Donald Trump’s first actions as POTUS continue to trigger unprecedented worldwide hysterics, vapours and hissy fits in progressivistas who did not get the president they had banked on seeing installed in the White House. These often grotesque convulsions bring to mind — to my mind, at any rate — the body movements of laboratory mice with electrodes implanted in the pleasure centres of their brains. The mice son learn that the simple act of pressing a lever produces the dopamine that results in uninterrupted sexual pleasure, so they press those levers to the exclusion of anything else. They don’t eat, they don’t sleep, they don’t drink. They do nothing but pleasure themselves.
There is a difference, though, between these two groups of dopamine lovers. Where pleasure-fixated mice endlessly push their laboratory levers, progressives are embracing their Trumpian pain to attain the consolation of a self-righteous and politically correct collective orgasm. Masochism? Quite probably, but drawing a perverse pleasure from displays of public agony is the only way they have left to re-assert a feeling of control over a world turned upside down, a world they can grasp but simply cannot accept. On November 7 their universe was as they thought it should be. They dominated the public pulpit, the media and universities, set and policed the topics that might be discussed and dictated how they must be discussed. Then came Trump and their comfortable intellectual environment evaporated. The satisfaction drawn from the fury of their protests is the palliative of the uncomprehending.
Angry accusations of racism, misogyny, political bullying, plus all the other deadly sins thrown at the new president, have two main sources. These people do not know how, or do not wish, to think for themselves; they depend for their opinions on the ‘authority’ of well-placed and influential intellectual gurus. This explains the cognitive dissonance sen o often on the Left; without it, how can you protest Trump’s sexism while making common cause with Islamic groups, whose sexism is wovn into their very fabric. The impending loss of this pre-programmed pattern of approved and endorsed intellectual functioning frightens and angers them. What we see, operating at a physiological or gut level, is a Pavlovian mass reflex.
And there is another source, a philosophical one, which represents the profound, fundamental and irreconcilable difference in the weltanshauunung between the progressivistas — ‘dependents’, as I call them — and creative people like Donald Trump. This source has a name, a well-formulated philosophy, a body of literature and, what’s more, a substantial following. This particular philosophy and its followers were derided, denigrated and, as often as not, prohibited by the totalitarian regimes of both the Soviets and the Nazis. Needless to say, it was hated by progressives all over the world, who accused its followers of lack of empathy, of egotism and of a refusal to follow the directives of the Politburo.
I am talking about the ‘objectivist’ philosophy founded and formulated by Ayn Rand. It appears that that author’s ideas have a staunch adherent, a man who now happens to be the President of the United Sates of America.
I strongly suspect this consideration will need to be taken into account when Australia’s relationship with the new US administration has to be re-formulated. And make no mistake, reformulated it will have to be, as the near-disastrous Turnbull phone call to Trump demonstrated with all too obvious clarity. This is not such a profound thought. However, it is a key to predicting and understanding Trump’s thinking. I speak, of course, of Ayn Rand and her philosophy, which Trump is said to regard as one of his main vectors in life.
The more I observe the first weeks of Trump in office, the more it becomes clear that Rand is key to understanding his actions Like me (drum roll, please), Rand was a refugees from the USSR, where she left behind her original name, Alissa (Alice) Zinovievna Rosenbaum. As a child, Rand was a witness to the turmoil of the Russian revolution, observing its tumultuous street demonstrations and shootings from the window of her parents’ flat above her father’s pharmacy in St Petersburg. She migrated to the US and became the founder of what is now regarded as one of the most influential strands of philosophical thought of our time. The fact that she and it are so scorned and derided by the Left is, perhaps, a sincere valuation of its worth.
I will try to back my theory with facts. The best way to do so is to list some of Trump’s cabinet appointments and leave the conclusions to my readers.
These names and the philosophical underpinnings of their owners are, arguably, the most reliable compass in plotting the likely course of the new administration’s political direction.
- Donald Trump – declared himself to be a fan of Ayn Rand and identifies himself with Howard Roark, the main character of her book, The Fountainhead. (USA Today, April 11, 2016, Kirsten Powers)
- Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State – the Exxon-Mobil CEO shares Trump’s affection for Rand. Unlike Trump, Tillerson prefers Atlas Shrugged, her novel about John Galt, secretly organising a strike of the creative class to hasten the collapse of a bureaucratic society. (Steve Coll, Private Empire: Exxon Mobil and American Power, 2008)
- Andy Puzder, quite possibly the next Secretary of Labor and currently CEO of the Roark Capital Group (named after Howard Roark, obviously). He encouraged his six children to read The Fountainhead first and Atlas Shrugged later. (Wall Street Journal, “Can you love God and Ayn Rand?” by Jennifer Anju Grossman, Nov 10, 2016)
- Mike Pompeo, the new CIA Director, declared his views “spring from a long interest in libertarian and conservative thought, first formed at age of 15 when he read Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead”. (Washington Post, “Pompeo draws liberal groups’ ire” – by Dan Eggen, March 20, 2011)
These people, confirmed in their nominations or not, have a lot in common – self-made professionals and politicians, job creators, individualistic antagonists of Big Government and, in common with Trump, members of the Ayn Rand fun club.
In its essence, the Ayn Rand philosophy is based on her rejection of altruism as an obligatory element of human behavior, preferring instead to promote self-reliance, intellectual independence and creativity. I am not in the business of spruiking this or that philosophy. It is a matter for personal consideration. Those who wish to explore Rand’s teachings can do so without any difficulty. Nor do I intend to debate the merits or otherwise of her literary inheritance – that is not my intention. Personally, when I was finally able to read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, I gloried in the freedom to two of so many books previouly denied in the USSR.
What I hope to achieve in writing this piece is to draw attention to information that, had our Prime Minister given it a moment’s consideration before attempting to hold the US President to a deal cut with his lame-duck predecesor, would have saved the embarrassment of an avoidable complication with our most important ally.
It is an educated guess that Malcolm Turnbull, like so many of his class and ilk, loathes Rand even though he has most likely never read either of her books. Perhaps he should do so now. It might just forestall any more idiotic phone calls and help him better negotiate the shoals and sandbanks of Australian-US relationships.
That would be an important education and worthwhile one as well — allowing, of course, that he remains Prime Minister long enough to use it.
Dr Michael Galak and his family came to Australia as refugees from the Soviet Union in 1978