Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Where is John Galt?

Who is John Galt?

-          Opening and oft-repeated line from Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

No, the title is not a typo.

You all know the story: private businesses suffer under increasingly burdensome laws and regulations; one man decides he will stop the engine of the world, wanting to be free from the business-stifling attitude of both government and society; he convinces other businessmen to join him in his strike; the economy comes to a halt.

Who are these titans of industry? 

John Galt: before going on strike, he was an engineer at Twentieth Century Motors.  He developed a motor that was powered by ambient static electricity.  He quit the company when the founder’s children decided “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”  The working model remained in stasis until well after the company went bankrupt.

Francisco d'Anconia: owner of the largest copper mining company in the world – until he purposely destroyed it, destroying the investments of hangers-on while also ensuring the company could not be exploited by these same leaches.

Ragnar Danneskjöld:  the pirate, stealing from government ships that which was taken in taxes from the producers of the world.  What he stole, he converted to gold and then delivered to those producers who joined the strike, returning what was previously stolen from the producers in taxes.

Henry "Hank" Rearden: the producer of an incredible metal – lighter and stronger and less expensive than any steel before it.

Dagny Taggert: the brains behind operating Taggert Transcontinental.

There were several other titans of industry that joined the strike: Calvin Atwood, Ken Danagger, Lawrence Hammond, Midas Mulligan, Ted Nielsen, Dwight Sanders, Andrew Stockton, and Ellis Wyatt.  Beyond these industrial giants are philosophers, composers, middle managers, jurists, and doctors.  All the best of the best, all joining the strike.  All men and women of integrity.  They brought the economy to a halt.

It really is a wonderful book, and despite her protestations, Ayn Rand probably led more people to something approaching libertarianism than any other person in the last century.  There is a great speech by Francisco d'Anconia on money; the story of what happened to Twentieth Century Motors when it implemented its maximum-socialist scheme is worth its weight in gold.

And then there is John Galt’s speech…fifty pages, as I recall.  You get the idea after a page or two, and I guarantee you that even if you revisit the book every five or ten years, you will never read the entire speech a second time.  But still, a good speech – it just could have been delivered in about 1,000 words.

How does the story end?  These striking titans of industry win, a new constitution is drafted, money is based on gold.  All is right for liberty and industry.

I offered the following in my recent post regarding the necessary role that Christianity must play if we are to have some kind of return to liberty:

“Can’t we just convince the people with our ideas?  The non-aggression principle and private property; these should be sufficient, and so easy to understand.”

There is no doubt that such education is necessary and beneficial.  But is it sufficient for liberty?  The simple answer is…no.  I will write something more on this topic in the coming days. 

“Yeah, but it worked in Atlas Shrugged.”  Many libertarians and free-market economists believe that this is sufficient for liberty – leave it to the market, rational self-interest will govern, the virtue of selfishness, no one wants to be burdened by undue regulation from the government.  How is that working out?

Where is John Galt?  Our titans of industry stand at the trough, slopping up the government largesse; they are the ones who write the regulations, ensuring that small businesses have no chance to meet the regulations; they cheer on the funny-money of central banking, knowing that it fuels their wealth while the ill-effects remain reasonably hidden from the masses.

Where is John Galt?  Where are these men and women of integrity, willing to work at a diner or as a track-worker instead of running the best industrial companies in the world?  Today’s titans care nothing for such things, claiming their trillions while the rest receive their pennies.

Where is John Galt?  Are they going on strike at all, let alone in sufficient numbers to stop the machine?  Or do they threaten the rest of us with another end-of-the-world scenario every time their net worth takes a hit?

Where is John Galt?  If ideas are sufficient to set things straight, then isn’t Galt’s speech sufficient to convince (well, maybe shorter, but it’s what I’ve got to work with)?

Where is John Galt?  If he strikes, don’t you think there will be twenty others ready, not to join him, but to take his place?


“Can’t we just convince people with our ideas?”  Just who are we going to convince?  The characters of our “Atlas Shrugged” are more like James Taggart than Dagny, Lillian Rearden than Hank, and Dr. Robert Stadler than Hugh Akston. 

Wesley Mouch is today’s rainmaker; Bertram Scudder writes for our own New York Times; Claude Slagenhop sponsors Greta on her world tour.  And Horace Bussby Mowen epitomizes today’s industrialist.

There are no men and women of integrity, ready to go on strike instead of putting up with the largesse of the state; our titans live off of that largesse.  Who holds such people accountable?  We know it isn’t the state and we know it isn’t markets – such as they are. 

