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.

“From My ‘Future File’”
The Ayn Rand Letter, III, 26, 3

When one discards ideals, the fact that a given policy (such as government controls) is evil, does not constitute a reason for rejecting it. On the contrary, such an estimate serves as an incentive to adopt and expand that policy: to a cynic’s mind, that which is evil, is potent and practical.

“Ideas vs. Goods”
The Ayn Rand Letter, III, 11, 4
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