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REQUIEM

Below are the two final essays to be posted on Allegiance and Duty Betrayed. The first one is written by a friend -- screen name 'Euro-American Scum' -- who, over the past four years, has been the most faithful essayist here. He has written about everything from his pilgrimage to Normandy in 2004 to take part in the 60th–year commemoration of the invasion, to his memories of his tour in Vietnam. His dedication to America’s founding principles ... and those who have sacrificed to preserve them over the past 200+ years ... is unequaled. Thank you, E-A-S. It has been a privilege to include your writing here, and it is a privilege to call you my friend.

The second essay is my own farewell. And with it I thank all of the many regular visitors, and those who may have only dropped in occasionally, for coming here. I hope you learned something. I hope a seed or two was planted. But, even if not, I thank you for stopping by ... 25 March, 2010

2/21/2010

Where is John Galt?


Not “Who is John Galt?” I think we all know the answer to that question. At least for those of us for whom Atlas Shrugged has become the conservative Holy of Holies. We all know who he is. But just where he has disappeared to in this age of commerce by government fiat is the more pertinent issue. The operative question then becomes “Where is John Galt?”

We all know the story. John Galt – Ayn Rand’s Olympian Übermensch of American business and industry – stops the engine of the world in her apocryphal novel, now more than half a century old. He does so by various means at his disposal – from friendly (or not so friendly) persuasion, to kidnapping, to outright sabotage. Galt is everywhere and nowhere, ethereal and concrete, mystical and empirical. He is all things to all people, truly a man for all seasons.

It is a tribute to Rand’s skill as a novelist that the lion’s share of the book takes place without his presence in any concrete fashion. It is only in the story’s final stages that we get a clear picture of this visionary leader, whose ruthlessness in his singular destruction of the threads that hold civilization together speaks powerfully of his single-mindedness and commitment. He is a man without flaws, devoid of the petty failings that plague mortal men. He is the god of Ayn Rand’s fictional utopia.

So what are we to make of the absence of such men, now, in the 21st century? In the age of business by government takeover, he is conspicuously missing in action at a time when just such a man could be most effectively utilized. What does his absence indicate? And what does that say about the time in which we live, and ultimately about ourselves?

Unlike many of my conservative brethren, I don’t wield my rubber stamp when it comes to Rand’s objectivist philosophy or her fictional masterpiece by which she makes it known. Not long ago, one of my USC lawyer friends sent me a quote – whose origins I do not know, which encapsulates at least his area of interest when it comes to this compelling novel:

    "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."
O.K. You’re either grinning, chuckling, consumed with laughter, or red faced with hysteria. And while I’m not sure where I fall in the continuum of criticism of the story, I do recognize there’s no middle ground when it comes to a position. People either love this book or hate it. But nobody comes away from this compelling tale of doom and regeneration without an opinion.

It begins with Eddie Willers – that eternal, ever-present everyman. Faithful, loyal, and reliable as a loaf of white bread, he chances upon a street derelict in some not-too-distant-future America suffering from a contemporary economic cataclysm. Recession? Depression? We don’t know. And in truth, it does not matter. Something has gone seriously off the rails. Eddie greets the bum in the vernacular of the day. Not “Hello, how are you,” but “Who is John Galt?” It isn’t so much a question as an acknowledgment. Things are bad, and there is no end in sight, all rosy claims to the contrary.

Eddie labors for Dagny Taggart – Vice President of Operations for Taggart Transcontinental Railroad – with whom, at least in this reader’s estimation, he is more than a little smitten. Give it up, Eddie. She’s out of your league. Any woman capable of running a national transportation company, carrying the dead weight of her deadbeat brother, slipping and dodging the strangulation of government edicts, is going to yearn for more than the likes of you. She’ll dream of Hank Rearden, the steel magnate, Francisco d’Anconia, the international playboy and mining executive, Ragnar Danneskjöld, the menacing privateer, or perhaps the predictably efficient Owen Kellogg. She will appreciate the operatic genius of Richard Halley. But she secretly yearns for her perpetual ideal, her unattainable dream – John Galt himself.

Forget it, Eddie. She’s not your type.

Note to anyone who doubts this little tidbit of truth and consequence: A woman of Dagny’s stripe – dynamic, multi-talented, striking in appearance and ability – will always look for a man who exceeds her own accomplishments. Time-card punching working stiffs need not apply for the favors of this gossamer goddess of American commerce.

It would appear that Hank Rearden fits the bill, and this certainly appears so in the early stages of the story. But Dagny quickly becomes enthralled by the overwhelming dynamism, vision, dare I say masculinity, of the driving force of a burgeoning underground society of entrepreneurs – John Galt himself.

Except he’s missing in action for the bulk of the novel. Ah, but his presence is felt everywhere. For all across the country, men like him – visionary men of power, talent, ambition and ability – are destroying what they’ve built by their own hand, and disappearing from the landscape. In the wake of government strangulation, confiscation, retribution, the men who built the modern industrial state are tearing it down. And Galt – elusive, ethereal, but ever-present – is the driving force behind this demolition.

John Galt stops the motor of the world, as the author so aptly puts it. As first among equals of that select group of farsighted men of superior ability, he recognizes that the country now plays a new game with a stacked deck of cards, and rather than play by the new rules, he overturns the card table and walks away, taking the bulk of similar men with him.

And so the bleak landscape of post-America America takes shape in Ayn Rand’s prophetic novel about the downfall of greatness in the country that nurtured it for so long. One by one, thriving enterprises are strangled by encroaching socialist policies of a tyrannical government. Incrementally, innovation and novelty are trampled underfoot by government bureaucrats. And when it’s over, we are faced with a country burdened by a dependent population, with a huge sense of entitlement, and no group of super-achievers left to support this modality of dependence.

Kind of like now.

This is not a review of the novel. If you are among the handful of conservatives who has not read it, I urge you to do so. Trust me, it will be worth the effort to wade through the 1100-or-so pages, whether you’re inspired at the end of it or horrified.

So where is he? Where is John Galt in the America of 2010? Could be he’s comfortably ensconced in Galt’s Gulch waiting for the end to come. Only in the real America he doesn’t have to go to great lengths to bring everything crashing down around his ears. All he has to do is sit back and wait.

At first glance, it would appear there’s no great cause for concern. In fact, what message does the current administration send to the titans of business and industry? Let’s see … We’ve had the Detroit bailout, the Wall Street bailout, the banking bailout, the (currently) abortive attempt to nationalize 1/6 of the nation’s GDP in the healthcare takeover. Gosh, and it all worked out so well. If you were a business executive, what would you conclude?

    “Hmmm … I really don’t have to make savvy, hard-hitting, well-conceived business decisions. If my company is big enough, and my mistakes are sufficiently bad, I can make whatever stupid move I want. Big Daddy in Washington will bail me out every time.”
I ask you, who needs John Galt to stop the motor of the world? All he has to do is sit back with his feet up on the coffee table and watch it all collapse on the Fox Business Network. Because such policies – profligate spending, confiscatory taxes, punitive measures against the best and brightest among us – will guarantee a collapse of catastrophic proportions. It might not happen tomorrow. And we might not be able to wrap our intellect around it, considering the level of cognitive dissonance loose in the land – but rest assured, what cannot be maintained will not be maintained.

No, we don’t need John Galt to tear down the infrastructure of the world. That’s being done. What we need him for is to rebuild the ruins like the Phoenix rising from the ashes. And alas, Ayn Rand doesn’t take us there. It is at this point that the story ends.

Yes, conservatives love Atlas Shrugged. It means more to us than the Holy Bible. For many of us, perhaps even most of us, it is the Holy Bible of conservative ideology. Objectivism is our new religion, John Galt, the knight templar of our new evangel. And what’s not to like? A multi-talented, powerful, uncompromising man of means and ambition, single-handedly destroys a world dominated by chair-bound paper-pushers – personified by Wesley Mouch (aptly named, if I do say so myself) – the consummate government bureaucrat. Galt does so out of a driving force of enlightened (or maybe expedient) self-interest. He cares nothing for anything or anyone beyond his own pulsing, powerful ambition, fueled by his talents and abilities.

We love this kind of stuff. We internalize it. We live it, where feasible. Problem is, most of us are not industrial Übermenschen. We’re forty-hour-a-week working stiffs. That is, those of us who are still in a position that commands forty hours of activity. The further problem is, there’s a dark undercurrent to the Olympian utopia of Ayn Rand’s vision of men of capital and accomplishment.

“What’s that, you say? I thought you liked Atlas Shrugged?” I do, but only up to a point.

Ayn Rand was prescient in her view of the vapidity of business by government control. She correctly saw the petty jealousies, the arbitrary mediocrity, the trivial meanness that comes when massive government intervention intrudes in an area it has no business going. She identified the evil inherent in a system of controls for which arbitrary spitefulness was the order of the day. What she failed to recognize was the same characteristics were alive and well in her objectivist ideal – John Galt.

There is a very apt passage of the Bible that points a troubling figure at Rand’s idyllic hero –

    10 As it is written ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.’” – Romans 3:10-12
You think she was bothered by this? Not a bit. Ayn Rand was an avowed atheist. She was quick to see the corruption of massive government intervention because she lived through the Russian revolution and the earliest days of the communist regime. She suffered through the Soviet-sponsored famine of the early 1920s. She knew full well the evil that lived in the hearts of men drunk with government power and accountable to no one. Too bad that vision didn’t extend to John Galt.

It’s an all too common tale, this tunnel vision of the intellect. We do it all the time.

I worship with the prime movers of the local community, devout Christians all. And many of them have illegals in their employ (still). They pay them under the table, and throw them away like yesterday’s leftover garbage when they have no further need for them. And they’ve got more coming in every day, despite the hard times.

I have a good friend with whom I’ve shared season tickets to USC football for the past ten years. He’s a staunch conservative, voting exclusively for Republican candidates since he’s been eligible to. But he’s not giving up the union job that guarantees him $125,000 a year for working on an assembly line at an ice cream factory. And you can bet his union isn’t giving any wage concessions to management to keep the company afloat.

One of my dearest friends is a middle-aged woman who is a passionate supporter of the troops fighting overseas. She’s always quick to defend the cause for which they fight, and the men (and women) who do the fighting. But she’s never gone to the local airport to welcome them home, and never attended a Memorial Day service in her life.

So there’s plenty of inconsistency to go around out there. It’s no surprise that Bible-believing conservative Christians also worship on the altar of Ayn Rand’s objectivist model of perfection. Oh yes, and then there’s this troubling passage ...
    13 But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images 14 (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous GOD)” – Exodus 34:13-14
... well, that gets kicked to the curb in the process of deluding ourselves that we, too, have the Dionysian abilities of John Galt as well. We don’t. We just live vicariously through him.

It’s intoxicating when you think about it. To be above the fray is one of the most seductive fantasies of people caught in the maelstrom. To be possessed of such monumental abilities as to be held, not to a higher standard, but no standard at all, is exhilarating. We see it in John Galt’s now world-famous objectivist monologue.

On the surface, there’s nothing to take issue with. Indeed, it is, and should be, a way of life for all of us. We should pursue our dreams and rise as far as talent and ambition can take us. Except people (of all stripes, not just government bureaucrats) are weak, envious, hateful and cruel. And the most enlightened pursuit of prosperity for whatever motivation, ultimately descends into an amoral lust for power for its own sake. There’s no avoiding it. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Tell the truth. We loved Ken Lay (of Enron notoriety). Our only disappointment was that he got caught. And we admired Bernie Madoff. His only sin was he wasn’t slick, savvy or fast enough. Only we don’t have that savvy. Most of us, anyway. And we certainly don’t possess the requisite ruthlessness to grab all we can and throw the people we are purported to serve on the grenade.

So what would be the role of John Galt be in the America of 2010, precariously balanced on the precipice of falling into a global abyss? He’s essential. For all his flaws – and he did possess them, regardless of the author’s characterization of him – the country will need him when things fall apart, and the center does not hold. Only men of such talent have the requisite steel in their spine to rebuild a nation.

But what will that nation look like when the talents of John Galt have come to full fruition? To answer that question, let’s fast forward to the point at which Ayn Rand’s yellow brick road came to a screeching halt.

There stood John Galt overlooking a darkened, desolate landscape, tracing the dollar sign in the air, poised and ready to rebuild a nation in his own image. Dagny Taggart nestled in the crook of his arm, gazing up at his chiseled features in adoring admiration, eagerly willing to sacrifice her sweet, young body without a moment’s hesitation.

Galt Enterprises will contract Hank Rearden to produce unlimited supplies of Rearden Metal© underwritten by a loan from Midas Mulligan to rebuild the nation. Rearden will do this at cost, with the clear understanding that he will receive royalties from Galt Enterprises when the country gets on its feet. Galt will breach that contract and, due to the new tort reform laws, Rearden will be driven into bankruptcy, his company to be taken over by none other than the man in which he held such blind faith, John Galt himself.

Dagney Taggart will rise to CEO of Taggart Transcontinental, all the while carrying on a torrid affair with John Galt. Unknown to her, Galt owns the exclusive rights to all air transportion services throughout the country. He undercuts Dagny’s shipping rates, driving her out of business. But she is so consumed with the constant stream of hot, steamy sex she enjoys with the god she worships that she realizes, too late, that her only future will be as Galt’s love slave, and to perform domestic chores around Galt’s Gulch.

Wesley Mouch will be executed by firing squad . . . without a trial.

And Eddie Willers, the ever-eternal everyman, the forty-hour-per-week loyal servant for whom dependability is the watchword of his faith, will be sent packing. His job will be offshored to India, thereby increasing Taggart Transcontinental’s bottom line without any actual increase in business efficiency. And Eddie will be consigned to die alone in the gutter, penniless and without hope. So much for a lifetime of faithful service, not to mention creating jobs in an era of double-digit unemployment. Not part of JG’s mantra.

Any future innovation will come from entrepreneurs in China, India and Russia, all under contract to John Galt. And the rest of us will be the slaves who serve him, worship him, and ultimately discarded upon the garbage dump of history by him. Because Galt is not an American. He owes no loyalty to this country. His loyalty is to his own bottom line, his own wealth. And he is a citizen of the world.

And the question ...

    26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” – Matthew 16:26
... will be answered quite simply – It’s hugely profitable. And we’ll give everything toward its end.

Everything we have.

by Euro-American Scum
(contributing Team Member of Allegiance and Duty Betrayed)

21 comments:

ronmossad said...

What do Hank Rearden and the international Jewish community have in common?

http://ronmossad.blogspot.com/2010/02/sanction-of-victim-and-guiltiest-man-in.html

Who suffers from continued Palestinian terrorism? Israelis. Americans. Jews. Who allows it to happen? Israelis. Americans. Jews. Who, often FUNDS and ENCOURAGES their own suffering? Israelis. Americans. Jews.

Hank and the Jews...sanction of the victim and the guiltiest man in the room...

Rob Maroni said...

Interesting take. The only thing with which I majorly disagree is your assertion that most of us admire Bernie Madoff. I don't know anyone who does -- especially since his crimes were much more than financial.

Other than that, kudos!

Rob Maroni said...

Ronmossad: Amen to that! Will write more when I have the time, but you're right on the money!

Euro-American Scum said...

Rob Maroni said...

Interesting take. The only thing with which I majorly disagree is your assertion that most of us admire Bernie Madoff.


Funny thing, Rob. You and I must travel in different conservative circles. The people I run into out here on the left coast just love the guy. They were all set and willing to throw a funeral when he got sent up the river.

Just remember something about California -- we're usually on the cutting edge of political thought, on both sides of the aisle. And the new conservatism was just horrified that 1) Madoff got caught and 2) he got what was coming to him.

lori_gmeiner said...

Good work, and accurate projection of your own not-so-happy ending. Rand was prescient, and had the background to make her so.

2ndAmendmentDefender said...

You, and Rand (at least in this column), hit on all our weaknesses but two: ignorance and diffidence. If the MAJORITY of the American people gave a damn, the A.S. scenario wouldn't have a prayer.

Cal Brindisi said...

Your combination of Rand's writing, your own thoughts, and scripture is eloquent! I enjoyed reading this, and must get a copy of Atlas Shrugged. More than enough people have told me to do so.

Euro-American Scum said...

2ndAmendmentDefender said...

You, and Rand (at least in this column), hit on all our weaknesses but two: ignorance and diffidence.


Kind of like the frog being boiled in a stew pot one degree at a time. By the time he notices the heat, he's cooked.

Lou Barakos said...

A bit of a different take on the book, but one with which I don't disagree....especially your future predictions. Nice job.

Brian Spear said...

Your Galt "rebuilding the nation" isn't rebuilding the nation at all, but rather rebuilding a kind of despicable prosperity. The nation as we know it will cease to exist. It's already halfway there. But I think you know all this already and I'm just preaching to the choir.

Euro-American Scum said...

Brian Spear said...

Your Galt "rebuilding the nation" isn't rebuilding the nation at all, but rather rebuilding a kind of despicable prosperity. The nation as we know it will cease to exist.


Truth be told, I don't think it will even get that far. We're dealing with a house of cards these days, a hollow shell of what a great nation used to be.

What with the national debt being funded largely by the Chinese, the gutting of the manufacturing base over the last fifteen years, and the brain drain of essential professional services offshore, there won't be much left to rebuild. And if a John Galt does emerge, he'll find he doesn't have much to work with.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was on Fox News last night, lamenting the stampede of foreign students back to their native countries after securing upper level professional degrees in California universities. He implored them, not only to come to the state in greater numbers, but to agree to remain in service to the state for an agreed upon period of time.

What the hell are we supposed to do in the meantime? Oh, I know! Sell shoes, flip burgers, play video games, and watch cable television.

So help me, if the Chinese call the note, and the foreign professionals depart in greater numbers, it will be "game over," John Galt or no John Galt.

Euro-American Scum said...

ronmossad said...

What do Hank Rearden and the international Jewish community have in common?

Hank and the Jews...sanction of the victim and the guiltiest man in the room...


This is a topic so huge in my heart that it defies explanation in the comment section of this forum. Let me offer a few comments I've picked up along the way . . .

Dennis Prager -- himself an observant, conservative (both political and religious) Jew -- once remarked that Jews do not worship God, and do not worship in the synagogue. They worship liberalism and do so in the university.

What better place to be infected with the contemporary secular madness? The academy was the first environment in postwar American where the liberal cancer took root and spread to poison what remains of American culture.

The other comment I overheard -- and it was years ago, which tells you the impact it has had -- was by Rush Limbaugh on the topic of why Jewish Americans are so consistently liberal. He could not so much as posit a hypothesis, let alone offer an explanation, but he did remark --

"How is it a people not merely earmarked for persecution, but targeted for extinction have thrived everywhere they have gone?"

The dilemma has always been how a group of people who have always achieved greatness in such huge numbers proportionally, can sanction a philosophy that has, at its root, the very germ which threatens to stifle their achievement?

