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March 12, 2009

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Fourth possibility: They realize that Rand's philosophy can't be put into effect. Although it claims to depend on individual choices, it actually requires collective action -- withdrawals en masse. If only Rearden had left, his business would have gone on quite well without him, but he took everyone with him who could keep the operation functioning. Try that in real life.

Someone cleverer than I posted a comment to a blog post saying that if [name omitted because I don't remember it] wanted to abandon his business enterprises, the commenter would be very happy to take them over. Rand wants individualists to behave like lemmings. No wonder it's impossible to take her seriously. (There are plenty of other reasons not to take her seriously, but others have long since taken on that task.)

I have a feeling that before this latest fad is over, "going Galt" will become totally unanchored from the book that gave rise to it and, like "ugly American" (for example), will develop a meaning quite different from, if not contradictory to, the one it had in the book. It's happening already.

Me, I think I'm doing productive work that benefits me and plenty of other people, and I plan to keep right on doing it. Let's say I'm "forgoing Galt." Be sure not to put a space between the two syllables in that first word.

Whenever I wonder why I harbor such an instinctive dislike of PJTV, something like this comes along and reminds me. You don't have to be stupid to be center-right, but sometimes helps: there are more than a fair number of idiotic discussions in the center-right.

The longer folks on my side argue about going Galt and refuse to engage either the issues or the other side, the longer we're going to be in the wilderness.

By the way, Hilzoy, sorry for tripping over your post. We had a slow yesterday, and it now looks like everyone is compensating.

we are doing something genuinely useful by making the case that people ought to Go Galt. So long as we are doing that, we can't Go Galt!
It's like Bodhisattva vows. Except, you know, with spite in place of compassion.

$10 says more than half the people who say they're "going Galt" haven't read the book in the last 20 years, if ever. and they're assuming their ignorance of the book is typical of their audience.

Great! Let them take their marbles and bugger off to the mountains somewhere. Awesome idea. I'll help them pack.

Here's a hint: there are very, very few irreplaceable people in this world. And if you are irreplaceable in a critical role in an important organization, it means the organization is run by idiots who don't know how to develop business processes or manage risk.

von: no problem.

OK, here's a 4th possibility: The advocates of "Going Galt" don't think their readers are smart enough to realize what Rand was actually suggesting, or their readers haven't read the book and will assume that it means what they say it means. Or, I guess, the posters themselves didn't really understand the book or remember it accurately. That's probably most likely of all.

Thanks for a good laugh, smadin. The sheer spitefulness of the "going Galt" crowds is what really stands out for me. It's not about escaping and going somewhere better for them, as it might have been for liberals who talked about moving to Canada or Europe during the Bush years. It doesn't seem to be about making anything better, ever, so much as about punishing people for having dared to elect a president with a different set of beliefs. The image that comes to mind is not of some creative titan striding across the landscape of commerce, but of some mean little hoarder muttering in its basement.

"Withdrawing their creative efforts is. In Rand's novel, it is they who keep the mills running, and without them, everything grinds to a halt and the world is plunged into crisis."

Well, then that has nothing to do with any of these people who are threatening to go Galt. They are not the people who ran mills and made them profitable; there is almost no one in America like that left. The investment bankers and financial wizards have seen to that.

They are all expendable. ericblair is right.

You wrote:

I am open to the idea that there's a fourth possibility that I am missing. If so, I hope they'll enlighten me.

No, you have it exactly right.

I read everything Ayn Rand ever wrote (with the exception of We the Living) beginning with Atlas Shrugged at the age of 17, and ending in my early 20s with the collected volumes of her essays from The Objectivist. All this whining from the likes of Michelle Malkin and Mrs. Ole Perfesser is antithetical to the behavior of Rand's romantic heroes.

It makes me wonder if any of these people have actually read Atlas Shrugged, or if they are simply repeating things that they have heard about it.

If they really had any intention to "Go Galt," they wouldn't be talking about it. They would have done it already. They would simply disappear, taking their gifts and talents with them, leaving us to cope without them as well as we can. Malkin would have simply failed to post to her blog one day, and her fans would still be wondering what became of her. Meanwhile, she and Glenn Reynolds and all the other "producers" would be partying like it's 1999 in some idylic valley somewhere, free of the burden of the parasites they left behind.

As it is, these yahoos are nothing but talk. And stupid talk, at that.

smadin's post for the win.

I'd like to ad that, for the first time, I realize that "going galt" is the Rapture for Libertarians.

aimai

hilzoy,

Did you watch that entire half-hour video? A few minutes was my limit.

What you put yourself through for the benefit of your readers is astonishing.

As Will Wilkenson said, Helen et al missed one of the key points of (a pretty bad book in) Atlas Shrugged. Dr. Helen is *not* John Galt. She is not the creative engine that keeps enterprise running. She is not Reardan. She is Eddie Willers, minus, you know, any courage.

I think that many people enjoy the idea that they're vital to their society- perhaps not them personally (few, if any, could make that claim with a straight face), but their category of work. Police, firemen, EMTs, doctors, nurses, IT workers, farmers, mechanics, teachers, sanitation workers, electric-water-gas utility workers, pilots, etc. Maybe not 'personal trainers' or 'musicians' (not to denigrate those professions at all, it's just easy to imagine the economy working without them, albeit sadly in the latter case).
And it's not a delusion- if all of our firefighters abandoned their lives and took up residence in some secret mountain enclave, the rest of us would have some serious problems in the short term coping with their absence.
In the long term we'd be fine. Unless this certain class of people possess some innate, unlearnable quality than cannot be replicated from the remaining population, which seems like a pretty dubious proposition.
Same for doctors. Same for captains of industry. In fact, I think we'd be much better off without the captains of industry than without many of the humbler professions (eg if all of our electricians Go Gault, things would be pretty screwed for a while. Although we'd have to call it something else, since they're commoners. "Go Wobbly?").

Of course, one often sees that sort of blind self-praise from businesspeople; a man who runs a janitorial service employing 100 people may claim to have created those 100 jobs, that he is the profit and provider for those 100 families- but we all know that in his absence someone else would've started the business, or the business would've gone to an existing cleaning company, or several smaller companies would exist. He may add some small efficiency to the process as his contribution to the economy- perhaps too small to satisfy his ego. So he imagines himself a Randian hero, a superman being held back by an army of lesser beings.

Never having made it through Atlas Shrugged, I have to ask -- does "Going Galt" involve subsistence farming, or are they hunter/gatherers? Either way, it would certainly be an instructive lesson for Galt, et al., about who is *really* crucial to running society, and who *really* does the work.

My own knowledge of Atlas Shrugged is entirely second-hand, but I share Dr, Science's question.

How do these giants of industry and invention get food, clothing, shelter? Who enforces the law (or makes it, for that matter), operates utilities, provides medicine?

And what exactly would Reynolds, Smith, and Malkin do in such a society that would leave them better off than staying where they are and paying a few extra bucks in taxes?

Doesn't Atlas Shrugged end with some interminable speech by Galt explaining his philosophy to the world?

This whole thing reminds me of "The Pirates of Penzance".

Mabel sings to the policemen: "Go ye heros, go and die". Somewhere along the way the Major-General recognizes that they're still on stage and snaps: "Yes, but you don't go!" (See here.)

A little less Tarantara and a little more leaving would make this Go Galt movement a little more respectable.

It's like Bodhisattva vows. Except, you know, with spite in place of compassion.

Actually, smadin, the whole thing had parallels to Buddhism that struck me.

Obviously not in the substance of the philosophy, but definitely in the message that Mara has no power without our consent and that the way towards liberation begins with ceasing, act by act and thought by thought, to play along with the illusion around us.

How do these giants of industry and invention get food, clothing, shelter?

They become farmers and miners, using the rich natural resources of Galt's Gulch. There's even gold and copper to be mined.

Which is a fictional place, mind you. I'm not sure that there's much in the way of useful croplands in the Colorado mountains.

Oh, and a camouflage ray to keep trespassers from getting too interested.

Bob L.: I have a feeling that before this latest fad is over, "going Galt" will become totally unanchored from the book that gave rise to it ...

smadin: It's like Bodhisattva vows. Except, you know, with spite in place of compassion.

AIMAI: I'd like to ad that, for the first time, I realize that "going galt" is the Rapture for Libertarians.

Stevepeterson: OK, here's a 4th possibility: The advocates of "Going Galt" don't think their readers are smart enough to realize what Rand was actually suggesting, or their readers haven't read the book and will assume that it means what they say it means.

angulimala: Actually, smadin, the whole thing had parallels to Buddhism that struck me.

Parallels abound between Galtism and more-established religions. One wonders which side resents the comparisons more :)

--TP

They become farmers and miners, using the rich natural resources of Galt's Gulch. There's even gold and copper to be mined.

Wonder if Reynolds is ready to give up his teaching job to go till the soil, or dig for minerals.

They become farmers and miners

And they think they've got the sweet end of this deal?!? Those jobs kind of define "back-breaking labor", you'll note. Not to mention that I can't decide whether copper or gold mining is less compatible with farming, as a landscape use. And the fact that Colorado is not exactly prime farming country (on account of details, schmetails like "not enough rain" and "not enough soil" and also "not enough of a growing season"). With any luck, it'll be "Donner Party Re-enactment" by the time March rolls around.

I really, really want to see some of these guys working as farmers or miners.

Meanwhile, [Michelle Malkin] and Glenn Reynolds and all the other "producers" would be partying like it's 1999 in some idylic valley somewhere, free of the burden of the parasites they left behind.

Now there's something I'd like to see happen; not only because it can only improve the larger society to be deprived of the skills and production of these Rand-blinded paragons -- but because those "going Galt" will be deprived of the skills and products of the greater society.

You'll thrill as Michelle Malkin dons coveralls to service her own dishwasher.

You'll smirk as Glenn Reynolds tries to produce food for the community by typing words about it.

You'll giggle as Mrs. Professor discovers that no person in Galt Gulch has the skills to restore electric power after the first lightning storm.

You'll envy their waistlines as these intrepid polymaths try to live on what they can raise and what they can hunt.

You'll giggle as these self-deluded children of privilege discover that the larger society has generously protected them from cholera, starvation, nakedness, and lack of hot running water for their entire lives, and that they are unable to do these things for themselves.

You'll nod knowingly as they invent new bits of magical thinking rather than admit that they are the parasites on society, not the other way 'round.

Well, the Rapture is the rapture for fundies, the Singularity is the rapture for scifi nerds, and going Galt is the rapture for libertarians.

So, enlighten me, what does Galt do when he goes Galt? Does this captain of industry now pick bugs off of potatoes all summer and chop wood all fall and try not to freeze to death during the winter? Or does he pan gold and make trinkets for tourists and buy stuff at the Wal-Mart? How exactly are his great talents going to be used without this infrastructure stuff around him, or does Rand not sort of get into that?

"You don't have to be stupid to be center-right, but sometimes helps: there are more than a fair number of idiotic discussions in the center-right."

You really want to claim them for the "center-right"?

If so, what does that say about the "center-right" that's it's got lots of "idiotic discussions"?

Doesn't that give you pause?

"I'd like to ad that, for the first time, I realize that "going galt" is the Rapture for Libertarians."

YM "Objectivists." Objectivists and Libertarians are not, in fact, the same.

"Oh, and a camouflage ray to keep trespassers from getting too interested."

They also have a machine that can turn static electricity into munificent amounts of kinetic energy.

And, of course, all the truly creative scientists, engineers, thinkers, and "producers" of the world end up on their side, after disappearing from the rest of the country.

Reminds me of recent reviews I've seen describing "It's a Wonderful Life" as a horror movie.

But the first quote highlights a thing - there's a huge difference between 'irreplacable in a critical role' and '"irreplacable" cos it's gonna stuff things up if I just dissappear with no sort of handover.' That second form is all that Galt is proving by his little experiment, and all kinds of people are "irreplacable" in that way.

In fact, it's non-trivial to name a sector of society that wouldn't cause collapse if they all up and left with no warning.

"Doesn't Atlas Shrugged end with some interminable speech by Galt explaining his philosophy to the world?"

Some 56 pages. To be sure, I read some 33 years ago, when I was a teenager.

And I didn't read it as an admirer; I thought it was lunatic, all the way through, and that's what I thought of Rand in general; I just thought she was clearly influential, and so I got through her two big books, Atlas Shrugged, and The Fountainhead, and figured I'd gotten the idea. (Selfishness is the one true way!)

It helps that I read really really really fast if I want to. I read most all of one of those books, I forget which one, in one day of extreme intestinal upset, mostly spent in the bathroom.

You'll thrill as Michelle Malkin dons coveralls to service her own dishwasher.

