When the Strikers re-emerged, there would've been numerous abandoned factories and equipment (including, presumably, factories and equipment that had been abandoned by the Strikers themselves). While the original owners may have been around in some cases, in many other cases there wouldn't be any clear ownership of these factories (e.g. if the owners were dead). If some of them were in at least somewhat salvageable condition, would the Strikers be able to rightfully use them?

While the book doesn't directly answer this, how would someone gain the rights to the property in the first place?

Economist and political philosopher Murray Rothbard (who was not associated with Ayn Rand), for example, argued that property rights (e.g. to the rights to land ownership in a previously-undiscovered area) "originally" derived from being able to make productive use of it.

Does Ayn Rand have some kind of view of how property rights could "originate" in the first place? Is it similar to Rothbard's or different?

The most direct hint to this in the book is when Dagny and Hank visited the 20th Century Motor Factory, seeing if anything was salvageable from it. (They discover the prototype of John Galt's motor along with a partial manual related to it, which they promptly take with them; Dagny promptly goes through considerable trouble to try to find the original inventor and, when she failed to find John Galt, hired Quintin Daniels to try to reverse engineer it).

You could argue that this was meant to be descriptive rather than prescriptive (i.e. the fact that the book records that Dagny and Hank did that doesn't necessarily mean that Ayn Rand thought that they were doing the right thing), but is this an implicit endorsement of a view that's analogous to Murray Rothbard's? Was the fact that they were able to at least try to put it to productive use and the fact that there was no longer any clear ownership in the company a basis for them to claim at least some kind of a property right over it?

  • Rand’s quote about native Americans and property rights may be relevant: en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Ayn_Rand#Native_American_Quote
    – sumelic
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 23:08
  • @sumelic - I suspect that is very relevant. Indeed, perhaps by being “uncivilized” by Rand’s standards (e.g. not respecting individual property rights), the old elite abrogated any right to their own property…in Rand’s opinion, at least. After all, she made those sorts of comments not only about the various Native American nations (which, while no sociologist would argue lacked individual property, probably wouldn’t have conformed to Rand’s conception), but about Palestine and surrounding countries, which very much had individual property rights in the legal sense.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 3:03
  • Dagny took the abandoned motor from 20th Century and didn't bother asking anybody's permission. I applaud her for doing it. Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 17:38

1 Answer 1


Absolutely yes, because it would be consistent with the strikers' long game and moral code. They forbade themselves from using their minds and labor to benefit society while the strike was on. But clearly, when they decide to go back at the end of the book, they are declaring the strike to be over, and once again they will use their minds to benefit society. So it follows that they would also use any resources at their disposal, including factories and equipment.

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