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John Galt is Homeless

Selfishness used to be a virtue. It was a way to advance ourselves in capitalist society. We were supposed to put ourselves before other people, and this was supposed to be the gateway to success. Yet this was not the way of the future, and many of us were in for quite a surprise. We saw more and more poor conservatives who were too selfish to make it in Corporate America. We saw brilliant people struggle for survival simply because they were disinterested in the will of the group. For the first time in history, it appeared that kindness was winning.

We need to face the fact that Randian capitalism is no longer a way to advance oneself but a way to make oneself poor. The roles have now been reversed and it is no longer survival-of-the-fittest but survival-of-the-most-willing-to-please. As unique and individualistic as we are, we must accept that the real way to prosper in this society is to make other people happy. Thinking only for ourselves will not bring us to the top but leave us socially ostracized and starving.

It is time to accept that John Galt is homeless. When I talk to people living on the streets, they do not posses a Marxist view of the world but a view based on scarcity and survival. It is everybody against everybody in the urban jungle. There is no unity when people are struggling simply to put the food on the table. Being poor and conservative is not a contradiction but a natural reaction. It is usually people who are well off that can afford to think about saving
the world.

Why is John Galt homeless? Did people lose their jobs for being too involved in themselves? Was arrogance shunned? Was self-importance viewed as petty and infantile? Were people awarded status for being disinterested in themselves? When did the atlas reverse? It is hard to come up with an exact point in time, but it is obvious that being selfish will no longer land you at the top.

Some of us feel conflicted. We are nice people who do not want to lose ourselves in the process of surviving, but are afraid that employers will not like us for who we truly are. We feel the need to put on an act simply to be accepted. We adapt to the will of the group in order to advance ourselves. It is not that we must step on other people to advance, but that we must be careful not to step on anyone.

This reversal of capitalism is simply a new extreme. Conforming to groupthink in order to survive in Corporate America has replaced selfishness. You may not need to hurt people around you to survive but should you have to act like a customer service representative 24/7? Is this really any better?

If kindness has truly won, what about people who are not socially able to make the group happy? Maybe it isn’t that someone only cares about themselves, but that someone is living in their own world. Many people who are living in their own worlds are artists and inventors. Why should these people be starving until they learn how to please the common whole?

John Galt is homeless any nobody cares. We feel no pity for people who only think about themselves. We show resentment toward anyone who is unable to make the people around them feel good. We reject those who are self-important because we are afraid they will make us look bad. We live in a culture where being nice to others is a marketable skill. Social media is about making people feel good.

Can we survive without understanding the manual? Will the quality of our work outshine our lack of people skills? Can we create our own path without upsetting others? Now is the time for us to consider these things as we face the future of the atlas being reversed. Can we be ourselves without becoming homeless, or are we doomed to become ideological martyrs because we are too selfish to survive?

Rachel Haywire is a writer, multimedia artist, and transhumanist who is founder of the Human 2.0 Council and the Extreme Futurist Festival. Read about the conference at LA Weekly.


  1. It amazes me that America is still having this argument, when it is very obvious that conservative free market principles and practices work every time they are tried, and utopian socialism fails every time it is tried. This should have been settled in the 1980’s. Reagan’s conservative approach, getting government out of the way of private enterprise completely reversed the horrendous economy created by Jimmy Carter’s government interventionist policies. My liberal friends love to point out that Bill Clinton balanced the budget, when the truth is that Bill Clinton wanted socialized medicine, higher taxes, and more government spending. It was Newt Gingrich and the 1994 “Contract With America” Republican Congress who wrote every piece of tax reduction, spending reduction, and welfare reform legislation which created the environment that led to the prosperity of the 1990’s. Legislation, I might add, that Bill Clinton opposed, but to prevent political suicide, reluctantly signed.

    Liberals have been blaming capitalism, and especially the mortgage and investment industries for our current economic crisis. This is hogwash. Banks did not create the ridiculous loan programs and lending practices/policies that created this crisis…our federal government did. The 1999 re-design of the “Community Re-investment Act” authored by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd led to the most incredibly irresponsible and insane mortgage programs and lending policies imagineable…things that no bank operating in its own best interest or within the realm of sanity would have EVER considered. Yet Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, under Barney Frank’s instruction, created these ludicrous programs because, “everybody…especially poor people with absolutely no way of ever being able to make their monthly mortgage obligations…should be able to own a home.” And the banks, who had rejected this nonsense every time it had been submitted, had to succomb this time or face federal discrimination law-suits. But, knowing that these loans were not worth the paper they were signed upon, the banks bundled these toxic assets and sold them. The assets were re-sold, and re-sold until there were no more suckers left to be had. And because so many of these products were government insured, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were going under as well. And while George Bush wrote to congress 17 times, pleading and warning of the impending insolvency of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Barney Frank fervently insisted that both entities were doing fine.

    “What about the auto industry?” Liberals love to think that capitalism destroyed GM and Chrysler, and Obama saved them. The truth is that labor unions and CAFE standards destroyed the American automobile industry. Unsustainable pension plans were forced upond these companies by the unions, and in order to meet the CAFE fleet mpg average, GM, Ford, and Chrysler had to produce a lot more small, fuel-efficient vehicles that nobody wanted. Sales of trucks and SUVs continued to soar. The economy cars they were forced to manufacture in order to meet the CAFE standards remain unsold and parked in large storage facilities…collecting dust. As for being saved by Obama, these companies still owe a great deal of the bail-out money. The highly-touted Chevy Volt has not been well received at all by the general public despite huge rebates and incentives for their purchase. The majority of the Volts that have been sold were purchased by GE in return for green energy policies that would be beneficial to GE. Most of the remaining Volt sales have been to government entities or government contractors…again at the direction or request of the White House. Just take a look at the newer vehicles on the streets. When it comes to GM and Chrysler products, you see a lot of trucks, suvs, Cameros, Impalas, 300s, Chargers, and Avengers. Precisely the kind of vehicles that these companies would be making on their own. Meanwhile, the government mandated vehicles that these companies would NOT be making are, once again, collecting dust. The federal government continues to try to manipulate the market to fit its ideas of what Americans should be buying…completely ignoring the will of the consumer, because governement elitist know what is best. Forget about freedom.

    Now, as for the notion that capitalist are greedy and selfish, it is an easily verifiable fact that conservatives in America have always donated far more generously to charites of both their time and money than socialist liberals. And the evil, greedy, capitalist United States of America has provided more aid year after year after year than all of the other countries on the earth combined.

    There has never been a more prosperous, generous, and benevolant country than the USA, and the reason for this is the fact that the citizens of this country, when free from over-intrusive government regulation and taxation, and free to use their God-given talents and ingenuity, have taken advantage of the rights and opportunities afforded them by our Constitution, and free-market capitalism, to create wealth and prosperity.

    I can think of no better way to help my fellow citizens than to create a prosperous business that provides employment, goods, and services. Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day…teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

    Sadly, liberals do not recognize these truths that were so obvious to our country’s founding fathers. Our country is on the fast-track to European-style socialism. The entitlement mentality tirelessly being touted by liberal politicians has been embraced by an ever-growing segment of our society now dependent on government. Capitalism is under attack, and our nation’s producers and innovators are being shackled by over-reaching governement regulation. This has not made our country richer or more productive.

  2. Transhumanists and computer hobbyists have always prided themselves on their rationality and ability to use empiricism, it bewilders me how Randian philosophy ever gained widespread acceptance in the community.

  3. QUOTE: “The roles have now been reversed and it is no longer survival-of-the-fittest but survival-of-the-most-willing-to-please. As unique and individualistic as we are, we must accept that the real way to prosper in this society is to make other people happy.”

    Oh Joy! Someone who exalts in subservience to the group and the coercive bullying of group think…

    Someone who praises a culture of sycophants pandering to the lowest common denominators.

    Someone who thinks individual interests cannot co-exist with social interests.

    Great. Wonderful.

    And, you expect to attain your bright, brilliant and ambitious plans for the future of humanity from within this paradigm how, exactly? I am pretty sure that many of the very bright, very ambitious people who could actually make your future vision possible, are going to boycott your framework.

