This may have been because he realized the transience of such victories over the intransigent majority of looters that populated his world. The reason he gives-somewhat unconvincingly-is that he wishes to believe that the majority is right. Ayn Rand apparently wished to acquaint the reader quite early on in the novel with the destructive consequences of giving the majority the sanction and the weapon to deal a death-blow to the creative, productive, proactive individual. This was perhaps essential for the full comprehension of the difference in Dagny Taggart's, Hank Rearden's, Francisco d'Anconia's or John Galt's response to similar opposition,
The history of the United States of America, the history of many other democratic nations, indeed, the history of the world cannot be read or understood without paying tribute to the majority who came together to win victories for the common good. This is an incontrovertible fact and Ayn Rand does not intend to contradict it. What she invites the reader to remember, however, is that the majority who came together for the common good were also, and perhaps as strongly, influenced by thought of personal good too. What would it profit a man/woman if s/he gains for the common good something which can only detract from individual happiness or could even destroy the individual soul The majority is a concatenation of individuals and nothing that harms the individual can be of service to the community of which he is a part.
Rand brings this idea home in the first pages of the novel in the image of the oak tree as seen and comprehended by Eddie Willers:
The great oak tree had stood on a hill over the Hudson, in a lonely spot of the Taggart estate. Eddie Willers, aged seven, liked to come and look at that tree. It had stood there for hundreds of years, and he thought it would always stand there. Its roots clutched the hill like a fist with fingers sunk into the soil, and he thought that if a giant were to seize it by the top, he would not be able to uproot it, but would swing the hill and the whole of the earth with it, like a ball at the end of a string. He felt safe in the oak tree's presence; it was a thing that nothing could change or threaten; it was his greatest symbol of strength.
One might say that the tree represents the power and strength of a free and democratic nation. However, a tree has to feed and to grow and it might even be struck by blight or canker or lightning if proper care is not taken of it. The ideal 'rule of the majority' could so easily degenerate into the brute 'might of the majority' and the power of right may be overset by the power of might.
The tree in the novel decays even before Eddie Willers reaches the prime of his own life. Again, because the image of the tree occurs so early on in the novel, it is impossible to discount its importance in the novel's scheme. The portrait of the powerful tree as the symbol of strength is immediately negated by a picture of its sorry plight:
One night, lightning struck the oak tree. Eddie saw it the next morning. It lay broken in half, and he looked into its trunk as into the mouth of a black tunnel. The trunk was only an empty shell; its heart had rotted away long ago; there was nothing inside-just a thin gray dust that