In response to the lengthy monologue in Atlas Shrugged, I wrote this. It was an assignment for class, but I figured I'd post it here, given the strong emotions this community has for the novel.  Article Who's Online | Find Members | Private Messages
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10,652 hits 2.5 (2 votes) Share Favorite | Flag 9 years ago by pedalmetal

This is not John Galt
In response to the lengthy monologue in Atlas Shrugged, I wrote this. It was an assignment for class, but I figured I'd post it here, given the strong emotions this community has for the novel.

This is not John Galt speaking, and thank the mystics of muscle and spirit (whoever they are) for that. For some strange reason, you people who tuned in on November the twenty-second at 8:00 PM listened for the entire two and a half hours, bought every word, and have tried to elect this man as your dictator. Why? What did he ever do for you, except ask you to think? Here’s a hint: you’re supposed to think for yourself. You shouldn’t need a strange man who kidnaps powerful men to tell you that. Moreover, nobody who thinks for themselves believes that life itself is the sole purpose of morality. If you live by a moral code, you do so because you believe a certain way of acting is right and a certain way of acting is wrong, not because some man on the radio told you to live that way. You think the way you do because you have decided that it is right for you, and not because a man on the radio or television told you to do so. Again, no one should have to tell you how or what to think for yourself.

Who is saying that A is not A? These people are idiots. They are also, in my experience, few and far between. Devoting two-and-a-half hours to addressing such a small group of people while speaking to the entire nation not only doesn’t make sense, it’s absurd. In my experience, the most cliché idiom is “it is what it is.” In other words, “A is A.” Therefore, anyone who does not recognize this is a fool, and not worth speaking to, especially if you follow Galt’s theory of selfishness. This theory, or doctrine if you will, states that selfishness is the highest morality, and self-sacrifice is an absurd notion.

In all my years of living as a human being, I have noticed one thing about every terrible person I meet: they are all selfish. They work for themselves and don’t make friends, but allies. They make allies only because there is a mutual interest between them. They share because it fosters alliance. They keep what they can and share only when necessary. They help others when it is convenient for them, and always ask “what’s in it for me?” On the other hand, every good person I’ve ever met has been willing to help others whenever possible. They give all of themselves for the good of everyone and make friends because they like people. They’re willing to share what they have in order for the other person to be happy.

If we take the notion of self-sacrifice to its extreme, then yes, it is an absurd notion. You wouldn’t give all of your money to a stranger, especially if you don’t know where that money is going. You worked hard for it, and you have a vested interest in it. But what about holding the door open for somebody, or helping an old woman cross the street, or giving twenty dollars to a homeless man instead of buying yourself a night on the town? There are smaller ways of sacrificing yourself that don’t involve your total downfall. Galt says moral perfection is impossible with the notion of self-sacrifice, and absolutely, yes it is. There’s no way anyone can be morally perfect without also being insane. If moral perfection is what you strive for, you will lead a very depressing life. Instead, why not strive to be as good as humanly possible to everyone you meet, for no other reason besides how good it makes you feel?

If we are all rational, responsible, thinking individuals, then we also have discretion on our side. We can decide for ourselves how much sacrifice is enough. We can decide for ourselves where to draw the line and stop helping others, when their “need” becomes too much for us. Is it too much to ask to help a person in need? Is it too much to ask to let someone lean on you for a while? Indeed, those who are weak need help more than those who are strong. If the strong completely abandon the weak, then the world becomes a cold, cruel place in which only the strong survive. But then what is the standard of strength? When the strongest person is old and weak, will they be denied assistance? Do we as a society allow this person to fend for themselves, or do we demand that they stop being so old and weak? In Galt’s world, this would be perfectly acceptable, because the elderly and weak did nothing to earn assistance. This is only one reason why Galt is such a poor candidate for leadership.

Even better is his revulsion to skepticism. Where I come from, we call that thinking for yourself. I doubt, therefore I research. I research, therefore I think. I think, therefore I am. In order to reason through a problem, one is required to be just a little bit skeptical. You do not reach conclusions about a spiritual matter, for example, by taking someone’s word at face value. You doubt them, you think about what they have said, you process their words, and you make conclusions for yourself. The best conclusions are made by doubting and researching. You can’t say “A is A” unless you know what “A” is. Sometimes, you can’t know what “A” is unless you look it up for yourself.

Nobody I know thinks in the way that Galt describes. There are no mystics of muscle, nor are there mystics of spirit. There are people who believe in a higher power, who subscribe to a certain faith, and they do so because they have found it to be true in their hearts. There are people who doubt the existence of such a power, who do not subscribe to any such faith, and again, these people do so because they have found it in their hearts to be true. When these people get together and discuss their beliefs, the conversations are entertaining and can last for hours, without either person coming to any conclusion or changing anyone’s mind. Galt monologued for two-and-a-half hours, and it was far from entertaining; it was dry. More importantly, it was wrong, but it is unwise to dismiss someone’s ideas solely on the basis that they are wrong. Every point of view is valuable, even those that are wrong. You can learn a lot from people by adopting this principle and doubting everything you hear, see, or read. That goes especially for people on the radio. If you’re questioning what I’m saying to you right now, good for you. Only you can decide if it’s right or wrong.

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