Going Galt A-Go-Go
The right-wing, who have no trouble telling the difference between fantasy and reality because they ignore reality completely, have an adorable new daydream. They’re going “go Galt.”
You will recall (having read, if nothing else, this) that the reference is to the character John Galt, from the beloved-by-idiots masterpiece of third-rate science fiction, Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, a one-time movie extra who possessed all the novelistic skills for which that profession is known. Rand (nee Alysa Rosenbaum–shanda fer de Goyyim!) used every inch of more than a thousand pages to tell the mind- and soul-crushing story of Dagny Taggart, the beautiful and willful railroad heiress who blah blah blah never mind.
Central to the novel’s amusing conceit, apart from that of its literary quality and intellectual merit, is that, at some time in our near future, society’s “productive” members, its “creative” “achievers,” go on strike. They withdraw their genius from the corrupted, quasi-socialized world (“The People’s State of France,” “The People’s State of Norway,” etc.) that Rand, in her keen-eyed, visionary lunacy, saw coming.
Monstrous? Unthinkable? Unthink again. They stop producing and creatively achieving, yes–but only for us. Instead, led by lean, implacable John Galt, a man who cannot light a cigarette without smiling cruelly and lecturing for twenty pages on reality (“Rationality is the recognition of the fact that existence exists…” *) they retreat to some mountains in Colorado, where they mint their own coins and coin their own mints and create a Special Person’s utopian community that any unfairly punished twelve-year-old, brooding in his bedroom, would be happy to call his own.
Yes, it’s all good silly, operatically pretentious, proudly immoral and turgidly unreadable fun–or is it? Apparently not. Because, ever since Obama’s victory, wing nuts of various specs have been openly musing about actually doing it.
Go Google “going Galt” and read, with continually-dropping jaw, the blog posts in which the squawking heads of the right fantasize about deliberately reducing their income so as to stick it to The Man. Then read the even-more-courageously-and-proudly-cretinous comments in the Comments. Or don’t bother. Instead, just get a load of what an actual Congressman has to say on the matter.
From the Washington Independent, in a piece by David Weigel:
Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.), who gives his departing interns copies of Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged,” told me today that the response to President Obama’s economic policies reminded him of what happened in the 51-year-old novel.
“People are starting to feel like we’re living through the scenario that happened in ‘Atlas Shrugged,'” said Campbell. “The achievers, the people who create all the things that benefit rest of us, are going on strike. I’m seeing, at a small level, a kind of protest from the people who create jobs, the people who create wealth, who are pulling back from their ambitions because they see how they’ll be punished for them.”
There are three appropriate responses to this (apart from “Oh my god, those poor interns”), so take your pick:
APPROPRIATE RESPONSE NUMBER ONE: Baloney. You’re not seeing any such thing, at either a small level or a large level. The “achievers” you cite are, like most Republicans who honor principle by foisting it on anyone but themselves and then announcing “other priorities,” all talk. You’re making this up and assuming or hoping that it’s true. As is the case with other conservatives, reading Atlas Shrugged has destroyed the segment of your brain that deals with ethics, morality, and good taste in literature.
APPROPRIATE RESPONSE NUMBER TWO: Isn’t that just like a Republican? To promote policies and laws that lead to disaster, and then run and hide, leaving it to the liberals to clean up your mess? And feeling–or trying to feel, pretending to feel–superior about it. What a pathetic excuse for a political party which bleats constantly about “ideas” and “values” and “responsibility.” No wonder your candidates are a joke, your rank and file among the most ignorant people in the U.S. of A., and your spokespeople so repellent.
APPROPRIATE RESPONSE NUMBER THREE: Do it! Take your most creative achievers and achieving creators and go live in a valley somewhere and refuse to gift us with the gift of your intellectual and artistic gifts! For once in your hypocritical lives, live in accordance with your announced values! Or at least have Rush Limbaugh command his seething horde of zombies, undeads, and orcs to voluntarily make less money. He won’t, of course, but maybe they will! Please?
But you know what? You won’t. Because you don’t have the stones. You don’t have the guts. You don’t have the cojones. You don’t have the balls. You don’t have the jelly beans. You don’t have the Titleists. You don’t have the little clicky things that Humphrey Bogart rolls in his hand in The Caine Mutiny. You don’t have the Malted Milk Whoppers ™. You don’t have the gulab jamun. You don’t have the (other things suggesting testicles). You don’t have the intellectual honesty. You don’t have the personal integrity. So just sit down, and keep your hands to yourself, and let people with some basic, adult sense of what a decent, modern “society” is try to bail your sorry asses out again. Believe me, we’re not doing it for you. We’re doing it for ourselves, and our children, and our children’s selves. Isn’t that what you admire? “Selfishness”? Then just bugger off and objectively, rationally shut up.
(Can you tell which one I prefer?)
We conclude with a vision of a possible future:
In Rand’s novel, creative people (the “Atlases” of the title) are hounded and punished for their labor by an oppressive, socialistic state. In response, they retreat from society to a hidden enclave where they watch civilization’s slow collapse. How far, I asked Campbell, are we from the final chapters of the novel? “We’re still a ways away,” he said. “That will happen when people expect that there ought to be a recovery going on, and it isn’t going on.”
So speaks a man who, out of all the books in all of history, foists upon our impressionable young people one of the worst things ever published. Congressman, why do you hate America?
* Actually, this is not correct. I’m no philosopher–well, not professionally–but I would suggest that existence does not exist. Existence is the ontological condition of everything else–things, ideas, persons, animals, the hilariousness of Ayn Rand’s reputation as a “thinker,” etc.–that exists. Saying “existence exists” is like saying “blue is colored blue.” This assertion, by John Galt, is part of an extended diatribe (delivered over the radio) that runs, uninterrupted (“The mind is impotent, you say?”), for fifty-six pages. And no, John, no one says the mind is impotent. Rand made that up, too.