Atlas Shrugged Part 3, Chapter 7 Summary

Ayn Rand

Part 3, Chapter 7 Summary

A panicked James Taggart tells Dagny that Henry Rearden has vanished. The steel industry collapses and the economy goes into a tailspin. To calm the chaos, newspapers begin to print stories with differing accounts of Rearden’s disappearance to give the semblance that the powers that be are in the know. Dagny receives a note: “I have met him. I don’t blame you.” Rearden must have met John Galt.

To quiet the fears, the Head of State Thompson plans on addressing the nation by radio. Just minutes before the broadcast, the radio signals fall silent all across the nation. It appears that some kind of transmission is blocking them. At 8:00, when Thompson was supposed to speak, a voice comes on and announces that it is John Galt speaking. He tells the people there are three reasons to live: reason, purpose, and self-esteem. A man’s mind is the source of all knowledge. When the men who worked with their minds disappeared, the world obviously collapsed. There is no such thing as original sin. It is only through the choices a man makes that he can be called human. Therefore, a man’s mind is the only authority to which he should submit, and he should trust his own reason. The highest good is to serve oneself. Those who trust in a supernatural entity such as God have submitted to the minds of the others around them, not their own minds. Those who trust in the state have done so as well. Morality is not imposed from the outside but from the choices one makes for oneself.

John Galt identifies himself as the first man who has followed this code of ethics, this belief in oneself as the highest good, without guilt. These are his virtues, and he calls on others to follow his example. He warns them that the looters are taking civilization not just back to the pre-science era but to pre-language, when reality was ignored. A is always A, John Galt says. Accepting this will free the people from the control of the looters. He urges them to free themselves and trust themselves. He pleads with them not to sacrifice the best in the world to those who are the worst. He asks them to join him in taking the pledge by which he has run his life:

I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.