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Augustinian evil in Lord of the Rings - Input Junkie
April 4th, 2017
06:29 pm


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Augustinian evil in Lord of the Rings

This is really excellent-- it compares Manichaean evil (evil is a force) with Augustinian evil (evil is the absence of good) and demonstates that the plot of LOTR-- and especially the climax at the Cracks of Doom are solidly consistent with the idea that victory comes from doing the right thing, even when it seems completely impractical.

Link found here. Sherwood Smith is doing a reread of LOTR.

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Date:April 4th, 2017 11:35 pm (UTC)
That's an interesting piece—and curiously, its discussion of the Augustinian view of evil very clearly applies to the theme of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. To start with, Rand said explicitly that evil is essentially impotent; Galt's speech says, among other things, "I saw that evil was impotent—that evil was the irrational, the blind, the anti-real—and that the only weapon of its triumph was the willingness of the good to serve it." And her plot has Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden, her heroes, struggling against the evil of a socialist society that wants to expropriate them, hoping on one hand to win by defiant claims to their rights to the fruit of their own labor, and on the other to have the other side realize how valuable Taggart Transcontinental and Rearden Steel are to them—but seeing things get worse and worse. And ultimately Dagny gets told that she is the enemy of John Galt, that as long as she continues to keep Taggart Transcontinental going she's sustaining the very system he's opposing; the climactic chapters have her and Rearden having to decide whether to give up their attachment to their businesses and join the strikers. In other words, they have to learn that "any compromise with evil can only strengthen it, giving it an infusion of good that delays its self-destruction."

Indeed, the whole point of the Strike, John Galt's strategy, is that "evil must be given an opportunity to destroy itself, much like the self-defeating band of thieves described by Plato." And the climax of the novel has him being offered the position of economic dictator of the United States—that is, being invited to join the evil, and refusing.

Though I think Rand would be horrified at being called an Augustinian; she consistently praised Aquinas and criticized Augustine.

Edited at 2017-04-04 11:44 pm (UTC)
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