocities of collectivized countries,
it is the good, the able, the men of reason, who act as their own destroyers,
who transfuse to evil the blood of their virtue and let evil transmit to them
the poison of destruction, thus gaining for evil the power of survival, and
for their own values— the impotence of death.

I saw that there comes a point, in the defeat of any man of virtue, when
his own consent is needed for evil to win— and that no manner of injury done
to him by others can succeed if he chooses to withhold his consent. I saw
that I could put an end to your outrages by pronouncing a single word in my
mind. I pronounced it. The word was 'No.'

"I quit that factory. I quit your world. I made it my job to warn your
victims and to give them the method and the weapon to fight you. The method
was to refuse to deflect retribution. The weapon was justice.

"If you want to know what you lost when I quit and when my strikers
deserted your world— stand on an empty stretch of soil in a wilderness

unexplored by men and ask yourself what manner of survival you would achieve
and how long you would last if you refused to think, with no one around to
teach you the motions, or, if you chose to think, how much your mind would be
able to discover— ask yourself how many independent conclusions you have
reached in the course of your life and how much of your time was spent on
performing the actions you learned from others— ask yourself whether you would
be able to discover how to till the soil and grow your food, whether you
would be able to invent a wheel, a lever, an induction coil, a generator, an
electronic tube— then decide whether men of ability are exploiters who live by
the fruit of your labor and rob you of the wealth that you produce, and
whether you dare to believe that you possess the power to enslave them. Let
your women take a look at a jungle female with her shriveled face and
pendulous breasts, as she sits grinding meal in a bowl, hour after hour,
century by century— then let them ask themselves whether their 'instinct of
tool-making' will provide them with their electric refrigerators, their
washing machines and vacuum cleaners, and, if not, whether they care to
destroy those who provided it all, but not 'by instinct.'

"Take a look around you, you savages who stutter that ideas are created by
men's means of production, that a machine is not the product of human
thought, but a mystical power that produces human thinking. You have never
discovered the industrial age— and you cling to the morality of the barbarian
eras when a miserable form of human subsistence was produced by the muscular
labor of slaves. Every mystic had always longed for slaves, to protect him
from the material reality he dreaded. But you, you grotesque little atavists,
stare blindly at the skyscrapers and smokestacks around you and dream of
enslaving the material providers who are scientists, inventors,

When you clamor for public ownership of the means of production, you are
clamoring for public ownership of the mind. I have taught my strikers that
the answer you deserve is only: 'Try and get it.'

"You proclaim yourself unable to harness the forces of inanimate matter,
yet propose to harness the minds of men who are able to achieve the feats you
cannot equal. You proclaim that you cannot survive without us, yet propose to
dictate the terms of our survival. You proclaim that you need us, yet indulge
the impertinence of asserting your right to rule us by force— and expect that
we, who are not afraid of that physical nature which fills you with terror,
will cower at the sight of any lout who has talked you into voting him a
chance to command us .

"You propose to establish a social order based on the following tenets:
that you're incompetent to run your own life, but competent to run the lives
of others— that you're unfit to exist in freedom, but fit to become an
omnipotent ruler— that you're unable to earn your living by the use of your
own intelligence, but able to judge politicians and to vote them into jobs of
total power over arts you have never seen, over sciences you have never
studied, over achievements of which you have no knowledge, over the gigantic
industries where you, by your own definition of your capacity, would be
unable successfully to fill the job of assistant greaser.

"This idol of your cult of zero-worship, this symbol of impotence—

the congenital dependent— is your image of man and your standard of value,
in whose likeness you strive to refashion your soul. 'It's only human, ' you
cry in defense of any depravity, reaching the stage of self-abasement where
you seek to make the concept 'human' mean the weakling, the fool, the rotter,
the liar, the failure, the coward, the fraud, and to exile from the human
race the hero, the thinker, the producer, the inventor, the strong, the
purposeful, the pure— as if 'to feel' were human, but to think were not, as if
to fail were human, but to succeed were not, as if corruption were human, but

virtue were not —as if the premise of death were proper to man, but the
premise of life were not.

"In order to deprive us of honor, that you may then deprive us of our
wealth, you have always regarded us as slaves who deserve no moral
recognition. You praise any venture that claims to be nonprofit, and damn the
men who made the profits that make the venture possible. You regard as 'in
the public interest' any project serving those who do not pay; it is not in
the public interest to provide any services for those who do the paying.
'Public benefit' is anything given as alms; to engage in trade is to injure
the public. 'Public welfare'

is the welfare of those who do not earn it; those who do, are entitled to
no welfare. 'The public, ' to you, is whoever has failed to achieve any virtue
or value; whoever achieves it, whoever provides the goods you require for
survival, ceases to be regarded as part of the public or as part of the human
race .

"What blank-out permitted you to hope that you could get away with this
muck of contradictions and to plan it as an ideal society, when the 'No' of
your victims was sufficient to demolish the whole of your structure? What
permits any insolent beggar to wave his sores in the face of his betters and
to plead for help in the tone of a threat? You cry, as he does, that you are
counting on our pity, but your secret hope is the moral code that has taught
you to count on our guilt. You expect us to feel guilty of our virtues in the
presence of your vices, wounds and failures— guilty of succeeding at
existence, guilty of enjoying the life that you damn, yet beg us to help you
to live, "Did you want to know who is John Gait? I am the first man of
ability who refused to regard it as guilt. I am the first man who would not
do penance for my virtues or let them be used as the tools of my destruction.
I am the first man who would not suffer martyrdom at the hands of those who
wished me to perish for the privilege of keeping them, alive. I am the first
man who told them that I did not need them, and until they learned to deal
with me as traders, giving value for value, they would have to exist without
me, as I would exist without them; then I would let them learn whose is the
need and whose the ability— and if human survival is the standard, whose terms
would set the way to survive.

"I have done by plan and intention what had been done throughout history
by silent default. There have always been men of intelligence who went on
strike, in protest and despair, but they did not know the meaning of their
action. The man who retires from public life, to think, but not to share his
thoughts— the man who chooses to spend his years in the obscurity of menial
employment, keeping to himself the fire of his mind, never giving it form,
expression or reality, refusing to bring it into a world he despises— the man
who is defeated by revulsion, the man who renounces before he has started,
the man who gives up rather than give in, the man who functions at a fraction
of his capacity, disarmed by his longing for an ideal he has not found— they
are on strike, on strike against unreason, on strike against your world and
your values. But not knowing any values of their own, they abandon the quest
to know— in the darkness of their hopeless indignation, which is righteous
without knowledge of the right, and passionate without knowledge of desire,
they concede to you the power of reality and surrender the incentives of
their mind— and they perish in bitter futility, as rebels who never learned
the object of their rebellion, as lovers who never discovered their love.

"The infamous times you call the Dark Ages were an era of intelligence on
strike, when men of ability went underground and lived undiscovered, studying
in secret, and died, destroying the works of their mind, when only a few of
the bravest of martyrs remained to keep the human race alive. Every period
ruled by mystics was an era of stagnation and want, when most men were on
strike against existence, working for less than their barest survival,

leaving nothing but scraps for their rulers to loot, refusing to think, to
venture, to produce, when the ultimate collector of their profits and the
final authority on truth or error was the whim of some gilded degenerate
sanctioned as superior to reason by divine right and by grace of a club.

The road of human history was a string of blank-outs over sterile
stretches eroded by faith and force, with only a few brief bursts of
sunlight, when the released energy of the men of the mind performed the
wonders you gaped at, admired and promptly extinguished again.

"But there will be no extinction, this time. The game of the mystics is
up. You will perish in and by your own unreality. We, the men of reason, will
survive .

"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, by virtue and grace of the fact that ours is the Morality
of Life. They, the great victims who had produced all the wonders of
humanity's brief summer, they, the industrialists, the conquerors of matter,
had not discovered the nature of their right. They had known that theirs was
the power. I taught them that theirs was the glory.

"You, who dare to regard us as the moral inferiors of any mystic who
claims supernatural visions— you, who scramble like vultures for plundered
pennies, yet honor a fortune-teller above a fortune maker— you, who scorn a
businessman as ignoble, but esteem any posturing artist as exalted— the root
of your standards is that mystic miasma which comes from primordial swamps,
that cult of death, which pronounces a businessman immoral by reason of the
fact that he keeps you alive. You, who claim that you long to rise above the
crude concerns of the body, above the drudgery of serving mere physical
needs— who is enslaved by physical needs: the Hindu who labors from sunrise to
sunset at the shafts of a hand-plow for a bowl of rice, or the American who
is driving a tractor? Who is the conqueror of physical reality: the man who
sleeps on a bed of nails or the man who sleeps on an inner-spring mattress?
Which is the monument to the triumph of the human spirit over matter: the
germ-eaten hovels on the shorelines of the Ganges or the Atlantic skyline of
New York?

"Unless you learn the answers to these questions— and learn to stand at
reverent attention when you face the achievements of man's mind—

you will not stay much longer on this earth, which we love and will not
permit you to damn. 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. It
is the last of your own living power that will now be drained to provide the
unearned for the worshippers and carriers of Death. Do not pretend that a
malevolent reality defeated you— you were defeated by your own evasions. Do
not pretend that you will perish for a noble ideal— you will perish as fodder
for the haters of man.

"But to those of you who still retain a remnant of the dignity and will to
love one's life, I am offering the chance to make a choice.

Choose whether you wish to perish for a morality you have never believed
or practiced. Pause on the brink of self-destruction and examine your values
and your life. You had known how to take an inventory of your wealth. Now
take an inventory of your mind.

"Since childhood, you have been hiding the guilty secret that you feel no
desire to be moral, no desire to seek self-immolation, that you dread and
hate your code, but dare not say it even to yourself, that you're devoid of
those moral 'instincts' which others profess to feel.

The less you felt, the louder you proclaimed your selfless love and
servitude to others, in dread of ever letting them discover your own self,

the self that you betrayed, the self that you kept in concealment, like a
skeleton in the closet of your body. And they, who were at once your dupes
and your deceivers, they listened and voiced their loud approval, in dread of
ever letting you discover that they were harboring the same unspoken secret.
Existence among you is a giant pretense, an act you all perform for one
another, each feeling that he is the only guilty freak, each placing his
moral authority in the unknowable known only to others, each faking the
reality he feels they expect him to fake, none having the courage to break
the vicious circle.

"No matter what dishonorable compromise you've made with your
impracticable creed, no matter what miserable balance, half -cynicism, half-
superstition, you now manage to maintain, you still preserve the root, the
lethal tenet: the belief that the moral and the practical are opposites.
Since childhood, you have been running from the terror of a choice you have
never dared fully to identify: If the practical, whatever you must practice
to exist, whatever works, succeeds, achieves your purpose, whatever brings
you food and joy, whatever profits you, is evil— and if the good, the moral,
is the impractical, whatever fails, destroys, frustrates, whatever injures
you and brings you loss or pain-
then your choice is to be moral or to live.

"The sole result of that murderous doctrine was to remove morality from
life. You grew up to believe that moral laws bear no relation to the job of
living, except as an impediment and threat, that man's existence is an amoral
jungle where anything goes and anything works.

And in that fog of switching definitions which descends upon a frozen
mind, you have forgotten that the evils damned by your creed were the virtues
required for living, and you have come to believe that actual evils are the
practical means of existence. Forgetting that the impractical 'good' was
self-sacrifice, you believe that self-esteem is impractical; forgetting that
the practical 'evil' was production, you believe that robbery is practical.

"Swinging like a helpless branch in the wind of an uncharted moral
wilderness; you dare not fully to be evil or fully to live. When you are
honest, you feel the resentment of a sucker; when you cheat, you feel terror
and shame. When you are happy, your joy is diluted by guilt; when you suffer,
your pain is augmented by the feeling that pain is your natural state. You
pity the men you admire, you believe they are doomed to fail; you envy the
men you hate, you believe they are the masters of existence. You feel
disarmed when you come up against a scoundrel: you believe that evil is bound
to win, since the moral is the impotent, the impractical.

