by Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged Power Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Volume.Chapter.Section.Page). We used the 50th Anniversary Edition published by Signet Books in 2007.
There was no action she could take against the men of undefined thought, of unnamed motives, of unstated purposes, of unspecified morality. There was nothing she could say to them – nothing would be heard or answered. What were the weapons, she thought, in a realm where reason was not a weapon any longer? (126.96.36.199)
This concept of "undefined thought" is a crucial one: it describes how the looters operate, with denial and evasions, and is at the root of much of the fear in the book. For Dagny, it's frightening not knowing what's going on and feeling that her traditional weapons, like reason, are useless. In a way this is why Galt's strike started: reason stopped being effective, so Galt set out to prove his point nonverbally, through tangible consequences.
"They need some sort of sanction from us. I don't know the nature of that sanction – but, Dagny, I know that if we value our lives we must not give it to them." (188.8.131.52)
The "sanction of the victim" is one of the book's most important recurring phrases and ideas. Galt's strike is about refusing to give the looters a "sanction," or a go-ahead.
"The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them...you create a nation of lawbreakers – and then you cash in on guilt." (184.108.40.206)
Ferris's idea of power is based on fear and psychological control. It's interesting that he uses the term "cash in on guilt." Looters don't like money, but they use something that resembles a money system in the way they "trade" favors and "cash in" on people.