Silence – "‘Silence,’ he wrote, with a frown of uneasiness, summing up his report to Mr. Thompson. ‘People seem to be silent.’" The public is silent because they are blanking out.
Words – "It would have been difficult in that distant time when she had regarded language as a tool of honor, always used as if one were under oath – an oath of allegiance to reality and to respect for human beings." Words create value if they are used properly. Dagny is now committed to not creating anything for the world; consequently her words to the world are not profitable (mean nothing to her).
Life – "They were listening intently, but as if they did not hear her words, as if they were clinging blindly to a quality she was alone among them to possess: the quality of being alive." This chapter continues to hammer the concept of life being more than not being physically dead. As was stated in AS 3:4, “life” is the ability to repair/create. Dagny is the only person left among the world that has the ability to repair/create. Throughout this chapter, Dagny repeatedly asks herself about the negative side of the scale: "Do they want to live?"
Individuals – This is a theme that is normally mentioned in one sentence per chapter. For example: "It is social treason to ascribe too much importance to Hank Rearden’s desertion and to undermine public morale by the old-fashioned belief that an individual can be of any significance to society." (AS 3:7) In this chapter: "Nobody’s ever said it before! It’s just one man! We don’t have to believe it!" Individuals are extremely valuable. It’s tempting to say this novel is flawed in that the missing people aren’t really that important. How important can an individual be?
Examples – It is real easy to see the importance in the arts. There are some roles we can’t see anybody else doing except for one person. Or songs we can’t see anybody else singing. Sports are a better example. Otherwise, plug anyone into the Bulls after Jordan left or put anyone in the ring for Ali. ALL sports discussions are fueled by "The Value of the Individual."
Celtics - My favorite contemporary example has to do with the Lakers. Sports Illustrated has named the ’86-87 Lakers as the best basketball team of all time. (I am a Lakers fan.) However, I know the best basketball team should have been the ’86-89 Celtics. For those who aren’t sports fans, the Celtics somehow managed to get the #2 selection in the ’86 draft and picked a player with arguably as much talent as Jordan. His name was Len Bias. Within forty-eight hours of being drafted, he was dead of a drug overdose. It was, supposedly, his only encounter with drugs. What was the result? The star players for the Celtics were forced to play with injuries that year and they never recovered. That’s the hidden (and greatest) value of the individual; they’re ability to make others more profitable. Why do we think business is easier than sports? There are examples too numerous to list of companies that lost one key person and were never the same.
Uniqueness – The cause of the value of the individual is uniqueness. The individual in question is irreplaceable because there is only one of them. Uniqueness has been referenced several times in this novel, however it is never really explored. I think this is a glaring omission to the model. Today, we call this diversity. In the preceding notes, I talked about asking Christians about their John Galt destroyer speech. That’s a trap. People are unique, why do Christians have one speech? This ties in heavily with the "Seek first to understand…then to be understood" habit. Don’t just go barreling in with the same speech to everyone. (Ms. Rand’s issue might have been that this contradicted her belief that everyone on the negative side of the scale needed to hear the same speech both from Galt at the end and all the people on the positive side throughout the novel.) Uniqueness also implies that everyone has a value. Yet, it seems pretty obvious that Ms. Rand thinks people on the negative side of the scale are too far-gone to have any value. In fact, Jim seems to be hurtling towards the negative end of the scale. "Shut up!" screamed James Taggart. "Why did you say that? What made you say it?" "What made you scream?" asked Kinnan. The only thing left for our scale is a name. This usually comes from the axis. We will name the scale after the positive and negative sides of the scale. John Galt seems to be the most positive person and Jim Taggart seems to be the most negative. As they get put under more and more pressure, their #1 principle will be exposed. John Galt's #1 principle will be the name of the positive side and Jim's #1 principle for will be the name of the negative side.
Profitability – Profitability is COMPLETELY dependent on uniqueness. If everyone valued everything exactly the same, there would be no way for people to become more profitable. Profitability is the EFFECT resulting from people exchanging value for value…but the individual’s have to value things at different amounts in order for everyone to be profitable. The Creator built profitability into this world when unique beings were created. Love is based on uniqueness. In order for two people to continually exchange value and grow in profitability, they need to value things differently. The source of frustration for most marriages (differences in partners) is also the source of love.
Control - The real danger in believing in uniqueness is that it destroys the ability to control. Think about Eastern philosophy or organized religion, they are preoccupied with removing uniqueness or making rules that apply to EVERYBODY. If you truly believe in uniqueness, you have to give everybody more freedom because they ultimately know what’s best for themselves. (This was hinted at during the 20th Century story when they talked about what different people valued for enjoyment.)
Taxes – Speaking of control…"Start lifting taxes and removing controls." If they drop the taxes how will the government support itself? Galt: "Then start by abolishing all income taxes." Thompson: "How would we pay government employees?" Galt: "Fire your government employees." Thompson: "Oh, no! That’s politics! That’s not economics! You can’t interfere with politics! You can’t have everything!" The government would have to focus on delivering value. What value? The values identified in the previous chapter. How would they get the money to deliver the values if there are no taxes? The producers would pay for that kind of value because it’s in their self-interest. (Remember, today our government NEEDS all the federal income tax it collects to run the government. 40% of the population pay no federal taxes. 70% pay 11% of the taxes. It’s almost the “80/20” rule. Technically only the 71st-80th percentile pays their fair share (12%). The top 10% pay almost 60% of the taxes. If this top 10 went away, who would pay? How would the government survive? Besides, this is assuming each percentile is consuming an equal amount of the benefits from the government.) Again, September 11th proved this point. Rich people gave millions of dollars. Why? Because they know they have the most to lose. It’s in their best self-interest.
Government – Who causes the government’s problems? Fortunately, there’s enough blame to go around. There’s a saying, "If you aren’t a liberal when you’re young, you have no heart. If you aren’t a conservative when you’re old, you have no brain." I’d like to add, "If you are either when you die, you might not make it to Heaven." You have to have both. You have to have more heart than the liberals and more brains than the conservatives. Which one should you have first? AS would say you need to have the brains first, because everything comes from it. Then you know why you should have a heart and you know whom to help: people who want to produce. Ultimately, we will be judged by our LongTerm profitability, that is, whom we help. So the liberals got the end result right. The conservatives have the initial truth right, but they want to stop there. Personally, I don’t hold a liberal guilty. They are like the negative side of the scale, they don’t know better. I hold conservatives guilty because they know better, but they tend to blank out when it comes to helping others.
Dr. Stadler - "You are the man who has to be destroyed!" (Dr. Stadler to Galt) He’s a "conservative". He knew enough to make the insightful "second-rater" speech. Yet, he still blanked out. Galt says Stadler’s guilt is beyond forgiveness.
PRACTICAL APPLICATION (worth rereading)
The discussion between Mr. Thompson and John Galt is worth rereading. It is the practical application of the most important points from the speech. We have referenced some of the discussion above.
"The world is in a hell of a mess. Just as you said. There, I agree with you. We have a point in common. We can start from that." This is how the discussion begins. Right from the start, Mr. Thompson alienates John Galt. Speaking of uniqueness, Jesse Jackson’s ability to bring together disagreeing parties is unique. Although he says he approaches it in the same manner as Mr. Thompson, Jesse knows how it’s really done. Jesse starts by showing the two sides their different abilities and why it’s in the self-interest of both sides to have a common goal. His goal is to get the two sides connected. When similarities are highlighted, the mind immediately looks for differences. Otherwise, there is no reason for both sides to exist if they are the same. It’s a very subtle point. Things that are similar are separate. They aren’t connected. By definition, for there to be a similarity, there must be two or more of something. For there to be two or more, they have to be separate. Things that are different may be connected. Mr. Thompson would have been better off talking about his value and how it’s different than Galt’s. (Again, Ms. Rand has written Mr. Thompson to have little to no value.)
