Always unto yourself be true.
Let history be your witness.
What other people think of you
Is none of your damn business.
When I first read Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead at the age of eighteen, I was somewhat confused. Howard Roark’s rabid individualism seemed the polar opposite of what my German Lutheran upbringing had taught me to regard as integrity. Yet, compared to Peter Keating, Roark stood out as a paragon of principle and honesty. Could it be possible that my concept of integrity was flawed?
I had been taught that integrity involved self-sacrifice and dedication to others. The heroes presented to my childhood had been Saint Paul and Saint Peter and, of course, Christ himself, and we had been admonished to emulate the humility and self-effacement of these exemplary luminaries. Now here I was confronted by the antithesis of that exposition – and I was not quite sure that I didn’t prefer the antithesis as a definition and a model of integrity.
Furthermoe, it was obvious that the religious definition of integrity was not that far removed from Ellsworth Toohey’s definition. Both embody altruism and egalitarianism, and it suddenly occurred to e that both apply the admonition of those "virtues" to the same purpose – control. It was a short step from there to the realization that socialism is just another religion.
Today, of course, the religion of Socialism has invaded the halls of power and the cloisters of the press, and seems to be rapidly supplanting the religion of my youth. The number of people who describe themselves as Christian has declined over the past few decades, and the number who describe themselves as Democrats has burgeoned.
But as the number of Chris-Mathews-Nancy-Polosi-Elsworth-Tooheys has increased, so has the number of Howard-Roark-Ted-Cruz-Glen-Becks. And the later are wining. They will always win because AynRand was right. Integrity is not a self-destructive orgy of collectivism. It is a vivacious celebration of individualism – the one single human characteristic responsible for our phenomenal success as a species. Individual integrity is an unique invention of humankind. It is the mechanism that has enabled us to climb out of the miasma of animalism and to enter the realm of the near-gods. And it defines our ultimate destiny as a species.
Socialism and democracy are not integrity. They are, on the contrary, negative reactions to integrity – mere distractions along man’s evolutionary journey – presented by atavistic remnants of the species that have not yet evolved completely into full humanity.