Going Galt

>> Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I don't always set out to do timely posts, but with the feature film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged burning up movie screens across America and getting such notable reviews, I feel like I should jump on the bandwagon. (I call drums, because I don't think they have guitars on bandwagons and I don't know how to play trumpet or tuba, but I can probably hit something in a vaguely rhythmic manner.)

Where was I? Ah, yes. Atlas Shrugged. Well, you know, I haven't read it and it doesn't look like I'll be making it to the cinema to see it before it withdraws itself from the clutches of the parasitic takers who can't appreciate its essential, self-actualizing nobility something something, etc. And I've probably somehow conveyed an impression that I don't think much of Ayn Rand as a writer, so you'll probably be expecting me to say something nasty about Rand or about Atlas Shrugged.

Au contraire, mon frère. I come to praise Ms. Rand, not bury her.

Well. To praise one thing, rather. (And no, it's not that handsomely boyish hairdo!)

See, while I haven't, technically speaking, read Atlas Shrugged, I have read the Wikipedia article about Atlas Shrugged. Which, you know, makes me better informed about Atlas Shrugged than George W. Bush was about Iraq when he invaded--whoa-ohhhhh, rimshot, high five, oh-no-he-didn't-yes-he-did. Sorry. Sort of hoping I'd get a late-night talkshow gig out of that line, but I guess I'll keep the day job. Anyway, yes: I have read articles in Wikipedia, and so I am familiar with the concept of "Going Galt."

As I understand it, the whole idea of "Going Galt," which I believe much of the plot of Atlas Shrugged concerns itself with, is that all the productive people in society--the business executives, the engineers, the artists, the scientists, the model-train enthusiasts, etc.--all get sick and of having to support the lazy, awful parasites who pay them to be productive, and therefore hie themselves away to some distant retreat and withdraw from society. Which then collapses, allowing the people who Went Galt to ride around on trains and drink martinis and point and laugh and wipe their noses with their formerly-useful currency and stock and bond certificates, happily safe from the restless horde of the anarchic mob that is still in possession of all the guns, knives, torches, pitchforks and thermonuclear devices that the Gone Galt crowd couldn't stow away in their luggage. They are happily safe because the anarchic mob, incapable of fending for itself, is too stupid and lazy to seek out the retreat of the noble, self-actualized, rough-sex-enjoying, train-enthusiastic producers and murder them all for causing the collapse of civilization, so it all comes out to a happy ending when everybody in the human race who isn't a railroad magnate or classical conductor dies from violence and/or starvation.

This idea, naturally, has gained a great deal of traction among wealthy Republicans, old retired white people, and college freshmen who are smarter than their stupid old professors what with their Ph.Ds and decades of scholarly work that makes them think they're so fucking smart but they're not. So we've heard discussion from teabaggers, for instance, about how they shouldn't have to pay any taxes and they're going to Go Galt, just you wait, we'll all miss them when they're gone just like that time they hid in the closet and mommy and daddy searched for them for half-an-hour before deciding that dinner was getting cold and they'd come out eventually so they ate without them and boy, weren't they sad about their little precious having to eat room temperature tuna casserole two hours later or what?


Now, a lot of people would say that "Going Galt" was a puerile, stupid, unrealistic and silly idea. These self-styled "critics" might try to point out that a lot of the people who talk about "Going Galt" these days and even some of the people who Go Galt in the Rand book really aren't, actually, when you get right down to it, really all that important or productive after all--there are, after all, lots and lots of CEOs who really, honestly, they could die in a fire and the company stock probably would go up, at least for a few hours. Such critics might hint that much of the productive work of America is really done by the middle managers, factory floor employees and regular salaried or hourly workers at various tiers who pretty much only hear from the upper echelons when someone gets indicted. Other naysayers might go so far as to suggest that if the "productive classes" abruptly vanished, there would be plenty of talented people who would jump in and fill the void, would welcome the opportunity to take over a steel company or conduct a symphony or what-have-you. Some idiots might try to imply that the sorts of people who would Go Galt are largely selfish, narcissistic reactionaries, and that not all (not even most) engineers, business owners, scientists, artists, etc. would withdraw from society at large and would, in fact, persist in participating in the world's affairs out of some sort of misguided sense of "moral duty" to their "communities" or "loyalty" to their "country," blah, blah, blah.

To these cretins rejecting Rand's profound contribution to our cultural and intellectual heritage, I say: give it a chance or get stuffed.

Indeed, I have a proposal.

My proposal is this: not only should "Going Galt" be an option, but I think we lazy, altruistic, community-minded parasites ought to encourage those titans of commerce, culture and politics to do it. I propose a list.

For example, the Koch Brothers. Is it fair that they're taxed? Is it fair that they are robbed blind by the selfish non-producers, the thieves and redistributionists? No. It is not. They should Go Galt.

Or what about the great American artist Thomas Kinkade or the brilliant filmmaker M. Night Shymalan? These men are clearly too good for Western Civilization. We take, we take, we take--why are these men obligated to give any more than they already do to a culture that clearly does not and cannot appreciate their contributions? They should Go Galt.

