A Scene from Atlas Shrugged

The scene is drinks with some of Rand’s most loathsome characters: James Taggart, Orren Boyle, Wesley Mouch, Paul Larkin.

While the set in the picture looks lively and exciting, I feel like the mood in Atlas Shrugged was dour and negative. Through their conversation, we see the mindset that Rand deplores. At times, their comments seem to be relevant but wrong. At other times, they represent the precise opposite of what Rand supports and admires.

“Disunity,” drawled James Taggart, “seems to be the basic cause of all social problems.”

Orren Boyle: “It’s my absolute opinion that in our complex industrial society, no business enterprise can succeed without sharing the burden of the problems of other enterprises.”

“It’s generally conceded that free economy is now on trial. Unless it proves its social value and assumes its social responsibilities, the people won’t stand for it. If it doesn’t develop a public spirit, it’s done for, make no mistake about that.”

“The only justification of private property is public service.”

Speaking of Rearden metal, Boyle says, “I hear there’s not a single expert who’s given a favorable report on it.” Of course, the ultimate arbiter of truth in the minds of these men is public opinion.

“When everybody agrees,” Taggart’s voice suddenly went shrill, “when people are unanimous, how does one man dare to dissent? By what right? That’s what I want to know—by what right?”

While it doesn’t appear until several chapters later, the “Equalization of Opportunity Bill” is foreshadowed in the discontented intentions of this scene.
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