John Galt exited, and the world shrugged

This is an embarrassing incident that happened in 2006: My wife and I went to see the remastered version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail at a local theater, I want it say in Bozeman, but the memory feels more like Billings, Montana. There were five people in the theater that night. We sat in the back, and several rows in front of us were three who, as the movie went along, were able to recite every line.

The embarrassment is that we went to see a movie whose time had long passed, the importance and humor of which was exaggerated in my mind.

I imagine that others had a similar experience as the movie Atlas Shrugged played to immense empty houses in 2011.

Which reminds me: A certain man I know, let’s call him Bob Bilby, made a profound life choice in 2007. Bob is an engineer, and helped design and build bridges and tunnels. Fed up with what he called “leeches and bums” feeding off of his enormous wealth output, Bob decided to “go Galt,” and retire to a cabin in the mountains at an undisclosed location.

He began to notice something from his cabin retreat – bridges and tunnels were still being built and widely used. And … no one was looking for him.

In 2009, Bob Bilby quietly rejoined society, and now authors a blog.

I make fun of Rand and Randians. A post from years ago, “Was Ayn Rand a Sociopath?,” still draws readers and comments. But I am familiar with a certain element within our ranks – people who live off of the output of others. They are called “children,” “disabled,” “students,” and to a smaller degree, trust babies and lazy bums.

Our output is enormous, large enough to support all of them, so we do not have a problem with stretched resources. Distribution of those resources is a problem, as by luck and happenstance a large percentage of our wealth ends up in a few hands.

Those who enjoy good fortune and are able to amass a fortune often imagine that luck and happenstance had nothing to do with it. They imagine themselves not just more talented, but immensely so, and not lucky, but rather entitled.

Sometimes they go Bob Bilby on us. I imagine once retired to their cabin in the woods, they begin to grow in depth and humanity, and become the anti-Rand versions of themselves, humbler, more welcoming and accepting of people as we are. They begin to realize that we’re all part of one being, all in various stages of development, many in need of a reboot.

Then they start their own blogs.

17 thoughts on “John Galt exited, and the world shrugged

  1. Went back on your past post on Ayn. Good stuff. Whereas Ayn was a teller of tales her assumed psychological state can’t possibly pose a threat to the general public. Going Galt is harmless, why if Bilby had retreated early before making all that money there wouldn’t have been any resentment toward him and his lucky happenstance.

    The mentally unstable we all should be concerned with is politicians. They’re not just story tellers.

    Twenty years ago, a newspaper headline asked the question: “What’s the difference between a politician and a psychopath?”

    The answer, then and now, remains the same: None.

    There is no difference between psychopaths and politicians.

    Nor is there much of a difference between the havoc wreaked on innocent lives by uncaring, unfeeling, selfish, irresponsible, parasitic criminals and elected officials who lie to their constituents, trade political favors for campaign contributions, turn a blind eye to the wishes of the electorate, cheat taxpayers out of hard-earned dollars, favor the corporate elite, entrench the military industrial complex, and spare little thought for the impact their thoughtless actions and hastily passed legislation might have on defenseless citizens.

    Psychopaths and politicians both have a tendency to be selfish, callous, remorseless users of others, irresponsible, pathological liars, glib, con artists, lacking in remorse and shallow.

    Charismatic politicians, like criminal psychopaths, exhibit a failure to accept responsibility for their actions, have a high sense of self-worth, are chronically unstable, have socially deviant lifestyle, need constant stimulation, have parasitic lifestyles and possess unrealistic goals.

    It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about Democrats or Republicans.<<<-Zero Hedge.

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    1. There is probably a large overlap of sociopaths in politics, but narcissism plays a huge role too. Zero Hedge is beating the tribal drum with its bullet point, that it does not matter if you are talking about Democrats or Republicans. Of course that is true! I’ve been saying it for years – one hand washes the other.

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      1. Same article.

        Political psychopaths are all largely cut from the same pathological cloth, brimming with seemingly easy charm and boasting calculating minds. Such leaders eventually create pathocracies—totalitarian societies bent on power, control, and destruction of both freedom in general and those who exercise their freedoms.

        Once psychopaths gain power, the result is usually some form of totalitarian government or a pathocracy. “At that point, the government operates against the interests of its own people except for favoring certain groups,” author James G. Long notes. “We are currently witnessing deliberate polarizations of American citizens, illegal actions, and massive and needless acquisition of debt. This is typical of psychopathic systems, and very similar things happened in the Soviet Union as it overextended and collapsed.”

        In other words, electing a psychopath to public office is tantamount to national hara-kiri, the ritualized act of self-annihilation, self-destruction and suicide. It signals the demise of democratic government and lays the groundwork for a totalitarian regime that is legalistic, militaristic, inflexible, intolerant and inhuman.

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        1. It all sounds reasonable. If there is one thing that people who presume to understand politics do not understand, it is the nature of power. I’ve written about it, to no avail – people insist that elections matter and that power didn’t know first to fix them before moving in to other things. They do not matter. I grimace as people imagine these phony contests count for something.

          So “electing a psychopath to public office” presumes that “public office” was not stripped of power before the psychopath even got there. Elections have long been rigged, the politicians have long been mere actors. That is my point for years now on this blog. To no avail. I think people have a hard time dealing with reality.,

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  2. It goes far beyond elections. When institutions established to maintain social order break down, becoming enablers, there is no where to turn. Victims are re-victimized as psychopaths run wild with no real societal deterrent remaining. We have passed the tipping point. Jails are full of the wrong people. Courts are increasingly ineffective, rendering laws and lawmakers meaningless in a lawless, bureaucratic free-for-all gone berserk.

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  3. I don’t want to be disagreeable, and so accept your opinion, as I know she is very popular. My take on her personal life was that she was certainly devoid of emotion, and had a group of people around her I would call cult members more than devotees. She had a love affair with a much younger man, Nathaniel Branden (he changed his name to have “Rand” in it), and did this right in front of her husband. In Atlas Shrugged she describes a sexual relationship in mere contractual form, leaving out entirely any notion of romance or physical attraction.

    One of the most commented-upon articles I ever wrote was called “Was Ayn Rand a Sociopath?”, but it is long gone now. I must have deleted it. It kept getting comments long after I wrote it, much like this thread we are in now.

    Here is another I wrote, however, that has a different take on her economic philosophy, this notion that people have that they are great cogs in the wheel and can do immense harm to us by “going Galt,” that is, leaving society and watching us perish without them.

    Hmm, I find someone’s personal life not leading in the ideas and thoughts aired by that person. I consider Salvador Dalì one of the greatest artists of all time, no matter he was a lunatic (a probable coprophile) and hung around with shady dicktators (got that neologism from someone else). His art is what counts for me.

    Same for Ayn Rand. I disagree with her views on the indigenous peoples, and of course on The Great H Mystery, but her philosophy I think is what counts.

    If I have to choose an existing label, I would pick anarcho-capitalist. Anarchist, because my statheism (my neologism); I don’t believe in the authority of the State as an atheist doesn’t in that of the Church, and capitalist, because real capitalism is the natural way of things.

    I know Rand and her writings have been abused as a tool for “””capitalists”””, but those industrialists are not real capitalists. They rely on the state, corporatism and crapitalism is what the bigger world describes now (bail-outs, legal exemptions for companies, etc. and in essence hate competition.

    On a personal level, the free market is everywhere. A baker doesn’t put a gun to my head if I (don’t) want to buy his bread. I simply trade with him, a symbiotic, honest deal. Of course we both cannot avoid the theft scheme (other people call it taxation) that VAT is, but apart from that it is a fair, free market, voluntary interaction.

    The crapitalists of today hate capitalism.

    And leftists today use that corruption to claim “there has never existed a free market [so it cannot exist]”, which is a fallacy in itself, but it is also not true, the free market is everywhere, or at least as free as it can be. Strip away the theft scheme of the State and the baker and me are both happier and richer.

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    1. I agree there are free markets, and if left unregulated, they naturally devolve into slavery as wealth accumulates in a few hands. For that reason I think we need oversight, regulations, graduated taxation, and laws, imperfect as they are. Rand would not agree with me. She believed that the free market system left to its own devices led to a kind of utopia. Her “freedom” was a wonderful thing to those with an upper hand in the marketplace, but an ugly thing to those who lacked education and/or talent, or just suffered bad luck. What of people who have little talent or bad luck? Are they not entitled to enjoy their lives? Can we not, by means of governance, allow them reasonably comfortable housing and nutritious food and modest pensions? [And their children a chance to move up by means of subsidized education as abilities allow?] I don’t say all people are equal, or good, but that at the lower levels we need a line, below which we will not allow the poor to fall. Rand said no. They are not productive, and should perish. It is at this point that her personal indifference to human beings meets her philosophy. She was, in essence, a social Darwinist, and I reject that unspoken background philosophy present in the free market advocates.

      Just my view. I don’t own philosophy and have only read Atlas, finding her disagreeable to my own nature. Others differ.

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    2. What you’re basically saying is “we need a mob, to protect us from the mob” or “who is ever going to make love, if there is no rape?”.

      People do and have cared for other people as long as humans are around. The poor and needy always will be cared for, as humans are a social species. To think that we need a “govern-mind” to do that for us, is buying into the centuries of propaganda. I don’t blame you, we all grew up in this “system”, but it is not how mankind is. When you look around, you always find people who want to help, assist, educate, let others grow, care, etc. It is intrinsic to our nature.

      Look at how communities without a centralized government operate. Everyone has his or her role. An Amazonian tribe that has a strong woman, able to hunt and kill, will be embraced as a prime hunter, while her female friends may be more involved in pottery and agriculture. The same for a weak man, who is not up to hunting, he can stay and organize the settlement. No fecking “quotas” or “civil rights movements” or anything. The best (wo)man for the job, that is how mankind functions on a basic level.

      That is the natural way.

      And yes, social Darwinism is a part of that, but there is nothing wrong with social Darwinism. It has been slandered by mainstream crooks, but Darwinism in essence is survival of the fittest, not “the best” (subjective), the “strongest” (time-dependent; imagine the strongest Viking getting ill), or anything else.

      We are an adaptive species and that is what made mankind so extremely successful among the other animals.

      “Regulations”? Based on what? Based on whose authority?

      There is a strong misconception going around that anarchists don’t like authority. That is false, of course there is authority that is merited. If my car breaks down, I take it to a mechanic, because I know (s)he has authority on how to fix a car. That is merited authority.

      The difference is with unmerited authority; authority from power, violence.

      The latter is what statism is all about. Look at state employees, would they be in such powerful positions without the back-up of a corrupt mafia organization? They would feel very uncomfortable having to do some actual valuable work, if it weren’t for that back-up they have.

      The same is true for the corporatists; big corporations can only thrive and survive because they are safe-guarded by…. “regulation”. “Laws”; pieces of text written on paper neither you or me or anyone else has anything to do with or bear responsibility for.

      Luckily I was an anarchist before becoming a truth seeker, but now in this realm I am amazed by the amount of people who still support such a corrupt, philosophically illogical idea.

      How can you defend those lying bastards out there, while recognizing they lie to you? That makes no sense whatsoever.

      It is not a personal attack in any way, everybody should just believe what they want (Rand’s individualism is truly the way to go imho), but I cannot wrap my head around that idea of “yeah, well, it’s bad, but maybe we can fix it somehow”…

      No we can’t. We cannot “fight” it either.

      The only solution I see is detachment as much as possible (we still need passports to travel and pay our taxes if we don’t want them to kidnap us and throw us in an enclosed box) and educate our peers and especially offspring about the retardedness of statism; the basis of which is and will be violence.

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      1. I am looking for areas of agreement, and there are many. I know what you say about the corporations and the corrupt government, which are one, are true. But the people who build our roads and bridges, manage our forests, protect us from the lower elements … are also “government.” They are not my enemy, they are not leeches, they earn their pay and provide public good. It is simply more efficeint to do those things via that entity. This Randian idea that they are living at my expense and need to be let go so that the vaunted private sector can do it all is not mine. We need them. They draw their pay from a different place, not from John Galt.

        Rand preached that all of our civilized advances came from the excellence of a few people. She thought these people were islands that existed on their own without infrastructure. That is why she thought John Galt leaving the system would lead to chaos. She was wrong. John Galt had public education, public roads, public utilities, health care, excellent employees, and to a large extent was the beneficiary, not the patron, of our well being. That is where I think she was wrong.

        I have great faith in humanity, and see all the good you see in the people around us, even as they tend to be mindless sheep. We can agree on that. I have seen the good of the many, the bad of a few, and think that the bad tends to win because as Mel Brooks reminded is in Spaceballs, evil is smart and good is dumb. Sucks, the way this world works.,

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        1. who build our roads and bridges

          [I] think that the bad tends to win because […] evil is smart and good is dumb.

          I would rephrase: “evil is made powerful and good has been made dumb”…

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          1. We have enough agreement so that the areas of disagreement do not trouble me. I do not know that you are wrong and that I am right, and am only comfortable in my personal distaste for Ayn Rand. She was, in my view, a most unappealing personality. I never understood the wide attraction to her or her writing. Her philosophy … was fairly un-nuanced. The world is far more complicated than she allowed. I do not see a government-less world as possible or as a solution, as the same people thrive in any system.

