The John Galt Bookstore
The idea for the John Galt Bookstore came to us when Charles graduated from MIT. The first thing he did was to open and run a John Birch Society Bookstore. We learned a lot from these bookstores, which themselves were inspired by Christian Science Reading Rooms. The basic idea was to assemble a lot of books and periodicals that reflected our JBS world view, and to create an environment where like-minded individuals were able to surround themselves with viewpoints that encouraged and supported the basic tenets of the John Birch Society:
- The U.S. was being infiltrated by Communists, which had enormous influence on schools, governments at all levels, the media – you name it.
- If Americans didn’t rise up and eradicate the Commies, they would soon “make themselves the absolute rulers of a human race of enslaved robots, in which every civilized trait has been destroyed.” http://www.ourrepubliconline.com/Article/21
We immediately saw the great strengths of spreading our "truth" this way: readers were able to read our literature without becoming confused by all the other non-JBS viewpoints that often seemed out of sync with the apocalyptic sense of impending Communist enslavement that were fundamental to JBS. When you were in our bookstores, everything you read was 100% consistent with our beliefs, and regulars at the bookstores invariably became committed members.
Of course, there were limitations:
- People walking in often realized that they were reading material that was out of the mainstream. Of course we portrayed the mainstream media as being firmly in control of the Commies, but until new members became totally immersed, they sometimes found that idea less than convincing.
- Not everyone was willing to be seen walking in our door, even if they were sympathetic to what they had heard about us.
- It was a pretty expensive way to get our views out there. You needed a building in a good spot, which meant the rent and utilities had to be paid, the shelves needed to be stocked with books.
Years later, Charles and I had the Ouji board out one night, and we were strategizing with the spirit of Ayn Rand. We realized how cheaply and easily we could set up the John Galt Bookstore using the internet, which would be dramatically more powerful than the old JBS bookstores.
Here are the changes we made:
- Outlets never identify themselves as “Koch” or “Objectivist” – they generally describe themselves as grassroots groups interested in promoting “free market principles” or “devoted to eliminating excessive regulation” or “anti-environmentalist wackos.”
- Unlike JBS bookstores, today you never really know when you’re reading our material. We have TONS of web sites designed to look as independent as possible, and they usually link to each other, so you can spend weeks without ever leaving the John Galt Bookstore. It adds tremendously to our influence when our readers get so used to our message that everything else seems foreign to them.
- We still have the need for lobbyists and think tanks to close the deal in Washington, but even here we move mountainsto keep the connection to the Koch family under the radar.
Here are some of the groups we founded, fund and/or have given substantial support to. They sound so American – who would argue with “Freedom” or “Prosperity”?