"Morality, to you, is a phantom scarecrow made of duty, of boredom, of
punishment, of pain, a cross-breed between the first schoolteacher of your
past and the tax collector of your present, a scarecrow standing in a barren
field, waving a stick to chase away your pleasures —and pleasure, to you, is
a liquor-soggy brain, a mindless slut, the stupor of a moron who stakes his
cash on some animal's race, since pleasure cannot be moral.

"If you identify your actual belief, you will find a triple damnation —of
yourself, of life, of virtue— in the grotesque conclusion you have reached:
you believe that morality is a necessary evil.

"Do you wonder why you live without dignity, love without fire and die
without resistance? Do you wonder why, wherever you look, you see nothing but
unanswerable questions, why your life is torn by impossible conflicts, why
you spend it straddling irrational fences to evade artificial choices, such
as soul or body, mind or heart, security or freedom, private profit or public

"Do you cry that you find no answers? By what means did you hope to find
them? You reject your tool of perception— your mind— then complain that the
universe is a mystery. You discard your key, then wail that all doors are

locked against you. You start out in pursuit of the irrational, then damn
existence for making no sense.

"The fence you have been straddling for two hours— while hearing my words
and seeking to escape them— is the coward's formula contained in the sentence:
'But we don't have to go to extremes! ' The extreme you have always struggled
to avoid is the recognition that reality is final, that A is A and that the
truth is true. A moral code impossible to practice, a code that demands
imperfection or death, has taught you to dissolve all ideas in fog, to permit
no firm definitions, to regard any concept as approximate and any rule of
conduct as elastic, to hedge on any principle, to compromise on any value, to
take the middle of any road.

By extorting your acceptance of supernatural absolutes, it has forced you
to reject the absolute of nature. By making moral judgments impossible, it
has made you incapable of rational judgment. A code that forbids you to cast
the first stone, has forbidden you to admit the identity of stones and to
know when or if you're being stoned.

"The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who
declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes
responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled
in the world. Reality is an absolute, existence is an absolute, a speck of
dust is an absolute and so is a human life. Whether you live or die is an
absolute. Whether you have a piece of bread or not, is an absolute.

Whether you eat your bread or see it vanish into a looter's stomach, is an
absolute .

"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.

But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order
to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the
course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to
crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both
the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the
thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between
food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between
good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood
which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromiser is the transmitting
rubber tube.

"You, who are half -rational , half-coward, have been playing a con game
with reality, but the victim you have conned is yourself. When men reduce
their virtues to the approximate, then evil acquires the force of an
absolute, when loyalty to an unyielding purpose is dropped by the virtuous,
it's picked up by scoundrels— and you get the indecent spectacle of a
cringing, bargaining, traitorous good and a self-righteously uncompromising
evil. As you surrendered to the mystics of muscle when they told you that
ignorance consists of claiming knowledge, so now you surrender to them when
they shriek that immorality consists of pronouncing moral judgment. When they
yell that it is selfish to be certain that you are right, you hasten to
assure them that you're certain of nothing.

When they shout that it's immoral to stand on your convictions, you assure
them that you have no convictions whatever. When the thugs of Europe's
People's States snarl that you are guilty of intolerance, because you don't
treat your desire to live and their desire to kill you as a difference of
opinion— you cringe and hasten to assure them that you are not intolerant of
any horror. When some barefoot bum in some pesthole of Asia yells at you: How
dare you be rich— you apologize and beg him to be patient and promise him
you'll give it all away.

"You have reached the blind alley of the treason you committed when you
agreed that you had no right to exist. Once, you believed it was 'only a
compromise': you conceded it was evil to live for yourself, but moral to live
for the sake of your children. Then you conceded that it was selfish to live
for your children, but moral to live for your community. Then you conceded
that it was selfish to live for your community, but moral to live for your
country. Now, you are letting this greatest of countries be devoured by any
scum from any corner of the earth, while you concede that it is selfish to
live for your country and that your moral duty is to live for the globe. A
man who has no right to life, has no right to values and will not keep them.

"At the end of your road of successive betrayals, stripped of weapons, of
certainty, of honor, you commit your final act of treason and sign your
petition of intellectual bankruptcy: while the muscle-mystics of the People's
States proclaim that they're the champions of reason and science, you agree
and hasten to proclaim that faith is your cardinal principle, that reason is
on the side of your destroyers, but yours is the side of faith. To the
struggling remnants of rational honesty in the twisted, bewildered minds of
your children, you declare that you can offer no rational argument to support
the ideas that created this country, that there is no rational justification
for freedom, for property, for justice, for rights, that they rest on a
mystical insight and can be accepted only on faith, that in reason and logic
the enemy is right, but faith is superior to reason. You declare to your
children that it is rational to loot, to torture, to enslave, to expropriate,
to murder, but that they must resist the temptations of logic and stick to
the discipline of remaining irrational—

that skyscrapers, factories, radios, airplanes were the products of faith
and mystic intuition, while famines, concentration camps and firing squads
are the products of a reasonable manner of existence— that the industrial
revolution was the revolt of the men of faith against that era of reason and
logic which is known as the Middle Ages. Simultaneously, in the same breath,
to the same child, you declare that the looters who rule the People's States
will surpass this country in material production, since they are the
representatives of science, but that it's evil to be concerned with physical
wealth and that one must renounce material prosperity—

you declare that the looters' ideals are noble, but they do not mean them,
while you do; that your purpose in fighting the looters is only to accomplish
their aims, which they cannot accomplish, but you can; and that the way to
fight them is to beat them to it and give one's wealth away.

Then you wonder why your children join the People's thugs or become half-
crazed delinquents, 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.

"You blank out the open, public spectacle of the looters' fight against
the mind, and the fact that their bloodiest horrors are unleashed to punish
the crime of thinking. You blank out the fact that most mystics of muscle
started out as mystics of spirit, that they keep switching from one to the
other, that the men you call materialists and spiritualists are only two
halves of the same dissected human, forever seeking completion, but seeking
it by swinging from the destruction of the flesh to the destruction of the
soul and vice versa— that they keep running from your colleges to the slave
pens of Europe to an open collapse into the mystic muck of India, seeking any
refuge against reality, any form of escape from the mind.

