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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Where is John Galt?

Spoiler Alert! If you have never read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, the mysterious character, John Galt, is exposed and his purposes in the book are explained in the article below. - Reggie

"Who is John Galt?"

American Thinker
That question, of course, is the opening sentence of Ayn Rand's 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged, arguably the first major novel written with a sledgehammer and the first (but, thankfully, not last) to drive generations of liberals crazy and in the most delicious and poetically justified way: by simply depicting a society in which liberals get everything they want.

After 55 years and total sales of well over half a billion, I hope I can be forgiven if I "give away the shock ending" by explaining to those who have not read the book who John Galt, in fact, is.

John Galt is the prime mover behind the major events in Atlas Shrugged. Specifically, he is an engineer who invents a miraculous new type of motor for his employer, the fictional Twentieth Century (I suppose one could read "General") Motors. Forced by his employer, for the "social good," to share his royalties with his fellow workers, none of whom contributed a thing to the motor's development, Galt walks out of his job, determined to "stop the motor of the world." This he does by convincing the world's major industrialists -- the "top one percent," if you will -- to destroy their businesses, stop inventing, stop creating, and withdraw from society, denying society the benefits of their genius, creativity, and productivity. Interestingly (but not surprisingly), one of the most effective ways to destroy a business is to turn it over to liberals. Anyway, deprived of the "top one percent's" talent and genius -- and with liberals firmly in control -- more and more technology and infrastructure break down until modern civilization collapses entirely.

Then, as now, reviews from the liberal intelligentsia were, how you say, unfavorable. Gore Vidal described Atlas Shrugged as "nearly perfect in its immorality." The New York Times opined that the book was "written out of hate."

But one thing none of Atlas Shrugged's critics has ever said is that what happens to civilization in Atlas Shrugs -- i.e., the total collapse of modern civilization -- would, in fact, happen in the real world were the businessmen, the innovators, the creators actually to destroy or simply abandon their businesses, withdraw from society, and withhold from society their genius, talent, and creativity.

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