Thursday, August 04, 2005

Chapter 4: The Immovable Movers

Some movers quit or disappear, and some don't. The few who stay find solace in each other--that there exists at least one other competent person, and that the near future holds a "sense of clear outlines, of purpose, of hope," that they have a solution.

Flag words of this chapter:
  • motive power: to (with)stand; the embodiment of will
  • movement: to keep it immovable; action by the movers keep them going--by going, they are immovable, in the sense of being great citadels.
  • engines: to support it as foundation; engines=motor=movers

When McNamara quits, Dagny is overcome with a sense of loss--as if suddenly empty of energy, purpose, and desire. "As if a motor had crackled and stopped," as if McNamara's disappearance meant the loss of one more crucial engine in the world. His disappearance brings out the longing in her to find a power whose light she can bathe in, a greatness with which she could spectate, to appreciate. Wandering the streets of a depraved city--where people do not have the capacity to feel and experience, but live as if zombies--she realizes with a bitter sadness and wisdom that that fuel she needs for her own engine cannot be found in others. Her wish to find a moment's joy outside cannot be granted by the world, but only by her motive power, her movement--but then, that would not be outside of her.

The parasites, as epitomized in this chapter by James Taggart and Betty Pope, share the common pleasure--their form of joy--in destruction. They would rather stifle the engines' domain of movement; they wish to make things difficult for the movers, as a means to control them--to give them an artificial source of challenge that will divert them from realizing that there is no worthwhile challenge left in the world run by parasites.

When the San Sebastian mines are nationalized by the Mexican government, Taggart reacts smoothly in his speech given to the board--gracefully putting the blame on others, while giving the minions the excuses they will use to pacify those they represent. Despite having just eaten a bunch of loyal dogs, Taggart next triumphs in the Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule, successfully destroying Conway's competition in Colorado. Yet, Taggart Transcontinental does not have the means to compete objectively in the region--it is precisely because of their incompetency that Conway's business has thrived in the region, the only worthwhile alternative. As Dagny attempts to galvanize Conway to fight--to defy the tripe of "public welfare" the politicians have hidden the true nature of their scam behind--the first reference to the villains as "looters" is made. The villains have essentially looted Conway's business, forcing him to give way to Taggart Transcontinental, while at the same time giving potential to the possibility of looting the thriving businesses in Colorado--when the time comes and they have no means of transportation for their goods. This engine has used up his motive power, and Conway gives up, having worked his entire life and succeeded only to have his success taken from him--the first to be "sacrificed" in the name of public welfare, that when men must get together to fix the world, the majority could decree he dies.

But, Conway bows out by giving Dagny the bravo, bravissimo--that it is she who's taken the harder hit, the near impossibility of her task to come in the months ahead. Dagny returns to her office to ponder her strategy, and Wyatt bursts in giving his ultimatum that if he goes down, he's taking the rest of them with him. Unlike the looters, Dagny does not start her reply with a spiel of excuses; instead she states simply that he will receive his transportation. The secret joy that she's found a man like Wyatt, a fuel for her engine, foreshadows her mutual discovery with Rearden.

Dagny asks that Rearden deliver the rails sooner, as the original twelve month deadline has been cut to nine months due to the ADED Rule. Rearden accepts the challenge, and they watch the loading of the first shipment of Rearden Metal, while discussing the possibilities, realizing that the source of joy in each, the fuel for each engine, is in this sense of excitement over the movement to come--the actions to take, the work to be done, to look forward to--that the motive power is in the desire to fix the wrongs of the world, to save it from the villains, because they believe that ineptitude can only be weeded out, and that the world will one day be pure--the reality Dagny had grown up expecting to enter, but had not found.