"You blank it out and cling to your hypocrisy of 'faith' in order to blank
out the knowledge that the looters have a stranglehold upon you, which
consists of your moral code— that the looters are the final and consistent
practitioners of the morality you're half-obeying, half -evading—

that they practice it the only way it can be practiced: by turning the
earth into a sacrificial furnace— that your morality forbids you to oppose
them in the only way they can be opposed: by refusing to become a sacrificial
animal and proudly asserting your right to exist— that in order to fight them
to the finish and with full rectitude, it is your morality that you have to
reject, "You blank it out, because your self-esteem is tied to that mystic
'unselfishness' which you've never possessed or practiced, but spent so many
years pretending to possess that the thought of denouncing it fills you with
terror. No value is higher than self-esteem, but you've invested it in
counterfeit securities— and now your morality has caught you in a trap where
you are forced to protect your self-esteem by fighting for the creed of self-
destruction. The grim joke is on you: that need of self-esteem, which you're
unable to explain or to define, belongs to my morality, not yours; it's the
objective token of my code, it is my proof within your own soul.

"By a feeling he has not learned to identify, but has derived from his
first awareness of existence, from his discovery that he has to make choices,
man knows that his desperate need of self-esteem is a matter of life or
death. As a being of volitional consciousness, he knows that he must know his
own value in order to maintain his own life. He knows that he has to be
right; to be wrong in action means danger to his life; to be wrong in person,
to be evil, means to be unfit for existence.

"Every act of man's life has to be willed; the mere act of obtaining or
eating his food implies that the person he preserves is worthy of being
preserved; every pleasure he seeks to enjoy implies that the person who seeks
it is worthy of finding enjoyment. He has no choice about his need of self-
esteem, his only choice is the standard by which to gauge it. And he makes
his fatal error when he switches this gauge protecting his life into the
service of his own destruction, when he chooses a standard contradicting
existence and sets his self-esteem against reality.

"Every form of causeless self-doubt, every feeling of inferiority and
secret unworthiness is, in fact, man's hidden dread of his inability to deal
with existence. But the greater his terror, the more fiercely he clings to
the murderous doctrines that choke him. No man can survive the moment of
pronouncing himself irredeemably evil; should he do it, his next moment is
insanity or suicide. To escape it— if he's chosen an irrational standard— he
will fake, evade, blank out; he will cheat himself of reality, of existence,
of happiness, of mind; and he will ultimately cheat himself of self-esteem by
struggling to preserve its illusion rather than to risk discovering its lack.
To fear to face an issue is to believe that the worst is true.

"It is not any crime you have ever committed that infects your soul with
permanent guilt, it is none of your failures, errors or flaws, but the blank-
out by which you attempt to evade them— it is not any sort of Original Sin or
unknown prenatal deficiency, but the knowledge and fact of your basic
default, of suspending your mind, of refusing to think.

Fear and guilt are your chronic emotions, they are real and you do deserve
them, but they don't come from the superficial reasons you invent to disguise
their cause, not from your 'selfishness, ' weakness or ignorance, but from a
real and basic threat to your existence: fear, because you have abandoned
your weapon of survival, guilt, because you know you have done it
volitionally .

"The self you have betrayed is your mind; self-esteem is reliance on one's
power to think. The ego you seek, that essential 'you' which you cannot
express or define, is not your emotions or inarticulate dreams, but your
intellect, that judge of your supreme tribunal whom you've impeached in order
to drift at the mercy of any stray shyster you describe as your 'feeling.'
Then you drag yourself through a self-made night, in a desperate quest for a
nameless fire, moved by some fading vision of a dawn you had seen and lost.

"Observe the persistence, in mankind's mythologies, of the legend about a
paradise that men had once possessed, the city of Atlantis or the Garden of
Eden or some kingdom of perfection, always behind us.

The root of that legend exists, not in the past of the race, but in the
past of every man. You still retain a sense— not as firm as a memory, but
diffused like the pain of hopeless longing— that somewhere in the starting
years of your childhood, before you had learned to submit, to absorb the
terror of unreason and to doubt the value of your mind, you had known a
radiant state of existence, you had known the independence of a rational
consciousness facing an open universe. That is the paradise which you have
lost, which you seek— which is yours for the taking.

"Some of you will never know who is John Gait. But those of you who have
known a single moment of love for existence and of pride in being its worthy
lover, a moment of looking at this earth and letting your glance be its
sanction, have known the state of being a man, and I —I am only the man who
knew that that state is not to be betrayed. I am the man who knew what made
it possible and who chose consistently to practice and to be what you had
practiced and been in that one moment.

"That choice is yours to make. That choice— the dedication to one's highest
potential— is made by accepting the fact that the noblest act you have ever
performed is the act of your mind in the process of grasping that two and two
make four.

"Whoever you are— you who are alone with my words in this moment, with
nothing but your honesty to help you understand— the choice is still open to
be a human being, but the price is to start from scratch, to stand naked in
the face of reality and, reversing a costly historical error, to declare: I
am, therefore I'll think. 1

"Accept the irrevocable fact that your life depends upon your mind.

Admit that the whole of your struggle, your doubts, your fakes, your
evasions, was a desperate quest for escape from the responsibility of a
volitional consciousness— a quest for automatic knowledge, for instinctive
action, for intuitive certainty— and while you called it a longing for the
state of an angel, what you were seeking was the state of an animal.

Accept, as your moral ideal, the task of becoming a man.

"Do not say that you're afraid to trust your mind because you know so
little. Are you safer in surrendering to mystics and discarding the little
that you know? Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep
expanding it to the limit of your life. Redeem your mind from the hockshops
of authority. Accept the fact that you are not omniscient, but playing a
zombie will not give you omniscience— that your mind is fallible, but becoming
mindless will not make you infallible— that an error made on your own is safer
than ten truths accepted on faith, because the first leaves you the means to
correct it, but the second destroys your capacity to distinguish truth from
error. In place of your dream of an omniscient automaton, accept the fact
that any knowledge man acquires is acquired by his own will and effort, and
that that is his distinction in the universe, that is his nature, his
morality, his glory.

"Discard that unlimited license to evil which consists of claiming that
man is imperfect. By what standard do you damn him when you claim it? Accept
the fact that in the realm of morality nothing less than perfection will do.
But perfection is not to be gauged by mystic commandments to practice the
impossible, and your moral stature is not to be gauged by matters not open to
your choice. Man has a single basic choice: to think or not, and that is the
gauge of his virtue. Moral perfection is an unbreached rationality— not the
degree of your intelligence, but the full and relentless use of your mind,
not the extent of your knowledge, but the acceptance of reason as an
absolute .

"Learn to distinguish the difference between errors of knowledge and
breaches of morality. An error of knowledge is not a moral flaw, provided you
are willing to correct it; only a mystic would judge human beings by the
standard of an impossible, automatic omniscience. But a breach of morality is
the conscious choice of an action you know to be evil, or a willful evasion
of knowledge, a suspension of sight and of thought. That which you do not
know, is not a moral charge against you; but that which you refuse to know,
is an account of infamy growing in your soul. Make every allowance for errors
of "knowledge; do not forgive or accept any breach of morality. Give the
benefit of the doubt to those who seek to know; but treat as potential
killers those specimens of insolent depravity who make demands upon you,
announcing that they have and seek no reasons, proclaiming, as a license,
that they 'just feel if —or those who reject an irrefutable argument by
saying: 'It's only logic' which means: 'It's only reality.' The only realm
opposed to reality is the realm and premise of death.

"Accept the fact that the achievement of your happiness is the only moral
purpose of your life, and that happiness— not pain or mindless self-
indulgence— is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and
the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values.

Happiness was the responsibility you dreaded, it required the kind of
rational discipline you did not value yourself enough to assume— and the
anxious staleness of your days is the monument to your evasion of the
knowledge that there is no moral substitute for happiness, that there is no
more despicable coward than, the man who deserted the battle for his joy,
fearing to assert his right to existence, lacking the courage and the loyalty
to life of a bird or a flower reaching for the sun. Discard the protective
rags of that vice which you called a virtue: humility— learn to value
yourself, which means: to fight for your happiness— and when you learn that
pride is the sum of all virtues, you will learn to live like a man.

"As a basic step of self-esteem, learn to treat as the mark of a cannibal
any man's demand for your help. To demand it is to claim that your life is
his property— and loathsome as such claim might be, there's something still
more loathsome: your agreement. Do you ask if it's ever proper to help
another man? No— if he claims it as his right or as a moral duty that you owe
him. Yes— if such is your own desire based on your own selfish pleasure in the
value of his person and his struggle. Suffering as such is not a value; only
man's fight against suffering, is. If you choose to help a man who suffers,
do it only on the ground of his virtues, of his fight to recover, of his
rational record, or of the fact that he suffers unjustly; then your action is
still a trade, and his virtue is the payment for your help. But to help a man
who has no virtues, to help him on the ground of his suffering as such, to
accept his faults, his need, as a claim —is to accept the mortgage of a zero
on your values. A man who has no virtues is a hater of existence who acts on
the premise of death; to help him is to sanction his evil and to support his
career of destruction. Be it only a penny you will not miss or a kindly smile
he has not earned, a tribute to a zero is treason to life and to all those
who struggle to maintain it. It is of such pennies and smiles that the
desolation of your world was made.

"Do not say that my morality is too hard for you to practice and that you
fear it as you fear the unknown. Whatever living moments you have known, were
lived by the values of my code. But you stifled, negated, betrayed it. You
kept sacrificing your virtues to your vices, and the best among men to the
worst. Look around you-: what you have done to society, you had done it first
within your soul; one is the image of the other. This dismal wreckage, which
is now your world, is the physical form of the treason you committed to your
values, to your friends, to your defenders, to your future, to your country,
to yourself.

"We— whom you are now calling, but who will not answer any longer— we had
lived among you, but you failed to know us, you refused to think and to see
what we were. You failed to recognize the motor I invented— and it became, in
your world, a pile of dead scrap. You failed to recognize the hero in your
soul— and you failed to know me when I passed you in the street. When you
cried in despair for the unattainable spirit which you felt had deserted your
world, you gave it my name, but what you were calling was your own betrayed
self-esteem. You will not recover one without the other.

"When you failed to give recognition to man's mind and attempted to rule
human beings by force— those who submitted had no mind to surrender; those who
had, were men who don't submit. Thus the man of productive genius assumed in
your world the disguise of a playboy and became a destroyer of wealth,
choosing to annihilate his fortune rather than surrender it to guns. Thus the
thinker, the man of reason, assumed in your world the role of a pirate, to
defend his values by force against your force, rather than submit to the rule
of brutality. Do you hear me, Francisco d'Anconia and Ragnar Danneskjold, my
first friends, my fellow fighters, my fellow outcasts, in whose name and
honor I speak?

"It was the three of us who started what I am now completing. It was the
three of us who resolved to avenge this country and to release its imprisoned
soul. This greatest of countries was built on my morality— on the inviolate
supremacy of man's right to exist— but you dreaded to admit it and live up to
it. You stared at an achievement unequaled in history, you looted its effects
and blanked out its cause. In the presence of that monument to human
morality, which is a factory, a highway or a bridge— you kept damning this
country as immoral and its progress as 'material greed, ' you kept offering
apologies for this country's greatness to the idol of primordial starvation,
to decaying Europe's idol of a leprous, mystic bum.

"This country— the product of reason— could not survive on the morality of
sacrifice. It was not built by men who sought self-immolation or by men who
sought handouts. It could not stand on the mystic split that divorced man's
soul from his body. It could not live by the mystic doctrine that damned this
earth as evil and those who succeeded on earth as depraved. From its start,
this country was a threat to the ancient rule of mystics. In the brilliant
rocket-explosion of its youth, this country displayed to an incredulous world
what greatness was possible to man, what happiness was possible on earth. It
was one or the other: America or mystics. The mystics knew it; you didn't.
You let them infect you with the worship of need— and this country became a
giant in body with a mooching midget in place of its soul, while its living
soul was driven underground to labor and feed you in silence, unnamed,
unhonored, negated, its soul and hero: the industrialist. Do you hear me now,
Hank Rearden, the greatest of the victims I have avenged?

