By Nathan Barton
When do you give up? When do you say it is all too much, and it is time to just stop.
Most (or many) libertarians have a phrase for it: “Going Galt.” Most readers will know this, but a brief explanation doesn’t hurt. It is a phrase from Ayn Rand’s classic “Atlas Shrugged” and it explains what Galt, Mulligan, Reardon, and many others, incredibly wealthy types and just ordinary hard-working business owners and technicians and train engineers did in the course of the story. They dropped their tools, locked the doors on their businesses, stop investing their money and time and sweat into new things – providing the goods and services that their community depended on.
Because they got tired of the parasites.
Are we seeing that today?
I am in contact with a wide range of people scattered over a dozen states from coast to coast, but especially in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. It seems as if I hear from one or another almost daily about how conditions are getting worse. People tell me about the growing power and corruption of local officials: not just elected County Commissioners or Councilors, but civil service appointees and employees. And of the similar growing incompetence, not just of government employees but of private businesses’ employees, especially those providing utilities and other essential services. Sometimes the stories are of coworkers, supervisors, and subordinates.
And I hear about how various services are either being cut, or the cost of those services being raised to the point where peopole are not able to afford them. I hear of people working full-time (and sometimes husband, wife, and children all working full-time) and having less take-home money than the people next door who are on welfare. I hear of people who are harassed by local police and other agencies because they spoke up at a public meeting. (They were for or against something that was important to the powers-that-be.) Of people who find their property defaced and otherwise vandalized, but no action is taken because the perps have political associations. Of people who find their taxes mysteriously raised because the appraisal of their property has been doubled or tripled without due process. Of people who suddenly become the target of code enforcement officers, or of “child protective services” or some other bureaucracy with “police powers.” And not just people, but their businesses, and the businesses or organizations for which they are working. And of other people and businesses afraid to do something, ask something, or object to something because they have seen what happened to others who did the same.
Is it any wonder that more and more people just plain give up? Sometimes they can retire – and we see more and more medical personnel doing that. And engineers and surveyors and others. Sometimes they change jobs – in some cases opting out of their professions and their years of experience to go to work for McDonalds or WalMart or as a school crossing guard! Sometimes, if they can, they sell out and move someplace else, then retire or get another job without as much pressure.
Many of these people know little if anything about libertarians, libertarianism, Ayn Rand, or any concept of self-government. They are traditional; raised to respect the flag and the military and public officials and agencies (even if they were corrupt and little more than worthless). They are sometimes religious (in various traditional ways) and they often consider themselves “conservatives” (although I hear more and more from people who label themselves (or did) as liberals). Some are well-educated, professional people. Others are simple working folks with old high school diplomas and nothing more. Some are veterans, some have family members who are, or even are in the service now.
But more and more they share anger and frustration. With me, my family, and people who are (I guess) professional and political allies in various ways.
What are they to do? What are we to do?
We know that grabbing guns and taking pick-ups and sedans and everything to the state capitol or to DC is unlikely to end in any good way. We know that petitions and other magic spells are worthless, after seeing the non-results for decades. We know that public protest is equally worthless and just creates more problems.
What can be done?
At this point, I don’t know – and although lots of people have lots of ideas, none of them seem to be worth much. No real chance of actually accomplishing anything good.
So we are left with, literally, doing nothing; dropping out and doing only what is necessary, essential, to protect our families and ourselves. Hunkering down, preparing for disaster and collapse, and trying to stay out of sight and out of mind. Most of us don’t have the ability to really go Galt and find a gulch (if such is even possible today). So we have to do it someplace where we can make some kind of a living, and prepare for what is almost certainly coming.
And find people like us to help and be helped by voluntary cooperation and planning and preparation.
Mama’s Note: Voluntary association, cooperation and planning are the essentials to preparation. A life dedicated to integrity, non-aggression and self defense will make it both possible and probable. Not everyone will accept that, nor be willing to live that way… and that’s often where the self defense comes in. Far too many people still think they and the “government” they elect have legitimate authority to control the lives and property of everyone.
Personally, I believe strongly that one of the most important things we can “DO” about this terrible system and the false beliefs of our neighbors is to live with integrity, as a clear example of individual liberty and self government. When asked or challenged, we must be able and willing to articulate this individual liberty and the requirements that attend it.
It is too easy to get discouraged, angry and then lash out at our tormentors or the misguided. The “Gault’s Gulch” necessary for us here and now is in our hearts and minds. Only we can create it for ourselves. And sometimes that requires we give up comfort, convenience and even friendships/families. And sometimes it requires us to stretch our definition of family and friendships to seek and find others of like mind – to form those voluntary associations and mutual defenders.