Analysis of John Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged
In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand wrote possibly her most iconic passage of fiction. In it, a mysterious figure comes out of the shadows after withdrawing from public life some twelve years earlier. During those twelve years of self-imposed exile, he formed his own community of talented, like-minded people he’s enticed to go on “strike” from an ungrateful society consumed with taking their achievements for their own. As a result of the strike depriving society of the inventors and entrepreneurs who made it run, the world has fallen into a state of disrepair and despair. Near the end of the story, Galt returns to explain his actions is this famous monologue known to us as “This is John Galt Speaking”.
One of the chief themes of Galt’s speech is the idea that society had begun to hold sacrifice as its highest virtue, but Galt points out that in society’s twisted morality, societies concept of sacrifice was not that of noble self-sacrifice, it was responding to the demands of others that was held as a virtue. Virtue, in this fallen system, was to accede to the demands of others, even to the point of going against one’s own best self-interest. This “virtue” of sacrifice stemmed from or perhaps caused a widespread sense of entitlement. People had stared to believe that they were entitled to the efforts of others.
“You have heard it said that this is an age of moral crisis. You have said it yourself, half in fear, half in hope that the words had no meaning. You have cried that man’s sins are destroying the world and you have cursed human nature for its unwillingness to practice the virtues you demanded. Since virtue, to you, consists of sacrifice, you have demanded more sacrifices at every successive disaster. In the name of a return to morality, you have sacrificed all those evils which you held as the cause of your plight. You have sacrificed justice to mercy. You have sacrificed independence to unity. You have sacrificed reason to faith. You have sacrificed wealth to need. You have sacrificed self-esteem to self-denial. You have sacrificed happiness to duty.”
We live in a world where countries have been convinced to sacrifice large portions of their economy, particularly in energy and agriculture. Over the past few decades, Germany as invested in renewable fuels such as wind and solar. Now, with war in Eastern Europe, it’s lost a large supply of gas and oil. It, and other countries will struggle to make up the difference and renewables will not be enough. Sri Lanka was convinced to undertake self-destructive economic measures in the name of achieving a high Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) score. It took out loans it could never repay and decimated its agricultural sector to the point that its people were going hungry. Other countries have followed Sri Lanka down this path. The Netherlands is deliberately regulating nearly a third of its farms out of business. Canada is acting in a similar fashion. Countries are practicing self-immolation in the name of the greater good.
“Since life requires a specific course of action, any other course will destroy it. A being who does not hold his own life as the motive and goal of his actions, is acting on the motive and standard of death. Such a being is a metaphysical monstrosity, struggling to oppose, negate and contradict the fact of his own existence, running blindly amuck on a trail of destruction, capable of nothing but pain.
“Happiness is the successful state of life, pain is an agent of death. Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values. A morality that dares to tell you to find happiness in the renunciation of your happiness-to value the failure of your values-is an insolent negation of morality. A doctrine that gives you, as an ideal, the role of a sacrificial animal seeking slaughter on the altars of others, is giving you death as your standard. By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man-every man-is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.”– John Galt, in Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
The global elite would not agree with John Galt here. They say that a man’s highest purpose is to serve his fellow man. They say that, but their policies when put into practice, serve mainly them. These oligarchs and technocrats ask the Dutch farmer, the Canadian trucker, and the West Virginian coal miner to sacrifice their livelihoods for the good of their fellow man. They call the American that wants to be comfortable in their home during the summer as selfish, and they will call the European who wishes to be warm in their home during the winter selfish as well. Far from Galt’s words, the words of globalists such as Klaus Schwab are: “You’ll own nothing and be happy.”