• 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?
Characters very early on in the story of Atlas Shrugged are obviously concerned with the idea of goodness and what qualities constitute a person who is good and those that do not. It is evident at times with the author’s sarcasm that although these characters are obsessed with vocalizing their opinions, that their ideas of good are not quite correct. In fact, their determination to talk incessantly resolves nothing and devalues the meaning of almost every word. This same group of people held to the philosophy that there are no absolutes and that no one is really right or wrong, there is always some middle or grey area in which they reside with their constant chatter about nothing.
The self proclaimed “enlightened” person’s view of goodness included mainly those things which one is supposed to feel from the heart. Some of these were articulated as: self sacrifice, brotherly love, intention, unselfish, self denial and value to feelings over thoughts . A good person in their eyes would enslave themselves to this ideal because it was for the good of “the people”. It should be mentioned here that this is what was vocalized and believed, but not all of these people that hold these beliefs follow this. James Taggert for example, did not give up all his wealth for the good of the people; he believed this, but that was for others to do. Merely because he married a shop girl that came from nothing, does not equate the “brotherly love” he expected from someone like Henry Rearden. She was his accessory to flaunt the notion that he was more enlightened than his friends. The hypocrisy continues when Lillian Rearden went to Taggert to persuade him to stop her divorce from Henry Rearden and one of her pleas was due to her inevitable poverty. Taggert was offended that she would even speak of such things because this type of character only understands how to destroy, take, re-distribute and reallocate wealth not create it. Not only were they not the ones who were expected to sacrifice they were also the ones that it was not to be spoken of their being involved in it, the reality is vulgar.
Goodness explained by John Galt in his three hour appeal to the public pertains to virtues such as purpose, earning, honesty, happiness, ability, justice, rationality, life, self worth, responsibility and the mind. His belief is founded on rationality and life. “Life is the reward of virtue-and happiness is the goal and reward of life.” Conversely, those that do not believe in achieving happiness do not want to live. Such persons that do not want to live are those that are the “enlightened”, “they do not want to succeed, they want you to fail; they do not want to live, they desire nothing, they hate existence, and they keep running, each trying not to learn that the object of his hatred is...