    How can you–a self-selected group of alleged great thinkers–wind up in such a simplistic and bipolar intellectual universe?

    Balancing the individual in relation to the social group is essential and, when done well, enlightened. But repressing and breaking the will of the individual to match the mob mentality of the group, is a type of viciousness and cruelty akin to fascism.

    I would not want to be on the life raft with the author of this piece or any of those applauding him/her. Nope. No way.

    Oh, and one last thing….your really don’t know your Rand, do you? You don’t have to agree with or like Rand, but you should at least understand the symbolic significance of one of her greatest characters.
    John Galt withdrew from society taking all of the artists, entrepreneurs and great thinkers with him to a valley (hidden by a technological shield so they would not be found) in order to deny his and their talents to the proponents of EXACTLY what you are advocating for.

    You have absolutely and completely misunderstood Atlas Shrugged. Utterly missed it.

    For goodness sakes…

  4. I am still surprised to see intelligent and well-read people attributing the “problems” of capitalism to the government, or reducing economics to a debate between Hayek and Keynes. Economical problems are never as simple as that, or they would have been solved long ago.

    In my opinion, one of the promising ways to consider economics was defined in the 1930s by ORDOLIBERALISM. Ordoliberals were closed to Hayek because they believed in competition as the main tool for resources allocation. But they did not believe in a spontaneous economic order, they thought that the state must create a proper legal environment for free market to emerge and thrive. Without this legal framework, monopolies or oligopolies could emerge, which would not only subvert the advantages offered by the market economy by thwarting new entrants (innovators, young entrepreneurs…), but also undermine good government.

    It is interesting to note that Germany was rebuilt after the War by politicians who frankly defined themselves as followers of Ordoliberalism: I think particularly of Ludwig Erhard who is widely recognized as the father of the German economic miracle. Erhard thought that a market economy with monetary/price stability could co-exist with full employment. He called “social market-economy” (soziale Marktwirtschaft) the application of Ordoliberalism in the political arena. The current chancellor Angela Merkel also champions a strong state which fights cartels and subsidies in order to allow free market to thrive – not to thwart free market.

    Maybe, we could pay some attention to a variety of liberalism which has allowed a country such as Germany to thrive instead of reducing economics as the opposition between two antithetic theses.

  5. Where would you get the idea that any of what you just wrote is true? Selfishness is a virtue, but more than that it is reality and the universal engine behind the actions of all living creatures.
    To illustrate the idea, let me take the most extreme case an animal’s self-sacrifice and show how even that act is selfish and a virtue.
    It is well documented that a Meerkat on watch will sacrifice himself to distract a predator to allow the rest of his clan to get to safety. A Meerkat that sacrifices himself to save the rest of his clan from a predator is acting selfishly as this act is a result of his choice to live in the community and that community is the only reason he is still living. It is in his self-interest to support that community as he would die without it. Sadly there may come a time where that support which is critical to his existence, may end his existence, but to go against that community would certainly end his existence, so Rand’s “rational self-interest” would force him to end his existence. So if he dies, this act of self-sacrifice is selfish as all acts are as supporting his community is in his self-interest. If he chose to not distract the predator, then he would be ejected from the clan and would die anyway, so he does the right thing because in this way he at least supports his community.
    Humans are communal animals. We each stand on the shoulders of giants, who stood on the shoulders of earlier giants, all the way back to the cavemen. The most common dismissal of Rand is the straw man fallacy that states that she believed in some kind of sociopathic self-interest, but that wasn’t the case. She believed in “rational self-interest”. An easier way to understand the concept is to look at it as “long term self-interest”. Illustration of that idea is all through “Atlas Shrugged”. If Francisco only believed in irrational self-interest then he would have stayed with the love of his life, Dagny. It was his rational self-interest that caused him to break from her and spend more than a decade of his life destroying nearly everything that he held dear, to finally gain the one thing that he held dearest.
    Your article is deeply disturbing and sad. It worries me that someone may be so broken as to attempt to live their life completely for others, never seeking pleasure or enjoyment for themselves. The attempt would be sad and short. I guess the movie “seven pounds” could be a model, but all models have to include self-immolation as how could you not give it all to the many without the virtue of selfishness.
    So please, have hope. Please don’t immolate yourself to try to make others happy, as that is …evil. Understand that no matter where you are, you do not live in a capitalist society. Rand’s “politics of pull” are still ruling and ruining the US and every other country. Capitalism is not overturned, the term has just been horrifically coopted. Capitalism is the system of trading value for value and as such is favored by all thinking people, but it will always have to balance its opposite, the rule of force. Both are necessary for humans, as we are not angels, but the scales are unbalanced now. The US now is run under what has been called “crony capitalism” where those with wealth use the government as a weapon to oppress those without it. Those who have managed to climb the ladder of success are using the government to pull up the ladder behind them.
    Rand did not have it all right. I would say about her what she said about Aristotle, what she had right far outweighs what she had wrong. She had the answers, but didn’t follow them all the way through. The key is found in AS when Dagny finds Gault’s Gulch and is told that here we pay for everything. That idea if taken to its logical conclusion solves most of the problems of objectivism as presently idealized.

