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FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Egoist
A Publius Essay | 25 July 2009 | Publius

Posted on 07/25/2009 7:42:36 AM PDT by Publius

Part III: A is A

Chapter VIII: The Egoist

Synopsis

The reaction of the men in the studio is one of disbelief.

“It wasn’t real, was it?”

“We seem to have heard it.”

“We couldn’t help it.”

“We don’t have to believe it, do we?”

Each question is a challenge to reality, not to the facts of The Speech. Wesley Mouch fears the public will think it was an authorized broadcast, but Head of State Thompson understands the consequences of the public thinking that the men in the room have lost control of the airwaves. Thompson demands the return of normal broadcasting and no mention of The Speech. Chick Morrison orders a lock on the story in the Mainstream Media.

Eugene Lawson sobs in rage at what he has just heard.

“It’s the most vicious speech ever made!”

Morrison doesn’t think that people of refined spirit will listen to Galt’s message. Tinky Holloway, who can’t speak for labor, says that the workingman won’t buy it. Ma Chalmers, who really can’t speak for women, says it’s no sale for women. Dr. Simon Pritchett, the nihilist philosopher who can’t speak for science, says scientists won’t accept it. Mouch thinks that Galt may be a friend of big business, and that prospect terrifies Mr. Mowen. Dr. Floyd Ferris thinks that people are too dumb to understand it, but it is Fred Kinnan who brings them all back to earth with his statement about people not wanting to starve.

Dagny tells them they have no choice but to surrender because their future is one of total destruction. Thompson sandbags Dagny, telling her he and the men need to evaluate the situation first.

But as soon as Dagny leaves, Dr. Robert Stadler, the one man of science in the room, tells Thompson that he must find Galt and kill him; it’s life or death now. Stadler advises Thompson to follow Dagny; she has to be in league with Galt and his deserters. Thompson tells Mouch to put a tail on Dagny, and if she leads them to Galt, they must bring him in alive. They need Galt because he has a corner on the men of intelligence.

As Dagny and Eddie walk on empty sidewalks past abandoned shops through a city where the lights in buildings above the 25th floor are turned off, he tells her that he recognized the voice of John Galt as his Anonymous Rail Worker friend. She tells him not to seek Galt if he values the life of his friend. She promises him she won’t desert. Thing are falling apart rapidly now, and the men of government will soon throw in the towel.

The Mainstream Media asks people not to be alarmed by The Speech but to see it as just one opinion. The country is silent until:

Thompson has the government sending continuous radio messages to John Galt asking him to come in for negotiations. Silence. The Unification Board tries to fill management jobs. Few will take them. Official broadcasts tell the nation that the government will soon work with John Galt, and stories are spread by Morrison that Galt is already in Washington conferring with government leaders. America’s industrial base grinds toward collapse. Hyperinflation erupts.

There are rumors of covered wagons traveling by night to avoid gangs of raiders, and of lights appearing in distant buildings not known to exist, but soldiers won’t dare to investigate. The Sign of the Dollar appears on abandoned buildings and government installations.

Rearden Steel is nationalized as the property of a deserter. People from the Boyle faction and Meigs faction fail to get the plant to produce, so they settle for looting the company and shipping its physical plant to friends in Europe and Latin America. An old and loyal worker who remembers Hank Rearden finally burns the plant to the ground in revenge for his boss.

Thompson asks Dagny what to do; she tells him to start the process of decontrolling people and removing taxes. Thompson balks and tells Dagny he hopes that Galt is still alive. The government is breaking into factions, and one faction wants to introduce official state terror and mass murder to get people to shut up and obey. He hopes to frighten her enough to lead them to Galt, and she is too obtuse to see the ruse.

So Dagny, who should know better, takes a 4 AM walk through a Manhattan that looks like Starnesville to find the apartment of John Galt. Based on the Taggart personnel records, she knocks on the registered address of John Galt, an apartment in a run-down building. He answers, sweeps her in and kisses her longingly. Dagny thinks they are safe, but John disabuses her of that notion; they have about thirty minutes before the “midnight knock on the door”. They will torture her in his presence if they realize the link between them, and he’d rather commit suicide than place her in that kind of jeopardy. Dagny must feign sympathy with the government, and John gives her the alibi she must use as she turns him in for the reward. He gives her a tour of the apartment he has lived in for the past twelve years, including his lab, run by his motor.

Their brief moment of happiness is interrupted by the knock. Three soldiers and a bureaucrat enter, and Dagny turns Galt in to the authorities. But the civilian says his job is to greet Galt in the name of the people and convey him to the national leadership. Their attempt to get into Galt’s lab reveals a room full of white dust; the self-destruct mechanism has done its job.

Galt is ensconced in the Wayne-Falkland, guarded by troops and government agents; there are public statements that he has joined the government. Thompson assures Galt he is not a prisoner, although he can’t leave, and offers him Wesley Mouch’s job. Galt says that if Thompson is serious, he will abolish all income taxes immediately. Thompson bridles at this, and Galt tells him that he cannot function as Economic Dictator, telling people to be free at the point of a gun. If Thompson wants him to sit at a desk and issue directives drawn up by the Head of State, he will comply, but he doesn’t have any ideas on how to fix the current system other than to abolish it.

Chick Morrison notes that the people are not reacting to promises that John Galt will deliver prosperity; they no longer believe anything the government says. Neither Mouch, Morrison nor Kinnan make any headway talking to Galt, although Kinnan understands him perfectly. Eugene Lawson screams that he can’t talk to Galt.

“I don’t want to have to believe it!”

Ferris subtly suggests torture, and Thompson shuts him up.

Although the government has announced the John Galt Plan, things are deteriorating rapidly.

