Who is John Galt?

“[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.”
—United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

Illustration of Ayn Rand from US postage stampRumsfeld left out one category – the unknown knowns. Randians are the people do not know what they know – nor what they want to do.

The do not know. Randians feel, but do not know why. Mainly that’s because, while they are self-centered, they are self-unaware. Think of a spinning top that doesn’t know it’s about to drop.

If artificial persons are better than natural persons, it’s because they are man-made, in the image of what man would like to have–immortality, infallibility, authority.

If Randian behavior seems robotic, that’s because they are “responsible persons”–i.e. persons who, not unlike a sunflower or a tree responding to the prevailing winds, respond to prompts. Also like a dog trained to respond to his master’s call. Randian responsibility does not refer to caring for things (or other people), just as republican does not refer to the people’s business. At best, Randians attempt to represent, which is akin to repeat or repetition–saying something over again. And, indeed, verbiage is their primary mode of relating to the world. Randians talk so others will listen to their demands. It is, one suspects, the attribute that keeps them alive–the gift of gab. If they didn’t make noise and prompt others to attend, their needs would never be met. Indeed, from the Randian perspective, their demands are what prompt others to work. It’s a necessary assumption since, being inept, they don’t know how to do anything for themselves. So, their stated ideal, independence, is exactly what they don’t have, except as an intent.

Which means, when we come right down to it, that Randians do not know what they want and don’t actually want what they imagine. What they want is to be cared for and to pretend they are autonomous. Why? Because that is all they are capable of. Randians have no talent other than to make demands and be served.

Think of “deserve” as a combination of demand and serve. They deserve to be sustained because they are. Other people have to work because they can do things.

Randians can’t do, so they preach. Randians effect order out of randomness by happenstance. They’re like children which focus the energies of the family or the dams which result when beavers keep piling up sticks and muck. Randians are the accidental social connectors–the babe wailing for nurture. Our mistake is in thinking they know what they need to grow up healthy.

From the infantile Randian perspective, contraception represents an existential threat. It raises the fear that had their mothers been able to choose, they never would have been born. Since they are not able, they do not know what purpose they serve. That producers need freeloaders to consume their surplus does not occur to them. They do not know what they do.

Illustration of Ayn Rand from US postage stamp.

Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."