Ayn Rand and “Going Galt”: Under Bush, the Left Talked of Going to Canada to Live. Under Obama, Some on the Right are Reading ATLAS SHRUGGED and Imagining Themselves Escaping to “Galt’s Gulch”—a Utopian Capitalist Enclave in Rand’s Novel, Free of Collectivists

So reports the Washington Independent here.

Money quote:

The plot of Rand’s novel [Atlas Shrugged] is simple, despite its length — 1,088 pages in the current paperback edition. The United States is governed by bureaucrats, “looters” and “moochers,” who penalize and demonize creative people. The country is in decline because creative people are disappearing — they have followed the innovative John Galt to a mountain enclave, “Galt’s Gulch,” where they watch society crumble. Creativity has gone on strike (the working title of the novel was “The Strike”), and the engine of capitalism cannot run without it.

I know that libertarians don’t like taxes, but Obama’s tax plan is an attempt to return to the tax structure of the CLINTON YEARS, which was hardly an era hostile to capitalism, or a drag on the global economy. And a substantial portion of Obama’s stimulus plan is devoted to TAX CUTS. Obama is no Ronald Reagan with regard to tax philosophy, and he’s obviously committed to Keynsianism in a time of recession, but the libertarian response to Obama is hysterical, juvenile, and indulgent. It pretends that Leviathan-sized international banks and corporations will regulate themselves without corruption and don’t need counterveiling large institutions (like governments) to keep them honest. We will always live in a mixed economy with large and complex corporate, financial, and governmental institutions balancing one another, making trade-offs, and checking each others’ excesses (much as the Supreme Court, the Executive, and Legislative branches of the American government balance and check one another).

Ayn Rand’s novels, written in the mid-20th century, and however life affirming of the individual qua individual, are nevertheless not sensible maps to the functioning of the contemporary global economy. It was Bush’s deregulation and “look the other way” policies that drove the global economy into a ditch—a “Galt Gulch” of democratically unsupervised capitalism, if you will—and Obama is trying his best, assisted by some of the sharpest and most respected economists in the world, to get the global CAPITALIST economy growing again. Obama is not trying to do anything that would cause global economic production to deteriorate further than it already has. He’s not hostile to capitalism or producers. He’s not a socialist. He’s a grown-up trying to make grown-up, realistic decisions concerning highly complex matters surrounding global trade, economics, law, and regulation.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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