Where in the World is John Galt?

Posted: Feb 02, 2009 2:42 PM
People of all political beliefs often consider Ayn Rand required reading, but libertarians and conservatives identify most closely with the obsessive focus on the individualism represented in her books. I made it my priority to get through the hefty 1,000 page Atlas Shrugged a couple of years ago and tackled The Fountainhead shortly thereafter.

Since the 1957 publication of Atlas Shrugged, many a political reference has been made to the elusive character “John Galt,” all-encompassing figure of individualism, creation and invention.  With an encroaching government in full effect today, an extreme clash to Rand’s ideal world abounds and the comparisons are inevitable.

The fate of our country begs for analysis in this regard. The imposition of socialism in Atlas results in a miserable society where prosperity is dead and the freedom loving must escape. 

Dr. Arthur Robinson considers this idea in Human Events today, noting that the technological creators and artists of today have been slowly forced to “distraction.” These “men of the mind”, as Rand designated, “understand the consequences of the government oppression…so, they are taking actions to protect themselves and their families.”

Robinson continues:

… There are immediate effects upon our well-being and long term effects from the things that they are no longer working full time to create.

What is the cost of the distraction of our real leaders -- of the men of the mind -- of the John Galts among us?

Rand’s society is extreme, as is the tone of this article. However, the liberal agenda of  “common good” and President Obama’s condescension of America’s “childish” ways of the past (a strong, free and prosperous past) do not anticipate a liberty-based future. The cult-like way in which Obama gained unquestioned support so quickly, in light of multiple scandals and minimal experience, predicts a foolish pattern among the American people.

The “moochers” and “looters” are thickening in America. Bailout after bailout promises to destroy responsibility and the value of investment. As these Atlas characters are described, so mimics our society:

They use guilt as a weapon against those who produce value. They seek to destroy the producers despite the fact that they are dependent upon them.

In a famous excerpt from the book, Francisco d’Anconia speechifies:

Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce.

...Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money…

Are our producers – “men of mind” -- becoming irrelevant in light of recent events? Is success less achievable on personal merit as government doles it out on our dime? Rand’s world is fiction but the facts are shaping up to be eerily similar.