Pessimism must be updated for every generation. Its ideas transcend time and place, but require translation into the vernacular of the day. Ayn Rand spoke pessimism’s timeless truths in the heady perfume of mid-20th Century high modernism. And yet, she is more relevant today than ever.
The word “timeless” matters here. We still read Nietzsche and Schopenhauer even though Houellebecq and Bronze Age Pervert exist. Because while the way we articulate these truths changes, the truths themselves do not.
So, too, do the specific challenges we confront change. But again, the basic truth of pessimism remains: Man is an animal and only a select few can rise above this station (and even then only barely). Those who can overcome must still contend with the crab bucketing hoard who seek to drag them back down. Life is a constant struggle against chaos. More often than not, chaos wins.
Every Randroid has their personal favorite and for me, it’s The Fountainhead; a giant doorstop novel about one man’s struggle against mediocrity. It is less about political invective than it is about protagonist Howard Roark’s struggle to Become.
Your chances of becoming Frank Lloyd Wright cum Ubermensch are lower than winning the lottery. And anyway, the point is not to be Howard Roark or even to be like him. He is simply one expression of man’s Will to Power made manifest. For Roark it was architecture. For you, it’s probably something else.
Howard Roarks are few and far between, but Ellsworth Tooheys are plentiful.
The Fountainhead’s antagonist Toohey is often interpreted as a man simply in search of power. But this is a simplistic reading. While Toohey is candid about his desire to bring all men to heel, he is equally candid about how deeply offended he is by all human excellence. Achievement, for Toohey, is a great moral crime.
Digital media has turned every man into a potential Toohey. The COVID cult provides gas to fuel this fire.
Every unpaid, freelance mask cop is a tiny shard of Toohey’s rabble. And they won’t stop at forcibly injecting you with their vaccines. Just like they didn’t stop at locking us all down for two weeks, or forcing small children to wear masks. They won’t stop at anything. They simply won’t stop.
The power grab of medical fascism was simply a dress rehearsal for climate fascism. “Stay home!” we will be told, “The future of the planet depends on it!” Emerging technologies like blockchain currency, geotracking and the Internet of Things mean that every aspect of our existence can be cataloged, controlled and used to punish us for the slightest deviation.
“We’re all in this together,” we’re told. It is the bleat of the mob who seek to use your healthy sense of moral shame to take everything from you.
There’s no way Ayn Rand could have foreseen the decentralized, crowd-sourced panopticon we must stare down in the 21st Century. But her moral lessons — and, indeed, Rand was a moral philosopher, not a political one — instruct us to become a bedrock of order in a world of chaos. They ring truer today than ever before.