* * * This would be a spoiler for anyone who has not yet read the book.*
I'm at page 744 of 1168, where Dagny is in Midas Mulligan's secret town meeting all the people she had known in the outside world. All the people are telling her why they "went on strike" against the rest of the country and moved to the Mulligan's valley, but there is one I don't quite understand. It is Dr. Hendricks'. I'll quote most of his paragraph that I am not sure about:
What exactly upsets him about how he was treated in the outside world? Could someone explain this to me? I understand many of the points throughout the book about selfishness actually being a good thing in society, but medicine is like a SERVICE industry...the goal IS to serve the patient....I observed that in all the discussions that preceded the enslavement of medicine (becoming run by the state), men discussed everything - except the desires of the doctors. Men considered only the 'welfare' of the patients, with no thought for those who were to provide it. That a doctor should have any right, desire or choice in the matter, was regarded as irrelevant selfishness; his is not to choose, they said, only 'to serve.' That a man who's willing to work under compulsion is too dangerous a brute to entrust with a job in the stockyards - never occurred to those who proposed to help the sick by making life impossible for the healthy. I have often wondered at the smugness with which people assert their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, to violate my conscience, to stifle my mind - yet what is it that they expect to depend on, when they lie on an operating table under my hands? Their moral code has taught them to believe that it is safe to rely on the virtue of their victims. Well, that is the virtue I have withdrawn. Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce. Let them discover, in their operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man whose life they have throttled. It is not safe, if he is the sort of man who resents it - and still less safe, if he is the sort who doesn't.