I cannot explain it either. But I was also in Israel during the last week of June 2004, following three weeks in Europe commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Normandy campaign. I knew Israel was largely a secular nation, but I was shocked at how little regard the vast preponderance of citizens have for their own heritage. It is, perhaps, the saddest component of the death of western culture.

There's so much more, but I simply cannot offer it here. Maybe in another article sometime.

John Cooper said...

Podhoretz writes in Why Are Jews Liberals? that liberalism has supplanted the teachings of Judaism as the official Jewish religion.
~~~~~
The upshot is that in virtually every instance of a clash between Jewish law and contemporary liberalism, it is the liberal creed that prevails for most American Jews. Which is to say that for them, liberalism has become more than a political outlook. It has for all practical purposes superseded Judaism and become a religion in its own right. And to the dogmas and commandments of this religion they give the kind of steadfast devotion their forefathers gave to the religion of the Hebrew Bible. For many, moving to the right is invested with much the same horror their forefathers felt about conversion to Christianity.
~~~~~
It's somewhat of an unsatisfying explanation, though, because it doesn't answer the underlying question of why Jews in general seem to be suicidal, philosophically speaking - openly embracing the same ideals that sent them to the gas chambers in Germany.

Euro-American Scum said...

John Cooper said...

Podhoretz writes in Why Are Jews Liberals? that liberalism has supplanted the teachings of Judaism as the official Jewish religion.


Podhoretz points out -- quite correctly, I believe -- that the predominant occurrence of this phenomenon is among reform Jews. That is, cultural Jews who have very little knowledge or appreciation of their own faith.

I've been to my share of reform Jewish services, and they are little more than social gatherings of top professionals who can "let their hair down", so to speak, and relax among like-minded people.

This erosion of the Jewish faith by those who were born to it is sad indeed, considering Judaism is the foundation upon which our Christian faith is built.

And it bodes ominously for the future.

Max Shapiro said...

The comments here about American Jews are spot on.

I had a dear friend years ago who was deeply discouraged about the fact that American Jews are Jews for "social/societal" reasons. The majority of the Jews in Israel recognize and revere their heritage. The difference may spell the end of Israel, and then the world as we know it.

Daniel Frost said...

Excellent essay, and insightful comments! I have nothing to add but my personal kudos.

Steve Leiden said...

So what would be the role of John Galt be in the America of 2010, precariously balanced on the precipice of falling into a global abyss? He’s essential. For all his flaws – and he did possess them, regardless of the author’s characterization of him – the country will need him when things fall apart, and the center does not hold. Only men of such talent have the requisite steel in their spine to rebuild a nation.

The kind of "talent" that Galt had is part of the reason America is dying. Galt would have been a perfect Goldman Sachs high-up. His type is the type who puts alot more before country, and he might be able to build us back up again but I wouldn't want to be a part of that world.

I think the world is going to be uninhabitable anyway, once the Muslim extremists get through with it, so all of this is moot.

Anonymous said...

Steve Leiden, did you even read the book? As a business owner for 30 years, Rand was the first person to ever truly make me feel good about profits, growth and my individual chase of truth. I hid behind my achievement, today I celebrate it. Today I see the work of the looters. The tragic wasting of minds as they are stripped of value through a government and school system that lives off them. I see where it will end up, but I now know that John Galt and the crew live on, in many of us and we will survive.

--P.D.

Euro-American Scum said...

Steve Leiden said...

The kind of "talent" that Galt had is part of the reason America is dying. Galt would have been a perfect Goldman Sachs high-up. His type is the type who puts alot more before country, and he might be able to build us back up again but I wouldn't want to be a part of that world.


Exactly my point, Steve. The fact that Ayn Rand could/would not examine the possibilty that her idyllic hero of American business might be consumed with similar flaws as the looters that tore down the country in the first place is the primary reason her story is essentially one-dimensional.

