That which is useless dies. Animals that fail to serve some useful purpose in the scheme of things slowly but surely become extinct. Let any part of the human body cease to perform its ordained function, and it withers-as when an arm is kept long in a sling. This same decree, that nothing useless is permitted to survive, runs through the mind of the industrial world.
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.
I could say to you that I have done more good for my fellow man than you can ever hope to accomplish - but I will not say it, because I do not seek the good of others as a sanction for my right to exist, nor do I recognize the good of others as a justification for their seizure of my property or their destruction of my life. I will not say that the good of others was the purpose of my work - my own good was my purpose, and I despise the man who surrenders his. I could say to you that you do not serve the public good - that nobody's good can be achieved at the price of human sacrifices - that when you violate the rights of one man, you have violated the rights of all, and a public of rightless creatures is doomed to destruction. I could say that you that you will and can achieve nothing but universal devastation - as any looter must, when he runs out of victims. I could say it, but I won't. It is not your particular policy that I challenge, but your moral premise.
The music of [his] Fifth Concerto streamed from his keyboard, past the glass of the window, and spread through the air, over the lights of the valley. It was a symphony of triumph. The notes flowed up, they spoke of rising and they were the rising itself, they were the essence and the form of upward motion, they seemed to embody every human act and thought that had ascent as its motive. It was a sunburst of sound, breaking out of hiding and spreading open. It had the freedom of release and the tension of purpose. It swept space clean and left nothing buy the joy of an unobstructed effort. Only a faint echo within the sounds spoke of that from which the music had escaped, but spoke in laughing astonishment at the discovery that there was no ugliness or pain, and there never had had to be. It was the song of an immense deliverance.
[What for] was the first question he asked about any activity proposed to him - and nothing would make him act, if he found no valid answer. He flew through the days of his summer month like a rocket, but if one stopped him in mid-flight, he could always name the purpose of his every random moment. Two things were impossible to him: to stand still or to move aimlessly.
The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man's rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. . . . 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, and to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law.
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.
There are two kinds of teachers of the Morality of Death: the mystics of spirit and the mystics of muscle . . . those who believe in consciousness without existence and those who believe in existence without consciousness. . . . 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 . . . make no mistake about the character of the 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. . . . But it cannot be done to you without your consent. If you permit it to be done, you deserve it.
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 worth 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.