Skip to comments.FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, Their Brothers Keepers
Posted on 07/04/2009 7:26:32 AM PDT by Publius
In California a copper wire breaks on a Taggart phone line. The last replacement wire has been sold to black marketeers with government connections, and no one will report anything because of possible repercussions from those with pull. An employee calls Dagny in New York to report the break, and Dagny asks Eddie to have their Montana people ship copper wire to California. Jim says cryptically that there soon wont be any problems with copper.
Jim complains about an uncoordinated transportation policy. Dagny judges that the Rail Unification Plan has failed, but Jim sees it as an act of sabotage by the bankers who wont carry their fair share. Dagny senses Jim is stalling her in his office, and she notes he has changed since Cherryls suicide, but not necessarily for the better.
Dagny knows that there are issues with a lack of transportation, but the friends of Cuffy Meigs dont have this problem, nor the friends of Orren Boyle nor the friends of others with pull. Pull now has been compartmentalized into people with specific pull in specific areas. Dagny wont give Jim the reassurance he wants; she said all she had to say three years ago. When Jim asks for a solution, Dagny tells him to get out of the way and let those who can fix the problems do so, but Jim wants her to accept the reality of the current system. He wants to be president of the railroad, and Dagny has an obligation to supply his wants; Jim has the right of weakness. Dagny walks out in revulsion, but Jim holds her back to hear a radio news broadcast; its the reason hes been stalling her.
The legislature of the Peoples State of Chile voted to nationalize dAnconia Coppers properties in cooperation with the Peoples State of Argentina. This is what Jim expected to hear but not what follows. As the vote was concluded, explosions were heard at the harbor. Not only were the dAnconia properties in Chile blown up, but every dAnconia property all over the world. Even the dAnconia ore ships had been scuttled, while every employee had been paid a half hour before the destruction. All the key personnel of the company have disappeared including Francisco.
Jim calls the Chilean ambassador and screams at him on one phone while he screams at Orren Boyle on another. Jim has lost his shirt. Dagny now perceives Jims game and the money he and his friends had committed to it.
Dagny and Hank dine out, and Hank understands that Francisco did in fact keep his oath to him: Francisco acted in the defense of his friends. He tells Dagny of his meeting with Ragnar, but she already knows. Hank now understands that Ragnar was an agent of The Destroyer, and Dagny makes it clear that so was Francisco. Now his talks with Francisco make sense: he was being recruited!
Hank is not going to be able to deliver much more to Dagny; he is selling black market Rearden Metal to various sections of the country to stave off total collapse. Its all about saving the wheat crop in Minnesota, lest New York and other cities starve. Of course, whatever Hank saves this year, the looters will devour next year. Hank wishes he could go to Francisco and apologize.
At an adjoining table, a diner reacts violently to the dAnconia Copper destruction, saying, We cant permit it to be true. A government worker says it was just a series of accidents, all coincidental, and it is unpatriotic to believe otherwise. Then the calendar display on the office building flashes a message, Brother, you asked for it!, signed by Francisco with his full Spanish name. Hank cheers while the diners degenerate into hysterics.
In Montana a copper wire breaks, idling a copper mine adjoining a Taggart spur. The station agent strips out the station wiring and puts the mine back to work. Dagny tells Eddie to send Minnesotas wire to Montana. Jim has procured every piece of government paperwork to get wire rationed to the railroad, but he hasnt been able to get the actual wire.
California passes a confiscatory tax to help the unemployed, causing oil companies in the state to go out of business. Washington assures Hank that this legislative insurrection will be taken care of in short order, and Rearden Steel has absolute top priority in the rationing of oil. Hank cant believe that the bureaucrats are actually trying to placate him.
Philip shows up at the mill asking again for a job because he needs one. He cant perform any real tasks, but he is entitled to a livelihood. Hank throws him out.
Hanks divorce from Lillian goes without a hitch. Its too easy, and his lawyer thinks the Aristocracy of Pull wants something from him.
At the plant, the Wet Nurse asks for a job a real job at the mill; he is tired of being a leech. Hank would happily offer him a job, but the Unification Board would never allow it. The Wet Nurse thinks that something is up: the government is bringing in goons to fill empty employment slots, and he thinks they are going to pull something.
In Minnesota a copper wire breaks at a grain elevator. Dagny has Eddie send the Taggart Terminals stock of wire to Minnesota and nails, paint, light bulbs and tools. People are scavenging railroad hardware to sell on the black market.
Dagny gets a phone call from Minnesota. The rail cars set to haul that states wheat have not shown up, and the massive harvest will rot in its silos. People there are beginning to feel genuine terror. The caller says that once he hangs up, he is going to become a deserter. Dagnys investigation within the railroad shows that every necessary form has been filled out, but the grain cars are not going to Minnesota. She finds that the paperwork has been falsified, and Cuffy Meigs is sending the cars to Louisiana to carry Emma Chalmers soybeans, now deemed more important to the government bureaucracy than wheat.
