“Why carry the burden of creating something and then having to stand for it and be proud of it? Why think and imagine and create your own way into the future of your most profound vision? Why bother? And why, therefore, allow others to do so for themselves and cause disordered, disharmonious ripples in the great silent lake of humanity? Pull them down. Make them equal. Make them empty.” (The Underground, Jon Rappoport)
I wrote the following article five years ago. Since then, I’ve had a chance to set down a few more remarks about Ayn Rand. Here they are:
The one glaring problem in her work is the overall effect of her hammering mercilessly on behalf of freedom and the individual—after 400 pages, her prose takes on a programmatic aspect. It grips the reader with iron. The moral imperative to be free replaces the exhilaration of being free.
On the other hand, she obviously wrote her two great novels in the middle of a feverish exaltation. Every page burned. Most characters went down in flames. A few rose into the sky. She knew she was up against the most powerful forces of society, and she was not going to compromise or relent one inch. She fully intended to destroy collectivism at its root. On the basis of that decision, she refused to suspend her attack, even for a moment.
Most people who brush up against her work can’t stop to consider the depth of her admiration for the independent and powerful and creative individual, or the nature of her aversion to the collectivist who can only borrow from such individuals—and then distort and undermine what they have misappropriated.
She means to be extreme. It is no accident. With no apologies, she splits the world down the middle. In her own way, she is an ultimate riverboat gambler. She shoves in all her chips on the self-appointed task of illuminating the great dichotomy of human history and modern life: the I versus the WE.
On a personal level, she possessed enormous ambition, and she wrote her two novels to achieve deserved recognition. Again, no apologies. She knew she and her work would be attacked by numerous critics who didn’t themselves own a tiny fragment of her talent. So be it.
To say she revealed “a thorny personality” in her relationships would constitute a vast understatement. In her later years, she no doubt contributed to bringing the house down on her head. But by then, her work was over. She stood behind it. She had achieved what she set out to create.
And every official cultural messenger of her time reviled her.
Here is my 2012 article:
“…nearly perfect in its immorality.”
Gore Vidal, reviewing Rand’s Atlas Shrugged
“…shot through with hatred.”
The Saturday Review, on Atlas Shrugged
“…can be called a novel only by devaluing the term.”
The National Review, on Atlas Shrugged
“[The] creative faculty cannot be given or received, shared or borrowed. It belongs to single, individual men.”
Howard Roark, The Fountainhead
When people perceive their society is being infiltrated and taken over by collectivism, how should they respond? What is their ultimate fuel in the battle for liberty?
What do they resurrect as the ideal that is being scorched by collectivism?
Yes the Constitution, yes the Bill of Rights, yes the Republic. But what were those documents and that form of government there for in the first place? What WAS the great ideal that lay behind them?
And if very few people can recall the ideal or understand it, what then?
The ideal was and is THE INDIVIDUAL.
But not just the individual.
The FREE INDIVIDUAL.
But not just the free individual.
The FREE AND POWERFUL INDIVIDUAL.
Which is why I’m writing about Ayn Rand.
To grasp her Promethean effort and accomplishment, you have to read her books at least several times, because your own reactions and responses will change. She was attempting to dig a whole civilization out from its smug certainty about the limits of freedom, from its compulsion to borrow and steal worn-out ideas.
I write this because the matrix of modern life has no solution without a frontal exposure of the meaning and reality and sensation and emotion and mind and imagination of INDIVIDUAL POWER.
Ayn Rand, in her unique way, climbed the mountain of power and told about the vista that was then in her sights. She exercised no caution. She knew the consequences would be extraordinary.
The characters she creates who embody power are electric. You experience them beyond mere fiddle-faddle with symbols.
Rand wrote two novels that still reverberate in the minds of millions of people: The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.
The books have inspired unalloyed adoration and hatred. They are received as a magnificent tonic or a dose of poison.
Readers who hate Rand’s work hate her for daring to present the power of an individual in full force.
Rand’s major heroes, Howard Roark and John Galt, are artists. Creators. They bow before no one and nothing. They invent. They decide. They imagine. They refuse to compromise. They leave the group and the committee and the bureaucracy and the collective behind them in the dust.
Society is ever more, over time, a mass concept. Society’s leaders, through illegal dictum, deception, and force, define a space in which all life is supposed to occur. That is the “safe zone.” Within it, a person may act with impunity. Outside that space, protection is removed. The protection racket no long applies.
Once a controller owns a space in which others live, he can alter it. He can make it smaller and smaller. He can flood it with caterwauling about “the greatest good for the greatest number,” the slogan of the mob. He can pretend to elevate the mob to the status of a legitimate “democratic majority” who are running things. He can con whole populations.
On the other hand, we are supposed to believe that individual power is a taboo because men like Hitler, Stalin, Napoleon, Attila, and Alexander once lived. That is the proof. We are supposed to believe individual power is always and everywhere the expression of dominance over others and nothing more.
If we only take into consideration “what is best for everybody,” we will see our way out of the morass. That’s what we’re told.
Civilizations are being made more puerile because it is children who are most vulnerable to the “greatest good for all” maxim. It is children who can be suckered into that ideal overnight. And those adults who buy the maxim do, in fact, revert back in the direction of being children.
At this late date, significant numbers of people are waking up to the fact that “greatest good” is being managed and manipulated by new Stalins and Hitlers, who care about humanity in the same way that a bulldozer cares about the side of a building.
Ayn Rand, after growing up in the USSR, knew something about the paradise of the common man. She saw it play out. She could eventually look back and see, with certainty, that writing her two novels in the Soviet Union would have cost her her life.
Rand refused to compromise her exaltation of individual power.
But she was acutely aware of the nature of compromisers. Such characters, brilliantly and mercilessly drawn, are there in her novels, in the full bloom of decay. Peter Keating, the pathetic and agonized hack; Guy Francon, Keating’s boss, a socially connected panderer and promoter of hacks; Jim Taggart, moral coward in extremis; Ellsworth Toohey, prime philosopher of the mob impulse; Robert Sadler, the scientist who sold his soul.
Around us today, we see growing numbers of these very types, peddling their phony idealism over and over. Among them, Barack Obama, promoting class warfare, dependence on government as the source of survival, generalized pretended hatred of the rich, and a phony empty “we are all together” sing-song collective mysticism.
Again, keep in mind that Rand’s two major heroes, Howard Roark and John Galt, were artists. This was no accident. This was the thrust of her main assault. The artist is always, by example, showing the lie of the collective. The artist begins with the assumption that consensus reality is not final. The artist is not satisfied to accommodate himself to What Already Exists.
The dark opposite of that was once told to me by a retired propaganda operative, Ellis Medavoy (pseudonym), who freelanced for several elite non-profit foundations:
“What do you think my colleagues and I were doing all those years? What was our purpose? To repudiate the singular in favor of the general. And what does that boil down to? Eradicating the concept of the individual human being. Replacing it with the mass. The mass doesn’t think. There is no such thing as mass thought. There is only mass impulse. And we could administer that. We could move it around like a piece on a board. You see, you don’t hypnotize a person into some deeper region of himself. You hypnotize him OUT of himself into a fiction called The Group…”
Rand was attacking a mass and a collective that had burrowed its way into every corner of life on the planet. If you were going to go to war against THAT, you needed to be fully armed. And she was.
Rand was also prepared to elucidate the physical, mental, and emotional DEPTH of her heroes’ commitment to their own choices, their own work, their own creations. She wasn’t merely dipping her toe in the water of that ocean.
Howard Roark, her protagonist of The Fountainhead, remarks:
“And here man faces his basic alternative: he can survive in only one of two ways—by the independent work of his own mind or as a parasite fed by the minds of others. The creator originates. The parasite borrows…”
Parasites don’t want anyone to stand out from the group, the swamp. The presence of someone who is so separate from them could trigger alarm bells and confirm their deepest fear:
An individual with power and his own singular creative vision can exist.
Parasites want you to believe you’re just a drop of water in the great ocean, and once you attain “higher consciousness” you’ll give in and float in the sea, and you’ll offload that oh-so primitive concept of yourself as Self. You’ll be One with all the other undifferentiated drops of water.
In their ritual of joining, people are awarded a mantrum: “I’M NOT VERY MUCH.”
Just that little phrase can open the door into the collective.
In The Fountainhead, architect Peter Keating utilized a second assertion as well:
“I AM GREAT BECAUSE OTHER PEOPLE THINK SO.”
Keating, the social grasper, finds acceptance from people of influence. They welcome him and reward him with architectural commissions because, well, they think they are supposed to; after all, his name has been bandied about by “those who should know Quality.”
It’s a world in which no standards apply except the opinions of people who carry weight.
And Peter is conventionally handsome, he’s the golden boy, he’s quick, he can design buildings that look like other buildings, he can work with others, he can look like he’s enjoying life, he’s good at parties, he’s congenial.
On what other basis should rewards be handed out? What else exists?
Unfortunately and fatally, Keating knows the real answer to that question, since he’s the boyhood friend of Howard Roark, the architect who does have a singular and astonishing vision, who stands beyond the crowd without trying.
Keating returns to Roark time after time; to insult Roark, to beg him for help, to be in the presence of a Force and breathe clean air.
Not determined enough to be himself, but still possessed of a shred of conscience, Keating is caught in the middle, between the man of vision and power (Roark) and new friends who offer him “the glittering world”—and the grips of this vise are unrelenting.
Adulation, money, success, fame, acceptance…Keating is given all these things, and still he destroys himself.
Here is why The Fountainhead provoked such rage from the self-styled elite: they’re committed to live on an insider’s rotting feast of mutual admiration and support, and in Keating they see themselves reflected with a clarity they’d assumed was impossible to construct. But there it is.
The very people who launched attack after attack at Rand, for “pawning off such preposterous characters as real,” were boiling inside, as they viewed themselves on the screen of her imagination: characters riddled with compromise, bloated with pretension, bereft of integrity.
Keating is eventually reduced to an abject yearning: would that his life had been lived differently, better—yet at the same time he maintains a dedication to hating that better life he might have had. He’s consumed by the contradiction. He sees his own career fall apart, while Roark’s ascends. The tables are turned. Keating has administered a poison to his own psyche, and the results are all too visibly repellent.
The Keatings of this world carry water for their masters, who in turn find bigger and better manipulators to serve. It’s a cacophony of madness, envy, and immolation posing as success.
The world does not want to watch itself through the eyes of Ayn Rand. It does not want to see the juggernaut of the drama playing out, because, as with Keating, it is too revealing. And yet Rand has been accused, over and over, of being an author of cartoon personae!
She elevates characters and destroys other characters. She picks and chooses according to her own standards and ideals. She never wavers. She passes judgment. She differentiates vividly between the forces and decisions that advance life and those that squash it.
Again and again, she comes back to the fulcrum: the featureless consensus versus unique individual creative power.
Creative power isn’t a shared or borrowed quality. One person doesn’t live in the shadow of another. The creator finds his own way, and if that weren’t the case, there would be no basis for life.
We are supposed to think existence by committee is a viable concept. This is a surpassing fairy tale that assumes the proportions of a cosmic joke.
For those whose minds are already weak, in disarray, unformed, the substitution of the collective for the individual is acceptable. It’s, in fact, rather interesting. It has the kick of novelty. And the strength of hypnotic trance.
The strategy is obliquely described in The Fountainhead by Ellsworth Toohey, a newspaper columnist and philosopher of the collective, a little man who is covertly and diabolically assembling a massive following:
“…if I sold them the idea that you [an ordinary playwright] are just as great as Ibsen—pretty soon they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference…then it wouldn’t matter what they went to see at all. Then nothing would matter—neither the writers nor those for whom they write.”
Reduction to absurdity. An overall grayness called equality.
If the public is told the owner of a business didn’t create that business, but instead the public sector, the collective did, and if this theme is pushed and emphasized by others, eventually the absurd notion will take hold. Then it won’t matter what is done to the independent individual, because he was never really there at all in the first place. He was just an invisible nonentity.
Contrast this treatment of the individual with the stand that Howard Roark takes during his climactic trial, at the end of The Fountainhead:
“But the mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective brain. There is no such thing as a collective thought.”
“We inherit the products of the thoughts of other men. We inherit the wheel. We make the cart. The cart becomes an automobile. The automobile becomes an airplane…The moving force is the creative faculty which takes product as material, uses it and originates the next step. This creative faculty cannot be given or received, shared or borrowed. It belongs to single, individual men. That which it creates is the property of the creator.”
“Yet we are taught to admire the second-hander who dispenses gifts he has not produced above the man who made the gifts possible.”
We are now in an age where EVERYTHING BELONGS TO EVERYBODY.
Obama is the latest in a line of demagogues who fully intend to reverse the course of history. That timeline shows us the heroic struggle to replace WE with I.
From the earliest days of our planet, since its habitation by humans, the tribe and the clan and the priest class and the monarchy, all claiming divine right, have enforced the WE. Finally, the I, which was always there, emerged fully enough to overthrow the criminals and murderers who were restraining the individual.
But now we are being pulled back into the primitive swamp of the past, through the systematic application of a pseudo-philosophy. The I is turning back into the WE.
To people who carry advanced technological devices around with them wherever they go, which give…
Read More At: JonRappoport.wordpress.com
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free NoMoreFakeNews emails here or his free OutsideTheRealityMachine emails here.