Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mark Ames--"Atlas Shrieked", good take on Ayn Rand

Ames looks at how she praised a serial killer for his sociopathic tendencies, feeling that he was representative of the kind of 'new man' she wanted. The thing is, in certain parts of the counter culture the admiration of serial killers is a thing, so Rand praising a person like this isn't particularly shocking, but the point here isn't to wag one's finger and say "for shame!". The misanthropy that fuels admiration like that is an interesting position, although I don't fully agree with it. Instead, the problem with Rand feeling this was it's that it's really inconsistent for folks who are social conservatives, like Paul Ryan, to praise Rand ideal as some sort of conservative ideal, compatible with family values and the like, as Ames points out. Christopher Hyatt, late proprietor of "New Falcon Press", was more honest when he titled his (implicitly) Rand inspired book "The Psychopath's Bible", and declared that he didn't give a damn about society, wishing for society to be destroyed so that "the nightmare will be over".

From the article:

"What did Rand admire so much about Hickman? His sociopathic qualities: “Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should,” she wrote, gushing that Hickman had “no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel ‘other people.’”

This echoes almost word for word Rand’s later description of her character Howard Roark, the hero of her novel The Fountainhead: “He was born without the ability to consider others.”

(The Fountainhead is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s favorite book — he even makes his clerks learn it.)

I’ll get to where Rand picked up her silly Superman blather from later — but first, let’s meet William Hickman, the “genuinely beautiful soul” and inspiration to Ayn Rand. What you will read below — the real story, details included, of what made Hickman a “Superman” in Ayn Rand’s eyes — is rather gory reading, even if you’re a longtime fan of true crime “Death Porn” — so prepare yourself. Because you should read this to give Rand’s ideas their proper context, and to repeat this over and over until all of America understands what made this fucked-up Russian nerd’s mind tick, because Rand’s influence over the very people leading the fight to kill social programs, and her ideological influence on so many powerful bankers, regulators and businessmen who brought the financial markets crashing down, means that it’s suicide to ignore her, no matter how dumb, silly or beneath you her books and ideas are.

Rand fell for William Edward Hickman in the late 1920s, as the shocking story of Hickman’s crime started to grip the nation. His crime, trial and case was a non-stop headline grabber for months; the OJ Simpson of his day:"

No comments: