Copies of Ayn Rand's “Atlas Shrugged” are flying off the shelves these days, but since I'm flirting once again with “going Galt,” I'm rereading the yellow, dog-eared copy I purchased in New Orleans back in the 1970’s for $1.75.

Copies of Ayn Rand's “Atlas Shrugged” are flying off the shelves these days, but since I'm flirting once again with “going Galt,” I'm rereading the yellow, dog-eared copy I purchased in New Orleans back in the 1970s for $1.75.

Back then, going John Galt in the manner of the hero of the novel meant you were a kind of an individualist, that you thought you could accomplish stuff by doing your thing with purpose, integrity and determination. You could be an industrialist, an architect, an artist, even a maker of hamburgers. A true Galtist had a code and could not be stopped, if he stayed the path.

A Galtist must discover, or determine, what he is creative and productive at. He must deliver to society in order to be rewarded money allowing him to live a life above the fray, independent of society and its slacker-like foibles.

Once at the top of the ladder, a Galtist fights off all the losers who want to tap into his success.

Imagine John Galt repeatedly turning down offers to franchise his earthshaking burgers in order to prevent watering down the product and destroying its quality.

In a great capitalist society, amoral Galtist-type individualists lead the nation. They are watched over by government agencies guarding against excesses that naturally occur when the occasional bad-blood capitalist attempts to milk the system without delivering the goods expected of them.

America was nearly toppled from within by men like Enron's Ken Lay, Ponzi scheme fraud Bernie Madoff and a former president who mouthed but did not practice the ideas of Galt style objectivism.

Today, we even have unintentional comedians like conservative provocateur Rush Limbaugh who claims he is “going Galt,” and recommends that his followers do the same.

If you cannot hear me laughing at Limbaugh's lunacy, listen closely and you will hear Ayn Rand cursing him from her grave. 

When great Galt-type leaders fade away and die, they must be replaced, or society loses its edge, its potency. But rather than rewarding individualism and creativity, Corporate America glorifies marketing teams and engineers that rehash ideas and products for gullible, dumbed down consumers to buy.

What brings a dilettante like myself back to objectivism is a belief that evil, or stupidity, or whatever you want to call the catalyst that causes the downfall of a society, always rears its head when good people fail to defend their rights and the things they believe in.

As John Galt said, “I saw that there comes a point in the defeat of any man of virtue when his consent is needed for evil to win…”

Long ago in New Orleans, after finishing a feverish read of “Atlas Shrugged,” I walked out of my office amazed at what I had discovered. How phony the existing business world I knew seemed. I stepped into a busy downtown street, and instead of looking both ways, walked into a main thoroughfare, daydreaming. A horn blew and I looked up to see a delivery truck bearing down on me.

The driver sat on his horn with his elbow. The poor fellow thought he was going to run me over, yet I was no more concerned than a preacher with an overflow Sunday collection plate.

Already walking at a rapid pace, and floating on a cloud of “Atlas Shrugged” ideas, I bolted across the street out of the truck’s path. I turned, grinned at the driver, and strode away, planning my escape from the cardboard world of ideas I once knew.

Weekly Citizen (Gonzales, La.)