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  The Author:

  Ayn Rand


  The Book:

  The Fountainhead


  The fan:

  Home Secretary Sajid Javid


    According to an article by Fraser Nelson in the Spectator of 11 February 2017, “Just before Christmas, Sajid Javid performed a ritual he has observed twice a year throughout his adult life: he read the courtroom scene in The Fountainhead.” Nelson also reported that “As a student, Javid read the passage to his now-wife, but only once — she told him she’d have nothing more to do with him if he tried it again.” A sensible woman, obviously. But what does this tell us about our current Home Secretary?

It cannot, of course, have been the whole of the courtroom scene that impressed him so much that he felt compelled to share it with his wife to be. It is fairly safe to assume that it was just the part where the accused, the architect Howard Roark, takes the stand and makes a speech in his own defence. A speech that so influences the jury that they acquit him of a crime of which he is clearly, and admittedly, guilty.

And what was the crime? It was to use gelignite to blow up and destroy a block of government housing that he had himself designed.

And his reason? After the design was finished he had unwisely gone on holiday and whilst he was away his design was altered. Not it seems. Lesser men had added balconies. “The people who’ll live here are used to sitting out on fire-escapes. They love it. They’ll miss it. You gotta give ’em a place to sit on in the fresh air.”

It seems quite a reasonable thing to have done, but Roark, who said of himself “I don’t believe in government housing” was not interested in the wishes of the people who were to live in the buildings he designed. It makes him a strange hero for a man who was to become Communities’ Secretary and who, when in that position, claimed to see the housing shortage as one of the worst of Britain’s social curses, but perhaps it does explain a great deal.

And Roark’s defence? It was, quite simply, that he was a genius and must therefore be allowed to do as he pleased. That he should not have to share in the fate that he was convinced had overtaken all other geniuses before him. By some magic he had discovered that the first human to discover fire had been considered an ‘evildoer’ by his contemporaries, and that the first man who discovered the wheel was considered a ‘transgressor’. The first, he suggested, would probably have been burnt at the stake and the second would have been torn apart on the rack that he had unwisely taught his brothers to build (why?), but that same magic had prevented him from discovering that Isaac Newton had, in later life, been appointed Master of the Mint and had become immensely rich. Or perhaps Newton was not a genius, after all.

To Roark (and to Ayn Rand) the whole of mankind could be divided into two groups. The first, and much smaller group, she called the creators, the second, the parasites. One of the outstanding characteristics of a parasite was that he preached altruism, but “To a creator, all relations with men are secondary”. On the other hand …….

Rulers of men …… create nothing. They exist entirely through the persons of others. Their goal is in their subjects, in the activity of enslaving”.

It is remarkable that sentiments such as these should be admired by a man who has aspired (and perhaps still hopes) to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.