Thompson asks Dagny for advice, and she plays along with Galt’s strategy of making Thompson believe she is on the government’s side. What Galt wants, she explains, is the whole earth; those are the stakes. But she pulls a fast one by convincing Thompson to let Galt see the confidential reports on how the nation is crumbling.

Arriving at her apartment, Dagny receives a note from Francisco giving her instructions on how to help and a phone number by which to reach him.

Galt meets with Thompson and Jim Taggart, who gives a long lecture on selfishness and accuses Galt of egoism. Morrison hands Galt petitions from schoolchildren, cripples, ministers and mothers begging Galt to tell the country what to do. Dr. Ferris lectures Galt on moral responsibility, suggesting that the government may order children and the elderly to be put to death for lack of food; this so enrages Thompson that he ejects Ferris from the room. Galt asks to speak to Dr. Stadler.

Eddie tells Dagny that a failed attack by raiders on the Taggart bridge over the Mississippi is not the only problem; a faction in the California civil war is holding Taggart trains for ransom in San Francisco. Eddie decides to fly to San Francisco on an army plane to take charge of the crisis. He finally admits his feelings to Dagny, and she tells him she has known for years.

Stadler has resisted the meeting with Galt, but government thugs escort him to Galt’s room with a warning to behave. At the sight of Galt, Stadler falls apart and begs for forgiveness while Galt simply says nothing. Stadler flees his former student’s presence.

Morrison arrives with a valet to get Galt prepared for an official dinner in formal attire. At the ballroom, to the applause of hundreds, Galt sits at the center of the official table; even Dagny is there, although Stadler is absent. The event is covered live on radio and television, and a newsman announces the inauguration of the John Galt Plan for Peace, Prosperity and Profit. The government men make speeches in praise of Galt and the plan, but when it’s Galt’s turn to speak, he has one simple message: “Get the hell out of my way!”

Discussion Topics



TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Free Republic; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: freeperbookclub

1 posted on 07/25/2009 7:42:36 AM PDT by Publius
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To: ADemocratNoMore; Aggie Mama; alarm rider; alexander_busek; AlligatorEyes; AmericanGirlRising; ...
FReeper Book Club

Atlas Shrugged

Part III: A is A

Chapter VIII: The Egoist

Ping! The thread is up.

Prior threads:
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 d’Anconias
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: Wyatt’s 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
Part III, Chapter V: Their Brothers’ Keepers
Part III, Chapter VI: The Concerto of Deliverance
Part III, Chapter VII: “This is John Galt Speaking”

2 posted on 07/25/2009 7:44:19 AM PDT by Publius (Conservatives aren't always right. We're just right most of the time.)
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To: Publius
Dr. Ferris has no problem with mass murder to get people to obey or to eliminate the “useless eaters” of society when food gets scarce. What kind of government would allow such things to be discussed in a civilized century?

The kind of government we have now, and call it "healthcare reform."

One thing people always miss about the rise of vigilantism is its cause:

The lack of ability or willingness of law enforcement to do its job....

hh
3 posted on 07/25/2009 7:51:50 AM PDT by hoosier hick (Note to RINOs: We need a choice, not an echo....Barry Goldwater)
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To: Publius

I really do have to read this book.


4 posted on 07/25/2009 7:52:47 AM PDT by Hugin (Sarah Palin: accept no substitutes!)
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To: Publius
Howdy Pub'!

Houseguests today so I'll have to post and run. After last week's orgy of philosophy and anger Rand is back to the plot, and so much of this will be a repetition of your excellent synopsis anyway. Here goes:

The shock waves from Galt’s speech have reverberated through room and country in Chapter 28, “The Egoist,” and now it behooves Rand to pick up the strands of her narrative and re-establish the pace. We will consider in a moment whether the interposition of a 60-page philosophical manifesto has fatally wounded the novel or merely paused it.

The speech certainly takes the ruling class back a bit. From an initial disbelief there comes a panicked moment when Wesley Mouch fears that the playing of a march to fill the dead air will lead people to believe that they authorized the speech; Mr. Thompson, quicker than Mouch, counters

“You damn fool!” cried Mr. Thompson. “Would you rather have the public think that we didn’t?”

It’s a point, actually – the issue now is control of a country roiling with revolution, and it’s fairly clear that the current bunch isn’t up to it. Each of them presumes to describe how the various constituent parts of the Aristocracy of Pull will react – Holloway for labor, Ma Chalmers for women (all of them, presumably, except Dagny, who is sitting silently in front of them), Dr. Pritchett for the scientists – each of these declares stoutly and unconvincingly that his group will have none of it. And what is most curious about this is that none of these individuals is really the representative of the respective classes at all. From the real nominal head of labor, for example – Fred Kinnan – the real nominal head of science, Dr. Stadler, we hear none of these protests. Jim Taggart seems to fraying rapidly, screaming his disbelief of the speech; the reader is a little uncertain but suspects that despite his hysteria Jim really does appreciate what the issues and the stakes are here. His partners in crime’s only hope is that he is alone in that. The speech,

…said Dr. Floyd Ferris, “It was too intellectual. Much too intellectual for the common man. It will have no effect. People are too dumb to understand it.”

He is, of course, assuming that people must understand the fine points of deontological ethics before they’ll be affected by Galt’s diatribe. It isn’t the case. In a country that unstable, even nonsense words, timed correctly, can be the pebbles that start avalanches.

“In the first place,” said Dr. Ferris, encouraged, “People can’t think. In the second place, they don’t want to.” “In the third place,” said Fred Kinnan, “they don’t want to starve. And what do you propose to do about that?”

Once again Kinnan brings them up short with a cold dash of reality. Nor will he help them by telling them what to do. The fellow who once demanded full control of the Equalization Board was after power, not the opportunity to lead. They are two quite different things.

It is, ironically, Dagny who gives them their best course of action simply by speaking the truth. Who can tell them what to do?

“I can,” she said, addressing Mr. Thompson. “You’re to give up… God damn it! You’re able to understand. It isn’t possible you haven’t understood. .. There’s nothing but destruction ahead, the world’s and your own. Give up and get out.”

Harmless enough, but then…

“You wish to live, don’t you? Get out of the way, if you want a chance. Let those who can, take over. HE knows what to do. You don’t. HE is able to create the means of survival. You aren’t.”

Disaster. For Dr. Stadler understands the issues, and after Dagny departs with Eddie, he urges them to murder Galt. They are as taken aback as if he had recommended using a bag of gold as a boat anchor, because despite Dagny’s explanations they really don’t understand Galt at all. But they – Thompson, especially – do know a potential asset when they see one, someone who might be bribed to be a figurehead, someone who might act as a fall guy, someone who might even have an idea they’d consider worth trying.

“How am I to find him?” asked Mr. Thompson, speaking slowly and carefully.

“I can give you a lead. Watch that Taggart woman. She’ll lead you to him sooner or later.”

“Mr. Thompson,” said Mouch, choking, “I’m afraid he’s a man who’s not open to a deal.”

“There’s no such thing,” said Mr. Thompson.

He is, after all, correct, but not in the way he thinks. Will Galt deal? Yes, of course – but on his terms. And unfortunately for the ruling class those terms specify its dissolution.

The country is exploding. Clearly Galt’s speech has had an effect – government representatives are being beaten up on its basis, inflation is rampant, overprinted money worthless, jails full, and people are really beginning to starve. And with each successive catastrophe it becomes clearer to Thompson and his government that they really do need Galt, if only as a sacrifice.

Dagny knows this, and she has sternly ordered Eddie, who now knows who his track-worker friend of all these years really is, not to seek Galt. She knows what the stakes are. But in a fantastically irresponsible lapse of self-discipline she seeks Galt herself. It is, actually, a little out of character, but smart people sometimes do disastrously stupid things, and this is very, very stupid indeed. If before I have mocked Eddie Willers for his lack of discretion, at least he did not know to whom he was betraying them all. She does, and as a conspirator Dagny must now rank among the most hapless amateurs in all of modern literature. Rand offers us no real explanation for this other than her loneliness. She lasted only ten days. One sympathizes. but in truth it is quite simply her worst moment in the novel.

She is followed, of course, and they are caught. Galt has quite a place tucked away among the tenements, a laboratory, workshop, a slice of Galt’s Gulch on the East River, his refuge during his twelve working years watching over Dagny at Taggart Transcontinental. He is apparently a wizard of some expertise as well, for all that the invading police find of his wonderland of inventions is dust, the same thing that he had mentioned would happen if anyone were to violate the sanctity of his generator house at Galt’s Gulch. But they don’t need his inventions, they have him.

He has insisted that Dagny pretend to have betrayed him, an act which she accomplishes with the cold efficiency which, had she shown it before setting out to traipse across Manhattan at 4 AM, she would hardly need now. And so off with him to a highly secure suite in the Wayne-Falkland hotel, where he will be wined and dined as, one by one, the leaders of the ruling class try to convince him to use his formidable intellectual skills to pacify a country in revolution. And one by one, they fail.

One of them has not entirely wasted his time, the only one who has seemed to know the score throughout the novel. It is labor mobster Fred Kinnan.

“Nobody can talk to him,” said Dr. Floyd Ferris. “It’s a waste of time. He doesn’t hear a word you say.”

Fred Kinnan chuckled. “You mean, he hears too much, don’t you? And what’s worse, he answers it.”

“Well, why don’t you try it again?” snapped Mouch. “You seem to have enjoyed it. Why don’t you try to persuade him?”

“I know better,” said Kinnan. “Don’t fool yourself, brother. Nobody’s going to persuade him. I won’t try it twice… Enjoyed it?” he added, with a look of astonishment. “Yeah…yeah, I guess I did.”

“What’s the matter with you? Are you letting him win you over?”

“Me?” Kinnan chuckled mirthlessly. “what use would he have for me? I’d be the first one to go down the drain when he wins… It’s only…that he’s a man who talks straight.”

“Trouble is, he doesn’t want anything,” said Mouch. “What can we offer a man who doesn’t want anything?”

“You mean,” said Kinnan, “what can WE offer a man who wants to live?”

The implication is that, as Kinnan predicted, their scam is coming to an end all too soon, and that they are likely to pay for it with their lives. It is a stark warning, far more believable now with the country falling apart than it was when they were discussing the fine points of Directive 10-289. Jim, who is obviously at the end of his tether, begins screaming again.

A parenthetical moment. Twice in the text we have Galt described to us as an “egoist,” hence the chapter title, and Rand does so with a precision of meaning that sends us to the dictionary to discover the difference between the term and its more prevalent cousin, “egotist.” An egoist is, in this sense, an individual for whom self-interest, rational or otherwise, is the basis for morality, which describes the Objectivist ideal to a T. An egotist is someone with an exaggerated sense of self who expresses it by self-aggrandizement. Although the two terms overlap there are subtle shades of difference. Rand’s code demands the former and sees the latter as a weakness. That’s quite a bit of mileage to get out of a single letter of the alphabet.

Galt won’t cooperate, of course, and Mr. Thompson resorts to asking the opinion of the one who guided them to him, Dagny Taggart. She recommends they let Galt know from their confidential reports what the state of the country is. It is two-edged advice: Thompson thinks it will impel Galt to help them, she knows it will only steel his resolve. But that evening, while she is contemplating the reward money (now worthless in any case) she spies an envelope. And in a familiar handwriting, one she last saw mocking the entire city of New York, she reads

Dagny: Sit tight. Watch them. When he’ll need our help, call me at OR 6-5693. F.

We are as relieved as Dagny is that a competent conspirator has finally come along to take charge of the thing, and Francisco is both master dissimulator and man of action. The time for dissimulation is almost over; soon it will be the time for force.

We come at last to a climactic meeting – philosophically speaking – between Galt and his old teacher, Robert Stadler. Dr. Stadler delivers an apologia that is rife with self-justification and hostility toward the man who has held to the standards that Stadler taught and betrayed. Galt doesn’t have to say a word to leave Stadler a trembling puddle of self-realization and self-loathing.

Galt’s voice had the same unbending austerity as his eyes: “You have said everything I wanted to say to you.”

And now Mr. Thompson tries one last time to create a propaganda vehicle that will quell the rising violence. It is a plot device that Rand has used three times now for dramatic effect and frankly, it’s getting a bit predictable: first Dagny, in her abortive debate with Bertram Scudder over the merits of Rearden Metal, then the radio broadcast in which she declared her affair with Hank, then the broadcast that ended up being “This Is John Galt Speaking,” and finally this one, in which the country’s new savior, John Galt himself, is to be introduced as a figurehead of the new government. It is no more successful than the others.

“And now you will hear his own voice – now you will hear his own message! Ladies and gentlemen,” [Mr. Thompson] said solemnly, “John Galt – to the collective family of mankind!”

The camera moved to Galt…then, standing straight, facing the cameras, looking at all his invisible viewers, he said: “Get the hell out of my way!”

It is perhaps not entirely the message Mr. Thompson was looking for. But anyone who has heard Galt’s polemic on the radio knows exactly what he means, whether they understood deontological ethics or not. He isn’t playing along. They’re on their own. And at long last, the main course for the hungry looters will be the government itself.

Have a great week, Publius!

5 posted on 07/25/2009 8:01:57 AM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Hugin; Publius

I read it many years ago when Hubby and I were dating. He thought I was nuts to be reading a book with that many pages. I loved it at the time, and it really cemented my inchoate thoughts about the superiority of Conservatism/Libertarianism.

I bought another copy recently right after I got on this ping list, and Hubby’s reading it and marveling at all the parallels with our country now.

Problem is, I can’t read it until he’s finished. Sigh... I’m going to have to go back and read all the threads as I complete each chapter when he’s finished.

And he keeps saying, “Who is John Galt?” when we talk politics.


6 posted on 07/25/2009 8:34:13 AM PDT by TheOldLady (0bama -- Beloved of the Morningstar)
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To: TheOldLady

You should’ve bought 2. You could’ve each read it. And you could give 1 away.


7 posted on 07/25/2009 8:48:30 AM PDT by definitelynotaliberal (Sarah Palin - It's what happens when you attempt to bikini wax a bear.)
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Adolescent chest-beating aside, how can the people resist a government with modern armed forces, weapons of mass destruction, and the will to use them against its own citizens?

Sobering thought, particularly the bit about the will to use force against its own citizens.


8 posted on 07/25/2009 8:50:48 AM PDT by definitelynotaliberal (Sarah Palin - It's what happens when you attempt to bikini wax a bear.)
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To: definitelynotaliberal
Look at Iran. The mullahs have said that even if only 1 million of Iran's 70 million people actually back the government, that's enough to maintain power.

As long as it's the right 1 million people with a monopoly on the weapons.

9 posted on 07/25/2009 8:58:26 AM PDT by Publius (Conservatives aren't always right. We're just right most of the time.)
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To: definitelynotaliberal

Our armed forces have taken an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Any action taken by us or by people who believe as we do would have the same goal.

I think we can depend on our soldiers to uphold their oath, and support any action we might take.


10 posted on 07/25/2009 9:34:45 AM PDT by wolfpat (Moderate=Clueless)
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To: wolfpat
I think we can depend on our soldiers to uphold their oath, and support any action we might take.

As an army officer, I was trained to follow all orders, legal or otherwise. If I believed an order was illegal, I had the right to challenge it -- after I had executed that order to the letter. I had no right to challenge it beforehand, and such a challenge was mutiny, punishable under the UCMJ.

Our soldiers will follow their Commander in Chief, from the highest ranking general to the lowest ranking enlisted man, with every officer and NCO following up to make sure those orders are followed.

If they aren't, this particular Commander in Chief will order the armed forces to stack arms -- which they will do! -- while non-English epeaking foreign troops enforce the Commander in Chief's will.

11 posted on 07/25/2009 10:24:51 AM PDT by Publius (Conservatives aren't always right. We're just right most of the time.)
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To: Publius

Thank you for that information.

Is there any point at which you can refuse to follow an obviously illegal order? Wasn’t the “I was just following orders” defense nullified at Nuremberg?


12 posted on 07/25/2009 10:43:43 AM PDT by wolfpat (Moderate=Clueless)
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To: Publius
As an army officer, I was trained to follow all orders, legal or otherwise. If I believed an order was illegal, I had the right to challenge it -- after I had executed that order to the letter. I had no right to challenge it beforehand, and such a challenge was mutiny, punishable under the UCMJ.

Here's a serious question.

If, say, a General Wesley Clark ordered a unit you commanded to round up enemy prisoners immediately taken in battle, make them dig a long deep trench and then execute them, would you:

a. Follow the orders to the letter, and then challenge the orders afterwards.

b. Ask for authentication of said orders.

c. other action

What if the orders were modified to include enemy civilian population?

