Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” – The Collective Against The Individual

Thoughts on Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”. If you’ve read 1984 and Brave New World, then you should read this as well.


“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with
nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step
was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received–hatred. The
great creators–the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors–stood alone against the
men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was
denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible.
The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of
unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.
“No creator was prompted by a desire to serve his brothers, for his brothers rejected the gift
he offered and that gift destroyed the slothful routine of their lives. His truth was his only
motive. His own truth, and his own work to achieve it in his own way. A symphony, a book, an
engine, a philosophy, an airplane or a building–that was his goal and his life. Not those who
heard, read, operated, believed, flew or inhabited the thing he had created. The creation, not
its users. The creation, not the benefits others derived from it. The creation which gave form
to his truth. He held his truth above all things and against all men.
“His vision, his strength, his courage came from his own spirit. A man’s spirit, however, is his
self. That entity which is his consciousness. To think, to feel, to judge, to act are functions of
the ego.
“The creators were not selfless. It is the whole secret of their power–that it was self-sufficient,
self-motivated, self-generated. A first cause, a fount of energy, a life force, a Prime Mover.
The creator served nothing and no one. He had lived for himself.
“And only by living for himself was he able to achieve the things which are the glory of
mankind. Such is the nature of achievement.
“Man cannot survive except through his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his
only weapon. Animals obtain food by force. Man has no claws, no fangs, no horns, no great
strength of muscle. He must plant his food or hunt it. To plant, he needs a process of thought.
To hunt, he needs weapons, and to make weapons–a process of thought. From this simplest
necessity to the highest religious abstraction, from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we
are and everything we have comes from a single attribute of man–the function of his
reasoning mind.
“But the mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective brain.
There is no such thing as a collective thought. An agreement reached by a group of men is
only a compromise or an average drawn upon many individual thoughts. It is a secondary
consequence. The primary act–the process of reason–must be performed by each man
alone. We can divide a meal among many men. We cannot digest it in a collective stomach.
No man can use his lungs to breathe for another man. No man can use his brain to think for
another. All the functions of body and spirit are private. They cannot be shared or transferred.
“We inherit the products of the thought of other men. We inherit the wheel. We make a cart.
The cart becomes an automobile. The automobile becomes an airplane. But all through the
process what we receive from others is only the end product of their thinking.

— from The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand


Original video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncRk4nDmk70