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Part Two, Chapters VII–VIII (7 - 8) 
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Post Part Two, Chapters VII–VIII (7 - 8)
Part Two, Chapters VII–VIII (7 - 8)

Please use this thread for discussing the above chapters. You're welcome to create your own threads too.



Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:59 pm
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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters VII–VIII (7 - 8)
Part 2 Ch. 7

Here we actually meet Ragnar Danneskjöld. Much can be discussed about what he and Rearden talk about, some highlights:


Quote:
But I’ve chosen a special mission of my own. I’m after a man whom I want to destroy. He died many centuries ago, but until the last trace of him is wiped out of men’s minds, we will not have a decent world to live in.” “What man?” “Robin Hood.” Rearden looked at him blankly, not understanding. “He was the man who robbed the rich and gave to the poor. Well, I’m the man who robs the poor and gives to the rich— or, to be exact, the man who robs the thieving poor and gives back to the productive rich.” “What in blazes do you mean?”


One of my favorite passages from this novel:

Quote:
[…]I am fighting: the idea that need is a sacred idol requiring human sacrifices— that the need of some men is the knife of a guillotine hanging over others— that all of us must live with our work, our hopes, our plans, our efforts at the mercy of the moment when that knife will descend upon us— and that the extent of our ability is the extent of our danger, so that success will bring our heads down on the block, while failure will give us the right to pull the cord. This is the horror which Robin Hood immortalized as an ideal of righteousness. It is said that he fought against the looting rulers and returned the loot to those who had been robbed, but that is not the meaning of the legend which has survived. He is remembered, not as a champion of property, but as a champion of need, not as a defender of the robbed, but as a provider of the poor. He is held to be the first man who assumed a halo of virtue by practicing charity with wealth which he did not own, by giving away goods which he had not produced, by making others pay for the luxury of his pity. He is the man who became the symbol of the idea that need, not achievement, is the source of rights, that we don’t have to produce, only to want, that the earned does not belong to us, but the unearned does. He became a justification for every mediocrity who, unable to make his own living, had demanded the power to dispose of the property of his betters, by proclaiming his willingness to devote his life to his inferiors at the price of robbing his superiors. It is this foulest of creatures— the double-parasite who lives on the sores of the poor and the blood of the rich— whom men have come to regard as a moral ideal. And this has brought us to a world where the more a man produces, the closer he comes to the loss of all his rights, until, if his ability is great enough, he becomes a rightless creature delivered as prey to any claimant— while in order to be placed above rights, above principles, above morality, placed where anything is permitted to him, even plunder and murder, all a man has to do is to be in need. Do you wonder why the world is collapsing around us? That is what I am fighting, Mr. Rearden. Until men learn that of all human symbols, Robin Hood is the most immoral and the most contemptible, there will be no justice on earth and no way for mankind to survive.”
[…]
“What I actually am, Mr. Rearden, is a policeman. It is a policeman’s duty to protect men from criminals— criminals being those who seize wealth by force. It is a policeman’s duty to retrieve stolen property and return it to its owners. But when robbery becomes the purpose of the law, and the policeman’s duty becomes, not the protection, but the plunder of property— then it is an outlaw who has to become a policeman.


So really he’s also fighting “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”.

Quote:
“I deposit the gold in a bank— in a gold-standard bank, Mr. Rearden— to the account of men who are its rightful owners. They are the men of superlative ability who made their fortunes by personal effort, in free trade, using no compulsion, no help from the government. They are the great victims who have contributed the most and suffered the worst injustice in return. Their names are written in my book of restitution. […]”


Taxation is actually legalized, institutionalized, thievery. Taking from those of ability, and ‘redistributing’ it to those ‘in need’. How noble one may say? How evil. How wrong. How immoral. Anyone who wants to know more about the gold standard, please see Rand’s Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, Greenspan‘s chapter titled “Gold and Economic Freedom“.

Rearden asks him:

Quote:
“Aren’t you one of those damn altruists who spends his time on a non-profit venture and risks his life merely to serve others?”
“No, Mr. Rearden. I am investing my time in my own future. When we are free and have to start rebuilding from out of the ruins, I want to see the world reborn as fast as possible. If there is, then, some working capital in the right hands— in the hands of our best, our most productive men— it will save years for the rest of us and, incidentally, centuries for the history of the country. […]


The tunnel wreck:

Quote:
These passengers were awake; there was not a man aboard the train who did not share one or more of their ideas. As the train went into the tunnel, the flame of Wyatt’s Torch was the last thing they saw on earth.


The point is the important role philosophy/ideas/moral codes are in man’s life when accepted and lived by. Before this, Rand does a great job in writing about the passengers aboard the train, in regards to what they say/think/feel/live by.


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Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:48 pm
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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters VII–VIII (7 - 8)
Part 2 ch. 8



Quote:
She said, her voice quietly desolate, “That’s what I came here for— to try to understand. But I can’t. It seems monstrously wrong to surrender the world to the looters, and monstrously wrong to live under their rule. I can neither give up nor go back. I can neither exist without work nor work as a serf. I had always thought that any sort of battle was proper, anything, except renunciation. I’m not sure we’re right to quit, you and I, when we should have fought them. But there is no way to fight. It’s surrender, if we leave— and surrender, if we remain.


Dagny realizes more and more about the situation.

Quote:
your love of virtue is your love of life.


In regards to virtues of Rand’s morality, besides her The Virtues of Selfishness, see, Tara Smith’s excellent work on the virtues, Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist.

Quote:
We are the soul, of which railroads, copper mines, steel mills and oil wells are the body— and they are living entities that beat day and night, like our hearts, in the sacred function of supporting human life, but only so long as they remain our body, only so long as they remain the expression, the reward and the property of achievement. Without us, they are corpses.


Analogous to a decapitated body: can’t go on without the mind.

Quote:
They need railroads, factories, mines, motors, which they cannot make or run. Of what use will your railroad be to them without you? Who held it together? Who kept it alive? Who saved it, time and time again? Was it your brother James? Who fed him? Who fed the looters? Who produced their weapons? Who gave them the means to enslave you? The impossible spectacle of shabby little incompetents holding control over the products of genius— who made it possible? Who supported your enemies, who forged your chains, who destroyed your achievement?”


The nature of the parasites. “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.” They need ability. They need hosts. They are bodies that need a mind. They need producers/creators/ability, so they have something to loot. They need, need, need - and hold that as a claim on ability. Rand has a firm position against such need as a claim on others.

---

Eddie Willers tells Dagny once she returns to the railroad:

Quote:
“Dagny, there’s another problem that’s been growing all over the system since you left. Since May first. It’s the frozen trains.” “The what?” “We’ve had trains abandoned on the line, on some passing track, in the middle of nowhere, usually at night— with the entire crew gone. They just leave the train and vanish. There’s never any warning given or any special reason, it’s more like an epidemic, it hits the men suddenly and they go. It’s been happening on other railroads, too. Nobody can explain it. But I think that everybody understands. It’s the directive that’s doing it. It’s our men’s form of protest. They try to go on and then they suddenly reach a moment when they can’t take it any longer. What can we do about it?” He shrugged. “Oh well, who is John Galt?”


So we can see more of the effect that the directives, governmental intervention in the economy itself, have on people. You can see that as it’s steadily increased in the novel, more and more regulation, more and more control, more and more centralized planning.

Mr. Weatherby says to her:

Quote:
“I believe that you have an old-fashioned idea about law, Miss Taggart. Why speak of rigid, unbreakable laws? Our modern laws are elastic and open to interpretation according to . . . circumstances.”
“Then start being elastic right now, because I’m not and neither are railroad catastrophes.”


This is just one of many reasons why Rand is for objective law, not such non-objective laws. One can learn more about that particularly in this audio available at the Ayn Rand BookStore’s estore:

https://estore.aynrand.org/p/163


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Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:50 pm
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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters VII–VIII (7 - 8)
Gotta admit, I enjoyed meeting Ragnar, the anti-Robin Hood who is so morally superior he has fully justified stealing property from "looters" (or destroying it), and giving the proceeds to wronged "producers". Sort of a mythical reverse-polarity force against the powers that Rand detests. Interesting ideas. Reardon recoils at the illegality of Ragnar's actions, rejects his help, and threatens to bring him down. Yet minutes later, when the opportunity arises, what does Reardon NOT do - and why? :?

I also enjoyed the character sketches of the doomed passengers on the train.
Quote:
The woman in Roomette 6, Car No. 8, was a lecturer who believed that, as a consumer, she had "a right" to transportation, whether the railroad people wished to provide it or not.

What a terrible person. Isn't Rand expressing veiled support for segregated facilities?
Quote:
Mr. A said Taxation is actually legalized, institutionalized, thievery. Taking from those of ability, and ‘redistributing’ it to those ‘in need’. How noble one may say? How evil. How wrong. How immoral.

Do Objectivists actively work to repeal the U.S. Constitution because it explicitly grants the power of taxation to the Legislative branch?



Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:33 pm
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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters VII–VIII (7 - 8)

What a terrible person. Isn't Rand expressing veiled support for segregated facilities?


No she is not. What she means is you dont have the right to transportation, just because you are in need of transportation. Need is not a claim. You dont have a right to a car, food, etc. Just because I need a car to get to work, doesnt mean that need holds a claim on a car dealership to provide me with one. Or a bus to pick me up. Or train.


Do Objectivists actively work to repeal the U.S. Constitution because it explicitly grants the power of taxation to the Legislative branch?


Objectivists work towards phasing taxation out, trying to stop further tax increases, privatizing tax support things like education, retirement, etc. and by saying how immoral taxation, as such, is.

