Who are to be the
“Any man or woman who is willing to think. All those who know that man’s life must be guided by reason, those who value their own life and are not witting to surrender it to the cult of despair in the modern jungle of cynical impotence, just as they are not willing to surrender the world to the Dark Ages and the rule of the brutes.”
This book presents the essentials of Ayn Rand’s philosophy “for those who wish to acquire an integrated view of existence.” In the title essay, she offers an analysis of Western culture, discusses the causes of its progress, its decline, its present bankruptcy, and points the road to an intellectual renaissance.
Ayn Rand raises the standard of “reason, individualism, and capitalism” against today’s prevalent doctrines of mysticism, altruism, and collectivism. The novels that present her unconventional views have become modern classics.
FOR THE NEW
The Philosophy of
For the New Intellectual 6
We the Living. 38
The Fountainhead. 42
THE NATURE OF THE SECOND-HANDER.. 42
THE SOUL OF A COLLECTIVIST.. 43
THE SOUL OF AN INDIVIDUALIST.. 47
Atlas Shrugged. 54
THE MEANING OF MONEY.. 54
THE MARTYRDOM OF THE INDUSTRIALISTS. 58
THE MORAL MEANING OF CAPITALISM… 59
THE MEANING OF SEX.. 60
“FROM EACH ACCORDING TO HIS ABILITY, TO EACH ACCORDING TO HIS NEED”. 62
THE FORGOTTEN MAN OF SOCIALIZED MEDICINE. 70
THE NATURE OF AN ARTIST.. 71
“THIS IS JOHN GALT SPEAKING”. 72
This book is intended for those who wish to assume the responsibility of becoming the new intellectuals. It contains the main philosophical passages from my novels and presents the outline of a new philosophical system.
The full system is implicit in these excerpts (particularly in Galt’s speech), but its fundamentals are indicated only in the widest terms and require a detailed, systematic presentation in a philosophical treatise. I am working on such a treatise at present; it will deal predominantly with the issue which is barely touched upon in Galt’s speech: epistemology, and will present a new theory of the nature, source and validation of concepts. This work will require several years; until then, I offer the present book as a lead or a summary for those who wish to acquire an integrated view of existence. They may regard it as a basic outline; it will give them the guidance they need, but only if they think through and understand the exact meaning and the full implications of these excerpts.
I am often asked whether I am primarily a novelist or a philosopher. The answer is: both. In a certain sense, every novelist is a philosopher, because one cannot present a picture of human existence without a philosophical framework; the novelist’s only choice is whether that framework is present in his story explicitly or implicitly, whether he is aware of it or not, whether he holds his philosophical convictions consciously or subconsciously. This involves another choice: whether his work is his individual projection of existing philosophical ideas or whether he originates a philosophical framework of his own. I did the second. That is not the specific task of a novelist; I had to do it, because my basic view of man and of existence was in conflict with most of the existing philosophical theories. In order to define, explain and present my concept of man, I had to become a philosopher in the specific meaning of the term.
For those who may be interested in the chronological development of my thinking, I have included excerpts from all four of my novels. They may observe the progression from a political theme in We the Living to a metaphysical theme in Atlas Shrugged.
These excerpts are necessarily condensed summaries, because the full statement of the subjects involved is presented, in each novel, by means of the events of the story. The events are the concretes and the particulars, of which the speeches are the abstract summations.
When I say that these excerpts are merely an outline, I do not mean to imply that my full system is still to be defined or discovered; I had to define it before I could start writing Atlas Shrugged. Galt’s speech is its briefest summary.
Until I complete the presentation of my philosophy in a fully detailed form, this present book may serve as an outline or a program or a manifesto.
For reasons which are made clear in the following pages, the name I have chosen for my philosophy is Objectivism.
For the New Intellectual
When a man, a business corporation or an entire society is approaching bankruptcy, there are two courses that those involved can follow: they can evade the reality of their situation and act on a frantic, blind, range-of-the-moment expediency—not daring to look ahead, wishing no one would name the truth, yet desperately hoping that something will save them somehow—or they can identify the situation, check their premises, discover their hidden assets and start rebuilding.
America, at present, is following the first course. The gray-ness, the stale cynicism, the noncommittal cautiousness, the guilty evasiveness of our public voices suggest the attitude of the courtiers in the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” who professed admiration for the Emperor’s non-existent garments, having accepted the assertion that anyone who failed to perceive them was morally depraved at heart.
Let me be the child in the story and declare that the Emperor is naked—or that America is culturally bankrupt.
In any given period of history, a culture is to be judged by its dominant philosophy, by the prevalent trend of its intellectual life as expressed in morality, in politics, in economics, in art. Professional intellectuals are the voice of a culture and are, therefore, its leaders, its integrators and its bodyguards. America’s intellectual leadership has collapsed. Her virtues, her values, her enormous power are scattered in a silent underground and will remain private, subjective, historically impotent if left without intellectual expression. America is a country without voice or defense—a country sold out and abandoned by her intellectual bodyguards.
Bankruptcy is defined as the state of being at the end of one’s resources. What are the intellectual values or resources offered to us by the present guardians of our culture? In philosophy, we are taught that man’s mind is impotent, that reality is unknowable, that knowledge is an illusion, and reason a superstition. In psychology, we are told that man is a helpless automaton, determined by forces beyond his control, motivated by innate depravity. In literature, we are shown a line-up of murderers, dipsomaniacs, drug addicts, neurotics and psychotics as representatives of man’s soul—and are invited to identify our own among them—with the belligerent assertions that life is a sewer, a foxhole or a rat race, with the whining injunctions that we must love everything, except virtue, and forgive everything, except greatness. In politics, we are told that America, the greatest, noblest, freest country on earth, is politically and morally inferior to Soviet Russia, the bloodiest dictatorship in history—and that our wealth should be given away to the savages of Asia and Africa, with apologies for the fact that we have produced it while they haven’t. If we look at modern intellectuals, we are confronted with the grotesque spectacle of such characteristics as militant uncertainty, crusading cynicism, dogmatic agnosticism, boastful self-abasement and self-righteous depravity—in an atmosphere of guilt, of panic, of despair, of boredom and of all-pervasive evasion. If this is not the state of being at the end of one’s resources, there is no further place to go.
Everybody seems to agree that civilization is facing a crisis, but nobody cares to define its nature, to discover its cause and to assume the responsibility of formulating a solution. In times of danger, a morally healthy culture rallies its values, its self-esteem and its crusading spirit to fight for its moral ideals with full, righteous confidence. But this is not what we see today. If we ask our intellectual leaders what are the ideals we should fight for, their answer is such a sticky puddle of stale syrup—of benevolent bromides and apologetic generalities about brother love, global progress and universal prosperity at America’s expense—that a fly would not die for it or in it.
One of America’s tragic errors is that too many of her best minds believe—as they did in the past—that the solution is to turn anti-intellectual and rely on some cracker-barrel sort of folksy wisdom. The exact opposite is true. What we need most urgently is to recognize the enormous power and the crucial importance of the intellectual professions. A culture cannot exist without a constant stream of ideas and the alert, independent minds who originate them; it cannot exist without a philosophy of life, without those who formulate it and express it. A country without intellectuals is like a body without a head. And that is precisely the position of America today. Our present state of cultural disintegration is not maintained and prolonged by intellectuals as such, but by the fact that we haven’t any. The majority of those who posture as intellectuals today are frightened zombies, posturing in a vacuum of their own making, who admit their abdication from the realm of the intellect by embracing such doctrines as Existentialism and Zen Buddhism.