Atlas Summer: Part III: Chapter VI: The Concerto of Deliverance


Atlas Summer: Part III: Chapter VI: The Concerto of Deliverance

Summary: Strange doings are afoot at the Rearden Steel plant.  The workers are demanding a raise, there’s a phantom tax lien placed on Hank’s assets, the parasitic Rearden family are clamoring for money, and a high conclave of Looters, including Wesley Mouch have summoned Hank for a meeting in New York.  What’s it all about, Alfie?  Turns out, the government ghouls are trying to leverage Hank into signing off on a Steel Unification Plan modeled on the disastrous Rail Unification Plan.  All caps on steel production will be lifted, and all steel profits will be pooled between producers.  Rearden, being all smart and stuff, instantly realizes that the whole thing is a scam meant to enrich Orren Boyle’s goldbricking ass at the expense of the uber-efficient Rearden mill, and that the end result will the be the bankruptcy of Rearden Steel.   Hank tells the assembled slapdicks to get bent and drives back to the mill…where a pack of “workers” (actually government thugs under the direction of Cuffy Meigs) has set fire to the plant.  Rearden’s REAL employees, who of course worship their brilliant boss, have rallied to the plant’s defense, shooting it out with the looters.  Outside the mill, Hank finds the bullet-riddled body of the young government stooge who had slowly been coming around to the Hank/Dagny/Galt way of thinking.  In a hilariously protracted death rattle of exposition, the young man, who Hank called “Non-Absolute” in a rare fit of terrible humor, explains that the government stooges had come to him with their plan to foment violence at the Rearden plant as a pretext for a looter takeover of the factory.  Hank tries to carry the kid to safety, but he dies in Hank’s arms, even after Hank told him specifically not to. What a dick.

Not even vampire Pee Wee milked his death this much.

So Hank jumps into the fray, is waylaid by a pair of thugs but saved at the last moment by “Frank Adams,” a new employee at the plant and a crack pistol shot.  Sure enough, “Frank Adams” turns out to be Francisco d’Aconia undercover.  They share a meaningful look, and set the stage for Francisco to finally tell Hank the truth about Galt’s Gulch.

Reflections: After poor, young Non-Absolute dies in his arms, Hank lets rip with a blistering internal condemnation of the brainwashing of students in America’s public educational institutions.  According to Hank, Non-Absolute wasn’t killed by some government thug, he was killed by the mental poison fed to him over years of so-called education, which left him unable to fend for himself in the cutthroat world of adulthood.  This segment is typically tedious Rand, but it goes a long way towards explaining this book’s continued popularity among teenage boys.  For instance, behold this bravura paragraph:

“From the first catch-phrases flung at a child to the last, it is like a series of shocks to freeze his motor, to undercut the power of his consciousness. ‘Don’t ask so many questions, children should be seen and not heard!’–‘Who are you to think? It’s so, because I say so!’–‘Don’t argue, obey!’ –‘Don’t try to understand, believe!’–‘Don’t rebel, adjust!’–‘Don’t stand out, belong!’ –‘Don’t struggle, compromise!’–‘Your heart is more important than your mind!’–‘Who are you to know? Your parents know best!’–‘Who are you to know?  Society knows best!’–‘Who are you to know? The bureaucrats know best!’–‘Who are you to object? All values are relative!’–‘Who are you to want to escape a thug’s bullet? That’s only a personal prejudice!'”

“You’re not the boss of me!” –Ayn Rand/every fifteen year old in America

Doesn’t this sound exactly like the inner monologue of every half-bright, hormone-addled teenager to ever sulk their way through the halls of a junior high school?  Hyperbolic, resentful, deeply put-upon, devoid of perspective…I certainly recognize the thought process from my own stifled and falsely-grandiose pubescence.

Rand speaks to the particular worldview of adolescence not only with her hot-house prose, but in the general thrust of her philosophy.  Your average white American is most likely never going to feel more repressed and controlled than during the time of their secondary education.  The mechanisms of social control are never more visible than when you spend every moment of your day under the thumb of parents and teachers.  Also, your lack of personal freedom is coupled with a complete absence of personal responsibility.  It’s the perfect environment to generate fantasies of unjust restraint and limitless genius, and Rand channels that sensation masterfully.  Hopefully, most of the tragically oppressed mega-geniuses who spend their teen years railing against the hegemony of mediocrity mellow out a bit when the dead hand of educational/parental authorities lifts and they finally come to realize the limits of their thought-to-be limitless intellects.

Quotes:

“He remembered her hammering derision of his work, his mills, his Metal, his success, he remembered her desire to see him drunk, just once, her attempts to push him into infidelity, her pleasure at the thought that he had fallen to the level of some sordid romance, her terror on discovering that that romance had been an attainment, not a degradation.  Her line of attack, which he had found so baffling, had been constant and clear–it was his self-esteem she had sought to destroy, knowing that a man who surrenders his value is at the mercy of anyone’s will; it was his moral purity she had struggled to breach, it was his confident rectitude she had wanted to shatter by means of the poison of guilt–as if, were he to collapse, his depravity would give her a right to hers.” Women! Amirite?

“‘Have you anything left to loot?  If you didn’t see the nature of your policy before–it’s not possible that you don’t see it now.  Look around you.  All those damned People’s States all over the earth have been existing only on the handouts which you squeezed for them out of this country.  But you–you have no place left to sponge on or mooch from.  No country on the face of the globe.  This was the greatest and last. You’ve drained it.  You’ve milked it dry.  Of all the irretrievable splendor, I’m only one remnant, the last.  What will you do, you and your People’s Globe, after you’ve finished me?  What are you hoping for?  What do you see ahead–except plain, stark, animal starvation?'” –Hank Rearden

“I’d like to live, Mr. Rearden.  God, how I’d like to!…Not because I’m dying…but because I’ve just discovered it tonight, what it means, really to be alive…And…it’s funny…do you know when I discovered it?…In the office…when I stuck my neck out…when I told the bastards to go to hell…There’s…there’s so many things I wish I’d known sooner…But…well, it’s no use crying over spilled milk…Over spilled anything, Mr. Rearden.'” –Non-Absolute

“On the roof of a structure above the gate, he saw, as he came closer, the slim silhouette of a man who held a gun in each hand and, from behind the protection of a chimney, kept firing at intervals down into the mob, firing swiftly and, it seemed, in two directions at once, like a sentinel protecting the approaches to the gate.  The confident skill of his movements, his manner of firing, with no time wasted to take aim, but with the kind of casual abruptness that never misses a target, made him look like a hero of Western legend–and Rearden watched him detached, impersonal pleasure, as if the battle of the mills were not his any longer, but he could still enjoy the sight of the competence and certainty with which men of that distant age had once combatted evil.”  NEVER MISSES A TARGET! Of course not!

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  1. March 2, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You clearly know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

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