Tuesday, August 4, 2009

John Galt and Tom Riddle

The Harry Potter books of J.K. Rowling, and the novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand both contain two very similar characters, with similar philosophies.

In Rand’s book, we have a character named John Galt. The first words of the novel are “Who is John Galt?”, a question that is repeated throughout the book non-stop. Later, we discover that this mysterious person is an industrialist, and a “superman”, who organizes the intellectuals, innovators, and free-thinkers of the world to form a new country, where they are not forced to bear the burden of “the mob” of common people.

John Galt gives a lengthy speech beginning with the words “This is John Galt speaking…” In the speech he proclaims that the highest form of Morality is working purely in one’s own self-interest, and purging one’s soul of its “altruism” i.e. compassion and willingness to care for others. Galt calls upon his minions to purge themselves of their emotions, their feelings, and their connections to others, and to become emotionless, self-centered beings who accept the only true virtue of selfishness.

Rowling’s books have a similar character. Tom Riddle, who later changes his name to “Lord Voldemort”, is an impoverished orphan. He is poor, abused, and grows up in misery. However, he soon learns that he is extremely intelligent and has some very good skills. He then uses these skills to build himself up higher and higher. He refuses to let teachers, friends, and others get in his way, and soon he becomes on of the most powerful people in the world, stepping on others and repressing those who get in his way.

Riddle seeks to purge the world of “undesirable” people he calls “mudbloods.” He also gives a speech in which he proclaims “there is no good or evil, only power and those who seek it.”

If John Galt and Tom Riddle were homosexual and existing in the same realm of fantasy, they would undoubtedly be a couple. They share the same world view. Selfishness is a virtue. Ordinary people are inferior. Stepping on others in order to succeed is the way of the world. Glamorization of the “rags to riches” complex, etc.

Ironically, Riddle and Galt have opposite literary roles. Riddle is an antagonist, and Galt is a protagonist. Rand worships the ideology they proclaim, Rowling views it as the incarnation of evil.

It seems the battle in our modern world is simple.

It’s Ayn Rand v. J.K. Rowling.

I know who I’m cheering for.

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