Unless and until Christianity plays its proper role – and I grant, that may be a bigger ask than waiting for John Galt, given what we know of many Christian leaders today (even before shutting down for Holy Week) – I find little reason to expect that the state will at all shrink in its role.

It stinks, I know.  But there it is.


  1. Where is John Galt? Maybe this conversation (much on Ayn Rand and objectivism) posted just today will help us open our eyes a bit more:

  2. John Galt is on strike, watching the world crumble. You have noticed that it is crumbling, yes? He is not going to rush into save you. That is what being on strike means.

    What will be promoted loudly as our world crumbles are the twin evils that have destroyed liberty and reason: government and religion. We will hear that both are needed to save us, but we need to be saved from them both.

    Only reason will save us and that is something John Galt can't help us with because we must create that in our own minds for ourselves. He spoke once in Atlas Shrugged and you have already denounced his speech as overly long and useless while you read the bible, which is not only overly long and useless, but evil as well.

    You seem to sense that evil in your discussion of genocide, but perhaps you do not see that genocide and deity worship are merely the template for the authoritarian collectivism that is wrecking our reality. Waiting for Galt or waiting for the return of nailed-up Jesus are signs that individualism and reason are not yet being sought after.

    Murdering "peoples", nailing up the innocent for the crimes of the guilty, giving love to those who have not earned it, treating the guilty as if they are not guilty (forgiving), eschewing self-defense, and believing what you are told to believe (faith) are exactly the habits of mind that have resulted in the world you see around you - a world run by a gang of parasites operating a massive extortion racket and a massive counterfeiting racket, but mostly operating a massive philosophical racket called government education and religion.

    One nation, under god, indeed. Authoritarian Collectivism on stilts. Christians and Jews and Muslims galloping straight to hell while their gunslingers force the rest of us to march along quietly. Your biblical nonsense is merely the beating drum to which we march.

    1. Is there a reason you spent energy on writing this? Do you feel better? Perhaps you think I will thank you for showing me the light?

      What you see around you is the result of man's reason divorced from God. It is the fruit of the Enlightenment, just as are communism, fascism, socialism, fabianism.

      But you won't listen to me, just as I won't listen to you. So let's call it even and call it a day.

    2. But listen to yourself, Sigmund, telling me all about my feelings and my thoughts and what I will listen to. Psychobabble is always the first line of defense for a weak debate position.

      Man's reason? That is all you will ever have and all you will ever need. For you to suggest - as you just did - that communism, fascism, socialism, fabianism are reasonable is so utterly irrational that you definitely need psychobabble to help you along in your debates.

    3. Why are you here again, John? Is this really a good use of your time? You are acting in a very unreasonable manner - quite contrary to your professed religion.

    4. This guy could have been me >10 yrs ago...

      Professing that reason is all we need - and yet unreasonably expecting everyone to live according to that principle. "If only everyone followed the rules, the system would be perfect! PERFECT!"

      I would expect that from a religious zealot, be he Christian or Marxist, but from someone who claims to believe in liberty, it's very incoherent.

      At the risk of "psychobabbling", I'd say it sounds like the ramblings of someone who has not yet found and accepted his own limitations, and so tends to believe anyone who disagrees with him is a backward moron.

      An attitude that is moronic in itself, found most often in young people, but occasionally in very stubborn old people (such as Ayn Rand).

  3. Reason is not a religion, and religion is not reason. As for my time and it's use, how is that relevant? How is writing what I believe "acting in a very unreasonable manner". Do you not write what you believe?

    I am wondering if you can even define reason given the way you consistently misuse the term and evade the issue while spending YOUR time practicing your snide side on me. That's you being unreasonable, yes?

    1. John, you began this conversation on the snide side:

      "Your biblical nonsense is merely the beating drum to which we march."

      From this, you expect reasoned dialogue? You are done commenting here.

  4. Bionic, I like the way you allow commenters to post their opinions and are able to discuss them back and forth. This shows that you are willing to listen to somebody else even though they might not agree with you. I really like the way you give them the boot when it is evident that all they want to do is cause trouble.

    I would like to analyze one section of John Howard's first comment above, which might have been productive if it had not been distorted completely out of shape.

    "Murdering "peoples","--This is part of what you are trying to understand and come to grips with. You have been quite clear and explicit about it. Nothing to be ashamed of there.

    "...nailing up the innocent for the crimes of the guilty,"--Presumably a reference to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, leading to His resurrection which is the foundation of all Christianity. Where would we be today if not for that singular event? Would 'reason' and 'individualism' alone have produced so much?

    " love to those who have not earned it,"--Color me guilty. The New Testament is full of scriptures which command us, as believers, to treat other people with love, even though they do not deserve it.

    "...treating the guilty as if they are not guilty (forgiving),"--Ditto. Forgiving someone who is guilty and treating them as if they were not is as Christian as love is. It might be said that this is the greatest love possible. In fact, this is the way that God treats us. Guilty as sin, but forgiven.

    "...eschewing self-defense,"--I don't know where this came from, but it is completely false that Christians should be passive and forego defending themselves when necessary.

    "...and believing what you are told to believe (faith)"--
    Again, completely false. This is not faith, but blind mindlessness. It implies that Christians are so stupid that they cannot think for themselves, but only swallow what someone else pours down their throats. (The followers of Jim Jones tried that and we know what happened to them.)

    "...are exactly the habits of mind that have resulted in the world you see around you."--If John Howard had been interested in understanding what you write about instead of trying to tear it down and finding fault, he would have learned that this blog has been consistently antagonistic to the "habits of mind", both governmental and religious, which have brought us to the place we are today. He would have also learned that you are trying to find solutions to the problems we face and the questions we have.

    Some people you can't reason with. Put it behind you and carry on.

    1. Roger, I thank you for this.

      I am coming up on ten years of blogging here, and a few years before that at commenting as bionic - primarily on a site "The Daily Bell" (TDB) For its first few years of existence, that site had, perhaps, the most wonderful comments section of any I have seen anywhere. This, despite my occasionally being a jerk....

      I have tried to "police" my site to ensure the dialogue stayed productive in the way I saw in the first year or two at TDB (it really started devolving - and this is one of my constant fears here).

      I have also been accused (and I am OK with the accusation) of taking all commenters as if they came with goodwill. Despite failing at it sometimes, I try to leave room at the margins - I try to assume that the person commenting offers something that I can learn from - and something fruitful for others who read the comments.

      I will say, if it wasn't for his last sentence (and there may have been other things in the first comment as well, but it isn't worth checking), we might have been able to exchange productively. I wanted to end it there (as can be seen from my first reply.

      If anyone cares to look back at my earliest writing, one will find how much my thinking has evolved. I am always open to moving my views, to understanding the shortcomings in these - if for no other reason than it forces me to develop better arguments.

      But not when someone comes to my house and takes a crap in my living room as his first "hello."

    2. Policing the comments on a blog is probably similar to one aspect of raising children. If you start out very strict, you can always loosen up and they (commenters, children) will appreciate it. They may hate you initially for your severity, but if you become more fair and agreeable as time goes on, their attitude will change for the better.

      On the other hand, if you start out by allowing anything and everything(extreme permissiveness), it will be nearly impossible to tighten the reins at a later date without alienating them. It's been said that a person can spoil a colt (young horse) for the first six months of its life and it will be necessary to beat him for the rest of his life to get anything productive out of him. (Note: this is not an endorsement of animal abuse. Just a saying.)

      The extremes are from absolutely no control over the comments to absolutely no comments. Personally, I prefer your style and I think you are doing just fine with it.

  5. Hey.
    Its a Canuck.
    Elon Musk is Hank Rearden.
    I heard this post on
    Guys got a voice.

    Nothing can "cancel" holy week hah!

  6. Thanks for your article on regarding John Galt.
    You are absolutely right in that the Dempseys, Zuckerbergs, and Bezos(es) of the world are never going to be the John Galts.
    I wonder if the real John Galt left a long time ago and recruited a lot of followers to leave, too.
    There are a few people who seemed to have pulled back, but are somewhat in the public eye: Kim Dotcom, John McAfee, Doug Casey.
    One problem with that model in the real world as opposed to fiction is that a great many producers, many highly effective, remain and keep the world's gears turning. It may never had occurred to them to embrace Rand's suggestion to simply quit being milk cows. Or they may not agree with that tactic.
    I wrote a short note wondering what motivated Rand's colleague Alan Greenspan to do what he did despite his previous support for much of Rand's philosophy.
    I think we went down the slippery slope long ago and have already fallen off the cliff. Soon, it seems to me, that we'll crash at the bottom. I don't see a path where folks will then reflect on the mistakes that were made and create an even better society. It's going to be pretty hard for the 5-10% of us that believe in freedom to sway the enough of the rest of society to let people live and let live.
    Park Burrets

    1. Park, thank you for this thoughtful reply.

      "I wonder if the real John Galt left a long time ago and recruited a lot of followers to leave, too."

      It could very well be. But it would seem to me that there were always enough scabs to take the place of the strikers.

      From the beginning of meaningful industrialization, it seems government and big business have been connected. I think about the earliest barons: the Rockefellers, Morgans, etc. If even some went on strike, many clearly didn't - and happily replaced those who did.

      John Galt has clearly left the scene: whether he is on strike or just never existed...neither possibility can be said with certainty.

  7. Where is this Christianity that is meant to play a part? Wouldn't it make more sense to seek a new religious movement that would not cow under the State as all the various schisms of Christianity have? Of course, there can be perfectly valid, basic lessons to be drawn from it... but it has to be something with teeth. A will. A heart. Something that Christianity has clearly lost at this point.

    1. "Something that Christianity has clearly lost at this point."

      I agree. But what better alternative? The infrastructure is there, the ethical beliefs (and natural law) are there, the truth behind all of this exists.

      John Vervaeke (among others) wants to develop a religion that is not a religion. It took a few thousand years of Hebrew life to get to Jesus and Christianity. Vervaeke will not find a more accelerated timeline.

      Christianity has waned many times in the last two-thousand years; it has also returned. But you are right, it must return with teeth and will and heart. This has a higher probability of success (in my opinion) than developing something new that sufficient numbers will embrace.

  8. I recognized the parallels here months ago. We've been living in some reverse Atlas Shrugged world for some time now. The engine of the world has been stopped. Except in this version, surprise, John Galt is Bill Gates. And his motivations are decidedly different and less noble. It basically a 180 degree flip. In Atlas Shrugged the titans of industry walked off the job because their efforts to bring a better world were met with selfishness and dishonesty. And when they left everyone wanted them back. In today's version, they are Technocrats, abusing science, liberty, freedom, and our God given rights for irrational amounts of power. And we're mostly fine with them stopping the engine of the world, provided they just completely go away forever. But they just won't. They're like teenage gang members with guns. They hold in their hands the power to do a lot of damage, while still having gaps in their mental development that prevent them from wielding this power responsibly. Look at Billy Gates. He's done much and made a lot of money, but when you look at him do you not feel like you're looking at a 14 year old? Anyone who's ever worked for him will tell you he's completely incapable of commanding basic social skills. You can find videos of him, in his 40's, throwing full-toddler temper tantrums in executive meetings. But like it or not he has been cast in the role of John Galt. We need to end this show's run early for poor attendance. Any media that brings you Bill Gates needs to be immediately purged from your life. Challenge the limits of every new 'order' from the health Stasi. Challenge the legalities of every new 'order' from the health Stasi. Turn the tables and never give a penny to anyone affiliated with any of this. Starve them from their positions of power. Disney, one of the richest and most powerful companies in the world, collects $25 million a day at their GATE. This is not counting food and beverage sales, souvenirs, etc. $25 million by the time you've set foot in the park. And Fauci told them 'shut it down' and they did so willingly and without a peep. Does this not directly fly in the face of everything you know about Disney's lust for money and profit and selling Disney junk? They have the means and motive to sue the US Government for the ~$1 billion a WEEK that they're losing, but instead they're gladly eating $50 million a day at EACH PARK and seem happy to do so. If you don't smell a rat, you don't have a nose. Cancel everything Disney that you have planned for the rest of your life. Otherwise you did all this to yourself. There are others too. It won't be hard to pick up the smell on them. Cancel Disney, Cancel Google/YouTube, Cancel Facebook, Cancel Twitter, Cancel the Television and CANCEL EVERY PERSON YOU CAN VOTE OUT OF GOVERNMENT. INCLUDING TRUMP. He did his best, but this is hands down the most epic failure by a President in the history of the Universe. The guy famous for saying 'You're fired' quit on us when we need him most. Blacklist them FOREVER. Or only expect more (and worse) of the same.

    1. "And we're mostly fine with them stopping the engine of the world, provided they just completely go away forever."

      This is classic. Thanks, Dutch.

  9. I don't think Christianity is to take a role in politics. What we as Christians are to do is to obey God. God's kingdom surpasses all in authority and our king rules over every kingdom.

    So the best we can do is to comfort those oppressed by the government and bring them to Christ through our actions. The more that come to Christ and remain steadfast in his law, the better the world becomes.

    And this is the hardest part: We are to forgive our oppressors if we take our "religion" seriously. I can tell you from having been convicted for a crime I didn't commit and thrown into prison that this is indeed a hard task. But forgive I will and have, because that is the command. God will eventually punish those who don't repent of their unjust actions. I needn't worry about that. It's not my job to punish bad actors in government or terrorists who kill innocent people.

    By voting and becoming politically active, we're just becoming part of the "world" system. And Jesus said to Pilate,

    John 18:36 - Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

    The problem I have with pre and post millinealism - besides that fact that it generally claims that God postponed the kingdom having not expected the Jews to reject Christ (LOL), it's the fact that some of those people believe that they have a duty to "bring about" the kingdom that Jesus already established through political force.

    God's kingdom is already established and we are his subjects. He did a complete and perfect job in establishing it.

    Jesus reassured Pilate that his teachings were not about overthrowing - in a violent way - the kingdoms of the world, especially the Roman Empire. But overthrew them he did, tossing aside the power they perceive is their greatest weapon: the power to kill and mete out permanent and complete judgement against those who disobey them.

    Jesus never instructed us to change the world through politics but through love, first of ourselves. You can't love others as you love yourself if you don't first love yourself, right?

    I think politics and government in general are interesting things to ponder, but in the scheme of Christianity, irrelevant. It's not our job as Christians to try and elect imperfect men to power so that we can suffer less. Jesus let us know that it is our lot in life to suffer for Christ and he gave us instructions on how to endure.

    That's a terribly uncomfortable and currently, a supremely unpopular set of instructions. Just look at the prosperity and word of faith doctrines which essentially teach practitioners that they can order God around by reciting bible verses as if the bible were a book of witchcraft.

    If we want to make the world a better place, we need to practice the "pure and undefiled religion" James advocated (as taught to him by Jesus). That will be more effective than any political action.

    1. Demidog, I did not advocate voting, I did not advocate using force through the state, I did not advocate passing laws against immoral, but otherwise non-aggressive acts.

      I advocate two things: for Christians to speak truth to power (including state power), and for Christians to act - not through the state, but as Christians. This was spelled out in my previous post on this topic, on which you also commented.

      If you disagree with either of these two courses of action for Christians, please spell it out. If you agree that these courses are proper for Christians, please say so.

    2. It sounds - and I may be mistaken - that you have taken my comment a bit personally. Here's what you concluded:

      Unless and until Christianity plays its proper role – and I grant, that may be a bigger ask than waiting for John Galt, given what we know of many Christian leaders today (even before shutting down for Holy Week) – I find little reason to expect that the state will at all shrink in its role.

      If that isn't an expectation that the role of the Church when properly executed, will result in a shrinking of the state, what is it?

      How would the church shrink the state?

      I don't think even if the church were acting perfectly and in unity that the state would shrink. Let's say that the church ended up solving the homeless problem and poverty and other problems (something Jesus said would always be with us), the state would still seek to expand its power. Because that's what it always does and no era of the church has had any effect on that.

      I agree that church members should speak truth to power, but not man's truth. The point of doing that is to bring a person to Christ, not shrink the government. It could result in that or in an ease of conditions as a result of that person's conversion. But it isn't a feature of Christianity that it change the power structure of the world any more than it has already been changed.

      We're not citizens of these phony world governments. We're citizens of the kingdom which overrules all governments, we're citizens of God's kingdom. They can kill us all day and it will have no effect. They will have accomplished nothing but their own destruction and judgement.

    3. This world is not my home, I'm just a'passin' through...

      Yes, I get it. Nothing personal.

  10. Demidog has agreed that the Kingdom of God has been set up.

    But has neglected the fact that when it was set up, then "of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end", and "it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end" and it shall "become a great mountain and fill the whole earth" and concerning dominions that oppose His, "the court shall sit in judgment and those dominions shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end, and the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High" and "His kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom and all dominions shall serve and obey him" and that "he must reign until the LORD makes all his enemies his footstool".

    That doesn't sound consistent, to me, with Demidog's claim that "it isn't a feature of Christianity that it change the power structure of the world any more than it has already been changed."

    Indeed, if Christ must reign from his enthronement until all his enemies are placed under his feet, and that his government will increase, it is clear that it is not an instantaneous change of things, but that nonetheless, all the kingdoms of the earth are to be brought in submission to his. That's a total change of the power structure of the world.

    Demidog, that is NOT inconsistent with your premise that our primary task is obedience to our king, but it IS inconsistent with the notion that our obedience has no cosmic impact.