3:1 Atlantis, “Meet John Galt”

As we all know, the global economy is collapsing from overconsumption. In the book, I mean. Unemployment, famine, drought, all that. Meanwhile, America’s captains of industry have all dropped off the grid except for Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden. Dagny has finally managed to track down the disappearing elites to their secret hide-out. The full recap of Parts One & Two here.

Dagny wakes up on the grass near her destroyed Cessna and sees a charismatic bronze Adonis staring at her. Immediately her thoughts turn to going down on this fine masculine specimen, even though she was just in a plane crash like five minutes ago. Cool it Dags, I’m pretty sure it’s the concussion.

This Sexy Capitalist Jesus informs her that he is the infamous John Galt, and then they start flirting, like, her legs are probably broken dude, a little more urgency here? He does presently pick her up and carry her over the crest of the little hill where she crashed, revealing a small town in the valley below.

Arriving at the scene are The World’s Greatest Philosopher Hugh Akston, The World’s Greatest Banker Midas Mulligan, and The World’s Greatest Oil Magnate Ellis Wyatt. They’re all, “Dagny, long time no see! Are you one of us now?” But Galt informs them she is technically an intruder.

Everybody keeps speaking cryptically about their almost religious devotion to life in this valley, which goes by the name Galt’s Gulch. Galt is like, “Okay okay, one step at a time boys,” and takes Dagny to his house to recuperate.

Once they’re alone, he gently mocks her for her previous belief that he was the villain of the story, The Destroyer of the World. “How did you know about that?” she wonders, but it’s becoming pretty clear that he and his covert fellowship have been stalking Dagny for the entire book. She’s cool with it, even though that’s actually pretty weird.

Soon The World’s Greatest Doctor arrives with some futuristic portable x-ray device (commonly known as a Tricorder), and is like, “Don’t worry, that fiery plane crash you were in only left some bruises and a sprained ankle.” Jesus, Ayn, you’re barely even trying anymore.

Galt offers Dagny a delicious plate of locally grown organic food to restore her strength. She asks where he got it, and he explains that in Galt’s Gulch, the CEOs of car companies and coal companies and so on are all now small farmers with specialty crops that everybody sells to each other, farmer’s market style. Their currency is gold and silver only, minted by Midas Mulligan, and nobody is allowed to share or give gifts. In fact the word ‘give’ is forbidden.

Even though that last part sounds kind of bizarre and cult-like (and compulsory), Dagny is fascinated by the unexpected dynamic of ruthless capitalists acting out hippies’ ideals of sustainable community living. She demands that Galt show her around the valley right away.

Their first stop on the tour is Mulligan’s house. In addition to banking he is now a tobacco farmer. He makes the $tamped cigarettes. Next they visit Sanders, the founder and CEO of let’s-call-it Boeing Aircraft. For some reason when Sanders left, the vast fleet of engineers and their industrial means of production at his company all forgot how to build airplanes, while he, who probably hadn’t picked up a wrench in a decade or more before coming to the valley, is able to single-handedly build electric tractors and, more relevantly, repair Dagny’s Cessna. Ayn, you suck. So hard.

Galt takes Dagny through some woods. They meet The World’s Greatest Contractor (contracts for WHAT, Ayn?), now the valley’s utility maintenance man. They see a beautiful woman by the lake whom was The World’s Greatest Author, who now does the town’s fishing. Galt calls her a “fishwife.” What is this, Dickensian London?

Past the lake they come to Ellis Wyatt’s place, where he has perfected an environmentally-sound method of fracking. Wyatt praises the valley’s ethos of self-sufficiency, innovation, and sustainability, and then gets dark and bitter about the outside world, which he calls hell.

So they keep visiting The World’s Greatest Rich People, who are all now happy manual laborers in this libertarian commune. Yes, it’s a commune. Fuck you if you say otherwise. They meet The World’s Greatest Actress, who earned that title by being the most prettiest and glamorous actress of them all. Seriously, Ayn? Weak sauce for a proto-feminist. Weak sauce.

Eventually Galt brings Dagny to Francisco’s house (he isn’t there), which is extremely remote from the rest of the town in a Zen monastery kind of way. She is reminded how much Frisco has sacrificed, including his relationship with her, in order to stop the consumption of earth.