"Neither he nor the rest of us will return until the road is clear to
rebuild this country— until the wreckage of the morality of sacrifice has been
wiped out of our way. A country's political system is based on its code of
morality. We will rebuild America's system on the moral premise which had
been its foundation, but which you treated as a guilty underground, in your
frantic evasion of the conflict between that premise and your mystic
morality: the premise that man is an end in himself, not the means to the
ends of others, that man's life, his freedom, his happiness are his by
inalienable right.

"You who've lost the concept of a right, you who swing in impotent
evasiveness between the claim that rights are a gift of God, a supernatural
gift to be taken on faith, or the claim that rights are a gift of society, to
be broken at its arbitrary whim— the source of man's rights is not divine law
or congressional law, but the law of identity. A is A— and Man is Man. Rights
are conditions of existence required by man's nature for his proper survival.

If man is to live on earth, it is right for him to use his mind, it is right
to act on his own free judgment, it is right to work for his values and to
keep the product of his work. If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right
to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational. Any group,
any gang, any nation that attempts to negate man's rights, is wrong, which
means: is evil, which means: is anti-life.

"Rights are a moral concept— and morality is a matter of choice.

Men are free not to choose man's survival as the standard of their morals
and their laws, but not free to escape from the fact that the alternative is
a cannibal society, which exists for a while by devouring its best and
collapses like a cancerous body, when the healthy have been eaten by the
diseased, when the rational have been consumed by the irrational. Such has
been the fate of your societies in history, but you've evaded the knowledge
of the cause. I am here to state it: the agent of retribution was the law of
identity, which you cannot escape. Just as man cannot live by means of the
irrational, so two men cannot, or two thousand, or two billion. Just as man
can't succeed by defying reality, so a nation can't, or a country, or a
globe. A is A. The rest is a matter of time, provided by the generosity of
victims .

"Just as man can't exist without his body, so no rights can exist without
the right to translate one's rights into reality— to think, to work and to
keep the results— which means: the right of property. The modern mystics of
muscle who offer you the fraudulent alternative of 'human rights' versus
'property rights, ' as if one could exist without the other, are making a
last, grotesque attempt to revive the doctrine of soul versus body. Only a
ghost can exist without material property; only a slave can work with no
right to the product of his effort. The doctrine that 'human rights' are
superior to 'property rights' simply means that some human beings have the
right to make property out of others; since the competent have nothing to
gain from the incompetent, it means the right of the incompetent to own their
betters and to use them as productive cattle. Whoever regards this as human
and right, has no right to the title of 'human.'

"The source of property rights is the law of causality. All property and
all forms of wealth are produced by man's mind and labor. As you cannot have
effects without causes, so you cannot have wealth without its source: without
intelligence. You cannot force intelligence to work: those who ' re able to
think, will not work under compulsion; those who will, won't produce much
more than the price of the whip needed to keep them enslaved. You cannot
obtain the products of a mind except on the owner's terms, by trade and by
volitional consent. Any other policy of men toward man's property is the
policy of criminals, no matter what their numbers. Criminals are savages who
play it short range and starve when their prey runs out— just as you're
starving today, you who believed that crime could be 'practical' if your
government decreed that robbery was legal and resistance to robbery illegal.

"The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man's rights, which
means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a
policeman, acting as an agent of man's self-defense, and, as such, may resort
to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper
functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the
army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your
property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by
rational rules, according to objective law. But a government that initiates
the employment of force against men who had forced no one, the employment of
armed compulsion against disarmed victims, is a nightmare infernal machine
designed to annihilate morality: such a government reverses its only moral
purpose and switches from the role of protector to the role of man's
deadliest enemy, from the role of policeman to the role of a criminal vested

with the right to the wielding of violence against victims deprived of the
right of self-defense. Such a government substitutes for morality the
following rule of social conduct: you may do whatever you please to your
neighbor, provided your gang is bigger than his.

"Only a brute, a fool or an evader can agree to exist on such terms or
agree to give his fellow men a blank check on his life and his mind, to
accept the belief that others have the right to dispose of his person at
their whim, that the will of the majority is omnipotent, that the physical
force of muscles and numbers is a substitute for justice, reality and truth.
We, the men of the mind, we who are traders not masters or slaves, do not
deal in blank checks or grant them. We do not live or work with any form of
the non-objective.

"So long as men, in the era of savagery, had no concept of objective
reality and believed that physical nature was ruled by the whim of unknowable
demons— no thought, no science, no production were possible. Only when men
discovered that nature was a firm, predictable absolute were they able to
rely on their knowledge, to choose their course, to plan their future and,
slowly, to rise from the cave. Now you have placed modern industry, with its
immense complexity of scientific precision, back into the power of unknowable
demons— the unpredictable power of the arbitrary whims of hidden, ugly little
bureaucrats. A farmer will not invest the effort of one summer if he's unable
to calculate his chances of a harvest. But you expect industrial giants— who
plan in terms of decades, invest in terms of generations and undertake
ninety-nine-year contracts— to continue to function and produce, not knowing
what random caprice in the skull of what random official will descend upon
them at what moment to demolish the whole of their effort. Drifters and
physical laborers live and plan by the range of a day. The better the mind,
the longer the range. A man whose vision extends to a shanty, might continue
to build on your quicksands, to grab a fast profit and run. A man who
envisions skyscrapers, will not. Nor will he give ten years of unswerving
devotion to the task of inventing a new product, when he knows that gangs of
entrenched mediocrity are juggling the laws against him, to tie him, ,
restrict him and force him to fail, but should he fight them and struggle and
succeed, they will seize his rewards and his invention.

"Look past the range of the moment, you who cry that you fear to compete
with men of superior intelligence, that their mind is a threat to your
livelihood, that the strong leave no chance to the weak in a market of
voluntary trade. What determines the material value of your work? Nothing but
the productive effort of your mind— if you lived on a desert island. The less
efficient the thinking of your brain, the less your physical labor would
bring you— and you could spend your life on a single routine, collecting a
precarious harvest or hunting with bow and arrows, unable to think any
further. But when you live in a rational society, where men are free to
trade, you receive an incalculable bonus: the material value of your work is
determined not only by your effort, but by the effort of the best productive
minds who exist in the world around you.

