Going John Galt and the Need for a Moral Defense for Capitalism

by | Apr 1, 2009 | POLITICS

As we gaze into an uncertain future it seems that there is a storm looming over the horizon–and for once, I am not referring to our current economic woes.  Rather, I am identifying the fact that America is finally beginning to stir. Across the country there have been protests and “tea parties” against the socialization […]

As we gaze into an uncertain future it seems that there is a storm looming over the horizon–and for once, I am not referring to our current economic woes.  Rather, I am identifying the fact that America is finally beginning to stir. Across the country there have been protests and “tea parties” against the socialization of America’s economy.  Thriving entrepreneurs and small business owners have been saying that they’ll go on strike, reducing their income, if the government is going to take it from them to pay for social programs–a phenomenon known as “Going Galt.”  People are finally beginning to understand that for too long our nation has slept while her principles were being trampled by political opportunism.  Eroding property rights little by little, politicians have traded America’s economic well-being away, as though our lives were a game of monopoly–are you successful, they demand?  Excellent!  Pay poor tax, pay income tax, pay school tax, pay hospital tax–and if you refuse–go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200. 

Is this not the current nightmare?  Consider–if you purchased a modest home, if you bought a modest car, if you put money away to support your retirement or your child’s education, it is you who suffers.  However, those who lived beyond their means, saving nothing, borrowing vast quantities of debt–somehow, by virtue of their recklessness, they have become your creditor–their debts to be paid by your income.  In a perversion of justice, the stimulus package punishes you for being hardworking, and rewards those who pursued irresponsible extravagances.  To say that Americans have the right to be angry is an understatement.  If ever a moral duty existed, then right now you have a moral duty to be furious.

Yet, anger alone, however much justified, will accomplish nothing.  Nor will “Going Galt,” so long as that refers only to the reduction of personal income.  Certainly, denying the government a source from which to steal is a worthy aim, but consider what John Galt stood in favour of–not what he stood against.  John Galt, the hero of Atlas Shrugged, refused to be a victim because he upheld a positive moral code: Rational Self-Interest.  By all means America, if ever there was a time for us to follow in the footsteps of Ayn Rand’s greatest hero, that time is now.  But Going Galt means nothing unless you’re ready to take a moral stand.  Recognize that it is wrong, morally wrong, to willingly play the victim–and that it is right, morally right, to live for your own long-term happiness.

As I write this I can imagine how removed ethics and philosophy might seem from the current struggle for many Americans.  Indeed, as we lie awake at night fearing for our jobs and our security, arguments about morality may seem a distant concern.  Yet, the meat and potatoes of our government’s spending policies don’t come down to dollars and cents.  It’s not about how much money you have in your pocket at the end of the day or what you’re having for dinner.  Those issues are very real, but the fact of the matter is, America is hurting because she forgot that the government doesn’t have the right to take from Paul to give to Peter.  America is hurting because most of us accept by default that we must be our brother’s keeper–that we have a duty to sacrifice for others.  Likewise, many of us take for granted that selfishness is immoral.  It is this premise that underlies America’s march towards socialism and it is this premise that has allowed Big Brother to come knocking at our doors demanding more and more.  Did we object?  Most of us said nothing, remember–Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country! That terrible reversal of America’s founding principles–and because it was based on altruism, we said nothing. 

Instead, we looked away every time the government reached into our pockets–it’s for a good cause, they told us.  At the end of the day so long as there were a couple dollars left we let the government take a little more.  Today the government is reaching into our pockets and for once we’re ready to say–enough!  But on what basis do we demand control over the means to our survival?  Why is being forced to pay for someone’s mortgage any different from being forced to pay for someone’s healthcare, welfare, or any of the other services we’ve been providing for years?      

Unless we know why it’s wrong for the government to spend our money against our will, anger and resistance can make no long-term changes.  Therefore, we should restrain ourselves from confronting our leaders with pure emotional outrage.  Rather, if we are to challenge those who would do away with our liberty, it must be with a profound awareness of the rightness of our cause.  Altruism demands that we sacrifice the means of our survival, the product of our labour and our minds to benefit the lowliest parasite on the street.  Behold the result:  The land of the brave, the home of the free–brought to its knees.  In its stead–a country where weakness is king and success is punished.  For America to rise again she must fight the moral code that led us here.  Altruism and its monstrous progeny, socialism, must be explicitly rejected.  Rational selfishness and its freedom loving economic system–Capitalism–must be inviolably upheld.  Do that and some day, looking in a mirror, we each of us may have an answer to that all important question, who is John Galt?  

Zev Barnett received his BA at University of Toronto, majoring in history and literature. He is currently an MA candidate at George Mason University as well as an editor for the-undercurrent.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

Related articles

No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.

Pin It on Pinterest