Doc Savage v. Ayn Rand

There’s nothing like a weird and semi-readable piece of pulp to sprain the cortex. Now, take 1957′s Atlas Shrugged, which fairly recently spawned this kind of tribute in the Wall Street Journal. Here is the reprise of the old story–Greenspan used to tell it repeatedly–of how a person who hadn’t been coldcocked by Rand’s envious mountain of jibberish was “a virgin” .

It’s Doc Savage virgins who interest me more. From the ever brilliant Mike “Doktor Goulfinger” Monahan, I learn of how the Man of Bronze would have squelched the plot of Atlas Shrugged.

The 40th Doc Savage novel The Dagger in the Sky (1939–18 YEARS BEFORE RAND KILLED ALL THOSE FORESTS WITH HER BOOK) has the superhuman Savage and his trustworthy team heading off to investigate weirdness in a in a pair of South American nations on the brink of war. Eventually, he corners the perpetrators who have been scaring the local Indians into subservience. They turn out to be well-known American industrialists:

“Our motives for doing this, you may or may not know, are – well, they
are idealistic…”
B.A. Arthur [one such industrialist] cleared his throat. “The world today is a turbulent,
war-ridden place. In no country, no nation on the face of the earth,
are property rights unhampered by taxation. I am an American citizen,
for instance, and when I die, the United States government plans to
take over half my fortune in inheritance taxes – which means they will
take some seven hundred million dollars, in spite of all my lawyers
can do to the contrary. Granting, of course, their taxation had not
made me a pauper before then.”
B.A. Arthur scowled before he continued.
“Government meddling – you find it everywhere. Take the New York
Stock Exchange, for example – what do you find? Government regulation
everywhere you turn. The banks? Deposit insurance – eating up the
banker’s legitimate profit. Utilities? Government competition forcing
rates down until return on capital is cut to a measly seven or eight
Doc Savage looked around the table and said, “The point is that you
fellows – you very wealthy men – don’t like the way the world is
today. That it?”
“And you propose?”
“To take over the mountainous portion of Cristobal – a perfect
place to live, if ever there was one on the face of this earth….”
“And then?”
“We will create a sanctuary for wealth,” B.A. Arthur said grimly.
“There will be no income tax, no inheritance tax, no tax on any
business enterprise of any size. There will be no regulations.
Operating from such a country, we will soon make it the financial
center of the world.”
“What about the natives of Cristobal?”
“Oh, them? They will be shown their place.” B.A. Arthur suddenly
pounded the table. “There will be none of this damned rights-of-labor
stuff! No unions. The first time the fools go on strike, we’ll have
them shot down. That’ll teach them!”
Doc Savage remained emotionless, asked, “And where do I come in?”
“We need brains. We might hire yours.”
“What makes you think I would work for you?”
“You’re one of those idiots who spends his time trying to make a
better world, aren’t you? Well, we’re offering you the chance of your
Doc Savage shook his head.
“You won’t do it?” B.A. Arthur exploded. “But we’ve kept your
friends alive solely in hopes of getting your good will in the end.”
“And why not, you idiot?”
Doc said, with no noticeable excitement in his voice, “This whole
setup is rather hideous. It’s selfish and ugly. It is simply a case of
rich men – men more wealthy than anyone has a right to be – trying to
keep their money and get more.”

[And then Doc proposes to send the men to his "college" for surgical re-education, the part that Rand probably wouldn't have liked.]]

“Our men at the college have had plenty of experience training men to
hate crime,” Doc pointed out. “It should be no more difficult to train
men to do good with money.”

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