In Praise of Objectivist Rage—(Delivered at J. Valliant Book-Signing Event, Borders, Orange, July 6, 2006)

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Sat, 2006-07-08 06:37

Linz and James Valliant
[Linz and James Valliant—taken during Linz's July 2006 visit to California.]

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I speak to you tonight as an enthusiastic adherent to the philosophy that will save western civilization: Objectivism. I speak as an ardent, though not blind, admirer of the woman who formulated that philosophy: Ayn Rand. I speak as someone whose admiration for Ayn Rand was tempered for many years by a belief that her character was significantly flawed. This belief was derived from two books: The Passion of Ayn Rand, by Barbara Branden, and Judgement Day, by Nathaniel Branden. These books painted a picture of Ayn Rand as a genius with monumental shortcomings—a propensity to divorce logic from reality, engage in moral hysteria, substitute intimidation for argument, cut her friends off without good reason, manipulate her protégés into doing her bidding (including, in one case, her sexual bidding, thus driving her husband to drink) and then dishonestly rationalize her shortcomings as virtues and call them part of her philosophy. For two decades, inexplicably, Ayn Rand’s defenders made no comment on these portraits, inclining people like me to think they must be accurate, and thus always to temper our advocacy of Objectivism with disclaimers about the conduct of its founder. As one of us put it recently, without saying so or even recognizing it explicitly we looked upon Ayn Rand as “the wicked witch of Objectivism.” To which I would add, we saw the Brandens as its Hansel and Gretel—innocent, intellectually-starved children lured into the witch’s house, ostensibly for philosophical nourishment, but really to be eaten up … except that in this case they pushed her into the oven after she died of natural causes!

Reading James Valliant’s book, The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics, made me realize the Brandens’ accounts were a self-serving bunch of bull. Prosecutor Valliant makes the case conclusively that it was the children who were—and are—wicked and Ayn Rand who was the innocent party. Her own journal entries, reproduced in the book, establish that beyond reasonable doubt.

Why does it matter? Isn’t what’s important Ayn Rand’s philosophy, not her character; whether it’s true, not whether she happened to live up to it? Well, you might say that of any other philosopher, but you may not say it about Rand. Fundamental to Rand’s whole approach to philosophy is that if you can’t live by it, it’s useless and can’t be good; if you can live by it and it is good and you don’t live by it, you’re a hypocrite. For her there is no theory/practice dichotomy; the moral is the practical—so there’s no excuse not to behave with integrity. As she put it, “Integrity is loyalty to one’s convictions and values; it is the policy of acting in accordance with one’s values, of expressing, upholding and translating them into physical reality.” She famously said that her personal life was a Post-Script to her novels, whose heroes embodied her values, consisting of the words, “And I mean it!” So if Ayn Rand did not live according to her philosophy, by her own lights we are entitled to dismiss it or condemn her. Objectivism above all else is a philosophy for living on earth; if its founder didn’t live by it, then either it couldn’t be lived by or she was speaking with a forked tongue.

Objectivism’s cardinal virtue is rationality, living by one’s mind, neither at the expense of one’s emotions nor controlled by them, so if its founder spent a significant portion of her waking hours displaying an irrational anger, let’s say, then she could not be said to be living by her philosophy.

That is precisely what the Brandens do say about Ayn Rand. My contention is that they’re wrong, and that they’re not wrong innocently—under the guise of repudiating irrational anger, the Brandens, Barbara in particular, are really campaigning against rational anger, against the very possibility of such a thing, against anger as such, period. Why? Because the Brandens, in their own anger against Ayn Rand, do not wish Objectivism to succeed, all their protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, and wish it to declare the unilateral moral and emotional disarmament to which the repudiation of anger would be tantamount.

Right now, as I speak, the Brandens are literally over the road, peddling their angerless version of Objectivism to an ostensibly Objectivist gathering in a group-grope session called “Objectivist Community.” I say “ostensibly” because the organization whose honoured guests they are recently saw fit to change its name from The Objectivist Center to The Atlas Society, since they deem the term “Atlas” to be less “intimidating” than the word “Objectivist.” “Objectivist” apparently frightens the horses, and as the sensitive souls over the road might say: oh my, we can’t have that. I can’t help contrast the tepid, timorous timidity of this coven of cowards with the boldness displayed by Objectivism’s adversaries. Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto, for instance: “Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist revolution.” Over the road, they disdain not to conceal the very name of their philosophy, lest naming it should cause anyone to tremble, them most of all!

In any event, not only are the Brandens right now touting their supposedly kinder gentler version of the philosophy that dare not speak its name, but Barbara has already given a presentation on “Objectivist Rage.” Now for some obscure reason I was not invited to attend, so I cannot report on its precise content. I can, however, disclose how the talk was billed by the organization formerly known as The Objectivist Center in its promotional material:

It is lamentable but true that a great many Objectivists—although certainly not all—have been very angry people, given to excessive moralizing and condemnations of those who disagree with them. Over the years, Barbara Branden has identified some of the fundamental reasons for this rage, such as the beliefs—as David Kelley has noted—that ideas as such can be evil, that evasion rather than simple error, naivety, or confusion is the predominant source of philosophical mistakes, and so on. Error has become the original sin of Objectivism. In this talk, Ms. Branden will discuss the effects of excessive rage, and will suggest ways in which anger can be addressed and brought into balance with rational judgment and reason.

When I read that, and started to prepare this talk, I wondered if Ms Branden was going to be including in her presentation something I found on the Internet:

How to Fix Anger Problems—An easy way that gets rid of anger almost instantly. Guaranteed. Free CD!

Now, just so we’re clear on this, Ms. Branden includes in the category of “very angry people” Ayn Rand herself. To quote but one passage from her biography, The Passion of Ayn Rand, after she cites Mimi Sutton saying Frank was sometimes upset over Ayn’s breaks with people:

In this last statement, Mimi was noting a phenomenon that no one who knew Ayn well failed to observe: a series of angry ruptures with people who had been her friends, accompanied by condemnations of them for irrationality or moral treason. Ayn often was warm and generous with her friends, generous with her concern, her time and her attention. But when, in her view, a line had been crossed, when she saw an action as unjust to her, or as intellectually dishonest, or as morally wrong, she became an avenging angel and the relationship ended in a burst of rage.

Elsewhere in her book, Ms. Branden faults Rand for erupting at questioners during public lectures, and for turning on a questioner during an appearance on the Donahue TV show. This is as good an example as any to cite of Ms. Branden’s mindset on the matter at hand. She writes:

It was a disaster. A young woman in the audience asked Ayn a question which made it clear that she thought her former admiration for Ayn’s work had been an aberration of youth—and Ayn, offended and insulted, pounced angrily, shouting at the girl; a substantial part of the show was devoted to the exchange.

Now, I’ve watched that show many times. It could only be deemed a “disaster” by someone who takes the view that one should never get angry, no matter the provocation, how justified one’s anger might be. Yes, Ayn got angry. The young woman, exuding insolence, prefaced her intended question with the remark that she used to be impressed by Ayn’s work but now that she was better educated … That’s as far as she got. Ayn, alone on the stage since Donahue was with the young woman, stepped in to say she would not answer a question framed in that way. Pandemonium ensued, with Donahue taking the questioner’s side. “Don’t be so sensitive,” he scolded Ayn. “I am going to be. I intend to be!” she shot back. She was shouting, not because she was out of control but because the crowd’s jeering or cheering—mainly jeering—was so loud. In defending her refusal to answer a question prefaced with an insult Ayn said the woman had displayed “the quality of her brain” in asking it that way. She also said she had no intention of being the victim of “hippies” who had abandoned politeness and manners. After a few minutes of mayhem, Donahue himself asked the woman’s intended question politely, and normal transmission was resumed.

The incident occupied a few minutes of a 60-minute show. To call it a “substantial part” of the show is precisely the kind of hyperbole Barbara engages in when faulting folk for their anger, as she did with my own in calling it “endless.” The show was vintage Rand—although looking unwell, she was sharp, focused, earnest, funny, relentlessly logical … and yes, angry. But no one who knew Ayn or was familiar with her philosophy would expect her to react to a rude question in any other way. One of her distinctive tenets is refusal to bestow what she calls the “sanction of the victim”—when you are wronged, do not sanction the wrong by acquiescing to it. It’s the opposite of turning the other cheek. “I saw that here comes a point,” says John Galt, hero of Atlas Shrugged, “in the defeat of any man of virtue, where his own consent is needed for evil to win—and that no manner of injury done to him can succeed if he chooses to withhold his consent. I saw I could put an end to your outrages by pronouncing a single word in my mind. I pronounced it. The word was ‘No.’” In the Donahue context, Ayn simply said “No” out loud—and a bit more besides. By conventional standards, including Barbara Branden’s, she handled the situation badly, by displaying her anger (never mind how legitimate). No doubt she would have won accolades for handling it well if she’d said something like, “First let me say how bummed I am to learn that you think less of my work now than you once did. But I guess I can understand where you’re coming from, and, hey, I’m cool with it. I’d sure be stoked if you gave me another chance, though.”

Let me reiterate at this point that there is someone Barbara exempts from her anti-anger regime: herself. Here she is on my SOLO site, when she was still posting there, responding to someone who had taken her to task over a few things—in each case, I might say, completely justifiably:

Glenn, do you really suppose that I would engage in a discussion with someone who begins it by accusing me of evading, being driven by my emotions, and ignoring evidence? In future, you might spare yourself the effort of announcing your beliefs to me, for fear of learning the exact value I find in them. This is my last communication with you.

I suppose we are to conclude that that sort of icy anger expressed loftily is acceptable, while raising one’s voice is … uncouth!

