December 12, 2017

“Sanction Of The Victim”

Sanction Of The Victim

The concept “Sanction of the victim” is defined by Leonard Peikoff as “the willingness of the good to suffer at the hands of the evil, to accept the role of sacrificial victim for the ‘sin‘ of creating values.”[26] This concept may be original in the thinking of Ayn Rand and is foundational to her moral theory: she holds that evil is a parasite on the good and can only exist if the good tolerates it. Atlas Shrugged can be seen as an answer to the question of what would happen if this sanction were revoked. When Atlas shrugs, relieving himself of the burden of carrying the world, he is revoking his sanction.

Throughout Atlas Shrugged, numerous characters admit that there is something wrong with the world that they cannot identify; frequently, they are struggling with the idea of sanction of the victim. We first glimpse the concept when Hank Rearden feels he is duty-bound to support his family, despite their hostility towards him; later, the principle is stated explicitly by Dan Conway: “I suppose somebody’s got to be sacrificed. If it turned out to be me, I have no right to complain.” John Galt vows to stop the motor of the world by persuading the creators of the world to withhold their sanction: “Evil is impotent and has no power but that which we let it extort from us,” and, “I saw that evil was impotent…and the only weapon of its triumph was the willingness of the good to serve it.”

In Rand’s view, morality requires that we do not sanction our own victimhood. She assigns virtue to the trait of rational self-interest. However, Rand contends that moral selfishness does not mean a license to do whatever one pleases, guided by whims. It means the exacting discipline of defining and pursuing one’s rational self-interest. A code of rational self-interest rejects every form of human sacrifice, whether of oneself to others or of others to oneself.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlas_shrugged