Minnesotans riot and burn down government and railroad buildings, while the Mainstream Media clamps a lid on the story. The railroad rounds up every kind of car imaginable and sends them all to Minnesota, and grain slowly begins to move. When Minnesotans take matters into their own hands, the State Chief Executive asks for the Army to intervene, and the Aristocracy of Pull finally gives Minnesota a higher priority than Emma Chalmers. But its too late; the cars are in California where the soybean processing plant is located. Minnesota degenerates into civil war as the wheat rots, and the soybeans turn out to be unfit for human consumption.
Dagny dines with Wesley Mouch, Eugene Lawson, Dr. Floyd Ferris, Clem Weatherby, her brother Jim, and Cuffy Meigs. The Aristocracy of Pull now wants to abandon the rest of Americas rail service to serve Minnesota. Dagny tries to bring reality into the discussion by asking that Taggart save the eastern US while other carriers handle their own areas. Let the Atlantic Southern handle transcontinental traffic. They dont listen. Californias threat to secede has them flummoxed. Ferris and Lawson suggest abandoning Americas industrial plant and becoming more like India; its time for some serious privation. Meigs thinks its time for a North American Union by conquering Canada and Mexico; its time for some serious looting.
In the bowels of the Taggart Terminal a copper wire breaks, choking traffic. Dagny receives a call about the wire and leaves the meeting in relief. Her employees are clueless as to what to do, so Dagny calls her counterpart at the Atlantic Southern and asks to have their Chicago terminal signal engineer fly to New York. She sends out a crew to recover whatever copper is available on the Hudson Line despite not having the permission of the Unification Board to abandon it. She asks that all available laborers come to the terminal and operate the switches and signals manually. And one of the men who comes is John Galt! After giving the orders, Dagny walks down the tunnel near the vault where the motor is stored, knowing that John will follow her. He does, and they take each other brutally on a pile of sandbags. In the afterglow, Dagny discovers that John was the mysterious person who visited her at the John Galt Lines offices that night. He tells her he knew about her affair with Hank, and he admits he has been an anonymous track worker at the terminal for the past twelve years, ever since leaving Twentieth Century Motors.
Dagny and John state their love for each other. She intends to stay because she thinks the looters are cracking. John knows they arent, but she needs to see that for herself. He asks her not to search him out, but when she is ready to leave for Galts Gulch, she should chalk a dollar sign on the pedestal of Nat Taggarts statue. He will be there for her within 24 hours. John leaves to become a human lamppost in the warrens of the Taggart Terminal.
Ping! The thread is up.
FReeper Book Club: Introduction to Atlas Shrugged
Part I, Chapter I: The Theme
Part I, Chapter II: The Chain
Part I, Chapter III: The Top and the Bottom
Part I, Chapter IV: The Immovable Movers
Part I, Chapter V: The Climax of the dAnconias
Part I, Chapter VI: The Non-Commercial
Part I, Chapter VII: The Exploiters and the Exploited
Part I, Chapter VIII: The John Galt Line
Part I, Chapter IX: The Sacred and the Profane
Part I, Chapter X: Wyatts Torch
Part II, Chapter I: The Man Who Belonged on Earth
Part II, Chapter II: The Aristocracy of Pull
Part II, Chapter III: White Blackmail
Part II, Chapter IV: The Sanction of the Victim
Part II, Chapter V: Account Overdrawn
Part II, Chapter VI: Miracle Metal
Part II, Chapter VII: The Moratorium on Brains
Part II, Chapter VIII: By Our Love
Part II, Chapter IX: The Face Without Pain or Fear or Guilt
Part II, Chapter X: The Sign of the Dollar
Part III, Chapter I: Atlantis
Part III, Chapter II: The Utopia of Greed
Part III, Chapter III: Anti-Greed
Part III, Chapter IV: Anti-Life
“Her employees are clueless as to what to do, so Dagny calls her counterpart at the Atlantic Southern and asks to have their Chicago terminal signal engineer fly to New York.”
No wonder I identify with Dagny, LOL! ;)
Wonderful synopsis, as always. Now, back to digest some more! :)
California’s government can not figure out how to quit spending money and the US government is determined to drag us all over the waterfall behind them.
“The Wet Nurse thinks that something is up: the government is bringing in goons to fill empty employment slots, and he thinks they are going to pull something.”
Shades of real life in America, today! *SHIVER*
Could you put me on your ping list?
Thanks for the post.
Hurrah for the glorious Fourth of July !
Such was the cheer that came from the patriots at the signing of the declaration of independence on July Fourth 1776.
Except for one twist...
These particular patriots are unheard of in the recounting of our independence in modern day textbooks and popular media. They do live on in arcane history books and dusty library shelves however.
I refer to the Fair Play Men of the west branch valley of the Susquehanna river in north central Pennsylvania. A group or independent, freedom loving patriots living on the frontier of civilization. Without any legal system in place, they took it upon themselves to create their own legal system based on freedom.
The system they created, known from then on as 'Fair Play' came into creation in 1773 in a valley that had been purchased by the Penn family from the controlling Indian tribes. The Penns were known for their extreme measures to ensure fair dealings with the Indians. The land occupied by the settlers had been purchased for that reason but had been put on hold because one tribe had disputed one of the boundaries that included the valley ( the dispute, after hearing all testimonies, being declared by both sides, a mistake ).
Being pioneers, and independent for generations preceding, the settlers knew that possession was key to ownership once the dispute was settled. ( they knew at the time that the interfering tribe had no claim to the land and that the Penns were, as mentioned, going to extreme lengths to keep the peace ). Pennsylvania government would not recognize the settlers as citizens until the dispute was settled.
Upon occupying, they needed to have a legal system or anarchy would be the result, leaving nothing for their effort. They enacted the Fair Play system which is described as...
'These settlers, being classed as outlaws, were compelled to enter into some kind of an organization for their government and protection. This condition of affairs resulted in what was known as the Fair Play system. Tradition informs us that they adopted a regular code of laws for their government, but as it was not preserved, we are left in ignorance of its provisions. The courts of the Fair Play men were often held at a place near what is now known as Chatham's Mill, in Clinton County. But it is doubtful if they had any regular place of meeting, or stated time for the transaction of business. The time of meeting was brought about by the exigencies that might arise. The court could be convened at any place within the territory over which it exercised jurisdiction, and on short notice, to try any case that might be on hand. It is related that when a squatter refused to abide by the decisions of the court, he was immediately placed in a canoe and rowed to the mouth of Lycoming Creek, the boundary line of civilization, and there sent adrift down the river. '
'An anecdote is handed down which serves to illustrate Fair Play principles. Once upon a time, when Chief Justice McKean was holding court in this district, he inquired, partly from curiosity and partly in reference to the case before him, of a shrewd old Irishman named Peter Rodey, if he could tell him what the provisions of the Fair Play code were. Peter's memory did not exactly serve him as to details, and he could only convey an idea of them by comparison, so, scratching his head, he answered : "All I can say is, that since your Honor's coorts have come among us. Fair Play has entirely ceased, and law has taken its place."
This sharp rejoinder created a good deal of merriment in court, and the judge was satisfied to ask no more questions reflecting upon the legal tribunal over which Peter had in turn presided. '
These Patriots took it upon themselves to establish a form of self government that would protect their lives and property. It was out of necessity due to the inaction and refusal of the existing government to do so.
The Colonial government used the Scots-Irish immigrants as a buffer between the populated areas around Philadelphia and the constant threat of the Indians and French to the west. The peaceful Quakers would have had a tough time sticking to their beliefs had the frontier population not been there to protect them.
The land grants reflect this strategy and was the willing price paid for the opportunity to live ones life in freedom. After the War, the Pennsylvania judiciary reviewed all of the Fair Play decisions and overturned none. Such were the decisions of our forefathers when confronted with a government that did not recognize them.
And on the Fourth of July 1776, a time when instant communications did not exist, by coincidence, they signed their own Declaration of Independence under an elm tree along the banks of the Susquehanna River. Such were the actions of a free and independent people and indicative of the spirit of all who brought about a new Nation.
I found many parallels in our discussions between the settlers in the Gulch and those in the Valley.
For the readers that doubt this similarity, the above is true and recorded for posterity. It is my belief that Ayn Rand would have enjoyed studying this bit of American history and found much of her philosophy in practice.
“The town is too important to fail, and thus so is the company. In the end, both companies fail. Where do we see this today?”
Banks, GM, soon to be ObamaCare, etc.
“Do dying nations become predatory when the money runs out?”
Well see in another year or so...
“Are we approaching this in California and elsewhere?”
Sure. Cap and Trade legislation.
“How are believers in pseudo-science with power leading us down this path today?”
EnviroWeenies. Biofuels. Not allowing us to drill here at home and close off-shore.
“Is it at all rational to de-industrialize a country? What could possibly justify such a decision?”
It’s not rational, but it fits right in with the plan to make a country Socialist/Communist. There is no justification, IMHO, but I’m one that wants to close the borders and be a self-supporting nation.
“As things get worse, will the bonds of Union sunder due to a central government that cannot perform the tasks it has promised the people?”
I think it will be most of our States AGAINST Washington, D.C. if things get that far. The 10th Amendment needs to be taken VERY seriously; some states are.
Thanks, Publius. Fun as always. :)
Thanks for the ping. This is very much food for thought.
Rand and reality seem to have met this past week.
Bailouts. Confiscate the fruits of good decisions and give them to those who because of government meddling or their own ineptitude or greed cannot seem to make their own businesses prosper.
Congress and the oral office. They airbrush their own view of history by ignoring the tragic (for the people) failures of collectivist societies and the success of the Reagan/Thatcher approach to foreign relations. They seem to think they can make socialism workable by force of belief.
Now we know where “up a creek without a paddle” came from.
