Thursday, March 12, 2009

Going Galt: The Rapture for Libertarians

Read this galty goodness from Hilzoy:

That's not what Rand meant by Going Galt at all. In Atlas Shrugged, John Galt decides to withdraw his creative and productive efforts from society. He is going on strike, and he convinces other creative, productive people to follow him. Here's what happens when someone Goes Galt in Rand's novel:

"He's quit! Gone! Gone like all the others! Left his mills, his bank accounts, his property, everything! Just vanished! Took some clothing and whatever he had in the safe in his apartment–they found a safe left open in his bedroom, open and empty–that's all! No word, no note, no explanation! They called me from Washington, but it's all over town! The news, I mean, the story! They can't keep it quiet! They've tried to, but...Nobody knows how it got out, but it went through the mills like one of those furnace break-outs, the word that he'd gone, and then...before anyone could stop it, a whole bunch of them vanished! The superintendent, the chief metallurgist, the chief engineer, Rearden's secretary, even the bastards! Deserting us, in spite of all the penalties we've set up! He's quit and the rest are quitting and those mills are just left there, standing still! Do you understand what that means?"

And tell me if you don't think that Going Galt isn't The Rapture for Selfish People? Not only because it contains the fantasy that millions of people just like your imagined perfect self have dissapeared from polite society but also because all your focus seems to be not on their new life--in Heaven or in Galt's Gulch--but on how sorry all the motherf*&^% losers you left behind are. The bible of the Rapturists, The Left Behind series explicitly makes the case that the only interesting thing left is to see how the people who *didn't* get raptured live out their desperate little lives after Jesus has left the building. Call it displacement or projection but the reader--or the viewer of blogginheads in this case--is meant to be in the position of a potentially saved person who learns the awful fate of those who refuse to be saved. Its a cautionary tale. If heaven could sell itself we'd have a 27 part novel about that. But it can't because the individual is, apparently, more motivated by spite and a desire to see his neighbor suffer than he is by hope of a pleasant eternity with g-d.

In the same way the would be Galtians real fantasy porn isn't what they'll do with all their freedom from the clinging masses but how without Megan McCardle's prose or Dr. Helen's psycho-therapy millions will burn and die or otherwise be unable to function. Glenn Beck's "bunker of doom" combines with the fears of the top bracket to produce a world in which taxes bring about moral destruction and economic collapse and we all get to watch! Its the perfect marriage of capitalism and religion.

The best comment over at ObiWi is
we are doing something genuinely useful by making the case that people ought to Go Galt. So long as we are doing that, we can't Go Galt!
It's like Bodhisattva vows. Except, you know, with spite in place of compassion.