Coveralls made from cotton she herself planted and harvested, (cotton being a crop that flourishes in Colorado) and spun into fiber, and wove into cloth, which she then cut and sewed.

Wikipedia reminds me of details I've forgotten, such as "Rearden metal":

[...] Rearden metal is a fictitious metal alloy invented by Hank Rearden. It is lighter and stronger than traditional steel, and is to steel what steel was to iron. It is described as greenish-blue. Among its ingredients are iron and copper, two metals seldom found together in real-world alloys.

Initially, no one is willing to use Rearden metal due to an unsupported but nonetheless damaging report by the State Science Institute which implies the metal is weak and prone to breaking. The introduction of the metal is seen as potentially damaging to the already established steel industries.

There's also:
[...] Project X, also known as Project Xylophone, is an invention of the scientists at the State Science Institute, requiring tons of Rearden metal. It is a sonic weapon, capable of destroying everything in a 100-mile radius. The scientists claim that the project will be used to preserve peace and quash rebellion. The mechanism is destroyed towards the end of the book, and emits a sonic pulse that destroys everything within a hundred mile radius, including Cuffy Meigs and Dr. Stadler, as well as half of the Taggart Bridge, which spanned the Mississippi River, and was, effectively, the lifeline of New York City.
That static electricity thing I remembered?
[...] Galt's motor

John Galt invented a new type of electrical apparatus described in the book as a motor. This motor is revolutionary because it uses static electricity from the atmosphere as its main source of energy, requiring only a small amount of conventional fuel to run the conversion mechanism. The motor is described as super-efficient, and capable of revolutionizing the industry of the world. This approximates a perpetual motion machine of the second kind, a machine which spontaneously converts thermal energy into mechanical work (versus conventional heat engines, which convert thermal energy into mechanical work by transferring thermal energy from one reservoir to another). The theory is that the power is drawn from the environment.

The book gives the source as static electricity from the air, and suggests that a new physics was necessary to tap it. Additionally, the motor could be seen as a metaphor for a person who, like Rearden and Dagny, has the ability to convert dispersed energy and resources into useful materials.

Wikipedia also notes:
[...] This is in line with an excerpt from a 1964 interview with Playboy magazine in which Rand states "What we have today is not a capitalist society, but a mixed economy – that is, a mixture of freedom and controls, which, by the presently dominant trend, is moving toward dictatorship. The action in Atlas Shrugged takes place at a time when society has reached the stage of dictatorship. When and if this happens, that will be the time to go on strike, but not until then," thus implying that her novel takes place at some point in the future.

"the State Science Institute"

These are among the many bad guys of Rand's book, I should clarify.

And, btw, supposedly the movie will finally get made in the next year or two, and be released in 2011. Of course, it's been in various stages of development for decades.

And they think they've got the sweet end of this deal?!? Those jobs kind of define "back-breaking labor", you'll note.

The direct spiritual predecessors of the Galters solved that problem by importing dark-skinned laborers from overseas, transporting them in the cargo hulls of specially-designed wooden ships.

But the first quote highlights a thing - there's a huge difference between 'irreplacable in a critical role' and '"irreplacable" cos it's gonna stuff things up if I just dissappear with no sort of handover.' That second form is all that Galt is proving by his little experiment, and all kinds of people are "irreplacable" in that way.

I got the impression that Galt and his ilk weren't just like the guys who know the vagarities of the accounting software and whose disappearance would screw things up for a while until somebody else got up to speed. These guys were the only people who could do these jobs, it looks like, because all the other people were just bellybutton-lint-picking parasites who couldn't take a crap without written instructions. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, because God help me I don't want to wade through a thousand pages of that scribble.

I'm an engineer, and I always get a kick out of speculative fiction where a bunch of modern humans get stuck in primitive surroundings and have reinvented air conditioning, jet flight, and iPhones within ten years. The authors seem to have no concept of the industrial base needed just to get semi-reliable mechanical devices, not to mention electronics, and the sheer amount of design work that has to go into even simple-looking devices. Of course, if you're Galt and you can pull magical devices out of your ass, all bets are off I guess.

Captured elegantly by Bob The Angry Flower
here

"The authors seem to have no concept of the industrial base needed just to get semi-reliable mechanical devices, not to mention electronics, and the sheer amount of design work that has to go into even simple-looking devices."

Try L. Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall (1939), where, despite best efforts, the hero's attempts, finding himself back in 6th century Rome, but fails, to make gunpowder, let alone a cannon, or a mechanical clock that works reliably.

He accomplishes a lot else -- like making brandy via a still, making a printing press, creating a semaphore system, and ending serfdom in Italy -- but is unable to make any leaps in technology which the infrastructure isn't there to support.

Of course, if you're Galt and you can pull magical devices out of your ass, all bets are off I guess.

That's the problem with using fiction to 'prove' stuff- all you end up doing is providing wank material for the already-converted. Anthem just made me laugh; Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology made me take notes on what I thought was completely wrong or poorly thought-out etc. Ok, ItOE made me laugh some, too.

Writing fiction to prove political/social/etc arguments is like trying to win a debate about 'who is the best basketball player ever' by drawing a picture of Oscar Robertson dunking on Michael Jordan.

No wonder that this was Rand's primary method of influencing people- either the arguments themselves are so transparently flawed, or the target audience prefers the comic book version. Maybe both.

Of course, if you're Galt and you can pull magical devices out of your ass, all bets are off I guess.

That's the problem with using fiction to 'prove' stuff- all you end up doing is providing wank material for the already-converted. Anthem just made me laugh; Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology made me take notes on what I thought was completely wrong or poorly thought-out etc. Ok, ItOE made me laugh some, too.

Writing fiction to prove political/social/etc arguments is like trying to win a debate about 'who is the best basketball player ever' by drawing a picture of Oscar Robertson dunking on Michael Jordan.

No wonder that this was Rand's primary method of influencing people- either the arguments themselves are so transparently flawed, or the target audience prefers the comic book version. Maybe both.

Of course, if you're Galt and you can pull magical devices out of your ass, all bets are off I guess.

That's the problem with using fiction to 'prove' stuff- all you end up doing is providing wank material for the already-converted. Anthem just made me laugh; Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology made me take notes on what I thought was completely wrong or poorly thought-out etc. Ok, ItOE made me laugh some, too.

Writing fiction to prove political/social/etc arguments is like trying to win a debate about 'who is the best basketball player ever' by drawing a picture of Oscar Robertson dunking on Michael Jordan.

No wonder that this was Rand's primary method of influencing people- either the arguments themselves are so transparently flawed, or the target audience prefers the comic book version. Maybe both.

"Writing fiction to prove political/social/etc arguments"

Mostly what gets published by way of fiction with a political argument is fiction that makes an argument; as you say, nobody can prove a political argument via fiction, and I would argue that few sane folks think they're proving their argument with fiction.

In other words, this is kinda a straw man.

"Writing fiction to prove political/social/etc arguments is like trying to win a debate about 'who is the best basketball player ever' by drawing a picture of Oscar Robertson dunking on Michael Jordan."

Some fiction that argues a political point, I should add, has been very successful: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Elmer Gantry, Darkness At Noon, It Can't Happen Here, The Jungle, etc.

And setting aside my personal dislike for, and contempt of, Rand, I'm not clear by what means we'd judge her as thinking her fiction "proved" her beliefs any more than any other politically-minded writer. (Some of her followers are another question.)

"No wonder that this was Rand's primary method of influencing people- either the arguments themselves are so transparently flawed, or the target audience prefers the comic book version. "

And sorry for taking three comments to say this, but insofar as you're asserting that writing fiction is a wrongheaded or invalid way to make an argument ("no wonder"), I completely disagree.

The reason that the disappearance of Galt et al is so damaging is twofold:

(a) they are all the creative, inventive people.

(b) everyone else believes that it's selfish to, you know, try to accomplish everything, and that whenever anyone does something well, they need to be punished for it.

Naturally, when those other people are all that's left, everything goes to hell in a handbasket -- aided by the government, which seems to be entirely populated by downmarket versions of Nietzsche's "slave morality" types -- the weak who convince the strong that strength is bad and weakness is good, because it is the only way they can exercise power themselves.

It is truly a dreadful book, and the idea that anyone takes it seriously, on any level, is scary.

The mechanism is destroyed towards the end of the book, and emits a sonic pulse that destroys everything within a hundred mile radius, including Cuffy Meigs and Dr. Stadler, as well as half of the Taggart Bridge, which spanned the Mississippi River, and was, effectively, the lifeline of New York City.

Wha? Leaving aside poor Cuffy* and Dr. S., that "effectively" is entirely inadequate to explain the geographic and logistical implausibilities here. Perhaps it's straining at gnats but I really must know how Ms. Rand explained this, and I'll be damned if I'll read the book.

*Very sad that the names of the characters are more interesting than anything they say. That's all I remember of my brief foray into Atlas Shrugged: everyone in it had to strain to achieve two dimensions.

insofar as you're asserting that writing fiction is a wrongheaded or invalid way to make an argument

Gary,

I agree strongly with Carleton.

if you want to make an argument about how society should ideally operate, you have an obligation, even in fiction, to be realistic.

If your answer to "How do they feed themselves?" is to invent a perpetual motion machine that, presumably, can be harnessed for agricultural production, you haven't dealt with the question. You might as well claim that manna will fall.

It's not that writing fiction is a bad way to make an argument, it's that fiction, especially science fiction, allows utterly spurious arguments, and authors have an obligation not to resort to them.

Need to go to another star? No problem, use warp drive. Need to explain how Galt's gang gets electricity? Easy. They have a machine that does it.

Notice that the examples you cite, while fictional, do not rely on the sudden use of magic to solve obvious difficulties.

I think that many people enjoy the idea that they're vital to their society- perhaps not them personally (few, if any, could make that claim with a straight face), but their category of work. Police, firemen, EMTs, doctors, nurses, IT workers, farmers, mechanics, teachers, sanitation workers, electric-water-gas utility workers, pilots, etc.

You forgot telephone sanitizers.

Re: irreplaceability, some folks are irreplaceable because they really are a lot better than anyone else is in their field. And some other folks are irreplaceable because they've got literally decades of experience doing what very, very few people have any experience doing. It might take someone else decades to get that good, if they started now.

And then some people are irreplaceable because they've figured out some things that most others haven't, yet. It's not being smarter, or working harder, necessarily; it's about happening to stumble over the right answer.

I aspire to be the first of these, but my skill-set really lies somewhere between the second and the third.

Reminds me of recent reviews I've seen describing "It's a Wonderful Life" as a horror movie

Until the ending [1], it's more of a passion play. Its point is that George Bailey's sacrifices have, while bringing him nothing but suffering, redeemed Bedford Falls.

1. Which makes no sense, of course. Try telling a bank examiner "Yes, I know there's thousands of dollars missing, but oddly enough I had exactly that amount at home in cash, so I brought it in. We're good now, right?"

In fact, it's non-trivial to name a sector of society that wouldn't cause collapse if they all up and left with no warning.

If all law professors up and left with no warning, I can easily envision a (fairly efficient) return to practitioners training new lawyers by law reading. In fact, with the Internet, that would likely be easier now than before.

Dear ObWi Community,

I'm going Galt. In addition to finding a cure for cancer, I have also invented a device which produces cold fusion.

I will not, however, under any circumstances share this knowledge and be denied my due under this oppressive and socialistic tax regime. Until such time that a fair-minded Libertarian or Republican majority rule in this nation, I and my robot minions will live peacefully on an undisclosed island.

May you all suffer in my absence.

Sincerely,
The Unappreciated Paragon

"if you want to make an argument about how society should ideally operate, you have an obligation, even in fiction, to be realistic."

Say what? Science fiction or fantasy can't make arguments about how society can operate, or how it shouldn't? Sorry, no. Just going to some more well-known names, try 1984, Animal Farm, We, Brave New World, Walden II, most of H. G. Wells (and a lot of books you've doubtless never heard of).

"It's not that writing fiction is a bad way to make an argument, it's that fiction, especially science fiction, allows utterly spurious arguments, and authors have an obligation not to resort to them."

Sorry, science fiction writers damn well can resort to science fiction, and can make any sort of political argument. You don't have to like them or agree with them -- god knows lots of people ignorant of science fiction are quick to label it as crap -- but to say that there's some sort of "obligation" not to is just ludicrous: you're invalidating a significant chunk of the field by simple assertion.

And, respectfully, I have to suspect that you have no familarity with sf that makes political arguments, be it L. Frank Russell, Ken MacLeod, Cory Doctorow, L. Neil Smith, Ursula Le Guin, Iain Banks, or, oh, hell, tell me all these books, or, yea, these folks are somehow writing pointless work because they're violating your "obligation."

Ever hear of a "thought experiment"?

