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"Going Galt"

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Use of the phrase 'Going Galt' to designate defiance against the government's activist assault on individualism seems to be spreading. There have been a couple of threads here on the Forum on the issue of "going on strike" and the the spreading popularity of Atlas Shrugged in relation to current events, but not the general phenomenon now called "Going Galt".

The article "John Galt Effect" in Human Events and "Congressman: We're Living in Atlas Shrugged" and "Batttling Obama by 'Going Galt'" in The Washington Independent were referred to on the Forum, here and the Wall Street Journal's "'Atlas Shrugged' From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years" here.

A compilation of articles on this topic is at this blog.

Rob Tranciski wrote about the phenomenon here. Rob is quoted elsewhere:

Objectivists are not driving this new cultural reference to Ayn Rand's work and ideas. It has been taken up by people outside of the Objectivist movement who in many cases have only a vague knowledge of her writings, who have independently appropriated our symbols and ideas to explain what they see going on in the world around them.

It is clear from most of the comments on behalf of "going Galt" that the phenomenon is based on a sense of life defiance against Obama, without, in many cases, showing an understanding of what Atlas Shrugged is really about, let alone understanding how the practictioners will survive once "on strike". (Those who think they can start their own self-sufficient ranch in secrecy in the rural west, for example, have no idea what the viros are already doing to use the government to prevent land use in already-mapped areas.)

To try to put this into perspective I added my own comment at The Washington Independent article "Battling Obama by 'Going Galt’"

Ayn Rand discussed this topic herself in her 1964 Ford Hall Forum lecture "Is Atlas Shrugging?", which appears as a chapter in her book "Capitalism the Unknown Ideal". "As the title of this discussion indicates," she wrote, "its theme is: the relationship of the events presented in my novel Atlas Shrugged to the actual events of today's world." Today of course the situation is worse than when she was writing and speaking, as the country and many states are now being run by collectivist, "progressive" leftists.

Ayn Rand observed that people of ability have always resisted being controlled and punished for their ability, which she described through numerous examples. "Let me remind you," she wrote, "that in Atlas Shrugged, John Galt states, referring to the strike [in Atlas Shrugged]: 'I have done by plan and intention what had been done throughout history by silent default.'"

But she did not advocate a strike as a strategy in contemporary society. "The purpose" of Atlas Shrugged, she wrote, "is to prevent itself from becoming prophetic." A strike, she believed, would be ineffective, and she explained why she thought that. The strike in the plot of Atlas Shrugged served as an accelerated, fictional device to illustrate the theme of the novel -- the role of the mind in man's existence -- by illustrating what happens when it is withdrawn from a society of looters.

Most important, Atlas Shrugged and her subsequent non-fiction work, presented her famous ideal of what is right, defending the moral right of each individual to live for his own life and his own chosen values in accordance with his own rational mind, neither sacrificing himself to others or others to himself. If this is not recognized, America will continue to deteriorate over time whether or not there is a planned strike resisting the now accelerating imposition of progressive social and economic controls.

"There is no fatalistic, predetermined historical necessity", Ayn Rand said in 'Is Atlas Shrugging?'. "Atlas Shrugged is not a prophecy of our unavoidable destruction, but a manifesto of our power to avoid it, if we choose to change our course. It is the philosophy of the mysticism-altruism-collectivism axis that has brought us to our present state and is carrying us toward a finale such as that of the society presented in Atlas Shrugged. It is only the philosophy of the reason-individualism-capitalism axis that can save us and carry us, instead, toward the Atlantis projected in the last two pages of my novel."

The audio of the original lecture "Is Atlas Shrugging?" can be heard at the Ayn Rand Insititute web site at
, along with many other Ayn Rand lectures and interviews.

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Add the on-line blogger, Rossputin, to the list of those referencing John Galt. In a piece today, Ross wrote:

So, in case I haven’t been clear enough: As long as we’re already

going to have a fairly bad recession, I’m saying let it be worse and

longer. Let more people be persistently unemployed, let the economy

drag along the sludge-laden bottom of the progressive sewer, let

businesses close down or move overseas, let tens or hundreds of

thousands of capable people publicly declare how excessive taxation

and regulation is causing them to work less, take less risk, and employ

fewer Americans, and finally let people recognize that capitalists are

not a “necessary evil” but rather that they are a necessary good.

Most people don’t learn truly important lessons unless they are taught

in an expensive or painful way. A once-and-for-all repudiation of

Keynsianism is a lesson that is too important not to be learned in such

a way.

Many people who have survived cancer say that the chemotherapy

was so bad, they almost wish the cancer had just killed them. But any

treatment that didn’t make them nearly wish for death would not cure

the disease, which would often recur with a greater chance of killing

the patient the second time around. And so it is with the recurrent

national cancers that are Keynsianism and the politicians who impose

it. The New Deal sickened the nation. Obama’s New New Deal could

kill it, but the chemotherapy of a recession severe enough to cause

voters to say “never again” might just save the patient – even if the

patient might wish to die during the treatment.