    • Thanks, you said it well. I was about to explain it with a similar approach. I would also add that acting based on “rational self-interest” gives an incredible sense of mission to life (or may be is just me). For example, I am involved in creating intentional communities (affordable housing with energy and food self-sufficiency). I do not just do it for my own interest (I will live in one) but because I know that it is in my best interest to make sure that my fellow human beings live in the best conditions possible. If I help them, they may help me. I increase my chances of survival. They may help me back, thank me, or just give a smile but I will feel rewarded with any of the responses. I did not make a conscious choice to feel rewarded, it was a feeling that my body just got when being positively responded. In conclusion, we are genetically programmed to look for actions that increase our happiness. We are wired for “rational self-interest”. [Arguing the opposite is pure contradiction]

  6. On Earth, the Greed Is Good ideologues are alive and well on Wall Street. Steve Jobs got ahead by thinking different, whereas all across America all the good little worker drones are being downsized. You seem to be associating totalitarian groupthink with unselfishness, when in fact most groupthinkers are uncompromisingly egotistical and egocentric beneath the platitudes. Try timidly suggesting that their vision for society might not be perfect and you’ll see.

  7. I just stumbled on this article after falling down a wikipedia rabbit hole which led me to this site and thus this article.

    A must say that what is proposed by the author and many of the commenters is nothing new; however, the concepts of liberty and capitalism as written by Ayn Rand and many other writers are relatively very in the timeline of human civilization. And much of the “problems” of capitalism mentioned by the author and the commenters are actually not caused by capitalism but of a failed execution of a capitalistic market (i.e. the government).

    Libertarians and capitalists believe that you should own your life, your property, and the fruits of your labor. Additionally you should allowed the liberty to use your life and property however you wish so long as you do not threaten the life, liberty, and property of another individual. Lastly two or more individuals should also be allowed to engage in consenting trade and other activities among themselves so long as the life, liberty, and property of individuals outside of this agreement are not threatened.

    It’s not selfishness. It’s liberty. Honestly I find it both frightening a humorous the number of people represented here who believe that “we must accept that the real way to prosper in this society is to make other people happy.” Every time this has been tried millions of people end up dying.

    With regard to these MEGA corporations gobbling everything up. Again, this is not the cause of capitalism but of a failed execution. The very existence of corporation with limited liability is NOT Randian capitalism. Yes, you should own your property and have the ability to use it as you please, but you inherit all the risks therein. The mega corporations exist because they have influenced the government through lobbying to impose regulation on their industry to inhibit competition. Government bureaucrats who oblige the corporations are rewarded. For instance, when the controversial NBC-Comcast merger was complete, one of the presiding FCC officials was offered a well-paying job at NBC-Comcast. This is also known as “the revolving door.” It is not a part of capitalism. Some refer to this as corporatism. It is mentioned in Ayn Rand’s books as concept touted by the antagonists.

    Trans-humanism is dangerous. In a trans-humanist world, there is no place for liberty and freedom. There is no place for the likes of John Locke, Martin Luther King Jr., or Ghandi.

