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brit2006

Rand's views on murderer William Hickman

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Even if we set aside whether your characterization of Nietzsche is correct or not, there are several facts about Rand that we do know:

1. She never adopted Nietzsche's view of morality. The only thing that comes close to that would be a statement that she liked Nietzsche before she figured him out. Then she realized that what he was saying was not something she agreed with. That's not a phase, just giving a great mind the benefit of the doubt.

2. Hickman's crime did not ever take a backseat to his attitude, for Rand. She appreciated the attitude without appreciating the crime, or the person for that matter.

This second point, by the way, you can find out just by reading this thread. It has direct quotes.

I see. I was under the impression that as she was educating herself, she had adopted his morality to some degree and in her studies she realized he was wrong.

With regards to your comment on the direct quotes, they just seemed to lack characteristics that I associate with her writing. Hickman was a murdering lunatic, and Rand is known for showing a lot of emotion when she condemns someone like that, so I expected more from her on the topic than a critique of societal response and calling him a "degenerate". But, what didn't register with me is that the quotes were from her journals (which I'll most likely wind up subscribing to on account of this embarassing situation), and it isn't likely that she wrote to herself like she was writing to the public.

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I don't see a problem one way or another. Who doesn't like psychopathic murderers?

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I am not suprised to see the Rand/Hickman thing being brought out as a weapon against Rand's resurgence, it just shows how desperate the Left is right now. There's a certain irony here, too, involving hypocrisy on the Left's part. In Journals of Ayn Rand, Rand is presented as clearly drawing the line at where the "admiration" end (with the degeneracy and murders). Contrast that with Rand's criticism of the Left's "admiration" for the very same subject, not for the virtues, but FOR the degeneracy. From The Romantic Manifesto:

"...to escape from guilt and arouse pity, one has to portray man as impotent and innately loathsome. Hence the competition among modern artists to find every lower levels of depravity and even higher degrees of mawkishness–a competition to show the public out of its wits and jerks its tears. Hence the frantic search for misery, the descent from compassionate studies of alcoholism and sexual perversion to dope, incest, psychosis, murder, cannabalism.

"To illustrate the moral implications of this trend–the fact that pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent–I submit an enthusiastic review that commends a current movie for arousing compassion for kidnappers. 'One's attention and, indeed, one's anxiety is centered more upon them than upon the kidnapped youngster,' states the review. And: 'As a matter of fact, the motivation is not so clearly defined that it bears analysis or criticism on psychological grounds. But it is sufficiently established to compel our anguished sympathy for the two incredible kidnappers.' (The New York Times, November 6, 1964.)" –"Bootleg Romanticism"

The movie, btw, is A Seance on A Wet Afternoon, and here's the review. Judge for yourself Rand's take on the review, but it's interesting to read this in relation to her Hickman comments. But with the left, it's more of a "See? Rand sympathized with psycho-killers, too! She's no better than the rest of us!" Which would be totally wrong, contexts dropped and smashed all over the floor. Rand romanticized and extracted the better implications, while the New York Times review shows her enemy's true motivations.

Edited by spaceplayer

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I agree that Rand was admiring only certain aspects of Hickman, but what an extremely odd thing to admire aspects of a man's character who dismembered a little girl and removed all her organs.

Hickman's actions were so utterly disgusting that confirming Godwin's law in this case is justified. If I was to admire aspects of Hitler's character who gassed people I'd be rightly desribed as odd at best, and at worst extremely immoral.

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I agree that Rand was admiring only certain aspects of Hickman, but what an extremely odd thing to admire aspects of a man's character who dismembered a little girl and removed all her organs.

Hickman's actions were so utterly disgusting that confirming Godwin's law in this case is justified. If I was to admire aspects of Hitler's character who gassed people I'd be rightly desribed as odd at best, and at worst extremely immoral.

You realise this statement is representative of exactly why Rand said she could admire parts of his character, right?

Think of the statement oft said- "If only he used his powers for good instead of evil"

Rand condemned his actions and stated he was a degenerate.

But during the time when Rand made these statements- society was even more deeply conformist than it is now. People faked their way through life pretending to believe things they didn't believe, dressing the way others thought they should dress. Heck, a guy having long hair was scandalous.

So it is not entirely out of left field that a man who stated that his happiness was all that mattered to him would catch her eye. That she would then say to herself- "what if a moral man lived like that? Was willing to present himself to the world that way, unafraid?"

Anyway... that has always been my take on her interest in him and her words in regard to him.

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I agree that Rand was admiring only certain aspects of Hickman, but what an extremely odd thing to admire aspects of a man's character who dismembered a little girl and removed all her organs.

Hickman's actions were so utterly disgusting that confirming Godwin's law in this case is justified. If I was to admire aspects of Hitler's character who gassed people I'd be rightly desribed as odd at best, and at worst extremely immoral.

Everyone finds things they don't understand "odd". But then we have a choice: we can be curious and look for the reason someone made an unusual choice, or we can be drones and just superficially dismiss everything we don't understand, with the pseudo logic of thinking by association.

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Hickman's actions were so utterly disgusting that confirming Godwin's law in this case is justified. If I was to admire aspects of Hitler's character who gassed people I'd be rightly desribed as odd at best, and at worst extremely immoral.

To my understanding, Rand was more interested in the public's reaction to Hickman than the man himself, and seemed to think that the reaction was more due to his taking pride in defying the morals of society than in the crimes he actually committed. This aspect of his situation intrigued her, and provided fuel for a later short story which incorporated a proud man on trial in front of an outraged society, without the serial murder part. With this in mind, the more appropriate Hitler comparison might be admiring or at least acknowledging how successful Hitler was at propagandizing himself and gaining public opinion during his rise to power. Plenty of healthy, moral people have spent countless hours analyzing Hitler's Nazi propaganda and how it was so successful, and have learned valuable things about propaganda, charisma, etc that have nothing to do with the evil things Hitler did.

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To my understanding, Rand was more interested in the public's reaction to Hickman than the man himself,

Indeed she said

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...

So Rand thinks that most people have worse sins than cutting up a little girl? How horrifying that she views society to be so loathsome.

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So Rand thinks that most people have worse sins than cutting up a little girl? How horrifying that she views society to be so loathsome.

This forum is not the place for oblique attacks on Rand.

That said I will assume you aren't intentionally making vague unanswerable assertions and ask you a few questions about your statement.

Is one man killing one girl the worst thing a person has ever done?

Is it the worst thing a person could possibly do?

If so why? Is it the gender difference?

The age difference?

The fact that her body was mutilated post death?

The fact that ransom was demanded?

Assuming you are engaging in a serious dialogue on this matter in an attempt to understand why Rand made the statements she did you need to answer the question-

Was this crime the worst thing ever done and if so why?

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"So Rand thinks that most people have worse sins than cutting up a little girl? How horrifying that she views society to be so loathsome."

I, too, find it extremely troublesome. Plenty of people seem to want to make excuses (her young age, her Nietsche phase, taken out of context, etc.), but that doesn't cover the belief that the average person is WORSE than a butchering killer. It's especially weird since she left Russia because everything in Russia was bad and America was the wonderful country of bright freedom. So she gets here, and now AMERICANS are totally despicable. As for her admiration that Hickman was unrepentent, the same can certainly be said for most of the prison population today.

I don't see how one can escape that this view of mankind if horrifying. And sad.

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I don't see how one can escape that this view of mankind if horrifying. And sad.

It would do good to read post #5.

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It would do good to read post #5.

I second this: post #5 is excellent.

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This forum is not the place for oblique attacks on Rand.

An attack? This is not an attack, this is a neutral question as to why Rand thought that the majority of people were worse than a murderer. The fact that someone could think this depresses me, so forgive me for being slightly horrified or at least dismayed.

Assuming you are engaging in a serious dialogue on this matter in an attempt to understand why Rand made the statements she did you need to answer the question-

Was this crime the worst thing ever done and if so why?

I agree this was not the worst thing ever done. But the point is that she thought the average person had worse sins than this.

It would do good to read post #5.

#5 does not address the following from Rand:

It is repulsive to see all these beings with worse sins and crimes in their own lives, virtuously condemning a criminal

Or are you saying that when Rand says this she was fantasising as per #5? Is that better than her actually believing it?!

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Or are you saying that when Rand says this she was fantasising as per #5? Is that better than her actually believing it?!

Actually believing what? You made sure to cut off the quote before she explains who and what she was referring to, in the hopes that you'll find a few people lazy enough to believe your lie that she was referring to the "average person".

Here's what she was referring to: "Oh, that their best is so very small! Oh, that their worst is so very small! And oh, how horrid it is to be small!". That is from Nietzsche, and it hints to a belief system that is a far greater evil than Hickman's degeneracy. It is something that, in my humble opinion, doesn't fit many people, but it describes one in this thread pretty well: you.

Instead of dabbling in more out of context quotes and superficial, lazy, daft observations about them, you should do some reading, understand both the context of the full journal entry (by reading it and the writings of the people she criticized in it), as well as the context of the Nietzsche quote and his overall philosophy. Then you can come back and add a few informed, honest and helpful questions and comments to this thread, instead of this aimless trolling. There actually are contradictions in that journal entry worthy of criticism (Ayn Rand's later work resolves those contradictions). Too bad you haven't gotten around to identifying them, so that someone could direct you towards their resolution.

Instead you're concerned with finding something that you can react to on an emotional level, to point at it and hate it without having to actually think. That need for emotional satisfaction devoid of intellectual work is a symptom of our current society (as evidenced by all the "gotcha" style of journalism, directed against pretty much anyone in the public eye), just like it was a symptom of the society Ayn Rand was describing. But it's not true that the average person feels it, it's only a select few. Most people I come across actually struggle to understand things, they rarely have this craving, for a piece of sensationalist meat to sink their hateful teeth into, that you are so eloquently displaying.

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If there is a decent explanation for this rather disturbing statement by Rand (that the average person has worst sins in their life than child-murder) I expect somebody would have stated it clearly by now. As such I chalk this up to a bad mistake by Rand that fortunately does not seem to have tainted/influenced her later writings. Nobody is above making a mistake, especially in thought/writing. But what is more worrying is that seemingly few members of this forum are willing to admit there is any problem (and yes one that should invoke an 'emotional response' in any well adjusted person).

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Actually believing what? You made sure to cut off the quote before she explains who and what she was referring to, in the hopes that you'll find a few people lazy enough to believe your lie that she was referring to the "average person".

Jake your first mistake is that your default with regards to people's motivations should be to assume the best. I didn't cut off the quote, I pasted it from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Edward_Hickman), and this is where it cut off. I'd be interested if someone with the actual book could post the full quote here (and they could also update wikipedia). I still contend that she is speaking of the average person since she specifically refers to the rage of society against this individual. Quote her full passage and lets find out.

Here's what she was referring to: "Oh, that their best is so very small! Oh, that their worst is so very small! And oh, how horrid it is to be small!". That is from Nietzsche, and it hints to a belief system that is a far greater evil than Hickman's degeneracy. It is something that, in my humble opinion, doesn't fit many people, but it describes one in this thread pretty well: you.

Your second mistake Jake is your failure to extend basic courtesy. You could think the worst of me but keep it in the private messages and/or to yourself. Being rude simply detracts from the intellectual points you are actually making and is against forum rules.

But what is more worrying is that seemingly few members of this forum are willing to admit there is any problem (and yes one that should invoke an 'emotional response' in any well adjusted person).

Hear, hear!

So does anyone have the full quote to post?

