I don't know if it has been pointed out yet, but the signature line which Bill is using seems to imply that John Galt is responsible for the quote: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
This is a quote of Edmund Burke, often mischaracterized as an English philosopher. Burke was in fact, an Irishman who went into politics in England.
Burke probably deserves the title of political philosopher, although in our day he would be called a political scientist--or a right-wing hack. He sat in Parliament for the Whigs, but he supported unpopular policies, such as the emancipation of Catholics in Ireland. Burke was first elected in 1765, due to the patonage of the Marquis of Rockingham, then prime minister. Rockingham's government fell, and Burke thereafter sat in opposition to the Tory governments which succeeded. Originally seen as a radical, Burke often lost his Parliamentary seat, and so was passed from one "rotten borough" to another to assure his place in the House of Commons. He eventually sat in Parliament for thirty years.
His support of the cause of the downtrodden in Ireland, and the complaints of the Americans, had made him seem "liberal," as we know the term. However, his opposition to the French Revolution was so vehement and vitriolic, that his political writings became popular. Long after his death, those who opposed the "liberal" governments of England began to call themselves "conservatives," and claimed Burke as the "father of conservatism." This particular quotation of Burke comes from a speech in the House in which he condemned the recently published Rights of Man which had come out of revolutionary France. Burke's support of Catholic emancipation in Ireland and the greivances of the Americans was not
based upon any principle of "unalienable rights," but rather a call for pragmatic solutions to problems which he saw government as exacerbating. His true view of individual rights comes out in his Reflections on the Revolution in France.
Burke never believed in individual civil rights--and this quote is a product of his opposition to the principle, and his assertion that God had ordained hereditary monarchy. He was reacting to sermon by one Richard Price, who praised the revolution, and held that the English people had the right to remove a "bad king."
Mary Wollstonecraft published her Vindication of the Rights of Man
in response to Burke's obsessive campaign to smear the French revolutionaries as hypocrits. Hypocrits they likely were, but rejecting the Rights of Man on that basis is the classic case of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Miss Wollstonecraft subsequently published Vindication of the Rights of Women
in 1792, and it stands as the first "feminist" work in the English language. She is forgotten, but her daugher married the poet Percy Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley has become immortal as a result of her book Frankenstein
My opinion? Burke was a political hack with the greatest ability in history to enlist eloquent speaking in the cause of reactionary politics.