You're in command of an tank platoon, say in Washington, D.C. and are ordered to fire upon a very large tent encampment by the Anacostia River you know to be occupied by civilians, men, service veterans; women; and children. What would you do?

13 posted on 07/25/2009 10:47:29 AM PDT by Covenantor ("Men are ruled...by liars who refuse them news, and by fools who cannot govern." Chesterton)
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To: Publius

The Speech is one of the reasons why Atlas Shrugged has never been made into a movie.

Its the high point of the novel but would take 3 hours to read aloud.

Atlas Shrugged would take some real editing to make it onto the silver screen.


14 posted on 07/25/2009 11:28:38 AM PDT by I_Like_Spam
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To: Hugin

Yup.


15 posted on 07/25/2009 11:41:55 AM PDT by TradicalRC (Conservatism is primarily a Christian movement.)
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To: wolfpat
Is there any point at which you can refuse to follow an obviously illegal order? Wasn’t the “I was just following orders” defense nullified at Nuremberg?

The Nuremberg trials happened because the Germans lost the war. Had they won, this would never have become an issue.

It depends on just who wins a second civil war, should one occur. If the government's firepower wins, he who challanged an order would likely find himself executed, while he who followed orders would live and probably get a medal.

If the government's firepower isn't enough, then he who followed orders would be viewed as a war criminal, and he who objected would still be dead, but would be awarded a medal posthumously.

In civil wars, those who win get to decide who is loyal or a traitor.

16 posted on 07/25/2009 11:42:22 AM PDT by Publius (Conservatives aren't always right. We're just right most of the time.)
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To: Billthedrill

You know out of all the bad guys Kinnan was the only one I liked.


17 posted on 07/25/2009 11:44:15 AM PDT by TradicalRC (Conservatism is primarily a Christian movement.)
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To: Covenantor; Publius

Ditto on this question. Obviously there must be a point where an illegal order becomes moot when questioned afterwards. i.e. in shoot to kill situations whether enemy, civilian or fellow soldier.


18 posted on 07/25/2009 11:50:00 AM PDT by TradicalRC (Conservatism is primarily a Christian movement.)
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To: Covenantor
If, say, a General Wesley Clark ordered a unit you commanded to round up enemy prisoners immediately taken in battle, make them dig a long deep trench and then execute them, would you:
a. Follow the orders to the letter, and then challenge the orders afterwards.
b. Ask for authentication of said orders.
c. other action

I would follow orders. This happened during World War II to German soldiers taken prisoner by Americans, as dramatized in HBO's "Band of Brothers". It was nasty, but it was done.

What if the orders were modified to include enemy civilian population?
You're in command of an tank platoon, say in Washington, D.C. and are ordered to fire upon a very large tent encampment by the Anacostia River you know to be occupied by civilians, men, service veterans; women; and children. What would you do?

I would follow orders. This happened in 1932 when the US Army attacked the unarmed Bonus Army camped in DC. President Hoover authorized Generals Douglas MacArthur and George Patton to take action, and this was the action they took. Granted, it ruined Hoover's reelection bid, but no one attempted to court-martial MacArthur or Patton, despite calls from some to do so. Hoover took full responsibility.

Even today, no one comdemns the actions of MacArthur, Patton, Eisenhower and other officers for the measures taken against ordinary citizens peaceably asking Congress for redress in 1932. Hoover gets blamed, but not those who followed the Commander in Chief's orders.

19 posted on 07/25/2009 11:56:48 AM PDT by Publius (Conservatives aren't always right. We're just right most of the time.)
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To: Publius; TradicalRC
If, say, a General Wesley Clark ordered a unit you commanded to round up enemy prisoners immediately taken in battle, make them dig a long deep trench and then execute them, would you:

a. Follow the orders to the letter, and then challenge the orders afterwards.
b. Ask for authentication of said orders.
c. other action

I would follow orders. This happened during World War II to German soldiers taken prisoner by Americans, as dramatized in HBO's "Band of Brothers". It was nasty, but it was done.

I would follow orders.

Interesting...that you didn't chose to have the orders authenticated before following them.

I was thinking of a real situation, the massacre of the Polish Officers by the Red Army and the Malmedy Massacre of US prisoners by the Wermacht.

In the instance of the Bonus Army assault, your are mistaken. Hoover specifically ordered no assault to take place. MacArthur exceeded his authority and IIRC ignored direct orders from Hoover transmitted by Eisenhower and proceeded to attacked unarmed former brothers in arms and their families burning them out with the resultant deaths.

The Bonus Army Marchers sought early payment of the bonuses promised them as signed into law by the Congress of the USA. That a minority contingent of Wobblies was among them was used publicize them as a . socialist threat to the nation. Sounds similar to the events at Waco
[A side note; my first post at FR was about the Bonus Army.]

If then:

Obama orders federal troops into Washington, D.C. (1968 DC riot precedent), orders them to disperse The National Tea Party Protest and the ROE include lethal force

Because of foreign deployments reservists are called up to confront the Tea Party. You are among the reserve officer.

Is your answer still:

I will follow orders?

"I, Publius (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God." (DA Form 71)

And I'll shoot all the miserable sons-of-bitches that Obama tells me to.

Note the difference between the officer's oath and the enlisted oath below.

...That I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

The officer's oath requires loyalty to the Constitution and all enemies foreign and domestic, not to officers above them.

20 posted on 07/25/2009 12:48:57 PM PDT by Covenantor ("Men are ruled...by liars who refuse them news, and by fools who cannot govern." Chesterton)
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To: TradicalRC

Likewise. I’m not even sure he was a bad guy. I would say that he had no discipline.


