Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Who is John Galt?

2nd in a series of “Who is … ?” posts in exploration of:

1) the “Who is John Galt?” question posed in Ayn’s 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged; and
2) the Paul Ryan/Rand mysteries.

This question “Who is John Galt?” is posed 33 times in Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged. Here are some suggested answers.

John Galt is:

□ an idealized, fictional character believed by his creator to have real world equivalents? (D:891[1])
□ a “wonderful wizard” of Libertarian philosophy[2] with a massive, déjà vu shadow hidden behind the curtain?[3]
□ a “thinker” who believes that a collection of achievers devoted to profit, competition, and self-interest can form the ideal society (D:569+)—in contravention (denial?) of the role such motives have persistently played in human history?
□ “… a [man] driven by the engine of business … whose actions are based on an extraordinary sense that [he] can do as [he] likes. … a [man who] is expert at slipping through the cracks and persisting in … practices against all comers, no doubt convinced that [he] knows better than anyone else what is good for humanity, persuaded that [he] is accountable to no one, appropriating the planet as [his] playing field and profit center”?[4]
□ a man who finds the Sermon on the Mount and the concept of sacrifice to be evil and reprehensible teachings?[5]
□ a man who (like his alter-voice, Francisco d’Anconia) espouses that “money is the root of all good” (D:361)
□ an alleged opponent of altruism, yet a man who abandons /destroys his own revolutionary motor and then works in anonymous menial labor so as not to advance an evil world?
□ a persuader of men and women to his philosophies and “altruism”? (D:768+)
□ the adored, philosophical leader of other persecuted achievers (as in: Francisco d’Anconia, Hank Rearden, Ragnar Danneskjold, Dagny Taggart, et al.) who put their own lives and futures at risk (altruism?) to rescue him from captors? (D:874)
□ the man who claims that Galt’s Gulch (GG) has no rules (D:544)—EXCEPT the rule that there are no rules. OH, AND the rule “not to give to the world the benefit of [one’s] mind” (D:569). OH, AND since there are no (or few) rules, there are several GG “customs” as in:
▪ the word “give” is forbidden in the valley (D:544)
▪ no one can leave GG during the month of rest from the world (D:578)
▪ no communication with the outside world is allowed while in GG (D:581)
▪ no disclosure of any nature or degree about GG to the outside world is permitted (D:615)
▪ there are to be no gifts or favors, only earnings in GG (D:578+; 544)
▪ no currency but Milligan mint is accepted in GG (D:554)
▪ one doesn’t ask for help (D:575)
▪ self-sacrifice is forbidden (D:769)
▪ the requirement to pursue self-interest and maximum profit prevails
▪ the law of the voluntary contract governs (D:810)
▪ everyone who enters GG takes the oath: "I swear—by my life and my love of it—that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."  (D:557)
▪ “there can be no collective commitments in [GG] and that families or relatives are not allowed to come here, unless each person takes the striker's oath by his own independent conviction.” (D:598)
▪ “Nobody stays in [GG] except by a full, conscious choice based on a full, conscious knowledge of every fact involved in his decision. Nobody stays here by faking reality in any manner whatever." (D:605)
▪ everyone MUST be a competitive, achieving person of ambition and competence
▪ violence (normally taboo) will be met with violence (no “turn the other cheek” nonsense) (D:779)
▪ there shall be no sloth
▪ “moochers,” “looters,” “cannibals” are forbidden
▪ the support of “moochers,” “looters,” “cannibals,” is forbidden
▪ etc., etc., etc. ?
In addition, John Galt is(?):
□ a man who spends untold hours furtively following / observing his secret love, Dagny Taggart, “Vice-President in Charge of Operation” at Taggart Transcontinental? (D:592, 729)
□ a man who spends hours in the underground cafeteria of Taggart (train) Terminal waiting for Eddie Willers to show up and talk about his (Eddie’s) boss, Dagny Taggart? (D:48, 334, 434, 497, 820)
□ a smoker oblivious to the poisons he breathes in and out?
□ a man adept at dismissing contraries (e.g., “no rules rules,” etc.) and redefining words and motives in order to reconcile behaviors with theories? (D:618, 881)
□ a character whose creator attempts to excuse him and his devotees from contradictions by reference to a “higher philosophical sense” (D:102) and a “check your premises” mandate? (D:153, 253, 292, 373, 473, 562, 602)
□ a man who believes he can create a better, more just world under the sign of the dollar?[6](D:890)
□ a dupe dealer?[7]

"Are you beginning to see who is John Galt?" (D:776)

NOTE to disgruntled (particularly Christian) “Libertarians”: The vices and corruptions detailed about Galt's persecutors are too often, tragically "déjà vu," but Galt's devotion to money should put us on notice that corruption, self-deception, and propaganda are not exclusive to the Left and have a long and tragic history on the Right, as well as the center and everywhere inbetween. Ask yourself: In the final count, who might the great Babylon prefer, Galt & company or Mr. Thompson? And what is the free-market shadow that so many are so adept at pretending does not exist despite its persistent, recurring devastations? How long till we admit that unregulated markets will always oppress and abuse freedom until we have men and women regulated by an inner moral framework that transcends but includes self-interest from a higher perspective? Ask yourself: How comfortable would I be in Galt’s valley of no rules rules and customs?

[1] Any page references (B) are from the 35th Anniversary Edition, Plume Book edition of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand; and page references (D) are from the digital PDF version of Atlas Shrugged found at . The hard copy Plume Book version (© 1992) has 1168 pages; the PDF has 891.
[2] From under “Political Influence” subheading: “Although she rejected the labels "conservative" and "libertarian," Rand has had continuing influence on right-wing politics and libertarianism. Jim Powell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, considers Rand one of the three most important women (along with Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel Paterson) of modern American libertarianism, and David Nolan, one of the founders of the Libertarian Party, stated that "without Ayn Rand, the libertarian movement would not exist." In his history of the libertarian movement, journalist Brian Doherty described her as "the most influential libertarian of the twentieth century to the public at large," and biographer Jennifer Burns referred to her as "the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right.”
[3] IF “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (New Testament Matthew 6:24); then perhaps one cannot serve self and mammon either since mammon is an exclusive master and will lead the self in a frenzied dance of status and acquisition.
[4]These words adapted from The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Corruption, and the Control of the World's Food Supply by Marie-Monique Robin, Perseus Books Group [Kindle Edition (2010-05-11), Location 163], describe the pervasive attitude of those whose first order of business is profit and self-interest.
[5] Read his lengthy radio address (D:767-814) and his many other words, plus the words of his many devotees like Francisco d’Anconia (e.g., D:313-316).
[6] Read footnote [3] again.
[7]See an example at
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