Are you John Galt?


OWS, the Tea Party, Guy Fawkes, and John Galt

I finally saw the film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged and my curiosity was piqued. The novel is championed by conservatives and libertarians as a defense of capitalism and rugged individualism. But it’s equally vilified by liberals and progressives as simplistic, illogical, selfish and dangerous. As a film, it’s mediocre, but the theme of Atlas Shrugged speaks to our times.

The economic uncertainty roiling our nation should make the Tea Party and OWS fellow travelers and natural allies. Instead, the corporate media casts them as opposites, if not, adversaries.

Some Tea Party types have chosen the fictional John Galt as the iconic representative of their frustration with an intrusive (and in their view, illegitimate) big government. On the other hand, OWS supporters – particularly anarchists— wear Guy Fawkes masks to symbolize their desire to overthrow the system.

The contrasts are immediate. Galt is a fictional hero, while Fawkes is a failed historical figure. Galt used non-violent passive resistance to call attention to his grievances. Fawkes was a co-conspirator in a violent terrorist plot to assassinate King James I, destroy Parliament and restore a Catholic to the English throne. They are decidedly different approaches to dealing with oppression.

Tea party protests have been marked by high-minded, if not askew, rhetoric about constitutionalism, liberty and capitalism. Nationwide OWS protests have been marred by an incoherent message, sexual assaults and conflicts with the police.

I believe that the OWS protesters should discard their Guy Fawkes masks and adopt John Galt’s call for a non-violent general strike involving innovators, students and the exploited 99%. I believe tea partiers should coalesce with the OWS crowd because both groups have been harmed by the crony capitalists controlling the media, corporate America and our federal government.

Crony capitalists have used their paid compatriots in government and the media to move wealth steadily upward and away from the American middle class – the true cradle of liberty, innovation, wealth creation, and production. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself why Members of Congress are exempt from insider trading prohibitions that apply to you and me? Ask yourself why cable TV talking heads and talk radio hosts constantly foment resentments on both the left and the right.

Crony capitalists are the real parasites. They don’t produce anything of real, lasting value. All they do is trade paper, gamble other peoples’ money, produce nothing but debt, and tamp down innovation. Real innovation will soak up the capital that these vampires prefer to gamble away in high sounding get rich quick schemes.

Tea party and OWS activists need only look at the Dotcom, housing and derivatives’ bubbles that burst leaving ordinary Americans holding the empty bag.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney says that homeowners underwater on their mortgages should be allowed to drown, so speculating hyenas can pick up their foreclosed homes on the cheap, charge rent or flip them for quick profits.

He and the other candidates assail the 46% of Americans too poor to pay individual federal income taxes as freeloaders. What Mitt won’t admit is that these “freeloaders” are a necessary reserve labor force to hold down wage growth for all but the wired 1%. Like the pigs and the farmers in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the crony capitalists and their Communist Chinese counterparts toast their oppression of the fooled masses.

These same crony capitalists are master manipulators. While they have Tea Party members fixated on President Obama’s supposed illegitimacy and socialist agenda, they have planted their minions as leaders of the movement. They plant provocateurs in the OWS camp. And their minions in the media stoke the fires of resentment to keep the two mass movements from coalescing.

After Atlas shrugs, the earth shifts but soon returns to a state of equilibrium. But if the Tea Party and OWS coalesced and refused to play the game (rigged against their interests), the crony capitalists worldwide would have to take notice because without willing participants, their scheme collapses.

Like John Galt, we should refuse to participate in their game and establish our own rational utopia where manipulation and exploitation are no longer the name of the game. We could then move to restore our pursuit of liberty, innovation, wealth creation, and production.

Are you John Galt?

Are you John Galt? Leave your response in the comments section.

About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, FoxNews.com LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email MBenjamin9@optimum.net.
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8 Responses to Are you John Galt?

  1. markmcinturf says:

    It’s remarkable how the manipulators have managed to keep the focus of the masses on stupid rhetoric instead of their criminal intent. Unfortunately, it’s been who we know rather than what we know for so long that we’ve accepted crony capitalism as the American Way. The indoctrination itself blinds the masses to the truth. I wish I shared the optimism that the earth will return to some state of workability but I’m afraid it’s past having that chance…. as you stated…. John Galt is a fictional hero.

    Revolution is on it’s way – to what is unclear. It won’t be all that long now before the middle class is wiped out to the point to where there won’t be enough people left worth stealing from and the poor become untenable. I would like to have something to hold on to… to think there’s a reason for continuing to fight the good fight but I too am aging and already long tired. I’m forced to settle for just hoping I’m gone before this revolution begins.

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  2. Bill Mathers says:

    Excellent article Micheal. I very much agree with most of your points of view, except for your opinion of what Mitt Romney’s reasons may be for his position on underwater homeowners. I would prefer to let Mitt explain that.

    I read Atlas Shrugged over the summer, but I have not seen the film. From what I understand about the Tea Party and OWS protesters from the media, there does seem to be a lot of ground that the the two parties have in common. I too would like to see those two parties work together somehow, because I share the same fears expressed by markmcinturf.

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    • Here’s what Mitt told the Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board, “As to what to do for the housing industry specifically, and are there things you can do to encourage housing? One is, don’t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom. Allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up, and let it turn around and come back up…” [http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/nov/01/democratic-national-committee/ad-claims-mitt-romneys-housing-policy-let-foreclos/] Politifact was vetting the truthfulness of a DNC ad attacking Romney. Politifact concluded that the ad was only half-true — “Romney also said he was open to ideas for encouraging refinancing. Romney does seem to favor letting foreclosures run their course, but he also suggests that doing so will enable investors to buy low-priced homes and revive the market…”

      My interpretation of that position still reflects an exploitation of a bad situation which under capitalism is a fair opportunity. Real estate and stock market speculation can also undermine our belief in capitalism and national economic security. Don’t get me started on our indebtedness to Communist China. We shed blood in Afghanistan and they get the mining concessions. We’re sending troops to Central Africa to protect similar mining concessions given to Communist China. Is the US military functioning as China’s “Wackenhut Security?”

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      • Bill Mathers says:

        It would seem to me that Maybe Mitt is somewhat open minded about the situation, though as a presidential candidate I would expect him to have a well formed opinion and hopefully a solution to the problem.

        It is very unfortunate that many homeowners are going to be hurt by a situation that was created by government policy that created easy money and encouraged home ownership for everyone including those that might not otherwise be able to afford it. A lot of good people got trapped in a bad situation. I agree with you that we should try to find a way out of this that does not exploit the underwater homeowners, waste outrageous sums of taxpayer money, or get the U.S. further in debt to China.

        We certainly do seem to be circling the bowl here.

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  5. Hey Michael,
    I picked you up from JT’s comments and thought I would give you a read. Interesting take and I agree in Theory. The practice seems……….difficult due to the wide canyon of difference in the approach of the two groups. I don’t think that breaking down OWS to negotiate with the Tea Party is the answer. I truly believe that the Occupy Movement is our only hope. M ovement being the key word here. If the Tea Party saw it’s way clear to come and support OWS; and we could agree to disagree on the details until the big problems are fixed; that might work. Non-violence is definitly the key. OWS is a non-violent Movement. Of course anytime you put thousands of people in the streets; it will attract a certain criminal element as well as Provacateurs and these must be minimised; preferably from within the Movement. But they are unavoidable just as much as they are unavoidable at a football game or a parade or a carnival.

    Working within the current political system is not going to get us anywhere. I’m sure you are aware that all the candidates are paid by the big corporations. It’s a sham. A massive entertainment put on to keep us distracted while their cronies and patsys such as Obama steal everything we have that makes us free and Americans.

    If we however, were to Occupy the correct set of buildings for instance in great enough numbers; we could force the end of this corrupt system and set up a new and corporate exempt system. And while we’re at it we could do away with the Electoral College and set up a direct vote system; a plebisyte. Also we would be able to bring about the repeal of the multitude of laws currently being enforced that are in direct opposition to the Constituion and the rights of the people as given them by God/Nature.

    So yes; send the Tea Party down to the protests. The more we have, the more we wi;ll succeed. It occurs to me that if they were to join the movement it might shock a whole bunch of comfortable conservatives into action as well. If they saw the real issues due to co-operation between these two disparate groups.

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    • Thanks for discovering my blog and offering your insight-filled commentary. Interesting thought about occupying “the correct set of buildings.” Occupy Wall Street was relevant because it is the national (and global) center of banking and finance. When the Eqyptian people occupied Tahir Square, they chose a focal point that the nation would recognize and rally around. Chinese students occupied Tiananmen Square they were challenging the CCP’s sovereignty over the Chinese people. In America, the “correct set of buildings” would involve taking over a media center, e.g., Occupy Fox News or Rockefeller Center in NYC.

      But I believe that the bringing the Tea Party and Occupy movements together would shock the system into a reset. As long as they remain cast as polar opposites, the elites will remain on top manipulating the two sides against each other. Like John Galt, we should remove ourselves from the game and let things fall apart for the elites.

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