The Fountainhead & Objectivism

I finished reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. I enjoyed reading the book, Ayn Rand is a brilliant writer and very thoughtful. Her narration might not be as flowery as it can get, how ever it is decent enough to make a very good read. I simply am amazed by her skill when it comes to describing persons state of mind or internal thought. The book in a way is less about characters and more about the under lying ideas of Individualism and Objectivism, while popular impression about the book is that it is about characters. Ayn Rand no doubt is a great mind and a profound thinker, how ever i find her brand of philosophy stipulated by severe short comings. The problem with The Fountainhead is that it tries to champion the cause of her philosophy with the help of a story. As we all know stories can always be twisted and turned to  tailor our needs. I would have been in perfect harmony with the author, if the plot took its shape because obviousness of the philosophy and not vice versa. A story should never be made to suit the philosophy to justify itself.

Most of her her characters are simply not humans, they are all predictable programmed robots with an agenda. Humans never are never consistent with their thoughts, principles or philosophy. The Protagonist Howard Roark, was glorified to epic proportions, a man whom Ayn Rand promotes as a perfect human soul on Earth. He is arrogant, bold, stubborn, egotist to its extreme, whose soul purpose is life is Architecture. Little does Ayn Rand realise that human life simply is more than achieveing excellence in profession, there is simply more to life. Objectivism lays so much emphasis on the individual that if practiced in extreme forms would lead to doom. Look what Hitler did, I think he was supreme form of individualism. The book usually over states or exaggerates the reason behind human logic, thus giving an impression that humans are dirty creatures and people who simply are not creative or talented are worth not living. Eventually its Howard Roark’s talent which bailed him out, not his set of beliefs or his priciples as Ayn rand would like us to believe. The court room argument in the climax is as ridiculous as it can get, show me a court of justice where anyone can get away with it, i would hang myself. Howard Roark could afford to be what all he was because he was supremely talented and gifted beyond mediocrity, what should the lesser mortals on the earth do?

Howard Roark’s grit and determination are inspiring and is bound to give some solace for those who dont belive so much in themselves. One more funny aspect with Ayn Rand is that she tries to establish strangest possible relationship between a man and a women. Whats more queer in the book is that the heroine submitting herself to rape and her deriving pleasure from it, and yet maintaining it to be a sexual assault. The book to me was helpful, but it did raise more questions than it answers. Objectivism has its limitations, it simply is not as practical as it is touted to be.

Can you miss this book because it is flawed? No, Its definitely worth giving a tought. My final say is A Flawed book by a Brilliant, but flawed writer.

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13 thoughts on “The Fountainhead & Objectivism”

  1. Look what Hitler did, I think he was supreme form of individualism.

    What are you smoking dude? The guy who wanted to kill all the Jews for being Jew was individualist?

    The guy who thought Aryans(his own race) were born to rule the other races is individualist?

    The guy who invaded almost the whole Europe was supreme individualist?

    What is really your definition of individualism dude?

    Someone who believes in racial superiority kills people based on their religion and race, attacks other nations to bring them under his OWN collective empire??

  2. I agree that hitler wasn’t an individualist .
    But at the same time i do not believe that Individualism is not right .
    If everyone was an individualist who would the (let me call it the) “dirty work” .
    Who is going to do the farming etc.

    Collectivism to me means –
    Decisions by the group
    Priority is the group .
    Which means that the individual is doomed .
    Art cannot survive in such a state .

    And as far as Ayn Rand goes .
    She believes in Capitalism .
    And capitalism stands for superiority , slavery .
    Power to one individual over another.Hierarchy.
    Which i can never stand for .And i don’t think any human stands for .

    That leaves us with Anarchy .
    Decisions by the Group.
    Priority – Individual .
    As far as i can see . Anarchy is a win-win situation .It gives equality , freedom . What else can you ask for ?

  3. Don’t accuse me of things I am not, I never supported Hitler in my entire review. He was an individualist, the problem was he didn’t believe in Individualism for others.

    “Individualism is acting in what he or she believes in and others business is no concern of his”

    Now if you are pointing out Hitler’s ideology, I can surely say it was not Individualistic.All i can say is he was everything an Individualist is ‘he Believes in what he believed’

  4. @ Sai Krishna
    I am yet to explore the concept of Anarchy, but all I can tell is Objectivism sucks as a political philosophy.