"When you work in a modern factory, you are paid, not only for your labor,
but for all the productive genius which has made that factory possible: for
the work of the industrialist who built it, for the work of the investor who
saved the money to risk on the untried and the new, for the work of the
engineer who designed the machines of which you are pushing the levers, for
the work of the inventor who created the product which you spend your time on
making, for the work of the scientist who discovered the laws that went into
the making of that product, for the work of the philosopher who taught men
how to think and whom you spend your time denouncing.

"The machine, the frozen form of a living intelligence, is the power that
expands the potential of your life by raising the productivity of your time.

If you worked as a blacksmith in the mystics' Middle Ages, the whole of your
earning capacity would consist of an iron bar produced by your hands in days
and days of effort. How many tons of rail do you produce per day if you work
for Hank Rearden? Would you dare to claim that the size of your pay check was
created solely by your physical labor and that those rails were the product
of your muscles? The standard of living of that blacksmith is all that your
muscles are worth; the rest is a gift from Hank Rearden.

"Every man is free to rise as far as he's able or willing, but it's only
the degree to which he thinks that determines the degree to which he'll rise.
Physical labor as such can extend no further than the range of the moment.
The man who does no more than physical labor, consumes the material value-
equivalent of his own contribution to the process of production, and leaves
no further value, neither for himself nor others. But the man who produces an
idea in any field of rational endeavor— the man who discovers new knowledge— is
the permanent benefactor of humanity. Material products can't be shared, they
belong to some ultimate consumer; it is only the value of an idea that can be
shared with unlimited numbers of men, making all sharers richer at no one's
sacrifice or loss, raising the productive capacity of whatever labor they
perform. It is the value of his own time that the strong of the intellect
transfers to the weak, letting them work on the jobs he discovered, while
devoting his time to further discoveries. This is mutual trade to mutual
advantage; the interests of the mind are one, no matter what the degree of
intelligence, among men who desire to work and don't seek or expect the
unearned .

"In proportion to the mental energy he spent, the man who creates a new
invention receives but a small percentage of his value in terms of material
payment, no matter what fortune he makes, no matter what millions he earns.
But the man who works as a janitor in the factory producing that invention,
receives an enormous payment in proportion to the mental effort that his job
requires of him. And the same is true of all men between, on all levels of
ambition and ability.

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.

"Such was the service we had given you and were glad and willing to give.
What did we ask in return? Nothing but freedom. We required that you leave us
free to function— free to think and to work as we choose— free to take our own
risks and to bear our own losses-
free to earn our own profits and to make our own fortunes— free to gamble
on your rationality, to submit our products to your judgment for the purpose
of a voluntary trade, to rely on the objective value of our work and on your
mind's ability to see it— free to count on your intelligence and honesty, and
to deal with nothing but your mind.

Such was the price we asked, which you chose to reject as too high.

You decided to call it unfair that we, who had dragged you out of your
hovels and provided you with modern apartments, with radios, movies and cars,
should own our palaces and yachts— you decided that you had a right to your
wages, but we had no right to our profits, that you did not want us to deal
with your mind, but to deal, instead, with your gun. Our answer to that, was:
'May you be damned !1 Our answer came true. You are.

"You did not care to compete in terms of intelligence— you are now
competing in terms of brutality. You did not care to allow rewards to be won

by successful production— you are now running a race in which rewards are won
by successful plunder. You called it selfish and cruel that men should trade
value for value— you have now established an unselfish society where they
trade extortion for extortion. Your system is a legal civil war, where men
gang up on one another and struggle for possession of the law, which they use
as a club over rivals, till another gang wrests it from their clutch and
clubs them with it in their turn, all of them clamoring protestations of
service to an unnamed public's unspecified good. You had said that you saw no
difference between economic and political power, between the power of money
and the power of guns— no difference between reward and punishment, no
difference between purchase and plunder, no difference between pleasure and
fear, no difference between life and death. You are learning the difference
now, "Some of you might plead the excuse of your ignorance, of a limited mind
and a limited range. But the damned and the guiltiest among you are the men
who had the capacity to know, yet chose to blank out reality, the men who
were willing to sell their intelligence into cynical servitude to force: the
contemptible breed of those mystics of science who profess a devotion to some
sort of 'pure knowledge'—

the purity consisting of their claim that such knowledge has no practical
purpose on this earth— who reserve their logic for inanimate matter, but
believe that the subject of dealing with men requires and deserves no
rationality, who scorn money and sell their souls in exchange for a
laboratory supplied by loot. And since there is no such thing as 'non-
practical knowledge' or any sort of 'disinterested' action, since they scorn
the use of their science for the purpose and profit of life, they deliver
their science to the service of death, to the only practical purpose it can
ever have for looters: to inventing weapons of coercion and destruction.
They, the intellects who seek escape from moral values, they are the damned
on this earth, theirs is the guilt beyond forgiveness. Do you hear me, Dr.
Robert Stadler?

"But it is not to him that I wish to speak. I am speaking to those among
you who have retained some sovereign shred of their soul, unsold and
unstamped: '—to the order of others.' If, in the chaos of the motives that
have made you listen to the radio tonight, there was an honest, rational
desire to learn what is wrong with the world, you are the man whom I wished
to address. By the rules and terms of my code, one owes a rational statement
to those whom it does concern and who ' re making an effort to know. Those
who ' re making an effort to fail to understand me, are not a concern of mine.

"I am speaking to those who desire to live and to recapture the honor of
their soul. Now that you know the truth about your world, stop supporting
your own destroyers. The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but
the sanction you give it. 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. Do not seek the
favor of those who enslaved you, do not beg for alms from those who have
robbed you, be it subsidies, loans or jobs, do not join their team to recoup
what they've taken by helping them rob your neighbors.

One cannot hope to maintain one's life by accepting bribes to condone
one's destruction. Do not struggle for profit, success or security at the
price of a lien on your right to exist. Such a lien is not to be paid off;
the more you pay them, the more they will demand; the greater the values you
seek or achieve, the more vulnerably helpless you become. Theirs is a system
of white blackmail devised to bleed you, not by means of your sins, but by
means of your love for existence.

"Do not attempt to rise on the looters' terms or to climb a ladder while
they're holding the ropes. Do not allow their hands to touch the only power
that keeps them in power: your living ambition. Go on strike— in the manner I

did. Use your mind and skill in private, extend your knowledge, develop your
ability, but do not share your achievements with others. Do not try to
produce a fortune, with a looter riding on your back. Stay on the lowest rung
of their ladder, earn no more than your barest survival, do not make an extra
penny to support the looters' state. 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.

Do not help a holdup man to claim that he acts as your friend and
benefactor. Do not help your jailers to pretend that their jail is your
natural state of existence. Do not help them to fake reality. That fake is
the only dam holding off their secret terror, the terror of knowing they're
unfit to exist; remove it and let them drown; your sanction is their only
life belt.

"If you find a chance to vanish into some wilderness out of their reach,
do so, but not to exist as a bandit or to create a gang competing with their
racket; build a productive life of your own with those who accept your moral
code and are willing to struggle for a human existence. You have no chance to
win on the Morality of Death or by the code of faith and force; raise a
standard to which the honest will repair: the standard of Life and Reason.

"Act as a rational being and aim at becoming a rallying point for all
those who are starved for a voice of integrity— act on your rational values,
whether alone in the midst of your enemies, or with a few of your chosen
friends, or as the founder of a modest community on the frontier of mankind's
rebirth .

"When the looters' state collapses, deprived of the best of its slaves,
when it falls to a level of impotent chaos, like the mystic-ridden nations of
the Orient, and dissolves into starving robber gangs fighting to rob one
another— when the advocates of the morality of sacrifice perish with their
final ideal— then and on that day we will return.

"We will open the gates of our city to those who deserve to enter, a city
of smokestacks, pipe lines, orchards, markets and inviolate homes.

We will act as the rallying center for such hidden outposts as you'll
build. With the sign of the dollar as our symbol— the sign of free trade and
free minds— we will move to reclaim this country once more from the impotent
savages who never discovered its nature, its meaning, its splendor. Those who
choose to join us, will join us; those who don't, will not have the power to
stop us; hordes of savages have never been an obstacle to men who carried the
banner of the mind.

"Then this country will once more become a sanctuary for a vanishing
species: the rational being. The political system we will build is contained
in a single moral premise: no man may obtain any values from others by
resorting to physical force. Every man will stand or fall, live or die by his
rational judgment. If he fails to use it and falls, he will be his only
victim. If he fears that his judgment is inadequate, he will not be given a
gun to improve it, If he chooses to correct his errors in time, he will have
the unobstructed example of his betters, for guidance in learning to think;
but an end will be put to the infamy of paying with one life for the errors
of another.

"In that world, you'll be able to rise in the morning with the spirit you
had known in your childhood: that spirit of eagerness, adventure and
certainty which comes from dealing with a rational universe. No child is
afraid of nature; it is your fear of men that will vanish, the fear that has
stunted your soul, the fear you acquired in your early encounters with the
incomprehensible, the unpredictable, the contradictory, the arbitrary, the
hidden, the faked, the irrational in men. You will live in a world of
responsible beings, who will be as consistent and reliable as facts; the

guarantee of their character will be a system of existence where objective
reality is the standard and the judge. Your virtues will be given protection,
your vices and weaknesses will not. Every chance will be open to your good,
none will be provided for your evil. What you'll receive from men will not be
alms, or pity, or mercy, or forgiveness of sins, but a single value: justice.
And when you'll look at men or at yourself, you will feel, not disgust,
suspicion and guilt, but a single constant: respect.

"Such is the future you are capable of winning. It requires a struggle; so
does any human value. All life is a purposeful struggle, and your only choice
is the choice of a goal. Do you wish to continue the battle of your present
or do you wish to fight for my world? Do you wish to continue a struggle that
consists of clinging to precarious ledges in a sliding descent to the abyss,
a struggle where the hardships you endure are irreversible and the victories
you win bring you closer to destruction? Or do you wish to undertake a
struggle that consists of rising from ledge to ledge in a steady ascent to
the top, a struggle where the hardships are investments in your future, and
the victories bring you irreversibly closer to the world of your moral ideal,
and should you die without reaching full sunlight, you will die on a level
touched by its rays? Such is the choice before you. Let your mind and your
love of existence decide.

"The last of my words will be addressed to those heroes who might still be
hidden in the world, those who are held prisoner, not by their evasions, but
by their virtues and their desperate courage. My brothers in spirit, check on
your virtues and on the nature of the enemies you're serving. Your destroyers
hold you by means of your endurance, your generosity, your innocence, your
love— the endurance that carries their burdens— the generosity that responds to
their cries of despair— the innocence that is unable to conceive of their evil
and gives them the benefit of every doubt, refusing to condemn them without
understanding and incapable of understanding such motives as theirs— the love,
your love of life, which makes you believe that they are men and that they
love it, too. But the world of today is the world they wanted; life is the
object of their hatred. Leave them to the death they worship. In the name of
your magnificent devotion to this earth, leave them, don't exhaust the
greatness of your soul on achieving the triumph of the evil of theirs. Do you
hear me . . . my love?

"In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those
who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let
your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in
those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that
man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step
that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by
irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-
quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all.

Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the
life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the
nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is
real, it is possible, it's yours.

"But to win it requires your total dedication and a total break with the
world of your past, with the doctrine that man is a sacrificial animal who
exists for the pleasure of others. Fight for the value of your person. Fight
for the virtue of your pride. Fight for the essence of that which is man: for
his sovereign rational mind. Fight with the radiant certainty and the
absolute rectitude of knowing that yours is the Morality of Life and that
yours is the battle for any achievement, any value, any grandeur, any
goodness, any joy that has ever existed on this earth.

"You will win when you are ready to pronounce the oath I have taken at the
start of my battle— and for those who wish to know the day of my return, I

shall now repeat it to the hearing of the world: "I swear— by my life and
love of it— that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask
another man to live for mine."


edgelord extraordinaire
Feb 9, 2018
That's quite a long post you got there. Too bad I didn't read any of it.

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