Monday, August 22, 2005

Chapter 22: The Utopia of Greed

The haven that Galt's Gulch is... is essentially an utopia of greed. Every single action done by its inhabitants and creators is greedy--for one's own good without letting someone else's good come before one's own. Yet, with every man for his own good in absolute greed does not lead to the demise that the conventional view would decree; in this chapter, Rand expounds on values and achievements--more importantly, that all that is good comes from greed.

Worth for worth, every single man in this value contributes to its existence; those who create it utilize tremendous strength and invest the time of their own lives into the process--but they do not succumb to the desecration of sacrifice. Ragnar explains his part in contributing to the Valley, that he is withdrawing the products of man's spirit, the wealth of the capable, the body of the world, whereas John is withdrawing man's spirit, the men of reason, the soul of the world. But, he chooses to contribute by being a pirate, undergoing dangerous missions to raid the ships sent to People's States. As he pointed out to Rearden earlier, this is not a sacrifice; instead, it's a downpayment for his future, that, through his actions, after the end of the looter's regime, the men of the mind would be able to build and recreate the world faster. It is for his own good.

In finding Dagny, again, it is as if Francisco has refound the meaning of his twelve year struggle and crusade. He had set out to abandon the outside world in order to destroy it, to make possible the future that they will recreate, where the rulers of society would not be the looters, but the men of the mind. Yet, the idea is embodied in the vision of creating the world of Dagny's dreams, the one she expects to wake up to everyday, but fails to find in the desolate leech the outside world has become. It's the world the heroes expect to find but did not find in the real world that has been created, here--and the fact that it exists now, even on a small scale, makes the struggle worth it.

When Dagny realizes that she wants John, she does not yet allow herself to fulfill that wish; she does not believe she has earned him. Moreover, the trouble of the love triangle (quadangle) haunts her--would John succumb to the sacrifice of his mutual desire for her in order to save Francisco the pain? To do such would mean that the three (four, if we count Rearden) live forever in a vicious cycle of lies and self-denial; the three of them living with the frustration of not being able to make unreality real, sacrifice based on another's self-deceit, the hopeless longing, the vain conclusion that love is futile and happiness not to be found on earth. John states that he would rather not have Dagny stay with Francisco for the last week of her stay, and Dagny sees this as John's statement that he would not undergo the sacrifice of one's dearest love common to the outer world. But, John tells Dagny that the destruction of a value which is will not give value to that which isn't; that lying to oneself, the destruction of truth via denial, would be an ultimate form of destruction. That she shouldn't have doubted the virtue of either he or Francisco to have believed in the paranoia of a love polygon.

Halley performs for Dagny, and he tells her that all work is an act of creating--all work comes from the same source, an inviolate capacity to see, "to connect and make what had not been seen connected and made before." He performs for her, but Halley receives a mutual payment for the joy she receives from his music: that he's found a viewer, a rational mind to appreciate and understand his work.

Dagny joins Akston's trio of students and Kay in his backyard, and he tells her that his version of a prayer, his hope which he held through the years of uncertainty, is "a full, confident, affirming self-dedication to my love of the right, to the certainty that the right would win and that this boy would have the kind of future he deserved." They fight for the love of their lives; they struggle to create their love; their certainty of the good, that this day would come, that it would be worth it. That of all men, Stadler is the guiltiest. He is the mind who knew better, the man who sacrificed his name of honor to fuel the looter's power--the man who denounced ideals, and by doing such, became the man who committed suicide consciously. In contrast to Stadler's forced denial of the real practical, Akston further explains the inevitability of what they did, that it was what must be done:

To make the fallacy of viewing evil as a necessity, one must check one's premises. What is good and what are the conditions it requires? "Those who cry loudest about their disillusionment, about the failure of virtue, the futility of reason, the impotence of logic--are those who have achieved the full, exact, logical result of the ideas they preached. So mercilessly logical that they dare not identify it."

"In a world that proclaims non-existence of the mind, the moral righteousness of rule by brute force, the penalizing of the competent in favor of the incompetent, the sacrifice of the best to the worst--the best have to turn against society and have to become its deadliest enemies."

The Valley, the process that went into devising it, creating it, populating it by means of draining the outer world of abled men, is thus a measure of what Galt, Danneskjold and d'Anconia have preserved and of what they are--they who have made no concesssions to others, who have brought into reality the image of his thought.

Akin to the fountain of youth, this Valley embodies the world of reason each hero had seen in the days of his youth; "to hold an unchanging youth is to reach, at the end, the vision with which one started," and the fact that they've reached it by creating it is a form of youth eternal. "It is not this valley, but the view of life held by men in the outer world that is the prehistoric image." The valley is the sheerly real proof of gloried existence in reality--the love of the human spirit, the experience of life, proudly, guiltlessly, joyously, alive--each hero had set out to reach in his youth.

To stay in the Valley, to remain worthy of it, one cannot defy reality. Dagny must face every single bodkin tearing at the flesh and blood of Taggart Transcontinental, while in the Valley. "Conscious choice based ona full conscious knowledge of every fact involved in his decision." Brutally truthful, John states to her the simple truth that, "Nobody stays here by faking reality in any matter whatever."

But, Dagny cannot abandon the world and Taggart Transcontinental, what is hers--and the men of the mind's--by right... and all the men who desire to live--outside Galt's Gulch. "So long as men desire to live, I cannot lose my battle."

And so, to win the greatest prize he could ever achieve, John has to prove to her that men outside do not desire to live.


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