High-end yoga retailer lululemon athletica (LULU) has been offering tote bags emblazoned with the phrase "Who is John Galt?" This Galt guy has left some yoga practitioners poised for a boycott of lululemon's wares.

The blogosphere is abuzz with outrage about the yoga apparel purveyor's reference to the individualistic emblem John Galt from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. ("Emblem" as opposed to a "character," because characterization wasn't really Rand's strong point.)

This isn't the first time lululemon founder Chip Wilson has said something strange or surprising.

Wilson's blog posts in 2007 featured quite a bit of rambling philosophizing about SuperGirl, surf culture, the sexual revolution, the Pill, yoga, and the theories put forth in The Secret, which are arguably way further "out there" than some of Objectivism's points about individualism versus collectivism, and how people do better in the world by creating instead of taking.

Granted, I have my own issues with Rand. First and foremost, her defense of selfishness is too easily rationalized as an excuse to descend into utter, ruthless self-oriented destruction. However, for the critics who seem to be characterizing Wilson (and lululemon) as a coven of yoga-pants-clad Tea Party wackos for carrying a product that dares mention John Galt, hey folks: The destructive knife of self-interest cuts both ways, and is just as evident in economic systems that fall well short of anything close to capitalism.

Even if lululemon shoppers aren't fans of Objectivism, perhaps they should go for a little Perspectivism.

Look at Greece. The factors that have been bankrupting that country smack of collective ruthless self-interest, utterly ignoring what's good or even feasible for actual economic health. In a nation where radio announcers can retire at 53 with 90% of their salary because their jobs are characterized as "hazardous," I'd venture to guess said radio announcers lobbied pretty hard according to their own self-interest. (It's probably only a hazardous profession to someone like John Galt, who delivered a radio speech that contributed nearly 100 pages to the book.)

Take a Few Deep Breaths and Reverse Warrior Poses, and Call Me in the Morning.

You've got to wonder how many potential boycotters have even read the book. (Personally, I preferred The Fountainhead.) Such knee-jerk reactions don't say much good about our culture's ability to use critical thinking skills.

Hopefully, potential lululemon boycotters will take a deep breath and think about how silly it is to view any mention of Atlas Shrugged as some reason for fury. If you need a reason to avoid lululemon, just look at the price tags on that yoga gear.

One can practice yoga in sweats and a T-shirt, and maybe some of the money saved on cheaper duds could be donated to organizations that help the growing numbers of needy Americans right now. Is there an "irony" asana in yoga?

Motley Fool analyst Alyce Lomax does not own shares of lululemon. The Motley Fool owns shares of lululemon athletica. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of lululemon athletica.




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JD Vellas

Also, I HAVE read the books. I've also read Aristotle and Nietzsche, the two people from whom Rand attempts to crib extensively (though with much poorer results than they managed). Almost everything that sounds good in Rand is done better by Aristotle and Nietzsche. They understand how we can fight mediocrity without advocating that everyone become a douche. So really, let's start putting them on our bags. Leave the second-rate hypocrite behind.

December 10 2011 at 2:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JD Vellas

Philosophy joke fail: perspecitivism is the Nietzschean view that truth is not epistemically available to individual subjects.

December 10 2011 at 1:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
marine1942

Author is way off : no way Any Rand was promoting " self-oriented destruction"
She wrote of what is happening TODAY and the destruction is coming from Obama and socialists
Who is John Galt is the question the OWS crowd should be asking because they will see their freedom slip away if the rush to equality keeps up

November 30 2011 at 9:02 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
maa2626

great book, required reading in todays world.

November 29 2011 at 10:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
auntieben

Where can I get one of those "Who is John Gault" shopping bags... I know someone who would love to have one..

November 29 2011 at 10:11 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
mesager42

Selfishness of one of the employees who was caught stealing, is what got the Bethesda Lululemon store's manager killed.

Lululemon should be going in the opposite direction and encouraging professional behavior, integrity, and honesty - not selfishness, greed, and me-first.

November 29 2011 at 9:57 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mesager42's comment
dansss8128

Mesager, if you ever get the chance to read Atlass Shrugged you might give it a try. Rand was not encouraging theft or dishonesty. In fact she was going about as far away from that as one could get.
Not saying you would like the book, or her philosophy. It is an interesting read though.

November 29 2011 at 11:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ANGEL BABY

So let's see..an employee is thought to be stealing so Lululemon transfers her to another store--instead of firing her. At her new Lululemon store she is caught doing the same thing. This woman then comes back and murders the manager by first stabbing her and then beating the living s**t out of her. That is some human resources/employment policy going on at that company!!! And we are worried about bags? Just making sure we are on the same page.

November 29 2011 at 9:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
IHaZalatte

You have to read more than Rand's novels to understand her philosophy. SHE HATED LIBERTARIANS!! I repeat and to clarify for anyone who may be confused, AYN RAND HATED LIBERTARIANS!! In the Ayn Rand Lexicon there is an entry entitled Libertarianism and it clearly states that she in no way supported their views and would not be associated with them in any way shape or form.

I found the following quote she made in regards to Libertarians on the ARI website:
They are not defenders of capitalism. They’re a group of publicity seekers who rush into politics prematurely, because they allegedly want to educate people through a political campaign, which can’t be done. Further, their leadership consists of men of every of persuasion, from religious conservatives to anarchists. Moreover, most of them are my enemies: they spend their time denouncing me, while plagiarizing my ideas. Now, I think it’s a bad beginning for an allegedly pro-capitalist party to start by stealing ideas.

Ayn Rand's philosophy teaches RATIONAL self interest. Not "...an excuse to descend into utter, ruthless self-oriented destruction." Were you (the author of this article) on LSD when you read Atlas Shrugged?

Where the hell is Leonard Peikoff when we need him?

November 29 2011 at 8:50 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
mon42

where can i buy one???? thank god

November 29 2011 at 6:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mon42's comment
Team Dragon

The book or the Bag you want to buy? Book at B&N. if you find out about the bag let us all know.

November 30 2011 at 11:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Terry

"Perspectivism"--I love it, Alyce! Too funny. BTW, Rand didn't like Libertarians. Too "against" things and not "for" anything. Except anarchy, maybe.

November 29 2011 at 6:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply