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oaktree

Why did Dagny save an enemy's life?

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You ask two questions: a moral one and a literary one.

The moral one depends on the circumstances.

The literary one requires a new thread under aesthetics. To answer THAT QUESTION, I offer the following:

Observe that neither Hank nor Francisco gave their enemies a choice. They simply overpowered the guards and made their way to the rendezvous point.

Dagny, however, gave the guard choice after choice after choice. But the guard defaulted on every single one, including the choice of get out of the way or get killed. But Dagny's job was to secure that specific door, and she always took full responsibility for every job she ever had. So she shot him.

And THAT attitude, ladies and gentlemen, is quintessentially Dagny.

Think about it: a woman becomes the unsung heroine of a railroad empire and kills her enemies while her male counterparts take less violent courses of aciton.

In the 1950s, a time when women were regarded as weak-minded, homemaking pacifists, Dagny would have been shocking and liberating.

Now she's just really, really cool.

And the event? Even more shocking and liberating. It dramatized Dagny's character in connection with the role of independent thought and choice in human survival while simultaneously demolishing the notion that women are the weaker sex.

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Miss Rand uses this episode to show the indecision and the consequences. Give the author some poetic licence and you can imagine reasons why she could not shoot from far.

Moral lessons can be drawn from the guard's indecision and the result. No moral lessons should be drawn from Dagny not killing the guard before talking to him. It would be morally same for Dagny to kill from far.

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You ask two questions: a moral one and a literary one.

The moral one depends on the circumstances.

The literary one requires a new thread under aesthetics.  To answer THAT QUESTION, I offer the following:

Observe that neither Hank nor Francisco gave their enemies a choice.  They simply overpowered the guards and made their way to the rendezvous point. 

Dagny, however, gave the guard choice after choice after choice.  But the guard defaulted on every single one, including the choice of get out of the way or get killed.  But Dagny's job was to secure that specific door, and she always took full responsibility for every job she ever had.  So she shot him.

And THAT attitude, ladies and gentlemen, is quintessentially Dagny. 

Think about it:  a woman becomes the unsung heroine of a railroad empire and kills her enemies while her male counterparts take less violent courses of aciton.

In the 1950s, a time when women were regarded as weak-minded, homemaking pacifists, Dagny would have been shocking and liberating. 

Now she's just really, really cool.

And the event?  Even more shocking and liberating.  It dramatized Dagny's character in connection with the role of independent thought and choice in human survival while simultaneously demolishing the notion that women are the weaker sex.

No Tom...THAT attitude you refer to is fundamentally where objectivism fails. Ayn Rand's entire philosophy falls apart on that one scene. The guard was merely a fool, ignorant and a hinderance to Dagny. But that does not justify his cold blooded killing. A philosophy that justifies killing those who stand in the way of one's own philosophical or ideological position is fundamentally flawed. Taken to its extreme - it is the logic of pure Nazism. Create a scapegoat, devalue them to such a degree that their life is expendable, and you have the underlying counter-logic of the holocaust.

What was it Christ said, "love thine enemies"? I don't remember him saying anything about kill those who get in your way. Ayn Rand's philosophy is in every way anti-Christian. It is not surprising that she is the philosophical darling of the political Right. It is in fact reminiscent of the first law of Satanism. i.e - "Do unto others before they do unto you". This is also the logic of the Bush Administration. How ironic that they were re-elected largely with the support of the Christian fundamentalist twits of our Bible belt who supported the carnage in Iraq. They simply don't see the hypocrisy of supporting the carnage on hand, and espousing Christian values on the other.

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No Tom...THAT attitude you refer to is fundamentally where objectivism fails. Ayn Rand's entire philosophy falls apart on that one scene. The guard was merely a fool, ignorant and a hinderance to Dagny. But that does not justify his cold blooded killing. A philosophy that justifies killing those who stand in the way of one's own philosophical or ideological position is fundamentally flawed. Taken to its extreme - it is the logic of pure Nazism. Create a scapegoat, devalue them to such a degree that their life is expendable, and you have the underlying counter-logic of the holocaust.

What was it Christ said,  "love thine enemies"? I don't remember him saying anything about kill those who get in your way. Ayn Rand's philosophy is in every way anti-Christian. It is not surprising that she is the philosophical darling of the political Right. It is in fact reminiscent of the first law of Satanism. i.e - "Do unto others before they do unto you". This is also the logic of the Bush Administration. How ironic that they were re-elected largely with the support of the Christian fundamentalist twits of our Bible belt who supported the carnage in Iraq. They simply don't see the hypocrisy of supporting the carnage on hand, and espousing Christian values on the other.

Where are you people coming from? :lol:

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Dagny just gave him what he wanted. He didn't want to choose, and yet choosing is the essence of thinking: choices are what drives a thought process forward, on and on. So if he didn't want to choose, he didn't want to think, he didn't want to be consciousness (in a human sense). He didn't want to be a human. OK, we can arrange that...

