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39


THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 39, June 26, 1998

Response to Attorney Tom Creasing's Comments in The Libertarian Enterprise

By Mark Cashman
mcashman@ix.netcom.com

Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise

         If there's one key component of Objectivism that is confirmed by Mr. Creasing's comments, it is that interpretation of ideas outside of context is dangerous.
         Mr. Creasing claims that Ayn Rand's conception of Galt's Gulch [in her novel Atlas Shrugged] is elitist and pessimistic and that the society of L. Neil Smith's alternate world history [The Probability Broach] (in which Rand was once President, by the way), would be preferable.
         However, it is essential to understand the complete nature and context of Galt's Gulch.
         First of all, Atlas Shrugged is a novel of resistance to collectivism through the withdrawal of the support of the men of the mind. One of its primary themes is that collectivism is only sustained by the efforts of its victims. Thus, Galt's Gulch, by the necessity of the theme and its plot, must be a retreat for these productive individuals.
         Secondly, the only entrance requirement for Galt's Gulch is to take (and mean) the Oath*; not, as Mr. Creasing claims, the attainment of wealth. In fact, Dagny meets a truck driver in Galt's Gulch, whose response to her query about his greatness in the outside world is "but that's not what I wanted to remain", demonstrating Rand's belief that Man's ambition to rise and improve is at the heart of the productivity that drives the world, and that one's particular status at any given time is not a measurement of one's worth.
         Indeed, supporting the ideas of "status" and "elite" in the sense apparently intended by Mr. Creasing, would be a contradiction, since it would vitiate her clear opposition to the "second-handers" of The Fountainhead, whose desire was only to attain the approval of others -- others whom the second-hander perceived as the "elite".
         Smith's anarchic society, on the other hand, is the sort of society which can exist when the ideals of Galt and the inhabitants of the Gulch have been attained, but not before. His novels do not address the destruction of the state, the moral code which supports the statist ideal (except in the person of the Hamiltonians, whose philosophical underpinnings are not examined in detail), or the integrated context of philosophical resistance to collectivism.
         In some ways they must be considered a "utilitarian" elaboration of libertarian philosophy, since what one finds in these novels is a clear picture of libertarianism leading to greater happiness and wealth, but relatively little of the philosophical components on which that success depends. There is definitely more to that success than just the Non-Aggression Principle.
         Like Mr. Creasing, I wouldn't mind a home in Laporte. But I also admire the heroes of Galt's Gulch, and how their unyielding integrity and indomitable productivity would make such a world possible -- either here, or beyond the Broach.


Mark Cashman, creator of "The Temporal Doorway" at http://www.geocities.com/~mcashman -- original digital art, writing, and more -- is also the author of science fiction novels available at www.infohaus.com/access/by-seller/The_Temporal_Doorway_Storefront/.


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