Well you’ve obviously never been in an argument with my wife, then.

“I don’t believe in the no-win scenario.” Captain James T. Kirk

Who should conservatives be: Captain Kirk or John Galt? Duane Lester’s asking that question over at All American Blogger. James T. Kirk — the brash young Starfleet officer who became a brash old Starfleet officer who refuses to accept defeat no matter the odds. John Galt — the scientific and capitalist genius whose strategy for defeating socialism smacks of doing just that: accepting defeat, if only temporarily.

Duane writes:

Captain Kirk then attacked his challenges head on, often risking his own life to achieve victory.

John Galt, the hero in Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” looked at his own no-win scenario and took a different approach. With not only his company, but his country, rushing towards collectivism, he felt the total collapse of the nation was inevitable. So he quit. He went on strike.

And he took the best of the best with him. One by one he talked the heads of industry into disappearing, leaving the looters to search for another mine to strip.

It would be like Kirk leaving the Enterprise and taking Spock, McCoy and Scotty.

Duane’s got a larger point about whether conservatives are, in fact, facing a no-win scenario today. Not politically, maybe, but ideologically: has the reactor of collectivism reached critical mass? Is it even possible to advance the causes of individual and economic liberty anymore?

Whatever your answer is, what will you do next? Duane writes:

…(Galt) felt the total collapse of the nation was inevitable. So he quit. He went on strike.

…Galt felt what he was facing could not be stopped. So he chose to speed it along its path and pick up the pieces after it collapsed.

Kirk fights. Galt walks.

To digress a little, I’d suggest that both (fictional) men are, in fact, doing the same thing: fighting. They’re just using different tactics in response to the situations in front of them.

For example, remember those really bad floods we had along the Mississippi back in 1993? Over a thousand levees between Minnesota and Missouri failed. Seventy thousand people displaced. Twelve thousand acres of farmland ruined.

All along the river, for hundreds of miles, local communities fought against the flood, and one by one they failed to hold it back.

The question came up: should we be fighting to save every community along the river? Or should we purposely allow a few to be swallowed up — purposely lose those areas; maybe even help the flood along, somehow — in order to lessen the pressure downriver?

Sacrifice a few to save more, or fight for them all and probably lose them all?

It’s like a battlefield commander letting the enemy advance into friendly territory, because there’s a better battlefield behind you. A tactical retreat now gives you a better chance of ultimate victory later.

That’s what Galt was doing. Not quitting. Not walking. He simply shifted tactics: rather than continue to fight a rearguard action, he let the looters advance so far that they could no longer hold what they had, and then he counterattacked.

Problem being, society really had to crumble in order for his tactics to work. If that was going to work, North Korea would have changed governments a long time ago. Yeah, okay, so China’s helping them out. Still. The point is: there’s no Galt’s Gulch. Society crumbles, we all have to live in it. Society gets more socialist, we all have to live in it.

So. While the pseudo-utopianism of the Star Trek universe hardly seems the place for an economic libertarian to find inspiration (especially compared to “Atlas Shrugged”), let’s take Kirk over Galt.

It’s…um…more realistic.

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