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I'm sorry, Josh, but an attempt to link Satanism, Ayn Rand and the Bush administration (of all things!) with one post is just too funny. If you want to link them together in the way that you have, you'd better back it up with more than vague analogies, 'satanic' principles and out-of-context passages.

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Dagny may need to come close to guard

to be sure to kill

that is motivation

Umm, when did Haiku become the predominant writing style of this forum?

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Joshua, the group of guards imprisoning John Galt where chosen, (I am paraphrasing here) “for their ability to follow orders no matter what, without asking questions”... that is the mentality that made the holocaust possible. The guard in Atlas Shrugged was the moral equivalent of a Nazi in the holocaust. Considering that you condemned Dangy for killing the guard, and in the same paragraph condemned the Nazis, you are a hypocrite. And if you believe, “we should do unto the Nazis as we would have them do unto us” – well then you are insane.

oaktree, as for why not shoot the guard from behind a bush. I interpreted as a testament to her not being a cold-blooded killer. She gave the guard the choice.

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Did someone link this forum on a Christian website?

Umm, when did Haiku become the predominant writing style of this forum?

Haha, too funny. :thumbsup:

If no one minds, can I ask a semi-related question under this topic? I haven't found any similar threads yet, but will go to one if there is one, or start a new thread if necessary. Perhaps just starting it here you can tell me if it is deserving of a new thread. I'm hesitant to start one without knowing where it should go and the proper way to do so.

My question is:

Why does Eddie Willers get left behind? What did he do wrong? What was his fault? Only ignorance it seems to me, and it's probably the only problem I have with Atlas Shrugged. Why does it start with him, keep him as a main character, and a good one at that, and then let him perish with the rail road while Dagny and everyone else who benefitted from his honesty goes on to paradise?

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Why does Eddie Willers get left behind? What did he do wrong? What was his fault? Only ignorance it seems to me, and it's probably the only problem I have with Atlas Shrugged. Why does it start with him, keep him as a main character, and a good one at that, and then let him perish with the rail road while Dagny and everyone else who benefitted from his honesty goes on to paradise?

Galt's gulch wasn't a place for *all* the good people. It was only a place for the elite people so the world would collapse.

Eddie represents all the basically good and decent people in the world who are not creative geniuses. What would happen to them if all the geniuses left? Maybe they would be ok, maybe they wouldn't. And note that is the situation Eddie is in: maybe someone will come along, maybe they won't.

By constrast the looters and moochers are shown as having no chance.

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Galt's gulch wasn't a place for *all* the good people. It was only a place for the elite people so the world would collapse.
I assume you mean wouldn't. Or do you mean that they intended the outside world to collapse? Either will work, but I prefer to understand the specifics of your position.

Eddie represents all the basically good and decent people in the world who are not creative geniuses. What would happen to them if all the geniuses left? Maybe they would be ok, maybe they wouldn't. And note that is the situation Eddie is in: maybe someone will come along, maybe they won't.

Why is that ok? Isn't that sort of deterministic? You're only as good as the brains you were born with? I understand that good people were left behind. I got the right understanding out of Galt's speech that some good people would be forfeited, and would have to fend for themselves. But Eddie was a central role. He was Dagny's right hand man. Galt got all his info from Eddie, Dagny had him replace her as acting VP and controlled her railroad through him. He obeyed, he was moral, he was as good a character as Dagny in my opinion, except less endowed perhaps. I understand meritocracy, and why the elite would be on top, but why was HE, in particular, unworthy? This smacks of eugenics if you are going to talk about the elite in this manner. He did nothing immoral that I can see, and they all knew full well where he was, and why he was there-for the railroad, same as Dagny had taught him, so why did they completely ignore him? And why did Ayn Rand make it so? What message is here? That try though you might, your natural born intelligence decides for you how worthy you are? That is not what I got from her over all message at all. I got that anyone, any little peon brain, could be good and moral and "worthy" in his own right if he applied himself. What did Eddie do wrong? Is it because he couldn't find "Atlantis" on his own? The leaders of the strike approached the other members, they offered it. Why was he excluded? If people of his level of intelligence are to be excluded, then why include him as a character? To say that life relies *only* on the geniuses is probably what turns people off to Objectivism. Eddie had a mind, he wasn't a robot, he questioned things, he was honest. He wasn't fully integrated, but hell, Dagny had to be shown the way too. I'm sorry, but this particular upsets me, and I don't feel satisfied with your response. I mean I appreciate your responding, but this explanation just doesn't do it for me. I understand they couldn't go around saving everyone who had an ounce of sense, but why this character? Why even have him if he's so negligable, so unimportant? He died pursuing what he knew to be the right. The same right that Dagny held, though without as much depth perhaps. I might even venture to say that he was more moral because he pursued the right and was blind to the other option-such as Galt's Gulch, when Dagny was told about and even saw Galt's Gulch and willfully rejected it. What was it about Eddie that wasn't good, since the whole of the story rests on the idea of good vs evil, and no character was without purpose. What purpose did he have except to work his whole life honestly and dilligently and in pursuit of the good, only to be left behind when the elite, who happen to be his friends since childhood, leave him to start a new world that doesn't need little Eddie Willerses? Would it have been so altruistic to repay his loyal service throughout the years with an invitation to at least choose Galt's Gulch?

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It's not that it would be altruistic to invite Eddie Willers to Galt's Gulch, but instead egalitarian. He was moral, but not one of the best, the "elite". Galt's Gulch was meant for the best of the best, the Atlas's of the world. While Eddie was moral and competent, he was NOT an Atlas of the world. He was not a creator. The world would not collapse without him. While I think Rand was stressing that people should strive to be rational in their lives even if they are somewhat limited, like Willers, we need to acknowledge some people are more mentally endowed. And these people, without exeption or the innovators, the inventors, the creators, and ultimately the Atlas's of the world. And it's ONLY these Atlas's who choose to shrug that can truly "stop the motor of the world".

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I assume you mean wouldn't. Or do you mean that they intended the outside world to collapse? Either will work, but I prefer to understand the specifics of your position.

Yes, they intended the outside world to collapse. Don't forget that it was an out of control socialist government at that time.

Why is that ok? Isn't that sort of deterministic? You're only as good as the brains you were born with?

No, because being invited to Galt's Gulch was not based on whether you were a good person or not. So him not being invited doesn't say anything about how good he is. It was just based on whether your absense would hasten the demise of the system or not.

So the fact that Eddie was not invited and Dagny was doesn't say anything about Eddie's morality.

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I think Ayn Rand wanted to show the implications of altruism on all levels from personal life of her heroes, to the economy of a nation and the social tissue of a community. Willer is the portrait of the good men of women all over the world. Willer is the millions of people who believe in hard work, being friendly to your neighbour and sending your children to a good school. Someday they wake up and see their life savings have been stolen by the James Taggerts and Wesley Mouches of this world. It’s the scores of employees who wrote accurate reports and can justify every penny of their account who lose their jobs because top-management was less scrupulous. Willers is the thousands of soldiers who believed ‘this war will put an end to all wars’. Look around you for the Eddy Willers of this world. Look what happens to them at the office, at your local community, in college, in society. Look what happens as politics regulate more and more of our lives, as lobbying is becoming the most lucrative business. Who’s picking up the tab? The Willers of this world.

Eddy Willers fate is essential to understand the personal suffering of millions of people as society gets based on relativistic morals.

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Why does Eddie Willers get left behind? What did he do wrong? What was his fault? Only ignorance it seems to me, and it's probably the only problem I have with Atlas Shrugged. Why does it start with him, keep him as a main character, and a good one at that, and then let him perish with the rail road while Dagny and everyone else who benefitted from his honesty goes on to paradise?

There's actually a seperate topic on this subject:

http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=396

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Why was he excluded?

Dominique, Eddie was not excluded. Dagny offered to take him along, just as Reardon took his secretary, but Eddie refused. He could not face starting over.

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Dominique, Eddie was not excluded.  Dagny offered to take him along, just as Reardon took his secretary, but Eddie refused.  He could not face starting  over.

As I read the other thread I saw that. That makes a big difference. I did not read it that way initially, but taking the quotes from the section and analyzing them, I see that he stayed voluntarily, and believe that she would have taken him if he had been able/willing to go.

There are several sections in the book where good people just couldn't take it anymore, and were unable to go on. I understand and I thank everyone for their responses. This was a touchy issue with me in regards to one of the best books I have ever read, but it has been settled in my mind, and it makes perfect sense in that manner.

(EDIT: BTW I reject this:

He was moral, but not one of the best, the "elite". Galt's Gulch was meant for the best of the best, the Atlas's of the world. While Eddie was moral and competent, he was NOT an Atlas of the world. He was not a creator. The world would not collapse without him.

and this

Galt's gulch wasn't a place for *all* the good people.
as being terrible representations of Objectivism, and the highly upsetting ideas which made this a touchy subject for me in the first place)

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(EDIT: BTW I reject this:

and this

as being terrible representations of Objectivism, and the highly upsetting ideas which made this a touchy subject for me in the first place)

Why?

Edited to add: Well, I see this was posted over a month ago. Hopefully Dominique is still around to answer my question :(

Edited by One Prime Mover

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Why?

Edited to add: Well, I see this was posted over a month ago. Hopefully Dominique is still around to answer my question :(

She is occasionally.

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