The Mind on Strike

Copyright 1999 By Ray Thomas

Many people think that the owners of factories and other prosperous businesses are "riding on the backs of the workers" in making and keeping their fortunes, but they're wrong. So completely wrong that it's amazing to me that anybody still believes it. If it weren't for the ideas behind what those factories and prosperous businesses do, there wouldn't be jobs for the workers to do to "prop them up." The usefulness of the worker is directly dependent upon how much use he is to his employer, and most "workers" are "interchangeable." If one quits today, there are two waiting to step into his shoes, even in a "worker-oriented" job market. Unless he is a skilled worker, in which case he is worth more money than the unskilled worker because he is not as easily replaced. And at this point I will add that to "make a job" for someone the employer does not need is useless. It is an evil suggestion that creates the theft of the money of the employer by placing someone on his payroll that contributes nothing to the final product of his factory or business.

The unskilled worker is not worth much money because he is easily replaced. Were he to become a skilled worker that would change. But that would still not change the fact that the mind of the owner of the factory -- if he is, indeed, the "thinker" and "creator" who produced the original idea or ideas on which the business is based and not just an "heir" with no talent or ability to enhance the original idea -- is worth a lot more. As much more as the product of the idea will sell for, less the cost of the skilled or unskilled labor and the materials it took to produce it and get it to market.

To suggest that the person who had the original idea is worth no more than the most unskilled worker in his factory is ludicrous. It is stupidity. Without his ideas and management ability, there wouldn't be any factory for the worker to work in. What would happen if such men stopped coming up with good ideas and having the persistence to put them to work against all obstacles? Let's hear John Galt, from Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" tell it: "'We're on strike,' said John Galt. When asked why, he replied: "Why should this seem so startling? There is only one kind of men who have never been on strike in human history. Every other kind and class have stopped, when they so wished, and have presented demands to the world, claiming to be indispensable -- except the men who have carried the world on their shoulders, have kept it alive, have endured torture as sole payment, but have never walked out on the human race. Well, their turn has come. Let the world discover who they are, what they do and what happens when they refuse to function. This is the strike of the men of the mind, Miss Taggart. This is the mind on strike."

The basic plot of that book is what would happen if, one by one, the "men of the mind" refused to continue to place their minds and its products at the disposal of the looters, who do nothing but penalize them for their strengths while working to convince them this is the right thing to do. Again, let's see what Ayn Rand has to say about it: "...only to the extent to which -- in chains, in dungeons, in hidden corners, in the cells of philosophers, in the shops of traders -- some men continued to think, only to that extent was humanity able to survive... It was the mind of the man who taught them to bake their bread, to heal their wounds, to forge their weapons and to build the jails into which they threw him. [Emphasis mine. -RT]

"He was the man of extravagant energy -- and reckless generosity -- who knew that stagnation is not man's fate, that impotence is not his nature, that the ingenuity of his mind is his noblest and most joyous power -- and in service to that love of existence he was alone to feel, he went on working, working at any price, working for his despoilers, for his jailers, for his torturers, paying with his life for the privilege of saving theirs. This was his glory and his guilt -- that he let them teach him to feel guilty of his glory, to accept the part of a sacrificial animal and, in punishment for the sin of intelligence, to perish on the altars of the brutes."

But how do they do it? How do they convince people intelligent enough to create the things that make life easier for all of us, whose work raises the standard of living we all enjoy, who invented the things that have shortened the time it takes to do so many things that we now do more in any day than any ten men did 100 years ago? Simple: guilt. They make him feel guilty for the very things he is giving them. For the good things he does, not for any sin or real crime he has committed against them.

"What we are now asked to worship, what had once been dressed as God or king, is the naked, twisted, mindless figure of the human incompetent. This is the new ideal, the goal to aim at, the purpose to live for, and all men will be rewarded according to how close they approach it. This is the age of the common man, they tell us -- a title which any man may claim to the extent of such distinction as he has managed not to achieve. He will rise to a rank of nobility by means of the effort he has failed to make, he will be honored for such virtue as he has not displayed, and he will be paid for the goods which he did not produce.

"But we -- we who must atone for the guilt of ability -- we will work to support him as he orders, with his pleasure as our only reward. We will work under directives and controls issued by those who are incapable of working. They will dispose of our energy because they have none to offer, and of our product, because they can't produce." But how can they make this work? It's easy. The men of intelligence are too busy to notice them. They can, and do, carry these parasites on their backs and they mean little more than something to scratch occasionally. They're preoccupied with creating the things that make all our lives better and these parasites are a "bother," but not something to notice -- until they get too greedy, as the Justice Department did with Bill Gates.

We are running out of "men of the mind" for them to loot, but not quickly enough to stop them. "They are counting on you to go on, to work to the limit of the inhuman and to feed them while you last -- and when you collapse, there will be another victim starting out and feeding them while struggling to survive -- and the span of each succeeding victim will be shorter, and while you'll die to leave them a railroad, your last descendant-in-spirit will die to leave them a loaf of bread. This does not worry the looters of the moment. Their plan -- like the plans of all the royal looters of the past -- is only that the loot shall last their lifetime."

There are two ways to beat them: one, comply fully with their demands. Two, learn as much as you can about what they're doing and tell as many people as possible so they will be able to recognize their scam and resist it.

They claim that the "men of the mind" are taking advantage by using their minds. That they should "get out of the way and leave room for the common man." OK, do it. If you are sufficiently well off to just stop producing new ideas and products for them to loot, you should do that. Remove your mind from the market. Refuse to feed the parasites and accept the blame for the "guilt of competence." If you must work, do something that does not require the use of your mind except in the most basic way. And talk to people who are still their victims and give them the information they need to take their minds off the market. We're not going to create a massive "strike of the men of the mind" like John Galt did -- or maybe we can, I don't know. But anything we can do to put a monkey-wrench into the works of their plan, we should do it. We must stop accepting their premises that allow them to loot us at will. We can only do that if we are not distracted by our work and we notice that "little itch" they create -- and scratch it. "Whenever a man denounces the mind, it is because his goal is of a nature the mind would not permit him to confess." (Ayn Rand)

"All work is an act of philosophy. And when men will learn to consider productive work -- and that which is its source -- as the standard of their moral values, they will reach that state of perfection which is the birthright they lost. The source of work? Man's mind... man's reasoning mind."

[All quotes not otherwise attributed are from Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged." All references to "he" or "him" in this report are understood to mean both sexes, but I refuse to engage in the kind of contorted and twisted wordage required today to be "politically correct." -RT]


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