    • Freedom without responsibility is chaos. A balance of self and other is needed for humanity to survive. The libertarian argument is all too often used by the powers that be to help continue the downward spiral we’re in. A totally free market is open to abuses. It’s regulate or cannibalize!

    • I would agree with nearly everything you say. Thank you for having an understanding of markets and History.

      My one gripe is your assertion of the dangers of transhumanism, and how it pertains to liberty. I believe that transhumanism is the ultimate goal of free markets: it is when an individual’s own body, and their property are no longer distinguishable by any reasonable measure. My fear is that if property rights are not equated to human rights, individuals will receive neither in a transhumanist society.

  8. Sellfishness has never been a virtue. Those of us who understand that the rich make their millions on the backs of those working below them are coming to understand that Capitalism no longer works, except for those at the top. Randian sociopathy has never been and will never be something to strive for. It is one of the reasons the world is in the mess its in. Appalling!

    • If you can find it, you might enjoy Jerome Tuccille’s _It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand._ I’m no fan of Tuccille, but the book’s portrait of Rand is hysterical. And probably spot-on.

  9. Very nice article Rachel.

  10. If nothing else, I applaud Ms. Marone’s courage. To take this position is to ensure that one will be attacked by a great many people. The Objectivist-Libertarians of the world are not noted for turning the other cheek, as it were.

    Further, I’m not sure I agree with all of the author’s critiques or conclusions. But it is undoubtedly true the world is in a mess and a that a good deal of that mess is the direct result of decades of neoliberalism.

    Thus, I submit that today’s libertarians are in precisely the unhappy position that social democrats were forty years ago. That is to say, the Left discovered that much work and millions of dollars invested in social welfare did not produce utopia. Now, the Right must explain how its ideology did not give us Galt’s Gulch or anything like it.

    • I submit that the left was not given full control to allow any utopia to take root. There has always been a tug of war between the haves and have nots. The idea of a Galt’s Gulch is ridiculous, given the ultimate fallback on selfishness. It could never happen. I further submit that people were doing better before the selfishness really took over, right around the time evil Ayn converted many upper class people to her twisted view of humanity.

  11. “The customer is always right,” has long been a motto of American capitalism. It doesn’t mean that each customer is omniscient, but that the customer’s desires are to be the guide for the thriving business.

    If you read Atlas Shrugged, you’ll find John Galt organizing others (that’s right) in a strike against what had become a wholly statist Other America. (The novel is a kind of SF story in an alternate universe.)

    Selfishness as depicted in the novel comes off much more as a kind of healthy self-interest, as opposed to the complete self-destructive self-denial demanded by the statist leading thinkers, politicians, and economists in that very odd world.

    Ironically or not, our accelerating technological civilization will probably be much more friendly for the brand of selfishness Ayn Rand had been promoting during the height of the old industrial civilization. As our tech makes it easier for us to build our cakes molecule by molecule, have them and eat them too, we won’t have to cooperate with suppliers and customers the way we do now.

    But then maybe this form of selfishness will also enable us to practice a degree of unselfishness that is wholly impracticable today. We not only will have our cakes and eat them, but we’ll be able to share the CAD CAM files with anyone we choose. Dozens of cakes, hundreds, thousands or millions of cakes with friends, relatives, casual acquaintances, and the acquaintances of acquaintances.

    At that point, the question of being selfish or unselfish will be akin to the question of how many angels can dance upon the head of one tiny pin.

  12. How would we know? When did we last have a Randian capitalistic economy?

    In my 50+ years, all I have perceived is growing govenment interference in the economy.

  13. I would add a couple of things:

    1. We all want a functioning and stable society with as many people able to afford things as possible, I’m assuming.

    2. “Capitalism” was a term that came after feudalism, and even in the 1800’s the term was used in different contexts and with different meanings.

    3. The bulk of this conversation (and I think nearly all conversations) gets down to the differences between two economic schools of thought, as they relate to the best way to govern in a democratic society: the Austrian School of economics and Keynesian economic theory. Essentially the Austrian school of economics advocated for “free market capitalism” Free market capitalism meaning ” a free-price system where supply and demand are allowed to reach their point of equilibrium without intervention by the government. Productive enterprises are privately owned, and the role of the state is limited to protecting property rights.”