The entire premise is predicated on the assumption that government officials are inherently corrupt, and the icons of American business, inherently virtuous. She sees no possibility for duplicity, fraud and deceit anywhere in her objectivist mantra. And the very fact that so many Christian conservatives swear by this credo speaks more about what passes for conservatism in the 21st century than any erosion of candidates on federal and/or state ballots.

Great observation, Steve. It encapsulates the main point I was trying to make, and does so much more to the point than I did.

Anonymous said...

As you describe, Rand came to maturity under a totalitarian/authoritarian system and believed that the United States was the last hope in a world that seems recklessly determined to allow the political/business class among us to completely control nearly all aspects of society. Unfortunately, this country crossed the totalitarian Rubicon many years ago, with it’s citizens having willingly given up most of the freedoms that all of our forefathers fought for and enjoyed. As Rand once said: “Whoever claims the right to redistribute wealth produced by others is claiming the right to treat human beings as chattel." And certainly, we are all slaves now!

One aspect inherent in totalitarian systems is that dishonest and evil people rise to the top of society and “game” the system to perpetuate their power indefinitely. In my opinion, your view of the actions of Rand’s heroes after “saving the world” is based upon having lived in the totalitarian system that has existed in this country for the last 50-100 years. For many people, the ability to understand Rand’s philosophy and idealism has been dulled by the many years of corruption and control that exists in nearly all aspects of our society.

I remain optimistic that there are honest men and women of virtue alive today who will stand up and rebuild a society with a very limited government based on not much more than the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I imagine a society where smart, honest, and hard-working people rise to the top and the dishonest, lazy and evil people among us are readily exposed for what they really are. I also continue to believe in the basic notion of Atlas Shrugged which extols the “virtue of selfishness” and the implied paradox that arises from such a concept.

While no system (or person) is perfect, Rand’s idealistic view of limited government, self-determination, individualism, honesty, virtue, etc. should not be surrendered or denigrated but instead held up as the best hope for the future of our country.

Euro-American Scum said...

Anonymous said . . .

As you describe, Rand came to maturity under a totalitarian/authoritarian system and believed that the United States was the last hope in a world that seems recklessly determined to allow the political/business class among us to completely control nearly all aspects of society.


Correct. And I'm glad you included the business class in your observation. While Rand's indictment of government intervention in business and commerce is correct, she failed to see similar dangers in the Promethian genius she holds up as the savior of the country -- John Galt.

In my opinion, your view of the actions of Rand’s heroes after “saving the world” is based upon having lived in the totalitarian system that has existed in this country for the last 50-100 years.

Correct again. The very system you describe has existed since the inception of American industrialization in the mid to late 19th century. The robber barons of that time amassed vast amounts of wealth -- which I have no problem with -- but reduced their customers, and over all, their employees to little more than bond slaves in the process.

Perhaps the only "blip" in the consistency of this condition occurred during that 40-year golden age from the end of WWII to the mid-70s. During that time, when business downturns occurred, the last priority was to throw the hired help to the wolves. This was due, in large part, to the fact that everyone -- owner or employee alike -- experienced the Depression, and the memory of that dark time was still fresh. Sad to say those days are long gone. And we now live in a world in which everything -- executives, employees, customers, investors -- is expendable.

I remain optimistic that there are honest men and women of virtue alive today who will stand up and rebuild a society with a very limited government based on not much more than the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

I wish I could share your optimism, but I don't. Superior ability breeds superior ambition. And both engender a sublime level of contempt for those lesser mortals not possessed of such profound abilities as the super-achievers of today, and Rand's time. The author, while honing in on the evil of government oppression with crystal clarity, failed to see this, or purposely ignored it.

While no system (or person) is perfect, Rand’s idealistic view of limited government, self-determination, individualism, honesty, virtue, etc. should not be surrendered or denigrated but instead held up as the best hope for the future of our country.

I agree completely. In this imperfect world, it is the best formula for optimizing the freedoms we have, which come under constant, unrelenting attack. Sadly, I don't see a John Galt on the horizon to deliver us this time around. This time, the great experiment looks like it's over.