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Ayn Rand: sad sicko heroine of right wing & libertarians





handfleisch
I didn't know much about Ayn Rand before. I knew some weird movies were made about her second-rate philosophers contained in her unreadable books. But recently I learned she was an active supporter and witness for the House American Activities Committee during the height of the witch trials, a despicable act on her part. Now there are two new bios out on her, and it turns out that she was a really twisted person who admired serial killers and ran her own abusive mini-cult. And her books still sell and she's admired by people like Alan Greenspan and Rush Limbaugh. Weird.

http://www.slate.com/id/2233966/
Quote:

Ayn Rand is one of America's great mysteries. She was an amphetamine-addicted author of sub-Dan Brown potboilers, who in her spare time wrote lavish torrents of praise for serial killers and the Bernie Madoff-style embezzlers of her day. She opposed democracy on the grounds that "the masses"—her readers—were "lice" and "parasites" who scarcely deserved to live. Yet she remains one of the most popular writers in the United States, still selling 800,000 books a year from beyond the grave. She regularly tops any list of books that Americans say have most influenced them. Since the great crash of 2008, her writing has had another Benzedrine rush, as Rush Limbaugh hails her as a prophetess. With her assertions that government is "evil" and selfishness is "the only virtue," she is the patron saint of the tea-partiers and the death panel doomsters. So how did this little Russian bomb of pure immorality in a black wig become an American icon?
...
She announced that the world was divided between a small minority of Supermen who are productive and "the naked, twisted, mindless figure of the human Incompetent" who, like the Leninists, try to feed off them. He is "mud to be ground underfoot, fuel to be burned." It is evil to show kindness to these "lice": The "only virtue" is "selfishness."

She meant it. Her diaries from that time, while she worked as a receptionist and an extra, lay out the Nietzschean mentality that underpins all her later writings. The newspapers were filled for months with stories about serial killer called William Hickman, who kidnapped a 12-year-old girl called Marion Parker from her junior high school, raped her, and dismembered her body, which he sent mockingly to the police in pieces. Rand wrote great stretches of praise for him, saying he represented "the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul. … Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should." She called him "a brilliant, unusual, exceptional boy," shimmering with "immense, explicit egotism."
...
Rand was broken by the Bolsheviks as a girl, and she never left their bootprint behind. She believed her philosophy was Bolshevism's opposite, when in reality it was its twin. Both she and the Soviets insisted a small revolutionary elite in possession of absolute rationality must seize power and impose its vision on a malleable, imbecilic mass. The only difference was that Lenin thought the parasites to be stomped on were the rich, while Rand thought they were the poor.

I don't find it hard to understand why this happened to Rand: I feel sympathy for her, even as I know she would have spat it back into my face. What I do find incomprehensible is that there are people—large numbers of people—who see her writing not as psychopathy but as philosophy, and urge us to follow her. Why? What in American culture did she drill into? Unfortunately, neither of these equally thorough, readable books can offer much of an answer to this, the only great question about her.
deanhills
I was a great fan of Ayn Rand's during my University days, and have read and reread her books. Particularly Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged and We the living. I cannot recognize Ayn Rand in your quote, it just does not fit with her writings at all. For your information the following is her philosophy of life, in a nutshell:
Quote:
My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that:

1. Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.

2. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

3. Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.

4. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.

Source: http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_intro

I do recognize her in the above quote. The above has been her motto consistently in all of her writings.

The following quote from one of her works on "Man’s Rights,” from Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal " would probably have been reason for McCarthy zealots to have persecuted her, and not to have used her as a source of justification for their crazy pursuits:
Quote:
Criminals are a small minority in any age or country. And the harm they have done to mankind is infinitesimal when compared to the horrors-the bloodshed, the wars, the persecutions, the confiscations, the famines, the enslavements, the wholesale destructions-perpetrated by mankind’s governments. Potentially, a government is the most dangerous threat to man’s rights: it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force against legally disarmed victims. When unlimited and unrestricted by individual rights, a government is men’s deadliest enemy. It is not as protection against private actions, but against governmental actions that the Bill of Rights was written.


