Fear Of Failure
I'm a big proponent of the transformative power of failure. Failure is nature's way of saying "Don't do that any more!", and is therefore a necessary part of achievement and innovation. And so I'm inclined to like this speech very much. On the other hand, something niggles me about the end:McArdle expected to make a small fortune off of advising corporations and also expected to become a card-carrying member of the Ubermenschen. Nobody who used to blog under the name Jane Galt wants to be a failure and forever cast out of the hallowed halls of money and power. She has gone on to make a small fortune as a journalist but it's just not the same. John Galt, Dagny Taggart and Hank Reardon didn't fail; they were so inherently superior that their every move was successful, as long as the lice and scum stayed out of their way. What is a Jane Galt to do when bad things happen to good little Randians?
So here is the point: you are going to meet the dragon of failure in your life. You may not get into the school you want, or you may get kicked out of the school you are in. You may get rejected by the girl of your dreams, or, God forbid, get into an accident beyond your control. But the point is, everything happens for a reason. At the time, it may not be clear. And certainly the pain and the shame are going to be overwhelming and devastating. But as sure as the sun comes up, there will come a time on the next day or next week or next year when you will grab that sword and tell him "Be gone, dragon."This seems like a pretty safe bet when you're talking to Buckley students, who have an ample safety net underneath them to allow them to bounce back from nearly any failure. But would he really say this to, say, a 55 year old man who'd just been fired from his sales job? Bad things--persistent bad things--happen to good people, and while it's comforting to think of them as merely a waystation, for lots of people that isn't really true. It only seems true.
(Note: McArdle has said that she posted under the name Jane Galt to tweak a New York Times forum commenter, not because she wanted to call herself Jane Galt in homage to Ayn Rand's hero. No doubt she kept on calling herself Jane Galt because as far as she knew the anonymous irritant was still alive and it was necessary to keep up the pressure.)
Failure is all well and good if you are able to profit from it. McArdle was and yet she still yearned for the good life lost through happenstance and misfortune. Others are usually not as lucky as McArdle, whose father was able to afford an apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side and a very hefty private school tuition for McArdle so that she would be able to grow up with advantages that are far out of reach of most people.
For most people failure means years of catching up and paying for your mistake, suffering for bad luck or judgment or simply lack of opportunity to succeed. McArdle tells the poor that they could have been successful if they got married and educated and put off child-rearing because it worked for her, just as failure worked for her. However, the poor don't have her opportunities and their failures will not result in success. But they won't be buying her book anyway, so who cares?
Failure, like success, is only beneficial for the rich.