How would Ms. Branden feel about the following, from Atlas Shrugged’s pianist/composer Richard Halley to Dagny Taggart, attacking proponents and practitioners of the mind/body spirit/matter dichotomy?

This, Miss Taggart, this sort of spirit, courage and love for truth—as against a sloppy bum who goes around proudly assuring you that he has almost reached the perfection of a lunatic, because he's an artist who hasn't the faintest idea what his art work is or means, he's not restrained by such crude concepts as 'being' or 'meaning', he's the vehicle of higher mysteries, he doesn't know how he created his work or why, it just came out of him spontaneously, like vomit out of a drunkard, he did not think, he wouldn't stoop to thinking, he just felt it, all he has to do is feel—he feels, the flabby, loose-mouthed, shifty-eyed, drooling, shivering, uncongealed bastard!

Barbara’s response would no doubt be the plaintive whine she once posted to SOLO: “There’s enough anger in the world already. Why add to it?” And as I say, she’s completely in tune with the received wisdom on the matter. Google “quotes about anger" on the Internet and you find anger has had a very bad press throughout history.

“Anger is the seducer of thought. No man can think clearly when his fists are clenched.”

“Anger is the wind which blows out the lamp of the mind.”

“There is no enemy more vicious than your own anger.”

“Anger is never without reason, but seldom with a good one.”

“For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”

“Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.”

“Anger is short-lived madness.”

“Anger and folly walk cheek by jowl.”

Those are quotations from sundry historical personages of both religious and agnostic or atheist persuasion. Jesus himself said, “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. … anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell,” though he too appeared to exempt himself!

Just occasionally you come across a glimpse of an acknowledgement of justifiable, desirable anger, as in this, from Aristotle: “Anyone can become angry—that is easy, but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way—that is not easy.” Or this, from Bede Jarrett: “The world often continues to allow evil because it isn't angry enough.”

See, the problem with this blanket condemnation of anger is twofold. First, there is the fallacy of moral equivalence—all anger is sinful, regardless of its cause, source, motive, object or consequences. No Objectivist should ever fall for that, on its face. Second, more subtly, the campaign against “Objectivist rage” is a campaign against profundity of conviction via intensity of feeling. Anger, of course, is an intense emotion reflecting strongly-held convictions and values, as are all other emotions arising therefrom. Because she was a valuer, as every Objectivist must be, Ayn Rand was a passionate valuer, as every Objectivist must be. The two are inseparable. To campaign against anger is to campaign against passion; to campaign against passion is to campaign against values; to campaign against values is to campaign against the mind; to campaign against the mind is ultimately, of course, to campaign against human life itself.

Listen to these magnificent words from the 19th century anti-slavery campaigner, Frederick Douglass:

Those who profess to favour freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without ploughing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its waters.

Ponder this, from Facets of Ayn Rand, by Mary Ann and Charles Sures:

________________________________

Charles: I’d like to add two points here. One is that her expressions of anger were the exception, not the rule. Two, they were often followed by applause from the audience – because the listeners were inspired by hearing someone speaking up for and defending what was right and good. They had heard, over and over again, mealy-mouthed speakers afraid to take a position – or suggesting that there were always two sides to a question – or that nothing is black and white. To have been subjected to these attitudes from childhood on up, and then to hear Ayn Rand take a firm position and defend it with conviction – this was cause for cheering. The audience response was not only to the content of her ideas, but to the manner of expressing them. She was medicine for the soul.

Mary Ann: All those adults who taught us never to get angry, or if we did, not to express it, to hide our emotions when we were offended or felt we were being treated unjustly, to remain calm, to maintain an even keel, for God’s sake don’t blow up, no matter what – these people didn’t do us any favours by urging us to suppress, to live like glazed, non-reacting creatures.

Charles: When she got angry, it was precisely because she was a thinker and an evaluator who was certain of her convictions. She judged something as right or wrong, good or evil—and she responded accordingly. She didn’t simmer and stew; she came to an immediate boil. Her thinking was not hampered and slowed down by chronic doubt, and her emotions were not suppressed or muted by it either. Moreover, her emotions never distorted or clouded her thinking. And the anger didn’t last. It was over almost as soon as it began.

Mary Ann: I miss knowing that there is someone in the world who always speaks out, unequivocally, against irrationality and injustice, and who not only denounces evil but defends the good. She was mankind’s intellectual guardian, a soldier in the battle of ideas. Her banner was always flying high. When she died, someone made the following comment: now anger has gone out of the world. And I thought, it’s true. And it’s the world’s loss. And mine.

__________________________________

Ponder all of the above, I say, and, when next incandescent at the unspeakable deeds of terrorist maggots, at the spewings of their apologists and appeasers, at the amplified jungle cacophony of musical terrorists such as rap "artists," at the sneering nihilism of the latest postmodern "painting," etc., qua Objectivist and qua decent human being, salute yourself for feeling that way—and for the thinking that led you to!

I quoted the anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass. Another such was William Lloyd Garrison, who, like Ayn Rand, upset everyone on all sides of the divide. He was a radical abolitionist, demanding the immediate repeal of slavery, unlike the gradualists of his time, but not advocating the shipping of freed slaves back to Africa, unlike some other abolitionists. For 35 years he fulminated fulsomely in his weekly newspaper, The Liberator. He stopped only after the signing of the 13th amendment abolishing slavery. In his first issue, he wrote about it:

On this subject I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest; I will not equivocate; I will not retreat a single inch; and I will be heard.

He was heard, all right! So ardently did he attack the defenders of slavery that he was jailed once for libel, almost lynched twice and had a bounty on his head of $5000 from the legislature of Georgia who wanted to try him for sedition. The Liberator was outlawed in many states, with jail for anyone subscribing.

Samuel May, a friend and fellow-abolitionist, once entreated him to be more temperate. "O, my friend, do try to moderate your indignations, and keep more cool; why, you are all on fire." Looking him straight in the eye, Garrison replied: "Brother May, I have need to be all on fire, for I have mountains of ice about me to melt."

Ladies and gentlemen, Ayn Rand took on a battle much bigger even than the battle against slavery—the battle, as she put it, against the cultural tradition of 2,500 years, the battle against man’s enslavement to unreason in all its forms. How much more on fire did she have to be, and those who carry the torch in her wake—and how squalid and small to fault her and them for it, just because, occasionally, the anger was misdirected or inappropriate?!

The true agenda and import of Barbara Branden’s campaign against “Objectivist rage” is perfectly captured in William Watson’s "The Woman with the Serpent’s Tongue":

She is not old, she is not young,
The Woman with the Serpent's Tongue.
The haggard cheek, the hungering eye,
The poisoned words that wildly fly,
The famished face, the fevered hand,
Who slights the worthiest in the land,
Sneers at the just, contemns the brave,
And blackens goodness in its grave …

Thanks to the valiant Valliant, we now have the antidote to the serpent’s venom.

I salute him.

And to Objectivists everywhere I say, “We have mountains of ice to melt, an ocean to conquer. Stay on fire! Maintain the rage!”


I review 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand

Neil Parille's picture

Clown Prince Valliant

Neil Parille's picture

Valliant claimed that Durban House was "liberal," on SOLOPASSION in 2009, but in 2002 "Durban House" published a Peikovian review of Kelley's Truth and Toleration on Amazon.com. In 2007 "Durban House" posted a positive comment about PARC on Amazon.

So Durban House was Objectivist in 2002 and 2007, but when PARC was submitted to Durban house after 2002 and before 2005 (when it was published), Durban House was "liberal."

Please explain Mr. Valliant.

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What a Farce

Submitted by James S. Valliant on Wed, 2009-05-20 21:00.

And, in that discussion, I am told it has become important for me to say, here and in public (one more time), that my book was not "self-published" or "vanity" published in any way, shape or form. I state as a matter of record that I signed a standard "two book" deal with Durban House, with a standard royalty agreement, and that I paid nothing to have it published -- nor would I have. It was Durban who shelled out even what PR moneys were spent on the book -- not me. I went with Durban House precisely because it was liberal publishing house that believed in my work. They were careful editors, as well, demanding substantial verification for each of my claims.

(P.S. It'll be curious to see how Wikipedia handles critics -- and honesty.)

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1.0 out of 5 stars Wide Open Mind, July 21, 2002
By Durban House Publishing (Dallas, TX) - See all my reviews

This review is from: The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand (Paperback)

Kelley endorses a concept of "tolerance" that includes the "toleration" of the comprehensive dishonesty of Nathaniel and Barbara Branden. A "Big-L" Libertarian is almost by definition one who uncritically embraces the Brandens or Rothbard in their dishonest slams on Ayn Rand, just as Kelley has now embraced the Brandens.

Politically, the valid concept is "rights." Morally, the concept of "tolerance" is meaningless. Debating, discussing or working with someone depends on having an honest colleague or rival to do it with, whatever you agree or disagree about. Nothing positive can come from cooperating with the dishonest. "Tolerating" the dishonest, in any non-political sense, means endorsing it -- voluntarily giving it the very credibility it does not deserve. Would Kelley debate flat-earth advocates or those who deny the Holocaust, if he found in a particular case, he wasn't totally sure whether the advocate was evading or not...?

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Initial post: Feb 11, 2007 12:30:10 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 11, 2007 12:33:23 PM PST

Durban House Publishing says:

The demonstrations in Mr. Valliant's book should be read for themselves, but to attack his book for exhibiting a "cult mentality" is beyond the pale.

Valliant discusses the very "human" aspects of Ayn Rand, including her errors. He does not attempt to portray her as being "perfect" or any kind of "Goddess."