"Perhaps it's straining at gnats but I really must know how Ms. Rand explained this, and I'll be damned if I'll read the book."

A writer of hard science fiction (a term of art, she wasn't.

She didn't even mention television until the latter half of the novel, because the earlier parts of the book were written in the Forties; mostly people in AS hear things on the radio.

This is an example of very bad science fiction -- and it's better considered as political fiction with some sf elements; Rand was hardly a genre writer -- but the fact that she, or anyone else, is a very bad writer with very stupid ideas hardly discredits the entire idea of political fiction, or political science fiction. I mean, really, tell me again how 1984 is worthless because it isn't "realistic." Or tell me that about The Dispossesed.

Although, slowing down and rereading your comment, Bernard, it's possible you meant "if you want to make an argument about how society should ideally operate, you have an obligation, even in fiction, to be realistic" less broadly than I interpreted it.

"1. Which makes no sense, of course."

I'm rather fond of this ending of It's A Wonderful Life.

Gary:

Although, slowing down and rereading your comment, Bernard, it's possible you meant "if you want to make an argument about how society should ideally operate, you have an obligation, even in fiction, to be realistic" less broadly than I interpreted it.

I interpreted it more as making /proposals/ about how society should ideally operate, rather than simply /arguments/. Someone writing political fiction that amounts to "this is the way I think it /ought/ to be" probably should try and make their case in a realistic manner, rather than saying "physics ought to get into line and behave in a way that allows my otherwise unrealistic imaginings to be real!"

Possibly not what the original post was intended to convey, but that was my reading.

himi

Gary,

I appreciate your passionate defense of the value of ideas that you do not agree with.

"I appreciate your passionate defense of the value of ideas that you do not agree with."

I was more addressing the general point -- and may say more tomorrow, after sleep, to try to disentangle where I think Bernard had a valid point, and where he didn't -- but on Rand specifically, I find her ideas to be pretty much silly and repugnant, but I wouldn't deny that they are ideas, and I don't think her throwing some fantasy gimmes, some magic devices, into her fiction is relevant to whether her ideas make sense or not. The ideas stand or fall on their own. She wasn't writing a novel about sonic death rays, or magic metals, etc.: those are just trivial plot props.

It's not a realistic novel: that's a given. But the made-up devices are not its point. I don't agree with Rand's points, but I know what they are and what they aren't.

And her ultimate point was to make people think about her ideas. I think they're dumb and repugnant ideas, but she was quite successful in reaching her goal.

I don't think her throwing some fantasy gimmes, some magic devices, into her fiction is relevant to whether her ideas make sense or not.

Sure it is. If the fantasy gimmicks are necessary to make her ideas work, then the ideas themselves are fantasy. In order to make Objectivism work, Rand has to A) make physics stop behaving the way it does in the real world, and B) make people stop behaving the way they do in the real world.

That's what Bernard meant about the need for realism. If you want to prove your ideas work, you need to show them working in the world we actually live in, not a simulated world populated by cardboard cutouts.

Rand's problem was that she saw the world through the highly distorting lens of her ideology, and that was the world she depicted in her fiction. The people in her books thought and behaved the way her ideology told her they should, rather than the way people actually think and behave. So the fact that Objectivism made sense in her books has no bearing on whether Objectivism makes sense in reality. Which is a fatal flaw if you're trying to show (as Rand was) that Objectivism does make sense in reality.

"If the fantasy gimmicks are necessary to make her ideas work"

And I just said they weren't.

They help her plot along, which isn't the same thing at all. I just got through saying that the gimmes weren't relevant to her ideas, that the ideas stand or fall on their own, etc.

And I'm hardly going to defend Objectivism, but the ideas of it she was selling weren't about actually convincing people to "go John Galt." Only an insane person would read the book that way.

Did I say she was trying to convince people to Go Galt? I said she was trying to convince people that Objectivism made sense, and that she had to create an artificial world to do so, since, in the real world, Objectivism didn't make sense.

I think people miss the real irony in this.

Over the past thirty years or so, a huge number of creative people and inventors have, in some sense, "seceeded" from existing social structures to make their own. However, this real-life secession has not followed the "philosophy" of John Galt; they've actually come closer to following another fictional character, one less noisy but ultimatly, I suspect, far more influential: Laia Aseo Odo.

I mean, of course, the free software/free culture/open source movement. Realizing that they needed a creative community, the founders of the free software movement solved the free rider problem by writing it out of existence. Rather than obsess about the "undeserving", to the detriment of a creative community, they take Odo's advice: "free your mind from the idea of earning... then you will be able to think".

These conservatives came to the party a generation too late. The best and brightest of the information age (Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, and millions of others) did indeed "light out for the territory". but they went to Annarres, not Galt's Gulch.

"I said she was trying to convince people that Objectivism made sense, and that she had to create an artificial world to do so, since, in the real world, Objectivism didn't make sense."

But a whole lot of Objectivists in the real world do think lots of her ideas make sense. Their so thinking may be right or wrong -- I think "wrong," myself -- but it has nothing whatever to do with believing Rearden metal actually exists, or sonic destructo rays, or whatever.

Those ideas are just irrelevant to her political ideas. I don't know how many more ways I can repeat this. The fantasy elements in Atlas Shrugged are not relevant to the political ideas she had to sell.

They were relevant to her plot; they have nothing to do with her political notions. Have you actually read the book?

"Laia Aseo Odo"

"Laia Aseio Odo," actually.

I did mention The Dispossessed a couple of times above.

Of course, whenever I think of "An Ambiguous Utopia," I also think of An Ambiguous Heterotopia.

I don't have the heart to do it, but someone needs to let these people know that John Galt is, like, not a real person.

Who is John Galt?
There is no John Galt.

If the fantasy gimmicks are necessary to make her ideas work, then the ideas themselves are fantasy.

But if not, not? IIRC, The Fountainhead had no such gadgets, yet preached a largely similar sermon. Minus the going-on-strike tactics, which was (I'm guessing) what Rand thought of as an inevitable conclusion to her philosophy, but one she hadn't quite arrived at when she wrote The Fountainhead.

In Atlas Shrugged, Hugh Akston (a philosopher) went on strike and worked as a short-order cook at a diner. Galt's Gulch isn't strictly necessary for the going-on-strike part of the storyline; it's just a plot device so that a community of these like-minded folks could live and work together, unbothered by the second-raters.

