I hate to become the stereotype of a small-c conservative but one of the most important books I have ever read is Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. Although published seventy-five years ago, it is worryingly relevant and prescient. The conflict within the novel which spoke to me the loudest was between two men, Gail Wynard and Ellsworth Toohey.
Wynard represents to me Western society and culture as it has been established over the past few centuries. Toohey represents the forces that seek to destroy that culture from within, the liberal left and the advocates of multiculturalism. Wynard rose from poverty to become one of the most powerful men in America on the back of a media company he created. If Wynard is the spirit of the West, then his newspaper industry represents the tools of the West; our political and educational systems, our entertainment industry.
Wynard’s tragic flaw was to believe that once he had created this system, he could take a hands-off approach and leave it to function by itself. His laid back approach to his business meant that he was willing to employ people on his staff who believed in the opposite of what he himself believed in. Wynard didn’t judge these men to be able to topple his company as no one man was ever strong enough to contend with him and so he allowed them their little area of his newspaper within which they could exist.
One of these men was the socialist Ellsworth Toohey. Wynard allowed Toohey a column on his paper and regarded the man with a sense of amusement. They had many head-to-heads which Wynard always came out the better from. However, Toohey was always working secretly and insidiously to undermine Wynard’s hold on power.
Toohey needed to work from within the organisation because he saw how important the media was with creating the world he wanted. Once the public are used to being told what to think, whoever controls the media, controls their minds; the media is the key to it all. Both men recognised this, but Wynard believed he was untouchable because he worked to create his empire, it was essentially his and he believed it would always be loyal to him. Toohey could not create for himself, but he could destroy and take control of the remains.
One of the most dramatic moments of the novel comes towards the end. Ellsworth Toohey is eventually fired from his position after pushing things to a confrontation. This firing is Wynard’s attempt at restoring order. Only it comes too late. Toohey immediately calls a strike and production of the paper grinds to a halt.
It comes out that Toohey had spent years getting his acolytes into crucial positions within the paper; all the ‘indispensable spark plugs’ of the company. Without them, the paper cannot be produced. These men are loyal to Toohey for their jobs, not to the company they work for. Toohey has his men at all the structural weak points of the paper. He has created a load bearing fifth column. Toohey knows exactly where to apply pressure to bring the whole edifice down. This didn’t happen overnight, it took years of work. Work he was only to do because Wynard was complacent.
Consider now the political position of the UK. A separatist executive in Scotland. Northern Ireland with a plurality of republican politicians. London’s Labour stronghold sustained by illegal and EU immigration. The BBC, the government’s media arm, unashamedly displaying a left-wing sensibility, especially through their hidden subsidiary Channel 4. An educational establishment dominated by unions and vocally liberal. The liberals occupy all the important structural positions of the UK. How long before they decide to pull it all down?
Chillingly, Toohey describes two ways to destroy a man’s spirit, making it all the easier to conquer. Toohey’s methods are recognisable in the destruction of our culture today.
First is to ‘make man feel small… kill his aspiration and his integrity’. We see this in play with the promotion of man as a profane creature, essentially no more important than a beast. Carnal desires are pandered to. We are assailed with the idea that happiness is achieved through sex, drugs, gluttony. We are not encouraged to reach for anything more than ourselves. Intelligence is mocked, the inquisitive are silenced.
Second is to ‘kill man’s… capacity to recognise greatness or achieve it… set up standards of achievement open to all, to the least, to the most inept’. This method attacks beauty and talent, two traits which are innately hierarchical. Some people are more beautiful than others, some people are more talented than others. To the liberal, this will not do as to allow people to be intrinsically better than others will lead to people wanting to achieve more than others.
To combat beauty standards, society promotes ugliness as beauty. Fat shaming is one of the big wrongs of our day, even though to be fat is to be unhealthy. Tattoos and piercings are promoted as essential fashion symbols and do much to obscure and denigrate natural beauty.
Ugly buildings, the Brutalist, the conceptual are preferred over aesthetically pleasing classical structures. Popular music is ubiquitous, but classical music is hidden. Since The Sex Pistols, we have been educated that even if you cannot sing or play an instrument, even if you have no discernible musical talent you can become a success.Modern art is intentionally ugly and requires little skill. It is no longer the case that one looks at a piece of art and recognises the greatness that went into it. The idea that one was looking at something which they could not achieve themselves has gone. Anyone can mess up a bed and present it in a gallery. There is no need to strive for greatness, the sublime is overlooked, called old fashioned, uncool, and instead the paltry is held up as a standard of merit.
Modern art is intentionally ugly and requires little skill. It is no longer the case that one looks at a piece of art and recognises the greatness that went into it. The idea that one was looking at something which they could not achieve themselves has gone. Anyone can mess up a bed and present it in a gallery. There is no need to strive for greatness, the sublime is overlooked, called old fashioned, uncool, and instead the paltry is held up as a standard of merit.
Rand finishes her book with the improbable situation that society sees the errors it has created and Toohey is vanquished. Of course, it is the sad truth that the Ellsworth Toohey’s of the word have won. We live in the world they created. Man has no special place in the world. He is just a bundle of cells to be discarded when it pleases through abortion or euthanasia. Society is empty. A great, desolate pit with no pride to fill it. No moral guiding force, only the hatred of ourselves, some vague imperial guilt we harbour that causes us to welcome our hastening end. We have been hollowed out by the globalists.
The greater tragedy is that it is only the West who have this lack of soul. Other cultures still feel it and it makes them stronger than us. Not inherently but through engineering. We have been made fragile and we are under the boot of a stronger system of values.
There is the smallest glimmer of hope in the populist revolution. This is our only chance to grow strong again. To believe the West has value. To have pride in ourselves. But it is a tall order as too much time has been spent on crushing our own spirits. Ayn Rand cheated when she gave her characters a happy ending. In the real world, Ellsworth Toohey will win. We should be ashamed.