PREVIOUSLY: Hank Rearden quit and joined John Galt’s hippie utopia.
Jim knocks feverishly at Dagny’s door at some ungodly hour of the morning to inform her that Hank has disappeared. Dagny is tremendously proud of Hank, and wonders why she persists in trying to save society if she feels so good about his leaving. Good question! She tells Jim she will not help track Hank down, and he leaves in a fit.
Scanning the day’s papers and seeing only brusque dismissals of any stories about social unrest, Dagny is chagrined. Propaganda!
It was strange, she thought, to obtain news by means of nothing but denials, as if existence had ceased, facts had vanished and only the frantic negatives uttered by officials and columnists gave any clue to the reality they were denying.
Silly Ayn, America’s problem isn’t an excess of negations, it’s an excess of positions. Facts don’t vanish, they just drown among fictions. If anything it’s a testament to how free our speech is! You’re probably thinking of Soviet Russia. You seem to get them confused. A lot. Anyway…
After a week, Dagny receives a short letter from Hank: “I’ve met him. I don’t blame you.” Dagny gets all wistful that she doesn’t get to hang out with them all in Galt’s Gulch.
At work our heroine has difficulty focusing on the task at hand. She keeps thinking of Galt down in the tunnels, all sweaty and muscular. She checked payroll and he was listed there under the pseudonym… John Galt. Wait. …What?
That’s not even a shitty cover, it’s not a cover at all! This is ridiculous. Wasn’t he just telling Dagny two chapters ago that the two of them boning is what would get him caught? You dumb shit. Ladies and gentlemen, Ayn Rand’s vision of the world’s smartest man.
Moving on to another spinning newspaper montage, things are really going to hell now. Roving gangs! States seceding! Seceding states collapsing into authoritarian feifdoms and violent chaos!
“The editorials went on speaking of self-denial as the road to future progress,” the narrator says sardonically, even though that’s basically the argument for fiscal austerity, a.k.a. the Republican (and libertarian) platform — not to mention a logically sound extension of Ayn’s beliefs that society’s problem is overconsumption and you can’t consume more than you produce.
As the situation grows dire(r), the White House announces that Mr. Thompson will give a special address to the nation on the global economic crisis. The speech will be simulcast on all radio and TV stations and the web, even though it doesn’t exist.
So it is set for the week of Thanksgiving, and Jim tells Dagny the President wants her there. She won’t speak on camera, but she’ll be part of the photo op and attend a policy conference with the President and other national leaders after the address (this being the reason the speech will be broadcast from New York and not DC). Dagny consents as long as she can bring good ol’ Eddie Willers as a body man slash mascot.
So that’s what she does. On the big night, she strides into the studio and scans the motley crew of pathetic villains before her. She is shocked at how aged — curdled, really — Dr. Stadler has become since completely selling himself out. He sees her with a look of “guilt turning into hatred,” and turns away “as if his refusal to see could wipe a fact out of existence.”
PAUSE. Isn’t the move from guilt to hatred basically the heroes’ character arc in this book? She specifically has Hank abandon guilt as naive, and what John Galt calls indifference I call bullshit, because he clearly wishes the masses ill. Ergo, hatred. Guilt turning into hatred.
And by the way, wiping facts out of existence by refusing to see them is what Ayn does on every page — remember her fundamental logical fallacy. Apparently the result of her blindered M.O. is a lot of projection and transference of your own negative qualities onto innocent bystanders.
And one more thing! Ayn keeps saying that the moochers and looters’ unconscious strategy is to not do anything themselves as political leaders, let businessmen take care of all the hard work, and then take credit for governing well. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Rand fans, any guesses?
In the words of Nelson Muntz, “Stop hitting yourself, Ayn! Stop hitting yourself!”
PLAY. Where were we? Dagny decides she’s not going to participate in this charade after all. Jim has a conniption. Hey look! It’s the two sentences I’ve had to use in basically every recap. Thank God the book’s almost over; I’m running out of synonyms.
Just as she prepares to go, and just as the broadcast is about to start, the sound tech gingerly approaches President
Romney Thompson and tells him that they’re having technical difficulties.
Specifically, there is some phantom signal that’s interfering with transmissions all across the country. Nobody knows what it is or where it’s coming from. Everybody in the studio is unsettled and perplexed.
Just then, the phantom signal itself goes live. A crisp voice, clear as day, calls out over every speaker in the country.
Ladies and gentlemen … Mr. Thompson will not speak to you tonight. His time is up. I have taken it over. You were to hear a report on the world crisis. That is what you are going to hear.
Dagny, Doc Stadler, and Eddie all gasp. Dagny and Stadler exchange a look of recognition, because she knows he knows Galt and now he knows that she knows Galt too, and nobody knows how Eddie knows Galt but I’ll give you a hint: it’s fucking stupid.
For twelve years you have been asking: Who is John Galt? This is John Galt speaking. I am the man who loves his life. I am the man who does not sacrifice his love or his values. … [A]nd if you want to know why you are perishing — you who dread knowledge — I am the man who will now tell you.
WOO! Bust out the popcorn people, and prepare for ENLIGHTENMENT. I only hope Ayn applies logic more consistently as John Galt than she does as herself. Because if not this is going to be very embarrassing.