Gary didn't mention this (for reasons I won't try and guess; for the nonce I assume that there are a very large number of such stories, and he has a limited number of keystrokes that he can execute in a given day) but The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is an artificial society where the social experiment of TANSTAAFL is in progress. Now, this social experiment is being done on the Moon, and they have to fight and win independence by throwing large chunks of rock at the earth using miles-long linear accelerators, but none of the technologies mentioned are necessary for the (libertarian?) society to exist.

There's another short story, The Great Explosion, that postulates a similar kind of society where nothing is free and if you can't immediately pay for your meal or service, you incur an Obligation, which is something you get rid of just as soon as you can. Nothing in this story requires space flight or any of the cool machinery mentioned in the story; it is certainly science/speculative fiction, but the cultural/political aspect of the story doesn't require any of the scifi trappings.

Gary,

I think both himi and Johnny Pez got my idea. You're right, it wasn't nearly as broad as your initial reading. I actually have read, and enjoyed, SF, though I'm not a dedicated fan.

To put my point differently, if you are writing a novel that talks about an alternative economic organization of society, then it becomes important to address the question of how the characters feed themselves. It's fine to have them on a planet with three moons, let them use invisibility cloaks to hide from their enemies, etc. But you can't have the food just come out of a fabricator. Or, you can, but you haven't answered a basic question about how the economy works.

Of course, economics may not be the point of the novel at all, in which case a food fabricator is fine.

Now Slarti mentions The Moon is a Harsh Mistress as an example of a novel based on a libertarian society. I haven't read it, but they throw rocks, apparently, to gain independence. So they really just have a violent revolution using some gee-whiz weapons. Fine, as long as it doesn't purport to be mainly about how a moon colony might someday become independent.


To my mind, the fact that people in AS come up with nifty inventions is not the deeply unrealistic part of the book, nor the one whose falsity does the most damage to Rand's views. That's her view of human nature.

I did skim AS for this series of posts, and one striking thing about it is that in AS (and, iirc, also in Fountainhead, though to a lesser extent) there is an actual conspiracy against the gifted and the rich. Do you run a successful corporation? Then the government will actually try to make you fail, on the grounds that your success is "unfair". It will pass laws forbidding people from owning more than one business (which seems, in the novel, to preclude one company from doing more than one thing), so that people who make Rearden Metal have to give up their mines. It will put limits on who can buy what, so that "everyone has a chance". Etc. Eventually, the government will essentially freeze all economic activity.

In short: if you are a businessperson, you will be unable to run your business. And the reason you will be unable to run it is not some sort of accident; it's the deliberate efforts of people who hate the talented and successful. That's why it makes sense for them to go on strike.

Moreover, the world according to Rand is divided into two groups of people: (a) individuals (Roark, Taggart, Galt, Rearden, et al), who are almost always very talented (and attractive), and recognize no human bonds other than those they have chosen; and (b) people who not only have no real selves at all, but actively hate those who do, and seek to use their weakness to control group (a). There are no normal, intermediate people: people who lack the startling individuality of group (a), but nonetheless basically trust their own judgment and are moreover pretty nice.

This makes it easy to say: if you recognize any general obligations to other people, you are handing group (b) the weapons they need to destroy you, and legitimizing their quest for dominance. Because the "people" in question are all "moochers" and "spongers" who don't think they ever have to work for anything and expect the strong to take care of them, even as they work to destroy them. Things would, of course, be a lot more complicated if a lot of people were neither Roark-like in their individuality nor a "moocher", but normal people, of varying degrees of niceness, decency, and self-sufficiency, most of whom fit neither of Rand's caricatures.

There's another short story, The Great Explosion, that postulates a similar kind of society where nothing is free and if you can't immediately pay for your meal or service, you incur an Obligation, which is something you get rid of just as soon as you can.

Nitpick: the story is called "And then There Were None"; _The Great Explosion_ is a novel fixed up from that and similar "interesting developments of isolated societies" stories. All were written by Eric Frank Russell.

Gary,

I have a somewhat off-topic question for you. About 30 years ago, I read a short story in Playboy of all places, which might not count as science fiction but was built on a sci fi plot device. In the world of the story, money is literally time. Each person carries (actually, has implanted) what we would now call a debit card. The balance on it is denominated in hours of life; when your balance falls to zero, you die. You get paid in hours; you buy things with hours; you even give handouts to panhandlers in hours. That last bit is what the plot revolves around. I don't remember the title, the author, or much of anything else -- except the money-is-time thing.

So: does that ring a bell with you? Got a guess who the author might have been? I'd like to read that story again sometime, but I threw out my old issues of Playboy a long, long time ago:)

--TP

I agree that anyone should be able to put whatever ideas they want out there. They should be able to present them using any fictional artifice they like.

If you want to argue that a handful of incredibly gifted, irreplaceable people are responsible for all of the productive activity in the world, and that everyone else is just a parasitic hanger-on, have at it.

If you wish to support that argument with plot devices that ignore the basic laws of physics, live it up.

These ideas are no stupider than many I have engaged in late at night over a bottle of wine or, perhaps, some other mind-expanding substance.

I mean, what if the earth really is just an electron orbiting around a nucleic sun, and the whole solar system is just an atom in the body of an unbelievably large person who looks just like me, and is thinking this exact thought about *his* sun, right at this very same moment.

It could be true.

What I find dismally sad is that anyone takes it seriously.

I haven't read Atlas Shrugged, so maybe I should shut up, but here are my comments based on the discussion here.

At the time Rand wrote her novel, Marxist and socialist ideas were popular, saying that only physical labor was worth anything, that manager, entrepeneurs and so forth were just a bunch of parasites living off the labor of real working people. Rand wanted to argue the contrary, that entrepeneurs and inventors are the creative force in society, the source of its wealth, and society would be ruined without them. OK, reasonable point, I'm sure you can make a fine novel arguing that.

But then (if the rest of you are correct) Rand took this theory to absurd lengths and argued that physical labor has no value, that working people are just parasites sponging off the largesse of their employers, that entrepeneurs and inventors are the only productive society. If they left, not only would society collapse without them, but that a society entrepeneurs, unburdened by those parasites who do physical labor, would do just fine.

Well, anyone using even a modicum of common sense would recognize that that is not so, that if the Galts of the world went into the mountains and tried to make it on their own, they would quickly learn that they needed society at least as much as society needed them. They would have to actually do physical labor and would quickly learn of its value.

