Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Other than that, she was probably a swell gal

SC Gov. Mark Sanford doesn't know enough to quit while he's behind. He's in Newsweek with a review of some new books about the life of Ayn Rand. Sanford's takeaway? "Government doesn't know best."


Sanford pauses in his paean to Rand long enough to acknowledge that her freedom fetish did not apply to members of her cult:
Ironically, as Heller's biography makes clear, while Rand's philosophy was based on the individual's absolute freedom, Rand herself exercised a dictatorial control over her followers. She would denounce anyone who expressed opinions even slightly diverging from her own... For the leader of a group dedicated to human freedom, Rand didn't allow much of it around her.
Sanford doesn't mention (and may not know) that Rand based one of her early fictional heroes on William Edward Hickman, who author Michael Prescott describes as "a forger, an armed robber, a child kidnapper, and a multiple murderer. Other than that, he was probably a swell guy."

Prescott continues:
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.)
The free-spirited Hickman kidnapped, held for ransom and dismembered a twelve year-old girl, after which the throw-social-convention-to-the-wind sprite threw her body parts out the door of his car.

Yeah, he was an axe murderer, but that wasn't what impressed Rand, but his personal credo, "what is good for me is right." As she writes in her journals:
"This is not just the case of a terrible crime. It is not the crime alone that has raised the fury of public hatred. It is the case of a daring challenge to society. It is the fact that a crime has been committed by one man, alone; that this man knew it was against all laws of humanity and intended that way; that he does not want to recognize it as a crime and that he feels superior to all. It is the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul."
Yes, a real man.

And Rand? Yeah, she was a sociopath, but that's not what impresses Gov. Mark Sanford. Rand's "one more major flaw" was that her sociopathy led her to her reject conventional Christian morality. But interpreting Atlas Shrugged as parable about limited government makes Rand "more relevant than ever."

Thus endeth Sanford's high school book report. A lot of people read Atlas Shrugged in high school. Most of them grow up.


T. James said...

Someone recently asked me why, after devouring most of Rand's books several years ago, had I rejected her Objectivist philosophy. This answers the question far better than I could ever hope to.

I think the term is "weapons grade crazy" - Thanks for posting this.

Undercover Blue said...

You are more than welcome.