Saturday, August 13, 2005

Chapter 13: White Blackmail

Crucial to blackmail--of any kind--is the transferring of information. More pertinent is discovering the motive power with which to spike up that blackmail. White blackmail is no exception. Its most obvious definition is that implied by Ferris when he blackmails Rearden about his illicit deal with Dannager: Ferris speaks of it as if it were perfectly normal, without the sense of gloating, but with a sense of safety, comradeship (though based in self-contemp). White blackmail is blackmail that has been standardized and so ubiquitously perpetuated it is no longer considered malice but standard procedure--as if its common usage could justify it, could whiten its blackness. A deeper and more general definition of blackmail--any blackmail--is that of knowing a man's motive power or a source that would affect it and using that knowledge to get something out of the man--good or bad. Every single section in this chapter follows that definition--except for the first, which introduces the stuff that'll be used for blackmail, white.

When Dagny tells Rearden that there is no need for her to forgive him, she explains it by stating that she would never give him what he does not deserve--that she would worship him for what he is worth, the Rearden Metal he has created and his sedulity towards his craft, but she would not sacrifice her railroad for him. Justice for justice, where one does not have the right to demand pain as payment for one's pleasure--that any trade where one gains and the other loses is a fraud. Her motive is to attempt to relieve Rearden of the immense pain she observed when he was forced to bring Lillian in the guise of his wife in Dagny's presence. The fact that Rearden does not yet come to forgive himself foreshadows the means which which others will use to blackmail him.

Lillian had stayed in Rearden's hotel room the whole night in attempt to catch him in his mis-deed. She believes that he is having an affair, although she mistakes his view of sex as that of the common depraved man--that he'd find pleasure in playing lothario to nameless, mindless, sluts on the street. Rearden's absense in his apartment vindicates her suspicions, but she does not carry the standard suit; she does not require divorce. Instead, she makes a demand which Rearden believes he is responsible for, as it was he who brought Lillian to this loathsome state. Ultimately, she verbalizes the fetters that have kept Rearden from his happiness. She claims that because he, too, has succumbed to the base actions of animalistic desire, he is no better than any other man. He has no right to condemn others. The fact that she wants him to know this, while claiming her right to his property--she being the pure one who has refused him sex--and the fact that he allows her to walk away alive... means that she still pulls Rearden's strings. She uses her knowledge of Rearden's tendency to perfection, to do what is just and to uphold a personal sense of just morality, against him. She also uses the fact that Rearden is still plagued by the orthodox view, that he would die to uphold the vows he had made to her--however bereft of meaning. With this hold on Rearden, Lillian has denied him of his property--his home--and she has attempted to debase him by making him think that he is as low as any other man.

Dr. Floyd Ferris prances into Rearden's office confirming the State Science Institute's orders of Rearden metal. Unlike the attempt of the previous lackey, Ferris believes he'd succeed. His confidence is due to the fact that he has blackmail over Rearden--he knows of the furtive illicit deal Rearden made with Dannager. The significant fine for that would be 10 years in prison. Ferris also accidentally reveals the purpose of laws, which explains for why such ludicrous directives have been set up. Precisely because these producers seem like such ideal, flawless men--the fact that they cannot find any crack in them to scandalize--the villains are reduced to making laws that have to be broken, so that they can create guilt in order to create criminals. Ferris would aptly put it, stating that the power of any government is the ability to "crack down criminals." When there aren't any, they're forced to make criminals (contrast make money). While Ferris meant that statement to assert his own belief in the potency of his words, it actually answers many of Rearden's unanswered questions. Moreover, it serves as the impetus allowing him to deny the order and stand up against the consequences of court. (Fortunately, court has not been abolished, yet, in this increasingly dystopic authoritarian society.) It is Rearden's first refusal to let the villain cash in on his guilt, but he is yet to discover the greater guilt that others hold upon him.

And then Willers talks to Galt (thus far, the un-named blue-collar worker). Galt uses the info from Eddie to power his blackmail against the world (looter's world). Galt already knows Dannager's motive power, but because of the urgency of Dagny's visit, he'd have to get there in time--while the fact that someone always quits after Eddie talks to this worker might be used as clues to cue in the reader as to what kind of person the destroyer is, one might also suspect that Galt believes Dagny is a worthy nemesis, that perhaps she might sway Dannager to not quit, ever.

Galt pulls Dannager. He manages to sway Dannager because he is the type of man Galt is--they share a common motive power. (They both started working at age twelve, too.) Galt uses his knowledge of him to get him to quit--to extract from the world the man who holds the greatest burden of the world on his shoulders.

Francisco, then, attempts to pull Rearden. But, Rearden is not yet ready for this--his love of his mills is too great, as when the emergency occurred, Rearden was willing to sacrifice his life for fixing it. Francisco, however, found himself reacting similarly. Francisco's attempts to cue Rearden into cognizance of that greater guilt fails... because Rearden is not yet ready to accept the full course of action one must take against that greater guilt--the subtle white blackmail which the world uses against him, the knowledge that Rearden would work for his love of his mils and that the looters would ride as hitchhikers and he wouldn't mind that because he believes it causes him very little, when in fact, it has caused him his happiness. Although Francisco explictly puts into words what pull the villains have over Rearden--that Rearden accepts the undeserved guilt by need, which the villains offer, as justification for his torture--Rearden cannot abandon the world, because of his love for his mills.

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