Atlas Shrugged, Part 2 Chapter 3: White Blackmail

Posted by nsnelson 8 years, 6 months ago to Books
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Summary: Rearden sends Lillian off, and then spent the night with Dagny. He returns to find Lillian, who does not want a divorce. Dr. Ferris came to Rearden for his Metal, threatening jail for his crime with Ken Danagger. Eddie Willers tells John Galt about Danagger, who Dagny visits with briefly as he quits. Rearden meets with d’Anconia and learns about Atlas, and the sees the playboy in action.

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Atlas Shrugged was written by Ayn Rand in 1957.

My idea for this post is discussed here:

http://www.galtsgulchonline.com/posts...


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  • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
    “Mr. Rearden,” said Francisco, his voice solemnly calm, “if you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world a lot with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders – what would you tell him to do?”
    “I… don’t know. What … could he do? What would you tell him?”
    “To shrug.”
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  • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
    Rearden to Dr. Ferris: “You seem to be pleased about it.”
    “Don’t I have good reason to be?”
    “But, after all, I did break one of your laws.”
    “Well, what do you think they’re for?”
    Dr. Ferris did not notice the sudden look on Rearden’s face, the look of a man hit by the first vision of that which he had sought to see. Dr. Ferris was past the stage of seeing; he was intent upon delivering the last blows to an animal caught in a trap.
    “Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken…. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there is that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt.”
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    • Posted by VetteGuy 8 years, 6 months ago
      The government seems to use a somewhat different technique these days. Pass so many laws, that it is impossible to keep up, then they know they always can get you for some obscure violation. Or actually, even a suspicion. (Thinking of Gibson Guitars)
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  • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
    d'Anconia to Rearden: “Did you ask me to name man’s motive power? Man’s motive power is his moral code. Ask yourself where their code is leading you and what it offers you as your final goal. A viler evil than to murder a man, is to sell him suicide as an act of virtue.”
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  • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
    d'Anconia to Rearden: “But your virtues were those which keep men alive. Your own moral code – the one you lived by, but never stated, acknowledged or defended – was the code that preserves man’s existence. If you were punished for it, what was the nature of those who punished you? Yours was the code of life. What, then, is theirs?”
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  • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
    d'Anconia: “You’re guilty of a great sin, Mr. Rearden, much guiltier than they tell you, but not in the way they preach. The worst guilt is to accept an undeserved guilt – and that is what you have been doing all your life. You have been paying blackmail, not for your vices, but for your virtues. You have been willing to carry the load of an unearned punishment – and to let it grow the heavier the greater the virtues you practiced.”
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  • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
    d'Anconia to Rearden: “All your life, you have heard yourself denounced, not for your faults, but for your greatest virtues….Have you stopped to ask them: by what right? – by what code? – by what standard? No, you have borne it all and kept silent. You bowed to their code and you never upheld your own… You left the deadliest weapon in the hands of your enemies, a weapon you never suspected or understood. Their moral code is their weapon.”
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  • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
    d'Anconia to Rearden: “What I described last [i.e., looters/moochers],” said Francisco, “is any man who proclaims his right to a single penny of another man’s effort.”
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    • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
      d'Anconia describes three types of people. Giants in production, like Wyatt. Giants of integrity, like Willers. And then he seems to combine looters and moochers. Here’s how I would compare looters and moochers. What they have in common is the belief that they own us, and deserve our produce. What distinguishes them is that looters appeal to their power to enforce their belief; moochers appeal to our sense of guilt.
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    • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
      From Biblical times, farmers have a custom of letting the poor and needy (i.e., at least those who are desperate enough) come through after harvest and glean scraps from the fields. This is a practice that is still common today in a variety of forms, and I believe it is a good thing.

      But this has to be at the discretion of the property owner. It is not mercy if gleaning is a right owed. It is not charity if it is coerced by the Government. Any gift must be at the voluntary decision of the property owner. When the poor and needy claim that they deserve our penny as a right, that is the problem.
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  • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
    d’Anconia: When you strain your energy to its utmost in order to produce the best, do you expect to be rewarded for it or punished?” Rearden did not answer. “By every standard of decency, of honor, of justice known to you – are you convinced that you should have been rewarded for it?”
    “Yes,” said Rearden, his voice low.
    “Then if you were punished, instead – what sort of code have you accepted?”
    Rearden did not answer.
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  • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
    d'Anconia: “But what I wonder about, Mr. Rearden, is why you live by one code of principles when you deal with nature and by another when you deal with men?”
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  • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
    Dagny to Danagger: “Then why are you deserting us?”
    “You will not believe it and I will not explain, but I am not deserting you."
    “We’re being left to carry a greater burden, and you’re indifferent to the knowledge that you’ll see us destroyed by the looters.”
    “Don’t be too sure of that.”
    “Of which? Your indifference or our destruction?”
    “Of either.”
    “But you know, you knew it this morning, that it’s a battle to the death, and it’s we – you were one – against the looters.”
    “If I answer that I know it, but you don’t – you’ll think that I attach no meaning to my words. So take it as you wish, but that is my answer.”
    “Will you tell me the meaning?”
    “No. It’s for you to discover.”
    “You’re willing to give up the world to the looters. We aren’t.”
    “Don’t be too sure of either.”
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  • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
    Danagger’s secretary to Dagny: “I think it’s a childhood friend of Mr. Danagger.”
    “Oh!” said Dagny, relieved.
    “He came in unannounced and asked to see Mr. Danagger and said that this was an appointment which Mr. Danagger had made with him forty years ago.”
    “How old is Mr. Danagger?”
    “Fifty-two,” said the secretary. She added reflectively, in the tone of a casual remark, “Mr. Danagger started working at the age of twelve.”
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    • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
      Interesting. He was 12 when he started working. Much of the story takes place twelve years after d'Anconia converted to Objectivism (i.e., "quit" his business - became a playboy - and stopped seeing Dagny). It is mentioned several times. 12 seems to be a significant number for Ayn Rand.
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      • Posted by VetteGuy 8 years, 6 months ago
        12 is also significant in the Bible (12 disciples, etc), but it's hard to believe that AR would use it for that reason. Maybe to make a connection with people who she might otherwise not reach? Or, maybe she just liked eggs, which come by the dozen? ;-)

        How old was she when she came to the US? Maybe someone who is better versed on her life story can give us some insight here on what 12 years, or just the number 12 might mean to her.
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  • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
    “She [Dagny] knew that Ken Dannager was as rigidly exact about his schedule as a railroad timetable and that he had been known to cancel an interview if a caller permitted himself to arrive five minutes late.”
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    • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
      What a concept! I see it as an integrity issue. I would rather be 30 minutes early than five minutes late. I always call or text if I will be any minutes late. When it comes to business, I believe that if you are not fully prepared before your party arrives, you are late.

      Many of my friends feel the same. Others, far from it. They won't even notice if they are 15 or 30 minutes late. Other cultures are different, routinely postponing "schedules" by an hour or more. I just don't understand that.
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      • Posted by VetteGuy 8 years, 6 months ago
        I agree with you, but we seem to be in the minority, and a smaller minority every day!

        I feel similar about deadlines. I prefer to beat deadlines by several days if possible. some of my co-workers (and even supervisors) seem to practically have a phobia about sending out a product before the last minute.
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  • Posted by 8 years, 6 months ago
    Dagny: “Hank, I want nothing from you except what you wish to give me. Do you remember that you called me a trader once? I want you to come to me seeking nothing but your own enjoyment… My way of trading is to know that the joy you give me is paid for by the joy you get from me.”
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