And how about the astute and persuasive political observer Thomas L. Friedman? Here we cretins are, constantly sponging off his insights and wisdom, and then we ask him for his money, on top of that? I don't think so! Mr. Friedman, you need to Go Galt!

And the list might go on. Indeed, I'd love to see suggestions in the comments thread--I am sure we could come up with a list of fine, fine, fine men and women we might encourage to teach us a lesson by "Going Galt."

But I do have one small objection to Ms. Rand's marvelous concept.

You see, my understanding is that all of the people who Go Galt in Atlas Shrugged end up in Colorado. No, no, no. This will not do. To the best of my knowledge, there are no nuclear proving grounds scenic, beautiful, paradisaical retreats in Colorado.

This will not do at all.

No, I propose we encourage those folks who will be "Going Galt" to relocate to a suitable location in Nevada. We might mark the center of this real-world "Galt's Gulch," I think, with a ceremonial tower," something constructed out of steel, perhaps (doesn't John Galt invent a new kind of steel? It would be symbolic), capable of supporting a large thermo... fireworks display. Yes, a thermofireworks display, as I was saying, which could be triggered in celebration once everybody was within the blast radius... excuse me, Blast Radius with capital letters, as in, that would be the name of their township, Blast Radius, Nevada. It's Spanish, I think, possibly. Blasto del Radio, I believe, yes, if I'm not much mistaken. It means "beautiful sunset." You'll love it, Messrs. Koch, now get on the fucking train... I mean, get on the fucking train, sirs.

Anyone else you'd like to see boarding Taggart Transcontinental?


Janiece Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 9:41:00 AM EDT  

Glenn Beck. Paul Ryan. Rick Santorum.

And as special bonus, can we have a special compound for the religious extremists?

timb111 Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 11:04:00 AM EDT  

As a religious extremist I support Janiece's call for a compound as long as I'm well fed and have high-speed internet.

Leanright,  Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 11:15:00 AM EDT  

Hank Rearden created Rearden Metal. Galt invented the motor which was a metaphor throughout the book.

A wonderful book, by the way, although a tad wordy.

Can we send Al Gore to Galt's Gulch?

Anne C. Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 12:02:00 PM EDT  

I have read the book (though I admit to skimming through the 20 page speeches, which became rather repetitive). I'm pretty sure that all those rich people who are tired of everyone living off the sweat of their genius do not expect to live as the geniuses in Rand's book do -- living in a kind of merit-based hippy community where they don't have any servants or money and where they have to grow, harvest, and cook their own food. Nothing so unromantic as farming. I'm not sure Rand clarified exactly how that was going to work, but since she didn't say, I think it's safe to say reality rather than idealism took over at that point. It made me quite sympathetic to her characters, since having been placed in such straits by their creator, they seemed to have made the best of things as they could.

Steve Buchheit Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 12:18:00 PM EDT  

I could come up with a whole list, but in general, revenge literature bores me.

David Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 6:27:00 PM EDT  

Have you ever read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series? Somewhere in there is a long story about an alien planet that gathered up all of the most useless people it could find - "telephone sanitizers" come up a lot - and convince them that they are heroic pioneers who need to be put into a spaceship and sent out to explore the universe.

They find and people the Earth.

I always felt that explained a lot.

Maybe the compound you suggest could be out in space,then?

Eric Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 7:23:00 PM EDT  

Thing is, David, we're talking about people who are a lot less useful to society than telephone sanitizers....

Aside from that, yeah, the possibility Earth is inhabited by some other planet's entire idiot population actually explains everything.

David Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 10:31:00 PM EDT  

Well, yeah - that's the point. In the book the home planet eventually is wiped out by a virus spread by dirty telephones. Whereas this planet would be immeasurably better off without the clowns you are talking about. I can think of no negative consequences to shooting them off into space. It's all upside.

Just as an example, we have here in southern Wisconsin a Teabagger radio host named Vicki McKenna who ranted and raved at the late rally featuring S. Palin about how the firefighters marching in support of their union brethren were "filthy rotten scoundrels ... [and] lousy rotten people."

Shoot her into space, and what is lost but blight?

Alternately, speaking as a former firefighter, I say she can "go Galt" and put out her own damned fires.

I can't tell you how much I have chortled all day because of this post. Thanks, Eric.

Janiece Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 11:07:00 PM EDT  

David, wouldn't shooting those people into space count as deporting our problems?

But if the alternative is letting them come here to Colorado, I may volunteer for the space mission...

Eric Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 11:28:00 PM EDT  

I'm thrilled if anyone chortled half as much reading this as I did writing it. You're welcome, David.

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting! Because of the evils of spam, comments on posts that are more than ten days old will go into a moderation queue, but I do check the queue and your comment will (most likely) be posted if it isn't spam.

Another proud member of the UCF...

Another proud member of the UCF...
UCF logo ©2008 Michelle Klishis

...an international gang of...

...an international gang of...
смерть шпионам!

...Frank Gorshin-obsessed bikers.

...Frank Gorshin-obsessed bikers.
GorshOn! ©2009 Jeff Hentosz

  © Blogger template Werd by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP