|"The reason I got involved ... Ayn Rand"|
Not only that, Dredd Blog has shown that it is not only the GOP, but also the governing powers that be, who are evolving in the W direction, as they take the government, including Democrats, along with them.
The philosophy of these winds that have been, and still are, blowing us off course come from the storm that produced, among other things, what we have called Ayn Rand: Patron Saint of The Plutocracy.
In this episode, today, we will talk about the GOP Vice Presidential Candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), and how his political and other philosophies have been shaped by the person he calls his mentor: Saint Ayn Rand.
We will move from there to show how utterly psychopathic, clinically speaking, this philosophy of Ayn Rand, and by extension the GOP platform, really is.
The prior posts in this series used George Monbiot (Ayn Rand: Patron Saint of The Plutocracy) and Psychology Today (Ayn Rand: Patron Saint of The Plutocracy - 2), among others, as reference quotations to support various points.
In today's post we will use some different authors as well as different psychologists, however as you will see, we will derive the same results from those additional sources.
The dichotomy between "the perfect American" and the philosophy of Ayn Rand is stark, yet Randian philosophy is alive within the life and politics of Paul Ryan:
Janesville, Wisconsin, where Ryan was born and still lives, is a riverfront city of sixty-four thousand people in the southeast corner of the state, between Madison and Chicago. Three families, the Ryans, the Fitzgeralds, and the Cullens, sometimes called the Irish Mafia, helped develop the town, especially in the postwar era. The Ryans were major road builders, and today Ryan, Inc., started in 1884 by Paul’s great-grandfather, is a national construction firm. The historic Courthouse section of Janesville is still thick with members of the Ryan clan. At last count, there were eight other Ryan households within a six-block radius of his house, a large Georgian Revival with six bedrooms and eight bathrooms that is on the National Register of Historic Places.(New Yorker, emphasis added). So, let's get right to the mind and life of Ayn Rand to find out what makes her, and by extension, Paul Ryan and his politics tick.
“I grew up on the block I now live on,” Ryan told me recently. We were sitting in his new, more spacious Capitol Hill office, one of the spoils of being in the majority after the 2010 elections. “My aunt and uncle live across the street from me,” he said. “My cousin is next door, my brother is a block away.” Ryan’s line of the family strayed from the construction business, which is now run by his cousin Adam. His grandfather and father became lawyers instead.
In a 2005 speech to a group of Rand devotees called the Atlas Society, Ryan said that Rand was required reading for his office staff and interns. “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” he told the group.
The "perfect man" or "Superman" who Ayn Rand chose to exemplify her philosophy of "the American man" was a man named William Edward Hickman:
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.)(Romancing The Stone Cold). There is little wonder why George Monbiot said "Her psychopathic ideas made billionaires feel like victims and turned millions of followers into their doormats ..." (quoted from the first post of this series).
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."
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.
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.
Nevertheless, this psychopathic Randian philosophy is a common phenomenon in the society of the 1%, as we discussed in old posts such as The Fog of War - McWarster McNamara, which links to a video where he says:
Robert McNamara: I was on the island of Guam in his [General Curtis LeMays'] command in March 1945. In that single night, we burned to death one hundred thousand Japanese civilians in Tokyo. Men, women and children.(IMDB, emphasis added). The "holy warrior heroes" once called soldiers, have been a form of the mythical devil bringing hell to innocent men, women, and children, by burning them and their loved ones alive (see also Mother of All Enemies).
Interviewer: Were you aware this was going to happen?
Robert McNamara: Well, I was part of a mechanism that, in a sense, recommended it. [regarding his and Colonel Curtis LeMay's involvement in the bombing of Japan during World War II] LeMay said if we lost the war that we would have all been prosecuted as war criminals. And I think he's right. He ... and I'd say I ... were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side has lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?
I guess that takes the mystery out of why generals today say "winning is not the main thing, it is the only thing", because they do not want to be tried as war criminals.
This shows how the Ayn Rand philosophy has been institutionalized in 1% American society as well as the Plutocratic government they control though money.
Institutions have become not only unable to recognize psychopaths like William Edward Hickman, but because of a vast right-wing propaganda engine the public unwittingly even extols their virtues, as Ayn Rand led the public to do, and still does though sales of her books.
There are several psychological reasons American institutions tend to be unaware of the characteristics of psychopaths and their philosophy:
The psychopath is callous, yet charming. He or she will con and manipulate others with charisma and intimidation and can effectively mimic feelings to present as “normal” to society. The psychopath is organized in their criminal thinking and behavior, and can maintain good emotional and physical control, displaying little to no emotional or autonomic arousal, even under situations that most would find threatening or horrifying. The psychopath is keenly aware that what he or she is doing is wrong, but does not care.(Sociopathy vs. Psychopathy). We have institutionalized the "charming ... con and manipulat[ion] of others with charisma and intimidation" to the point that they are "normal" to society:
One of the most important comments on deceit, I think, was made by Adam Smith. He pointed out that a major goal of business is to deceive and oppress the public.(The Deceit Business - 2). In the Dredd Blog series "When You Are Governed By Psychopaths", we were not kidding when we pointed out:
And one of the striking features of the modern period is the institutionalization of that process, so that we now have huge industries deceiving the public — and they're very conscious about it, the public relations industry. Interestingly, this developed in the freest countries—in Britain and the US — roughly around time of WWI, when it was recognized that enough freedom had been won that people could no longer be controlled by force. So modes of deception and manipulation had to be developed in order to keep them under control"
One out of every 10 Wall Street employees is a clinical psychopath, the CFA Institute (an investment and financial analysis organization) reports in the latest issue of CFA Magazine. That makes psychopathy 10 times more prevalent among New York’s financial elite than among us plebeians, for which the accepted statistic is a more palatable one in 100.(When You Are Governed By Psychopaths). Now we know why psychopaths are so difficult to detect, which is that they know how to camouflage themselves, hiding in the shadows, intending to secretly avoid the blame for taking America in the wrong direction.
But what we don't know is why we lift them up into the highest positions of power so they can do even greater damage to us:
"The addiction to oil ... at least to the wealth and to the products made accessible to us by oil ... look at the negative consequences on the environment we are destroying the very Earth that we inhabit for the sake of that addiction. Now these addictions are far more devastating in the social consequences than the cocaine or heroin habits of my ... patients. Yet they are rewarded and considered to be respectable. The tobacco company executive that shows a higher profit will get a much bigger reward ... doesn't face any negative consequences legally or otherwise ... in fact is a respected member of the board of several other corporations ... but tobacco smoke related diseases kill 5.5 million people around the world every year. In the United States they kill 400,000 people a year" ...(The "It's In Your Genes" Myth). The reason Romney and Ryan came out of a battleship during the photo op when Ryan was announced as VP, was that should their economic vision be enacted into law, they fear that the military will be needed to protect them and theirs (see Will the Military Become the Police and Military Plan To Become Police).
"And these people are addicted to what? To profit, to such a degree are they addicted that they are actually in denial about the impact of their activities, which is typical for addicts, is denial. And that is the respectable one. It is respectable to be addicted to profit no matter what the cost. So what is acceptable and what is respectable is a highly arbitrary phenomenon in our society. And it seems like the greater the harm the more respectable the addiction"
Even though elections will not cure all of our extreme ills, election practice is one of the many places in our nation that we must heal.
The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.