Thom: Thanks for explaining so clearly a book I read nearly 50 years - explaining the background of the strangely named Ayn (pron. Ann?) RAND as Russian - and the Howard ROARK character as based on the psychopath HICKMAN. The parallels with the contemporary selfish (and frankly psychopathic) Republic Party - in general - and with Donald Trump in particular is chillingly clear. I am Australian. I’d like to point out that the current ruling government - the Liberal National Party (a federal coalition - we usually abbreviate it to the LNP - and I want you to note - should you be unaware - that the “Liberal” part of the name we usually spell out loud as “Capital L Liberal” to distinguish it from the true “liberal”) is more-or-less an easy fit with the modern rightwing Republican Party in the U.S. The Australian government’s current ambassador to Washington D C - our 25th such ambassador - is the former LNP politician (plum job-for-the-boys appointment in 2016) Joe HOCKEY. He is a spiv. - in fact during his time as the nation’s Treasurer he used the terms “lifters” (he meant himself - or those fitting the Roark characteristics) while the ordinary citizens especially if receiving any welfare - old folks, those disabled, unemployed… - he labelled “leaners” - like the producers and looters you referred to. In truth he was a true looter - his parliamentary salary well -padded out with “expenses” and per diems - and all property in his wife’s name - to the extent that though he stayed in a family home in Canberra (the nation’s capital) - it was in his wife’s name - thereby making him eligible for per diems to cover hotel accommodation and food of several hundred dollars - per day! Leaner supremo. In Australia much has been made of the fact that he has played golf with Trump - that he has worked his greasy magic (to my way of thinking) to secure for Australia unfair advantages denied others (at least that’s how it has been portrayed here) when Trump has imposed trade agreement changes to disadvantage (further) other countries. We know Ayn RAND types in Australia - it is only members of the LNP who are occasionally prone to letting it be known that they admire her writing.
Regarding the small group of followers, friends et al with whom Rand interacted frequently, if you know your Rand, you’ll appreciate this irony: she called her group The Collective!
Thom I feel like your quotes of her journal are taken way out of context. The very next line after the “strongest expression” quote she goes on to say her character is “Very far from him of course. A Hickman with a purpose…” and so on.
Well put, dopfa, especially your last sentence. It is a theme I’ve pursued for some time. While there is a lot of information that has come out about Ayn Rand’s negative side (especially this article!) – and the consequent complete demonizing of all libertarian/individualism – there has also been the odd increase and respect for some of its prominent individuals like Ron Paul – and more information about the negative side of major Democratic actors like past presidents Truman, JFK, LBJ and so on.
What I always marvel at, though, is how little that both the right and left give a more complete picture. Hartman could have done that by mentioning that Truman had a close advisor and ally in a South Carolina Congressman who wanted to legalize lynch mobs (see Oliver Stone’s “Untold HIstory”), that LBJ supported the overthrow of the democratic Greek government, the overthrow of the emerging democracy in the Dominican Republic, and that JFK and his brother were obsessed with killing Castro, helped overthrow Brazil’s socialist democracy, and was elected with help of the Mafia.
I could go on, but the outright corruption/debasement of our whole world by evil players never seems to end. As you eloquently put it, “Republicans are corporate wolves in wolves’ clothing. Democrats are corporate wolves in sheeps clothing.”
According to Barbara Branden, Rand got her whole idea of Reardon Steel from the true story of Andrew Carnegie’s slanderous letters to railroad presidents and purchasing agents against the new innovation of a competitor of his — the Duquesne Steel Company, which began underselling Carnegie with Bessemer rails made by the direct rolling process.
The effect of this was that the Duquesne lost customers because — even though their rails were perfectly safe — people believed Carnegie. Thus they ended up selling out to Carnegie.
