Atlas Blogged #23: An entirely stationary weapon system is an awesome idea
September 23, 2010
Part 23 of blogging my way through my first reading of Atlas Shrugged. You can find the first part here.
Chapter 23: Anti-Greed
Rand really hates Government scientists; they’re people who don’t put their brains into making profits! Don’t worry, in AtlasWorld they get their comeuppance in the form of Dr Stadler, who in this chapter sees his theories used to make a ‘terrible’ weapon called Project X.
Project X is a kind of sonic gun that weakens connections between some pretty bloody fundamental things, because it causes anything it’s pointed at to quiver, die and then dissolve. I use ‘gun’ loosely; it’s more a speaker system built into a building. Yes, Rand’s totemification of the perversion of science is a weapon system that can’t move. It can vaporise anything within a hundred mile radius of itself, but if you’re outside that area you’re fine. Be sure to check your local council’s planning applications regularly, in case anyone wants to build a stationary doomsday device near your area.
Skipping over the stupidity of this device, it’s Rand’s ‘metaphor’ for Einstein’s work leading to the atomic bomb, which at least you could move about. Stadler attends a demonstration of this device and is forced to endorse it under threat of his funding being withdrawn, his earlier commitment to the truth seemingly vanishing because he suckled at the teat of the State that one time, man.
Dagny has returned to New York, where everything has of course fallen apart in her absence. The Government of Strawmen has announced the Railway Unification Plan, which is a ridiculous quasi-nationalisation initiative involving profit pooling and reallocation by the state. Dagny gets all angry about it.
Rearden’s wife, Lillian, demands that Dagny put on an appearance on a radio show endorsing this new economic plan. She threatens to reveal to the world that she’s been a sordid little wife-stealer (or words to that effect) if she doesn’t. This threat had previously made Rearden sign over his patent Rearden Metal to the state. Dagny being a Mary Sue of unbelievable will, naturally goes on air and talks about how she really enjoyed having sex with Rearden. The past tense is important; she’s now in love with John Galt since meeting the Libertarian Messiah in Galt’s Gulch.
Rearden already knows he’s lost her, and is perfectly fine with it. Because he’s being entirely rational about love, you see, and if she now loves someone else he clearly couldn’t have had her love in the first place. The thought that Dagny might be a fickle cow and has passed him up for someone better never enters his head; the moral of the story being that if a girl gives you up for someone ‘objectively’ better you should be perfectly happy with that. Remember, Rand’s version of reason involves the worship of productivity above all, so the emotions of the lesser don’t count.
I find the book increasingly hilarious. Rand’s dreadful avatars of force and compulsion have devised the most stupid weapon system ever as a means of control, and men aren’t allowed to get upset if she changes her mind about them. There is, of course, no chance whatsoever that the latter may possibly reflect some event in her own life.
Part 24 is here.