I started using the nom de plume, Keoni Galt, approximately two and a half years ago. If you haven't figured it out yet, Keoni, is the Hawaiian translation for the Christian name John.
My development of a libertarian philosophy had nothing to do directly with Ayn Rand. My influences have primarily been the writers and bloggers I've been reading for close to a decade now, regarding Austrian economics and it's credo of non-coercive cooperation in a true free market economy. I was introduced to the theory by Vox Day, who's arguments at his blog eventually converted me from a right wing neo-con warmonger to the anti-statist anarchist I am today. Links at his blog lead me to LewRockwell.com, and the Mises Institute. Later, I stumbled across a hardcore anti-Statist, anarchist website, Strike-the-Root, that has put the icing on my ideological cake.
Confession time: I've never read Atlas Shrugged. I once started it when I was younger, and I just couldn't keep up the interest in it. At that point in my life, It was too boring for me to even get to the 3rd chapter. I've always intended to get around to reading it, but I've yet to pick up my paperback, dust it off, and begin the hard slogging. At this point in my life, I think I wouldn't find it quite as boring as when I attempted it when I was an idealistic 20 year old that still believed in the "American Dream."
While having failed to get past the 2nd chapter, I've read plenty of reviews, critiques, and opinions on Rand's seminal work. Some people have made a lot of assumptions about me since my blog is entitled "Hawaiian libertarian" and I've begun using "Keoni Galt" as my pen name. They automatically assumed I was a so-called "Randian Objectivist."
I'm not an "objectivist" nor am I a "Randian." Or maybe I am, and I just don't know it.
But I did read an excerpt of Atlas Shrugged awhile back: John Galt's Speech, "Who is John Galt?" and I agree wholeheartedly with the core message of Mr. Galt.
The return of the great depression has been very humbling, but educational for myself. I got introduced to the realities of true independence and self-reliance. I had come to a crossroads thanks to a dramatic reduction in income: practice what I preach, or sell out and get on the dole and accept dependence of the government's entitlement programs to feed my family.
Plenty of people tried to talk us into signing up for welfare and WIC when our baby was born and they know that my income has fallen to the point at which we are eligible for these entitlement programs.
People say that all those years of financial success and paying taxes should entitle me to "take some back." That's what "the safety net is for," people say.
I say that had I a choice, I would not have paid those taxes in the first place...but because I do have a choice, I will not alter my principles out of convenience.
I've also embraced the "Gone Galt" concept as much as possible.
I've turned down offers of employment for new jobs for which I could earn more money (and pay more taxes).
I put one of my vehicles in storage to avoid paying our State's ever increasing vehicle taxes.
I shop at farmer's markets where I'm not paying sales tax as much as possible.
I've changed my witholdings to have as little income taxes withdrawn from my paycheck as possible.
In short, I look for as many ways to starve the beast as much as possible, without crossing the line to get the authorities to come after me.
Fuck this system and it's inherent corruption. I will support it as little as I possibly can, even if the economy recovers and my business picks up again. To paraphrase Rand's protagonist:
I'm on strike against the State's creed of unearned rewards and unrewarded duties.
I am a trader. I earn what I get in trade for what I produce. I ask for nothing more or nothing less than what I earn. That is justice. I don't force anyone to trade with me; I only trade for mutual benefit. Force is the great evil that has no place in a rational world. One may never force another human to act against his/her judgment. If you deny a man's right to Reason, you must also deny your right to your own judgment. Yet you have allowed your world to be run by means of force, by men who claim that fear and joy are equal incentives, but that fear and force are more practical.
Why is it moral to serve others, but not yourself? If enjoyment is a value, why is it moral when experienced by others, but not by you? Why is it immoral to produce something of value and keep it for yourself, when it is moral for others who haven't earned it to accept it? If it's virtuous to give, isn't it then selfish to take?
Your acceptance of the code of selflessness has made you fear the man who has a dollar less than you because it makes you feel that that dollar is rightfully his. You hate the man with a dollar more than you because the dollar he's keeping is rightfully yours. Your code has made it impossible to know when to give and when to grab.
You know that you can't give away everything and starve yourself. You've forced yourselves to live with undeserved, irrational guilt. Is it ever proper to help another man? No, if he demands it as his right or as a duty that you owe him. Yes, if it's your own free choice based on your judgment of the value of that person and his struggle. This country wasn't built by men who sought handouts. In its brilliant youth, this country showed the rest of the world what greatness was possible to Man and what happiness is possible on Earth.
Then it began apologizing for its greatness and began giving away its wealth, feeling guilty for having produced more than its neighbors.
To those of you who retain some remnant of dignity and the will to live your lives for yourselves, you have the chance to make the same choice. Examine your values and understand that you must choose one side or the other. Any compromise between good and evil only hurts the good and helps the evil.
If you've understood what I've said, stop supporting your destroyers. Don't accept their philosophy. Your destroyers hold you by means of your endurance, your generosity, your innocence, and your love. Don't exhaust yourself to help build the kind of world that you see around you now. In the name of the best within you, don't sacrifice the world to those who will take away your happiness for it.
The world will change when you are ready to pronounce this oath:
I swear by my Life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man,
nor ask another man to live for the sake of mine.
If these excerpts from Mr. Galt's speech are the ethos of a Randian Objectivist, than I accept that label without reservation.