John Galt’s Introduction

John Galt begins his speech boldly and directly:

“For twelve years, you have been asking: ‘Who is John Galt?’ This is John Galt speaking. I am the man who loves his life. I am the man who does not sacrifice his love or his values. I am the man who has deprived you of victims and thus has destroyed your world, and if you wish to know why you are perishing – you who dread knowledge – I am the man who will now tell you.”

This is a vulnerable statement.

Declaring love, particularly for oneself, is a dangerous act in our world today. It always has been.

Directly after showing vulnerability, he contrasts this by openly admitting that he destroyed their world. This radical transparency is a signal of authentic strength and self-awareness. John Galt’s character represents the fully self-actualized man. He is the man capable of honestly telling the world he loves himself, implicitly giving others the permission to do the same. He is also the man capable of honestly telling the world that he has worked for 12 years to destroy it, implicitly validating the deep-seeded fears and hopeless feelings of the world’s citizenry that the world, is in fact, fucked.

Virtue is not sacrifice.

“You have heard it said that this is an age of moral crisis. You have said it yourself, half in fear, half in hope that the words had no meaning. You have cried that man’s sins are destroying the world and you have cursed human nature for its unwillingness to practice the virtues you demanded. Since virtue, to you, consists of sacrifice, you have demanded more sacrifices at every successive disaster. In the name of a return to morality, you have sacrificed all those evils which you held as the cause of your plight. You have sacrificed justice to mercy. You have sacrificed independence to unity. You have sacrificed reason to faith. You have sacrificed wealth to need. You have sacrificed self-esteem to self-denial. You have sacrificed happiness to duty.“

There are several parallels in Atlas Shrugged’s world to our world today. We are in an age of moral crisis. America stands more polarized and divided than ever before. Half of America believed the 2016 presidential elections were a battle of good and evil, that their side was the good, that the other side was pure evil.

And so, during any time of crisis, government makes moves to seize ever-greater power. Our rulers demand greater degrees of sacrifice, ever-gnawing away at our freedoms. We have sacrificed Justice to Social Justice – a perversion of a pure concept that needs no modifier. We have sacrificed independence to unity and collectivism – whether it be through nationalism on the right or identity politics in the left. We have sacrificed reason as our means of discerning truth to faith in government authority and the propaganda arms of our government. We have sacrificed the American dream of creating wealth to the American dream of welfare and wealth redistribution – where one’s declared need substitutes for virtue.

Like it or not, you’ve accomplished your goal.

“You have destroyed all that which you held to be evil and achieved all that which you held to be good. Why, then, do you shrink in horror from the sight of the world around you? That world is not the product of your sins, it is the product and the image of your virtues. It is your moral ideal brought into reality in its full and final perfection. You have fought for it, you have dreamed of it, and you have wished it, and I—I am the man who has granted you your wish.

“Your ideal had an implacable enemy, which your code of morality was designed to destroy. I have withdrawn that enemy. I have taken it out of your way and out of your reach. I have removed the source of all those evils you were sacrificing one by one. I have ended your battle. I have stopped your motor. I have deprived your world of man’s mind.“

Galt continues by directly stating that the end-goal of the values which the world has adopted – that social need outweighs individual rights – has been achieved. They need simply look around to witness their success.

Most people who are socialists have simply been tricked. They are not malevolent; they are benign and wish the best for humanity. However, some are driven by fear and resentment of the wealthy, the self-actualized, and the powerful. They are motivated to climb the rungs of power and like a brood mother of parasites, force society to steal from the productive and give to the non-productive. The source of their sense of power and self-efficacy comes from destroying those more powerful than they are. This is the psychology of a significant chunk of the world’s rulers, and humanity is in a full-fledged psychological and spiritual war.

When these people get their wish, society at first quietly degrades. Once it reaches a tipping point difficult to predict, it quickly collapses. The host organism is man’s mind. And as Thomas Jefferson famously stated, “That which you tax, you destroy”. Taxing man’s capacity to produce destroy’s man’s capacity to produce. As man’s production goes down, more is demanded of him to continue feeding the parasites. More sacrifice, more work, more thought – for less reward.

John Galt set out to remove the parasites’ source of fuel; he succeeded; they perished. As a result, mankind’s greatest minds were able to survive. Mankind’s wretched parasites, were not.

I took the world from you before you could destroy it.

“Men do not live by the mind, you say? I have withdrawn those who do. The mind is impotent, you say? I have withdrawn those whose mind isn’t. There are values higher than the mind, you say? I have withdrawn those for whom there aren’t.

While you were dragging to your sacrificial altars the men of justice, of independence, of reason, of wealth, of self-esteem—I beat you to it, I reached them first. I told them the nature of the game you were playing and the nature of that moral code of yours, which they had been too innocently generous to grasp. I showed them the way to live by another morality—mine. It is mine that they chose to follow.

“All the men who have vanished, the men you hated, yet dreaded to lose, it is I who have taken them away from you. Do not attempt to find us. We do not choose to be found. Do not cry that it is our duty to serve you. We do not recognize such duty. Do not cry that you need us. We do not consider need a claim. Do not cry that you own us. You don’t. Do not beg us to return. We are on strike, we, the men of the mind.“

Ayn Rand’s protagonists hold their mind, their capacity to reason, and their ability to produce as their greatest values and greatest joys. In Atlas Shrugged, all those who live out such values are under assault. They are bombarded with hostility from every rung of society precisely for their virtues. Galt’s simply given them permission to exist in their natural state. His breakaway civilization is comprised of the Men of the Mind. His plight has been to save them before they were destroyed by a civilization that viewed productive people as a scarce natural resource to be strip-mined for all their worth and abandoned to ruin.

When society turns against their code of morality against their greatest, it is doomed to lose their greatest.

Price’s Law states:

50% of the work is done by the square root of the total number of people who participate in the work.

Stated differently:

50% of wealth is created by the square root of the total number of people who work.

Socialist nations have two weights on a fulcrum attempting to stay in balance: the weight of the 10% of society producing 50% of it’s results, and the weight of 50% of the society taking 90% of the handouts.

If you remove the weight of the producers, the lever crashes to one side.

That’s precisely what John Galt accomplished.