But that doesn’t keep her and Galt from making eyes at each other as he takes her to the power plant where his revolutionary electric motor powers the entire operation. He won’t let her inside, because technically she isn’t a member of their secret society. Then they stare at each other some more and simmer in their sexual tension before heading back to town so Dagny can rest up.

That night, after Dagny’s nap, Galt takes her to dinner at Midas Mulligan’s. The other guests are World’s Greatest Doctor, Judge, Philosopher, Oil Man, Physicist, Coal Magnate, and Classical Musician (Richard Halley, Dagny’s favorite composer). They all flatter Dagny and talk up Galt’s Gulch as a wonderful utopia, not like the rest of the world which is an evil shitpile and everyone there should go die in a ditch.

Despite the return of the disturbing cult elements, Dagny is overwhelmed by how happy and satisfied all her peers are living this way, and how serene and peaceful the valley is. Still unsure of what to think, she asks them all if they regret abandoning their fields of study. But none of them have:

Dagny already heard Richard Halley’s latest composition in Chapter 1. The Judge is writing a treatise on legal philosophy that he proudly proclaims nobody will ever be allowed to read (retarded). The Doctor has developed medicine that prevents strokes, but all the stroke victims can fuck off as far as he’s concerned because, I don’t know, Medicare reimbursement rates weren’t high enough for his liking or something (asshole).

In fact, they all sound like colossal assholes. Dagny accuses them of giving up on humanity. The Philosopher argues that it is humanity that has given up on itself. Society no longer invents, produces, or grows. It now consumes itself and encourages individuals to behave like sheep. Everybody here has moved to Galt’s Gulch to save themselves from the spiritual atrophy of postmodern civilization.

Galt, who they all fawn over like a messiah, explains that they are on strike. He says nobody who’s ever gone on strike before deserved to, except these people here right now who agree with him. Asshole. Also he’s the de facto leader because he was “born without original sin” — he never felt guilty for being the smartest man in the world. Yeah I’m sure Newton and Einstein and Hawking all regretted their careers, dude. What a prick.

Even though the nature of this place as a cult of personality is pretty clear now, Galt goes on. He waxes rhapsodic about how the intellect has always been regarded as evil in the past, and how the Great Man theory of history has been neglected, etc.  Too bad nobody thought to invite The World’s Greatest Historian to this party, although I guess that would puncture the reality-averse ideological bubble all these people live in.

Dagny still struggles to reconcile the beauty of this place with the repellent beliefs Galt seems to have brainwashed everyone with. Ain’t that always the way with cults? Not that they don’t have a point about overconsumption. But even Dagny thinks their epic hatred of the outside world is, shall we say, irrational?

By way of rebuttal they all offer up their stories of quitting and coming to the valley. The best is Richard Halley’s, which is that he quit because when he finally became a successful musician he felt like a sell-out and hated his fans. Yeah you’re a real martyr, Dick.

Anyway Galt concludes the sales pitch by noting that consumer society is collapsing way faster than they expected — probably thanks to Francisco’s sabotage that YOU CONDONED, you bullshitter — and she can join them just as soon as she can dispassionately tell the other 7 billion people of earth to go fuck themselves.

But Dagny can’t bring herself to do it. She can’t forsake society as long as their is human potential in it to be cultivated. Galt is like, “That’s cool, take your time. We will eventually leave the Gulch, just as soon as society completely collapses,” which he assumes will somehow kill everybody who doesn’t abide by their specific moral code. What?

Her mind reeling from how completely fucked up this whole situation is, Dagny returns to Galt’s house after dinner ready to pass out for a long while. As he carries her to her bed, they both kind of glance over at his bedroom. She probably feels his hard-on against her tailbone, and Jesus Christ you were in a plane crash this morning, give yourself a minute. Also, he’s been STALKING you. And he preaches non-compulsory living even as he seeks to RUIN the lives of everyone outside his CULT. Goddamnit.

As she passes out in the guest room she sees that all of the other citizens of the valley have spent the night here once, as an initiation. They have all etched words of encouragement into the wooden walls, celebrating their conversion to Galt’s vengeful version of inner peace. This is, I assume, meant to be comforting, even though it is all CREEPY AS SHIT. Dagny falls asleep. Galt watches her from the doorway. At least he’s consistent.

NEXT — 3:2 The Utopia of Greed, “The First Rule of Right Club”

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