Source: “Man’s Rights,” from Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand. Copyright (c) 1946, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966 by Ayn Rand. used by permission of Dutton Signet, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
liljp617
What is slate.com??
handfleisch
deanhills wrote:
I was a great fan of Ayn Rand's during my University days, and have read and reread her books. Particularly Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged and We the living. I cannot recognize Ayn Rand in your quote, it just does not fit with her writings at all.

So?

liljp617 wrote:
What is slate.com??

I'm not a regular reader, but Slate, along with Salon, are a couple of the more successful internet magazines, offering high-quality work by serious writers.
ocalhoun
handfleisch wrote:
deanhills wrote:
I was a great fan of Ayn Rand's during my University days, and have read and reread her books. Particularly Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged and We the living. I cannot recognize Ayn Rand in your quote, it just does not fit with her writings at all.

So?

So, if it is a legitimate quote, it apparently isn't a very representative one, possibly taken out of context. Not that it matters, really.
handfleisch
ocalhoun wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
deanhills wrote:
I was a great fan of Ayn Rand's during my University days, and have read and reread her books. Particularly Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged and We the living. I cannot recognize Ayn Rand in your quote, it just does not fit with her writings at all.

So?

So, if it is a legitimate quote, it apparently isn't a very representative one, possibly taken out of context.

Are you serious? Biographers spend years reading everything about Ayn Rand and all her works, interviewing people who knew her, researching contemporary accounts, and citing her many diary entries in praise of a demented serial killer who hacked a child to death and sent the pieces in the mail. But you think one fan's adoring view based on something read years before trumps all that.

Personally, as the review says, I think Rand deserves sympathy. But that doesn't change the facts of her life. Reminds me of that Bush staffer's infamous sneering at the "reality-based community" --it seems the far right just rejects all inconvenient truths. Okay, whatever.
ocalhoun
handfleisch wrote:

Are you serious? Biographers spend years reading everything about Ayn Rand and all her works, interviewing people who knew her, researching contemporary accounts, and citing her many diary entries in praise of a demented serial killer who hacked a child to death and sent the pieces in the mail. But you think one fan's adoring view based on something read years before trumps all that.

No, it just means that you have to consider both sides of the person, and that this biography may be somewhat slanted, no matter how much effort they put into it.

From an extreme libertarian viewpoint, I can see what she's talking about in complementing these serial killers, et cetera. They have achieved (for a time) absolute freedom from society's rules. That they used that freedom to harm others is reprehensible, but to be absolutely free from society is enviable at times.
Quote:

Personally, as the review says, I think Rand deserves sympathy. But that doesn't change the facts of her life. Reminds me of that Bush staffer's infamous sneering at the "reality-based community" --it seems the far right just rejects all inconvenient truths. Okay, whatever.

And the left does not? Do you really believe that?
deanhills
handfleisch wrote:
But you think one fan's adoring view based on something read years before trumps all that.
If you were referring to me, I would hardly call myself a "fan" or "adoring". My point was that I could not recognize her philosophy or writings in your quote. One finds often that "crazy people" who subscribe to "crazy organizations" or "cults" take quotes from authors out of context of what their philosophies are really about. That does not mean that the author subscribes to their "cult" at all. If you would for example attend a Tea Party of real extreme right wing people, would that then mean that you are a right winger? Or if they should quote from works by any one philosopher to justify their narrow points of view, would that necessarily make the philosopher a right winger as well?
handfleisch
deanhills wrote:

My point was that I could not recognize her philosophy or writings in your quote. One finds often that "crazy people" who subscribe to "crazy organizations" or "cults" take quotes from authors out of context of what their philosophies are really about. That does not mean that the author subscribes to their "cult" at all. If you would for example attend a Tea Party of real extreme right wing people, would that then mean that you are a right winger? Or if they should quote from works by any one philosopher to justify their narrow points of view, would that necessarily make the philosopher a right winger as well?


It's possible a superficial view her books and philosophy could be seen as simply positive, and therefore I understand how you would see some conflict between that and the facts of her life. However, as others have shown, her philosophy does fit very well with cruelty and selfishness, and it's not a big surprise that a person who exalted the strong and reproached the weak would turn out to be a bitter and deranged person.

About the cult aspect, I am not talking about any cult following after her death. During her life, it wasn't just her followers using her works to make a cult; she was the center and leader of her own abusive mini-cult.

