Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who is John Galt? A Naturalist's Letter to a Critic

Who is John Galt?

"Okay," someone wrote, "I already know who John Galt is. I read the book 'Atlas Shrugged' and want to know if anyone agrees with Galt's god-awful long speech about how people's intellectual properties should only belong to the intellectuals..."

Dear Critic: Galt spoke these words in that speech:

"We're on strike against your creed of unearned rewards and unrewarded duties. If you want to know how I made [the strikers] quit, I told them exactly what I'm telling you tonight. I taught them the morality of Reason -- that it was right to pursue one's own happiness as one's principal goal in life. I don't consider the pleasure of others my goal in life, nor do I consider my pleasure the goal of anyone else's life.

"I am a trader. I earn what I get in trade for what I produce. I ask for nothing more or nothing less than what I earn. That is justice. I don't force anyone to trade with me; I only trade for mutual benefit. Force is the great evil that has no place in a rational world. One may never force another human to act against his/her judgment. If you deny a man's right to Reason, you must also deny your right to your own judgment. Yet you have allowed your world to be run by means of force, by men who claim that fear and joy are equal incentives, but that fear and force are more practical. " http://www.working-minds.com/galtmini.htm

These are the tenets of a man who recognized the natural, unalienable rights of every individual human to own what is his or hers, not just of "intellectuals." Through out the book Dagny Taggart and Hank Reardon are driving through the countryside looking at the dilapidated houses and the starving people, and wondering how America and the entire world could have been brought to this situation by their leaders, whom the people trusted. When they are not driving, they see in their minds the poor, the starving, the destitute of soul. In a world governed by the recognition of naturalistic philosphy, such as the Unites States once was, such poor, starving, and destitute people were being lifted out of the mud, not put back into it.

It is against the elite leaders, who believe they know what's best for the people, that Galt deplores. Under author Ayn Rand's system of laissez faire capitalism, every man and woman would be enabled of their birthright, as opposed to "being allowed by government," to do whatever--repeat whatever--he/she wanted to do with their lives, their minds, their property, so long as they did not use the initiation of force to overwhelm the same birth-given rights of another person. "Unalienable" does not mean the government cannot, with enough power and coercion, prevent you from using your rights; it can, illegally and with tyranny. "Unalienable" means birth-given.

Equality comes from the freedom from that force and coercion of government, but government ideas come from the elite who gain power and twist the Constitution to mean what they want it to mean. Did you ever stop to wonder why our government has such power over us, when the Founders clearly meant to limit such power? The elite at one time were our saviors; now they are the ones who would betray us for a handful of gold, or for that power to decide "the common good."

There is a difference between "the common good," which on its face sounds like equality, and "the common defence and general Welfare" used in the Constitution as the purposes of that document. The "common good" is a concept to either run from, or better yet, to destroy, because there is no "common good" but what is good for each individual as individuals. The "general Welfare" means the protection of the rights of individuals, not the collection of power to be used over individuals to provide for some undefined "higher value" than the rights of single human being to exist in the state that nature provided for him, the state of being a rational animal so that he would know how to provide for his own good.

In the Fourteenth Amendment was created the new concept of "citizens of the United States," a class of citizen which until then did not exist. That class of citizen is directly under the control of the Federal Government, which was the intended purpose of that clause of the Amendment, but not for the purposes of a more powerful government in general. The newly-minted power of the Federal Government that came with control of this new class of citizen was intended by the Radical Republicans to be used to immediately stop the abuses of the "Freedmen" that were not stopped by the Thirteenth Amendment. But since then, it has been used for every thing under the sun, by the newly-minted class of elites created by that clause. Anyone who dares use that clause for anything but the protection of individuals is an elitist who would take your birth-given rights because they don't see individuals; they see "classes." The Freedmen were seen as a class of men, not as individuals who merely fit the profile of those whose protection the Fourteenth was intended to protect.

That is what Rand's book is about--the loss of reason and sanity to be found in the tyrannical control of classes of people. It is universally recognized in our nation that laws may not be written to target any individual, nor to be used against only one individual; but it is as equally recognized that laws may be targeted against classes of citizens. No, today's America is hardly a "tyranny" in the classical sense. But then, today's political situation would be a very intolerable "classical" tyranny to the Founders and they would decry the creation of such a political entity as a "citizen of the United States," controlled by the Federal Government. Their intended plan for freedom was exactly the opposite, that the "control" was in the consent of those being controlled, and that could only come from the rights of the States to protect its citizens from the tyranny of a Federal Government out of control with power.

