The John Galt Promise
â€œI swear-by my life and my love of it-that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
John Galt is the hero character from the epic novel by Ayn Rand entitled Atlas Shrugged. The namesake of this novel comes from the Greek Titan Atlas, who is tasked to carry the world and all of the heavens on his shoulders. Ayn Rand draws a clear allegory between the producers of society and Atlas. The plot line of her book catalogs the effects of what happens when the burden becomes to great for Atlas to bear, and he “Shrugs” his shoulders, allowing the world and the heavens to all come crashing down in an epic collapse.
The increased burden of the world’s producers is brought about by taxes and regulations that are advanced in the name of the “common good”, but ultimately go to subsidize the livelihood of people and business who do not produce things of value of their own. Each edict carries a pleasant sounding name, but simply serves to advance the fortunes of those who are politically connected. Each time that a government program sets out to address needs, it conditions people to avoid thinking and acting for themselves until a point is reached where there are no people who think about anything except exploiting the system. The dystopia articulated by Ayn Rand serves as a grim reminder of what awaits when producers are punished and looters are rewarded with government subsidies or election to political office.
In the story, John Galt is an engineer who designs a fantastic motor, but refuses to surrender his invention to looters from the government that wish to plunder his achievement for the sake of their own gains. Because of this, he organizes a “strike” of the world’s greatest artists, philosophers, engineers, and businesspeople where they remove their minds from society so that the system can no longer sustain itself from their efforts.
The central creed of Galt’s faction is the notion that they would live for the sake of no other man and ask no other man to live for their. Simply put, this means to make your own choices and never allow another person to choose for you. It does not mean that people should be “greedy” or excessively self-centered, but that charity should be a choice and not an obligation of “guilt” or “duty”. The John Galt promise lives as an axiom to the producers of the world that they should never acquiesce to the peddlers of guilt and the purveyors of the “public good” as they seek to enrich themselves by plundering the production of others.