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The excerpt below from Atlas Shrugged:

He sat up straight and said sharply, almost as if he were issuing orders. “You’d better look at that Rio Norte Line of yours, and you’d better do it— fast. Get it ready before I move out, because if you don’t, that will be the end of Ellis Wyatt and all the rest of them down there, and they’re the best people left in the country. You can’t let that happen. It’s all on your shoulders now. It would be no use trying to explain to your brother that it’s going to be much tougher for you down there without me to compete with. But you and I know it. So go to it. Whatever you do, you won’t be a looter. No looter could run a railroad in that part of the country and last at it. Whatever you make down there, you will have earned it. Lice like your brother don’t count, anyway. It’s up to you now.”

Has the statement: "It would be no use trying to explain to your brother that it’s going to be much tougher for you down there without me to compete with."

Tougher to do what exactly?

asked May 22 at 20:35

Humbug's gravatar image

Humbug
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There is some essential context leading up to the excerpt quoted in this question. (Page numbers below refer to a Signet paperback edition of AS in which Part I Chap. IV spans pp. 67-89.)

Page 76 describes the "Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule," under which the members of the National Alliance of Railroads were obligated "to protect the welfare of the railroad industry" through "cooperation for a common purpose." Every member pledged "to subordinate his own interests to those of the industry as a whole; the interests of the industry as a whole were to be determined by a majority vote, and every member was committed to abide by any decision the majority chose to make." If the majority decided that competition was harmful ("dog eat dog"), they had the power to curtail it. James Taggart was one competitor who wanted another competitor, Dan Conway, to be curtailed. There were outright nihilists in the story, too, who wanted successful producers of all kinds to be destroyed, for the sake of destruction, as an act of hatred of the good for being good.

On p. 78, James Taggart breaks the news to Dagny, just minutes later. He gloats that Dan Conway's railroad, the Phoenix-Durango, will soon cease to exist, leaving Taggart Transcontinental free to move in unobstructed. Many people today (and in AS) might cheer the opportunity for one producer to stifle another, even when it's done by physical force, as with the Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule; but not Dagny. Upon hearing the news, she leaps to her feet and exclaims, "You rotten bastards!" She wants to win economic competitions fairly, not by governmental force. Page 78 goes on to describe James' expression upon seeing Dagny's reaction. For him, the new Rule is a victory over her as much as over Conway. He has won his way of "doing business."

On p. 79, Dagny visits Dan Conway to urge him to fight back (by being an economically strong but non-forcible competitor). But he is morally disarmed, since he supported the Rule and had promised to obey the will of the majority. He is bewildered by what the "common good" has done to him and his own interests. Dagny and Conway talk about how Dagny's railroad will now need to fill the void left by the departure of Conway's railroad, and how the area served by those railroads provided plenty of opportunity and market size (including Ellis Wyatt's oil wells) for both railroads to coexist together.

On p. 81, Dagny explains that it's not for Dan's sake that she wanted to help him fight; she intended to give him a fierce productive "battle" (in a fair "fight," not one based on physical force), but that she "thought there was room for both" her and Conway. On p. 82 she says, "Oh God, Dan, I don't want to be a looter!" Then comes the excerpt quoted in the question. Conway describes the pressure that will result on Dagny's railroad to meet the demands of the area it will serve, including Wyatt's oil wells. He emphasizes that she will need to be ready for it when Dan is gone. It will be a tough struggle for her to measure up to that challenge, and to hold off all the looters at the same time, including influential nihilists and her own brother. He ends that section of Chapter IV with the observation, "I think, of the two of us, it's you who have the harder time ahead. And I think you're going to get it worse [probably referring mostly to the looters] than I did."

answered May 25 at 01:22

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦
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Asked: May 22 at 20:35

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Last updated: May 25 at 01:22