"Your acceptance of the code of selflessness," Galt spoke, referring to this fictional time in the world when the morality of absolute altrusim, "has made you fear the man who has a dollar less than you because it makes you feel that that dollar is rightfully his. You hate the man with a dollar more than you because the dollar he's keeping is rightfully yours. Your code has made it impossible to know when to give and when to grab."

Such altruism comes from the propaganda of a thing the elites call the "common good." What they define as "good" is less individual power over one's own life, so that the masses have the power over individuals. This is nothing less than the mentality of gangs.

But Galt is also speaking to the altruist in all of us right now, because the world in "Atlas Shrugged" is Rand's vision of the logical-extremist ends of the domestic and international policies our government has been following for 60 decades or more. Both of our current Presidential candidates have admitted that the $700,000,000,000 a year we pay for foreign oil and foreign aid is often spent in nations that hate us and who would use that capital to do us harm. That is the altruism of a nation only wishes in good faith to help spread the good fortune of America's wealth. Both candidates agree this altruism must stop. But only one of them says the intellectual rights of oil producers in this country should be given back, and then only to alleviate a problem for consumers (the common good), not because it is the right thing to do for the producers.

Galt is also giving confirmation to the rational humans who understand the purpose of the strikers in the novel, and to the common man both in the novel and in the reality of today who understands why the leaders of industry have disappeared, gone on strike, to leave the economy to distintigrate further and faster, like a train out of control.

The common man who understands the purpose of the strikers cheers for them, he does not condemn them. He wishes he could go on strike and join them. Those common people understand, and part of the purpose of Galt's speech is to vindicate them. In parts of the speech he speaks directly to them, telling them they are not morally wrong, that they are right, and that when the elites get their heads out of their as*es, the leaders of industry will return.

You need to read the book, not just take the speech out of context without seeing the miserable way in which the common people are living, and the compassion the book's heros have for those people. The character of Eddie Willers was purposefully meant to represent them--you, me us, and anyone who is not a Bill Gates, Suze Orman, Warren Buffet, Martha Stewart, or a T. Boone Pickens, the very people who would go on strike in a real "Atlas Shrugged" world--with dignity and grace.

Let's hope you get some common sense of your own and wake up to the freedoms Rand was trying to instill in you. She was Jefferson, she was Thomas Paine, she was Madison, she was the Federalist Papers, she was the Constitution, as they were intended to be remembered and used.

"Today, when a concerted effort is made to obliterate this point, it cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals—that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government—that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizens’ protection against the government.

"A complex legal system, based on objectively valid principles, is required to make a society free and to keep it free—a system that does not depend on the motives, the moral character or the intentions of any given official, a system that leaves no opportunity, no legal loophole for the development of tyranny.

"The American system of checks and balances was just such an achievement. And although certain contradictions in the Constitution did leave a loophole for the growth of statism, the incomparable achievement was the concept of a constitution as a means of limiting and restricting the power of the government." from “The Nature of Government,” in "The Virtue of Selfishness"; Rand.

"Ours was the first government based on and strictly limited by a written document—the Constitution—which specifically forbids it to violate individual rights or to act on whim. The history of the atrocities perpetrated by all the other kinds of governments—unrestricted governments acting on unprovable assumptions—demonstrates the value and validity of the original political theory on which this country was built.

"The clause giving Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce is one of the major errors in the Constitution. That clause, more than any other, was the crack in the Constitution’s foundation, the entering wedge of statism, which permitted the gradual establishment of the welfare state. But I would venture to say that the framers of the Constitution could not have conceived of what that clause has now become. If, in writing it, one of their goals was to facilitate the flow of trade and prevent the establishment of trade barriers among the states, that clause has reached the opposite destination." from“Censorship: Local and Express,” in "Philosophy: Who Needs It"; Rand

"This country," Galt said, "wasn't built by men who sought handouts. In its brilliant youth, this country showed the rest of the world what greatness was possible to Man and what happiness is possible on Earth."

Do you think it was the "intellectuals" who put their backs and brawn into building railroads, bridges, dams, and skyscrapers? Do you think it was "intellectuals" who were the first to be told they were valuable enough to earn $5 a day in Henry Ford's car factories? Ford was the "intellectual" in that situation, and he knew that their worth to him was to reward them by making them the best-paid employees on the planet in their day.