    What the Austrian school folks could never forsee was the advent of the corporation. Since the emergence of this new entity, we have entered into a new type of capitalism — Corporate Capitalism — defined as “a free or mixed market characterized by the dominance of hierarchical, bureaucratic corporations, which are legally required to pursue profit. State monopoly capitalism refers to a form of corporate capitalism where the state is used to benefit, protect from competition and promote the interests of dominant or established corporations.”
    To deny that America is working under corporate capitalism, in my opinion, delusional.
    Contrasted with the Austrian School of economics is Keynesian economic theory, which could be compared to “Social Market Economy” capitalism, defined (in Wikipedia) as: “A social market economy is a nominally free-market system where government intervention in price formation is kept to a minimum but the state provides significant social security, unemployment benefits and recognition of labour rights through national collective bargaining laws. The social market is based on private ownership of businesses.”

    Personally, I think we’re all being subjected to a debate that is rife with emotion not founded upon common sense shit.

    I think for anyone to believe that if we remove government structures that somehow the market will solve everything has to check themselves. We let the banks determine home lending policies and they gave us the recession, at which point taxpayers had to bail everyone out. Why would we want corporations to continue to determine the rules by which we live?

    Publicly funded elections, I believe, can help us strike the appropriate balance between the roles of corporations and the roles of government.

    Let’s face the facts also. The government is wasteful and could be doing a much better job. Similarly, corporations are dynamic and drive innovation.
    Just because the above two statements are true, that doesn’t mean that government should be dismantled. Obama addressed this very tension in his 2012 state of the union address.
    It’s this very debate that continues to get to the very core of our debates and our perceived realities. This very debate will continue to define all modern democracies. Since the advent of the corporation, this is the debate that will define our path.

    definitions of capitalism came from wikipedia

  14. nice article rachel!

    i reckon people generally act on the incentives before them, but things get complicated because there are conflicting incentives and incomplete information. anyhoooo, i agree with your point that selfishness is less profitable now than before.

    nowadays, we have more and more information about others, so it’s harder for a person to be a cheat because it’s easier to find out that someone’s a cheat. we hate cheats even though we’re faced with an incentive to get more for less. as the times evolve, it’s harder and harder to get away with being a dick head, because it’s easier to find out that somebody’s a dick head. and that’s a good thing.

    it’s not about the government spying on us. it’s about us all ending up in a glass house. we’ll all have to be more tolerant and forgiving because each of us will be on display. good.

    i’m not sure that means the death of johh galt, though. galt wasn’t a cheat. he was a meritocrat …. just like most people. ol’ rand just believed in a harsh, unforgiving meritocracy. as the future rolls around the harsh-vs.-forgiving meritocracy debate will become moot because …. we’ll all be rich anyhow.

  15. It’s definitely nice to be kind, and the author is correct about group-think being absolutely bad.
    I don’t know how anybody can even argue with those points.

  16. I think many Americans today who know about Rand can agree with the tone but not the content.

    Eg, “We saw more and more poor conservatives who were too selfish to make it in Corporate America ” is a generalization without evidence.

  17. Self-interest does not preclude cooperation. In fact, “cooperation” without self-interest is akin to slavery.

  18. The group kindness to which the article refers is actually more of a pseudo-kindness or insincere appearance of kindness. There is a passive aggressive hostility to it that creeps me out.

  19. “”
    Thus spoke Zarathustra.

  20. Excellent article, and long overdue.

    I have met many Ayn Rand fans over the years. Everyone of them had a highly inflated sense of their own abilities, and with one exception, not one of them ever made a living as a self employed entrepreneur. In fact many of them were shockingly naive about financial matters as well as economics and history and tended to quickly fall back on slogans, much like die hard Marxists of the 1930s.

    In my opinion Randians are just the flip side of those liberals who attribute all progress to political activity alone and are easily sucked in by any science doomsday report that comes along.