Indeed, the irony of this absurd attack is that Valliant demonstrates the terrible mistake both of the Brandens made in treating Rand as a "Goddess," for it was the Brandens who committed this grievous blunder themselves, just as they now attempt to justify their vile conduct towards Rand by smearing her character. Both the worship and the smears, as Mr. Valliant demonstrates, are two sides of the same wooden nickel - the failure to objectively identify both Rand's flaws and remarkable virtues.

Unfortunately, none of the "reviews" mentioned by this reviewer address any of the substance of this revolutionary work.

Brings Back Memories

Neil Parille's picture

Linz,

Thanks for reposting.

The PARC Wars were fun days indeed. I was reading some of the old threads just a few days ago.

I was surprised at how smug Valliant was. Didn't that clown realize that someday someone would open up The Passion of Ayn Rand and Judgment Day and compare what he claims theBrandens wrote and what they really wrote?

No book has ever been so thoroughly discredited as The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics and I'm proud of my role in that.

-Neil Parille

Excuse me?

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You certainly advocate anger at the person and not the act, character assassinations and the improper supplement that ought to accompany it - not to mention long-lingering bitter grudges.

I do? News to me dear. A citation would be useful.

Frankly, my dear, this amounts to bearing false witness. I have never advocated any of these things.

I'm afraid it's you who have missed the point. I'd suggest re-reading In Praise of Objectivist Rage.

Linz

Rosie's picture

You advocate for an indescribably vicious and bloodthirsty and vengeful goblin who threatens most of his human creations with physical pain for ever for doing something he always knew they would do when he created them (a point you *still* haven't answered)

I have so provided one possible explanation that I think fits the nature of God - and several times I have expressed this idea for an answer. That I can not say whether it is THE answer is because I do not know. How could I know for sure? I am not God. But did you read those excellent 19th century links I provided? They dealt with all those issues you raised - and way more in fact - most satisfactorily.

No one is arguing for "out-of-control" anger or irrational grudges.

There is more to anger than that.

You certainly advocate anger at the person and not the act, character assassinations and the improper supplement that ought to accompany it - not to mention long-lingering bitter grudges.

Linz

Rosie's picture

and you expect me to give a shit that my approach to anger is not turn-the-other-cheek and exposes the hypocrisy of Jesus's alleged pronouncements on the subject

You have completely missed the point. That is not what I am saying at all. Nor was Jesus. Dummy.

Oh for Gobby's sake, Rosie

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Linz: "though he [Jesus] too appeared to exempt himself!" That exclamation mark annoys me immensely. However I recognise it is just from pure ignorance and am trying to get over it. I hope you can imagine how bad it is for me to see God mocked like this and when the person is soooo wrong and, worse, is spreading his wrongness far and wide. It actually gives me physical pain.

Why don't you tell someone who cares?! You advocate for an indescribably vicious and bloodthirsty and vengeful goblin who threatens most of his human creations with physical pain for ever for doing something he always knew they would do when he created them (a point you *still* haven't answered) and you expect me to give a shit that my approach to anger is not turn-the-other-cheek and exposes the hypocrisy of Jesus's alleged pronouncements on the subject and causes you momentary pain? Get the hell over it!

You are an apologist for a barbaric superstition indistinguishable from Islamogoblinism in any essential manner, even though it's existentially distinguishable for now on account of the civilising influence of reason and secularism. As a defender of such a mega-monster you have no right to pose as an advocate of "compassion," "controlled" anger or any of the rest of your sickly Goblian garbage.

Damning you for promoting something so evil is a legitimate, and validly angry, moral judgment. You should be used to it by now. And you should have repudiated your retarded superstition by now.

No one is arguing for "out-of-control" anger or irrational grudges. Only your Gobby goes in for that stuff. Straw men, Rosie. Brandroid ones. How dismayingly predictable and dull.

A Brief Sermon about Anger

Rosie's picture

A brief sermon about anger for your information/interest/aid.

I hope, now, the lesson is complete. Smiling

About Jesus' anger in the Bible

Rosie's picture

Just to make the most important point well and truly about Jesus' anger in the Bible:

1) His anger had the proper motivation. In other words, He was angry for the right reasons. Jesus’ anger did not arise from petty arguments or personal slights against Him. There was no selfishness involved.

2) His anger had the proper focus. He was not angry at God or at the “weaknesses” of others. His anger targeted sinful behavior and true injustice.

3) His anger had the proper supplement. Mark 3:5 says that His anger was attended by grief over the Pharisees’ lack of faith. Jesus’ anger stemmed from love for the Pharisees and concern for their spiritual condition. It had nothing to do with hatred or ill will.

4) His anger had the proper control. Jesus was never out of control, even in His wrath. The temple leaders did not like His cleansing of the temple (Luke 19:47), but He had done nothing sinful. He controlled His emotions; His emotions did not control Him.

5) His anger had the proper duration. He did not allow His anger to turn into bitterness; He did not hold grudges. He dealt with each situation properly, and He handled anger in good time.

6) His anger had the proper result. Jesus’ anger had the inevitable consequence of godly action. Jesus’ anger, as with all His emotions, was held in check by the Word of God; thus, Jesus’ response was always to accomplish God’s will.

Linz: "though he [Jesus] too appeared to exempt himself!" That exclamation mark annoys me immensely. However I recognise it is just from pure ignorance and am trying to get over it. I hope you can imagine how bad it is for me to see God mocked like this and when the person is soooo wrong and, worse, is spreading his wrongness far and wide. It actually gives me physical pain. A knife wound to the heart is how it feels. Sad

Gorgeous photo

Rosie's picture

Gorgeous photo of two very naughty, cheeky-looking boys btw!

"Mamma" Rosa

Anger

Rosie's picture

Jesus himself said, “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. … anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell,” though he too appeared to exempt himself!

Of course I am going to have to address this part of your speech also. Your speech clearly indicates that you are unaware of what the Bible actually says about anger. And your last phrase, likening Jesus to Barbara Branden God help me, reinforces this conclusion. You may not believe in God but the Bible has all the profundity of the greatest philosophers (and more) and to misquote from it, or misuse it, is, to me, one of my few Great Wrongs of Principle.

1. Anger is not always sin. There is a type of anger of which the Bible approves, “righteous indignation.” God is angry (Psalm 7:11; Mark 3:5), and believers are commanded to be angry (Ephesians 4:26). Two Greek words are used in the New Testament for our English word “anger.” One means “passion, energy” and the other means “agitated, boiling.” Biblically, anger is God-given energy intended to help us solve problems. Examples of biblical anger include Paul’s confronting Peter because of his wrong example in Galatians 2:11-14, David’s being upset over hearing Nathan the prophet sharing an injustice (2 Samuel 12), and Jesus’ anger over how some of the Jews had defiled worship at God’s temple in Jerusalem (John 2:13-18). Notice that none of these examples of anger involved self-defense, but a defense of others or of a principle.

2. Anger turns to sin when it is (a) selfishly motivated (James 1:20), (b) when God’s goal is distorted (1 Corinthians 10:31), or (c) when anger is allowed to linger (Ephesians 4:26-27).
Instead of using the energy generated by anger to attack the problem at hand, it is the person who is attacked. Ephesians 4:15-19 says we are to speak the truth in love and use our words to build others up, not allow rotten or destructive words to pour from our lips. Unfortunately, this poisonous speech is a common characteristic of man (Romans 3:13-14). Anger becomes sin when it is allowed to boil over without restraint, resulting in a scenario in which hurt is multiplied (Proverbs 29:11), leaving devastation in its wake, often with irreparable consequences. Anger also becomes sin when the angry one refuses to be pacified, holds a grudge, or keeps it all inside (Ephesians 4:26-27). This can cause depression and irritability over little things, often things unrelated to the underlying problem.

3. The Bible also concerns itself with how to deal with anger but I leave this out; the purpose of this post being merely to instruct you on the Bible and anger thus pointing out the error on this subject from your speech. So looking at the quote from your speech in detail:

4. 1The verse you quoted in your speech is from Matthew 5:22. I would like you to know what is actually being said here as opposed to the interpretation you have provided/implied. He is talking about the steps that lead to murder - the sixth commandment being thou shalt not murder. (People can sometimes get infantile, sentimental feelings about Christ and fail to understand the practical realities of what He taught.)

4.2 A cursory reading of Matthew 5:21-22 shows that He is speaking not so much about murder but of the steps that lead to it. He traces the roots of murder and war to three major sources: 1) anger, 2) hatred, and 3) the spirit of competition and aggression—in short, the self-centeredness of passionate carnality.

4.3 "Angry without a cause" indicates someone vainly or uselessly incensed. It describes a person so proud, sensitive, or insecure that he gets angry about trifling things. He wears his feelings on his sleeve and is easily offended. He then broods on the offense and nurses it into a grudge.

What may make Jesus' comments even more startling is that many commentators feel that the best Greek manuscripts do not include "without a cause." If this is so, Jesus is saying that even getting angry—with or without a "justifiable" cause—puts one in danger of breaking this commandment! I.e., The Bible permits anger against sin (righteous indignation) but not anger against another person.

4.4 Raca literally means "vain fellow," someone who is deemed shallow, empty-headed, brainless, stupid. People said raca in a tone of voice that conveyed scorn, contempt, or bitterness born of pride, snobbery, and prejudice.

"You fool" implies a moral fool. One using it was casting aspersions upon another's character to destroy his reputation. It is an expression of condemnation, of character assassination.

4.5 We should not take the increasing severity of punishment in the examples Jesus gave literally. He is teaching about the sin of murder, and the punishment is the same in each example—death. He gives the gradations to teach the degree of wickedness and viciousness of each sin.