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I'm going to post a big piece of text from the journals so people can see for themselves what a 23 year old Ayn Rand was up to.

First a short comment from the editor David Harriman:

AR did not get far in planning The Little Street. The project was too alien to her deepest premises. The notes are undated, but it seems likely that they were made over a short period when she was feeling particularly bitter toward the world. This was not a novel that she could have written; to her, the purpose of fiction writing is not to denounce that which one despises, but to exalt that which one admires.

These are Ayn Rand's words:

The Little Street

The world as it is.

Show it all, calmly and indifferently, like an outsider who does not share humanity's feelings or prejudices and can see it all "from the side."

Show all the filth, stupidity, and horror of the world, along with that which is supposed to atone for it. Show how insignificant, petty, and miserable the "good" in the world is, compared to the real horror it masks. Do not paint one side of the world, the polite side, and be silent about the rest; paint a real picture of the whole, good and bad at once, the "good" looking more horrid than the bad when seen together with the things it tolerates. Men see only one part of life at a time, the part they have before their eyes at the moment. Show them the whole.

Show that humanity is petty. That it's small. That it's dumb, with the heavy, hopeless stupidity of a man born feeble-minded, who does not understand, because he cannot understand, because he hasn't the capacity to understand; like a man born blind, who cannot see, because he has no organ for seeing.

Show that the world is monstrously hypocritical. That humanity has no convictions of any kind. That it does not know how to believe anything. That it has never believed consistently and does not know how to be true to any idea or ideal. That all the "high" words of the world are a monstrous lie. That nobody believes in anything "high" and nobody wants to believe. That one cannot believe one thing and do another, for such a belief isn't worth a nickel. And that's what humanity is doing.

Show that humanity is utterly illogical, like an animal that cannot connect together the things it observes. Man realizes and connects much more than an animal, but who can declare that his ability to connect things is perfect? The future, higher type of man will have to perfect just this ability [to achieve] the clear vision. A clear mind sees things and the connections between them. Humanity is stumbling helplessly in a chaos of inconsistent ideas, actions, and feelings that can't be put together, without even realizing the contradictions between them or their ultimate logical results.

A perfect, clear understanding also means a feeling. It isn't enough to realize a thing is true. The realization must be so clear that one feels this truth. For men act on feelings, not on thoughts. Every thought should be part of yourself, your body, your nature, and every part of your nature should be a thought. Every feeling—a thought, every thought—a feeling.
[This is AR's earliest statement regarding the harmony, of reason and emotion that follows from a proper integration of mind and body.]

Show the silent terror that is life at present, the silent terror that hangs over us, chokes us, that everybody feels and nobody can define, the nameless thing that is the atmosphere of humanity.

Show that the mob determines life at present and show exactly who and what that mob is. Show the things it breaks, the precious enemies that it ruins. Show that all humanity and each little citizen is an octopus that consciously or unconsciously sucks the blood of the best on earth and strangles life with its cold, sticky tentacles.

Show that the world is nothing but a little street. That this little street is its king and master, its essence and spirit. Show the little street and how it works.

Religion
: show what it means when thought out consistently; what it does to man; who needs it; who defends it with all the ferocious despotism of a small, ambitious nature. The great poison of mankind.

Morals
(as connected with religion) the real reason for all hypocrisy. The wrecking of man by teaching him ideals that are contrary to his nature; ideals he has to accept as his highest ambition, even though they are organically hateful and repulsive to him. And when he can't doubt them, he doubts himself. He becomes low, sinful, imperfect in his own eyes; he does not aspire to anything high, when he knows that the high is inaccessible and alien to him. Humanity's morals and ideals, its ideology, are the greatest of its crimes. ("Unselfishness" first of all.)

Communism, democracy, socialism
are the logical results of present-day humanity. The nameless horror of [these systems], both in their logical end and in the unconscious way that they already rule mankind.

Family-life
: the glorification of mediocrity. Elevating the "everyday" little man's existence into the highest ideal for mankind.

