John Galt is a character in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged (1957). The term “Going (John) Galt” or “Go (John) Galt” refers to dropping out of an increasingly socialistic society where the products of one’s wealth are taken away and given to non-producers. For example, if taxes become onerous at $250,000 of annual income, the John Galts would stop working after achieving this income level (rather than see most of the additional earnings redistributed).
On October 12, 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama told Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher ("Joe the Plumber"): “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” Also on October 12, 2008, Dr. Helen Smith wrote on her blog: “Do you ever wonder after dealing with all that is going on with the economy and the upcoming election if it’s getting to be time to ‘go John Galt.’” Smith later wrote about “Go John Gault” concept for Pajamas Media. Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin wrote about “Going Galt” in March 2009. On tax day of April 15, 2009, many tea party signs referred to John Galt.
Wikipedia: John Galt
John Galt is a fictional character in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged. Although he is absent from much of the text, he is the subject of the novel’s often repeated question, “Who is John Galt?”, and the quest to discover the answer.
As the plot unfolds, Galt is acknowledged to be a creator and inventor who embodies the power of the individual capitalist. He serves as an idealistic counterpoint to the social and economic structure depicted in the novel. The depiction portrays a society based on oppressive bureaucratic functionaries and a culture that embraces the stifling mediocrity and egalitarianism of socialistic idealism. In this popular mass ideology, the industrialists of America were a metaphorical Atlas of Greek mythology, holding up the world, whom Galt convinces to “shrug,” by refusing to lend their productive genius to the regime any longer.
In the novel, Galt is the son of an Ohio garage mechanic, who leaves home at age twelve and begins college at Patrick Henry University at age sixteen. There he befriends Francisco d’Anconia and Ragnar Danneskjöld as all three of them double-major in physics and philosophy. After graduating, Galt becomes an engineer at the Twentieth Century Motor Company, where he designs a revolutionary new motor powered by ambient static electricity. When the company owners decide to run the factory by the collectivist maxim, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” Galt refuses to work there any longer and abandons his motor. These events all occur before the novel begins, but are described by the characters.
During the main storyline of the book, Galt has secretly organized a strike by the world’s creative leaders, including inventors, artists and businessmen, in an effort to “stop the motor of the world,” thereby bringing about the collapse of the collectivist society. While working incognito as a laborer for Taggart Transcontinental railroad, he travels to visit the key figures that he has not yet recruited, systematically convincing them to join the strike. This strike is not revealed immediately within the story, but forms the backdrop of the novel as a mystery which protagonist Dagny Taggart seeks to uncover, with Galt as her antagonist. The storyline unfolds by exploring rumors and legends about the identity of Galt. Galt’s actual identity is learned only after a prolonged search by Taggart.
Taggart discovers that Galt and the other strikers have created their own secret enclave known as “Galt’s Gulch,” a town secluded in a Colorado mountain valley. While in the valley, Taggart develops a romantic relationship with Galt, although she refuses to join the strike. After Taggart returns home, Galt takes over the airwaves to deliver a lengthy speech explaining the irrationality of collectivism and offering his own philosophy (actually a summary of Rand’s Objectivist philosophy) as an alternative. Galt spoke against what he saw as the “evil” of collectivism and Christian ideas of collective sin and guilt, and said they should be replaced by enlightened selfishness and individualism. Seeking Galt after the speech, Taggart accidentally leads the authorities to him, and he is arrested. Taggart and the strikers rescue Galt as he is being tortured by the government. They return to Galt’s Gulch and prepare to take over the country as the collectivist government is collapsing.
“Who is John Galt?”
The book’s opening line “Who is John Galt?” becomes an expression of helplessness and despair at the current state of the novel’s fictionalized world. Dagny Taggart hears a number of legends of Galt before finding the real John Galt and eventually joins his cause, and learning that all of the stories have an element of truth to them.
The use of John Galt as a symbol in the context of political or social protest has taken root in some places. The phrase “going John Galt” has been used to refer to productive members of society cutting back on work in response to the projected increase in U.S. marginal tax rates for those making over $250,000, limits on deductions for higher earners, and the use of tax revenues for causes they regard as immoral. Some people who are “going John Galt” discussed their reasons on a PJTV program in March 2009. “Who is John Galt?” signs were seen at Tea Party protests held in the United States and at banking protests in London in April 2009.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Going John Galt
Do you ever wonder after dealing with all that is going on with the economy and the upcoming election if it’s getting to be time to “go John Galt.” For those of you who have never read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, the basic theme is that John Galt and his allies take actions that include withdrawing their talents, ‘stopping the motor of the world’, and leading the ‘strikers’ (those who refuse to be exploited) against the ‘looters’ (the exploiters, backed by the government).
My question to readers is, what are some ways to “go John Galt” (legally, of course)--that is, should productive people cut back on what they need, make less money, and take it easy so that the government is starved for funds, or is there some other way of making a statement?
Ask Dr. Helen: Is It Time to ‘Go John Galt’?
by Helen Smith
October 15, 2008
I recently wrote a post on my blog asking readers to react to the creeping socialism and expectation in our society that those who are productive must pay for the cost of our society:
Do you ever wonder after dealing with all that is going on with the economy and the upcoming election if it’s getting to be time to “go John Galt”? For those of you who have never read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, the basic theme is that John Galt and his allies take actions that include withdrawing their talents, “stopping the motor of the world,” and leading the “strikers” (those who refuse to be exploited) against the “looters” (the exploiters, backed by the government).
Perhaps the partisan politics we are dealing with now is really just a struggle between those of us who believe in productivity, personal responsibility, and keeping government interference to a minimum, and those who believe in the socialistic policies of taking from others, using the government as a watchdog, and rewarding those who overspend, underwork, or are just plain unproductive.
Obama talks about taking from those who are productive and redistributing to those who are not — or who are not as successful. If success and productivity is to be punished, why bother? Perhaps it is time for those of us who make the money and pay the taxes to take it easy, live on less, and let the looters of the world find their own way.
My question to readers is, what are some ways to “go John Galt” (legally, of course) — that is, should productive people cut back on what they need, make less money, and take it easy so that the government is starved for funds, or is there some other way of making a statement?
10/15/2008 6:08 PM
Subject: Time to go John Galt?
Just finished an interesting article in which the author suggested that if Obama and the Dems win the election and carry out a redistribution of income from the productive and successful to the unproductive and unsuccessful, then the former should do a John Galt.
For those who have not read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (which I highly recommend), John Galt was the character in her novel who, disgusted with the government’s policy of punishing the productive and rewarding the less productive, decided to “stop the engine of the world”. He led a movement in which the productive just stopped being productive, leaving the socialist nothing to redistribute.
The author of the article suggested that business owners not expand or add new workers (more work for them, more problems, and higher taxes = why bother). Others should cut back and do just what they have to do to get by and start demanding their share of the government goodies that the Dems will hand out.
The basic idea is that if the government is going to punish the productive and successful with confiscatory taxes, why be productive or successful?
Going “John Galt”
Why “Going John Galt”?
In Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, the novel’s hero John Galt leads a secret strike of the most productive citizens in an America where productivity and freedom is no longer valued. The strike is an act of rebellion and self-preservation, fueled by Galt’s crucial insight that their enemies’ only weapons are the ones the strikers produce for them. By recruiting more and more strikers, Galt precipitates the ultimate collapse of American society.
Yet I don’t think there is a more pressing mission in the world at this moment. I invite you all to rise to this challenge, and to plan for the time when the freedom loving producers of the US will “go ‘John Galt’”.
By John November 11, 2008
Going Galt: Tax hikes have consequences
By Michelle Malkin • March 2, 2009 06:22 PM
There’s a new report on ABCNews.com about how upper-income business owners are looking for ways to reduce their earnings to deny the government their tax dollars. This is exactly what Dr. Helen was talking about in October and on our PJTV panel this weekend– the producers of this country choosing to “Go Galt.” It’s the sentiment you saw in the “Atlas Will Shrug” sign at the Denver anti-pork rally two weeks ago and at many of the Tea Party protests. And it’s the sentiment you see in the rise of Ayn Rand novel sales.
Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com
March 6, 2009, 4:14 pm
‘Going Galt’: Everyone’s Doing It!
By ERIC ETHERIDGE
The right has a new hero to lead the Tea Party revolts Rick Santelli started: John Galt.
According to the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, sales of Atlas Shrugged hit an all-time high last year, and have “almost tripled” in the first seven weeks of 2009 against last year.
Michelle Malkin is the Norma Rae of this Galt moment, walking the virtual shop floors of the country’s “wealth producers,” but instead of “Strike!” her sign reads “Going Galt!”
this reality is...
29 November 2009
To “Go John Galt” or to Not
My previous blog entries have pretty much let the reader know I and my family are withdrawing our sanction of the current paradigm...our actions? Voluntary simplicity, refusing to use as much of the current system as possible (not using credit cards, actually paying down debt), not buying new items, rather find what is needed in a thrift store, flea market, garage sales, and so forth. I am intentionally earning less than I am capable, we homeschool our children and we do not subscribe to any TV anymore (without ANY child riots, yet...yikes...!). Basically, we’ve “Gone John Galt”, as some are calling it. A revolution in thought, paradigm, action. Don’t fight, withdraw...refuse to help or assist the abusers in abusing you.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (1) Comments • Wednesday, December 02, 2009 • Permalink
Excellent post...Atlas Shrugged is a landmark novel albeit the John Galt near end of novel speech (Ayn Rand’s ramblings) was a bit lengthy to digest for most casual readers. * The Fountainhead is another great Rand book. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land is another book in which the main protagonist (Michael Valentine Smith) calmly emotes similar indictments of the bureaucratic nightmares of governments and the fears of the creatures described so aptly in Desmond Morris’ book The Naked Ape. >;->
BTW...my recollection of the origins of Texas Trash (your blog entry August 3, 2006) is that it was in the early 1960s when I first became aware of the term Texas Trash in Houston… and possibly my mother was using that term in the 1950s. See my new update of the familiy recipe at: