Atlas Shrugged Chapter 16: Miracle Metal

In honor of the Silliest Chapter Yet, I think this is the time to confess that I cannot see the author’s name without my mind mentally singing, “And Ayn Rand, Ayn Rand she wrote a bo-o-ok” (to the tune of “I Ran” by A Flock of Seagulls).

Chapter summary: In an alleged attempt to minimize the impact of the national depression, Wesley Mouch and his Unmerry Men (yes, I read into the next chapter) decide to stop all progress with a bizarrely complicated and impractical directive banning all people from changing jobs or developing anything, requiring all patents be turned over to the government “voluntarily,” and forcing all expenditures on everything in coming years to match those of the current one to the penny. Dagny quits and hides out in the mountains. Hank decides to stay to relish refusing to turn his patent over, but Ferris blackmails him with a threat to release information about his affair, which wouldn’t hurt Hank but would devastate Dagny. Hank signs off on his patent.

Hank is chock full of rationalization about how the blackmail only worked because he’s the sort of noble man who would protect a woman’s honor, thus making him morally superior to the person he’d be depicted as if the news got out. I’m really not sure if Rand managed to convince herself of that, or if the affair was all along a needful thing to force the otherwise unforceable (getting Hank to sign the patent “gift certificate”).

Directive 10-289 is inane and over-the-top and utterly unworkable and blah blah blah. Not a lot to be said about it, really, because it’s impossible to take seriously. At least I’ve read far enough into the next chapter to know that, although it’s still a little silly, there’s at least enough reason and point that there’s something of value to discuss.

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