In order to evade this obvious point, Rand has to postulate a machine that makes physical labor unnecessary, which rigs the game (to put it mildly). So I think the real point is not that Rand is using fiction or science fiction to make her point, or even that her story is badly told, but that her point is so absurdly and obviously false that there is no way to tell such a story convincingly.

So, I click on the video and watch the first 20 seconds. I'm already annoyed, because as hilzoy points out, idiots like Dr. Helen don't understand their own philosophy. This isn't uncommon, most Christians do the same thing.

You don't "go John Galt, at least as much as you can". That's like calling yourself a vegetarian because you had the fruit dessert with the steak dinner...

Then, just as I'm thinking to myself, "This can't get any stupider!" who is the first person she talks to?

Megan McArdle.

This discussion raises an interesting question: If American right-wingers were to leave the country en mass (the way left-wingers threatened to go to Canada or Europe eight years ago) where would they go? Is there a country more in line with their ideology than the U.S.? What country would have them? Thirty years ago, Pinochet's Chile might have been a good candidate. Maybe Singapore today? The main problem with any answer, of course, is that many of these people hate foreigners.

Rand is a better novelist than philosopher. And she's not a very good novelist.

So they're thinking about striking?

Do they need to form a union for this?

Is this some sort of collectivist idea of theirs to strike?

This whole argument of "Going Galt" seems patently ridiculous. Its main childish assumption is that society would collapse without them, is there no one to fill their shoes? Think about the endless parade of laborers ,managers and companies the world has seen. When Einstein died did physics die with him? When CEO's leave their jobs do the companies they run go under? Absolute foolishness, this argument is.

I have always found it quite ironic, that the essential trope of Rand's story (be it Galt or Roark) is that the Creative Class essentially goes on strike. Im pretty sure that Galt's thesis would have been more effective if there was an EFCA for the creative class.

Im amazed that Ayn Rand is considered a serious philosopher

Megan McArdle.

Whenever I hear McArdle speak at length, I'm impressed by her thoughtfulness and her unwillingness to be boxed into a stereotypical point of view.

Whenever I read her blog, I'm impressed, negatively, by her flippant tone and by the lack of thought she puts into her arguments.

I wish she'd either take her blog writing more seriously or stick to longer forms.

She will, of course, do as she likes.

Here is the short form of the 'Going Galt' set:

"They are going to take my money and give it to that guy over there".

Yes, they are. Happens every day. Everyone who pays any taxes at all, which is virtually everyone in the damned country, has their money taken and given to some guy over there.

If you can't abide it, go find another country to live in.

And if you ever need a helping hand yourself, you can eat your own words for dinner. Bon appetit!

Either way, I invite them to make good on their threat and to get the hell out. There's no room for folks like that right now. There may, in fact, never be a time when there's room for folks like that.

I haven't read AS, or, for that matter, anything by Rand, but I think the biggest problem I have with the novel as gleaned from lots of readings about it, is the unimpeachable perfection of Galt, and unremitting wrongness of the antagonists. Am I wrong in assuming that he is, to the narrator's mind, a character without any flaws? Certainly not an uncommon situation in fiction, but something that makes for a terribly dull reading experience, and makes any polemic unconvincing.

That said, the main thing keeping me from reading Rand is the length. I don't mind long narratives, but I have to be convinced that I'm getting more out of a novel than the author's view about how society should work. I've heard nothing but negative commentary about her prose style and her character development, which is a bad sign. I think I'll just get off of my ass and commit to reading Proust instead.

Can somebody write a script which'll just show me the ten or twelve comments not written by Gary Farber?

Weren't these same people big fans of the Unitary Executive and the All-Powerful Snooper State when Bush was in charge?

Their reasoning to support Bush was: "The threat of a few fanatics hiding in a cave is so great that we must support a fascist dictatorship."

Now they're trying to steal Ron Paul's growing popularity out from under him, or to at least leech onto the growing libertarian movement.

In anti-government groups, it's become common to discover that the most radical agitator is a government informant. I think such infiltration is what the neocons are trying to do now: commandeer the libertarian movement like they did the conservative movement, so that they can corrupt the libertarian movement like they did the conservative movement.

Aha! I finally figured out why god created South Carolina.

The obvious answer is #3 - they're not thinking about what they're writing. More to the point, they don't care and they don't particularly care if anybody else thinks about what they're writing. They making a totally misleading abstraction (read: sound bite) of Rand's "philosophy" and foisting it on the unlettered as some sort of populist revolt against policy they don't care for.

It's very like the so-called "tea parties" which, aside from the question of astroturfing, entirely miss the point (not to mention the structure and effect) of the original Boston Tea Party.

It's all part of GOP/conservative brand management.

"if you want to make an argument about how society should ideally operate, you have an obligation, even in fiction, to be realistic."

The ultimate goal of Rand's fiction writing was not to make an argument about society or philosophy, but to present her "vision of an ideal man" .

In this context, it is clear that she imagined that moral heroes, when presented with a society which no longer grants any justice to the productive, would ultimately be convinced that continuing to produce in such an environment was immoral. In other words, she presented a thoroughly corrupt system, and showed how thoroughly moral (and immoral) people would behave in that system. The book is a morality play, in the best tradition of Romanticism, and I think some of the writing is excellent.

I'm fairly sure Rand would not see our current system as thoroughly corrupt, and therefore I don't think she would advocate going on strike today. I do think, however, she would recognize that, in the real world, people do "go on strike" in small ways when presented with penalties for their productiveness.

And, I think she would point out that the proposed increased regulation of large sectors of our economy (finance, energy, health care, labor) are much more likely to cause productive people to withdraw their services at the margin than is increased taxation. Good people - at all skill levels and positions - don't like to be told how to do their jobs, particularly when the main qualification of those doing the telling is that they have a legal monopoly on violence.

This may not be "going Galt", but the phrase has some legitimacy as a shorthand for the underlying moral issue of reason vs. force.

Please keep this an ongoing investigation, with updates on the Galt-ers. I would prefer a reality tv show, but will take what I can get.

Good people - at all skill levels and positions - don't like to be told how to do their jobs, particularly when the main qualification of those doing the telling is that they have a legal monopoly on violence.

The good people aren't the problem.

I think the reality here is that all this talk of "Going Galt" is really just a way for this set of people to continue to believe they actually are important.

By claiming to want to "Go Galt" while not actually doing it(or apparently understanding what is means), all they are doing is trying to boost their own self-importance. Or at least their internal perception of their self-importance.

The reality is, they have no real impact on society, and in fact the whole notion of Galt is ridiculous on it's face. There is in fact no vital aristocracy of inteligensia that is necessary for society to function.

Rand took this theory to absurd lengths and argued that physical labor has no value, that working people are just parasites sponging off the largesse of their employers, that entrepeneurs and inventors are the only productive society.

No, that's not what Rand was arguing. In fact, most of Rand's great captains of industry did stints as manual laborers, presumably so that they would better know their business.

No, Rand was arguing counter to the notion that people can help themselves to your property if they happen to decide that they need it. And a lot of other things as well, but I never saw that she had any particular problem with laborers.

i wrote up an exciting synopsis of the atlas shrugged story, if anyone is interested:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/3/9/13111/13750/434/706375

I think the reality here is that all this talk of "Going Galt" is really just a way for this set of people to continue to believe they actually are important.

yep.

they are demanding that we recognize their self-proclaimed status as an elite class of "producers".

but not really. really, it's all just bullsh!t whining to try to score political points. the goal is to derail Obama's plan, because any time they can defeat one of Obama's plans, they weaken him a bit and so get a little closer to winning the presidency back. all of their complaints and overwrought rhetoric is just theater. nobody's "going Galt"; anybody who actually understands the tax system knows this is small potatoes. this whole thing, like all of the GOP these days, is just petty political posturing for the cameras.


You'll thrill as Michelle Malkin dons coveralls to service her own dishwasher.

Coveralls made from cotton she herself planted and harvested, (cotton being a crop that flourishes in Colorado) and spun into fiber, and wove into cloth, which she then cut and sewed.

Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows. The John Galters will need to share space with the Lefty Global Warming Luddites.

4.) Its a novel, rand wrote it, she set the stage and wrote the rules and thing work out exactly as she planned. Then there is reality, people that agree with rands views don't read her books and say amen then go and follow it literally. maybe we should also make an "invisibilty machine" so we can hide in the colorado rockies, and dont forget the "static electric engine" so we can power it.

The authors arguement is intended to trivialize reasonable actions people are taking in response to an unreasonable situation created by irrational men, women and government policies and laws created over the past 70-100 years. Mainly because it doesn't agree with his collectivist political views.

The author is basically as bad as the CNN anchor who says "atheism is immoral" and goes on to quote hitler as proof.

He ALSO forgets to mention the fact that the first paragragh he quotes as evidence for his premise is talking about Hank reardan, and the FACT that Hank Reardan stayed and fought for 10+ years till his last drop of blood. He avoids that fact. In defense of the people he is writing about I point this out, not because I think her books are doctrine and we should follow them literally like you want us to say. Just, at least be accurate.

I'd approach the second paragraph but this post is to long already, read the book or go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_qQt9IrUc0

You people just need monsters to keep your change machine chugging along on the magic of hope, and the best target in this climate of financial/economic doom it is the misrepresentation of rands / Fredrick bastiats / Henry Hazlitt/ Ludwig Von Mises / John Locke/ Adam smith/J.S. Mills / Murray Rothbards / Thomas Sowells /... views and philosophy(and those that incidently agree with them) that are going to take the brunt of it. So you concentrate on one set of people in one group and demonize them like democratic party inquisitors.

I take my aluminum foil hat off to your ignorance, misrepresentations, superficial trivializing and fundie/literal-religious-interpretation of a work of fiction to try and trivialize your enemies, its truly mind numbing at times but please keep it up, your words empower us.

You'll thrill as Michelle Malkin dons coveralls to service her own dishwasher.

The creaming over JtP suddenly takes on a new light... They can all "Go Galt" together, and then once they get to the commune they can divide duties for the most efficient use of resources. And since, as McArdle points out, it's a silly waste of those resources if educated people paint their own houses, Samjo can handle the physical labor and the rest of them can blog about it (Instapundit won't write anything himself, that's not his "talent," but he will link to the rest of the Galter's efforts, and that approbation that he alone can bestow, that's a gift, that's a gift to the rest of society, man, and you'll miss the validation that only comes from seeing a clip of your best lines followed by a "Heh. Indeed" that was typed by CyberGlen himself when it's gone.)

Roger Z,

In case you've been off in the mountains going Galt for the last few years, when we let the finance sector do as it pleased because "good people" "doing their jobs" and being "rational" managed to make complete hash of the financial sector. That might, in and of itself, be acceptable, but unfortunately the mess they made of finance inflicted immense collateral damage on everyone else.

So, no, I don't think that "reason" and "morality" are best served by an unregulated finance sector.

I take my aluminum foil hat off to your ignorance

I in turn thank you for your tasty word salad, and ask how I can subscribe to your newsletter.

Adam Smith favored progressive taxation ya know.

its truly mind numbing at times but please keep it up, your words empower us.

I've never read anything by Ayn Rand. I likely never will, because everyone I've ever met, spoken to, read, or saw on the TV who said they were inspired by Rand struck me as a total jerk.

Life's too short.

I'm not creating any kind of monster. I don't consider people who want to 'go Galt' my enemy and I'm not trying to trivialize them. I'm merely responding to what's right in front of my face.

I clicked through to hilzoy's link, and here is what I saw.

I saw a guy who was very, very clear that he didn't believe in a morality of altruism (his words, not mine) and who intends to employ every legal means he can employ to avoid paying federal taxes.

I saw a young woman who took her money out of any bank that was receiving federal bailout money, and who was going to quit smoking. I'm not sure how those things are related to either John Galt or to each other, but, again, her words, not mine.

And I saw a college student who, unfortunately, had no demonstrable productive accomplishment to abandon, so his version of 'going Galt' was to try to live out Rand's vision of morality, which vision he was at an utter loss to articulate.

Of the three, two demonstrated no clear or concrete understanding of what goal they were trying to accomplish, or how their actions would achieve it.

The other is pissed off because a niggling sort of altruism is forced upon him through the agency of the federal government, and it sticks in his craw.

It's true, I don't have a good opinion of these people. I think they're selfish, callow dopes.

600,000 people a week are losing their jobs, but God forbid that our fine Randians should be asked to chip in another dime on the dollar of their net income above a quarter million bucks a year. Because to do so will just be 'feeding the beast'.

To hell with them.

Let my words empower you, my friend. Take your nickels and get the hell out if that's your preference. One of us parasitical types will pick up your slack.

Can somebody write a script which'll just show me the ten or twelve comments not written by Gary Farber?

Can somebody write me a script tht will let me skip all the vegetables and go straight to the dessert?

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