Atlas Shrugged: John Galt Didn’t Murder the World

Did anyone else notice that John Galt didn’t cause the world to collapse?

He says that he turned off the motor of the world, but I find it ironically not quite true.

There is a great scene in the book, where the gang of cronies capture Galt and then try to persuade him to make the economy function again. He says he would do so, if they just gave up their power and got the hell out of his way. They don’t want that of course, but hope he’d make the economy work anyway. They try to guilt him into it, by saying people would starve and die without him. He refuses, and he’s not a heartless bastard for doing so.

If the cronies really wanted to save the people, they’d give up their power and let Galt fix everything. What they really wanted was to save their asses and go on living as usual, taking from the productive people and using the weaker people as an excuse. Whoever drove the economy into the ground is the one to blame for all those people’s deaths, not whoever refuses to save the world.

Here is the scene:

“”It’s the question of moral responsibility that you might not have studied sufficiently, Mr. Galt,” Dr. Ferris was drawling in too airy, too forced a tone of casual informality. “You seem to have talked on the radio about nothing but sins of commission. But there are also the sins of omission to consider. To fail to save a life is as immoral as to murder. The consequences are the same – and since we must judge actions by their consequences, the moral responsibility is the same… For instance, in view of the desperate shortage of food, it has been suggested that it might become necessary to issue a directive ordering that every third one of all children under the age of ten and of all adults over the age of sixty be put to death, to secure survival of the rest. You wouldn’t want this to happen, would you? You can prevent it. One word from you would prevent it. If you refuse and all those people are executed – it will be your fault and your moral responsibility!”

“You’re crazy!” screamed Mr. Thompson, recovering from shock and leaping to his feet. “Nobody’s ever suggested any such thing! Nobody’s ever considered it! Please, Mr. Galt! Don’t believe him! He doesn’t mean it!””

Dr. Ferris is right though – if John Galt is responsible for the wellbeing of everyone on the planet, then he is the murderer if he refuses to give in and the government randomly executes a bunch of people.

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3 Responses to Atlas Shrugged: John Galt Didn’t Murder the World

  1. “There is a great scene in the book, where the gang of cronies capture Galt and then try to persuade him to make the economy function again. He says he would do so, if they just gave up their power and got the hell out of his way.”

    The thing that always struck me about those scenes where they beg him to make their economy function, is how they promise him that they will do ANYTHING that he asks. Then when he tells them what has to be done they ALWAYS shriek, “No! That can’t be done/We can’t do that because…bla bla bla…”. They’re SAY that they’re willing to do everything and anything, but even THEY know they’re lying through their teeth. They willing to do everything but what needs to be done…and they know it

    They’re much like the Leftists and feminists of Western societies today — they are so filled with arrogance and hubris that they would rather have society, our economies, and our cultures collapse, then EVER EVER EVER admit that they were wrong.
    In fact, that is shown by recent history: the formerly socialist totalitarian governments of the old Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc had to collapse before they were replaced with their present governments.

  2. Thanks for reading and commenting on this book. I suffered through the Virtue of Selfishness and sort of enjoyed Anthem, but I have no desire to read a 70 page long speech 😉

    It’s interesting to watch you intellectually navigate your way through these topics.

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