The main point the author tries to make is that all sexual morals are arbitrary cultural relics, especially the prohibition of incest and to a lesser extent homosexuality, monogamy, and modesty. The attitude of the hero is more libertine than libertarian. He doesn’t want the government to tell him what to do, but he approves tough enforcement of laws that support his personal preferences, and he is intolerant of anarchists to the point that he approves murdering them. He judges people by their toughness and their ability to take bold action, especially when they are motivated by survival of themselves, their families, or the state.
The hero explicitly rejects natural rights and morality except that he believes in duty to support one’s family and the state. The book is full of aphorisms, most of which are clever and some of which are evil.
Most of the book is very well written, intelligent, and thought provoking. It is an epic worth reading. It deals with a wide range of issues and circumstances from primitive homesteading to intergalict space and time travel.
“Most ‘scientists’ are bottle washers and button sorters.” (241) “A motion to adjourn is always in order.” (242) “All men are created unequal.” (243) “One man’s theology is another man’s belly laugh.” (243) “Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.” (244) “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded--here and there, now and then--are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as ‘bad luck.’” (244) “The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history.” (248) “If the universe has any purpose more important than topping a woman you love and making a baby with her hearty help, I’ve never heard of it.” (249) “Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.” (250) “Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy.” (251) “the plural of ‘spouse’ is ‘spice.’” (339) “‘God split himself into a myriad parts that he might have friends.’ This may not be true, but it sounds good--and is no sillier than any other theology.” (347) “Money is truthful. If a man speaks of his honor, make him pay cash.” (347) “This sad little lizard told me that he was a brontosaurus on his mother’s side. I did not laugh; people who boast of ancestry often have little else to sustain them. Humoring them costs nothing and adds to happiness in a world in which happiness is always in short supply.” (348) “Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at the tax collector--and miss.” (349) “A whore should be judged by the same criteria as other professionals offering services for pay--such as dentists, lawyers, hairdressers, physicians, plumbers, etc. Is she professionally competent? Does she give good measure? Is she honest with her clients?
It is possible that the percentage of honest and competent whores is higher than that of plumbers and much higher than that of lawyers. And enormously higher than that of professors. (349)
“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” (352) “If heredity were not overwhelmingly more important than environment, you could teach calculus to a horse.” (394)
“If it can’t be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion.” (240) “A zygote is a gamete’s way of producing more gametes. This may be the purpose of the universe.” (245) “Those who refuse to support and defend a state have no claim to protection by that state. Killing an anarchist or a pacifist should not be defined as ‘murder’ in a legalistic sense. The offense against the state, if any, should be ‘Using deadly weapons inside city limits,’ or ‘Creating a traffic hazard,’ or ‘Endangering bystanders,’ or other misdemeanor.” (346)
Year Read: 2001
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