It was to those types of people that Galt was speaking when he said, "[T]hose of you who retain some remnant of dignity and the will to live your lives for yourselves" will quit living "with undeserved, irrational guilt," guilt born of accusations of "selfishness" that we use more resources per capita than other nations; in effect, what has come to be called "conspicuous consumption." If Americans quit consuming as much as they did, the rest of the world would go broke. As soon as other nations' peoples can afford to consume as much as we do, they will do so.

So long as what we consume is paid for, the people of the nations we buy the raw material or the finished goods from make out like bandits--as well they should. But in the world of "Atlas Shrugged," it is those other nations that fall first--because America has come to believe in its own guilt, and in an attempt to attone in the only way such guilt allows atonement, lets down the rest of the world. One by one, the destitute nations who accepted altruism much quicker and easier than America are taken over by the same tyrannical despots who have come to control the United States.

In a comparison of the Ten Planks of Marx's "Communist Manifesto" along with the American adopted counterpart of each of the planks, Marx stated in the "Manifesto" that these planks will test whether a country has become commmunist or not.

Plank #1 was: Abolition of private property and the application of all rent to public purpose. In the U.S. this is becoming implemented through the 14th Amendment, and various zoning, school & property taxes, as well as the Bureau of Land Management. (For a comparrison of all 10 Planks against America's implementation of them, see http://www.uhuh.com/nwo/communism/10planks.htm . Some of them are arguable; some of them could contain many more breaches by the Government than are listed.)

Galt knew that we commoners needed the intellectuals, and it was intellectuals he talked into striking with him. How did he get these self-made, wealthy business and industry leaders walk away from their businesses to leave them to rot or to go to the "looters"?

He told them they did not deserve the way their government treated them. He told them that if they treated their own workers that way, the workers would strike against him. He told them they were the only thing, the only people, propping up the tyrrany of the government that made slaves of them by controlling their industries for their own purposes.

Today we have laws governing virtually every industry from automobiles to drugs to bread manufacture. At one time there was a law that prevented anything that resembed today's nutritious whole grain breads from being called "bread." Bread was defined by its ingredients and were bland, bleached, or robbed of all nutrition. There was a law that prevented 2% milk from being called "milk." The inventor of 2% is still alive (as far as I know), so that law was not so long ago. Neither was law against calling "nutritous baked wheat loaves" by name of "bread."

The right to control such things as new foods, new accessories on cars, new methods of fueling those cars, and especially drugs because they are so large in our culture and our news the right to much longer property rights on drugs that cost hundred of millions of dollars to invent, test and market--the rights of control are "intellectual" property rights, and they properly belong to those who invent them. The rights to control them do not belong to the people except under tightly defined parameters, such as the length of time a patent shall be held before its expiration.

But such things have been shortened for "the common good," to make generics available. "Generics" are the elites' code word for stolen property, because they had to shorten the patent rights in order to get "generics." Now is it any wonder that drug companies must charge exhoribant prices to get a return that will allow them to continue to operate?

So yes, Dear Critic, intellectual property rights do belong to the intellectuals, not to the "people." Patent rights on drugs are no different than those on toys. After a certain period of time, should every toy manufacturer have the "right" to produce their own Barbie Doll, or their own Madden Football, or their own competing Chicago Bears team or their own competing IPods? Those are products that belong to the intellectual who created them when "intellectual" is defined as a branded product created by a human mind.

It is one thing to start a competing football team; it is a completely different thing to steal a trademarked name, which is a branded product created by human minds, and give the right to manufacture it to every Dick and Mary who has enough money to do so. If Dick and Mary cannot create their own Prozac, Dick and Mary have no business, legal, moral, or otherwise to use the intellectual possessions of other individuals, any more than you or I should have the right to start a team and call them the Detroit Tigers.

Intellectual property is the property of an intellect; intellect belongs to individuals, not mobs, gangs, or elites who represent the common good. Naturalism is about the place of individuals in the society of men, in the conditions created by living on earth, and those conditions create not only birth-given rights to freedom from physical force and coercion, but intellectual birth-given rights, without which no mind would be free to conceive of new ideas, and without which all intellectuals should go on strike.

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The Free Assemblage of Metaphysical Naturalists is the sm (service mark) of the Academy of Metaphysical Naturalism tm, which is the educational arm of the Assemblage.

This publication © 2008 by Curtis Edward Clark and Naturalist Academy Publishing ®

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