Since I can’t find my copy of B. Branden’s book, I’ve relied somewhat more on Stewart H. Holbrook’s “The Age of the Moguls” (1953). Here is a paragraph from page 83 summing up the result of Carnegie’s actions:
The machine was the Carnegie Steel Company. It is of interest to know that all the mills of the group were soon making steel rails by the same direct rolling process as that pioneered at Duquesne and which, only a couple of years before, had appeared to little Andy to be a hideous menace to the railroads and an even greater danger to life and limb of the traveling public.
Some Objectivists have been disturbed at first about Rand’s comments. See the link below and/or read the excerpt I copied of the one of the posts on that sight below the url
Posted January 10, 2010
The Journals of AR said:
At the age of twenty-three, AR knew that she was not ready to portray her ideal man. Her goal here is less ambitious; she wants only to project her ideal man’s sense of life. The protagonist, Danny Renahan, is an independent, uncompromising, nineteen-year-old boy with a passionate hunger for life. Some of Danny’s characteristics are based on an actual nineteen-year-old boy, William Edward Hickman, who was the defendant in a highly publicized murder trial that had just taken place in Los Angeles. Hickman was accused of kidnapping and murdering a young girl. He was <jrnl_22> found guilty and sentenced to death in February, of 1928; he was hanged on October 20, 1928.
Judging from the newspaper accounts of the time, Hickman was articulate and arrogant, and seems to have enjoyed shocking people by rejecting conventional views. The public furor against hint was unprecedented. For reasons given in the following notes, AR concluded that the intensity of the public’s hatred was primarily “because of the man who committed the crime and not because of the crime he committed.” The mob hated Hickman for his independence; she chose him as a model for the same reason.
Hickman served as a model for Danny only in strictly limited respects, which AR names in her notes. Danny does commit a crime in the story, but it is nothing like Hickman’s. To guard against any misinterpretation, I quote her own statement regarding the relationship between her hero and Hickman:
[My hero is] very far from him, of course. The outside of Hickman, but not the inside. Much deeper and much more. A Hickman with a purpose. And without the degeneracy. It is more exact to say that the model is not Hickman, but what Hickman suggested to me.
I haven’t read Fountainhead and don’t plan to. Atlas Shrugged was made into a movie that caught my interest because of its train element. The Reardon metal locomotive (not electrified with overhead wire) and new track supposedly achieves 200mph, but the actual record top speed is about 160mph. Railroad advancements are longer lengths of track, prestressed cement ties, track laying and ballast tamping equipment, signaling. False claims of advanced tech aren’t limited to railways. Completely “self-driving” car tech would do more harm than good “if” it were actually possible safely.
Sorry I didn’t respond sooner. I alternate between moments of intense interest and long periods of disengaged apathy. In any case, I’m a “face the truth, no matter how painful” sort of person. So be as blunt as you’re willing to be.
Honestly, I don’t spend much time writing here (or anywhere) because I’m prone to long periods of disengaged despair. And so, my “how blunt do you want it” question was largely rhetorical, but I’ll take a moment to elaborate. My personal perspective on what’s going down in the world is beyond grim. But it is only one point of view, and I acknowledge that my expectations are Cassandra-level catastrophic. Our species expresses again and again its penchant for paroxysms of homicide, genocide, ecocide. I feel we’re on the verge (I don’t know it; I feel it, as do others, and I hope I’m wrong). The Anthropocene is already violently shredding the relative stability of the Holocene, and ecosystems are collapsing. That economies depend on ecosystems means economies must collapse, too (many might disagree with that). Climate migration has only just begun. Political insanity reigns. The horsemen are mounted and riding. All the brilliant inspiration delivered by the likes of Greta T. may drive a movement, but preventing the pace or direction of the Anthropocene is unlikely (but no reason not to fight the good fight). The “great acceleration” is doing just that–ever accelerating. The only pertinent question is how to adapt to the coming changes, which is a tough because we just don’t know how a global, civilizational collapse plays out–we’ve never done it on this scale before, and we don’t appreciate the fragility of it all. It’s tipping points, tipping points all the way down…
That’s all I will say. Anything more is reprise. Blunt? Don’t mind if I do.