|EXCERPT #2 FROM ATLAS SHRUGGED|
Beginning on page 411 of the 35th Anniversary Edition of Atlas Shrugged. (from Atlas Shrugged II, Minute 40)
NOTE: all of the bold emphasis has been added by me, it is not shown in the published book.
Dr. Ferris smiled. . . . . ."We've waited a long time to get something on you. You honest men are such a problem and such a headache. But we knew you'd slip sooner or later - and this is just what we wanted."
"You seem to be pleased about it."
"Don't I have good reason to be?"
"But, after all, I did break one of your laws."
"Well, what do you think they're for?"
Dr. Ferris did not notice the sudden look on Rearden's face, the look of a man hit by the first vision of that which he had sought to see. Dr. Ferris was past the stage of seeing; he was intent upon delivering the last blows to an animal caught in a trap.
"Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against - then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now, that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."
Watching Dr. Ferris watch him, Rearden saw the sudden twitch of anxiety, the look that precedes panic, as if a clean card had fallen on the table from a deck Dr. Ferris had never seen before.
What Dr. Ferris was seeing in Rearden's face was the look of luminous serenity that comes from the sudden answer to an old, dark problem, a look of relaxation and eagerness together; there was a youthful clarity in Rearden's eyes and the faintest touch of contempt in the line of his mouth. Whatever this meant - and Dr. Ferris could not decipher it - he was certain of one thing: the face held no sign of guilt.
"There's a flaw in your system, Dr. Ferris," Rearden said quietly, almost lightly, "a practical flaw which you will discover when you put me on trial for selling four thousand tons of Rearden Metal to Ken Danagger."
It took twenty seconds - Rearden could feel them moving past slowly - at the end of which Dr. Ferris became convinced that he had heard Rearden's final decision.
"Do you think we're bluffing?" snapped Dr. Ferris; his voice suddenly had the quality of the animals he had spent so much time studying: it sounded as if he were baring his teeth.
"I don't know," said Rearden. "I don't care, one way or the other."
"Are you going to be as impractical as that?"
"The evaluation of an action as 'practical', Dr. Ferris, depends on what it is that one wishes to practice."
"Haven't you always placed your self-interest above all else?"
If you think we'll let you get away with a-"
"You will now please get out of here."
"Whom do you think you're fooling?" Dr. Ferris' voice had risen close to the edge of a scream. "The day of the barons of industry is done! You've got the goods, but we've got the good on you, and you're going to play it our way or you'll-"
Rearden had pressed a button; Miss Ives entered the office.
"Dr. Ferris has become confused and lost his way, Miss Ives," said Rearden. "Will you escort him out please?" He turned to Ferris. "Miss Ives is a woman, she weighs about a hundred pounds, and she has no practical qualifications at all, only a superlative intellectual efficiency. She would never do for a bouncer in a saloon, only in an impractical place, such as a factory.
Miss Ives looked as if she was performing a duty of no greater emotional significance than taking dictation about a list of shipping invoices. Standing straight in a disciplined manner of icy formality, she held the door open, let Dr. Ferris cross the room, then walked out first; Dr. Ferris followed.
She came back a few minutes later, laughing in uncontrollable exultation.
"Mr. Rearden," she asked, laughing at her fear of him, at their danger, at everything but the triumph of the moment, "what is it you're doing?"
He sat in a pose he had never permitted himself before, a pose he had resented as the most vulgar symbol of the businessman - he sat leaning back in his chair, with his feet on his desk - and it seemed to her that the posture had an air of peculiar nobility, that it was not the pose of a stuffy executive, but of a young crusader.
"I think I'm discovering a new continent, Gwen," he answered cheerfully. "A continent that should have been discovered along with America, but wasn't."
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