Popular inspiration of the right, Ayn Rand used killer as hero
Ayn Rand and American Psycho
Mark Ames; Feb. 26, 2010What 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."
In 1927, William Edward Hickman, American serial killer, admitted to the sadistic rape and dismemberment of a twelve year old girl, Marion Parker. Hickman's crimes were so brutal that they were said by the 1920s press to "shock the entire nation". (See a picture of Hickman on trial in 1928 here)
Now, research for a new biography of Ayn Rand, the wildly popular philosophical inspiration for post WW II libertarian ideologues, whose work "Atlas Shrugged" was deemed by one survey as second in American influence only to the Bible , especially today, among Tea Party members - sales of Rand's works have sky -rocketed in recent years - reveals Rand's obsession with this "heroic" American serial killer.
Of course, anyone who has taken Rand's philosophy seriously, her misuse of Nietzschean will-to-power, her references to antiquity, will not be surprised that Hickman - rapist, serial killer, child sodomizer and dismemberment expert - would be her hero. Anyone shocked by this does not know whom they are quoting (Glenn Beck?) and for whom they have expressed reverence and to whom they have pledged allegiance.
Ayn Rand was a deeply disturbed woman, and she called the American masses "lice, fleas, and parasites". That she would become a hero to the Tea Party Patriots is one more irony of history.
So what, and who, was Ayn Rand for and against? The best way to get to the bottom of it is to take a look at how she developed the superhero of her novel,Atlas Shrugged, John Galt. Back in the late 1920s, as Ayn Rand was working out her philosophy, she became enthralled by a real-life American serial killer, William Edward Hickman, whose gruesome, sadistic dismemberment of 12-year-old girl named Marion Parker in 1927 shocked the nation. Rand filled her early notebooks with worshipful praise of Hickman. According to biographer Jennifer Burns, author of Goddess of the Market, Rand was so smitten by Hickman that she modeled her first literary creation -- Danny Renahan, the protagonist of her unfinished first novel, The Little Street -- on him.
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