Here's a real life example ~ the following thread was posted on FR today:
“Los Angeles will end use of coal-fired power”
Los Angeles will eliminate the use of electricity made from coal by 2020, replacing it with power from cleaner renewable energy sources, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.
Consumers of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the largest city-owned utility in the United States with 1.45 million electricity customers, will see higher power bills in the fight against climate change, he added in his inaugural speech for his second four-year term as mayor on Wednesday.
Actualy, the Truthers also fit here. There are two very different versions of reality at play, and that determines how one looks at the world.
I wasn’t aware of that, but it doesn’t surprise me one tiny bit!
that's the funnest sceane in the book
Thank you. Happy Fourth of July!
“Steel for a company in Nebraska is diverted to Illinois because the Nebraska company is doing well, while the Illinois company is a failing concern in a failing town. The town is too important to fail, and thus so is the company. In the end, both companies fail. Where do we see this today?”
The auto industry, for one. The banking industry for another.
“People were at first willing to just seize a little of the wealth of the rich. Now they want it all. Cuffy Meigs wants to go all the way and seize Canada and Mexico. Do dying nations become predatory when the money runs out?”
It seems to be happening here; cap and trade, anyone?
“The diners in the restaurant reacted to Franciscos destruction of dAnconia Copper by trying to deny its reality. Dr. Simon Pritchett might have added, Can you be sure that Francisco dAnconia ever existed? Where does this denial of reality have a parallel in todays society?”
The only example I can think of today is the “shrinking” polar bear population and the “melting” icecaps. The mainstream media aren’t interested in reporting the truth, and an awful lot of people in this country don’t seem to want the truth anyway.
“In dire straits, California decides to levy predatory and confiscatory taxation on the states oil wealth. Are we approaching this in California and elsewhere?”
I’m one of the many that voted down Props 1A-1E. We might not quite be there yet, but we’re close, and the CA legislature isn’t limiting itself to the oil industry.
“Emma Chalmers believes in soybeans, and the wisdom of Asians in eating them, in preference to wheat. No doubt it will lead to a more sustainable lifestyle. As a government bureaucrat, she is imposing soybeans on America and destroying the Minnesota wheat crop as a result. In the end the soybeans are inedible. How are believers in pseudo-science with power leading us down this path today?”
Two words: global warming. It’s somewhat ironic that AS uses soybeans as an example of “sustainable” agriculture; in fact the cultivation of soybeans requires a lot of chemicals and pesticides. Not to mention at least a couple environmental groups have complained about how parts of the Amazon rainforest have been destroyed in order to grow soybeans.
“The Aristocracy of Pull considers shutting down Americas industries to become an agricultural society like India. On our time line, Americas industries were shipped to India and the Third World decades ago because of American wages pricing American goods out of the world market, something Rand never envisioned. Is it at all rational to de-industrialize a country? What could possibly justify such a decision?”
I wouldn’t consider such an action rational, and the only justification I could see is to ease the creation of a nation of serfs. (Wow, that sentence looks awkward!)
“Minnesota degenerates into civil war. California threatens to secede. As things get worse, will the bonds of Union sunder due to a central government that cannot perform the tasks it has promised the people?”
It’s still too early to tell, but if enough states remember that the Federal government works for them the Union could collapse.
I like them, the fourth question in particular.
There are two very different versions of reality at play, and that determines how one looks at the world.
Well, not exactly. There may be many differing views of reality, but reality is absolute. We may even ALL be deluded, but reality is what reality is, hence the whole "real" thing. I'm sure we're probably in agreement on this and just having a semantic debate. I responded earlier to your post, but was having some Internet problems and I guess my response got lost in the ether[net].
It would be beneficial in that Washington has gone too far in obliterating state autonomy. The states are legally entitled to that autonomy and the resulting heterogeneity and competition is, IMHO, good for the freedom of the residents of ALL the states.
Dissolution would be BAD in the sense that the remaining 1-50 states (in the nation-state sense) would be far less intimidating to prospective tyrants and empire-builders the world over. A coalition of more politically independent states bound to each others' defense might work the best. Surprise, surprise, just what the founders ordered.
Concerning the diners reaction to Francisco, I was looking for more. An event takes place, and the government attempts to spin the event by altering the reality of the event. "Everything was coincidental, and it is unpatriotic to believe otherwise, so please ignore your lying eyes." While global warming fits the pattern, so do other, more egregious things. For example, what really happened at Waco?
The Aristocracy of Pull considers de-industrialization in the book while we have already de-industrialized. While price pressure was part of it, are there those who would view America as a possible piece of future wilderness by concentrating people in the cities? Certainly the UN's Agenda 21 fits into this picture, but why would America's elite buy into such a plan?
Concerning the sundering of the bonds of Union, there is the fact that the central government hands out a vast amount of checks to people, and many live or die by those checks. That complicates the sundering because it creates a ready-made client class in support of the central government. To gain the support of those on the dole, states wold have to mimic the role of the central government. This is the complicating factor I was hinting at.
