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!