Full Glossary for Atlas Shrugged
aristocracy of pull a new group of powerful men who have reached their status not by means of talent or initiative, but by means of political connections. In this chapter, it refers to men like James Taggart and his friends, who seek success by currying favor with the politicians in Washington.
Atlantis the legendary island or continent supposed to have existed in the Atlantic west of Gibraltar and to have sunk into the ocean. Here, used to describe the decline of New York City and of American civilization in general. Atlantis is a symbol of the shining ideal that, inexplicably, mankind has lost.
The chain The chain is actually the bracelet in the shape of a chain that Rearden gives to Lillian. She claims that it's symbolic of the bondage in which Rearden keeps his family. Lillian has properly identified the nature of the relationship, but this chapter raises the question of who is in bondage to whom.
company union an organization of workers in a single company, not affiliated with any group of labor unions. The term generally implies control by the employers. In this novel, the term refers to the Rearden Steel Workers Union. Because Rearden demands the best labor force, he pays wages significantly higher than any union scale in the country.
egoist a person who believes in the doctrine that self-interest is the proper goal of all human actions. Here, it refers to Galt's recognition that his self-interest lies in refusing to surrender his mind to the demands of the looters.
epoch-making an adjective describing an event that ushers in a new historical period. It is used approvingly by Floyd Ferris in this novel to mean the new period in American history introduced by Project X, in which the government will rule the people by brute force.
The Immovable Movers The immovable mover is one who causes motion. The term refers to productive giants such as Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden who, because they generate their own action, carry the world forward. Immovable movers are the rare individuals who hold and pursue a new vision of life's possibilities and are responsible for innovations and progress.
moratorium any authorized delay or stopping of some specified activity. In this novel, it refers to the rejection of the mind and the rejection of reason that is responsible for the Taggart Tunnel tragedy.
Progressive policies Progressive policies, in this book, are socialist acts of legislation such as the expropriation of Rearden's ore mines by the government and their distribution to "needy" men like Paul Larkin. The term progressive, in matters of economic policy, is a euphemism here for the government's theft of private property and the country's gradual decline into dictatorship. "Progressive" is usually associated with "favoring, working for, or characterized by progress or improvement, as through political or social reform, (or) of or having to do with a person, movement, etc. thought of as being modern or advanced, as in ideas, methods, etc."
Prometheus Gr. Myth. a Titan who steals fire from heaven for the benefit of mankind: in punishment, Zeus chains him to a rock where a vulture (or eagle) comes each day to eat his liver, which grows back each night. In this chapter, Francisco refers metaphorically to John Galt, meaning that the great businessmen brought prosperity to man and have been punished with moral condemnation and strangling laws. Consequently, the great businessmen have retired and withdrawn their benefits until the day when men withhold their punishment.
pure, abstract science theoretical studies in math and physics that do not relate directly to the development of practical technologies.
Rearden Metal This is the new substance created by steel industrialist Hank Rearden after ten years of demanding effort. The new metal is lighter, stronger, and cheaper than steel. Although its innovative nature frightens people and it hasn't been accepted yet, Rearden and Dagny both know that this product will revolutionize industrial production.
Rearden's "Washington man" The "Washington man" is a lobbyist Rearden must employ to protect his business from proposed anticapitalist legislation. In a mixed economy such as contemporary America, there is a combination of freedom and government controls (capitalism and socialism). Rearden owns his mills, but the government has the right to control, regulate, and even expropriate his business. To protect himself, Rearden must hire a man with political connections to plead with the politicians on his behalf. As Rearden points out, the men available for such a job are an unprincipled lot.
sanction something, such as a moral principle or influence, that makes a rule of conduct or a law binding. Rearden begins to realize that the looters need some type of moral permission from Dagny and himself and that, more broadly, evil men require moral permission from their victims. What the exact nature of this sanction is, he doesn't yet know.
The sign of the dollar literally stands for a free country's currency. Here, it makes the deeper point that the mind is the faculty responsible for the creation of wealth, and the mind must be free.
Who is John Galt? This phrase is uttered as a sign of despair and hopelessness. The question lacks specific meaning and cannot be answered. Its use in everyday language is a sign that people believe answers don't exist to the problems that plague American society. Dagny and (to a lesser extent) Eddie are dynamic thinkers and people of action who believe that answers are possible and that positive steps can be taken to save American society. Consequently, they reject the pessimism that this question embodies.
xylophone a musical percussion instrument consisting of a series of wooden bars graduated in length so as to sound the notes of the scale when struck with mallets. In this novel, xylophone is used as a name for a weapon employing sound waves: Project Xylophone. The weapon's purpose is to rule the American people by terror.