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Why was Galt's motor in the gulch locked away?

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I read "Atlas Shrugged" many years ago and was very much intersted in the philsophy of Rand but I had trouble finding an answer to the following question and have never received a satisfactiry answer to this day....why was the generator that was used in the valey to produce electrical current kept under a special lock by the creator of the generator IF every one in the valley had a higher morality and no one could accidentally find the valley?

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Partially out of symbolism (the fact that the highest achievement available, represented by that generator, could only be reached by those of the highest virtue) and partially because even the strikers didn't believe they were foolproof: they knew at every moment the danger of their position and went to extreme lengths to prevent any undermining of that position.

Heck, Dagny even demonstrated their vulnerability by crashing the gate. Good computer programmers and engineers know that it only takes one idiot to fork up your system no matter how well you've designed it. It's best to have a backup plan.

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...IF every one in the valley had a higher morality...
By saying the inhabitants of the valley "had a higher morality" I'm assuming you mean that they were people who believed in and acted upon the Objectivist ethics. Even so, if this was in real life, this would not be reason enough for Galt to leave his generator - the power source of the entire valley - open to the inhabitants. Judging the character of others is a very difficult thing to do. Even a John Galt could mistakenly let someone into the valley, who could later sabotage the mission of creating a free society. A real example of this is Ayn Rand's mistake in her initial judgements of the Branden's.

and no one could accidentally find the valley

What about Dagny? She found the valley by accident. The valley was hidden, but not completely inaccessible. Thus, it would make sense to keep the generator under lock to protect it from outsiders.

However, since Galt's generator was kept locked up and protected in a novel, I think it is most important to ask why Ayn Rand choose to emphasize the fact that the generator was protected (remember, not only was the generator locked up, but it was also protected by a self-destruct mechanism that Galt had created).

My initial thought (without having reread the section) is that Ayn Rand was stressing the importance of property rights. Galt's generator was created by him, and thus it was (as it should be) completely controlled by him. The fact that the generator was locked and that it would destroy itself if the lock was breached showed Galt's unwillingness to submit his mind and its creations to those who deal with others by means of coercion.

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However, since Galt's generator was kept locked up and protected in a novel, I think it is most important to ask why Ayn Rand choose to emphasize the fact that the generator was protected (remember, not only was the generator locked up, but it was also protected by a self-destruct mechanism that Galt had created). 

My initial thought (without having reread the section) is that Ayn Rand was stressing the importance of property rights.  Galt's generator was created by him, and thus it was (as it should be) completely controlled by him.  The fact that the generator was locked and that it would destroy itself if the lock was breached showed Galt's unwillingness to submit his mind and its creations to those who deal with others by means of coercion.

Aside from the symbolism, I think that the generator was locked in the valley to set up a back story for when the same type of locking system is used in his apartment when the government apprehends him. If the explanation for the locking system wasn't set-up earlier in the novel, the scene in Galt's apartment would not have made as much sense and it would have been less dramatic.

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Aside from the symbolism, I think that the generator was locked in the valley to set up a back story for when the same type of locking system is used in his apartment when the government apprehends him.  If the explanation for the locking system wasn't set-up earlier in the novel, the scene in Galt's apartment would not have made as much sense and it would have been less dramatic.

The symbolism was that a mind cannot be forced to think.

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I may have mistakenly read something into the book that wasnt there but I thought that Dagny had been "Allowed" to find the Valley by the strikers.....they knew that she was like them and had let her in.

I think that the locked up generator was a slip on the authors part that indicated that subconciously knew that the basic idea of "producers" and "takers" or "parasites" was being blown Waaaaaaaayyyyy out of proportion to what mankind has ever known reality to be. I think that the lock was indicative of Rands understanding of Human Nature and the fact that no matter how moral a group claims to be that unfettered capitolsim requires mankind to lock up his greatest ideas and creations and even to keep them away from the light of day completely if he isnt properly fawned over and compensated for his efforts. If this is the case who cares what he has done or invented? And if he chooses to let mankind know what he has produced but refuses to allow man to use it what does that say about the morality of the producer?

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I may have mistakenly read something into the book that wasnt there but I thought that Dagny had been "Allowed" to find the Valley by the strikers.....they knew that she was like them and had let her in.

If you reread that section, I believe you'll find that Dagny had been following Galt's plane in her own plane. Her plane accidentally came in contact with the holographic projection which obscurred the gulch. The projection caused her plane's engine to stop and she crashed. Galt brought her to his house in the gulch to save her life.

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I think that the locked up generator was a slip on the authors part that indicated that subconciously knew that the basic idea of "producers" and "takers" or "parasites" was being blown Waaaaaaaayyyyy out of proportion to what mankind has ever known reality to be. I think that the lock was indicative of Rands understanding of Human Nature and the fact that no matter how moral a group claims to be that unfettered capitolsim requires mankind to lock up his greatest  ideas and creations and even to keep them away from the light of day completely if he isnt properly fawned over and compensated for his efforts. If this is the case who cares what he has done or invented? And if he chooses to let mankind know what he has produced but refuses to allow man to use it what does that say about the morality of the producer?

You join a forum, ask a seemingly honest question about a book that you probably haven’t actually read and then proceed to make a blatant, unfounded attack on its author?

I recommend that nobody else respond to this troll that has trouble spelling.

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I may have mistakenly read something into the book that wasnt there but I thought that Dagny had been "Allowed" to find the Valley by the strikers.....they knew that she was like them and had let her in.

Well, this certainly proves that you have not read the book. Perhaps you skimmed portions of it, but you certainly did not read it.

I think that the locked up generator was a slip on the authors part that indicated that subconciously knew that the basic idea of "producers" and "takers" or "parasites" was being blown Waaaaaaaayyyyy out of proportion to what mankind has ever known reality to be.
Really? Apparently, you have never heard of the Russian revolution and what the communists did to the producers after seizing power.

Or, more recently, what Mugabe has done to the farmers of Zimbabwe.

Or what the Khmer Rouge did to the producers of Cambodia.

Or what the North Vietnamese did to the South Vietnamese.

Or what the communists under Mao did to the Chinese.

Or what the Germans under Hitler did to most of Europe plus 6 million Jews.

"Takers" and "parasites" have been seizing and enslaving producers by the millions throughout history. You might wish to study some of these events.

I think that the lock was indicative of Rands understanding of Human Nature and the fact that no matter how moral a group claims to be that unfettered capitolsim requires mankind to lock up his greatest  ideas and creations and even to keep them away from the light of day completely if he isnt properly fawned over and compensated for his efforts.
Under a system of "unfettered capitalism", the sole responsibility of the government is to protect the rights of man, including the rights to life, liberty and property. No fawning is required.

Your view of human nature seems to be that man is an inherently evil creature that cannot be trusted with freedom. To live in a society organized around such a view of man, I can strongly recommend that you move to North Korea, Iran or any country with a similarly totalitarian regime. There you will be quite safe from the dangers of freedom.

If this is the case who cares what he has done or invented? And if he chooses to let mankind know what he has produced but refuses to allow man to use it what does that say about the morality of the producer?
It says that the producer's morality includes the principle of justice, which tells us that men are only entitled to what they earn.

Criticizing something from a position of ignorance is not effective. Why not actually read Atlas Shrugged? You might discover that you agree with it. But until you know what it actually says, you are shooting in the dark at a target you have never seen.

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I read "Atlas Shrugged" many years ago and was very much intersted in the philsophy of Rand but I had trouble finding an answer to the following question and have never received a satisfactiry answer to this day....why was the generator that was used in the valey to produce electrical current kept under a special lock by the creator of the generator IF every one in the valley had a higher morality and no one could accidentally find the valley?

That generator belonged to John Galt, not to the people in the valley.

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The symbolism was that a mind cannot be forced to think.