  21. Awesome article Rachel! Only the selfish among us cannot see the death of economics based solely upon selfishness.

  22. I’ve started to wonder if the popularity of zombie apocalypses derives from the sense of futility & frustration many people feel about trying to make a living in an economy based on service work and social media, instead of tangible production. (As Tyler Cowen points out, the internet has made some people extremely wealthy, but it also generates very few jobs per million dollars of transactions. The paleofuture, by contrast, often emphasized building real stuff, and a lot of it, like space colonies. This kind of high tech future would have to employ relatively more people and pay them high wages for their value-add contributions.)

    Consider the kinds of people who become heroes in these stories: Blue collar workers, rednecks, farmers, police officers or lower ranking military men. They know how to shoot guns, repair machines, live off the land and do other practical things which urban white collar people don’t know how to do for the most part. The skills of physicians and nurses keep their value in the usual ZA, but attorneys, accountants, bureaucrats, corporate managers and the like find themselves at a serious disadvantage.

    Many of Rand’s heroes in Atlas Shrugged come from the white collar classes, but they also display competence at manual skills like blue collar people, based on Rand’s notion of mind/body integration. In other words, the Galt-like, self-reliant individual could work as a character in a ZA, and once the zombies have swept away the absurd service economy and an oppressive government, he could come into his own, see his status rise and become the leader of the survivors.

  23. >As unique and individualistic as we are we must accept that the real way to prosper in this society is to make other people happy.

    Which people do we want to make “happy”? The politicians across the spectrum who want more and more control over our lives? Why should we want to make them happy?

    Rand gets deservedly knocked for a lot of things, but she did have one important insight: Society’s most productive people don’t have to put up with abusive governments and their “giving back” nonsense in the modern world. Instead they can view political jurisdictions like competing hotels, and shop around for ones which offer to treat them well in exchange for reasonable charges called taxation.

    For example, Tiger Woods saved a fortune by moving from California, where he grew up, to Florida, which doesn’t have a state income tax. Did he make politicians, unionized government workers and the state’s welfare dependents unhappy by depriving them of some of his income? So what if he did? Deal with it.

    The same goes for many of China’s new millionaires, who plan to make China’s communist leaders unhappy by seeking citizenship in other countries and moving their fortunes out of China, before men with assault rifles show up at their doorsteps and demand that they “give back” to the system in which they became successful. I see nothing wrong with their John Galt-like behavior, and I would try to do the same thing in their situation.

    • Yes indeed. I want other people to be happy, I may even help some of them on their way – but damned if I owe them some happiness – and if we owe each other happiness, they can start paying their tremendous debt to me by ceasing to screw me over with their collectivist nonsense every chance they get.

  24. The idea that individual vs. collective,competiion vs, cooperation etc are irreconcilable differences,and that only one of side of such polarities can be the bassis of an economic/governing system is the big lie of the 20th century. In fact these polarities are always part of any system.

  25. My personal impression is that individualists are still gaining the upper hand, asserting themselves before others. If anything, more collectivism is needed yet. It may be too early to pity the poor individualists.

    On a related note, has anybody tried to be on a Transhumanist TEAM? Not contributing articles to a joint publication, but actually doing something together?

  26. I don’t think it is the case that the selfish are shunned in our society. I do, however, think that introverts are shunned; and if you are an introvert, AND are selfish, you are especially so. I am a progressive/liberal (with libertarian leanings) introvert — in fact, I am almost pathologically shy — and am not selfish… or at least try not to be. I have my friends… not as many as I would like… but I am simply unable to summon the nerve to go to loud bars and just start talking to people. One day maybe the technology will exist to allow me to remove my fear and anxiety of other people.



    • Yes, this is more about introversion. It’s just another extrovert trying to impose their view of the world on those of us for whom a lifelong discussion of the weather and the latest football game are boring.

      Individualism does not imply selfishness – far from it, an individualist wants other people to be happy being themselves, as opposed to forcing everyone into a “unity” that is harmful to everyone but those who are making the rules. I can think of nothing more selfish than the collectivist dream that pays no heed to the needs and desires of the individuals who make up the group.

  27. The people at the very top are at least as selfish as the people at the very bottom. It is the people in the middle who now try to be people-pleasers. And this has pretty much always been the case.

    • Exactly. Interesting to read a piece which could easily be a collectivist argument in Rand’s novels. Heheheheh.

