Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Tower of Values

Posted by Jerry on September 11, 2006

daytalltowers.jpg

A skyscraper is the concrete embodiment of the three fundamental values that Rand identified: Reason, purpose, and self-esteem. It takes men of great ego who use their calculating reason and have a purposeful goal to construct towers like shrines to their values.

No such structure is built without someone’s committment to reason, someone’s sense of purpose, and someone’s assessment of themself as being worthy of embarking on such a project. Even the likes of Peter Keating can build skyscrapers by mooching off of a mind committed to reason, purpose, and self-esteem.

However, without those values–mooched or otherwise–such achievements are impossible.

An attack on a skyscraper is tantamount to an attack on these values–to eliminate and destroy these values in man and in structure. The destroyers who attacked the World Trade Center towers have an intense hatred toward these values; they profess mysticism, whim, revelation, and faith; not reason. They wallow in mediocrity, hopelessness, resignation, malevolence, escapism, and a mindless existence; not one of focused and directed purpose. They bear a hatred for their life on this earth and a deep sense of self-loathing; not of proud, egoistic self-esteem.

“Pasha smiled back.
He smiled at the men who built this city. He smiled at their pride and their spirit – to the testament of their power. For this one moment, Pasha wished there were a God in heaven, for He would have lowered His head in quiet homage to Man.” — Pasha, Ergo Sum

“The skyline of New York is a monument of a splendour that no pyramids or palaces will ever equal or approach.”

“I can say – not as a patriotic bromide, but with full knowledge of the necessary metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, political, and aesthetic roots – that the United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world.”

“America’s abundance was created not by public sacrifices to the common good, but by the productive genius of free men who pursued their own personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes. They did not starve the people to pay for America’s industrialization. They gave the people better jobs, higher wages, and cheaper goods with every new machine they invented, with every scientific discovery or technological advance- and thus the whole country was moving forward and profiting, not suffering, every step of the way.”

nighttowers.jpg “An Asian peasant who labors through all of his waking hours, with tools created in Biblical times—a South American aborigine who is devoured by piranha in a jungle stream—an African who is bitten by the tsetse fly—an Arab whose teeth are green with decay in his mouth—these do live with their ‘natural environment,’ but are scarcely able to appreciate its beauty. Try to tell a Chinese mother, whose child is dying of cholera: ‘Should one do everything one can? Of course not.’ Try to tell a Russian housewife, who trudges miles on foot in sub-zero weather in order to spend hours standing in line at a state store dispensing food rations, that America is defiled by shopping centers, expressways and family cars.”

“I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York’s skyline. Particularly when one can’t see the details. Just the shapes. The shapes and the thought that made them. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need? And then people tell me about pilgrimages to some dank pesthole in a jungle where they go to do homage to a crumbling temple, to a leering stone monster with a pot belly, created by some leprous savage. Is it beauty and genius they want to see? Do they seek a sense of the sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the Hudson, look and kneel. When I see the city from my window – no, I don’t feel how small I am – but I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body.”

[All quotes by Ayn Rand; pictures, courtesy of Xavier Sala-i-Martin]

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