            I’ll offer an example, hypothetical but not hard to find in real life: imagine two towns on opposite sides of a river. Each has its own resources and does OK. But the governments of the two towns decide to pool their resources and build a bridge, hiring private sector workers, of course. Once it is done, people at all levels use it freely without charge, and commerce takes off, double, triple what it was before the bridge. Everyone is better off. You might say that the private sector could easily build that bridge, but it does not get done, as the private sector cannot amass the necessary resources without attendant costs – profit, with everyone involved demanding a slice of the pie. It would be a toll bridge, and the lower sectors would suffer. The cost of a private sector bridge far exceeds a public sector one due to the needs of investors. The cost to those who use the bridge, were it private, would be a damper on commerce as anyone using it would have to pay off an investor. It would be a damper on commerce.

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      2. The world is far more complicated than she allowed. I do not see a government-less world as possible or as a solution, as the same people thrive in any system.

        That is the false utopian idea “the world”… No, of course not. True anarchism (not those Antifa Soros trolls, they are all but anarchist) comes from individual minds, not a “one-size-fits-none” as current governmind programs “offer”…

        “The world” is not that complicated. It is made complicated, in a similar fashion as the fragmented elites work, but in essence it is quite simple. Humans have lived together for thousands of years and while the mainstream wants to portray those times as “constant warfare”, that is not like what people are. Yes, there are battles, disagreements and the accidental murder or other bad things, but the great majority of people (and thus real history) is “boring”; people just living, trading and thriving together. It was the invention of “civilization” (=statism; centralized “we own you now, livestock”) that has caused the problems.

        I’ll offer an example, hypothetical but not hard to find in real life: imagine two towns on opposite sides of a river. Each has its own resources and does OK. But the governments of the two towns decide to pool their resources and build a bridge, hiring private sector workers, of course.

        There you go already. I don’t want to sound pedantic, but why assume “government decide” now? I follow your example and in a fair free market it can work, but you throw in the sand of government (=a group of people wanting to rule over other people by force)? That is not a fair starting point.

        If there is a river and 2 communities on either side and people want to travel, do business, fall in love with each other, connect, whatever, then people are creative enough to find a solution. There is no top-down decision needed to enforce that?

        You know how many towns still have ferries? Even when they can build a bridge.

        The free market allows for people to start ferry businesses and if they grow big and bad, new competitors will take their place. That is what happens everywhere in nature, including in people.

        Once it is done, people at all levels use it freely without charge, and commerce takes off, double, triple what it was before the bridge. Everyone is better off. You might say that the private sector could easily build that bridge, but it does not get done, as the private sector cannot amass the necessary resources without attendant costs – profit, with everyone involved demanding a slice of the pie. It would be a toll bridge, and the lower sectors would suffer.

        Why? The lower sectors would build boats and get across and not use the toll bridge. They will find different ways as mankind is inventive. How else did we get from sticking a branch in a heep of ants towards making fire and hides from our hunted animals?

        I really wish you could see the lower end of the spectrum in Latin America. There you see the innovativeness of people in real life, right in front of your eyes. Or any other “non-Western” country. People find ways, always.

        The cost of a private sector bridge far exceeds a public sector one due to the needs of investors.

        That doesn’t make sense. The cost of a bridge is still cost X. It doesn’t matter how it gets paid, amount X needs to be spent. The only difference is that the “public sector” steals that amount X and the private sector asks for it.

        The cost to those who use the bridge, were it private, would be a damper on commerce as anyone using it would have to pay off an investor. It would be a damper on commerce.

        No, people are inventive, adaptive, we survive, that is our nature. The black (highly supported by me, look up agorism as a practical anarchist philosophy in a statist world) market will do whatever it can to make sure it happens.

        You still speak from a position of “cannot, will not”, a position that is hammered into us by that same system that tries to enslave us.

        I will share another quote, have done it before, but it’s such a good one, as it goes back to the basic philosophy of the matter:

        Edward Abbey by the way was a green anarchist, much to the liking of Steve.

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  4. There are no “free states.” Capitalism is the slave-trade. All state (man-made) laws consider citizens as commercial (debt-slaves) livestock. Rand never got that.

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  5. On the 14th Amendment: “We have stricken the (slave) shackles from four million human beings and brought all laborers to a common level not so much by the elevation of former slaves as by practically reducing the whole working population, white and black, to a condition of serfdom. While boasting of our noble deeds, we are careful to conceal the ugly fact that by an iniquitous money system we have nationalized a system of oppression which, though more refined, is not less cruel than the old system of chattel slavery.”
    – Horace Greeley – (1811-1872)

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