Therefore, I proudly proclaim I want Obama to fail, even if it means

temporary substantial hardship for the nation. The Keynsian cancer

must be cured, once and for all.

Read the whole piece (along with an interesting exchange in the comment section) here. I haven't fully made up my mind with respect to Ross' (and others') suggestion, though I am leaning in that direction. Certainly, I have begun to come to the conclusion that discussion -- whether in sensible generalities or in the matter of all-important fundamental principles -- with most Americans is, at the present time at least, a largely pointless and always frustrating endeavor (discussion beyond the state of the weather with a typical Obamaniac is positively out of the question -- and I'm even beginning to wonder about that). I'm afraid too many Americans are like Southerners prior to Mr. Sherman's "demonstration" who needed a taste of that gentleman's fire to show them what their cherished ideas really meant.

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It seems that Ross studies history or at the least human traits as he recognizes that most people do not change their premises/behavior unless or until they feel intense pain. I, of course, agree with him.

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Add the on-line blogger, Rossputin, to the list of those referencing John Galt. In a piece today, Ross wrote:
...

Therefore, I proudly proclaim I want Obama to fail, even if it means

temporary substantial hardship for the nation. The Keynsian cancer

must be cured, once and for all.

Read the whole piece (along with an interesting exchange in the comment section) here. I haven't fully made up my mind with respect to Ross' (and others') suggestion, though I am leaning in that direction. Certainly, I have begun to come to the conclusion that discussion -- whether in sensible generalities or in the matter of all-important fundamental principles -- with most Americans is, at the present time at least, a largely pointless and always frustrating endeavor (discussion beyond the state of the weather with a typical Obamaniac is positively out of the question -- and I'm even beginning to wonder about that). I'm afraid too many Americans are like Southerners prior to Mr. Sherman's "demonstration" who needed a taste of that gentleman's fire to show them what their cherished ideas really meant.

Aside from the fact that you are over-optimistic about the possibility of talking about the weather with progressives -- i.e., those who think that that means shutting down civilization over climate change hysteria -- what is this approach expected to accomplish? How are people going to learn any kind of proper lesson just from watching things collapse around them? They still haven't learned what caused and continued the Great Depression for over a decade. They still think the Depression was caused by economic freedom, that Roosevelt gave people "hope", that he got the country out of the Depression, and that he "saved capitalism". Notice any similarities?

It takes a lot more than seeing something bad to know what is right, especially with the politicans and the intellectuals constantly hammering people with false platitudes and "spin". Commentators like this Rossputin blogger who want to "teach people a lesson" in an "expensive or painful way" with "substantial hardship" are all negative and have nothing to say about a positive "lesson".

Ayn Rand did. The plot element of the strike in Atlas Shrugged was not its central message. In a letter to a fan in 1962 Ayn Rand wrote:

...The political conditions presented in Atlas Shrugged are those of an almost total dictatorship. Only when a society reaches that stage is it proper for men to think of quitting. So long as a country has no censorship, it is not yet a dictatorship -- and men are free to speak and to fight for their ideas. The strike in Atlas Shrugged applies to our present-day conditions only in the following way: it is against the dominant cultural trend of our society, against its philosophy, that one should go on strike. Which means: that one should reject the basic premises of today's culture and start building a new culture on the philosophical foundation of Objectivism. Which means: that one should actively advocate the right ideas, regardless of what other people think. Which is a policy diametrically opposed to the one [striking] you suggest.

I recall that Ayn Rand also published (which I haven't found) her reasons for why she thought a strike as a national strategy would be ineffective -- including the facts that there weren't enough "strikers" for it to be noticed and that it would do nothing to educate people. She and the rest of us have always recognized that productive people become disallusioned and discouraged in the face of government-imposed punishment of success, and that they tend to not pursue -- sometimes in defiance -- those goals for which they will be punished, but she did not advocate a strike as a tactic or strategy, not while most of the population does not have the knowledge of the intellectual and cultural foundations required for a productive, civilized country. As long as that remains the case they will find endless varieties of statism, particularly fascism, to "experiment" with in frenzied pragmatism -- There are a lot more ways to go wrong than there are to do things right, and one does not find a right approach through blind pragmatism on top of corrupt influences of irrationalism and injunctions to sacrifice following a "lesson" of suffering and nothing else.

One can sympathesize with and share in the spirit of the defiance against Obama, but meanwhile we still have to earn a living, pursue our personal goals the best we can, and try to survive. Obama and his henchmen do deserve to fail; the rest of us do not. Obama will fail, if the standards of civilization are the measure of that, and there isn't much we can do about that one way or another as long as he is still "ruling from day one" (as one of his henchman once put it); but we can affect the false impression the statists are trying to create of it, we can refuse to sanction them, and we can say what is right as long as we are still able to. Everyone has his own breaking point and perhaps alternate possibilities less dependent on society; if some of us because of our own circumstances have to quit then it is understandable, but it is not a strategy to change the country.

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There are other methods beside a strike, but I find it interesting to note that freedom appears to fare best where there is more distance between individuals. The United States was freest after the war of its independence with a steady decrease in freedom and individual liberty as population increased, and was the very freest at the edges of the frontier. And this began to change as the distance between individuals decreased - as the cities became more populous, etc. Ironically as the benefits of freedom and capitalism were accrued to individuals, they appeared ever more willing to give up little bits of their freedom to governments, and other authorities. And the principles of freedom were taught less and less, and twisted until we have what we see today. So is this a basic phenomenon? Do we expect that this will always occur - that freedom always exists most purely on the bleeding edges of the frontier? It looks that way to me.

But getting on with another way besides a strike: Build a cobalt wrapped hydrogen bomb and let everyone else know that they had better not mess with you, other than that, I guess the best thing is to simply find the next frontier and go there.

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EWV:

I agree with you and would like to make the additional point that it is still a difficult task to come to the correct conclusion even when a positive example exists. For example, one could look at the United States since 1913, the year in which the income tax become legal. One could then see that since 1913 the United States has become more opulent, more populous, and more powerful than before incomes were taxed. Thus, one might conclude, it was due to the taxation of incomes that led to the enormous growth of the US' wealth in the last century. Not only that, but they could claim that their ideas were based on facts! If we are to convince others of our ideas, we need to not ineffectively "shrug." Rather, we need to effectively argue for as long as we can.

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There are other methods beside a strike, but I find it interesting to note that freedom appears to fare best where there is more distance between individuals. The United States was freest after the war of its independence with a steady decrease in freedom and individual liberty as population increased, and was the very freest at the edges of the frontier. And this began to change as the distance between individuals decreased - as the cities became more populous, etc. Ironically as the benefits of freedom and capitalism were accrued to individuals, they appeared ever more willing to give up little bits of their freedom to governments, and other authorities. And the principles of freedom were taught less and less, and twisted until we have what we see today. So is this a basic phenomenon? Do we expect that this will always occur - that freedom always exists most purely on the bleeding edges of the frontier? It looks that way to me.

Freedom fares best when there are fewer people around not because there are fewer people but because the proper guidelines for social interaction are not followed. "A right is a moral sanction of freedom of action in a social context." Without a proper understanding of rights and their moral basis, freedom will detiorate as did in this country, which never had that proper basis for its political system. Leonard Peikoff discusses this point in his book Ominous Parallels. For a good history of the very steady decrease in freedom that you cite see Arthur Ekirch's book The Decline of American Liberalism, which is being reissued.

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Freedom fares best when there are fewer people around not because there are fewer people but because the proper guidelines for social interaction are not followed. "A right is a moral sanction of freedom of action in a social context." Without a proper understanding of rights and their moral basis, freedom will detiorate as did in this country, which never had that proper basis for its political system. Leonard Peikoff discusses this point in his book Ominous Parallels. For a good history of the very steady decrease in freedom that you cite see Arthur Ekirch's book The Decline of American Liberalism, which is being reissued.

I agree, in a reasonable world population density should not matter. But in the actual world where there are a multitude of unreasonable people, distance between them is a nice thing to have, say like a nice tropical island with that cobalt wrapped bomb I spoke of - so that the looters stay far far away. (yes, I realize that is a somewhat unreasonable scenario, but not impossible if you had the money).

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Freedom fares best when there are fewer people around not because there are fewer people but because the proper guidelines for social interaction are not followed. "A right is a moral sanction of freedom of action in a social context." Without a proper understanding of rights and their moral basis, freedom will detiorate as did in this country, which never had that proper basis for its political system. Leonard Peikoff discusses this point in his book Ominous Parallels. For a good history of the very steady decrease in freedom that you cite see Arthur Ekirch's book The Decline of American Liberalism, which is being reissued.

I agree, in a reasonable world population density should not matter. But in the actual world where there are a multitude of unreasonable people, distance between them is a nice thing to have, say like a nice tropical island with that cobalt wrapped bomb I spoke of - so that the looters stay far far away. (yes, I realize that is a somewhat unreasonable scenario, but not impossible if you had the money).

Wishful thinking about tropical paradises and unlimited money doesn't help here in reality. In the US you can't even go to a rural area anymore because they are all ruled by viro bureaucracy now.

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Wishful thinking about tropical paradises and unlimited money doesn't help here in reality.

That's true, since it is wrong on all three counts: wishful thinking, tropical paradises, and unlimited money.

In the US you can't even go to a rural area anymore because they are all ruled by viro bureaucracy now.

Assuming the omnipotence of evil and adopting a posture of being utterly beaten into the ground is not "realism", it is just flat-out giving up. Even absent the formation of a new country, it is not realistic to claim that everywhere on the entire planet is as screwed up as some parts of the U.S.

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Wishful thinking about tropical paradises and unlimited money doesn't help here in reality.

That's true, since it is wrong on all three counts: wishful thinking, tropical paradises, and unlimited money.

The suggestion was "a nice tropical island with that cobalt wrapped bomb I spoke of - so that the looters stay far far away. (yes, I realize that is a somewhat unreasonable scenario, but not impossible if you had the money)."

In the US you can't even go to a rural area anymore because they are all ruled by viro bureaucracy now.

Assuming the omnipotence of evil and adopting a posture of being utterly beaten into the ground is not "realism", it is just flat-out giving up. Even absent the formation of a new country, it is not realistic to claim that everywhere on the entire planet is as screwed up as some parts of the U.S.

No one is assuming the "omnipotence of evil" or "assuming postures". The fact is, a lot of people still think that rural areas in America are a place to go to escape bureaucratic control. They don't know how the viros have already mapped out those areas for "preservation" and have already imposed escalating government controls, with much of it already under government ownership. When you want to propose a practical place somewhere else then we can assess it. You have said that several times but don't respond to queries of what you have in mind. But the topic of the thread is "Going Galt", which includes the notion that "striking" is somehow a tactic to force changes for the better in the country and the government. It isn't.

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The suggestion was "a nice tropical island with that cobalt wrapped bomb I spoke of - so that the looters stay far far away. (yes, I realize that is a somewhat unreasonable scenario, but not impossible if you had the money)."

Well, I don't subscribe to that particular prospect either, especially the very bad idea of contaminating some large swath of the world with Co-60.

No one is assuming the "omnipotence of evil" or "assuming postures". The fact is, a lot of people still think that rural areas in America are a place to go to escape bureaucratic control. They don't know how the viros have already mapped out those areas for "preservation" and have already imposed escalating government controls, with much of it already under government ownership.

Sure, and it is a good thing to both note that fact and, where appropriate, to intellectually and politically lobby against it if it fits your hierarchy of values. But I don't think that either of us really believes that the viros and their enablers are going away in our lifetimes and that that situation is going to be going in the right direction. To state that that is the entirety of existence is what I was referring to re: "omnipotence of evil".

When you want to propose a practical place somewhere else then we can assess it. You have said that several times but don't respond to queries of what you have in mind.

No, because non-wishful thinking on the subject is not concretely advanced by posting in detail on a public bulletin board, and because, frankly, the great majority of those with the means and motivation to accomplish the goal are not, and most likely never will, either posting here or reading here. But given the almost universally unchecked premise among Objectivists that intellectual activism will somehow lead to improved living conditions for one's self in one's lifetime, it is useful to remind people to check that premise.

But the topic of the thread is "Going Galt", which includes the notion that "striking" is somehow a tactic to force changes for the better in the country and the government. It isn't.

It isn't that - and for one thing, in Atlas Shrugged, there is practically *nothing* left of the country after the strike (for example imagine the devastation from Project X alone), but the strikers themselves are happily alive and producing. You think that is an essentially secondary by-product of the plot when it constitutes a critical and core point.

The overall idea (up to a point, there are of course unique features to the "strike") is as old as the time when the first man looked around at the little slave-state he found himself in and decided to pick up and go somewhere else, however many thousands of years ago that was. You believe that the only realistic part of Atlas Shrugged is its dead-on accuracy at predicting the decline of America while dismissing the good part. That, again, is granting omnipotence to evil and tacitly assuming the inefficacy of the small minority who are the men of the mind to deal with evil on a national scale - a premise with which I - and Ayn Rand - strongly disagree.

Atlas Shrugged is *not* about those men trying to convince large populations to become rational, is it is not those populations that the book and its author fundamentally values or concerns itself with.

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But given the almost universally unchecked premise among Objectivists that intellectual activism will somehow lead to improved living conditions for one's self in one's lifetime, it is useful to remind people to check that premise.

So, given this, why should one advance the right ideas? If advancing the right ideas won't "lead to improved living conditions for one's self in one's lifetime" what is a proper motive for a rational man to advance the right ideas? I am assuming that doing so is proper to a rational man, because Ayn Rand thought so -- and after a lot of experience with her ideas, I'm convinced that she had a good reason for advocating this course of action.

So, is a rational man's motive something like this: "If he does advance the right ideas, he might make his life slightly less bad that it would otherwise be?" I would really like to know what your idea of a proper motive is for advancing the right ideas -- or (possibly) whether you think there is none; and if that is the case, what you think a rational man should do instead.

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EWV:

I agree with you and would like to make the additional point that it is still a difficult task to come to the correct conclusion even when a positive example exists. For example, one could look at the United States since 1913, the year in which the income tax become legal. One could then see that since 1913 the United States has become more opulent, more populous, and more powerful than before incomes were taxed. Thus, one might conclude, it was due to the taxation of incomes that led to the enormous growth of the US' wealth in the last century. Not only that, but they could claim that their ideas were based on facts! If we are to convince others of our ideas, we need to not ineffectively "shrug." Rather, we need to effectively argue for as long as we can.

The old statistics don't prove causality rule that seems to get people so many times.

I don't respect people who do 'shrug' because as statist as things are, and as much as Americans are turning against achievement, it is still a world in which values are possible.

We only get one life, so anyone who throws away their life and their potential just doesn't make much sense to me. I would rather fight for my values and lose, than hide away somewhere and never have tried to achieve anything.

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So, given this, why should one advance the right ideas? If advancing the right ideas won't "lead to improved living conditions for one's self in one's lifetime" what is a proper motive for a rational man to advance the right ideas? I am assuming that doing so is proper to a rational man, because Ayn Rand thought so -- and after a lot of experience with her ideas, I'm convinced that she had a good reason for advocating this course of action.

There are valid reasons for advancing the right ideas. For one, it is personally satisfying to introduce the right sort of mind to Ayn Rand's ideas. The few who are apparently receptive are the ones who actually most matter in the world (which does not mean that a few thousand individuals can reverse trends being followed by hundreds of millions of others.) It's a very good thing for the best men to understand their own value and to have read AS. For another, it can't hurt, at least if the time/resources involved are not self-sacrificial. But one should have rational expectations about the results on a society-wide scale.

Ayn Rand of course promoted her ideas but it was not her core motivation and she was not particularly happy with the results near the end of her life. There is this important statement, which actually still has relevance today:

And more: I never wanted and do not now want to be the leader of a "movement." I do approve of a philosophical or intellectual movement, in the sense of a growing trend among a number of independent individuals sharing the same ideas. But an organized movement is a different matter. NBI was not quite either; it was intended as a purely educational organization, but it did not function fully as such, and, at times, it became professionally embarrassing to me. It led to the constant trouble and responsibility of worrying about the activities and the verbal misrepresentations of some of its students [...]
So, is a rational man's motive something like this: "If he does advance the right ideas, he might make his life slightly less bad that it would otherwise be?" I would really like to know what your idea of a proper motive is for advancing the right ideas -- or (possibly) whether you think there is none; and if that is the case, what you think a rational man should do instead.

Focus on making his/her own life the best that it can be, because one's self is ultimately the only person on earth that one has any certainty of improving, and one's own life is the only life that one has any certainty of deciding an objectively best course of action. Assuming of course that he still thinks that he can fulfill and sustain his major values.

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No one is assuming the "omnipotence of evil" or "assuming postures". The fact is, a lot of people still think that rural areas in America are a place to go to escape bureaucratic control. They don't know how the viros have already mapped out those areas for "preservation" and have already imposed escalating government controls, with much of it already under government ownership.

Sure, and it is a good thing to both note that fact and, where appropriate, to intellectually and politically lobby against it if it fits your hierarchy of values. But I don't think that either of us really believes that the viros and their enablers are going away in our lifetimes and that that situation is going to be going in the right direction. To state that that is the entirety of existence is what I was referring to re: "omnipotence of evil".

No one ever said that is the "entirety of existence". Those who think they can move to a rural area for freedom in this country should look at the existing government power structure.

When you want to propose a practical place somewhere else then we can assess it. You have said that several times but don't respond to queries of what you have in mind.

No, because non-wishful thinking on the subject is not concretely advanced by posting in detail on a public bulletin board, and because, frankly, the great majority of those with the means and motivation to accomplish the goal are not, and most likely never will, either posting here or reading here. But given the almost universally unchecked premise among Objectivists that intellectual activism will somehow lead to improved living conditions for one's self in one's lifetime, it is useful to remind people to check that premise.

Whether it does or not you have the right to live where you want to and have your privacy respected in your plans, but if you want to advocate the viability of moving to an isolated, defensible safe place in another country it would help to give some indication of what kind of country and why you think that would likely work.

But the topic of the thread is "Going Galt", which includes the notion that "striking" is somehow a tactic to force changes for the better in the country and the government. It isn't.

It isn't that - and for one thing, in Atlas Shrugged, there is practically *nothing* left of the country after the strike (for example imagine the devastation from Project X alone), but the strikers themselves are happily alive and producing. You think that is an essentially secondary by-product of the plot when it constitutes a critical and core point.

The plot of Atlas Shrugged was not intended to give the strike as practical advice for anything. The chacters who represent Ayn Rand's ideal illustrate, along with her explanations, her philosophy of what is proper to man. One can understand and apply that without reading things into the fictional plot element of the strike.

The overall idea (up to a point, there are of course unique features to the "strike") is as old as the time when the first man looked around at the little slave-state he found himself in and decided to pick up and go somewhere else, however many thousands of years ago that was. You believe that the only realistic part of Atlas Shrugged is its dead-on accuracy at predicting the decline of America while dismissing the good part. That, again, is granting omnipotence to evil and tacitly assuming the inefficacy of the small minority who are the men of the mind to deal with evil on a national scale - a premise with which I - and Ayn Rand - strongly disagree.

I did not ever say that the "prediction" was the only realistic part and have never dismissed the good aspects; far from it. I don't equate the fictional plot element of the strike with practical advice for the real world or with the theme.

Atlas Shrugged is *not* about those men trying to convince large populations to become rational, is it is not those populations that the book and its author fundamentally values or concerns itself with.

No one said that the plot did that; nor did Ayn Rand suggest trying to convince the "irrational" to become rational. In so far as she emphasized activism for social change, she explicited advocated appealing to the most rational members of society. The activism of the strikers in the plot, apart from advocating a strike, also illustrate that.

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I don't respect people who do 'shrug' because as statist as things are, and as much as Americans are turning against achievement, it is still a world in which values are possible.

Whose possible values are you referring to? Certainly, the only person on this Earth who is qualified to judge what is or is not a value to and for me is . . . me. Period.

We only get one life, so anyone who throws away their life and their potential just doesn't make much sense to me. I would rather fight for my values and lose, than hide away somewhere and never have tried to achieve anything.

By what calculus do you arrive at the conclusion that those inclined to "shrug" today "never have tried to achieve anything" and/or are "throw[ing] away their life and their potential"? By what right do you even make such a judgment?

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So, given this, why should one advance the right ideas? If advancing the right ideas won't "lead to improved living conditions for one's self in one's lifetime" what is a proper motive for a rational man to advance the right ideas? I am assuming that doing so is proper to a rational man, because Ayn Rand thought so -- and after a lot of experience with her ideas, I'm convinced that she had a good reason for advocating this course of action.

There are valid reasons for advancing the right ideas. For one, it is personally satisfying to introduce the right sort of mind to Ayn Rand's ideas. The few who are apparently receptive are the ones who actually most matter in the world (which does not mean that a few thousand individuals can reverse trends being followed by hundreds of millions of others.) It's a very good thing for the best men to understand their own value and to have read AS. For another, it can't hurt, at least if the time/resources involved are not self-sacrificial. But one should have rational expectations about the results on a society-wide scale.

Ayn Rand of course promoted her ideas but it was not her core motivation and she was not particularly happy with the results near the end of her life. There is this important statement, which actually still has relevance today:

And more: I never wanted and do not now want to be the leader of a "movement." I do approve of a philosophical or intellectual movement, in the sense of a growing trend among a number of independent individuals sharing the same ideas. But an organized movement is a different matter. NBI was not quite either; it was intended as a purely educational organization, but it did not function fully as such, and, at times, it became professionally embarrassing to me. It led to the constant trouble and responsibility of worrying about the activities and the verbal misrepresentations of some of its students [...]
So, is a rational man's motive something like this: "If he does advance the right ideas, he might make his life slightly less bad that it would otherwise be?" I would really like to know what your idea of a proper motive is for advancing the right ideas -- or (possibly) whether you think there is none; and if that is the case, what you think a rational man should do instead.

Focus on making his/her own life the best that it can be, because one's self is ultimately the only person on earth that one has any certainty of improving, and one's own life is the only life that one has any certainty of deciding an objectively best course of action. Assuming of course that he still thinks that he can fulfill and sustain his major values.

Ayn Rand's repudiation of NBI in 1968 was not near the end of her life and was not a recommendation against activism. She said that she did not want to be the leader of an organized movement.

She harbored no illusions about the state of the culture, but in the 1970s she was still giving advice on how to proceed in her articles "What Can One Do", "Don't Let it Go", etc., right through "A Last Survey" and her last Ford Hall Forum lecture in the early 1980s. In "What Can One Do", still advocating first getting one's own mental house in order, she wrote:

Can you answer their questions? Can you offer them a consistent case? Do you know how to correct their errors? Are you immune from the fallout of the constant barrage aimed at the destruction of reason—and can you provide others with antimissile missiles? A political battle is merely a skirmish fought with muskets; a philosophical battle is a nuclear war. If you want to influence a country's intellectual trend, the first step is to bring order to your own ideas and integrate them into a consistent case, to the best of your knowledge and ability. This does not mean memorizing and reciting slogans and principles, Objectivist or otherwise: knowledge necessarily includes the ability to apply abstract principles to concrete problems, to recognize the principles in specific issues, to demonstrate them, and to advocate a consistent course of action. This does not require omniscience or omnipotence; it is the subconscious expectation of automatic omniscience in oneself and in others that defeats many would-be crusaders (and serves as an excuse for doing nothing). What is required is honesty—intellectual honesty, which consists in knowing what one does know, constantly expanding one's knowledge, and never evading or failing to correct a contradiction. This means: the development of an active mind as a permanent attribute.

