"Then I saw what was wrong with the world, I saw what destroyed men and nations, and where the battle for life had to be fought. I saw that the enemy was an inverted morality—and that my sanction was its only power.” From Galt’s speech, Atlas Shrugged
The central plot device in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is the strike of the producers led by John Galt. And the essential purpose of the strike is to withdraw the sanction of the victim. What exactly does that sanction involve? What is the purpose of withdrawing it?
In this talk for the Summit, I will discuss the meaning of this core idea in the novel. To explain its meaning, I will try to build up the idea, layer by layer, from its bases in the Objectivist ethics and view of human nature. To show how unique it is, I will contrast Galt’s strike with labor strikes and with other forms of organized protest such as Gandhi’s passive resistance.
Finally, I will share some of the thinking that went into presenting the sanction of the victim idea in the film adaptation, most recently (and most fully) in the forthcoming Atlas Shrugged Part 3
, the final installment of the trilogy. As a consultant to the film, I worked with the writers and director on the key scenes, especially Galt’s speech. I will talk about the challenge of reducing the 33,000-word speech to less than a thousand words in the script.