Atlas Blogged #14: Oh, she’s such a feminist

August 25, 2010

Part 14 of blogging my way through my first reading of Atlas Shrugged. You can find the first part here.

Chapter 14: The Sanction of the Victim

The title of this chapter refers to Rand’s argument that socialism functions by fostering a moral climate in which the successful feel guilty for their success and so accede to having their wealth removed from them. This moral climate is, to Rand, a mechanism of control over the productive. The inverse argument, which is that Rand’s own morality functions as a mechanism of control over the less productive, doesn’t seem to have occurred to her.

The argument is illustrated by Rearden’s appearance in court in this chapter over the matter of his illegal dealings with Kenneth Danagger. Rearden and Danagger had traded amounts of the commodities they produced in excess of the limits imposed by the Government, because otherwise both of them would’ve found it very difficult to continue trading – Rearden needed coal for his furnaces, and Danagger required metal supports to shore up his mines. This particular law is a ridiculous conceit dreamt up by Rand to illustrate how appalling socialists are – constraining successful individuals because they can’t achieve that much themselves. This violation of reality would be more acceptable if Rand hadn’t decided to ignore how US law actually works in order to make Rearden the hero of the courtroom.

Rearden refuses to co-operate with the trial, refusing to enter a plea and refusing to offer a defence. He does this because he wants the ‘real face’ of the court to be seen – i.e. force to be used to control him. Unfortunately for Rand, under US law a plea is submitted on the defendant’s behalf by the judge, and refusing to defend yourself normally means you simply lose. Consent is not required; sanction is not sought. The law is backed by force; the idea that men would quibble over its use is a conceit only found in the mind of Rand.

I have, previously in this blog, talked about Rand’s bizarre attitude towards sex and how it entails a man wanting to despoil a woman and that women should be happy to surrender to that. This chapter adds another facet to that women-hating concept, courtesy of Mr d’Anconia, claiming that real men only want women who are difficult to conquer and in possession of purity. Yes, for Rand, sexual purity is a virtue women should possess. It doesn’t matter what other virtues you possess, if you’re a slut then Rand doesn’t think you’re worthwhile woman. Good going on the sexual liberation front, there!

This does work both ways, to a certain extent. Rand’s male Mary Sue (Marty Sid?) Francisco d’Anconia who in previous chapters has been portrayed as a playboy, is revealed to have only slept with one woman ever and to have worked to make up his reputation. So that’s alright then; despite Rand’s attestations to the pleasures of the flesh, she doesn’t really believe in actually doing it.

Part 15 is here.


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