21 posted on 07/25/2009 3:01:39 PM PDT by definitelynotaliberal (Sarah Palin - It's what happens when you attempt to bikini wax a bear.)
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To: Covenantor

Who gave the orders? Full disclosure: This is the first time ever that I’ve heard of the bonus army.

http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/database/article_display.cfm?HHID=461


22 posted on 07/25/2009 3:08:40 PM PDT by definitelynotaliberal (Sarah Palin - It's what happens when you attempt to bikini wax a bear.)
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To: Publius

I pray you are wrong about that, but fear you are right.

When I was a serving Naval Officer, I believe that I would have refused to obey an unlawful or unconstitutional order.

I pray our serving military, enlisted and officer alike, can recognize the difference between a lawful/constitutional and an unlawful/unconstitutional order.

And refuse to obey the latter, in particular as it applies to actions agains US citizens.

HST all that, I am reminded of Kent State.


23 posted on 07/25/2009 6:11:12 PM PDT by Taxman (So that the beautiful pressure does not diminish!)
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To: definitelynotaliberal
Adolescent chest-beating aside, how can the people resist a government with modern armed forces, weapons of mass destruction, and the will to use them against its own citizens?

I think the answer is found in the preceding chapter, Galts speech...

"Do not attempt to rise on the looters’ terms or to climb a ladder while they’re holding the ropes. Do not allow their hands to touch the only power that keeps them in power: your living ambition. Go on strike-in the manner I did. Use your mind and skill in private, extend your knowledge, develop your ability, but do not share your achievements with others. Do not try to produce a fortune, with a looter riding on your back. Stay on the lowest rung of their ladder, earn no more than your barest survival, do not make an extra penny to support the looters’ state. Since you’re captive, act as a captive, do not help them pretend that you’re free. Be the silent, incorruptible enemy they dread. When they force you, obey-but do not volunteer. Never volunteer a step in their direction, or a wish, or a plea, or a purpose. Do not help a holdup man to claim that he acts as your friend and benefactor. Do not help your jailers to pretend that their jail is your natural state of existence. Do not help them to fake reality. That fake is the only dam holding off their secret terror, the terror of knowing they’re unfit to exist; remove it and let them drown; your sanction is their only life belt. “If you find a chance to vanish into some wilderness out of their reach, do so, but not to exist as a bandit or to create a gang competing with their racket; build a productive life of your own with those who accept your moral code and are willing to struggle for a human existence. You have no chance to win on the Morality of Death or by the code of faith and force; raise a standard to which the honest will repair: the standard of Life and Reason."

Proving to others that it is possible to live this way is, in my opinion, the most effective strategy. Earlier on I mentioned the 'punch vs. shrug' conundrum. This is what it has distilled down to. The 'punch' (armed confrontation) is not only absorbed by the looters, it adds to their power and used against you. The 'shrug' denies them your resources and reduces their power and adds to yours.

Nancy Reagan had it right, although she may not have understood the full implication, when she told our children to "Just say NO!"

24 posted on 07/25/2009 6:50:24 PM PDT by whodathunkit (Shrugging as I leave for the Gulch)
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To: definitelynotaliberal
Adolescent chest-beating aside, how can the people resist a government with modern armed forces, weapons of mass destruction, and the will to use them against its own citizens?

Absolutely no one can maintain a 300 yard security perimeter forever. No one.

25 posted on 07/25/2009 7:29:46 PM PDT by Lurker (The avalanche has begun. The pebbles no longer have a vote.)
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To: Publius
I would follow orders

Then it would be my great pleasure to hunt you down and shoot you through the head. Just saying.

L

26 posted on 07/25/2009 7:32:08 PM PDT by Lurker (The avalanche has begun. The pebbles no longer have a vote.)
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To: Publius; Billthedrill
I remember that the first time I got to this part, I was thinking that people reached the limit of tolerance for smooth talking thieves. I wondered how it could take so long, but Rand wrote this in a different epoch. We now know exactly what it took for Stalin and Tung to hold onto power. The full limits of their massacres were not known when Rand wrote the book. She wrote what she knew. She was Russian, and likely knew a few things about people who will swallow the line about 'each according to his need' from personal experience.

Times have changed. Many people try to ignore what the communists did, or to analogize it with western actions, but many more people know what absolute power brings in its wake. There is a very healthy debate about the policies of the moron in the White House, even though the MSM is too brainwashed to acknowledge it. I'm not sure that the events would have unfolded as they did in the time Rand wrote the book. I suspect that there would be more violence by and against government thugs. Stalin and Tung also thought the same thing, and were very quick to kill people who threatened their power.

Only Eugene Lawson attacks the content of The Speech, and he does so hysterically. The others don’t question the content, but the nature of reality itself. What is going on here, and how did supposedly rational men reach this pass?"
". . .Dr. Stadler understands the issues, and after Dagny departs with Eddie, he urges them to murder Galt. They are as taken aback as if he had recommended using a bag of gold as a boat anchor, because despite Dagny’s explanations they really don’t understand Galt at all. But they – Thompson, especially – do know a potential asset when they see one, someone who might be bribed to be a figurehead, someone who might act as a fall guy, someone who might even have an idea they’d consider worth trying."

