Saturday, 16 December 2017

Would John Galt Think of Ellsworth Toohey?

There is a scene in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead in which Ellsworth Toohey accidentally meets Howard Roark in a deserted street. Toohey says to Roark: "Mr. Roark, we're alone here. Why don't you tell me what you think of me? In any words you wish. No one will hear us.”

Roark offers Toohey the ultimate put-down. He says: "But I don't think of you.”

Let’s imagine a scenario: Toohey gets transported to the fictional landscape of Atlas Shrugged, and he bumps into the novel’s hero, John Galt!

Toohey says: “Mr. Galt, we're alone here. Why don't you tell me what you think of me? In any words you wish. No one will hear us.”

How will Galt respond? I can’t imagine Galt saying, “But I don’t think of you,” to Toohey.

I have a feeling that Galt would be thinking of collectivist intellectuals like Toohey, because Galt is concerned with the social, political and economic situation in the country. Roark is a man with single purpose in life, architecture, but Galt is different, he is a multitasker—he is a talented scientist, and he has philosophical and political ambitions as well.

Galt does not aspire for political power but he wants to transform the character of society. He has a burning desire to create a society which is based on rational philosophical ideas.

In the area of science Galt succeeds in inventing an electric motor which produces limitless energy; in the area of politics he succeeds in stopping the motor of the world by persuading a significant number of talented industrialists, scientists and other professionals to go on strike.

If they meet in a deserted street and Toohey wants to know what Galt thinks of him, I don’t think Galt will respond in Roark’s calm and composed manner. For Galt, a collectivist intellectual like Toohey is a political and philosophical adversary. I can only visualize Galt impatiently saying to Toohey, “Get out of my way,” before marching off to wherever he is going.

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