Two different biographers working separately painted similar pictures. It's highly unlikely that they were somehow telling only one side of the story (what motive would they have for that) and only used the parts of her writings where she praised serial killers, and somehow ignored her good deeds, kind nature, and all the parts of her diary where she hopes to spread peace and love or whatever. I mean, that would be easy to expose, wouldn't it?

The sad fact is that Ayn Rand was something of a twisted and bitter person with a fairly malicious outlook, and it's very revealing that many right wingers are inspired by her.
ocalhoun
handfleisch wrote:

Two different biographers working separately painted similar pictures. It's highly unlikely that they were somehow telling only one side of the story (what motive would they have for that)
Quote:
and it's very revealing that many right wingers are inspired by her.

It's quite possible that they share your own motivation...

Anyway, I don't mind you taking pot-shots at the right, but please, don't lump 'right-wingers' and libertarians together again.
handfleisch
ocalhoun wrote:
handfleisch wrote:

Two different biographers working separately painted similar pictures. It's highly unlikely that they were somehow telling only one side of the story (what motive would they have for that)
Quote:
and it's very revealing that many right wingers are inspired by her.

It's quite possible that they share your own motivation...


You're saying two major publishing companies, two reputable writers, and the reviewer all have a motivation to write false reports on Ayn Rand? How far does this conspiracy go, and what proof do you have of it?

About my own motivation -- you're wrong again. If any progressives were out there citing Trotsky as their inspiration, I would condemn them too. Go ahead, find a progressive leader in the US comparable to Limbaugh that boasts inspiration from some twisted individual like Rand.

ocalhoun wrote:
Anyway, I don't mind you taking pot-shots at the right, but please, don't lump 'right-wingers' and libertarians together again.
Once again I must say, are you serious? I mentioned both because many Libertarians base their beliefs on her philosophy, but she is also admired by rightwing leaders like Limbaugh.
deanhills
handfleisch wrote:
You're saying two major publishing companies, two reputable writers, and the reviewer all have a motivation to write false reports on Ayn Rand? How far does this conspiracy go, and what proof do you have of it?
If I look at the style of the article that you quoted in your lead posting, it dripped with cutting adjectives and superlatives. That is hardly proof, it is more like a creative and very biased prosaic interpretation of her political philosophy. All of Ayn Rand's writings are very simple and straightforward. I can't imagine how the rightwingers would want to use her writings for their cause, unless they are very limited in their education, and thought this was a fancy name to use. Her political philosophy just does not fit in with the rightwing philosophy. As far as I can see the rightwing philosophy is anti the current Government, but once they have their own Government in place, they would make jolly sure that everyone would be toeing the Government line. Ayn Rand was against Government and Government regulations. I would have seen her closer to liberal than "conservative right".

I can understand your point of view of her philosophy being "cruel" perhaps, although I would have used a different word, maybe "idealistic"? Although there is something good in it, i.e. people have to please themselves rather than other people. Irony of course is that if we do please ourselves, and go full out in realizing our own potential, rather than looking after other people's potential, before we have realized our own potential, then we will have a society that has people who are much more self-reliant with healthy self-esteems. She is right, Government of course does not want that kind of person. The more dependent they can get people to be, i.e. through debt and rules and regulations that rob them of their freedom the more powerful the Government will be.
ocalhoun
handfleisch wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
handfleisch wrote:

Two different biographers working separately painted similar pictures. It's highly unlikely that they were somehow telling only one side of the story (what motive would they have for that)
Quote:
and it's very revealing that many right wingers are inspired by her.

It's quite possible that they share your own motivation...


You're saying two major publishing companies, two reputable writers, and the reviewer all have a motivation to write false reports on Ayn Rand? How far does this conspiracy go, and what proof do you have of it?

There's no conspiracy, and the publishing companies are not involved. A writer who already is primed to pick this person to pieces (because the people the writer disagrees with like her) researches her. They find quotes where she says good things about very bad people, and focus on that, without trying to make sense of why she says such things. Once they find those quotes, they use that to justify whatever labels they want to put on her, and dismiss any of her other opinions as ravings of a mad-woman.
handfleisch wrote:

About my own motivation -- you're wrong again. If any progressives were out there citing Trotsky as their inspiration, I would condemn them too. Go ahead, find a progressive leader in the US comparable to Limbaugh that boasts inspiration from some twisted individual like Rand.

Wasn't there recently a certain scandal about a certain associate of Obama's who greatly admired a certain Chinese ruler? Wink
Or is that an inconvenient truth to be ignored?
handfleisch wrote:

ocalhoun wrote:
Anyway, I don't mind you taking pot-shots at the right, but please, don't lump 'right-wingers' and libertarians together again.
Once again I must say, are you serious? I mentioned both because many Libertarians base their beliefs on her philosophy, but she is also admired by rightwing leaders like Limbaugh.


Quote:
My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that:

1. Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man's feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.

2. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses) is man's only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

3. Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.

4. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man's rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.

Not too bad of a thing to base a philosophy off of. And, believe it or not, you can actually base a philosophy off what someone said and still not agree with everything about them.
For example, you can agree with her assertion that there is an objective reality, and disagree with her lauding of killers.
Voodoocat
Quote:
The sad fact is that Ayn Rand was something of a twisted and bitter person with a fairly malicious outlook


Wow! A vicious ad hominen attack launched against a dead woman. Kudos! Rolling Eyes

The humanities are full of very troubled artists: Van Gogh, Hemingway and Sylvia Plath to name a few. However, their personal demons should not in any way detract from the magnificance and importance of their work.

Next time, why not rationally discuss your disagreements with an author and avoid the childish name calling?
handfleisch
Voodoocat wrote:
Quote:
The sad fact is that Ayn Rand was something of a twisted and bitter person with a fairly malicious outlook


Wow! A vicious ad hominen attack launched against a dead woman. Kudos! :roll:

The humanities are full of very troubled artists: Van Gogh, Hemingway and Sylvia Plath to name a few. However, their personal demons should not in any way detract from the magnificance and importance of their work.

Next time, why not rationally discuss your disagreements with an author and avoid the childish name calling?

Nonsense. Rand's entire work, her "art" as you say (it was more philosophy than art) was about how we should live; that her philosophy (exalting the strong, praising the winners, Nietzschean will to power stuff) espoused in her works was shown in practice in her life (cruel and malicious) is entirely the point.

Your examples are also off base. If someone was citing Van Gogh as an example of proper ear hygiene, it would also be fair game to point out that cutting off your own ear is not exactly the best method...

Rand would laugh at your defense of her, since she scorned compassion and wimpy bothering with fairness.
Voodoocat
Quote:
Rand would laugh at your defense of her,


You obviously missed the point. I was not defending her work, I was commenting on the use of an ad hominem attack. Such attacks are easy; it takes actual skill to critique an artist's work based on the content.

I believe my comments concerning other artists are valid in this context. After all, you could replace Ayn Rand in your comment with Sylvia Plath:

Quote:
The sad fact is that Sylvia Plath was something of a twisted and bitter person with a fairly malicious outlook...


While this might be an accurate portrayal of the person, Plath's literature remains world class.
deanhills
Voodoocat wrote:
Quote:
Rand would laugh at your defense of her,


You obviously missed the point. I was not defending her work, I was commenting on the use of an ad hominem attack. Such attacks are easy; it takes actual skill to critique an artist's work based on the content.

I believe my comments concerning other artists are valid in this context. After all, you could replace Ayn Rand in your comment with Sylvia Plath:

Quote:
The sad fact is that Sylvia Plath was something of a twisted and bitter person with a fairly malicious outlook...


While this might be an accurate portrayal of the person, Plath's literature remains world class.
Your comment was right on Lagoon, and exactly how it is, not only for Ayn Rand but quite a number of other artists and philosophers. The whole tone of the quote about Ayn Rand in the first posting is a viscious "attack". For me it showed a shortcoming on the part of those who made the comment along the lines of "beauty" being in the eye of the beholder.
yagnyavalkya
All he what the thread starter has said is it all true? Rand also seems to have said this

[quote = Wiki] "The first thing that impresses me about the case is the ferocious rage of a whole society against one man. No matter what the man did, there is always something loathsome in the 'virtuous' indignation and mass-hatred of the 'majority.'... It is repulsive to see all these beings with worse sins and crimes in their own lives, virtuously condemning a criminal.[quote/]
handfleisch
deanhills wrote:
Voodoocat wrote:
Quote:
Rand would laugh at your defense of her,


You obviously missed the point. I was not defending her work, I was commenting on the use of an ad hominem attack. Such attacks are easy; it takes actual skill to critique an artist's work based on the content.