  28. We need to face the fact that Randian capitalism is no longer a way to advance oneself but a way to make oneself poor.

    It should be noted that Rand’s other major heroic character, Howard Roark, was able to find a place of contentment with a stable living and not much more. One thing Roark also did, albeit grudgingly, was enable alliances where he could focus on his work while somebody else did what you aptly described “customer service.”

    So I would suggest that one answer to your final set of questions could be, “Yes – if you turn the system against itself in the right places.”

  29. Here’s a theory. The people are homeless because….

    1. They took out hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt in pursuit of so-called “higher education” thinking for a split second how they are going to repay that debt or is it necessary.

    2. They believed that the price of homes will rise forever, probably because they slept through exponents class.

    3. They blame “corporate America”, when America is virtually the only country in the world where every man has the right and ability for start his or hers own business and pursue his or hers own happiness (notice: nobody guarantees that they’ll succeed, but they are allowed to TRY.)

    Rand didn’t advocate selfishness, she advocated self-interest. John Galt will never be homeless, because if he is out job and looks for ways to provide for himself and doesn’t expect governments or “Corporate America” to throw him a bone.

    Sorry, didn’t agree with a single word you wrote up there.

    • Agree, though a bit Amerocentric to say America is the only country that supports independent business – any westernised, socialist/capitalist country has that (including mine). And we weathered your recession easier because we have much less of a credit culture, generally speaking.

    • have you ever been outside the usa?

    • 1) Nope. I paid my way through a 2 year education working retail, then I went to a university and dropped out after a semester. I’ve never been in large debt in my life, and don’t plan to be, but that’s a objective mistake. It is wise to take out loans and then not pay them back, people are getting away with it and in doing so are corroding the value of money.

      2) what, no.

      3) No, corporate occultism doesn’t have anything to do with it. Starting your own business is fine, but don’t get too successful… if you’ve ever been successful you’ll understand what I mean. In this current age of beamtenherrschaft it’s better to be a drug runner working with flax notes than bleeding into the mouths of bureaucrats.

      4) She wrote a book named “The virtue of selfishness” — you may be splitting hairs by creating a divide between “self-interest” and “selfishness”

      True, John Galt will never be homeless because he’ll build his own damn cabin (see Atlantis, Atlas Shrugged)

  30. Good article.

    I will say that the individual mindset will feel inherently ostracized whether he is in a state of prosper or poverty.

    I also believe Atlas Shrugged is the story you’re talking about: the transistion between a world that loved novelty, innovation and risk towards a sterilized and safe world of predictable cycles.

    I don’t believe it’s ideological martyrdom, you can’t kill a rock… its a hibernation if anything:

    “Build your cities proud and high. Lay your sewers. Span your rivers. Work feverishly. Sleep dreamlessly. Sing madly, like the bulbul. Underneath, below the deepest foundations, there lives another race of men. They are dark, sombre, passionate. They muscle into the bowels of the earth. They wait with a patience which is terrifying. They are the scavengers, the devourers, the avengers. They emerge when everything topples into dust.” — Henry Miller: Sexus

    Maybe I truly am a doomed deviant not deserving an existence among the people-pleasing master race. Your article did call it: I am pretty much homeless…

    Another thought (cosmic shmuck level):
    that the whole cosmos got too caught up in itself, and everything is springing back very forcefully to try and attain zero again… and in doing so the pendulum is going far into what we see as group think. I don’t know, this movement of “the principle” is why I think the first sentence of the Tao Te Ching reads like it does.

    There are A LOT of people who are currently prospering that don’t really DO anything besides be conduits for the skills and money of others. This doesn’t worry me either, I’ve seen it as a stretching out of cosmic energy, instead of concentrated individuals it has become a network of node humans that live by connecting people to eachother, just creating a bigger and bigger network (is this the singularity in action and it’s just waiting for me to “give fully”?). It’s interesting and I believe I could do it, but I would come away feeling dirty.

    Maybe it’s because I AM the dirty one in the eyes of “the ‘human’ singularity” (the adjective means less and less as we get closer to pure singularity).

    wow. lol

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