Yet minutes later, when the opportunity arises, what does Reardon NOT do - and why?

Good discussion qeustion. I will take a closer look at it. I will see if Bernstein mention it int the CliffsNotes, to. I will come back to discussing it once I do.


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Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:13 am
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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters VII–VIII (7 - 8)
Quote:
What a terrible person. Isn't Rand expressing veiled support for segregated facilities?

No she is not. What she means is you dont have the right to transportation, just because you are in need of transportation. Need is not a claim. You dont have a right to a car, food, etc. Just because I need a car to get to work, doesn't mean that need holds a claim on a car dealership to provide me with one. Or a bus to pick me up. Or train.

Yes, that's a possible interpretation; need does not necessarily connote a right. If the woman could not afford a ticket obviously she would not have a right to a train ride. However, if she could afford it but the railroad refused to sell her a ticket - let's say just because she is a woman - she would have no legal or moral recourse as you have argued before, and Rand's description of her would read the same way.



Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:48 pm
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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters VII–VIII (7 - 8)
Correct, she would have no legal recourse if that was the case.


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Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:15 pm
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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters VII–VIII (7 - 8)
Why Reardon doesn't turn in Ragnar is a puzzle. I have a teacher's guide* which suggests this is the key.
Quote:
Ragnar: "If men like Boyle think that force is all they need to rob their betters—let them see what happens when one of their betters chooses to resort to force. I wanted you to know, Mr. Rearden, that none of them will produce your Metal nor make a penny on it."

Because he felt an exultant desire to laugh—as he had laughed at the news of Wyatt's fire, as he had laughed at the crash of d'Anconia Copper—and knew that if he did, the thing he feared would hold him, would not release him this time, and he would never see his mills again—Rearden drew back and, for a moment, kept his lips closed tight to utter no sound. When the moment was over, he said quietly, his voice firm and dead, "Take that gold of yours and get away from here. I won't accept the help of a criminal." p.444

Not very satisfactory, evidently Reardon feared Ragnar would also prevent him from producing his own metal? Or that he would go on strike?

*
http://www.us.penguingroup.com/static/p ... ggedTG.pdf



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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters VII–VIII (7 - 8)
I will have to take a look at your teacher's guide sometime, but I looked in the CliffsNotes, and Berstein did comment on it a little:

And I quote from it:

Quote:
"Ragnar is a powerful force for justice in the story. He risks his life every day in his battle to ensure that looters don’t benefit from the goods they extort and that productive men receive restitution. His character embodies irony; in order to fight for justice, he’s compelled to become a criminal. Rearden starts to understand that when the law is in engaged in robbery, people who want to return their stolen goods to their rightful owners must become outlaws.”


So from this I gather that he didn’t end up telling the police that Ragnar is right there, because according to justice, Ragnar isn’t a criminal afterall. So Rearden performs an act of justice, rather than an injustice by ratting on him to the police. Ragnar actually is a policeman himself and I quote from the novel:

Quote:
“What I actually am, Mr. Rearden, is a policeman. It is a policeman’s duty to protect men from criminals— criminals being those who seize wealth by force. It is a policeman’s duty to retrieve stolen property and return it to its owners. But when robbery becomes the purpose of the law, and the policeman’s duty becomes, not the protection, but the plunder of property— then it is an outlaw who has to become a policeman.


Then when the policeman arrives and asks Rearden who Ragnar is, he said that’s his bodyguard, which is the right word to describe him as, private defense, and shows that Rearden does now understand, as Bernstein mentioned, he really isn’t a criminal as he thought Ragnar was. He was also thinking to himself during his convo with the officer about something Ragnar had said. So he changed his mind.


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Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:23 pm
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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters VII–VIII (7 - 8)
OK that must be it - after denouncing Ragnar's methods Reardon suddenly realized who the true police are when confronted by the officers...



Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:53 pm
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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters VII–VIII (7 - 8)
The train/tunnel disaster has been bugging me a bit.

- Remember earlier Dagny is on a train that is stopped and delayed. She issues direct orders to restart the train and get moving because she will be late for a meeting.
- Similarly a politician is late for a meeting and faces the dilemma of being late vs. the risk of using a coal burning engine in the tunnel. (Don't recall if he is fully aware of the risk.) Again direct orders are issued and the train moves on.
- In the first instance everything works out great, in the 2nd total disaster.
- In the first instance Dagny is on board. In the 2nd, evidently there are no "heroes" on board, only folks with revolting philosophies or attitudes.



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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters VII–VIII (7 - 8)
LanDroid wrote:
OK that must be it - after denouncing Ragnar's methods Reardon suddenly realized who the true police are when confronted by the officers...


Also Ragnar had the power to destory Readen's mills, so he might have wanted to turn him in in regards to that to, one passage mentions something of th like in it in that scene.


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Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:45 pm
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