The Sanction of the Victim and the Horror of Negation Essay

The Sanction of the Victim and the Horror of Negation Essay

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What does the story of Atlas Shrugged have to say about the relative powers of good and evil and the conditions under which one is victorious over the other?
The Sanction of the Victim and the Horror of Negation
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” This oft-repeated paraphrase of a less-palatable line of Edmund Burke’s has made its way into the modern public vernacular as a call to vigilance against the eternal creep of evil. Yet the question remained: “What is the nature of this evil?” and “What action do good men take in order to prevent it?” In her 1957 Magnum Opus, Atlas Shrugged, the American novelist Ayn Rand put forward the next step in that line of thinking; “The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it.” (Rand 1066). Through Hank Rearden’s familial relationships, his struggles against the government, and John Galt’s final exposition of his philosophical discoveries, Rand explains the nature of good and evil; good can only lose if it presents itself to be negated, and evil can only triumph with good’s willing consent.
Henry Rearden is the paragon of the American industrialist: a self-made millionaire, famous for the uncompromising integrity of his business deals and the physical properties of his steel (the cornerstone of his business). Externally, he appears to many to be a perfectly integrous being. Yet he bears the guilt of a great sin; contradiction. He refuses to employ in his interpersonal relationships the very same principles which permit him to excel in industry. As his friend-to-be Francisco D’Anconia inquires later: “You who won't allow one per cent of impurity into an alloy of metal—what have you allowed into your moral code?" (Rand 4...


... middle of paper ...


...Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles." (Rand - Capitalism)

Bibliography
Burke, Edmund. “Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents.” 1770
Original quote: "when bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."

Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged. New York City, NY; Penguin Group Inc. 2005.

Rand, Ayn. Capitalism: The Unkown Ideal.



Works Cited

Burke, Edmund. “Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents.” 1770
Original quote: "when bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."

Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged. New York City, NY; Penguin Group Inc. 2005.

Rand, Ayn. Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

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