It's the converse of my last post. I said in effect that tyranny is more difficult with more local/regional autonomy. Some founding Communist said that Communism would only truly work if imposed worldwide. The proles, who own everything and for the benefit of whom every state decision is made, must have nowhere to run or hide or they'll break the system. Makes sense to me. The more monolithic they can make worldwide government the more totalitarian they can be.
Not exactly. Here in Seattle, I am actually contested when I assert that Ronald Reagan won the Cold War, in combination with Margaret Thatcher and the Pope. I am corrected by those who assert that Mikhail Gorbachev ended the Cold War by trying to change the system to make it work and bring it in line with what Lenin originally wanted. Had Carter and Mondale served in the White House, nothing would have changed. Reagan was simply a dangerous cowboy.
What is reality? Here we have two conflicting opinions, one believed to reality by the Right, and the other by the Left. It is the interpretation of facts that creates a mindset and a reality. (I love debating stuff like this with our local Lefties. It drives them crazy.)
Rand is quite good at tracking how a mindset causes people to come to conclusions that take them down a wrong path. Her rejoinder to the reader is, "Check your premises!"
No, reality IS absolute. One or the other of you engaging in that discussion is wrong, or else the two of you are defending beliefs which are non-contradictory but you don’t realize it. The word “reality” refers to that which is real. There can be no multiple realities, at least not in one universe at one time. As Rand points out, reality tolerates no paradoxes.
Yeah, I needed to add some intellectual heft. Thank you for setting me straight.
All right. I’ll buy that.
Chapter 25, Their Brothers Keepers, finds us watching the decline of the country accelerate under the benevolent guidance of the Unification Board whose members have arrogated to themselves the right to dispose of the wealth of the entire country. Here we have a fictional version of the end game of socialism. It began with a false premise that profit was greed and that the capitalist class was exploiting the people for its own gain. That class was dispossessed of its wealth by a political class, who took over the direction of their enterprises in the name of the people, turned that profit, not into further economic investments, but into their own pockets just as they had assumed the original owners did. To the looters its baffling everything is being done for the noblest and most politically correct of reasons and still the enterprises are failing. The original premise remains unchecked it cannot be checked, for to do so is to undermine the entire worldview that defines the political class.
Jim Taggart cant figure it out.
Things are, it seems to me, going wrong, he said. There appears to exist a state of confusion tending toward an uncoordinated, unbalanced policy. What I mean is, theres a tremendous national demand for transportation, yet were losing money.
Theyre losing more than that. The entire system, cobbled together from theft and fraud, is failing. A single strand of copper wire failing has taken the Taggart Pacific branch out of communication. The last decent machine tool operation in the country has had the shipment that would have kept it staggering along expropriated and diverted to a well-connected and incompetent competitor. Both close their doors.
The people of [the town supported by that company] had been placed on national relief, but no food could be found for them in the empty granaries of the nation at the frantic call of the moment so the seed grain of the farmers of Nebraska had been seized by order of the Unification Board and Train Number 194 had carried the unplanted harvest and the future of the people of Nebraska to be consumed by the people of Illinois. In this enlightened age, Eugene Lawson had said in a radio broadcast, we have come, at last to realize that each one of us is his brothers keeper.
There is a quiet horror in that paragraph that may not be readily apparent to those of us who have never known anything but agricultural plenty, an unending surplus that takes us through bad harvest years as if nothing had ever happened. It is a tiny pinpoint in human history. For most of it, a bad harvest meant universal hunger for a year or more, one reason men were willing to fight to possess productive land before they had taught themselves to read. But if the seed grain is gone, the game is over. There will be no planting, no harvest, no food, and no amount of wishful thinking or political haranguing can stave off starvation.
But the seed grain can be stolen back; in fact, thats the only real recourse. And this applies to more than seed grain. As long as the bag of loot stays full the thieves may indulge in an obsession over the social justice involved in ensuring that each has his proper share. The bag had better not empty. And unfortunately, it isnt being replenished.
But as long as the thieves can find an additional victim, the game may continue. And thats what Jim Taggart and the rest of the Aristocracy of Pull have up their collective sleeve. Copper is scarce? Seize it!
And so the plan comes to fruition. DAnconia Copper is to be nationalized worldwide, its assets to replenish that bag of loot and be squabbled over by the political class. Jim makes certain that Dagny is listening to the radio broadcast of the event, but his triumph is short-lived. Francisco has finally liquidated, but on his terms, not on theirs.
the sound of a tremendous explosion rocked the [legislators of the Peoples State of Argentina] hall. It came from the harbor the chairman averted panic and called the session to order. The act of nationalization was read to the assembly, to the sound of fire-alarm sirens the explosion had broken an electric transmitter so that the assembly voted on the measure by the light of candles every property of dAnconia Copper on the face of the globe had been blown up and swept away.
It is a haunting image that frames an astounding feat of destruction, accomplished with an actuarial precision, no one hurt, everyone paid off, and the authorities unable to find the cream of Franciscos people, who seem to have disappeared mysteriously. Those who sought to profit from the inside knowledge of the theft are left drastically overexposed, Jim Taggart numbering high among them. The shock wave circles the planet. In New York, a message appears on a skyscraper, projected on a great screen where normally appears the days date:
There, written across the enormous page, stopping time, as a last message to the world and to the worlds motor which was New York, she saw the lines of a sharp, intransigent handwriting:
Brother, you asked for it!
Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastian dAnconia
Hank Rearden is the only one laughing, and hes roaring. But his turn will come and everyone but Hank seems to know it. His divorce slides through the court so easily that his attorney, and old and trusted friend, wonders,
Say, Hank, he asked as sole comment, is there something the looters are anxious to get from you right now? The thing went too smoothly looks to me as if orders had come from on high to treat you gently and let you have your way. Are they planning something new against your mills?
Another warning comes in the form of Hanks brother Philip, who once again requests a job at the mill, and is once again refused. As before, his motives are murky, but at this point Hank is too disgusted to care. Yet another warning comes from another job applicant, one whom Hank does not want to refuse but must. It is the Wet Nurse, the young metallurgist turned political tool and spy. He understands the game now and it revolts him. He has, all by himself, come to the sort of moral epiphany that might qualify him for a garret in Galts Gulch, but although he wants to leave the corruption of the system, the system isnt going to let him go. It already owns Reardens Metal, it doesnt need Reardens talent, it does need his name and reputation, and it covets his factories.
theyve been watching every opening here, [says the Wet Nurse], every desertion, and slipping their own gang in. A queer sort of gang real goons that Id swear never stepped inside a steel plant before. Ive had orders to get as many of our boys in as possible. They wouldnt tell me why All I know is theyre getting set to pull something here.
They are certainly getting desperate enough to do so. Starvation looms in the country, but after two difficult years Minnesota has a bumper crop of grain that might just save the day. (Rand was an expatriate city girl, a New Yorker by passion and conviction, and occasionally it shows in minor details such as this, as well as the typically modest New Yorker conviction that The City is the worlds motor). Minnesota is, in fact, tenth among the fifty States in wheat production at roughly 18% of the production of the largest, which is Kansas. Nebraska (ninth highest and the next one up the list), as we have seen, was plundered even of its seed grain in order to feed another states hungry. But this year Minnesota is the countrys granary. All it will take to bring it to market and to give the countrys ruling class the time it needs to retain power for one more year is transportation. Rail transportation.
And thats really too bad, because the Unification Board has other priorities. The worst of these priorities is a real character study in self-appointed expertise, the mother of the political figure who died in the Taggart Tunnel disaster.
Emma Chalmers was an old sociologist who had hung about Washington for years, as other women of her age and type hang about barrooms. The soybean is a much more sturdy, nutritious, and economical plant than all the extravagant foods which our wasteful, self-indulgent diet has conditioned us to expect an excellent substitute for bread, meat, cereals, and coffee and if all of us were compelled to adopt soybeans as our staple diet, it would solve the national food crisis
Compelled, indeed. We are all acquainted with ostensibly well-meaning nutrition tyrants who would happily dictate our diets for our own good. Emma Kips Ma after the late and unlamented political martyr is one of these, and has decided with all of the agricultural expertise that a degree in sociology can confer, that her California soybean fields are the dietary future of the country. And thats where nearly half of the rail cars necessary to transport the Minnesota harvest have been sent.
It is a disaster. Dagny is made aware of it by an anonymous caller whose warning is the last act of his employment. She hangs up to an already dead line.
Every shed, silo, elevator, warehouse, garage and dance hall along the track is filled with wheat. At the Sherman elevators theres a line of farmers trucks and wagons two miles long
But there is no transport and city people often forget this but Rand is aware, possibly from the horrors of the Ukraine in the 30s little storage on the farms for the wheat they harvested. It is milled, or it is lost. Dagnys desperate effort to load the stuff into coal cars contaminates the crop, and into passenger cars sends it reeling off the tracks when those cars, never designed for such a use, fail. There is rioting, and the crop ends up rotting or in flames. At last Dagny pounds the seriousness of the situation into the dense heads in Washington,
But by that time, it was too late. Kips Mas freight cars were in California, where the soybeans had been sent to a progressive concern made up of sociologists preaching the cult of Oriental austerity, and of businessmen formerly in the numbers racket the harvest of soybeans did not reach the markets of the country: it had been reaped prematurely, it was moldy and unfit for consumption.
And so will Minnesota starve, then? No, it will not. Where there is grain there are flour mills enough to support local demand. Kansas, North Dakota, Montana, Oklahoma, Washington, Texas, South Dakota, Colorado, Idaho; the top wheat producing states will have bread for themselves. Nebraska will starve unless somehow it can get seed grain from the others, and one suspects that even in the current state of total systemic breakdown that will happen just as Rearden found men to sell him coal. But the cities will starve. New York will starve.
Dagny demands that the government retrench, pulling back in the way of a retreating army, around the defense lines of the industrial east. They decide, on the contrary, to expand in the face of even worse destitution elsewhere. It is madness.
Another copper wire breaks, this time plunging New Yorks rail system into darkness and stopping the traffic in its unguided tracks. Dagny rushes from the meeting with the Aristocracy of Pull dressed in formal clothing to the grit and the ashes of the underground tracks. She and the few elite employees she has left can guide the trains to their destination after the ancient method of hand-written orders and manual signals. Slow, crude, and entirely insufficient to the needs of a modern railway, but it will prevent paralysis until the signal wire can be fixed. If it can be fixed. It is an all-hands-on-deck evolution, and as they are passing out lanterns to the crews she spots the track worker named John Galt.
She found herself descending the stairs, slipping away from the crowd, not toward the platforms and the exit, but into the darkness of the abandoned tunnels. You will follow me, she thought and felt as if the thought were not in words, but in the tension of her muscles you will follow me, if we are what we are, you and I
Her first tumble with Galt takes place on a pile of sandbags in an abandoned granite vault, evening clothing torn off, and oh, yes, as we have known for 900 pages now, Dagny likes it rough.
then she felt her teeth sinking into the flesh of his arm, she felt the sweep of his elbow knocking her head aside and his mouth seizing her lips with a pressure more viciously painful than hers
And so on. At this point it is hardly over-imaginative to conclude that Rands sexuality is as kinky as anything in 50s literature: the chain on Dagnys wrist, the submission, half-naked vulnerability in a room full of tuxedoed men, possession, servitude in Galts house, an acceptance of Reardens violence, and now taken at last, her evening clothing scattered among the filthy canvas sandbags in her own railway tunnels. We are not animals, Dagny stated some chapters ago. Yes, actually, we are.
It is a wonderful contrast to consider Rands pious asseveration that sexual intercourse is the highest expression of intellect, with the consummation of her principals relationship, bloody, violent, and covered with dust in the primordial dirt of a man-made cave. On a theoretical level it is not necessarily a contradiction, on a level at which A really is A, we know perfectly well that Rand has been putting us on. Her astringent theorizing has failed there in the cries echoing through the granite tunnel and we thank God it did.
Afterward, theyre speaking of their love, of Galts ten years of watching her, of how they must now resolve their conflicting aims.
No, Dagny, youre not my enemy in mind but you are in fact. My actual enemies are of no danger to me. You are. Youre the only one who can lead them to find me. They would never have the capacity to know what I am, but with your help they will.
Galt is both right and wrong about that, as we shall see. It is he who will tell them what he is, but yes, it is she who will lead them to him. But still she cannot give it up.
he sat up and asked, Would you want me to join you and go to work? Would you like me to repair that interlocking signal system of yours within an hour?
No! The cry was immediate in answer to the flash of a sudden image of the men in the private dining room of the Wayne-Falkland.
He laughed. Why not?
I dont want to see you working as their serf!
I think that theyre crumbling and that Ill win. I can stand it just a little longer.
True, its just a little longer not till you win, but till you learn.
I cant let it go! It was a cry of despair.
Not yet, he said quietly.
And he sets a conspirators terms.
Dont seek me here. But she does. Dont come to my home. But she will. Dont ever let them see us together. And when you reach the end just chalk a dollar sign on the pedestal of Nat Taggarts statue.
Then he walked away, down the vanishing line of rail, and it seemed to her that both the rail and the figure were abandoning her at the same time.
It seemed to her only that she kept seeing a figure with a raised arm holding a light, and it looked at times like the Statue of Liberty and then it looked like a man with sun-streaked hair, holding a lantern against a midnight sky, a red lantern that stopped the movement of the world.
Have a great week, Publius!
Which is puzzling given the course of later events. [ / spoiler ]
"...that her California soybean fields are the dietary future of the country."
I thought her soybean fields were in Louisiana. [ / quibble ]
Nationalize, denationalize, then renationalize. I’m getting dizzy.
Sounds suspiciously like identify, freeze, isolate, escalate! ;-)
From my flawed understanding..Marxian philosophy eliminates the class of bourgeoisie in order that the working class rise up and become owners of the means of production thus ensuring equality for all.
The reality of it was Soviet Union, China and virtually every other place it was tried succeeded in recreating feudalism. Politburo or what ever ruling elite was called was the top tier with all the perks and everyone else was owned by the state.
In terms of our current situation..Those “enlightened” politicians in DC are trying to ruin the middle class through impoverishment while pretending elevate the poorest.
In actuality they are squandering the wealth of the nation while making their inside deals to assure their own personal wealth while all the rest of us will be ground into the dirt.
One wonders how long it will take before they don powdered wigs, stretch pants and pointed toed shoes and start spouting..” Let them eat cake”.
The French have been right about a few things in life. Wine and cheese come to mind.
I can identify with her too when it comes to dealing with the clueless. Could I be on the ping list if I am not already?
Consider yourself on the list.
