Who Is John Galt?

I’ve just finished reading For The New Intellectual. The first half of this book is an essay and the remainder is quotes from Rand’s various works of fiction. The last section is the entire speech in full of John Galt, taken from Atlas Shrugged. If there is ever a more resounding, compelling, intellectually-triumphant, philosophically-adept piece of literature I am yet to read it.

I’ve often dismissed theists for such condescending remarks as “read the bible and Jesus will reveal himself to you”, as if reading a few chapters from an archaic work of fiction will change my life. But not one book of the bible or the entire hodgepodge of junk in it can compare to John Galt’s speech. Perhaps I spoke too soon though: one piece of literature can change your life, if it’s the right piece. Now, I haven’t read Atlas Shrugged all the way through, and John Galt’s speech hasn’t necessarily changed my life because I’m already familiar with the philosophy of Ayn Rand, but, if I’d just read it for the first time, I’d be a brave man to predict that it wouldn’t have changed my entire worldview – I mean that.

Incidentally, this is why the mystical fabrication of religion is so pathetic and vacuous; what “holy book” addresses the nature of existence, the law of identity, man as a rational being, the definition of morality?; what other work of fact or fiction so eloquently obliterates philosophical scepticism; identifies the virtuous corollaries of selfishness and the inescapable death of sacrifice; establishes the root cause of so much unhappiness, despair, misery, poverty, and failure in the world?; determines the correct and proper political setup; proclaims man’s happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life, and his mind as the only way to attain it?

Galt’s speech is quite a read! I read it for a few hours in work last week, (disclaimer in case my boss reads this: it was over the holiday period; whilst others were playing games and quizzes I was reading about capitalism in order to make my company more profitable!), and finished it off tonight in a few more hours! Time well spent.

There are many ways to get to grips with Objectivism, but if you’re an intelligent person, not emotionally committed to your prior beliefs, and with an honest desire to acquire a philosophy (epistemology, metaphysics, morality, politics, aesthetics) for a rational happy person, you should just read John Galt’s speech. It’s as simple as that.


8 Responses to “Who Is John Galt?”

  1. Robert Taylor Says:

    Same way I felt when I originally read “Atlas Shrugged”. The best defense of capitalism and rational egoism ever written.

  2. yojoe Says:

    It takes some time, but you must finish Atlas Shrugged. The one idea I continue to have some trouble understanding is the virtue of selfishness. Do we do things to help others, or because we want that good feeling from helping others.

    Thanks for reminding me to pick up AS and read a chapter or two.


  3. darvish Says:

    I read it when I was 19, and I’m 62 now. You’re right, it did give me a different and more centered view of the world. It all made sense for the first time. And just reading the speech out of context is ok, but you should read the whole book to get the real force of it. Objectivism is completely misunderstood nowadays. I taught a course in it in 1970-72, and many students took the course again.

  4. evanescent Says:

    Yojoe, we help those we value precisely because we value them. Generosity and kindness towards our friends, family, and lovers are selfish acts. We help strangers in a non-sacrificial way if it is within our rational ability to do so, and if we are not duty-bound to do so, because we recognise them as fellow rational living beings and capable of potential value to us. It is in our selfish interest to cultivate a society where people care for each other, within their means, with no one being sacrificed to anyone.

  5. mark1985 Says:

    I read the SoT series by Terry Goodkind and was beyond moved with the protaganist Richard. Terry Goodkind is an objectivist. I wasn’t yet familiar with Rand but completely agreed with the the philosophy of the SoT series. Atlas Shrugged was a great novel and helped refute some of the beliefs I held (Christian/Muslim) of altruism. I’m currently reading the Capitalist Manifesto by Andrew Bernstein.

  6. Shaun Says:

    It’s fantastic to see you are reading up on Rand. I cannot tell you how refreshing it was for me to read her works. I’m currently engaged in her “Return of the Primitive”, where she critiques much of the youthful postmodern movements during the 60s and on. I’ve both enjoyed and learned from it immensely.

    If there is one thing our nation needs, it’s a check up on basic philosophy. Reality exists, rationality works, the self is not evil and capitalism is just. Simple, yet completely missed by so many individuals these days.

  7. Jack McGuirk Says:

    Who is John Galt? (Or who is the individual whose life best represents Ayn Rand’s philosophy?)

    His name is Marc Emery and after fourty years of non-violent opposition to unjust laws he is facing the prospect of life imprisonment.

    This is happening as I am typing. Check out his story:

  8. What is Objectivism? « evanescent Says:

    […] course!”; “that makes so much sense!”?  Such was my reaction to TVOS.  And I maintain that John Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged is the finest passage of text I have ever and will ever read.  For a long time […]

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