Fuck John Galt

To begin, I will quote Paul Krugman, because if you’re going to start an inevitable argument, you might as well start with a Nobel Prize winner:

“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

Now there’s a put down.

So Who Is John Galt? A modern Prometheus we are told. Well, modern in the dystopia that was the terror of the 1950s, tellingly where all of his supporters wish to live.

(As a side note, has no one thought about this before? Conservatives – who I again wish to state I generally have nothing against as people, they are just a bit weird, and I know lots of them – like to talk of better ages – the 1950s –  where there was community, and respect and a can-do attitude and everyone got stuck in and there was hard work… Conveniently leaving out the whole cold war threat of nuclear destruction because of a misguided pissing contest. Yes, sounds fucking lovely.)

He, John Galt, is morally heroic and heroically rational, apparently a philosopher hero. A what now? According to Ayn Rand, his creator, and of her supporters and people she influenced (which weirdly includes Jimmy Wales), he is an inventor, engineer, captain of industry, philosopher, a beacon of light for rational self interest.

The book this stain of a character hails from is Atlas Shrugged. It is the embodiment of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism (something that irks me, because I have a philosophy of objectivism, and it mostly involves not being a dick). It’s regained popularity recently because a whole bunch of high profile conservatives talk about it, and they are making it into a bunch of appalling films. I know this for a fact; I watched the first one and it was a boring mess of right wing vomit. A lot is made of the fact that sales have increased, though the same is true of Capital also having a sales bump in the financial crisis… Talk about a book enough and people will buy it, doesn’t mean everyone believes it. So pipe down about it.

Regardless. John Galt is meant to  be the modern Übermensch, a leader of men. The goal of he and his acolytes is to remove themselves from society due to society’s unwillingness to recompense them for their abilities, they are ‘producers’ of things society benefits from and their government is trying to take it away in the form of collectivisation. The difference between this fantasy world, and the real world that we actually, you know, live in, is that in this world John Galt’s acolytes won’t fuck off and leave us in peace like their messiah. But Rand, and of course Galt, believe that the government should not take things from these producers, because they are stifling creativity. The only solution is laissez-faire capitalism, whereby capitalism is free from regulation up to the protection of property rights, all other transactions would be under the auspices of the holy grail of money making: free trade. Rand believed mixed economies were the road to dictatorships, which is a somewhat alarmist. Instead of the public interest being things like taxes that raise money to go to schools, and god forbid healthcare, we would all be better served by selling our labour to those who’s central philosophical tenet is greed, you know, the whole capitalist system, and therefore likely to exploit us. Yes. This is the theory of great men. Men who are great because they have become great on the backs of others.

Basically, John Galt leaves society because he has designed a special engine, and then the factory he works in is collectivised, and he says fuck that shit. He is entitled to. Though, in modern companies if you design something on their time and money, it’s theirs, not yours, so the collectivisation of the factory he worked in wouldn’t result in him being stifled by collectivisation, since he designed what he did working for someone else anyway. The end of the book has society falling apart because the economy is buggered because Galt and his supporters have left. This is silly for two reasons, 1) a bunch of clever people going missing isn’t going to bring about the end of the world, because 2) other people can step in their place. But suppose these people arent good enough and can’t save us. The world as we know it ends, and society must be rebuilt. So Galt says they are all going back to the world to save it, because the lights go out in New York city. Do you really think they will be welcomed as saviours? Really? I would think they would be seen as selfish gits that ran off because they were a bunch of greedy nincompoops, who wanted more attention. Not the best way to be seen as the philosopher hero methinks.

The novel Atlas Shrugged is not even a good book with bad ideas that is well written, it’s verbose and humourless. It inspires cult-like devotion by it’s followers, and while Rand herself rejected this idea, it is not a baseless accusation:

Feel free to show this to your right wing friends.

“Power not liberty or reason, was the central thrust of the Randian movement. The major lesson… is that It Can Happen Here, that libertarians, despite explicit devotion to reason and individuality, are not exempt from the mystical and totalitarian cultism that pervades other ideological as well as religious movements.”

It rejects the notion that state intervention in society can be beneficial. It can lead to lots of terrible things, granted, but it can lead to food programmes and free education, unemployment benefits, and so on. The book itself portrays modern society (as modern as the 50s would allow) falling apart due to government intervention. It is used as a stick to beat government policies of taxation and the like. It claims to uphold objective values. Yet it seeks to create a society without an objective look at human relations and interactions, nor does it wish to acknowledge the good governments do on a regular basis.

We here at Vitriolism have always believed that the measure of a society is how it treats the least among us. John Galt’s acolytes wish to ignore these people in favour of their own excess, self regard, and victimhood. They are smart and have benefited from the way society is, and now they are on top wish not to let anyone else get the same chance.

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Comments
2 Responses to “Fuck John Galt”
  1. Angry Man Number One says:

    Robert Cox said that ‘theory is always FOR some one and FOR some purpose’ – so anyone claiming to be objective, especially in the Randian (randi?) sense, is simply perpetuating another form of society. What makes it abhorrent is that they are not open about it, hiding behind an ‘objectivist’ view.

  2. I suggest everyone to go watch the Atlas Shrugged movies ! They have great music and beautiful photography, backing up the worse of the scripts. It’s great non-intentional comedy. Get some friends and have a drink every time that some character spits some vitriol against the state even when no one was asking them to. I guarantee you cirrhoses by the end of the movies.

    Anyways, have you seen children amongst the characters in Atlas Shrugged?

    Nope. There are no children. Families are a drag for these beautiful and powerful characters – sex here is an act of triumph, it is not meant for procreation. These characters are sterile, selfish, perfect. They are the people in Friends, but at least Friends had humour and the decency to put children as props from time to time.

    And it it’s like that because Objectivism falls down in pieces when we mention children, the elderly, people with mental retardation or congenital diseases. They won’t disappear because you invented an engine, a laser, a new alloy. They will still exist, and they will still have needs.

    If your new society doesn’t have the mechanisms to protect the weak, the young and the elderly, you have not invented anything new: you have just simply put another name on nazism.

    Oh, and how many children did Ayn Rand have?

    You know the answer.

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