And in the face of this onslaught, what can you do? Should you, like Rand’s heroes, “go Galt,” stop working, retreat to a secluded valley, and try to rebuild only when the country has collapsed?
Rand was asked these very questions in her own lifetime. Her answers might surprise you. In the 1970s, America was in a deep financial crisis (a new word, stagflation, had to be coined), urban violence was rampant, and power-seeking politicians like President Nixon instituted wage and price controls that led to, among other things, gas stations with no gas. How, people wondered, could Rand have foreseen all this? Was she a prophet? No, she answered. She had simply identified the basic cause of why the country was veering from crisis to new crisis.
Was the solution to “go Galt” and quit society? No, Rand again answered. The solution was simultaneously much easier and much harder. “So long as we have not yet reached the state of censorship of ideas,” she once said, “one does not have to leave a society in the way the characters did in Atlas Shrugged.... But you know what one does have to do? One has to break relationships with the culture.... [D]iscard all the ideas – the entire cultural philosophy which is dominant today.”