I believe my comments concerning other artists are valid in this context. After all, you could replace Ayn Rand in your comment with Sylvia Plath:

Quote:
The sad fact is that Sylvia Plath was something of a twisted and bitter person with a fairly malicious outlook...


While this might be an accurate portrayal of the person, Plath's literature remains world class.
Your comment was right on Lagoon, and exactly how it is, not only for Ayn Rand but quite a number of other artists and philosophers. The whole tone of the quote about Ayn Rand in the first posting is a viscious "attack". For me it showed a shortcoming on the part of those who made the comment along the lines of "beauty" being in the eye of the beholder.

Uhhh....Actually, I don't know why I should make this obvious point yet again, but here goes: Rand was a self-proclaimed philosopher who wrote about how people should live their lives, and often dictated to others how to live their lives. How she lived her life is therefore 100% relevant. Comparing her situation to Plath's, a poet, is absurd.
jmi256
handfleisch wrote:
deanhills wrote:
Voodoocat wrote:
Quote:
Rand would laugh at your defense of her,


You obviously missed the point. I was not defending her work, I was commenting on the use of an ad hominem attack. Such attacks are easy; it takes actual skill to critique an artist's work based on the content.

I believe my comments concerning other artists are valid in this context. After all, you could replace Ayn Rand in your comment with Sylvia Plath:

Quote:
The sad fact is that Sylvia Plath was something of a twisted and bitter person with a fairly malicious outlook...


While this might be an accurate portrayal of the person, Plath's literature remains world class.
Your comment was right on Lagoon, and exactly how it is, not only for Ayn Rand but quite a number of other artists and philosophers. The whole tone of the quote about Ayn Rand in the first posting is a viscious "attack". For me it showed a shortcoming on the part of those who made the comment along the lines of "beauty" being in the eye of the beholder.

Uhhh....Actually, I don't know why I should make this obvious point yet again, but here goes: Rand was a self-proclaimed philosopher who wrote about how people should live their lives, and often dictated to others how to live their lives. How she lived her life is therefore 100% relevant. Comparing her situation to Plath's, a poet, is absurd.


Before you go stoke up your book-burning fire, have you even bothered reading any of her books?
handfleisch
jmi256 wrote:
handfleisch wrote:

Uhhh....Actually, I don't know why I should make this obvious point yet again, but here goes: Rand was a self-proclaimed philosopher who wrote about how people should live their lives, and often dictated to others how to live their lives. How she lived her life is therefore 100% relevant. Comparing her situation to Plath's, a poet, is absurd.


Before you go stoke up your book-burning fire, have you even bothered reading any of her books?


"Book-burning fire", a provocative, irrational and wildly dishonest thing to charge. Though I have read substantial amounts of Rand's work, I won't be baited by the question, which has nothing to do with the points made, which you don't address at all.
deanhills
handfleisch wrote:
jmi256 wrote:
handfleisch wrote:

Uhhh....Actually, I don't know why I should make this obvious point yet again, but here goes: Rand was a self-proclaimed philosopher who wrote about how people should live their lives, and often dictated to others how to live their lives. How she lived her life is therefore 100% relevant. Comparing her situation to Plath's, a poet, is absurd.


Before you go stoke up your book-burning fire, have you even bothered reading any of her books?


"Book-burning fire", a provocative, irrational and wildly dishonest thing to charge. Though I have read substantial amounts of Rand's work, I won't be baited by the question, which has nothing to do with the points made, which you don't address at all.
Handfleisch, the heading of your thread says it all, and the content of your opening posting, both the leading statement and the content of the quote, are baiting in every sense of the word.

It is very evident that you could not have read much of her works, if you had, you would have been more toned-down in the attacks on her character, viz:
Quote:
Ayn Rand: sad sicko heroine of right wing & libertarians
heading says it all. I still can't figure the link between her and right wingers. Libertarian, maybe. Right wing no.

