A political ideology is a set of principles aimed at establishing or maintaining a certain social system; it is a program of long-range action, with the principles serving to unify and integrate particular steps into a consistent course. It is only by means of principles that men can project the future and choose their actions accordingly.

Anti-ideology consists of the attempts to shrink men’s minds down to the range of the immediate moment, without regard to past or future, without context or memory—above all, without memory, so that contradictions cannot be detected, and errors or disasters can be blamed on the victims.

In anti-ideological practice, principles are used implicitly and are relied upon to disarm the opposition, but are never acknowledged, and are switched at will, when it suits the purpose of the moment. Whose purpose? The gang’s. Thus men’s moral criterion becomes, not “my view of the good—or of the right—or of the truth,” but “my gang, right or wrong.”

A majority without an ideology is a helpless mob, to be taken over by anyone . . . . Political freedom requires much more than the people’s wish. It requires an enormously complex knowledge of political theory and of how to implement it in practice.

Copyright © 1986 by Harry Binswanger. Introduction copyright © 1986 by Leonard Peikoff. All rights reserved. For information address New American Library.


Excerpts from The Ominous Parallels, by Leonard Peikoff. Copyright © 1982 by Leonard Peikoff. Reprinted with permission of Stein and Day Publishers. Excerpts from The Romantic Manifesto, by Ayn Rand. Copyright © 1971, by The Objectivist. Reprinted with permission of Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. Excerpts from Atlas Shrugged, copyright © 1957 by Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead, copyright © 1943 by Ayn Rand, and For the New Intellectual, copyright © 1961 by Ayn Rand. Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Ayn Rand. Excerpts from Philosophy: Who Needs It, by Ayn Rand. Copyright © 1982 by Leonard Peikoff, Executor, Estate of Ayn Rand. Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Ayn Rand. Excerpts from “The Philosophy of Objectivism” lecture series. Copyright © 1976 by Leonard Peikoff. Reprinted by permission. Excerpts from Alvin Toffler’s interview with Ayn Rand, which first appeared in Playboy magazine. Copyright © 1964. Reprinted by permission of Alvin Toffler. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.