Ayn Rand’s love of a serial killer…

I found this article very interesting. When she started writing her books, Ayn Rand considered a famous serial killer of the day, William Edward Hickman, to be a “real man” and a model for one of her protagonists.

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.

In her notes, Rand complains that poor Hickman has become the target of irrational and ugly mob psychology:

“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…

“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.”

10 thoughts on “Ayn Rand’s love of a serial killer…

  1. Randal July 18, 2010 at 19:42

    Francois,

    It’s worth noting that this was one of Rands first works when she was still Neitschean, and she later explicitly attacked this view. In particular, Fountainheads Gail Wynand was a character that embodied this view and harshly criticized by Rand.

    Randal

  2. David Gendron July 20, 2010 at 14:35

    Maybe that’s why Rand and her lackeys approve the Hiroshima bombing…

  3. Confused Libertarian July 28, 2010 at 11:34

    Maybe that’s why Rand and her lackeys approve the Hiroshima bombing…

    But the Hiroshima bombing wasnt a defiant act of one man against society? It was society against society ending in mass death of individuals?

    On a different note I’m glad she lated refutted this statement and Neitscheanism. Its evident throughout “We the Living” that Rand struggled with the idea of morality and favored Neitcheanism.

  4. James L Leatham May 1, 2011 at 21:31

    Ayn Rand, it must be understood was a sociopath,in all forms and descriptions…She was an open study of sick mind,and soul for anyone of minuscule intelligence too ascertain that this was true…For neurologist’s an open book !

    • Francois Tremblay May 1, 2011 at 21:32

      Wow, that’s rather harsh dude. What evidence do you have that Ayn Rand was a sociopath? She never stole from anyone or physically attacked anyone as far as I know.

  5. Icarus May 4, 2011 at 17:00

    I was looking for different perspectives on Ayn Rand’s admiration for W. E. Hickman and found this page from your blog open amongst many other tabs. When I finally got here, I realized whose blog this is. Franc, I miss hearing from you on the Hellbound Allee Show! I loved the Alex Chiu interview – you could barely stop yourself from laughing!

    So, many others whose posts I’ve read on this subject have said that Ayn Rand was a sociopath. I don’t think there’s enough evidence to judge her as a psychopath or sociopath; after all, she’s dead, and if she ever did attack or steal from someone, she’s escaped detection and the evidence may be gone. We also can’t know what potentially sociopathic tendencies she had that she didn’t exhibit or act upon.

    But what does writing do for us other than record the thoughts a person had at one particular time? Minds can change – but the recorded thoughts still signify something outside the obvious, otherwise, people would not be jumping to conclusions like “Ayn Rand is a sociopath!” after finding that she admired a narcissistic child murderer.

    That, I think, is where I would like to leave the debate hanging. Ayn Rand admired a narcissistic child murderer. I’ve read a few of her books, but I’m by no means a Rand scholar, so I can’t even form my own opinion on whether or not her works show that she later disavowed this sentiment.

    Bottom line: it’s fucked up.

    Objectivism is fucked up, too, and seems counter-freedom after a point. Maybe the two topics relate. Maybe they don’t. I won’t say that they do.

    • Francois Tremblay May 4, 2011 at 17:02

      Nice to see you. I agree that I don’t think Ayn Rand was a sociopath. I am merely pointing out that she did admire sociopathy, because it resonates with a lot of her ideology. But to be fair, it resonates with most ideologies in some way, which is always troubling. This is because, I believe, sociopaths are fundamentally different from other humans.

  6. Icarus May 5, 2011 at 00:29

    Ever since I learned what it actually was, sociopathy has fascinated me. It does resonate with most ideologies in that, at the point where the dogma is challenged or practices are shown to harm people, the true believer will often cling to the ideology no matter the human cost.

    Since a habitual return to antisocial fantasy is an element of some sociopathic behavior patterns, I wonder if people who admire and emulate sociopaths might be “converted.” I think that’s what most people are thinking when they read this and call Ayn Rand a sociopath.

    How long does it take for someone who admires sociopathy to reach a point where their own shame and basic sense of respect for others can’t stop them from emulating their serial-killer heroes, if given a golden opportunity?

    …what if you just try it once?

    One cold-blooded murder is enough to send someone over the brink, ethically speaking. I’m not sure if it’s sufficient when it comes to psychopathy.

    • Francois Tremblay May 5, 2011 at 02:56

      Do you have a book you can recommend on the topic? I read one, but it wasn’t that good.

  7. Icarus May 5, 2011 at 22:28

    I can’t think of any good books offhand, but a good place to gather references is http://www.deviantcrimes.com. The webmaster links to a lot of articles and books, and depending on what interests you, you’ll probably be able to find something that isn’t the same sort of crime porn that you find in bookstores.

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