Friday, April 8, 2011

Ayn Rand, the Psychology of Fangirlism, and How America Lost Its Freedom

The article: this one on Ayn Rand as serial killer groupie.

I've been upset enough about the Republican Party's jihad against the poor and the middle class on behalf of the ultra-rich to write Spanner. Turns out their overclass supremacism, Social Darwinism, hatred of democracy, and lust for corporatist tyranny come ultimately from Ayn Rand. And then I read the above linked article, which claims that her entire philosophy of Objectivism stems from her hero worship of a serial killer. That's right: not long after she fled Stalin's Russia for America in 1926, Ayn Rand became a serial killer groupie. Turns out she was so busy fangirling the sadistic murderer William Hickman that she blanked out the fact that his moral retardation made him too dumb to live.

I myself didn't realize the truth till early afternoon today, when I was drinking my second cup of coffee. There's a pattern here. 9-year-old Alissa Rosenbaum became a huge fangirl of the arrogant British-imperialist hero (named Cyrus, no less) of a serial adventure novel called The Mysterious Valley. Her earliest essays in Russian? On Hollywood stars. When she left for America to become Ayn Rand, where did she go? Right straight to Hollywood, where she became a scriptwriter. In her late essay "On a Woman President", she denounces the idea of female leadership because, she claims, the function of woman is to hero-worship a man. In other words, she defines fangirlism as the essence of female nature. In her manifesto "The Goal of My Writing", she says the purpose of fiction, or at least her fiction, is the creation of an Ideal Man—capitalized, of course—in order to hero-worship him with her fiction. In her lectures and essays, she constantly quotes not other philosophers, but her own heroes: Howard Roark, John Galt, Hank Rearden, Francisco d'Anconia—they, not all those "lesser" philosophers she despised (meaning all the rest), were the authorities to turn to in philosophy.

Is the picture becoming clear to you already? If not, I'll tell you. I realized with a shock: who is Ayn Rand? The most famous and influential Ascended Psycho Fangirl in history. Her entire philosophy is geared toward fangirling the oligarchs of Big Business. Sure enough, she was quickly surrounded by a worshipful cult of psycho fanboys and fangirls, which eventually expanded to include the oligarchs themselves. After all, she made them (along with herself) the object of worship of the entire American civil religion. Is it any wonder that she became far more influential than her fellow/rival Angry Atheist Battleaxe, Madalyn Murray O'Hair?

It all came together in this line spoken by my character Willa, talking about her early rock 'n' roll days in Spanner:
I remember narrowly escaping being murdered by psycho fangirls repeatedly. About the same time, I became intrigued by this Ayn Rand. Then I read her essay on why she thought a woman president would be a bad idea. Turns out she hated the idea of female leadership because she believed women were supposed to worship male heroes. In other words, if you're not a fangirl, you're not a woman, period, by definition, so saith Ayn Rand. She lost me there. I wasn't the least bit surprised to find out later that she was once a serial killer groupie.
And so I find that when I write a character to resemble an Ayn Rand hero, he turns out to be a villain. Conversely, though some of my heroes (including not just Shira but Willa as well) share some of the Rand hero's ruthlessness, I can't write them like Rand heroes because they're not antisocial enough. The most important Spanner characters "born without the ability to consider others" are vampires, whose disease has eaten away the moral centers of their brains.

I also find myself witnessing (and, in Spanner, writing) an unfortunate parallel between the ideal Randian political system the Republicans are trying to impose (by brute force if necessary, as in the 2012 coup in Spanner's backstory) and the Stalinist dictatorship Rand fled. In fact, the political structure turns out to be identical to her hated Soviet Russia, with corporations replacing soviets, Republican neocons replacing Communists, and big businessmen becoming the new nomenklatura—which, it turns out, is exactly what happened in Russia after the fall of Communism. The GOP's trying to turn America from the flawed democracy we've got now into a corporatist dictatorship modelled after authoritarian Russia and China. In the name of Ayn Rand, mortal enemy of Communism, America is turning into the right-wing version of the Soviet Union, with the Corporate oligarchs as the new master race (see her "Big Business: A Persecuted Minority").

And if you suspect there's a strong element here of what literary theorist Harold Bloom calls "the anxiety of influence"—that is, the artist's war against his strongest influences (John Milton, in the case of the English Romantic poets)—you hit it on the nose. It's supposed to be unconscious according to Bloom's theory, but my case is so bad I'm fully conscious of it. My villains all think they're Rand heroes because their real-life counterparts in the New Right believe they are. The Rand hero takes the American frontier ideal of "rugged individualism" to the sociopathic extreme; this explains why the Corporate elite are hellbent on not just stealing all the money in the world but seizing absolute power as well. They don't care if they make enemies out of the entire American middle class; after all, they can always follow the example of John Galt and kill off all of humanity except for the chosen ones in Galt's Gulch.

Fandom can go psycho. Science fiction author Harlan Ellison once wrote a famous but now rare essay on the phenomenon. But now America's ruled by an ideology based entirely on psycho fannism, created by the Ascended Psycho Fangirl named Ayn Rand. So why am I writing this in my project blog rather than my opinion blog? Because I happen to be something of an "ascending fanboy" myself, and I riff off various fanfics and doujinshi. You think psycho Twilight fangirls are bad enough? Now think of America turning into a dictatorship ruled by psycho Ayn Rand fanboys. You get the picture...

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