This is the crux of it. They do not believe that they can produce. They are sure they can make someone else produce for them. It strains belief that men who would wield power by starving and destroying the lives of millions would be troubled by murdering one more man, and that only Fred Kinnan can see what's really happening.
“Well, why don’t you try it again?” snapped Mouch. “You seem to have enjoyed it. Why don’t you try to persuade him?”
“I know better,” said Kinnan. “Don’t fool yourself, brother. Nobody’s going to persuade him. I won’t try it twice… Enjoyed it?” he added, with a look of astonishment. “Yeah…yeah, I guess I did.”
“What’s the matter with you? Are you letting him win you over?”
“Me?” Kinnan chuckled mirthlessly. “what use would he have for me? I’d be the first one to go down the drain when he wins… It’s only…that he’s a man who talks straight.”
At this point, I also started to like Fred Kinnan. I suspect that Rand wrote the character so that the book could not be accused of spitting on the blue collar class. Fred Kinnan certainly knows how many lives he's destroyed. He doesn't express guilt. He shows admiration for Galt, who can play the same game without flinching. This is also an insight into the difference between good and evil. Rand's baddies can't admit that they take what they want by force. They've been causing death and destruction for years while claiming to aid the weak for the common good. Mostly they were enriching themselves.

Galt offers no such illusions. He predicts violence and death and he is proud to be one of the causes of it.

Dr. Ferris has no problem with mass murder to get people to obey or to eliminate the “useless eaters” of society when food gets scarce. What kind of government would allow such things to be discussed in a civilized century?

Dr. Ferris would have been a very happy Nazi. He might not have cared whether the Jews were exterminated or left alone, but he would order their deaths if he thought it would increase his own power.

But there is a difference here, one that might have escaped Rand's notice due to her foreign upbringing and her life in New York and Los Angeles. She did not know middle America and she does not seem to grasp the reality of the United States Civil War. It was questioned who would follow orders to murder enemy soldiers, or even civilians and the answers ignored some legal realities in this country. The federal government does not have a monopoly on armed force. Each state has its own National Guard and its own militia. Each state has heavy weapons, aircraft, and in some cases, nuclear weapons in its control. State and local police are paramilitary organizations and can be called into service by the governor.

The movie Tank was pretty much Godawful, but it had a few shining moments. Zach Carey is an Army sergeant who owns a demil Sherman Tank. It actually had a working Browning M2, but this could be legally transferred at the time. Blake's son is framed by a crooked sheriff in Georgia. Blake rescues his son from a youth prison and they flee to Tennessee in the tank. Their plan is to force the facts of the case to be exposed in an extradition hearing. The case gets on the news and people in Tennessee and Georgia wait at the state line. There are contingents of Tennessee state police and Georgia sheriff's deputies among the crowds. The tank gets stuck just shy of the border. A group of Tennesseans throws a chain to the tank and pulls it across the line. The crooked sheriff orders his deputies to fire into the crowd. The Tennessee police commander orders his men to return fire if the deputies shoot. Is such a thing out of the question? Not if state relations were strained to the point of insurrection, and it has happened here before.

It depends on just who wins a second civil war, should one occur. If the government's firepower wins, he who challanged(sic) an order would likely find himself executed, while he who followed orders would live and probably get a medal.

My father was an Army lieutenant in France during the Battle of the Bulge. The scariest story he told me was about the time he caught one of his men raping a German woman. I asked him if he had the man arrested. He said, "I couldn't. I needed him on the line." My father was wounded shortly after that and sent to England for surgery and recovery. He never went back to Germany. I have no idea what happened to that soldier.

Some incidents are prosecuted by us in wartime, others are not. Think of My-Lai, and try not to regurgitate when you think of Jack Murtha. It depends on the perception of the mission, the trust of commanders, the trust of comrades in arms, and to a great degree, luck. The federal government is not omniscient.

Regarding Rand's thrice usurping government broadcasts by Rearden, Taggart, and Galt. This is Reversal of the Situation, found in Aristotle's Poetics. It is a Greek dramatic device, and yes, it is that old. My agent made me read Aristotle's Poetics in 1989. You can be certain that Rand read it. She was a screenwriter. She also used Recognition repeatedly in the climax, and she threw in some Pathos for Eddie and for Cherryl Taggart.

She departed significantly from the formula by omitting a Scene of Suffering for her villains. Drama of the age is supposed to make us feel sorry for the villain, when we learn that he acted out of desperation or misunderstanding. We are meant to feel pathos for people who let the looters destroy them, but not for the actual looters.

27 posted on 07/25/2009 9:04:11 PM PDT by sig226 (Real power is not the ability to destroy an enemy. It is the willingness to do it.)
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To: sig226
Each state has heavy weapons, aircraft, and in some cases, nuclear weapons in its control.

No state has nuclear weapons under its control. All launch codes reside at the federal level.

28 posted on 07/25/2009 9:10:36 PM PDT by Publius (Conservatives aren't always right. We're just right most of the time.)
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To: Lurker

May we not be forced to meet in battle.


29 posted on 07/25/2009 9:11:04 PM PDT by Publius (Conservatives aren't always right. We're just right most of the time.)
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To: Publius

Let us both hope so.


30 posted on 07/25/2009 9:39:28 PM PDT by Lurker (The avalanche has begun. The pebbles no longer have a vote.)
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To: sig226
A great post, and my apology for a tardy reply.

Kinnan is convinced that he would be the fellow that Galt would find no place for, but in fact Rand writes him as an individual as clear in the recognition of the rules that govern his world as anyone in the novel, and certainly more so than anyone else in the Aristocracy of Pull. Let us posit a society built anew under the rather spare set of economic rules and the more comprehensive set of moral rules specified by Rand in the person of Galt. Let us also posit a Fred Kinnan who has survived the fall of the criminal ruling class of which he was a part. He must start anew. Could a fellow such as this succeed under the new rules?