And half the time they even hose those up and you get cheesy whining instead. ;-)
Please add wally_bert to the ping list, Publius. :)
I have spoken with people like this. They're real. They say that it's not fair to have intelligence tests for voters, and I agree with them. It's not fair to people who think and produce if morons are allowed to infiltrate the government.
Where does this denial of reality have a parallel in todays society?
Everywhere. I never finished college, and I never will. A modern degree is a disgusting parody of education and intelligence. Anyone can get one; actually knowing anything is optional. My mother inadvertently taught me about this game. She still believes the socialist bullshit from 1950s England - schools are bad if they make students memorize facts and good if they teach them "how to think."
It is not possible to teach someone how to think. It is innate. We can no more teach people to think than we can teach them to digest food. What we have instead done is produce idiots who have a piece of paper that says they're not idiots. A simple enough lie, but even an idiot can point at his worthless degree and reply, "But you're degree looks just like mine." When we tell everybody that they can have a college degree, a college degree becomes as significant as nice car or a big tv. If you can pay for it, you can have it.
Is it coincidence that astrologers have a larger audience than physicists? It is the real consequence of this practice.
"His opinion is just as valid as yours."
Every time I hear this, I want to strangle whoever said it. No, his opinion is not as valid as mine, nor is it valid at all. My opinion is based on the most scrupulous examination of facts that I can manage, and if I haven't got facts, my opinion is that I don't know. My opinion is not that I'll be a civil engineer today, I was a cardiologist yesterday, and I'll be a Supreme Court Justice tomorrow. Our education system does not teach the following extremely important lesson: "You don't know what you're talking about so shut up." It might hurt somebody's feelings. When one of these idiots does something stupid and kills somebody, we can take comfort in his self esteem. Kee McFarlane leaps to mind.
California threatens to secede. As things get worse, will the bonds of Union sunder due to a central government that cannot perform the tasks it has promised the people?
People don't much care for government in this country. Even when it hands them welfare checks, they lash out at 'the man.' Unintended Consequences is an interesting divergent argument to Atlas Shrugged. My opinion is that we would get Unintended Consequences somewhere on the way to Atlas Shrugged. We have been handed a pile of violations of common sense and humanity by our government, passing on 50 years now. We got it because of genuine wrongs that were redressed in improper fashion. IMO, Martin Luther King did more damage to this country than anyone in history. Imagine how the United States would be if, instead of whining to the courts, a few KKK members were found swinging from the same trees they used to torture blacks. You can fight your own battles or you can go whining to mommy and daddy. The second strategy will never work. Bill Cosby observed that adults aren't interested in justice, they want QUIET!
Yes, I purposefully wrote 'you're' instead of 'your.'
The courts of the Fair Play men were often held at a place near what is now known as Chatham's Mill, in Clinton County. But it is doubtful if they had any regular place of meeting, or stated time for the transaction of business. The time of meeting was brought about by the exigencies that might arise. The court could be convened at any place within the territory over which it exercised jurisdiction, and on short notice, to try any case that might be on hand. '
In the ideal world, this is how things should be done. But we don't live in the ideal world, and a system like this lends itself to brutality more often than it does honesty. Parliamentary procedure forbids such acts in a modern organization. As soon as whoever is in charge decides that his ego is more important than his principles, we get the just causes listed in the Declaration of Independence:
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
The Constitution addresses these issues in Article III, Section 2:
The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the state where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any state, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed.
Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
Amendments IV, V, VI, VII, and VIII were written to restrict whims of courts. Habeas Corpus was never intended to allow an obviously guilty man to game the system. It was established as the right of noblemen to force the authorities to explain why he was, " . . .was immediately placed in a canoe and rowed to the mouth of Lycoming Creek, the boundary line of civilization, and there sent adrift down the river. '
It demands that authority produce records, and justify itself. Why? Because I don't trust them.
Especially, one with nukes.
I suppose we will see this played out in North Korea.
I remember that you and I had had a conversation about Waco. Might I trouble you to share it here?
Not only are we outsourcing industry, we are outsourcing agriculture. Look at the country of origin on your produce. More and more it is Mexico, China, etc. I see this as a national security issue. If a country can't feed its self, it is vulnerable. Here in CA there is widespread speculation on why farmland is being forced out of production. Is it to drive down the value for speculators, and if so whom? Does the federal government have a plan to take over food production like they took over the auto and banking industries?
How many people are going to support a secessionist movement if they stand to lose their social security, food stamps, medicare etc? It is an idea I've been bouncing about in my head for a few weeks. What if Texas secedes? How will this issue be managed? I can see welfare payments stopped. Don't like it, get a job or leave. But will retirees stand for their piece of the pie taken away? Remember, social security and medicare is the 3rd rail of politics.
For the past decade, a plan for a North American Union and a new currency, the Amero, has been percolating within the Foreign Policy Community. They have couched it as the next logical step in globalization, but is there an ulterior motive? Is a dying nation becoming predatory and couching it as "best for all concerned".
Annexation of Mexico?
I’m sure it was Louisiana.