You took the words right out of my mouth; but there is much, much more contained here than that. It is no accident that Ayn Rand chose the product of man's mind to represent the mind itself; in a sense, the former is the latter, concretized in reality. Observe that Dagny's search for the motor's creator had little to do with the motor itself, but rather was a search for the mind that was able to create such a motor. This is made very clear by her offer of continued financial support to Quentin Daniels, despite his pronouncement that he would never allow the motor to be used in servitude to the looters. It was the knowledge that such a mind could exist that she was after, not the motor itself.

From two of the most significant scenes in Atlas Shrugged:

"Don't try to open that door, Miss Taggart."..."No amount of physical force will do it," he said. "Only a thought can open that door. If you tried to break it down by means of the best explosives in the world, the machinery inside would collapse into rubble long before the door would give way. But reach the thought which it requires—and the secret of the motor will be yours, as well as"—it was the first break she had heard in his voice—"as well as any other secret you might wish to know."
"Force that lock!"... the lock fell out and the door shuddered forward the width of an inch.

The soldier jumped back. The leader approached...and threw the door open. They faced a black hole of uknown content and unrelieved darkness...The room looked dead like an empty skull...[Dagny] turned away, not to let them see in her face the scream of the knowledge of what that dust had been a few minutes ago. Don't try to open that door, he had said to her at the entrance to the powerhouse of Atlantis ... if you tried to break it down, the machinery inside would collapse into rubble long before the door would give way. . . . Don't try to open that door—she was thinking, but knew that what she was now seeing was the visual form of the statement: Don't try to force a mind.

I'm not going to break all of this apart and explain what Miss Rand was getting at in these immensely important passages unless it is asked of me; I trust in your ability to see the meaning for yourself. Read through them, keeping in mind the context that the motor stands for man's mind and see what you come away with. Then read through them again, and look for everything it doesn't say outright, but implies.

When I read these passages for the first time, I felt their impact physically, in the form of those incredible chills that run down your spine from the nape of your neck (I think we all get those at times).

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I think that the locked up generator was a slip on the authors part...

I am sure Miss Rand made many "slips" throughout the course of her life, but I have yet to observe a single one in her Philsophy or her novels. This was no "slip." It was a deliberate, ingenious adherence to her theory of Literature. Part of her theory of Aesthetics is that an artists includes only those things which he regards as metaphysically significant. This means that allowing any "slips" in her own art would jeopardize her entire Philosophy. I'm sure she regarded this as unacceptable; I know I would in her place. Part of her theory of Literature is that every scene in a novel should develope its theme, characterization and plot. As you can see from the excerpts I included in my last post, this particular device does all three—brilliantly!

I think that the lock was indicative of Rands understanding of Human Nature and the fact that no matter how moral a group claims to be that unfettered capitolsim requires mankind to lock up his greatest  ideas and creations and even to keep them away from the light of day completely if he isnt properly fawned over and compensated for his efforts.
I disagree. This was no idea of Rand's. It's so preposterous that the only rebuttal I can offer is to point to every piece of Objectivist literature in existence and let you have at finding the exlanation for yourself. There are so many counter-arguments to this given in Rand's own words that it shouldn't take you more than a few minutes to stumble across something.

And if he chooses to let mankind know what he has produced but refuses to allow man to use it what does that say about the morality of the producer?

It says a great deal! First I must point out that he didn't withhold use of his motor to "man," but to a specific group of men: those who would seek to destroy him, and those who act to support them. This shows a profound integrity; particularly when one observes that he withheld his motor even from the woman he loved. The motor was his, to be used in a manner which served his values. The men whom he did not allow the use of his motor, had no value to offer him in return. On the contrary, they actively acted to loot and destroy his other values. Any other recourse other than the complete withdrawal of his mind (of which the motor was a symbol), would have been extremely immoral.

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  • 3 weeks later...

It's important to take into context that the motor symbolized not just a mind, but a self-sufficient mind; one fueled by it's own power. The fact that it was secured was intended to mean that no one (god, government, or society) has any right to touch it.

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