Monday, May 24, 2010

The Sanction of the Victim

Among my reading habits these days is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. This seems like one of those books that people of my generation read in high school or at university. SO, though İ may be a bit late in getting to this part of the canon, İ think it is much more meaningful to me now that it would have been 20 years ago. İ have been struck by a number of passages in this text and would like to share one here:
The Sanction of the Victim
" That is the flaw in your theory, gentlemen," said Rearden gravely, " and İ will not help you out of it. İf you choose to deal with men by means of compulsion, do so. But you will discover that you need the voluntary co-operation of your victims, in many more ways than you can see at present. And your victims should discover that it is their own volition-which you cannot force- that makes you possible. İ choose to be consistent and İ will obey you in the manner you demand. Whatever you wish me to do, İ will do it at the point of a gun. İf you sentence me to jail, you will have to send armed men to carry me there- İ will not volunteer to move. İf you fine me, you will have to seize my property to collect the fine- İ will not volunteer to pay it. İf you believe that you have the right to force me- use your guns openly. İ will not help you to disguise the nature of your action."
This passage reminds me of how we acquiesce to our own oppression, how we are complicit in our own enslavement. Hearkening to the power of disobedience, the chorus of men and women down through the ages who shouted 'Basta!'should ring in our ears. O how I want to be in that number...


  1. Think I'll pick it up after I finish "Gravity's Rainbow." Thanks for passing along a little inspiration.

  2. Atlas Shrugged was one of the best books I've ever read. And I've re-read it every couple of years for almost 50 years.
    Wrote a novel, SANCTION, as almost a sequel to it - 50 years later, when the world perceived then turned out to be the same as it was. You can see it at my site, Rand's works present our world today so vividly.
    Best to you.
    Jim Magwood
    Author of SANCTION and EVIL FOR EVIL