Who is John Galt?

As I have said, I am a slow reader. So, what do I pick? A 1000+ page novel, with very small font. I pick Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. This novel was mentioned in one of the travel stories that I had been reading, along with On the Road by John Kerouac, Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, and Atlas Shrugged. Atlas Shrugged is broken into three parts, each part has ten chapter. I set my self a goal to read one chapter a night.

It didn’t take long to get my attention, the various characters were defined quickly, and grew as the story unfolded. A few others entered along the way, each adding a new twist.

From a conservative’s view, this can be defined as showing the downfall of a socialist society. How give a little “for the sake of society” falls apart when there is nothing left to give. Not only is industry and businesses expected to take care of everyone else, but those who invent are expected to give their thoughts to society.

The premise is that the “best and the brightest” are slowing vanishing. Each leaving a slice of the economy with a void. The people are leaving due to governmental restrictions, taxes, and “unification” plans for each industry. The unification plans require that each business in that particular sector deposit all their income into a pool; then at the end, the pool is distributed by “need,” not by the recipient’s input or value.

It shows that those who do less, receive more. Those that produce more, are expected to give more and support those who don’t produce. The government keeps expanding and trying to solve the implosion of the economy by adding more restrictions.

We also see how the generations that follow the founder of a business do not tend to love the business, but want to “give back” to society, many times until the business is no longer viable and closes. Those that have been living off the business’s generosity are abandoned by the “enlightened” once the money runs out.

When people start to realize that the governmental restrictions and taxes have become the problem, the government relies on violence to enforce “voluntary” compliance. Even to the point of self destruction.

The novel was written in the 1950’s. While sitting at home during the COVID19 “lockdown,” I see similarities between the setting in the story and current society. The focus seems to be people caring about themselves, whether people want everyone to stay at home, or people want the economy to be reopened. Trying to find a happy medium requires common sense and common courtesy, neither of which is very common.

The central business in the novel is the railroad. How when steel become hard to get, rails are hard to maintain. when businesses fail, rail lines have to change or they will fail. When new innovations give someone a strategic advantage, competitors seek government assistance to “even the playing field,” for society’s sake.

The main character is Dagny Taggert. The underlying start is John Galt. He isn’t even introduced or met until Part three, though he is mentioned through the entire novel.

If you are a conservative, I think you will like this novel. It is long, but worth it. If you feel that society should be the focus and carry for the fellow man should be everyone’s primary purpose in life, I think you will be disappointed.

Who is John Galt? Read Atlas Shrugged.

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