When or if your convictions are in your conscious, orderly control, you will be able to communicate them to others. This does not mean that you must make philosophical speeches when unnecessary and inappropriate. You need philosophy to back you up and give you a consistent case when you deal with or discuss specific issues.

If you like condensations (provided you bear in mind their full meaning), I will say: when you ask "What can one do?"—the answer is "SPEAK" (provided you know what you are saying).

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I don't respect people who do 'shrug' because as statist as things are, and as much as Americans are turning against achievement, it is still a world in which values are possible.
Whose possible values are you referring to? Certainly, the only person on this Earth who is qualified to judge what is or is not a value to and for me is . . . me. Period.
We only get one life, so anyone who throws away their life and their potential just doesn't make much sense to me. I would rather fight for my values and lose, than hide away somewhere and never have tried to achieve anything.
By what calculus do you arrive at the conclusion that those inclined to 'shrug' today 'never have tried to achieve anything' and/or are 'throw[ing] away their life and their potential'? By what right do you even make such a judgment?

While you choose your own values for yourself, I have also got eyes and can look at the world around me.

And I see in nations such as America, Australia and other like nations that people can become astronauts, doctors, programmers, waitresses, business owners, lawyers, musicians, artists, dentists, painters, architects, soldiers, researchers, teachers, and all the other occupations. You are free to hunt, listen to music, visit galleries, study anything you want, listen to any music or movie you want and so many other choices available. I can sit here, filling up this forum all day and all night with a giant pages long post with concrete examples of the choices that people have available, but why is it necessary for me to cover every opportunity or every choice just to cover every possible incarnation of someones values?

It all falls under the simple sentence of a world of opportunity out there. :wacko:

Am I saying it will be easy without government interference? No. But it doesn't change the fact that every person has a world of opportunity in front of them in which to find and pursue values in Australia/US/similar countries.

You ask by what right do I have to even make such a judgment? By right of my reasoning mind, I can judge any person I want, and I can come to whatever evaluation of those people that I reason out.

The simple fact is, you got 2 choices at any one time. To be a victim and claim it isn't your fault, the big bad government is the reason you can't pursue your values and it is why you will not take advantage of the life you have. Or stand defiantly, head held high and no matter how tough, you will fight to achieve them, because it is of value to you. And then each time you tally your life up, you can say proudly to yourself "I did this, it was tough, but it was good! This was a life worth living!"

In my own life, I don't care if I have to move a hundred times to keep ahead of freedom of speech laws to accomplish the goals I have, or listen to more threats against me than I already have, I will not shrug. I am not going to offer excuses to myself at the end of my life as to why I didn't do the things I want to do, I will simply do them!

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Ayn Rand's repudiation of NBI in 1968 was not near the end of her life [...]

Um, obviously not. Do you seriously think I don't know when she died? I made two separate statements which I suppose I should have more carefully separated.

[...] and was not a recommendation against activism. She said that she did not want to be the leader of an organized movement.

It is clear that her remarks extend beyond simply NBI and her personal involvement there, and in reality some of the same problems exist currently, though fortunately not so much as to seriously undermine the good being done, to the limited extent that such efforts are efficacious at changing a society.

She harbored no illusions about the state of the culture, but in the 1970s she was still giving advice on how to proceed in her articles "What Can One Do", "Don't Let it Go", etc., right through "A Last Survey" and her last Ford Hall Forum lecture in the early 1980s.

Which all focus on *individually* conveying the ideas, i.e. Ayn Rand herself to an audience, or particular individuals speaking or writing. Note that ARI was founded after her death.

In any case none of this contradicts my statement that promoting her ideas (in the context of activism) was not her core motivation.

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I don't respect people who do 'shrug' because as statist as things are, and as much as Americans are turning against achievement, it is still a world in which values are possible.
Whose possible values are you referring to? Certainly, the only person on this Earth who is qualified to judge what is or is not a value to and for me is . . . me. Period.
We only get one life, so anyone who throws away their life and their potential just doesn't make much sense to me. I would rather fight for my values and lose, than hide away somewhere and never have tried to achieve anything.
By what calculus do you arrive at the conclusion that those inclined to 'shrug' today 'never have tried to achieve anything' and/or are 'throw[ing] away their life and their potential'? By what right do you even make such a judgment?

While you choose your own values for yourself, I have also got eyes and can look at the world around me.

And I see in nations such as America, Australia and other like nations that people can become astronauts, doctors, programmers, waitresses, business owners, lawyers, musicians, artists, dentists, painters, architects, soldiers, researchers, teachers, and all the other occupations. You are free to hunt, listen to music, visit galleries, study anything you want, listen to any music or movie you want and so many other choices available. I can sit here, filling up this forum all day and all night with a giant pages long post with concrete examples of the choices that people have available, but why is it necessary for me to cover every opportunity or every choice just to cover every possible incarnation of someones values?

It all falls under the simple sentence of a world of opportunity out there. :wacko:

Am I saying it will be easy without government interference? No. But it doesn't change the fact that every person has a world of opportunity in front of them in which to find and pursue values in Australia/US/similar countries.

You ask by what right do I have to even make such a judgment? By right of my reasoning mind, I can judge any person I want, and I can come to whatever evaluation of those people that I reason out.

The simple fact is, you got 2 choices at any one time. To be a victim and claim it isn't your fault, the big bad government is the reason you can't pursue your values and it is why you will not take advantage of the life you have. Or stand defiantly, head held high and no matter how tough, you will fight to achieve them, because it is of value to you. And then each time you tally your life up, you can say proudly to yourself "I did this, it was tough, but it was good! This was a life worth living!"

In my own life, I don't care if I have to move a hundred times to keep ahead of freedom of speech laws to accomplish the goals I have, or listen to more threats against me than I already have, I will not shrug. I am not going to offer excuses to myself at the end of my life as to why I didn't do the things I want to do, I will simply do them!

Michael you should keep trying as long as you think it is worth it to you and you can still do it, but you shouldn't conclude that someone who "shrugs" has "never tried to achieve anything", is "throwing away his life and his potential", or is not worthy of respect. You don't know what his personal circumstances are, what he has accomplished, what he is and is not still capable of under what circumstances he is enduring or expects to have to endure, or what he has had to contend with for how long. Someone who "shrugs" against the burdens he despises that are imposed by society is not necessarily giving up his own personal life and values to the extent that he is still able pursue them in his own way for whatever is still possible to him under his personal circumstances. But neither does this mean that "shrugging" is in itself a heroic act just for the purpose of defiance.

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John Galt continued to pursue his own values, even after going on strike.

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Ayn Rand of course promoted her ideas but it was not her core motivation and she was not particularly happy with the results near the end of her life. There is this important statement, which actually still has relevance today:
And more: I never wanted and do not now want to be the leader of a "movement." I do approve of a philosophical or intellectual movement, in the sense of a growing trend among a number of independent individuals sharing the same ideas. But an organized movement is a different matter. NBI was not quite either; it was intended as a purely educational organization, but it did not function fully as such, and, at times, it became professionally embarrassing to me. It led to the constant trouble and responsibility of worrying about the activities and the verbal misrepresentations of some of its students [...]

Ayn Rand's repudiation of NBI in 1968 was not near the end of her life [...]

Um, obviously not. Do you seriously think I don't know when she died? I made two separate statements which I suppose I should have more carefully separated.

[...] and was not a recommendation against activism. She said that she did not want to be the leader of an organized movement.

It is clear that her remarks extend beyond simply NBI and her personal involvement there, and in reality some of the same problems exist currently, though fortunately not so much as to seriously undermine the good being done, to the limited extent that such efforts are efficacious at changing a society.

She harbored no illusions about the state of the culture, but in the 1970s she was still giving advice on how to proceed in her articles "What Can One Do", "Don't Let it Go", etc., right through "A Last Survey" and her last Ford Hall Forum lecture in the early 1980s.

Which all focus on *individually* conveying the ideas, i.e. Ayn Rand herself to an audience, or particular individuals speaking or writing. Note that ARI was founded after her death.

In any case none of this contradicts my statement that promoting her ideas (in the context of activism) was not her core motivation.

I was only responding to what you wrote. I don't understand what the point of quoting the NBI renunciation was. Her statement didn't mean that she opposed it because she was discouraged about the state of the culture, or that she was changing to a committment of putting her own life first, which she had always held to. Do you think she would have opposed ARI, as Leonard Peikoff was initially skeptical of it?

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John Galt continued to pursue his own values, even after going on strike.

I don't think a lot of the "Going Galt" movement understands that. They seem to regard defiance as such as a central motive and way of life, aside from not understanding that the strike in the plot was intended to illustrate the theme and was never intended to be a recommendation.

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... ... Ayn Rand of course promoted her ideas but it was not her core motivation and she was not particularly happy with the results near the end of her life.... ...

I can personally testify that at the Ford Hall Forum in Boston in November 1971, Miss Rand (in spite of the downbeat topic of her talk, "The Moratorium on Brains") appeared totally positive, upbeat and cheerful during the entire speech and hours-long meeting with her fans. She appeared mentally youthful, optimistic and benevolent.

See my account at http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?showtopic=124 .

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