Most of us are familiar with the myth — a lost city of gold, built by gods, sought after for centuries by those who wanted to exploit it for themselves. However, what everyone from the Spanish Conquistadors to the “social utopianists” has failed to realize is that one can never stumble upon El Dorado.
Using El Dorado as an allegory (in addition to “Galt’s Gulch,” philosopher Ayn Rand’s own El Dorado in her famous novel), I take a new look at the issues that our world faces today while also drawing comparisons between this mythical city of gold and the yet-to-be-achieved city of gold known as a capitalist system:
But only gods can build such a place, you say? The gods are among us: Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Steve Jobs – all the great innovators, thinkers, and movers of this world necessary to construct such a place are as real as any one of us. And, for a time, these men were free to build that City of Gold nearly uninhibited, pursuing their own self-interests and, in doing so, expanding the quality of life for millions of people they never knew by simply doing that which they do best: producing.
Since the Industrial Revolution, the old vestiges of altruism returned with a vengeance in the Progressive Era and in subsequent governmental policies (the “Square Deal,” the “New Freedom,” the “New Deal,” the “Great Society,” etc.) which again shackled the men of the mind in a system that rewards someone because of who they know, not what they produce. (It should be unsurprising that arguably the greatest improvements in man’s life over the past few decades have come from communication and computer technology, a relatively unregulated sector of the American economy.) Finally in 1971, the gold itself, both the literal building blocks of everything that exists in the mythical El Dorado and the symbolic building block of economic objectivity on which the society in Galt’s Gulch rests, was stolen overnight by the stroke of President Nixon’s pen. No longer was El Dorado made from gold – now, its foundations rest upon nothing more than green dye and cotton thread…
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