Romancing the Stone-Cold Killer. (The whole essay linked is well worth reading; this blog post only contains the barest summary of it.)
Ayn Rand was obsessed with a serial murderer named William Hickman, and based a hero in one of her early novels on him. She thought of him as a noble rebel against a pathetic and mediocre society. In praising her Hickman-inspired hero, she described what we now call “sociopathy” or “psychopathy” succinctly:
[He]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.
Hickman kidnapped a banker’s child and held her for ransom, taunting the family with awful ransom notes; he managed to rig her mutilated corpse to appear to be sitting up and alive in the car next to him when he picked up the ransom, and he sped off and pushed the corpse out the passenger door when he was given the money by the father.
This was the sort of person who Ayn Rand admired.
American conservatives, particularly Alan Greenspan, the man who has been in charge of our economy for the last couple decades or so, admire Ayn Rand and what she stood for (with the exception, for many of them, of her contemptuous atheism).
Is it any wonder America’s economy is in a state of apocalypse? The ideology followed by the best and the brightest in the world of finance is that of an unrepentant Raskolnikov turned cult-leader.
But maybe I’m too kind in blaming it on Ayn Rand. This sort of thing went down in the 19th and early 20th centuries as well, without her help. Perhaps unrestrained capitalism has always been a playground for the sort of personalities who are admired and encouraged by the same people who admire and encourage those who abduct, murder, and dismember children.