4.6 William Barclay, in his commentary on these verses, writes:

What Jesus is saying here is this: "In the old days men condemned murder; and truly murder is forever wrong. But I tell you that not only are a man's outward actions under judgment; his inmost thoughts are also under the scrutiny and the judgment of God. Long-lasting anger is bad; contemptuous speaking is worse, and the careless or malicious talk which destroys a man's good name is worst of all." The man who is the slave of anger, the man who speaks in the accent of contempt, the man who destroys another's good name, may never have committed a murder in action, but he is a murderer at heart.

4.7 Brooding anger, contempt, and character assassination are all the spirit of murder. Christ here traces murder to several of its major sources. To continue in any of these states breaks the sixth commandment. Death is the penalty.

5. Christians have to keep the spirit of the law. Governments deal with the end result of breaking the law; Christianity (or the New Testament) concerns itself with developing and instructing on the character of man so that the law is not broken.

"“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”"
— Aristotle

Linz

Rosie's picture

she [Ayn Rand] could not be said to be living by her philosophy. That is precisely what the Brandens do say about Ayn Rand. My contention is that they’re wrong, and that they’re not wrong innocently—under the guise of repudiating irrational anger, the Brandens, Barbara in particular, are really campaigning against rational anger, against the very possibility of such a thing, against anger as such, period. Why? Because the Brandens, in their own anger against Ayn Rand, do not wish Objectivism to succeed, all their protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, and wish it to declare the unilateral moral and emotional disarmament to which the repudiation of anger would be tantamount.

I do not understand what you mean by the last phrase of the last sentence.
and wish it to declare the unilateral moral and emotional disarmament to which the repudiation of anger would be tantamount.

Can you please explain what this means? It is a big accusation to say the Brandens do not want Objectivism to succeed and I want to know why you think this but do not understand what that last phrase actually says.

Great Speech Lindsay

gregster's picture

I recommend giving it a listen.

Mountains of ice to melt

HWH's picture

Beck takes on schmaltzy Blumenthal for being a traitor to the law, that which he is properly charged with protecting.

Bravo Beck for your justifiable anger.

Had the media not been complicit to the agenda of envy, every "middle of the road" scumbag would and should have been taken to task like this, or even tarred and feathered for the kind of high treason in which the chief of justice perverts the law towards his own political ends.

Now impolite bastards like Beck are the only ones passionately defending the values that spawned the ephemeral virtue of politeness and civilization, this while those professing to be Objectivists are rushing at opportunities to clamber up the rectums of those promoting fanciful amentias such as libertarian Islam, or traducing Rand because of her "excessive anger".

If all Mormons were like you Beck, I wish the world were full of them rather than the smarmy double dealers on that "other place"

dianahsieh on Thu,

Orson's picture

dianahsieh on Thu, 2006-08-10 13:52 -
Chris said: "It seems that the best examples people manage to come up with that are publicly verifiable, are Rand's way of responding in Q&A periods. If a question is loaded with a bad premise, she would get quite angry and some in attendance would be left with the impression that the anger was directed at the questioner, and that she was passing moral judgment about the person's entire character right on the spot. I don't know if this is what BB had in mind, but here, the explanation is usually that Rand is throwing out quick and righteous anger at bad premises, not necessarily the people who hold them. I could see how some people could take Rand's responses the wrong way, but I don't see them as directed at the person posing the question."

Regarding "...here, the explanation is usually that Rand is throwing out quick and righteous anger at bad premises, not necessarily the people who hold them." Or, Rand was simply inculcated with and rewarded by bad educational form. It hardly serves the purpose of building wider understanding to first alienate and rebuke. So, where did this habit come from? NBI appearances. Couldn't the usual rationaization - rebuking "bad or insulting premises" - simply be a rationalization? Not the full and simpler story?

{Diana says] Chris, I've listened to hours of Ayn Rand's Q&As, including all from the Ford Hall Forum lectures and LP's Philosophy of Objectivism course. I can recall just one instance in which she responded with anger to a question, but even then she thought the questioner was set up by a dishonest professor or somesuch. And after that flash of anger, she proceeded to answer the question in detail.

In all other cases, she answered questions with enormous patience and diligence....

I concur with Diana AND Chris above. Like Diana, I've listened to hours of ARs Q & A, and Ford Hall Forums, But was it only once that Ayn was out of line?

Was Linz, in his talk really doing more justice defending Rand's form from BB really more than picking nits?

I'm unconvinced for a few simple, practical reasons. First, I never worked with Rand day to day or week to week. I doubt that Valliant & Linz's estimate, nor BB's most recent account - makes any sense, when one is asked to believe these folks spent most of 18 years associating and socializing together. I mean, could they have been that dense? I think not.

The character flaws and emotional pressures the Branden's claim or admit to (or don't fully confess to) could well have been exacerbated by time, conflict, and intimacy.

We are placed in a position where particulars are less available to us to k"know" independently than dysfunctional patterns of human interaction. Does anyone doubt that there were problems between these people? I don't; if not, then why The Break? Do you believe that these problems weren't characterological and personal?

All independent judgment rests on what the patterns were, and what they mean to you. I discount the details, because memories falter and filter, as do later contexts for interpreting journal entries.

Moral Judgment Has Two Directions

Jeff Perren's picture

In all of Michael Moeller's superlative posts -- brilliant and succinct -- nor in any other post is there mention of a crucial missing point. (Although Linz glancingly touches on it):

Moral judgment is NOT just negative. Praise is ALSO (the result of) a moral judgment. If we can not - except in the most obvious cases - form a valid moral judgment that is negative, then neither do we have any justification for forming positive moral judgments either.

It's an open question how much of the moral skepticism (only just) implicit in this viewpoint has that as its purpose.

"Enshrine mediocrity and all shrines are razed."

Why then should we be delighted not just at the Millau Viaduct, but admiring of its creator, Lord Foster? On what basis can we be thrilled not just at the sight of the Concorde in flight, but in awe of its designers? Why praise genius at all?

After all, if (contra the facts) such men and women were merely intelligent robots -- or simply too complex to understand without long, intense study and/or intimate knowledge -- we might appreciate the products but we would hardly be moved to want to kiss the hands of the creators and to thank them with every fiber of our beings for the qualities of character they possessed that led to the inventions.

eh

Landon Erp's picture

I don't have the stomach to go there either so I can't blame them.

---Landon

Inking is sexy.

http://www.angelfire.com/comics/wickedlakes

Do Tell James

Mick's picture

Linz: "James, I refuse to go there, so why don't you post some of the more delectable tidbits here? "

James: "I haven't the stomach, I'm afraid."

Come on James, do tell. You've made your opening statement, how about backing it up with some evidence.

Yuk!

James S. Valliant's picture

I haven't the stomach, I'm afraid.

Hahaha!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I'm sure it's hilarious. Wot's set them off this time? My non-existent banning of Kenny? James, I refuse to go there, so why don't you post some of the more delectable tidbits here? Smiling

I've Found The Irrational "Rage"!

James S. Valliant's picture

Having just taken another look at ObjectivistLiving, what strikes one most is the considerable rage being vented at their "enemies." The bile is just spilling over at Linz, me, you name it -- with gushing abandon -- even a whole essay on Casey (who does not even consider himself to be an "Objectivist"!) -- name-calling as "angry" as anything they complain about in Linz, only less creative -- the need to question the motives and biases of anyone who would dare to question the biases or motives of the Brandens as biographers (of an old foe) -- a relentless psychologizing never seen here at SOLO -- and all from those attempting to take the high ground on the issue of "rage."

Nice, Craig! :-)

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Thanks for the laugh.

Yeah, I too was baffled by "negro, please."

But then I'm baffled by irony-mongering, emotionless pomowankers, period. Smiling

Linz vs. MTV Objectivism

Craig Ceely's picture

I don't know, Linz. You can call this guy KASSless all you like, but that doesn't make it so. In fact, he's really pretty cool -- and he sure shows it, too. He really should style himself "Rico Duarte," get himself an Objectivish talk show on MTV, and continue chillin'.

Why, he has the courage to title one of his comments "Pimpin'," without even saying why. You have to give him that. I don't know what it means in context, either, but it must mean something really cool, since he also refers to David Kelley as a "righteous dude," and he likes to refer to certain incidents as "what went down." He also told us how to use "candy-assed," the way they use it "in the streets." He bad. And he knew people who worked at Cato who told him stories about ARI! Now, Cato is not an Objectivist organization, but that just makes their stories all the more reliable and, er, objective, right? I bet they were righteous dudes, too. They probably had "flava."

So, Linz, Rico Duarte is the bomb. He may not be right to represent ARI, but he's a fine candidate for MTV: "Objectivism, Dude!"

Besides, if you're nice enough he might stick around long enough to tell us what the fuck he meant by "negro, please."

Those who do not despise the

Thomas Lee's picture

Those who do not despise the Brandens--and those who embrace them--cannot in justice claim any admiration for Ayn Rand.

Call it the Fallacy of the Stolen Value

Observe that the sort of

Thomas Lee's picture

Observe that the sort of people you are referring to do no simply object to "Objectivist rage." They also cringe at any display of heroworship. This is why anyone who admires Ayn Rand passionately is accused of idolatry. And this is as it must be: repression is a two-way street. If you do not feel virulent anger at that which you regard as evil, then you cannot feel deep admiration and awe toward that which you regard as good. There is a further, volitional element here as well. Those who do not despise the Brandens--and those who embrace them--cannot in justice claim any admiration for Ayn Rand.

Spot on, Diana!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I'd say that anti-emotion rationalism is a central cause of DK's split with ARI.

