Fleeing Obama’s America? Obsidian Wings Deconstructs the Inane Libertarian “Going Galt” Ayn Rand Movement

Some Ayn Rand enthusiasts have it in their heads that they are indispensible to the running of the global economy, and are now speaking of “Going Galt”—taking leave of our now thoroughly collectivized—and Obamaized—civilization, and taking up residence together in a John “Galt Gulch”—a hidden place of refuge for capitalist creators (as first imagined in Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged ).

Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings does a full and intelligent take down here.

Money quote:

By withdrawing, Galt was, essentially, testing this view. If he was right to think that an inverted morality could triumph only with his sanction, and that the parasites around him were helplessly dependent on his mind, and could survive only with the aid of his self-immolation, then once he and others like him withdrew, that fact would become clear. If not, not. 

If Dr. Helen, Glenn Reynolds, Michelle Malkin, and the rest of the bloggers who are talking up the idea of Going Galt had the courage of their convictions, they would make the same experiment. If they don’t, it’s worth asking why not.
The ideal that Rand promotes in Atlas Shrugged of withdrawal and noncooperation with unjust systems I thoroughly support. The idea is an old one—and has been tried by Jesus, Thoreau, and Gandhi (to name just a few).
And if conservatives genuinely believe that the world, via its tax system, has ceased to sufficiently reward their efforts, then they should follow their conscience and cease to cooperate with the system. And utopian communal experiments are always interesting—and many Americans have tried them. That’s not what’s inane about the conservative response. What is inane is the idea that Obama and America, by returning to the tax structure of the Clinton years, has made the country anti-capitalist, “socialist,” and worthy of abandonment. What is also inane is advocating abandonment, but not actually doing it. This whole “Going Galt” meme smacks of a secular and libertarian version of Christian eschatology—of longing for an escapist “rapture” from this unbearable world. It’s juvenile, unserious—and ultimately a stupidity. I would like to offer Ayn Rand fans a Camus-like alternative. Camus said that the first question of philosophy was whether or not to commit suicide. Perhaps the Ayn Rand fan’s first question of philosophy should be whether to “Go Galt.” If the answer is yes, then go. If the answer is no, then choose how to engage with the world as it is—and not dream of escape from your existential circumstances. Above all, stop the whining and abandonment threats, please! It’s tiresome. 

About Santi Tafarella

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