Chapter 10: Wyatt's Torch
The Twentieth Century Motor Company represents the world. It was created in an earlier era, that of great men--Jed Starnes--and it was inherited by the unworthy. Starnes' heirs attempted to remake the creed of the company as spiritual, beyond the physical, when it was purely the materialistic that made it good, and when they failed, the scavengers, the real evil businessmen, would come in to take their share of it. As a result, it went in decline and eventually collapsed into the rot of Starnesville.
Dagny's haggard tracing down of the man who created the motor brings her in contact with men of growing shades of evil. These are the "businessmen"--if they can be called that--to despise. Mark Yonts who manufactured the scandel of selling the company to two parties at the same time. Mayer Bascom who states that there is no way to get rich other than by slighting the law and cheating, implying that Rearden, who appears of obvious money, should well know this. He tells how he had bought it as a bankruptcy sale from Eugene Lawson, the owner of a bank that offerred anyone with need money, which, as a result, crashed and nullified everyone's savings. Eugene Lawson who claims that it wasn't his fault that he lost everyone's money, that "in all [his] life, [he] had never made a profit." Since he is now a member of the Bureau of Economic Planning, he suggests to Dagny that he can help her sway Mouch--but Dagny is more interested in finding the motor than winning the favor of an incumbent. Dagny finds herself in the midst of Lee Hunsacker whines that he never got a chance! Wasn't he entitled to wealth--he never got a chance because by the time he bought the company, it had become so dilapidated that train service had already been cut, and he couldn't run a factory without that, and moreover the only bank that would give him loans was a mere cheapstake--Eugene Lawson's bank didn't even have enough funds to back him up. These are the men who would have been worse off than the entropy of Starnesville if they had not other men to steal from--to manipulate the laws to create a distorted version of "wealth," to blame his faults on the greed of others, to claim that he was entitled to the good he never earned but others had worked for--but they are merely demons near Styx in Hades, evil but not evil enough to compete with the greater evil.
The Starnes heir is akin to the inhabitants of Dante's Seventh Circle of Hell. But, it seems like with Dagny's meeting of each heir, she descends into a deeper semblence of evil. Eric, who killed himself in order to hurt others. He is altruistic in that he cares not for himself, only for others, but he doesn't care for the good of others, rather, for the pain of others. He is reminiscent of Philip Rearden, who is disinterested, with no selfish intents, yet he, like Lillian and Mrs. Rearden, lives to hurt Rearden. Gerald, who claimed the factory went bust because it was bad--neglecting to rationalize who had made it bad. He is the eptiome of all the businessmen who complain that it was not their fault, it was the material's fault--like Orren Boyle, blaming circumstances for his mal-performance. Then, finally, there is Ivy, the purest of evil--it was she who machinated the plan that destroyed the company, the idealogy that killed the world. For the excuse of a greater spiritual plane, she reduced the well-being of the company with one fell creed, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." Everyone was to be paid the same amount, no matter what they did, and they would be paid more based on need, and those who had ability who did not do as much as they could would be punished with overtime without pay. She claims that it failed because "they would not renounce their body." She has lost faith over human nature, that men were motivated by personal gain and not selfless brother love. She has since "recovered" by learning the triumph of the spirit over matter, living in the hovel that is her home, having destroyed a great company that was once the triumph of a living mind.
Yet, these are the types of dispicable people who now run the world. This is why the maker of the motor had left the world and his motor behind, safe knowing that the world--the fact that such losers now run it, implying the huge dearth of requisite intelligence to decipher the significance of the motor--would not be able to take this virtuous product of his mind. Similarly, Wyatt leaves his oil fields the way he found them--taking nothing from but giving nothing in return to a society of looting parasites: James Taggart who would use the John Galt Line as a drain for unearned wealth in exchange for letting others drain the railroad, the bonds of worthy men reduced to nothing in the blink of an eye--of money that is not absolute, of wealth that can be taken away on whim of an incumbent.
wouldn't be able to take much out of it other than the matter it was made out of--exactly what they have done when Dagny finds the motor in its stripped-down state.