April 15 marks the release of Ayn Rand‘s landmark, Atlas Shrugged, in movie theaters. Its release on tax day, is a symbol of freedom-loving patriot’s revolt against a government run amuck with socialism. Rand’s protagonist is John Galt. He throws off the chains of socialist leaches and creates his own community of creative, productive, freedom-lovers. Galt’s gulch becomes the center of a movement that sucks the producers out of the system, depriving the less productive members of society from their source of support.
I have been accused of being a John Galt. See my blog where I admitted that “in some respects, I’m galty as accused“. My Galtiness is in my philosophy of rights to property, personal accountability for productive work to produce one’s own life requirements and the pursuit of freedom from over-regulation that fosters such productive attitudes and results.
But I make a distinction. I am only partly Galty. I have great respect for many of Rand’s ideas, but I find some of them destructive, even heretical.
Listen carefully to Ayn Rand’s speech via the persona of John Galt and you will also hear an unyielding rant against “mysticism” which, in her view is any form of religious faith. Her god is rational thought and the quest for wealth is unbridled materialism that is the product of one’s genius and labors. There is no room for art, for love, or value of anything but wealth and its perks. Hence, there is no room for charity. It is ALL about the returns I deserve. There is no room for gratitude to a supreme being or a debt of sacrifice for the well-being of anyone but myself. It is all about looking out for #1. Those who are not born gifted to be bright or creative, those who are disabled and are therefore less productive do not deserve to eat at the table of the deserving wealthy. From Rand’s perspective, wealth is the proof of deserving productivity. Taken to its ultimate extreme, Galtism becomes fascism. Where fascism becomes tyranny, it is no different from the ultimate form of socialism, that is communism. Both fascism and Communism are, in the end, just political labels for the same thing, tyranny and both are forms of slavery.
Anyone who has observed Wall Street’s theft of America‘s wealth, the corruption of Monsanto that strips the farmer of his ability to save seeds, or America’s subsidization of big business while ignoring the under-capitalized and politically out-gunned small business entrepreneur knows that wealth is not necessarily the ultimate sign of morality.
I accept Rand’s challenge, “I am, therefore I think”. And I think she has it amazingly right SOME of the time, but equally and disastrously wrong at other times.
In my view and as Rand asserts, to be happy we all must be creative and work hard. But we must also make a personal choice, un-compelled by government, to love, sacrifice and be generous to our neighbors. Rand decries the cowardice, the lack of principle and morality of the middle road. Yet error of thought often lies in definitions. The middle road can also be defined as balance. In that sense, I seek a middle road and find joy there.
If you haven’t read Atlas Shrugged or seen the movie yet, you owe it to yourself to stretch your mind with Ayn Rand’s deep and inspiring thinking. You can listen to John Galt’s most famous speech here:
John Galt Speech FULL part 1 of 3
John Galt Speech FULL part 2 of 3
John Galt Speech FULL part 3 of 3
Atlas Shrugged – the documentary