Permission (vs. Rights)

  • The Ayn Rand Column

    A right is the sanction of independent action. A right is that which can be exercised without anyone’s permission.

    If you exist only because society permits you to exist — you have no right to your own life. A permission can be revoked at any time.

    If, before undertaking some action, you must obtain the permission of society — you are not free, whether such permission is granted to you or not. Only a slave acts on permission. A permission is not a right.

    Do not make the mistake, at this point, of thinking that a worker is a slave and that he holds his job by his employer’s permission. He does not hold it by permission — but by contract, that is, by a voluntary mutual agreement. A worker can quit his job. A slave cannot.