Absolutely. It's why the KASSless ones are KASSless, boring drones. It's why KASSless' Joe Duarte could write:

I listened to Lindsay Perigo's speech a few weeks ago. It is most certainly the case that vast swaths of people would tune out after the first minute - it definitely takes a certain personality to embrace that sense of always-on melodrama and fury. This same kind of bombast was apparent in Lindsay's haughty balls post - again, I remind you that most people don't roll that way.

Melodrama? No doubt the emotional lobotomees at KASSless would hear it that way. Truth is, the style matched the content, & came perfectly naturally. There was no "melodrama" about it. I know, 'cos I was there inside me! The KASSless would prefer a postmodern, droll monotone, no doubt, but such "anti-emotion rationalism" is their problem. It's the reason they'll never set the world on fire. They're not on fire themselves. Being on fire is alien & incomprehensible to them. "Breathes there the man with soul so dead?" Yup. At KASSless.

Linz

In that case...

DianaHsieh's picture

Chris, in that case, I don't think your comment -- "If a question is loaded with a bad premise, she would get quite angry and some in attendance would be left with the impression that the anger was directed at the questioner, and that she was passing moral judgment about the person's entire character right on the spot" -- fits the facts at all. She became angry (and I do only recall once) because she regarded the question as dishonest, not merely based upon some false premise. Plenty of other times she dissected a question with a seriously false premise (e.g. Platonism) without a hint of anger or even annoyance.

In any case, Objectivism does not advocate "hate the sin but love the sinner," as I worry your comments suggest. If someone has indeed sinned (i.e. evaded rather than honestly erring) then that does reflect upon his character.

My general view is that many people -- particularly mind-body split rationalists -- regard expressions of emotion in the realm of ideas as inappropriate, unnecessary, irrational, non-objective -- and scary. Facts are divorced from values for such people -- and values are suppressed. That's why some people regard Ayn Rand as a raving emotionalist; their problem is not any failure to distinguish between judging ideas and judging persons. If the problem were the latter, it could be cleared up in an instant. Instead, it persists whatever facts or arguments might be offered. In fact, I'd say that anti-emotion rationalism is a central cause of DK's split with ARI.

-- Diana Hsieh
diana@dianahsieh.com
NoodleFood

Diana

Chris Cathcart's picture

In very brief, I'm going based on my own observations/listening to when she appeared in Q&A, such as on Donahue (which I'm not referring to) and the '76 Objectivism course (where I do remember her getting pretty angry a time or two).
Chris

Questions

DianaHsieh's picture

Chris said: "It seems that the best examples people manage to come up with that are publicly verifiable, are Rand's way of responding in Q&A periods. If a question is loaded with a bad premise, she would get quite angry and some in attendance would be left with the impression that the anger was directed at the questioner, and that she was passing moral judgment about the person's entire character right on the spot. I don't know if this is what BB had in mind, but here, the explanation is usually that Rand is throwing out quick and righteous anger at bad premises, not necessarily the people who hold them. I could see how some people could take Rand's responses the wrong way, but I don't see them as directed at the person posing the question."

Chris, I've listened to hours of Ayn Rand's Q&As, including all from the Ford Hall Forum lectures and LP's Philosophy of Objectivism course. I can recall just one instance in which she responded with anger to a question, but even then she thought the questioner was set up by a dishonest professor or somesuch. And after that flash of anger, she proceeded to answer the question in detail.

In all other cases, she answered questions with enormous patience and diligence -- more than Dr. Peikoff, I might add.

So Chris, are you just taking Barbara Branden's word that AR often reacted with anger in Q&As? Or are you familiar with some sources that I'm not?

In general, Barbara Branden is not to be trusted on such matters: her seriously distorted recounting of the confict with the woman in the Phil Donahue interview in _Passion_ discredits anything she might say about Ayn Rand's Q&A sessions for which recordings are not available for sale.

-- Diana Hsieh
diana@dianahsieh.com
NoodleFood

concretizing on Rand's "quickness to judgment"

Chris Cathcart's picture

It seems that the best examples people manage to come up with that are publicly verifiable, are Rand's way of responding in Q&A periods. If a question is loaded with a bad premise, she would get quite angry and some in attendance would be left with the impression that the anger was directed at the questioner, and that she was passing moral judgment about the person's entire character right on the spot. I don't know if this is what BB had in mind, but here, the explanation is usually that Rand is throwing out quick and righteous anger at bad premises, not necessarily the people who hold them. I could see how some people could take Rand's responses the wrong way, but I don't see them as directed at the person posing the question.

One part I have issue with in BB's speech is the way she concretizes her general points. In the abstract they sound good, but I don't know, for instance, how she means to apply that in concrete to her claim that Rand was quick to pronounce judgment. I mean, she doesn't ignore the need to provide concrete examples, but I'm not clear that her choice of concretes is all too helpful. The general points about maintaining responsibility and respecting context in announcing judgment, about the psychological tendencies of people involved in group-think, that sort of thing -- they look good, though, as I pointed out elsewhere, not exactly original.

Some first observations

Chris Cathcart's picture

I didn't catch the quote the first time that Fred brings up, about BB's saying that she can't speak with certainty on whether she's evaded something at times. Ugh, as in ugly. Whatever "legit" point she might have been trying to convey is totally lost.

As to ideas as "good" or "evil," I think we can make mental distinctions without sundering the real fact-value relation: we identify an idea as true or false, and a false idea when acted upon and implemented will have evil real-world consequences. Ideas proper are true or false, and you have people who have the will to act on them or not. Ideas themselves do not have the power to will themselves into implementation, so it can be imprecise to say that an idea is evil. People or actions can be evil, and we can speak of an idea as -- to use an example from Ayn Rand's own usage -- a "vicious notion," with understanding that this is a means of saying that the idea if really taken seriously and acted upon leads to evil consequences.

Jim

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

Linz,

You are right, of course. You are entitled to be angry with Barbara (as I am) and you are entitled to be angry with Chris as is Diana. I simply never would have spoken to the man again, but there are methods I don't use and that is one of them. I think that is probably the naivete of not having been fundamentally betrayed by anyone in my 35 years of existence and probably the price I would pay the first time it happened. That's neither here nor there to you or to Diana, so I apologize for what may rightly be considered a presumption.

Jim

Jim

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I still have a difficult time with the realization that Barbara's biography was not only an uncharitable characterization, but that much of it simply isn't true.

Well, you know from PARC that that's so. Is one not entitled to be angry with her? With oneself, for believing her uncritically? Is the ulterior motive in this campaign against anger not transparent? Yet when one of her clandestine defenders attacks others behind their backs with lies, & is outed for doing so, it's the *outing* that leaves a bad taste in your mouth, not that which was outed? Can't you see Jim, that that's typically inverted Brandroid "morality"?

Linz, continuation of discussion

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

Linz,

First of all, I would like to say that the thing that I appreciated very much in Barbara's speech was the emphasis of the concept of a worthy opponent. I think that Objectivism would benefit very much from a notion of respectful discourse as the norm. It's what I'm used to at work and other facets of my life, so why not Objectivism? I get great value from interacting with most Objectivists, but it's distracting to have words like evasion, lying or immoral thrown around as a commonplace occurence.

By temperament I'm slow to anger. I view anger as an emotion that can be good or bad depending on the circumstances, but not to be summoned lightly. The sticking point for me in Barbara's speech was not the emphasis on anger, but the overgeneralization to the degree that she still thinks the Objectivist movement has some sort of disease. That annoys me because it will broadcast to young Objectivists that it is healthy to have a visceral disgust or contempt of anger. It will broadcast that the proper response in the face of anger is to consider the person as someone in need of treatment. This is a psychological evaluation that she's not qualified to make. That was the particularly galling thing to me about her biography was that she was playing doctor doing a psychological autopsy on Ayn Rand.

During the speech Barbara mentioned that unjust moralizing was the biggest problem in the Objectivist movement. I don't think that's true. I think the biggest problems are psychologizing and misuse of sanction. Psychologizing is dangerous because it is very difficult to have the kind of intimate knowledge of someone necessary to draw a proper conclusion. Misuse of sanction is dangerous because it cuts us off from further information we might gain about a person that might materially affect our judgment of them.

Regarding your speech, I regard my differences with it as a matter of temperament rather than substance. It is difficult for me to think properly when I'm angry. I don't take anger lightly and I find I don't relate well with people whose fuse is often lit. I suspect I'm not alone in this regard. I still have a difficult time with the realization that Barbara's biography was not only an uncharitable characterization, but that much of it simply isn't true.

Jim

Barbara wrote

eg's picture

Barbara wrote about imagining a 12-year old Arab boy growing up in rural Saudi Arabia ...

I can imagine it, but what I'd be imagining would be fiction. That's the problem.

Barbara is a literary person, primarily it seems, and she spins tales.

She talks about "Objectivist rage," but she's really talking about people who refuse to carry their ideals around in their back pocket lest they offend hoi polloi, but live and breath those and fight for them. She's talking about Linz and his stance on pedophilia regarding one person, untoward if not out and out false charges of alcoholism, and how he refuses to water down Objectivism by adding ten parts of "Can't we all get along" to one part of (unrecognizable) Objectivism. He might be wrong about something or another regarding the philosophy, so might the rest of us, but that's not the issue.

There is a problem of cultism in Objectivism; it seems to be less of one than it used to be. She herself has a clique, I don't think it'll ever reach cult status. In fact, I'm afraid it is evaporating.

Barbara's efforts to describe, understand and prescribe a cure for "Objectivist rage" go back at least until late last year. I wish she had come up with a better address than this unreal conglomeration of this and that.

--Brant

Thanks Boaz...

Michael Moeller's picture

I could use the crayons. I'm trying to save up my nickels for that psychotherapy Barabara insists those who disagree with her half-baked hash re moral judgment need.

Although, Boaz, you might need to save up too, I don't know. I can offer another suggestion. Just like on Yahoo IM, this site could incorporate a sketch pad replete with different colored pencils and neat background designs. We could all gather around while Phil schools us (via the Socratic method, of course) on finer points of "Wolfpackisms". Perhaps he could hand out stickers to the best students.

Myself? I doubt I will be able to get beyond #5 on the list of Wolfpackisms (and I'm not even certain of that). In light of Barabara's speech, I've already begun conditioning myself with chronic doubt--but such is the price to be paid for enlightened moral non-judgment.

Michael

Linz

Michael Moeller's picture

Linz, you write:

It's clear you're angry. Therefore everything you say can be discounted ... you Objectivist rager!

Linz, you don't know the half of it, at least according to Barbara. Apparently I also leave victims strewn in my path, I'm incapable of empathy, I'm a bully, I seek comfort in group dynamics, and a true believer wedded to dogma. Just listen to Barbara, she seems certain of it.

Oh no wait, didn't she also say we should pay attention to the psychological "complexities" of others as we cannot be certain about the what goes on in their head? Damn I'm confused. Maybe she means we should be uncertain about the psychological complexities of certainty and therefore should only be morally certain in our judgments about those who claim to be certain. Hmmm. At least we have Phil here to untangle these riddles for us. In the meantime, we can all ponder her stunning new insight that some Objectivists are true believers--thank god for that.

Excellent points on the certainty issue, Linz. This was particularly choice:

There is much we can be certain of, and it is heroic, not neurotic or psychopathic, to insist on its truth even though others be denying it & jeering one for uttering it. Ms. Branden's universe would be conspicuously devoid of such heroes; it would, rather, be populated by quivering milksops intoning passionlessly, "Well, you know, it's very difficult to be certain of anything."

Regards,
Michael

Mr. Moeller ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

It's clear you're angry. Therefore everything you say can be discounted ... you Objectivist rager! Smiling Actually, your posts have been magnificent.

I've just read the thing myself. I was gratified to find I'd already pretty much rebutted it without knowing its content in detail, in my speech whose audio is attached to this thread (text now added). Barbara's nostrums are indeed a prescription for paralysis, for moral & emotional disarmament. One would be so fearful of ever pronouncing judgement one would never do it. Under the guise of resisting moralistic excess, she seeks to subvert the very process & policy of rationally, passionately valuing—as she elevates uncertainty to a high-level virtue.

The dearth of examples is noteworthy. Many times one wants to put one's hand up and say, "Excuse me, Ms. Branden, but about whom are you talking, exactly?"

But what summed it all up for me was the following contradiction:

Ms. Branden warns of the perils of belonging to a group (like SOLO, presumably, whose founder is a well-known bully & psychopath incapable of empathy, of the kind Ms. Branden warns about). She tells of the experiment in which all participants bar one were primed to give wrong answers to questions whose answers were blindingly obvious. The one not primed gave the right answers at first notwithstanding the inexplicable failure of his peers to do the same; finally he succumbed & started giving wrong answers himself, even though he knew they were wrong, just to avoid being out of step. Fair enough. Point well made. But then Ms. Branden says this:

"My own understanding of maturity is that it requires the ability to live with uncertainty. Because no matter how much we know, how much we learn, we always are faced with many uncertainties—uncertainties about ourselves, about other people, about the world. No one can once and for all tie reality into one pretty parcel for us and tell us we need never doubt or wonder again. If we cannot accept this fact, and live comfortably with it, we are in very deep trouble indeed. ..."

Now it's true that one shouldn't profess certainty when one doesn't have it, and one should be challenged rather than bothered by the difficulty of achieving it on occasion (or let the matter go with equanimity if it's not important). But why put such an emphasis on that, making it in effect the very hallmark of maturity? In the example of group intimidation she gives, one would be yearning for the unprimed person to stick to his guns and insist that 2 + 2 = 4, even while all the others were answering "five." Had the unprimed person attended Ms. Branden's lecture just prior to the experiment, I venture to suggest he would have capitulated even earlier than he did! There is much we can be certain of, and it is heroic, not neurotic or psychopathic, to insist on its truth even though others be denying it & jeering one for uttering it. Ms. Branden's universe would be conspicuously devoid of such heroes; it would, rather, be populated by quivering milksops intoning passionlessly, "Well, you know, it's very difficult to be certain of anything."

To the moral agnosticism, moral equivalence and downright amoral nihilism of our age Ms. Branden's carping strictures against a rush to judgement (of which no real-life examples are given) are no antidote; they amount to a slow, excruciating crawl to no judgement. She wishes to dilute the antidote to such an extent that it boosts the disease.

Linz

" We need to appreciate the

JoeM's picture

" We need to appreciate the "context" of another person's knowledge and realize that their psychology is "complex". We need to acknowledge that often we cannot say with certainty whether somebody has evaded. And on and on."

Heh, Barbara has obviously never worked with a co-worker or boss hell-bent on ruining it for others. The above is exactly the kind of thing one hears in the workplace where such people don't get fired, but instead, everyone is supposed to be "understanding" and work together. The same workplaces where confrontation is to be avoided in favor of diplomacy. Where that diplomacy is abused by the "complex psychology". It's the individual's responsibility to get their complex psychology under control. This is exactly what Thomas Szasz is writing about when he claims that mental illness is used as an blank check for irresponsible behavior.

Fuck you, Barbara. It's people like you who create such work environments.

"Excusing-Making and Exception-Making" by Barbara Branden

Michael Moeller's picture

Again, Barbara's emphasis is on why we should abstain from moral judgment. We, too, are fallible and should recognize that in others. We may see the consequences of certain ideas as "self-evident", but others may not so let us hold back judgment. We need to appreciate the "context" of another person's knowledge and realize that their psychology is "complex". We need to acknowledge that often we cannot say with certainty whether somebody has evaded. And on and on.

Notice there is no guidance on why one should place moral judgment and the proper process by which it is done. All of this is conspicuously missing. Reading this, it would be hard to place moral judgment on anybody but the Stalin's and Hitler's of this world.

And how does she see the other side of this issue? Barbara writes: "All we require in order to know that someone is worthless is to know that he holds convictions contrary to our own?" Suuuuuuure, that's it. All those "Randroid" moralizers do is place moral contempt on those who disagree with them--a convenient strawman to buttress her position.

Its clear where she is hiding to justify such a view, and that is in a fundamental fact of consciousness: that one cannot view another's consciousness by direct perception--it is revealed only through their statements and actions. She explicitly acknowledges this when she writes: "Thus, we must recognize we cannot look into another human mind".

And that is true, but does that cripple one's ability to place moral judgment where appropriate? Certainly not. In the court of law, the mens rea--the mental state--is an element of the crime. The person who deliberately and maliciously kills somebody has a different level of culpability than a person who negligently causes the death of another.

Should we throw this out the window and judge based solely on "actions" because we cannot peer into another's mind; thus equating the malicious killer with the negligent one? No, you assess the intent based on their statements and actions. If the evidence does not support the judgment, then you are not justified in making such a judgment. In is clear Rand saw it in this manner when she wrote ("The Psychology of Psychologizing"):

Morality is the province of philosophical judgment, not of psychological diagnosis. Moral judgment must be objective, i.e., based on perceivable demonstrable facts. A man's moral character must be judged on the basis of his actions, his statements, and his conscious convictions--not on the basis of inferences (usually, spurious) about his subconscious.

The remaining question is, if moral condemnation is to be withheld for the reasons Barbara gives, then why does she not apply that same standard to people who misuse moral judgment (in her view)? Does she fail to appreciate their "context" when they place moral judgments? Doesn't she see that the consequences of wantonly handing down moral judgments may not be "self-evident" to that person? If these excuses are to be the defense of evaders, why do they also not apply to the moral judgmentalists? Why does she not grant them the same liberties with their consciousness?

Oh, and what about the fact that humans are psychologically "complex" and psychology is still a "youthful" discipline? Alas, this does not stop Barbara from providing a psychological workup (and condemnation) of the supposed "moralizers" that is absolutely breathtaking in both its scope and depth.

Whereas Rand urged us not to stray into psychologizing and instead focus on statements and actions, Barbara dives head first into psychological analysis (right after saying that psychology is too complex and we may not even understand our own motivations). But she certainly seems understand the motivations and "complex" psychology of the supposed moralizers. In describing the "ragers", Barbara writes:

But the sort of person I have described, who damns others for his own sense of inadequacy, leaves victims strewn in his path. He is incapable of experiencing empathy, like a psychopath for whom other people are unreal and for whom any context but is own is non-existent...Objectivism doesn't magically elevate one to sainthood. Dependent people, cruel people, dishonest people, need more than philosophy to change them; in most cases, they need psychological treatment".

Then she prattles on with the usual true believer/cult-like nonsense:

Of course, there are Objectivists who come to this philosophy in search of a new religion, a dogma they can blindly follow, a set of rules that will bring them the certainty they require, eager to lose their blemished selves, their sense of personal failure, in something larger than themselves. These are the true believers of Objectivism and they are epidemic in every intellectual movement, whether the movement be philosophical or religious...But what he seeks is not reason, it is not knowledge; he seeks a holy cause to which he can submit himself, he renounces intellectual independence and its attendant doubts, uncertainties, and errors--he renounces spiritual struggle and sense of wonder--for the certitude of dogman and faith.

I wish I could quote more, but people can read for themselves. Remember when NB stated this about Rand: "One of the mistakes that Rand makes all over the place is that after she condemns a belief or an action, she goes on to tell you the psychology of the person who did it, as if she knows." Well, well, well, that must be one of NB's ideas that Barbara did not imbibe as Barbara sure presumes to know.

Worst of all, she draws a parallel to certain psychology aspects of suicide bombers. She tries to head off the counter-argument at the pass by saying that she will be "accused" of likening them to suicide bombers. It is true, she doesn't in action, but she DOES in certain psychological respects.

A few months ago I got in a heated debate on ROR when some tried to use Linz's NEM article to draw a psychological comparison of those "other" Objectivists to terrorists (coincidence?) and Communist commissars. The same excuse for such a comparison arose: "No, no, no," they said, "its only in certain 'limited' respects." I said, then, that it would only be a matter of time before somebody drew another one of these parallels and others would praise it as a "Great New Idea". Well, there you have it.

After all is said and done, is this the price to be paid for the campaign against the "moralizers"? The leveling of vicious psychological comparisons between suicide bombers and one's Objectivist adversaries? It probably shouldn't surprise me, but to do this under the banners of "understanding" and "benevolence" leaves me beyond words.

That something as unconscionable as this elicited a standing ovation leaves me with disgust. For those who thought this a grand idea, its high time you checked your premises.

Michael

Tedium-Fodder

Boaz the Boor's picture

But there is a lot in this very meaty article/speech as there was in the Bidinotto one...and I just printed it out and need to underline and reread it

Oh, it's quite the tome, is it? Though I suppose "Barabara" (thanks for that, Michael Smiling) does tend to bara-bara-bara endlessly, so I sympathize.

Let me know if you start running low on stationery, Phil. I'll be in Mexico for the next week, but I can probably Fed-Ex you those crayons you lent me a while back - when we were all having such a hard time carefully reading and fully grasping your arguments.

...(something which shoot-from-the-hippers like Valliant, Weiss, Perigo, Mazza clearly have not done.)

Oh, I agree. Sloppy readers, the whole lot. Fred, James, Mike and Linz: you're all welcome to my towering bundle of crayons. (Alright, Moeller, you too.) But that probably won't be enough, so you'll have to wait for Phil's outline.

Mike Mazza...

Michael Moeller's picture

Thank you, I greatly appreciate it.
Michael

A Concrete-Bound View of Moral Judgment

Michael Moeller's picture

In setting up their (false) view of moral judgment, one of the first things the Branden's do is mischaracterize Rand's position. They often accuse Rand as prone to quickly condemning others morally and urging such condemnation. By extension, they saddle this charge on other Objectivists who they believe are following in her footsteps. Consider this from Barbara's speech:

As an aside, it was recognizing this mistake that helped me to understand, at least in one respect, Ayn Rand's quickness to pass negative moral judgments..."

She goes on to say that Rand could see clearly consequences of certain ideas and insinuates from a letter to NB that because of this she understands how one could "blow up". She tries to identify Peikoff as making the same mistake by taking a quote regarding the motive power of value-jugments. Now let's also consider some quotes from NB on this matter:

One of the mistakes that Rand makes all over the place is that after she condemns a belief or an action, she goes on to tell you the psychology of the person who did it, as if she knows. I focus my judgment on the action and not on the person. (Alex Mouhibian interview)

AND

To look on the dark side, however, part of her vision of justice is urging you to instant contempt for anyone who deviates from reason or morality or what is defined as reason or morality. Errors of knowledge may be forgiven, she says, but not errors of morality. Even if what people are doing is wrong, even if errors of morality are involved, even if what people are doing is irrational, you do not lead people to virtue by contempt. (The Benefits and Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand)

Sound eerily familiar to Barbara's speech? It is both explicitly and implicitly contained in Barbara's speech--such as the lack of appreciation for another's "psychology", not leading one to virtue by "contempt", the focus on the "action", etc. Notice also Barbara echoing the charge that Rand "urged instant contempt" for those one deems as acting immorally. I won't focus on their motivations for this mischaracterization as that should be obvious.

But it should be clear to those who have read Ayn Rand (a lot to ask for many of the KASSless) that she said no such thing in terms of moral judgment. In "How Does One Lead a Rational Life in an Irrational Society" (VOS), Rand writes:

Nothing can corrupt and disintegrate a culture or a man's character as thoroughly as does the precept of moral agnosticism, the idea that one must never pass moral judgment on others, that one must be morally tolerant of anything....But to pronounce moral judgment is an enormous responsibility. To be a judge, one must possess an unimpeachable character; one need not be omniscient or infallible, and it is not an issue of errors of knowledge; one needs unbreached integrity, that is, the absence of any indulgence in conscious, willful evil....so every rational person must maintain an equally strict solemn integrity in the courtroom within his own mind, where the responsibility is more awesome than in a public tribunal....

And later in the article

The opposite of moral neutrality is not a blind, arbitrary, self-righteous condemnation of any idea, action or person that does not fit one's mood, one's memorized slogans or one's snap judgment of the moment. Indiscriminate tolerance and indiscriminate condemnation are not two opposites: they are two variants of the same evasion.....It is not an easy task [moral judgment], it is not a task that can be performed automatically by one's feelings, "instincts" or hunches. It is a task that requires the most precise, the most exacting, the most ruthlessly objective and rational process of thought. It is fairly easy to grasp abstract moral principles; it can be very difficult to apply them to a given situation, particularly when it involves the moral character of another person.

So, I guess when she says that passing moral judgment is "an enormous responsibity" more "awesome than a public tribunal", when she says one should not rely on "slogans", "snap judgments", or "hunches", and moral judgment requires a "ruthlessly objective and rational process of thought"--she really means we should "urge instant contempt" and exhibit a "quickness to pass negative moral judgments". Nice!!! I also love how, by extension, she saddles the "other" Objectivists with this viewpoint who seemingly follow in the footsteps of Rand.

It is clear with the litany of excuses Barbara provides in NOT passing moral judgment (because of others not "seeing the consequences" of their ideas, of not appreciating their "context", their complex psychological makeup, others not purposely evading, etc. etc.) her position is not one of proper moral judgment, but rather of abstaining from passing moral judgment. I do urge people to reread her speech as a whole (and very carefully) and examine for themselves whether this is the case.

Naturally, if one was to discuss moral judgment, one needs to examine the principles regarding the objective and rational process in doing so. One sees that it is a matter of sufficient evidence, just like when one passes a judgment in the court of law. Do they examine these principles in depth and the manner in which to apply them? In addition to the terrorist boy example, Barbara writes:

Only men and woman are moral agents; only they can be good or evil.And the overwhelming majority of them are not wholly one or the other. Stalin was evil; your next-door-neighbor, who may believe he ought to be his brother’s keeper, is not. Thomas Jefferson, despite owning slaves, was basically a good and honorable man;

Yes, but how does one place such a moral judgment? How do you know it? Simply because that guy is Stalin and that guy is your next-door neighbor? What is the process by which one makes this sort of judgment? Admire the concrete-boundedness of such an approach.

For those who read the speech, you will appreciate this example from Nathaniel:

Take the Middle East suicide bombers—especially the very young people. God knows, if I had the opportunity, I’d kill them without any hesitation. But I also know, as a psychologist, that they were raised in a culture in a world I can’t even conceive of. They were propagandized about the glory of martyrdom since the age of five. Whereas Leonard Peikoff might be hell-bent on calling every one of them evil, I wouldn’t. They may or may not be. All I know is: in action, one kills them, rather than getting killed by them. Lots of times, we don’t know the ultimate truth about a person. And here’s the point: we don’t need to know.

Now considering some of the ideas Barbara stated (as I quoted above) and this example, Nathaniel should have jumped up and yelled: "Plagiarism!!!" She even used the contrast with Peikoff.

At any rate, again notice the concrete-boundedness...as if we are suppose to judge people as pieces of meat who are compelled to act. How? Somehow. What are the ideas and driving forces behind such actions? Who cares, one just kills them.

More to come....

Michael

Older and Wiser?

JoeM's picture

Phil: "Because she's older than you, has had more in-depth encounters for more years, and has had a wider and longer range of experiences over a period much longer than you have been alive."

Ah, yes. This old argument. This is the kind of thing children are told when one wants to argue on non-objective criteria. "Respect your elders." Nothing wrong with learning from those who have been there, many mistakes can be avoided by learning from other's example.
But that requires an articulation of WHY the elder's words should be heeded. Anything less is nothing more than an appeal to authority, and "elder tribalism."

I fell for this trap after reading Rand in my early twenties. I read the Branden bios and heard warnings from older people who had read Rand and "moved on" and "matured." Back then I was still under the impression that "I should learn from the mistakes of others." Hearing stories of how Rand appealed only to adolescents who had no experience in "the real world." Now I know that many of those "wise elders" are nothing more than Keatings and Tooheys. Sellouts, even.

Michael Moeller, Just

Mike_M's picture

Michael Moeller,

Just thought I'd take the time to say that I love your posts.

The speech is rationalist garbage

Mike_M's picture

Because she's older than you, has had more in-depth encounters for more years, and has had a wider and longer range of experiences over a period much longer than you have been alive.

Also, she is more psychologically perceptive than you and the others on this thread so far.

Ah yes. Without her very psychologically perceptive insight, I would never have known that there is a difference between a confused, brainwashed 12 year old and an adult. We also wouldn't know that some insecure people gravitate towards groups to compensate for their own lack of identity. Real deep insights.

I have no doubt that this stuff was common during NBI, or even into the 90s. BB's speach implies that this is still a problem. I want to know WHERE this problem is, along with some examples. The speech provides a piss-poor range of examples. She cites ONE letter, written by someone who clearly has problems far beyond Objectivism. She sort-of uses AR and NB as an example, but doesn't give enough information about the situation to evaluate it. She gives us NO examples in the evasion section. And she gives NO examples in the psychology section. The whole speech is beyond floating; it's up in the stars.

