The Ghost of John Galt
The ghost of John Galt seems to hover over the Republican Party today. The leadership void that has evolved since the debacle of the 2008 election has left many conservatives, independents, and libertarians disillusioned with the offerings of the GOP, both in philosophy and candidates .
In Ayn Rand’s perennially favorite book, “Atlas Shrugged”, the central character, John Galt, captures all media outlets and launches into one of the most quoted speeches that fiction has ever produced. Galt’s message is seen by many as appropriate for today.
At one point, Galt almost sounds as if he is addressing GM and all the other recently “bailed-out” enterprises:
“The symbol of all relationships among such men, the moral symbol of respect for human beings, is the trader. We, who live by values, not by loot, are traders, both in matter and in spirit. A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. A trader does not ask to be paid for his failures, nor does he ask to be loved for his flaws.”
Near the end of his speech, Galt signals a warning that if heeded, can end with the achievement of the ultimate reward:
“In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this word to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man’s proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.”
Although published in 1957, according to The New York Times, sales of “Atlas Shrugged” have recently been brisk. Representative John Campbell, Republican of California, told a reporter that the prospect of rising taxes and government regulation meant “people are starting to feel like we’re living through the scenario that happened in ‘Atlas Shrugged.’ ”