Sunday, April 5, 2009

"This is John Galt."

To the readers of my blog:

Before you view the following videos, I should first explain the reason for their posting.

I first read Atlas Shrugged, out of sheer, independent curiosity in 1997 and 1998. In fact, two of my college professors--the sculptors of economics purview, Gary Dale and Dr. L. Aubrey Drewry--referred to the book so often in our class that it really should have been required reading for the young capitalists coming out of BSC. I imagine that, for most people, though, the size of this novel is likely to be intimidating, and to be sure, it is a winding epic. Nevertheless, Atlas Shrugged is nothing less than an engaging and thought-provoking treatise worth to time of any man of intellect. Indeed, for me, behind the Holy Bible, Atlas Shrugged stands without a peer, as it has helped to shape my understanding of the world and my drive to etch an impressive mark in it.

I have quoted and recounted its voluminous pages often through the years, but over the previous week, I have found myself returning to it so many times that I could not help but to wonder if this story from Ayn Rand's mind had, in fact, always been the reality of our times.

First, I was driven into frustration when I saw that there were, among the thousands of protestors pouring into The City of London, groups of young people waving banners that read, rather insidiously, "EAT THE BANKERS!" To be sure, I concurred that a disregard for risk and a thrust for even greater profit-taking by financiers only helped to spur along our economic crisis, but attacking the whole of financial world, or questioning the legitmacy of the system (and even capitalism, for that matter), really is unwarranted. These images, as well as the pictures showing attacks on the bank building, really unnerved me, and led me to question if we are not all that far from the lunacy that fueled the dark days of the French Revolution, or that led people to burn down and loot their own communities from Los Angeles to Jakarta, or that even prompted them to seek out and slaughter their own neighbors in Sarajevo, in Kigali, in Warsaw, in Kinshasa, and in countless other places.

Then, later in the week, I was also "struck dumb" by the words of a friend (one who embodies a world of promise and potential of any titan), after he informed me that he would be willfully discarding an opportunity of returning to college, only because he was "afraid of what [his girlfriend's] family would say." Notwithstanding the fact that this was the blessing for which he'd been praying, losing the woman that he loved, or even the lukewarm acceptance of her family, for an opportunity to reshape his future (and still earn a living in the process) was just too great a risk to take.

Both of these events--one about broader economics, the other about personal achievement--reminded me of just how vicious and destructive the weaker denizens of our world can be at any level, as well as to what extent they can go to stifle the imaginative and the intrepid among us. In fact, for me, both of these events highlight the same tragic phenomenon: the demonization of progress. This world still fears those that it does not understand; it still strives to silence those who elect to take risks, those who aspire to be different, and those who want more. And this world still punishes the independent thinker. That, in my most firm opinion, is a crime.

In these troubled times, perhaps it is only fitting that Ayn Rand's novel is flying off of bookshelves around the world. It can only serve as an excellent reminder that we cannot allow those who have never dared to dream, or who have never elected to take risks for their own sake, be the ones who now hope to champion our restoration. We cannot allow them to dictate the course our lives. If we do, then there blind meandering will only lead to greater tragedy than the ones we face today.

(See farther.)

To be your own volition.


efos said...

1) Weren't these the same "young people" who were protesting when the "bankers" were making credit easy to come by for clothes, cars, and homes? Oh wait, that's right, no one (readers of this blog excepted) was protesting then, they didn't care about the consequences of easy money....

2) Let me see if I have this right. My girlfriend and her parents don't want me to avail myself of an education, and if I ignore their wishes I face possible ostracism from the parents and abandonment from the girlfriend? Hmmmmm. I'm not sure what those people are afraid of, perhaps that they aren't good enough for a person of learning? I am going to lead my own life and hold out for someone who appreciates that I want to expand the scope of my knowledge. I may love you dearly, but if WE were IN LOVE you'd want what was best for US, not just for YOU.

Tyler L. said...

What I find confusing is that someone who is normally so smart would even post this kind of dogma. And I do think that you are making a stretch by comparing the London protestors to genocidal killers. Objectivism is just another word for Darwinism, Gary, and any real threat to our way of life is not going to come from the left. It's coming from the conservative right. Just you watch, the same crowd that you are defending here today will be the fascists demanding even your blood tomorrow.

Jus said...

My advice to your friend: You have to be willing to invest in yourself and your dreams, especially when no one else is willing to, and progress does mean you have to do some pruning. Sometimes in life you have to give up what you love, what feels safe, right now, so that you can have a safer and better tomorrow. That's how dreams get built, not by compromise. I know this firsthand.

Mashoud said...

Kelly and I were at a cocktail party last Thursday when some of the guests started talking about all of the "under-handedness" and greed on Wall Street and how money managers needed to better policed. How they or their friends lost money and jobs because we all believed in the markets. What I found disgusting about the conversation is that not one of them was saying this in 2005 or 2006 or 2007. In fact, they were flaunting all of the new wealth earned for them by money managers back then. One of them was bragging about a new house on Nantucket. Another was flipping condos in other states and in Canada and even bought two big boats.

So I perfectly agree with, "Efos". Very few people, except Gary (go ahead and bow, man), were saying anything cautionary until it got really bad, and now they want to turn on the very people they entrusted and destroy them for events beyond anyone's control. Events they helped to create. Eat the banker? No eat the fucker who did not mind his own finances better.

You have another excellent post here, Gary. I want to just add that this post points out a truth that the "weaker denizens" try to control and use the independent thinkers for as long as they can and for as much as they can benefit. Then when they cannot control or get anymore from the thinker, they want to attack him.

Where's our John Galt today? We need one.

Taylor Lambert said...

Going from very silly to very serious, Gary? What does the John Galt character mean when he said he took away the men of the mind?

Anonymous said...


Kevin (Jefferson P.) said...

there is alot to digest. i did find your ayn rand, Atlas Shrugged, she has a russian heritage and i am not surprised by how her life and family shaped her views. although, i read her book years ago, i am not really a big fan. i have lived overseas several times and was much impressed by Sweden, even Canada. the quality of life in the U.S. has always been low, for the majority with a few in power, more like fascism than a democracy. the u.s. is a very comformist society, has a state welfare mentality without the benefits. what happened is sheer greed, which is what founded the country, not (lol) religious freedom. just my opinion, like ayn rand's - base on education and life experiences.

Jonathan B. Melancon said...

This country was founded on sheer greed? The quality of life in the US has always been low for the majority? Conformist society? Pretty distorted views there...

How about this country was founded to escape the grips of sheer greed as imposed by the British Monarchy and the Central Bank of England?

How about the concept of liberty as defined in this nation's founding documents and the revolutionary concept of limited government along side free markets? Concepts when taken the steps from theory to reality have brought about more wealth, more freedom, more prosperity, more innovation to more people then any other nation in the history of the world and its not even close or rationally disputable. That doesn't happen by conformity.

I can understand your apathy, especially in light of this nation's recent history. Both major political parties and the mainstream press are failing us. But it is not the concepts upon which this nation was founded, or free market capitalism which is the problem. Its the abandonment of these principles and the quest for ever increasing dependence on government rather than independence from government which is the problem.

Maybe you should read or reread "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine. It'll really help to put things into perspective.

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