Rand gives us no real reason to suppose that he wouldn't. After all, the primary deception common to all of that gaggle of fools is self-deception, a crime of which Kinnan is notably (and uniquely) innocent. Now, it may be the romantic in me, but I could actually picture Kinnan as being perfectly content to start as a sweeper of one of Rearden's floors - a very ambitious sweeper, to be sure, and one who would not be content in that role for very long. That is, as Rand sees it, a virtue, not a vice. She places competence high on her list of virtues, and Kinnan is, of all of them, at least a supremely competent villain. But key to Rand's presentation of this character is that she also states what his moral precepts are and that he adheres to them scrupulously, not, as he puts it, because he wants but because he knows he has to. The latter is, in fact, irrelevant under Rand's rules, at least as I understand them.

So let's leave it that I think that Kinnan, unlike the rest of the idiots in the ruling class, has the intellectual equipment to thrive under a new set of moral rules. Has he asked others to live for him? To my knowledge he has not. Has he offered to live for the benefit of others? To my knowledge he has not. Could he, then, take Galt's Oath and live by it? I can't say "yes" but I won't say "no". I guess I'd better leave it there.

Your insight as to Rand's appreciation of the issues and the upshot of the U.S. Civil War is absolutely marvelous and probably deserves a thread of its own. I won't attempt to answer it now but I will state publicly that it's one of those gems that makes the whole Book Club thing worthwhile. Thank you for that, and I mean it.

31 posted on 07/25/2009 11:42:31 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: definitelynotaliberal

Wow. Am I reading the history of Roosevelt or Obama? Sounds Identical!


32 posted on 07/26/2009 2:19:49 AM PDT by Clock King (There's no way to fix D.C.)
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To: hoosier hick

Exactly correct, Hoosier!


33 posted on 07/26/2009 5:28:31 AM PDT by Budge (Who will protect us from the protectors?)
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To: Publius

They do not have the codes, but unless they changed it, several of the launch sites are manned by NG soldiers.


34 posted on 07/26/2009 5:58:08 AM PDT by sig226 (Real power is not the ability to destroy an enemy. It is the willingness to do it.)
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To: Billthedrill

Thank you.

Regarding Kinnan, he is also exceptional among the looters because he goes to Washington and does what he was asked to do. He grabs power for himself, but his job was to look out for the union members, and he did it. He is a contrast to Wesley Mouch, who was hired to look out for Hank Rearen’s interests and promptly threw Rearden under the bus.


35 posted on 07/26/2009 6:19:44 AM PDT by sig226 (Real power is not the ability to destroy an enemy. It is the willingness to do it.)
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To: Publius; wolfpat; Covenantor; Taxman; Lurker
There was a more recent event in Washington, D.C. In August 1963, 250,000 people marched through town to the area around the Washington monument where Martin Luther King delivered his famous speech.

I wasn't in the crowd but I was nearby at Fort Myer in Arlington National Cemetery serving as a Sp4 with The Old Guard. During the week before the rally, the battalion practiced riot control tactics armed with M1 rifles with fixed bayonets. On the morning of the rally, officers ordered live ammo issued to the NCOs as we loaded into deuce-and-a-half trucks strung with chicken wire where we sat for hours on alert waiting to move out.

During that time, the colonel commanding the Bn went from truck to truck telling the troops to follow orders and “men, you may have to kill some Americans today”.

That was a far different time 46 years ago. Thankfully, the whole episode turned out peacefully, we never moved out, nobody got killed and we went back to business as usual burying lots of dead soldiers. Today there is the possibility of another “Freedom March” on Washington and I'm concerned about how the military will be ordered to react this time when citizens object in mass to the loss of their freedoms. So far these ‘tea party’ demonstrations have been peaceful. But the tone is getting angrier as the economy deteriorates and the politicians take more freedoms from the people in their power grab.

I'm likely to be in the crowd this time and advise any others with me to prepare for the worst. Based on my experience, the military will follow orders as it always has, just like Publius said.

36 posted on 07/27/2009 1:00:59 PM PDT by shove_it (old Old Guardsman)
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To: Publius

“Only Eugene Lawson attacks the content of The Speech, and he does so hysterically. The others don’t question the content, but the nature of reality itself. What is going on here, and how did supposedly rational men reach this pass?”

I’ll tackle this one: Apparently, Lawson isn’t as deep down the abyss of cynicism and self-deception as his fellow looters; he actually does believe in the “righteousness” of altruism so the speech hit him like a bucket of icewater. The other looters, being much more jaded and consciously malignant, fully realize that altruism was just their rationale to cannibalize others; they intuitively understood the speech so the next step in self-deception was to deny that they ever heard it.


37 posted on 07/29/2009 7:52:18 PM PDT by Triangleman
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To: definitelynotaliberal; Jeff Head
Adolescent chest-beating aside, how can the people resist a government with modern armed forces, weapons of mass destruction, and the will to use them against its own citizens?

AH HA! Finally something I can answer. read this: What good can a handgun do against an Army.

38 posted on 07/31/2009 7:30:32 PM PDT by NonValueAdded (if the government makes trading a used car this hard how are they going to handle a doctor visit?)
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To: Publius

ping

This was incorrectly addressed to me.


39 posted on 08/01/2009 7:59:40 AM PDT by definitelynotaliberal (So how about, in honor of the American soldier, ya quit making things up? - Gov. Palin)
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To: Taxman

I tend to side with hope here, but am disgusted by how little people know about our Constitution.


40 posted on 08/01/2009 9:10:34 PM PDT by Loud Mime (More government jobs and benefits and more unemployment sets the stage for real disaster)
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To: Loud Mime

The Obozo administration looks very Fascist to me.

I fear for our country.


41 posted on 08/02/2009 3:38:02 AM PDT by Taxman (So that the beautiful pressure does not diminish!)
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To: r-q-tek86
Part III,Chapter IX: The Generator
42 posted on 08/14/2009 2:38:32 PM PDT by r-q-tek86 ("A building has integrity just like a man. And just as seldom." - Ayn Rand)
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