Who is John Galt?
This question is asked repeatedly in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged until Galt himself introduces himself to a world in crisis. In light of this new phenomenon of “Going Galt” being encouraged by Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and many others (particularly on the Right), this question deserves a serious answer. How else would it be possible for individuals to “Go Galt” without answering the question: Who is John Galt?
I would begin answering the question by explain who Galt is not. John Galt is not someone who merely caps the limits on his productivity to avoid being pushed into a higher tax bracket. What Galt does in Atlas Shrugged is much more radical: going on strike by refusing to produce anything for the benefit of society. Galt seeks out other high achievers and convinces them to do the same and help him build a society of their own.
Are these folks who claim to be “Going Galt” prepared to do this? Would Michelle Malkin et. al even be considered by Galt to be invited into his society?
To be invited to Galt’s Gulch one has to demonstrate that s/he has rejected the false virtues of altruism, collectivism, and mysticism (religion) and embrace his virtues of selfishness, reason, objective reality, and capitalism. While Malkin and Co. pay lip service to capitalism (especially when their people are not in control of the levers of power), their remaining values run counter to that of Galt’s. Is it not these very people who wish to erect religious monuments on government property, demand that Intelligent Design (Creationism) be taught alongside evolution in government schools, encourage individual sacrifice for the “greater good,” and wish to ratchet up the War on (Some) Drugs despite the evidence that the policy is completely counterproductive?
Now that I have pointed out what John Galt is not, perhaps I should allow the man to speak for himself in this modern dramatization* from the novel:
How many of those who say they are “Going Galt” prepared to embrace this philosophy by taking the following pledge:
“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.”
While I am pleased that the Galt trend is bringing some much needed attention to Atlas Shrugged, it’s my hope that more individuals will actually read the book and learn exactly what Going Galt is all about. That way when someone says “I am John Galt,” those who have been educated can respond by saying: “I know John Galt and you sir are no John Galt!”
UPDATE: XCowboy2 has released a newer version called “This is John Galt Speaking 2.0.” Enjoy!
*I only posted the first 3 parts. Anyone who is interested in watching the rest, go here.