Due to unforeseen events with the recent storm engulfing Britain it has caused me to forget World Book Day 2018. There was meant to be a debate on the United Politics Facebook page about our favourite political writers. I had nominated Ayn Rand as my choice of writer and I had planned to write about several other political books and how they influenced me. This will be my summation of my choices of books that I adore as a Conservative. I decided on this theme for this year because I wanted to reflect on my previous year when I started to indulge in political and philosophical books.
While I was researching my Christmas list for 2016 I decided to take up a set challenge for the year ahead. In the years that I have been a conservative I have never read any serious books on political philosophy or the fiction works of conservative writers. So I decided to bide my time and indulge in those books. I looked up a list of recommended reading for books that every conservative should read. One of them that I got for Christmas was ‘Atlas Shrugged‘ by Ayn Rand.
Atlas Shrugged is centred around a philosophy that Rand created called objectivism. An objectivist is a person who believes in the rational reason and creativity of the individual to go in search of happiness for one self. It is a philosophy that I can relate to and Atlas Shrugged blew me away with a strong sense of hope and prosperity. It taught that I did not need to follow society or people’s judgement in order to fit in, but create something for myself to achieve happiness and freedom. I need not live for anyone, or allow anyone to live for me.
What led Ayn Rand to create objectivism was her own experience growing up in her homeland of Russia at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. Ayn Rand’s real name is Alisa Rosenbaum. Her family ran a private pharmaceuticals industry in Russia and it was seized for state ownership by the revolution. During the early years of the revolution the family experienced extreme state intervention and dictating of what they could produce and what they could create for the country and for themselves. Rand felt let down by her comrades and the way communism drove out creativity and intellectuality and sought to escape. This is reflected in all her works where she wanted freedom of creativity and the ability to provide only for herself in order to survive.
Atlas Shrugged covers some of these traits in detail. It was a very long (1100 pages) and thought provoking reading for me but it was very brilliantly written. The story takes place in a dystopian USA where the government has enacted state intervention in all areas of business. Shackling creativity and eventually bringing the country to a halt, which has led to the disappearance of all of America’s business leaders. The story begins with the line ‘Why is John Galt?’ A railway tycoon called Dagny Taggart goes in search of Galt and reveals himself to be a messiah figure of technology and innovation. He has led a strike of the country’s industrial titans who are living in a secluded area out west in a secretive commune. One of the chapters has a speech where Galt tells the people and the world to give them freedom to achieve their own happiness in return for switching back on the industrial might of America and to get the economy starting again.
I kept notes of the book’s best lines as I read it and covered them in another post last year. After that I become a die hard Rand fan. Later I went onto discover another of her books that came before Atlas Shrugged called ‘The Fountainhead‘. The Fountainhead was the novel that first introduced the world to objectivism in 1943 and was adapted for the big screen in 1949.
The book’s main protagonist is an architect called Howard Roark. He designs modernist buildings and refuses to compromise on the establishment of his profession that is unwilling to accept innovation. Rand created him as an ideal man that reflects her belief that individualism is far superior than collectivism. Roark’s rival is a socialist critic called Ellsworth Toohey who denounces Roark and uses other people to push his agenda. Interestingly Toohey’s behaviour can be seen in the way many social justice warriors burrow other problems to push their own agenda and get them to their fighting for them.
Like Atlas Shrugged, the Fountainhead is very compelling and highly intellectual. Roark has his own moment in court when he blows up a building that was tampered with from his original designs. In the courtroom there is a speech he gives about how the individual is more valuable than being made to serve society as part of the collective. That was a very strong and awe inspiring moment that made my hair stand on end.
Rand’s work along with many other conservative writers remind me to value my individuality, creativity, independence and liberty to think for my own self. Although I have lived on welfare as a dependent I have sought to gain control of my own destiny. There are people who judge me as invalid and hopeless, but that judgement is invalid. It’s only just because I can’t serve their purpose or their agenda that they deem me to be invalid.
What matters is how you value the usefulness of your neurodiversity to yourself and how it empowers you. I became an autistic conservative because of those values that objectivism and conservatism give to me. They reward individual achievements and grant you freedom to use your neurodiversity. People on the autistic spectrum are not hopeless and vulnerable all the time, they are capable and able of being something. For success in science and art a dash of autism is essential, but to enable that the freedom for that autism to think for itself must be made for them. All the leftists ever did for me was to see to it that I serve their purpose, not mine. They burrowed my intelligence and my disability to push their own agenda, not give me freedom to exercise my imagination.
There are other novels that I count amongst my influences. Two of them from George Orwell. Animal Farm and 1984. Both of them satirise socialism and totalitarianism. These are good for conservatives because they show how the government can go to extremes to strip you of your freedom and to have total control of your mind. One of the biggest negatives about them for me was how mental health and neurodiversity are traits that the government can use against you. In a socialist ideology mental health is a weakness that they use against you to discredit and destroy you. That is why I don’t trust government to manage the country’s mental health epidemic. They might do well to care for them, but they can also use that mental illnesses against you.
There is also another great work of dystopian fiction that makes liberalism and happiness look bad. Something that can be bad even for mental health. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World shows that you can achieve happiness by treating mental health and neurodiversity as a symptom of chaos and evil. Making people happy is not the same as making everyone free. By making you love and do only certain things, you are being denied the freedom to think for yourself. In this world, society, not the government, controls you to love the system. From reading Brave New World I learnt that it is better to be free than happy.
And of course let’s not forget my own book which has been influenced by these writers. A Puzzle in a Tunnel. Thank You.