I'm not a follower of Ayn Rand's, but she was an intellectual philosopher and she did write some good books. I don't entirely agree with her philosophy, but it was interesting and kept me busy while I was reading her books.
handfleisch
yawn.
achowles
handfleisch wrote:
And she's admired by people like Alan Greenspan and Rush Limbaugh. Weird.


Why would it be strange that she's admired by Rush Limbaugh? I don't know much about him at all (not being American myself) and even I know he's no better than her at all.

But yes, nothing shoots down Ayn Rand's extreme right wing politics faster than pointing out how twisted the individuals purporting such viewpoints usually are.
yagnyavalkya
Is it true that she was incarcerated in her last days?
coolclay
I also have read a few of her books. While I certainly disagree with a lot of her philosophy she is an absolutely amazing author, and no amount of personal discredit can take away the fact that she is a fantastic author.

I found her philosophy intriguing and many truths within, but not all of course. She was extreme in her viewpoints and because of it has been ostracized both in life and in death. You can't be an original thinker without facing opposition.

Her point that man's purpose in life is to push himself forward is an absolute truth, I mean look around us. Even man's attempts to do virtuous deeds, always have a self gratifying purpose behind them.

What is the point in living if you do not enjoy it?
How can some people/groups singlehandedly control the thoughts and viewpoints of the masses?

Perfect example: 22 hours after the Haiti Quake PA's Gov. Rendell brought back 53 orphan's to find homes for. Yea, sounds great and for those orphan's it might be great, but does anyone for 2 seconds believe he did this out of the goodness of his heart?

Rand was definitely a controversial person with controversial viewpoints, and as it is people on the brink of societies "accepted" views will always get ostracized.

From a purely philosophical viewpoint I also admire the killer because he did truly act on his deepest ingrained impulses with no regard to the societal repercussions. Of course I despise him otherwise for his disgusting actions and I think he should spend his life rotting in jail. That doesn't make me a deranged or a twisted person.

I also don't think her views could be classified as conservative at all in the current meaning of the word at least. Just because Rush decides to quote her doesn't magically make her conservative.

Thanks Handfleisch and the authors of the biographies for proving one of her main points.
deanhills
Well said coolclay. I also read her books and found them intriguing reading. I was in awe of her lead characters. As an author she was really excellent. As a person she could have been eccentric, and since quite a number of famous politicians associated with her philosophies, people seem to have made target practice of her too in an attempt to discredit those politicians and/or their points of view where they had quoted her.
handfleisch
Admiring and celebrating a depraved, sadistic child-murderer, as Ayn Rand did, is sociopathic. Case closed. Read this:
http://www.michaelprescott.net/hickman.htm
Quote:
In her journal circa 1928 Rand quoted the statement, "What is good for me is right," a credo attributed to a prominent figure of the day, William Edward Hickman. Her response was enthusiastic. "The best and strongest expression of a real man's psychology I have heard," she exulted. (Quoted in Ryan, citing Journals of Ayn Rand, pp. 21-22.)

At the time, she was planning a novel that was to be titled The Little Street, the projected hero of which was named Danny Renahan. According to Rand scholar Chris Matthew Sciabarra, she deliberately modeled Renahan - intended to be her first sketch of her ideal man - after this same William Edward Hickman. Renahan, she enthuses in another journal entry, "is born with a wonderful, free, light consciousness -- [resulting from] the absolute lack of social instinct or herd feeling. He does not understand, because he has no organ for understanding, the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people ... Other people do not exist for him and he does not understand why they should." (Journals, pp. 27, 21-22; emphasis hers.)

"A wonderful, free, light consciousness" born of the utter absence of any understanding of "the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people." Obviously, Ayn Rand was most favorably impressed with Mr. Hickman. He was, at least at that stage of Rand's life, her kind of man.


So the question is, who exactly was he?

William Edward Hickman was one of the most famous men in America in 1928. But he came by his fame in a way that perhaps should have given pause to Ayn Rand before she decided that he was a "real man" worthy of enshrinement in her pantheon of fictional heroes.

You see, Hickman was a forger, an armed robber, a child kidnapper, and a multiple murderer.

Other than that, he was probably a swell guy.