    Anyways thanks for your comment 🙂

  5. It is really difficult to write down arguments and counter-argumens to explain The Fountainhead.

    Hitler was not an individualist or an objectivist as per Rand’s theory. But, I guess it will be difficult to explain a lot of things just through arguments – especially writing. Because reading itself is so difficult to do.

    While reading, we take meaning out of words based on the biases and perceptions in our head. To objectively read with no intention to agree or disagree is in itself a task.

    Its not easy to explain even through talking. But, its still better than typing and waiting for a response.

    I do not think Roark is perfect but he has minor flaws, nothing else. He is almost perfect in my opinion. Buddha, I believe, is one perfect human being. People might term him impractical, I would term him objectivist.

    Who said being objectivist meant being practical in everyone’s opinion. Anyway, I would not like to argue more on this – not because I cant but because I realize it would be to no avail.

    Someday, we might talk and I might be able to tell u how I feel about objectivism and I would listen to you about your beliefs too. Till then, happy contemplating! 🙂

  6. @Shreyans: Point noted your hounour.

    Thanks for your detailed response and all your comments. Lets hope, who knows eventually we might get to talk someday. Never say never..

  7. If everyone was an individualist who would the (let me call it the) “dirty work” .
    Who is going to do the farming etc.

    This is actually a collectivist problem.

    If everybody is individualist,the problem of “who is going to do this or that” never comes. Nobody is working for anyone else. If nobody is ready to clean the toilets those who wanna get their toilets cleaned will offer thousands of rupees for their toilets to be cleaned.

    If nobody wants to do the farming but people do need someone to do the farming then the money anyone doing farming will be a lot.

    On the other hand in collectivist egalitarian everybody must make same amount of wealth, so if I can make same amount of money driving a bus, and cleaning a toilet, why should I clean the toilets.

    That leaves us with Anarchy .
    Decisions by the Group.
    Priority – Individual .
    As far as i can see . Anarchy is a win-win situation .It gives equality , freedom . What else can you ask for ?

    May I ask why is Somalia so individualist and so capitalist when there is Anarchy in there?

    @mannar

    All i can say is he was everything an Individualist is ‘he Believes in what he believed’

    Well nobody is saying that you supported hitler anywhere, but now you are defending an off the cheek remark you made.

    Hitler was a hard core collectivist, in fact Nazism is given as the supreme definition of when govt becomes all powerful. The only difference between Hitler and Stalin was, that latter was egalitarian collectivist, and Hitler was Nationalist collectivist.

    Stalin wanted equal distribution of wealth for achieving socialism, Hitler wanted the most optimal distribution of wealth to achieve maximum utility. And Hitler did make his nation quite prosperous initially.

    But you cannot be more wrong academically in calling Hitler Individualist.

  8. am yet to explore the concept of Anarchy, but all I can tell is Objectivism sucks as a political philosophy.

    Lemme first make it clear, there are two type of Anarchy, individualist, and collectivist. And before you explore any of these you will have to make such a choice.

    A collectivist anarchy according to me cannot work, without a govt people aren’t just going to collect whatever they produce by themselves. Surely if you earn below the average you will put up whatever you earned into the collective pool(because you will get more in return) but if you do not earn more than average, you would not wanna voluntarily give up your produce.

    An individualist anarchy on the other hand is totally voluntary in nature, and that is the biggest difference between them. There will be billionaires and millionaires in an individualist anarchy but then not everybody works the same, saves the same and spends the same.

    Any person who works more, saves more, spends less will become richer than anyone who does not work more, or provides more skills to other people, spends more, and/or saves less.

    For any collectivist society there is a simple question, if someone does not want to give in his produce to the collectivist pot, what will you do about him?

    Another thing is, you can be a group of collectivist in a individualist anarchist society, but you cannot do it vice versa.

  9. The Fountainhead, first of all was way too long. I think Rand just liked to pen conversations that have never been spoken or will be spoken just in her arrogant, clouded mind.

    Luckily the characters, Rourke and Dominique liked architecture instead of ananomy either character could easily been serial killers. Must nice to be them, not feeling anything or thinking about anyone else.

  10. One of those blogs where the comments have more discussion points than the original blog itself… really awesome! Keep up the good work, mate!

  11. Nice post! I really enjoyed your perspective on the book. I just finished it and I was a little dizzy with heavy idealism of it all.

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