“An Answer for Businessmen” was first published on May 15, 1962, in an
unidentified news magazine found among Ayn Rand’s papers.
If you want to save capitalism there is only one type of argument that you
should adopt, the only one that has ever won in any moral issue: the argument
from self-esteem. Check your premises, convince yourself of the rightness of
your cause, then fight for capitalism with full, moral certainty.
The world crisis of today is a moral crisis—and nothing less than a moral
revolution can resolve it: a moral revolution to sanction and complete the
political achievement of the American revolution. We must fight for
capitalism, not as a practical issue, not as an economic issue, but, with the
most righteous pride, as a moral issue. That is what capitalism deserves, and
nothing less will save it.
I should like to suggest that you begin by applying to the realm of ideas the
same objective, logical, rational criteria of judgment that you apply to the
realm of business. You do not judge business issues by emotional standards—do
not do it in regard to ideological issues. You do not build factories by the
guidance of your feelings—do not let your feelings guide your political
Don’t Try to Cheat People in Business
You do not count on men’s stupidity in business, you do not put out an
inferior product “because people are too dumb to appreciate the best” do not
do it in political philosophy; do not endorse or propagate ideas which you know
to be false, in the hope of appealing to people’s fears, prejudices or
ignorance. You do not cheat people in business—do not try to do it in
philosophy: the so-called common man is uncommonly perceptive.
You do not doubt your own judgment in business—do not doubt it in the realm of
ideology; do not let the unintelligible gibberish of the “liberal”
intellectuals intimidate you or discourage you; do not conclude: “It must be
deep, because I don’t understand it” or “If this is what intellectual stuff
is like, then all ideas are impractical nonsense.” Ideas are the greatest and
most crucially practical power on earth.
You do not hire men as heads of your business departments, without firsthand
knowledge of the nature of their jobs and of how to judge their performance—do
not do it in regard to your public relations department; learn to judge whether
the stuff they are selling you is poison or not. You do not hire witch-doctors
as mechanics or engineers—do not hire them as P.R.’s.
Know Your Friends and Your Enemies
Know how to tell your friends from your enemies. Know whom to support in
philosophical and political issues. If you are unable to speak freely, if you
are bound and gagged by the disgraceful injustice of such evils as the
antitrust laws—at least, do not praise, spread or support the philosophy of
your own destroyers; do not grant them the sanction of the victim. Give some
thought to the possibility of establishing a civil liberties union—for
And if you still wish to have a “social” mission or purpose—there is no
greater service that you can render mankind than by fighting for your own
rights and property.