In December of 1927, Hickman, nineteen years old, showed up at a Los Angeles public school and managed to get custody of a twelve-year-old girl, Marian (sometimes Marion) Parker. He was able to convince Marian's teacher that the girl's father, a well-known banker, had been seriously injured in a car accident and that the girl had to go to the hospital immediately. The story was a lie. Hickman disappeared with Marian, and over the next few days Mr. and Mrs. Parker received a series of ransom notes. The notes were cruel and taunting and were sometimes signed "Death" or "Fate." The sum of $1,500 was demanded for the child's safe release. (Hickman needed this sum, he later claimed, because he wanted to go to Bible college!) The father raised the payment in gold certificates and delivered it to Hickman. As told by the article "Fate, Death and the Fox" in crimelibrary.com,

"At the rendezvous, Mr. Parker handed over the money to a young man who was waiting for him in a parked car. When Mr. Parker paid the ransom, he could see his daughter, Marion, sitting in the passenger seat next to the suspect. As soon as the money was exchanged, the suspect drove off with the victim still in the car. At the end of the street, Marion's corpse was dumped onto the pavement. She was dead. Her legs had been chopped off and her eyes had been wired open to appear as if she was still alive. Her internal organs had been cut out and pieces of her body were later found strewn all over the Los Angeles area."

Quite a hero, eh? One might question whether Hickman had "a wonderful, free, light consciousness," but surely he did have "no organ for understanding ... the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people."

The mutilations Hickman inflicted on little Marian were worse than reported in the excerpt above. He cut the girl's body in half, and severed her hands (or arms, depending on the source). He drained her torso of blood and stuffed it with bath towels. There were persistent rumors that he molested the girl before killing her, though this claim was officially denied. Overall, the crime is somewhat reminiscent of the 1947 Black Dahlia case, one of the most gruesome homicides in L.A. history.

But Hickman's heroism doesn't end there.
He heroically amscrayed to the small town of Echo, Oregon, where he heroically holed up, no doubt believing he had perpetrated the perfect crime. Sadly for him, fingerprints he'd left on one of the ransom notes matched prints on file from his previous conviction for forgery. With his face on Wanted posters everywhere, Hickman was quickly tracked down and arrested. The article continues:

"He was conveyed back to Los Angeles where he promptly confessed to another murder he committed during a drug store hold-up. Eventually, Hickman confessed to a dozen armed robberies. 'This is going to get interesting before it's over,' he told investigators. 'Marion and I were good friends,' he said, 'and we really had a good time when we were together and I really liked her. I'm sorry that she was killed.' Hickman never said why he had killed the girl and cut off her legs."

It seems to me that Ayn Rand's uncritical admiration of a personality this twisted does not speak particularly well for her ability to judge and evaluate the heroic qualities in people. One might go so far as to say that anyone who sees William Edward Hickman as the epitome of a "real man" has some serious issues to work on, and perhaps should be less concerned with trying to convert the world to her point of view than in trying to repair her own damaged psyche. One might also point out that a person who "has no organ for understanding ... the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people" is what we today would call a sociopath.
ocalhoun
handfleisch wrote:
Admiring and celebrating a depraved, sadistic child-murderer, as Ayn Rand did, is sociopathic. Case closed.

And changing your views because of what other people might think is even worse.
deanhills
handfleisch wrote:
Admiring and celebrating a depraved, sadistic child-murderer, as Ayn Rand did, is sociopathic. Case closed. Read this:
http://www.michaelprescott.net/hickman.htm
It would appear that Michael Prescott's fame (in a blog no less) is in knocking down people who have at least produced something, rather than authoring his own original work. I'm sure that Ayn Rand was not perfect, but I doubt she deserves this harsh criticism. For me the criticism is a reflection of the shortcomings of this critic and less of Ayn Rand.
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
Admiring and celebrating a depraved, sadistic child-murderer, as Ayn Rand did, is sociopathic. Case closed. Read this:
http://www.michaelprescott.net/hickman.htm
It would appear that Michael Prescott's fame (in a blog no less) is in knocking down people who have at least produced something, rather than authoring his own original work. I'm sure that Ayn Rand was not perfect, but I doubt she deserves this harsh criticism. For me the criticism is a reflection of the shortcomings of this critic and less of Ayn Rand.

<.< Attacking the messenger... Not good.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
deanhills wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
Admiring and celebrating a depraved, sadistic child-murderer, as Ayn Rand did, is sociopathic. Case closed. Read this:
http://www.michaelprescott.net/hickman.htm
It would appear that Michael Prescott's fame (in a blog no less) is in knocking down people who have at least produced something, rather than authoring his own original work. I'm sure that Ayn Rand was not perfect, but I doubt she deserves this harsh criticism. For me the criticism is a reflection of the shortcomings of this critic and less of Ayn Rand.

<.< Attacking the messenger... Not good.
Not sure what you mean with this. Smile

To me the fact that Prescott is devoting so much time on Ayn Rand says that there had to be something in what she had written worth taking apart for him.

I did some searches on Ayn Rand and was amazed at the number of comments about her, and found a really interesting article in the UK Guardian referring to this buzz about Ayn Rand in the United States as an "Ayn Rand Revival" as being right on the number with its title:
Quote:
The Ayn Rand revival
With the US government bailing out rich idiots, it's no wonder the sex-addled critic of socialism is more popular than ever.
Perhaps that may be the reason that she is being shredded by some people in their blogs. I found the last paragraph of the comment right on:
Quote:
Still, for all the darkly unreasonable expectations in Rand's novels, America's resurgence of interest in them might be our best chance yet to get off the dangerous anti-liberty track we're on now, and abandon the poisonous notion that the best way to resolve a financial crisis is to reward the people who caused it. Or maybe my cautious optimism is the most darkly unreasonable expectation of all.
ocalhoun
deanhills wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
deanhills wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
Admiring and celebrating a depraved, sadistic child-murderer, as Ayn Rand did, is sociopathic. Case closed. Read this:
http://www.michaelprescott.net/hickman.htm
It would appear that Michael Prescott's fame (in a blog no less) is in knocking down people who have at least produced something, rather than authoring his own original work. I'm sure that Ayn Rand was not perfect, but I doubt she deserves this harsh criticism. For me the criticism is a reflection of the shortcomings of this critic and less of Ayn Rand.

<.< Attacking the messenger... Not good.
Not sure what you mean with this. Smile

It's something I often find fault with handfleisch for doing: Instead of debating the actual points made, criticizing the person making the points.

It is, of course, equally bad no matter who is doing it, and no matter for support of what side.
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
It's something I often find fault with handfleisch for doing: Instead of debating the actual points made, criticizing the person making the points.

It is, of course, equally bad no matter who is doing it, and no matter for support of what side.
I would not expect anything less from you, but in this case I think you are mistaken. As far as I can see the point of debate is a voracious attack on Ayn Rand's character (along your shooting the messenger lines) making it into an essentially subjective debate about people's subjective views about her character. Prescott's views were the context of the posting that I commented on. His views are directly connected with the point of the debate, and were the point of the posting. I took the trouble of reading what Prescott wrote and I don't think I was wrong in saying that what Prescott said about Ayn Rand along deficiency lines was a reflection of his own deficient thinking, more than her being deficient. She did not deserve the criticism of being branded mentally deficient.

I reread the Blog last night and did more research on it (refer my above posting with regard to "Ayn Rand Revival"), following which I'm almost convinced that these attacks on her character (there are thousands of those on the Internet) are mostly to discredit the messenger (Ayn Rand) in order to discredit her Libertarian views, i.e. the criticism is politically motivated.
yagnyavalkya
A lot of people will not agree with the description of AYn Rand as a Mental breakdown character in the later stages of her life
yagnyavalkya
Still people are after Ayn Rand I think she had definitely has influenced minds
gandalfthegrey
I could never stand Ayn Rand. Complete selfishness is not the sole or ultimate part of the human condition. As a Christian involved in social justice and anti-poverty causes, I could never except her philosophy.

Human beings are incredibly generous and cooperative, in addition to being selfish and greedy.

The absolutism Ayn Rand sells appeals to some. Absolutism in all it's forms is often based on naive assumptions - Free-market capitalism, absolute anarchy, absolute communism (Totalitarianism), seek to impose gun-control (or those who wish the unrestricted sales of guns and bullets), or naively seek some kind of world government - all of these have assumptions about human nature that are biased one way or the other and fail to see things for what they are.
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