What happens when you try to live in Ayn Rand’s libertarian Galt’s Gulch fantasy from ‘Atlas Shrugged?’ Exactly what you’d think would happen.
You know why nobody’s ever tried to build a real-life Rivendell, and start a community there? Like, with elves, magic and living inside giant trees and all? Because, as awesome as that would be, the book in which Rivendell exists, and can only exist, is a fantasy.
It’s a self-contained world, where things function perfectly well within the rules and bounds of that world. But the rules of Middle Earth aren’t the same as those of ours, which is what makes it “fantasy.”
What is “Galt’s Gulch,” exactly?
The premise of Ayn Rand’s bloated sack of crap…err, novel…is that the Captains of Industry, the “Motors of the World,” decide to “go on strike” in a mysterious mountain retreat called Galt’s Gulch. Created by the equally mysterious John Galt…the man behind the 40-page monologue near the end. Without its “best and brightest,” the world devolves into a socialist, collectivist Hellscape run by mobs of takers and moochers, and only returns to civility when the Greedy, Good and Great of Galt’s Gulch return like gold-dipped Messiahs to save the world.
The novel ends with a predictably subtle, deep and beautiful metaphor…the protagonist literally drawing dollar signs in the sky.
Pretty sweet fantasy, right? Greed, fraud and “rational self-interest” save the day. As always. Sounds like a thing that would work in the real world. Ayn Rand’s Douchebag Utopia has, after all, been as close to a Neoconservative Bible as exists, championed by none other than those great thinkers Paul Ryan, Ron Paul and his kid (who totally wasn’t named for Ayn Rand.)
Yeah, except…funny thing happened on the way to utopia.
Galt’s Gulch Chile, or GCC, was supposed to be a Libertarian paradise, where people who saw themselves as “the motors of the world” could go to escape the inevitable socioeconomic collapse of the United States. In Galt’s Gulch, there would be absolute freedom and free enterprise for the “rationally self-interested.”
Which we assume means the right to rape and defraud fellow Galtians…which all of the “heroes” in Rand’s book did. The book’s most romantic scene involves blood, bruises and the word “whore.” Yup.
Paul Ryan’s favorite.
Investors in Galt’s Gulch Chile were shown pictures of a beautiful, Earthen paradise, untouched and unspoiled by the hands of collectivist takers. They were sold 1.25-acre lots in Paradise, which included a sizeable six-figure “loan” to the Founder’s Club, which they promised would be repaid within three years. All seemed beautiful and perfect, at least according to the fantasy, and the pictures. And those pictures (like those in this article) looked perfect for a reason.
The land Galt’s Gulch sat on was environmentally protected by Chile.
Oh, those EVIL COLLECTIVISTS!!!
The owners would never get zoning clearance to build anything there. A fact of which the founder of Galt’s Gulch, Ken Johnson had always been aware. But, Ayn-Rand-Style rational self-interest prevailed, and he proceeded to scam all takers for every dollar they’d throw at him. Wonder where he learned that from?
Well, it might have been one of Rand’s protagonists, the Mexican-poor-defrauding, overly named “Ragnar Danneskjold,” whose arch nemesis is…Robin Hood? Yes, Ragnar’s mission in life is to kill Robin Hood. Another character from a different fantasy. Figuratively, but still. Speaking of his Mexican housing contract:
“Well, those steel-frame houses are mainly cardboard, with a coating of good imitation shellac. They won’t stand another year. The plumbing pipes – as well as most of our mining equipment – were purchased from dealers whose main source of supply are the city dumps of Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. I’d give those pipes another five months, and the electric system about six. The wonderful roads we graded up four thousand feet of rock for the People’s State of Mexico, will not last beyond a couple of winters: they’re cheap cement without foundation, and the bracing at the bad turns is just painted clapboard. Wait for one good mountain slide…”
And remember…this guy is a hero in Rand’s world.
But for some reason, the Middle Earthers of Rand’s world were surprised when one of their own scammed them. It’s not as though anyone could have seen that coming. Just read the Facebook page set up by former Galt Gulch investor and owner of the Libertarian Dollar Vigilante website Jeff Berwick. Berwick and his readers are SO MAD about the thing happening that they could have seen coming a mile away — if only they’d actually read the thousand-page book they’ve built their entire lives around.
See? Told you it was the Libertarian Bible.
Not that anybody here is claiming to be the first with this idea. Galt’s Gulch Chile didn’t exactly come out of a vacuum; right next door is “Freedom Orchard,” and down the street is “Sovereign Farms.” All Libertarian utopias, all about as economically dysfunctional and with all the social infighting and hatred that you’d expect.
Still that didn’t keep Ron Paul from visiting, and praising them.
Chilean Libertarian paradise, you say? No economy, and overpriced land, inhabited entirely by selfish sociopaths, you say? What could go wrong with that?
Living in a Fantasy Land some of the time is fun…especially when it means you get to put on pointy ears and speak in Elvish. It’s fun to imagine a place where you can go to escape the complexities of the Real World, and live out your own fantasies. For some people, those fantasies involve being heroic, using magic and fighting orcs. For others, it means committing fraud, stealing from the poor and raping secretaries. Let’s not judge.
For the record, though we think shipping every Libertarian in America off to Chile is a fantastic idea. Maybe we should start a crowdfunding campaign to send them there.
Wait…something’s not right about that…