Show that humanity has and wants to have: existence instead of life, satisfaction instead of joy, contentment instead of happiness, security instead of power, vanity instead of pride, attachment instead of love, wish instead of will, yearning instead of passion, a glow-worm instead of a fire.

All the "realistic" books have shown the bad side of life and, as good, have shown the good of today. They have denounced that which is accepted as bad and set up as a relief or example that which is accepted as good. I want to show that there is no good at present, that the "good" as it is now understood is worse than the bad, that it is only the result, the skin over a rotten inside that rules and determines it. I want to show that all the conceptions of the "good," all the high ideals, have to be changed, for now they are nothing but puppets, slaves and accomplices to the horrible [stifling] of life. There are too many things that people just tolerate and don't talk about. Show them that it can't be tolerated, for all their life is a rotten swamp, a sewer, a dumping place for more filth than they can ever realize.

Show that the real God behind all their high words and sentiments, the real omnipotent power behind their culture and civilization, is the little street, just a small, filthy, shabby, common little street, such as exist around the center of every town in the world.

Show them the real, one and only horror—the horror of mediocrity.

"Humanity's morals and ideals, its ideology, are the greatest of its crimes."

From the bolded passage you can see she is already has a grasp of cause and effect in people's lives, that what people think is what causes them to do what they do. Here is more later about the fault she finds in too many people:

Most people lack [the capacity for]
reverence
and "
taking things seriously
." They do not hold anything to be very serious or profound. There is nothing that is sacred or immensely important to them. There is nothing—no idea, object, work, or person—that can inspire them with a profound, intense, and all-absorbing passion that reaches to the roots of their souls. They do not know how to value or desire. They cannot give themselves entirely to anything. There is nothing
absolute
about them. They take all things lightly, easily, pleasantly—almost indifferently, in that they can have it or not, they do not claim it as their absolute necessity. Anything strong and intense, passionate and absolute, anything that can't be taken with a snickering little "sense of humor"—is too big, too hard, too uncomfortable for them. They are too small and weak to feel with all their soul—and they disapprove of such feelings. They are too small and low for a loyal, profound reverence—and they disapprove of all such reverence. They are too small and profane themselves to know what sacredness is—and they disapprove of anything being too sacred.

The sum total of what Ayn Rand wrote about Hickman specifically is available here, at spanish language forum where the same smears are being made in response to the same Patterson creep. The poster there has helpfully underlined all the passages that make clear that she does in fact morally evaluate Hickman and condemns him.

Her claim that Hickman's greatest crime is his anti-socialness
confirmed my idea of the public's attitude in this case—and explains my involuntary, irresistible sympathy for him, which I cannot help feeling just because of this and in spite of everything else.

Hickman said: "I am like the state: what is good for me is right." Even if he wasn't big enough to live by that attitude, he deserves credit for saying it so brilliantly. There is a lot that is purposelessly, senselessly horrible about him. But that does not interest me. I want to remember his actions and characteristics that will be useful for the boy in my story.

So we see there are other people who also have opinions about "greater crimes" than murder, the causes of murder. The woman placing so much importance on the non-essential "anti-socialness" displays more about her own character than Hickman's.

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Thanks for the quotes, Grames. Fascinating. But I still have a real big problem. Those words are so bitter and so absolutely condemn mankind. Grames, think about it. Is every person (or even the majority) you know so horrendously bad and horrible and without purpose? How can one hold the view that mankind is capable of god-like things, yet at the same time believe that mankind is thoroughly rotten.

I don't get it. But I can't believe it's a good mindset. Quite the contrary, I find it disturbing.

Edited by Dante
Fixed: Excessive Quoting

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Hmm, well it appears that in this part

It is repulsive to see all those beings with worse sins and crimes in their own lives, virtuously condemning a criminal, proud and secure in their number, yelling furiously in defense of society.

Rand may have been referring to these events (overly-indignant, 'virtuous' mobs baying for justice) in general, and not this specific case. For instance when some famous person gets caught evading taxes, or having an affair, or insider trading, or taking a bribe, and the heartfelt consternation that somewhat unconvincingly follows.

Cause otherwise it's a ridiculous statement that implies only great, exceptional men have the right to loathe/despise a child-murderer.

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I'm going to post a big piece of text from the journals so people can see for themselves what a 23 year old Ayn Rand was up to.

Thank you for posting that.

Rand may have been referring to these events (overly-indignant, 'virtuous' mobs baying for justice) in general, and not this specific case. For instance when some famous person gets caught evading taxes, or having an affair, or insider trading, or taking a bribe, and the heartfelt consternation that somewhat unconvincingly follows.

I agree.

I think I'm now convinced that Rand was not being immoral here. Thanks for everyone who didn't yell troll.

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So Rand thinks that most people have worse sins than cutting up a little girl? How horrifying that she views society to be so loathsome.

It's possible that she thought that, and if so, that would be a grievous mistake and misjudgment of society on her part.

However, if you follow the link Grames posted and read the journal entry in its entirety, I think you can get a better idea of what she was saying with that quote. The most relevant part of the journal entry seems to me to be the following:

And when we look at the other side of it—there is a brilliant, unusual, exceptional boy turned into a purposeless monster. By whom? By what? Is it not by that very society that is now yelling so virtuously in its role of innocent victim? He had a brilliant mind, a romantic, adventurous, impatient soul and a straight, uncompromising, proud character. What had society to offer him? A wretched, insane family as the ideal home, a Y.M.C.A. club as social honor, and a bank-page job as ambition and career. And it is not the petty financial misery of these that I have in mind. They are representative of all that society has to offer: a high social standing and a million-dollar business position is essentially the same Y.M.C.A. club and bank-page job, merely more of the same.

If he had any desires and ambitions—what was the way before him? A long, slow, soul-eating, heart-wrecking toil and struggle; a degrading, ignoble road of silent pain and loud compromises. Succeed? How could he succeed? How do men succeed? By begging successfully for the good graces of the society they must serve. And if he could not serve? If he didn't know how to beg? It's a long and tortuous road that an exceptional man must travel in this society. It requires a steel-strength that can overcome disgust, which is a worse enemy than fear, and also a steel-hypocrisy, the patient art of hiding oneself when it is wise not to be seen.

....

Yes, he is a monster—now. But the worse he is, the worst must be the cause that drove him to this. [italics added] Isn't it significant that society was not able to fill the life of an exceptional, intelligent boy, to give him anything to outbalance crime in his eyes? If society is horrified at his crime, it should be horrified at the crime's ultimate cause: itself. The worse the crime—the greater its guilt. What could society answer, if that boy were to say: "Yes, I'm a monstrous criminal, but what are you?"

Now note that Rand did not actually know anything about how Hickman grew up or his development before his crimes. She is fantasizing a possible backstory (which she admits later), one that seems plausible to her. In this backstory, the only choice society seemed to offer to a young, brilliant, proud boy is either a life of compromise and begging for favors or breaking from society completely and becoming a monster.

This seems to me to be an early recognition by hers of the false dichotomy which altruism presents, between sacrificing oneself to others and sacrificing others to oneself. If society tells you that you must live by giving and receiving unearned favors, by serving and begging rather than by trading, then it sets up a choice: you can either do the bloodsucking or be sucked dry. This was one of the central arguments in Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand herself presents a third option, which begins by rejecting this dichotomy, as we all (presumably) know. Here, she seems to be simply noting to herself this false dilemma presented by society could be the root cause of a brilliant boy becoming a remorseless murderer.

This discussion reminds me of the flak that Ayn Rand gets for describing Kant as "the most evil man in mankind’s history." Now, obviously there are many dictators and mass murderers who have committed numerous acts of pure evil which Kant would have rightly been horrified with. Meanwhile, Kant himself performed no such acts. The reason that Rand describes him as more evil than any of these dictators is that she thought it was his ideas which enabled collectivism to take hold in societies. He advocated an entirely selfless, duty-for-duty's-sake form of morality, and it is exactly this kind of self-sacrificial service to a higher power that philosophically fueled movements like Nazism and Communism. Thus, she identified the philosophical root of these ideologies as more "evil" than the actual people involved in carrying out the atrocities that these ideologies demanded. While this is a definition of evil that differs from the common understanding of what the word means, this is the definition she often operated under.

With that in mind, the statement of hers under discussion here seems of a similar vein. In the case of Hickman, Rand perceived that he grew up in a society where one can only get ahead by begging and asking for favors, rather than earning one's place in the world. In other words, the society of the time demanded that man live by altruism. Some people accept this as given, while people like Hickman would react by rejecting society's moral code completely and becoming a "purposeless monster," as she called him. She would later articulate clearly a solution to this false dilemma, but to her the root cause of people like Hickman was the fact that society as a whole lived by a sacrificial moral code.

Under this interpretation, "worse sins and crimes" doesn't mean that most people directly committed acts that are more deplorable than murder, in the same way that Rand wasn't claiming that Kant was a mass murderer. Rather, it means that most people lived by and advocated a moral code which was at the root of creating such monsters.

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Thanks for the quotes, Grames. Fascinating. But I still have a real big problem. Those words are so bitter and so absolutely condemn mankind. Grames, think about it. Is every person (or even the majority) you know so horrendously bad and horrible and without purpose? How can one hold the view that mankind is capable of god-like things, yet at the same time believe that mankind is thoroughly rotten.

I don't get it. But I can't believe it's a good mindset. Quite the contrary, I find it disturbing.

I think this is just standard Rand. If you read Atlas Shrugged she describes the masses of passengers who die on the crashed train as being guilty or deserving the crash (if I recall correctly). I don't think her Hickman comments are unique in that regard.

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Rand had only recently fled from the tyranny of Soviet Russia and arrived in a country with no friends or family around her, so it might not be surprising that her worldview was rather pessimistic at this point. But if you read the whole Hickman journal entry, you can see that she hadn't yet identified altruism as the ethical system that poisons everything. Therefore her judgement of people and their actions maybe sounds more severe than what an older Rand would said. Bear in mind that these notes are preparation for a dystopian novel, where all the evils would be purposefully exaggerated etc. to make a point.

I think this sort of pessimism is quite common among people who think there is something 'wrong' with the world (be it polluting, or materialism, or secularism, or capitalism, or 3rd world poverty) but can't quite explain it fully: they are nice enough to individual acquaintances, but are incredibly scathing when they talk about humanity in general, about 'the way things are going,' and so on

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Jake your first mistake is that your default with regards to people's motivations should be to assume the best. I didn't cut off the quote, I pasted it from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Edward_Hickman), and this is where it cut off. I'd be interested if someone with the actual book could post the full quote here (and they could also update wikipedia). I still contend that she is speaking of the average person since she specifically refers to the rage of society against this individual. Quote her full passage and lets find out.

It doesn't matter what you contend. You haven't read what she wrote. I'm not going to post the full entry, because it is several pages long and copyrighted material. You'll have to get it legally, or, if you can't be bothered to do the minimum necessary to understand the subject of this thread, stop posting in it.

Your second mistake Jake is your failure to extend basic courtesy. You could think the worst of me but keep it in the private messages and/or to yourself. Being rude simply detracts from the intellectual points you are actually making and is against forum rules.

Hear, hear!

So does anyone have the full quote to post?

The fact that you are denigrating her and are allowing yourself to spew emotionalist vomit onto a public forum, without even bothering to read the full sentence you got the quote from, speaks volumes about what your standards are (that much is fact), and, like I said, in my opinion what you posted also speaks volumes about what your basic values are.

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