The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies Vol. 10, No. 2
strategy is neither to side with the Wynands against the Tooheys nor to side with the Tooheys against the Wynands; Roark’s strategy is independent creative production and trade with those who recognize his value as an independent creator and producer.
Perhaps not everyone can be as creative and productive as a Roark. For Rand the fact of inequalities of abilities does not change the moral facts involved. The egoism of the weak, in contrast to Nietzsche’s thesis, is to respect and admire the strong, to promote their freedom, and to be aware of the overflow benefits to come to them from the strong. The average person may not be able to design and build as well as Roark can; yet thousands of average people can, with productive effort, earn the money in order to live in one of Roark’s buildings, and thousands more get the aesthetic benefit of seeing Roark’s buildings even if they do not get to live in them.
In Atlas Shrugged, Rand uses the example of a janitor who makes a decent living working in a factory. The janitor did not create a factory, including its ability to pay his salary. The janitor adds value to the enterprise and so earns his pay: he is a value to the factory’s creators. At the same time, the factory’s creators have added value to his life: the opportunity to make a living at that job. The abilities and skill sets differ, and there is a harmony of values that enables win-win trade. That, Rand argues, is the fundamental truth about the relation- ship between stronger and weaker: properly conceived, it can and should be mutually beneficial. Rand puts it this way in Galt’s speech:
In proportion to the mental energy he spent, the man who creates a new invention receives but a small percentage of his value in terms of material payment, no matter what fortune he makes, no matter what millions he earns. But the man who works as a janitor in the factory producing that inven- tion, receives an enormous payment in proportion to the mental effort that his job requires of him. And the same is true of all men between, on all levels of ambition and ability. The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time. The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude,