Quotes from Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged is a novel I think everyone vaguely interested in politics and philosophy should read.

While reading the book, I turned the page corners to mark the following quotes:

“She knew, even though she was too young to know the reason, that indiscriminate desire and unselective indulgence were possible only to those who regarded sex and themselves as evil.”

“‘what is morality?’ she asked.

‘Judgement to distinguish right and wrong, vision to see the truth, courage to act upon it, dedication to that which is good, integrity to stand by the good at any price. But where does one find it?'”

“The victim whom she could not protect was her only point of reassurance in a world dissolving around her.”

“… man’s spirit gives meaning to insentient matter by moulding it to serve one’s chosen goal.”

“‘so you think money is the root of all evil?’ said Francisco d’Anconia. ‘Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value.'”

“‘Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted-and you create a nation of law-breakers-and then you cash in on guilt.'”

“‘Perhaps I owe you an explanation, if I have misled you. I’ve tried never to remind you that you’re living on my charity. I thought that it was your place to remember it. I thought that any human being who accepts the help of another, knows that good will is the giver’s only motive and that good will is the payment he owes in return.'”

“‘He tells himself that all he’s after is physical pleasure – but observe that he tires of women in a week or a night, that he despises professional whores and that he loves to imagine he is seducing virtuous girls who make a great exception for his sake. It is the feeling of achievement that he seeks and never finds. What glory can there be in the conquest of a mindless body?”‘

“‘Dagny, it’s not that I don’t suffer, it’s that I know the unimportance of suffering, I know that pain is to be fought and thrown aside, not to be accepted as part of one’s soul and as a permanent scar across one’s view of existence.'”

“From the first catch-phrases flung at a child to the last, it is like a series of shocks to freeze his motor, to undercut the power of his consciousness. ‘Don’t ask so many questions, children should be seen and not heard!’ – ‘Who are you to think? It’s so, because I say so!’ – ‘Don’t argue, obey!’ – ‘Don’t try to understand, believe!’ – ‘Don’t rebel, adjust!’ – ‘Don’t stand out, belong!’ – ‘Don’t struggle, compromise!’ – ‘Your heart is more important than your mind!’ – ‘Who are you to know? Your parents know best!’ – ‘Who are you to know? Society knows best!’ – ‘Who are you to know? The bureaucrats know best!’ – ‘Who are you to object? All values are relative!’ – ‘Who are you to want to escape a thug’s bullet? That’s only a personal prejudice!’

Men would shudder, he thought, if they saw a mother bird plucking the feathers from the wings of her young, then pushing him out of the nest to struggle for survival- yet that was what they did to their children.”

There are many more quotables in that book, but those are the ones I marked.

Now I’ll find a bookswap here in Ho Chi Minh City and exchange it for a much slimmer novel that won’t take up a quarter of my carry-on bag.

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About stevenjohntait