Any group or “collective,” large or small, is only a number of individuals. A group can have no rights other than the rights of its individual members. In a free society, the “rights” of any group are derived from the rights of its members through their voluntary individual choice and contractual agreement, and are merely the application of these individual rights to a specific undertaking... A group, as such, has no rights.
I refuse to apologize for my ability -- I refuse to apologize for my success -- I refuse to apologize for my money. If this is evil, make the most of it.
In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.
Independence is the recognition of the fact that yours is the responsibility of judgement and nothing can help you escape it -- that no substitute can do your thinking, as no pinch-hitter can live your life.
Let me explain this. There are, fundamentally, only two causes of the progress of the nineteenth century -- the same two causes which you will find at the root of any happy, benevolent, progressive era in human history. One cause is psychological, the other existential -- or: one pertains to man's consciousness, the other to the physical conditions of his existence. The first is reason, the second is freedom. And when I say "freedom," I do not mean poetic sloppiness, such as "freedom from want" or "freedom from fear" or "freedom from the necessity of earning a living." I mean "freedom from compulsion -- freedom from rule by physical force." Which means: political freedom.
So long as [men] hold the tribal notion that the individual is sacrificial fodder for the collective, that some men have the right to rule others by force, and that some (any) alleged 'good' can justify it -- there can be no peace within a nation and no peace among nations.
The difference between [socialism and fascism] is superficial and purely formal, but it is significant psychologically: it brings the authoritarian nature of a planned economy crudely into the open. The main characteristic of socialism (and of communism) is public ownership of the means of production, and, therefore, the abolition of private property. The right to property is the right of use and disposal. Under fascism, men retain the semblance or pretense of private property, but the government holds total power over its use and disposal.
The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.
The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights, cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.
Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is
precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities.
There are only two means by which men can deal with one another: guns or logic. Force or persuasion. Those who know that they cannot win by means of logic, have always resorted to guns.
Under fascism, citizens retain the responsibilities of owning property, without freedom to act and without any of the advantages of ownership. Under socialism, government officials acquire all the advantages of ownership, without any of the responsibilities, since they do not hold title to the property, but merely the right to use it -- at least until the next purge. In either case, the government officials hold the economic, political and legal power of life or death over the citizens.
We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.
When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the
effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those
pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper which should have been gold, are a token of
honor—your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there
are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money.
When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, 'Who is destroying the world?' You are.
When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion - when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing - when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors - when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed.
Volumes can be and have been written about the issue of freedom versus dictatorship, but, in essence, it comes down to a single question: do you consider it moral to treat men as sacrificial animals and to rule them by physical force?
There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.
It is futile to fight against, if one does not know what one is fighting for.
Today, when a concerted effort is made to obliterate this point, it cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals -- that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government -- that it is not a charter _for_ government power, but a charter of the citizen's protection _against_ the government.
Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men’s protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked: "Account Overdrawn.