"There’s always a middle ground. We’ll do anything you say. We’ll split fifty-fifty." Mr. Thompson is all over the place. One minute he is begging Galt to take it all over, the next sentence he wants to retain control over something. This is how some people bargain with God when they are desperate.
"Thompson: Want a billion dollars – a cool, neat billion dollars?" Galt: "Which I’ll have to produce for you to give me?" Galt establishes that he is the source. There is nothing Mr. Thompson has of value that Galt won’t have to create so Mr. Thompson can give it back to him.
"The removal of a threat is not a payment, the negation of a negative is not a reward, the withdrawal of your armed hoodlums is not an incentive, the offer now to murder me is not a value." It all ends up going through "value for value". Galt establishes the definition of a value. It's the same with God.
"I’ll do whatever you tell me to. I mean it. Literally. I’ll perform any motion you order me to perform." Galt reduces himself to a task only worker to make his point.
Mr. Thompson: "I want you to think!" Galt: "How will your gun make me do that, Mr. Thompson?" The mind is much more powerful than force. Then Galt goes into more detail: "No, you don't want me to think. When you force a man to act against his own choice and judgment, it's his thinking that you want to suspend. You want him to become a robot."
"I know that I want to live much more intensely than you do. I know that’s what you’re counting on. I know that you, in fact, do not want to live at all. I want it. And because I want it so much, I will accept no substitute." Galt brings the "life" concept to a powerful conclusion. According to Galt’s definition of life, the negative side of the scale doesn’t want to live at all. Galt knows that there are a lot of things people call "life" that are not as good as the ultimate value. Again, I love to ask people what they mean by "life" and "death". What is life? Be careful with your definition! Is a person who is on "life support" alive? Or is life dependent upon the body’s ability to sustain itself? If so, then is a pure consumer alive? Is life only confined to the physical? What about the emotional, mental or spiritual? Likewise, what is death?
"Mr. Thomas Anderson, you believe that you are special. That somehow the rules do not apply to you. Obviously you are mistaken." (Neo’s boss, The Matrix)
"When the Matrix was first built, there was a man born inside who had the ability to change whatever he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit. It was he who freed the first of us, taught us the truth. As long as the Matrix exists, we will never be free." (Morpheus, The Matrix)
"To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one – to each in proportion to his own personal ability." (Amplified Bible)
"All Christians are agreed that there is, in the full and original sense, only one ‘Son of God.’ I find a difficulty about the very idea of the Father begetting many sons from all eternity. In order to be many they would have to be somehow different from one another. Two pennies have the same shape. How are they two? By occupying different places and containing different atoms. In other words, to think of them as different, we have had to bring in space and matter; in fact we have had to bring in ‘Nature’ or the created universe. I can understand the distinction between the Father and the Son without bringing in space or matter, because one begets and the other is begotten. If there were several sons they would all be related to one another and to the Father in the same way. How could they differ from one another? (Was Nature – space and time and matter – created precisely in order to make many-ness possible? Is there perhaps no other way of getting many eternal spirits except by first making many natural creatures, in a universe, and then spiritualising them?)" (CSL-MC)
"If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God has placed and arranged the limbs and organs in the body, each particular one of them, just as He wished and saw fit and with the best adaptation." (Amplified Bible)
"Things which are parts of a single organism may be very different from one another: things which are not, may be very alike. Six pennies are quite separate and very alike: my nose and my lungs are very different but they are only alive at all because they are parts of my body and share its common life. Christianity thinks of human individuals not as mere members of a group or items in a list, but as organs in a body – different from one another and each contributing what no other could." (CSL-MC)
"In the passage where the New Testament says that every one must work, it gives as a reason ‘in order that he may have something to give to those in need.’ Charity – giving to the poor – is an essential part of Christian morality: in the frightening parable of the sheep and the goats it seems to be the point on which everything turns. Some people nowadays say that charity ought to be unnecessary and that instead of giving to the poor we ought to be producing a society in which there were no poor to give to. They may be quite right in saying that we ought to produce that kind of society. But if anyone thinks that, as a consequence, you can stop giving in the meantime, then he has parted company with all Christian morality." (CSL-MC)
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