On Cynicism



Cynicism is so 2000-late. Get over it. It’s not hip or cool or intellectual. It’s only occasionally funny, and then best reserved for the appropriate context, which is not everyday conversation.

Ayn Rand was even more detailed in her indictment of cynicism:

There is nothing so naive as cynicism. A cynic is one who believes that men are innately depraved, that irrationality and cowardice are their basic characteristics, that fear is the most potent of human incentives—and, therefore, that the most practical method of dealing with men is to count on their stupidity, appeal to their knavery, and keep them in constant terror.

In private life, this belief creates a criminal; in politics, it creates a statist. But, contrary to the cynic’s belief, crime and statism do not pay.

A criminal might thrive on human vices, but is reduced to impotence when he comes up against the fact that “you can’t cheat an honest man.” A statist might ride to power by dispensing promises, threats and handouts to the seekers of the unearned—but he finds himself impotent in a national emergency, because the language, methods and policies which were successful with parasites, do not work when the country needs producers.

Ayn Rand Letter, III, 26, 3

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