Chapter 12: The Aristocracy of Pull
The chapter begins with Dagny almost emotionlessly killing yet another line--the death of each line is the direct product of the end of a great industrialist. She recalls what Nielsen said to her, that Marsh had told him no matter what, Marsh would leave him some clue about the Destroyer--the cause of the disappearance of the producers. The fact that Marsh had left nothing to explain his sudden disappearance foreshadows the irresistability of the Destroyer, as well as the fact that the conclusion he leads his conquest to cannot be passed on to a man who is not yet ready to accept it. Who is pulling these producers into quitting? While on one level, it is the corruption the world has succumbed to, it is Galt's touch that finalizes their action: his directing them to realize the depravity of the world and their haggard commitment to save the earth, which has been reduced to a container of evil. Dagny knows exactly which man will leave next because Galt strikes exactly the man whom other industries depend on the most on. By eradicating the core of production, Galt means to efficiently destroy the world. He would do so by a form of "pull" not known to the looters and moochers--that of convincing a man through providing the final hints towards the unavoidable conclusion and of offering him a place in the real earth: Galt's Gulch.
After discovering that his only sources of enjoyment has to be hidden as guilty secrets--that of the illicit transaction with Dannager and that of his relationship with Dagny, Hank becomes suspect to Lillian's trap. Lillian Rearden pulls Hank by reminding him of the duties of a husband--as decreed by orthodox society, fettered by ways that were meant to bridle greater men. Yet, Hank does not realize that she has dragged him into attending James Taggart's wedding only by his consent--he is the only one capable of giving her the sanction of the victim. Vaguely, Hank admits that the day he finds out why his joy has to be held as sin, that he would be forced to do what he considers the depraved for the sake of obligation, every question of his life would be answered. Hank submits to the husband's duty--that he attends to event not because he wants it, but only because she wants it; not for his sake but hers (Lillian). Lillian achieves her goal because Rearden is a virtuous man. Rearden would not deny the right that was claimed of him--but he would bear any form of damnation. Moreover, he has no rightful reason for refusal (he has not yet come to believe in the greater sanctity of his relationship with Dagny). Finally, he would not allow himself to beg (to not go). The hold--"the achievement of power over men"--that Lillian has over Rearden is archetypical to that of what the villains use against the hero.
Would it be correct to say that James Taggart pulls Cherryl Brooks or the other way around? Taggart would have the public believe that he has been very generous, giving Cherryl unearned respect, the supreme gesture of charity, in his whim to marry her. Yet, the sheer fact that he wants them to photograph her in her hovel of a home--and refuses to offer her hospice despite the evident embarassment it causes her, renders doubt to who pulls whom. While it is true that Taggart pulls Cherryl's strings with his inherited money, it is actually Cherryl who is the one deserving of greater respect--and, in a way, it is she who gives him power. Taggart's depravity requires that he finds someone who genuinely believes that he is good, one of the men he secretly admires yet despises. Cherryl believes Taggart is such a man, in her innocence. Yet, Cherryl is a person capable of experiencing the emotion behind the hero-worshipping. She would attempt to grasp another means of meeting up to his worth because she does not believe he needs her worship. She grabs the quickest consolution she can find, the evidence that Taggart is lonely and that others seem to despise him; thus, she can offer him the sincerety of a feeling as the recognition he deserved. Cherryl is pulled by the good in her, while Taggart is drawn by this good with the wish to destroy it. Because of Cherryl's background and level of intelligence and because of the similar nature of reverence for the good and great she shares with the heroes, she is the easiest form of "revenge" Taggart can use against the heroes. Although, in this case, it is really to sate his own lack of ego.
Taggart's wedding is revealing, and in a way, it is the reprise of the Rearden wedding anniversary. The secret motive of "men" is made known: that of the aristocracy of pull replacing that of the aristocracy of money. That is, the one with friends in Washington is the one with power; men who hold the puppeteer strings are now the ones who run the world and money (what it represents) is no longer the means of making a deal. This is exemplified by Boyle and Scudder's analysis of the men who attend Taggart's wedding, classifying each as either to "favor" or "fear," i.e., to pull Taggart up or let him climb on them; thus, it is true that the act of coming to his party is equivalent to an action of automatic disgrace to the men who had come.
The villains all flock to the most obvious conclusion that it is those men in Washington who hold has the power to "move" the world, while those who know of Galt's Gulch know that it is Galt who does. As Francisco introduces the statement of the aristocracy of pull, Taggart attempts to deny it via ignorance. The nature of this new aristocracy is depraved, and thus the men who practice it deny it, but they know it as the naughty secret of the next man--thus each pulling the strings of the other. Wesley Mouch's ascent to power eptomizes the underhand nature of this pulling. Boyle had suggested that Taggart help machinate Mouch a position in the Bureau of Economic Planning in exchange for the favor of effecting the Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule. Taggart had held power over Mouch in the depraved actions he made Mouch do for Mouch's success. The power of holding the blackmail of scandel, however, lessens as the blackmailed man becomes more powerful. Taggart learns this first hand when Mouch does not show up at his party--an action that greatly stresses him and allows Boyle to pin onto him longer as a "friend."
The ugly nature of the pull of "friendship" is to be emphasized, as friends double-cross each other for their own--gasps--selfish reasons. Notice that when Taggart needed Rearden Metal for his rails, he would deny Boyle his needed sure source of buyers for his steel. Taggart would claim that this is because Boyle had betrayed him in trying to eradicate the moratorium on railroad bonds.
Finally, d'Anconia comes to the party and pulls both Rearden and basically everyone else at the party. He talks of the nature of money--saying that it is the root of all good, that even though the villains also use it as a tool, it was the producers who made the money in order for it to be abused. Moreover, it is still something that can pull the villains, even though they claim that money is the root of all evil--as when d'Anconia hints at the incoming doom of d'Anconia Copper to an unsuspecting businessman, the resulting chaos and commotion over finding a phone to sell all stocks shows that people do care about money, despite the fact that they try to deny and denounce it.
The root of the aristocracy of pull is that of the pejorative view of money. The world steps into its stages of destruction when men believe that money is evil. The only person who will not do business directly in his own name either doesn't want others to know he's rich or doesn't want others to know how he got that way--because the looters and moochers have "redefined" the notion of "making" money by their bondage through friendship, they thus cannot afford to do business directly and cannot handle money openly. The faith required of one who would depend on a friend for his well-being summarizes how one can use this aristocracy of pull to wreck havoc on the world of "men" (pejorative sense).