Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ayn Rand Understood the Cathedral

Ayn Rand deserves some praise, but not for what most people praise her for writing. Throughout college, many friends would rave about Atlas Shrugged. About 5 years after graduation, I broke down and bought it. Fortunately, the book had a printing error, double printing 100 pages, so I could return it and wipe my hands clean. Atlas Shrugged was awful. The Fountainhead was excellent (review here). In tandem with Roark, driving the Fountainhead's story is the evil character of Ellsworth Toohey. Looking at Ellsworth's tactics, his style, his choices and his occupation, Rand seems to have understood the true drive for power of the communists and how they would do it in the US. Rand saw where power lay. Toohey is her warning because she saw Toohey's around her at the high levels. Now we're inundated with mini-Tooheys on Faceborg feeds. Rand understood the cathedral before it had a name.
Ellsworth Toohey is, for lack of a better phrase, a deceptive, shifty dick who uses people for gain. He attended Harvard, worked in academia steering people's careers as well as being a critic, and loved having influence. His drive is for power to rule over others. Nothing else. His rant to Keating near the end of the book, fully revealing his evil motivations, could apply to many cathedral foot soldiers today. He rarely performs a direct assault on a target, using auxiliary forces and flanking attacks instead. He plays the long game. He pulls down the stand out, mocks and rips the successful individual, elevates the ugly and creates useless little councils for things. Of all the jobs in the world, he is a columnist, column named "One Small Voice", with a contract in the biggest newspaper chain in the country that allows him to write whatever he wants. Toohey is well educated, smart, has a job as a thinker and tastemaker molding opinion through the media, hates the power of the individual and is obsessed with gaining power. Toohey sounds like a bishop in Moldbug's cathedral.
Rand cited Harold Laski as a prime inspiration for Toohey's character. Laski was a Jewish British Marxist who was a Labour MP. He studied at Oxford, taught at elite universities, wrote for "The New Republic", and was hooked up with the Frankfurt school. He cultivated students to send out into the world to implement his schemes. He was a guy behind the guy behind the guy, pulling strings and nudging public figures. Rand had lived through the Bolshevik Revolution. Her family fled red Russia. She hung in the intellectual circles. With first hand experience, she saw how the commies took control. With direct contact, she heard how the socialist worms acted at the higher levels of Western academia. The Fountainhead was published in 1943, which was a decade after FDR's first election. For her odd behavior and flaws, Rand saw the natural human inclination to defer to an authority even if the authority is murky in competence or legitimacy. Rand saw the cathedral forming and tried to warn people.
Of all the occupations in the world, Rand has the antagonist be a journalist. Toohey eschews richer surroundings and more obvious signs of power for his role as a writer. He lacks a soul and wants to destroy other men's souls. Toohey understands that what he has with shaping public opinion is power. His contract, allowing him to write anything, is an allusion to our freedom of the press with its unchallenged power in the USA. Toohey finds young talents through his network of university contacts and the intelligentsia to staff his councils and to trumpet in his columns. Toohey uses his lame, do-nothing councils much the same way that the modern left uses the SPLC. If a play, building or book deviates from his desired message, he can nudge the council to condemn it. Normal people might not even know of the council's existence or of it's pathetic membership, but Toohey could cite the "Council of American Builders" as an authority denouncing the play or book. Toohey could have been a politician or contrasting architect to battle with Roark, but he is a journalist.
Even though Moldbug explained the cathedral sixty years after Fountainhead was released, Ayn Rand understood the concept. If Rand lived today, she would buy the cathedral concept in totality. Rand's Toohey is the terrible face to the cathedral. It is not an obviously dark or evil face, raping and killing those who disagree. It is the soulless, bland face of the glasses wearing intellectual, stripping indivual's of their cherished loves, gods and beliefs. The heart to the cathedral that will forever divert talented young Americans to its machinery is the thirst for power, status and control. Rand understood this as well, sending Toohey to a new job at another paper where he starts the long process of manipulation all over again. The cathedral will always find Tooheys to staff the government agencies, NGOs, newspapers and universities. You cannot stop the cathedral by reforming it; you must destroy it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rand cited Harold Laski as a prime inspiration for Toohey's character. Laski was a Jewish British Marxist

Weird how so many of these cathedral figures happen to be jews. Coincidence I'm sure