The term “Going Galt” is one that is often repeated in many political blogs. The term is not a new one, although it is certainly new to many people. Those who are curious about the term might be asking “What does ‘Going Galt’ Mean?” The answer to the question is found in looking closely at the work of libertarian philosopher and author Ayn Rand.
Ayn Rand invents a brilliant character
In 1957, Ayn Rand wrote a novel about a dystopian future entitled Atlas Shrugged. In this world, a massive amount of government overreach and regulation has led to some of the brightest and most industrious minds simply giving up. The future ceases to be a bright one because those known for being the producers have given up. The question “Who is John Galt?” is asked for the first two-thirds of the novel.
There is a sense of mystery found in this question because it is intended to lead the reader to finding this supposedly great philosopher and thinker, a man who does not want to be found. Eventually, we do find John Galt in the latter part of the novel and discover he has a rebellious nature against the troubled, oppressive society he lives in.
The term “Going Galt” is coined
Galt, we learn, turned a failing railroad around but is never honored by his success. Rather, the government sees him as an evil capitalist and almost make an enemy of the people out of him. A depressed Galt truly wonders if all he did was really worth it.
From this, the term “Going Galt” emerged.
What is the term describes is someone who feels the government is acting very negatively towards his/her productivity. The person is designated for being punished for his or her success by punitive taxes or is overburdened by regulations to stop “evil” behavior. So, the person “Goes Galt” and deliberately ceases to be productive.
A form of civil disobedience
In a way, “Going Galt” is a form of civil disobedience towards a perceived oppressive government. There is no law that states someone must be productive so the individual chooses not to be. Now, on the surface, this might seem like the individual is only hurting him or herself. Such is not the case.
By choosing to work less and earn fewer profits, the person pays less taxes. Hence, the government is denied revenue it needs. The economy is also brought down to a degree because less discretionary income means far less spending. Recessions can result from this if enough people choose to “Go Galt”.
The rebirth of Going Galt
Ayn Rand has always been a guiding light in libertarian circles, but her name had fallen out of popular culture. Over the past decade, her work has been reexamined thanks to significantly renewed interest in libertarianism. The government has grown significantly over the past 15 years and taxes are higher now.
This has led to a new, invigorated libertarian movement. As a result of this growing movement, the term “Going Galt” is back. Are there a lot of people choosing to be less productive? Honestly, it would be very hard to judge the actual number. That said, there surely are a few who are choosing this path.