Abstract

This essay uses the mimetic theory of controversial literary anthropologist René Girard to explicate a central but neglected theme in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged: sacrifice. In Rand's view, big government is supported by a sacrificial ideology founded in the idea of Original Sin that fosters the petty resentments of the masses while scapegoating the productive elite. John Gait triggers the self-destruction of this "infernal" sacrificial machine by withdrawing its intended victims. The resulting political collapse opens the way to a Randian utopia beyond the theorizing of Girard (and Friedrich Nietzsche, whose work is discussed in conclusion), a society without sacrifice.

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