Phil, you talk about how great UO is and how important it is to concretize all the time. How in the world are you falling for this garbage?

Phil At His Best

Michael Moeller's picture

Phil writes:

It's a ***superb*** article, packed with many profound insights.

And

So, no, I'm not going to debate "The Wolfpack" on it or try to do a thoughtful parsing and separating of the points here.

And

and I just printed it out and need to underline and reread it (something which shoot-from-the-hippers like Valliant, Weiss, Perigo, Mazza clearly have not done.)

Typical Phil--doesn't bother to debate the points, yet at the same time is able to declare others have not adequately read the article and instead have become a foaming-at-the-mouth wolfpack. Ah yes, how easy it is to lampoon one's interlocutors with condescension while excusing oneself from actually giving an argument.

What is quite possibly even sadder is that Phil regards this article as "superb". I am surprised that this article comes as news to the KASSless because NB has been sounding off on many of these ideas for years regarding moral judgment. Notice number of times she quotes him and her very concrete-bound of moral judgment (same as NB). I have reread this one in depth too and I am very familiar with the line of argument. So Phil, if you are confident this speech is so good, I trust you will stick around to debate the salient points of Ms. Branden instead of your condescending hit-and-run. More to come....

Michael

Phil

Fred Weiss's picture

Phil, how about addressing the point rather than a strawman? Landon and I commented on the exact distinction you claim is "lost" on us.

I said just yesterday on this thread, "There is a huge difference between merely having vs. acting on and/or advocating evil ideas."

Either you can't read or you haven't read Barbara's speech because she is claiming that an idea cannot be good or evil.

She asks "How do we know it? How do we decide which ideas are proof of evil?"

What's her answer? Tell me. What's *your* answer? Is there an answer?

Then there is the secondary question of how we can judge people as evil. That's kinda hard to do if we are just "too complex" and if we cannot tell when we are evading, isn't it?

So, if ideas themselves are neither good or evil and the people who hold them are just too complex to judge, where does that leave morality?

Shooting from the hip

eg's picture

It's okay to shoot from the hip. Then you bring the rifle up to your shoulder if needed. It's important to get off those first shots. Smiling

--Brant

Phil

James S. Valliant's picture

Readers of my own book will know that I am aware of the distinction you belabor to no purpose here. Accusing me of shooting from the hip is, well, shooting from the hip.

History will record that Ms. B. had neither the grace nor the guts to name or clearly address her real targets.

Damn Phil, if you can't

Adam Buker's picture

Damn Phil, if you can't stand the screamers and the bomb throwers (read passionate and commited to truth and morality) then why in the hell are you here?

www.adambuker.com

Actually, Phil ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I have no problem with specifying what one means when saying (certain) ideas are evil. If one means the ideas' implementation would be inimical to human life, then it's coherent to say those ideas are evil. But "evil" is usually a normative evaluation applied to volitional beings. If your point is that such beings—humans—can hold evil ideas innocently, then I would agree with you. That's just common sense. But that's not the real issue here. Your pin-up girl has quite deliberately smeared, diminished & lied about great values. To escape just condemnation for her evil she wages her campaign against anger, or "Objectivist rage." She defends a Namblaphile & smears decent folk, including Ayn Rand & Frank O'Connor, unrepentantly, without remorse or regret. She recoils from any moral judgement (except against those who get angry) while seeing past the most egregious moral evils such as wilful Saddamy. As I said in my speech, what she seeks is tantamount to the moral/emotional disarmament of the forces of good. This is all demonstrable. So why should I take the trouble even to read her speech, let alone print it out & underline bits of it?

Well, that's a rhetorical question. I may take the trouble, only not yet. Maybe tomorrow.

Jim, there's a couple points

PhilipC's picture

Jim, there's nonetheless a couple points in this otherwise superb speech I -don't- agree with*, but SoloP is not the place to have a discussion of it with all the screamers and bomb-throwers....I'll probably do it on RoR, time permitting. My sense, though, is that those points are not central to the article.

But there is a lot in this very meaty article/speech as there was in the Bidinotto one...and I just printed it out and need to underline and reread it (something which shoot-from-the-hippers like Valliant, Weiss, Perigo, Mazza clearly have not done.)

*the phrase "evil ideas" has actually two meanings - i) the idea itself is enormously destructive and harmful, ii) anyone who holds it is immoral. Thus one can't -debate- whether ideas are evil without specifying which sense one means....that's an issue that will be lost on the foodfighters and which is not often clarified by the two sides debating the issue who slip from one sense to the other. The first meaning is correctly a sense in which ideas can be evil. The second is mistaken (unless there are ideas which no one can hold innocently and Peikoff argues for a very small list of those in F&V, but I am not a psychologist and am not ready to argue whether his list is too large or too small).

This is actually all (essentially) that needs to be said on the topic of evil ideas. [Not that that will stop anyone from agitating another million electrons.]

So, no, I'm not going to debate "The Wolfpack" on it or try to do a thoughtful parsing and separating of the points here.

Been there, done that.

Phil!

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

Phil, I hope you've got your asbestos suit on Smiling.

Jim

> So why do all these

PhilipC's picture

> So why do all these nutters cross paths with Barbara Branden? [Mike M]

Because she's older than you, has had more in-depth encounters for more years, and has had a wider and longer range of experiences over a period much longer than you have been alive.

Also, she is more psychologically perceptive than you and the others on this thread so far.

It's a ***superb*** article, packed with many profound insights.

Jim

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

James V,

Thanks. There are a lot of good people here.

Jim

Jim

James S. Valliant's picture

I'm glad you're back.

Thanks

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

No, thank you. What makes a difference to me is that you are willing to put all of the relevant judgments in one place and offer a plausible argument for them.

Jim

Thanks

DianaHsieh's picture

Jim said: "I'm satisfied with your clarification."

Okay! If further questions occur to you, please do ask. I'm happy to answer, so long as that makes a difference to you.

-- Diana Hsieh
diana@dianahsieh.com
NoodleFood

Clarification

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

Diana,

I'm satisfied with your clarification.

Jim

Clarification

DianaHsieh's picture

Jim, if you think I'm inconsistent, it's because you're thinking in terms of concrete-bound duties, not contextual rational principles.

In any case...

1. Yes, I do believe that my actions taken with respect to Chris were moral and right. I've already explained why, many times, including in my original post.

2. I don't know the underlying reasons for ARI's break with the Reismans, so I can't have a detailed judgment of that. However, Dr. Peikoff's judgment in the matter carries much weight with me, particularly given what I've heard from him about it. One of these days, I'll surely inquire about the particulars, but for the moment, it's not of enough importance.

In general, I have zero problem with people choosing not to associate with people they dislike, distrust, find unpleasant to work with, and so on. I don't think Objectivists have any Duty to the Movement to tolerate difficult or unpleasant people.

3. I don't believe the Reismans had adequate reason to release that private correspondence. However, I don't regard that as nearly as significant as George Reisman's malicious, rationalistic, and context-dropping review of _Ayn Rand Answers_. That's what sealed my negative judgment of him.

Frankly, I have no idea what you're so determined to drop this matter so quickly. You've been publicly complaining about it on various fora for quite some time now. So I'd think that you'd actually wish to challenge me (e.g. by arguing that the cases aren't significantly different after all) -- or you'd concede that I'm right -- or you'd say that you need more time to think about it -- or something.

In short, I'm completely puzzled by your sudden to "drop the matter entirely" when (1) you brought it up just a few hours ago, (2) you clearly regard it as important, yet (3) you still see my actions as inconsistent.

-- Diana Hsieh
diana@dianahsieh.com
NoodleFood

No

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

Diana,

Clearly you've gone through some thinking about these situations and have come to a determination in both instances that goes beyond whose ox is being gored, but the inconsistency is still troubling to me.

Since you don't think that there is an inconsistency, You maintain

1. Your actions contra Chris are moral and right.

2. ARI was justified in its actions against the Reismans

3. The Reismans were wrong to make their e-mail correspondence with Peter Schwartz and Harry Binswanger public.

If you think this is a fair summary of your positions, I will drop the matter entirely.

Jim

No

DianaHsieh's picture

Jim, the distinction between "extenuating" and "normal" circumstances does not capture what I said at all. First, it's way too vague. Second, "normal" hardly describes the ARI's break with the Reismans, since any break with friends is an abnormal situation. Third, I do not "partially excuse or justify" my actions, as the term "extenuating" suggests, but claim them to be perfectly right and moral.

I gave very specific reasons for my judgment that Chris does not deserve to have his confidences respected. If you want to make a fair judgment, you need to understand those reasons more clearly than in vacuous terms like "extenuating" versus "normal" circumstances.

-- Diana Hsieh
diana@dianahsieh.com
NoodleFood

Yes we did

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

Diana,

I gather from your reply that you consider the circumstances of the disagreements between the Reismans and ARI to be normal and the circumstances of your disagreement with Chris to be extenuating. Fair enough.

Jim

Ditto

JoeM's picture

What Diana said.

Yes, We Did

DianaHsieh's picture

Linz said: "If someone is lying about you behind your back under a cloak of confidentiality, and you find out about it, you have a right to expose it. Didn't we go through this at the time?"

Yes, we did. In fact, I answered that very question. Here's my basic answer, once again:

If Chris Sciabarra merely said that we were no longer friends, that he wanted nothing to do with me, and that he regarded me as immoral, I wouldn't have bothered to say anything other than "the feeling is mutual." (That was what ARI was doing was with the Reismans.) However, Chris was spreading very specific lies about me (and others, including Linz) in secret. That warranted a detailed and public response.

Under normal circumstances, confidences ought to be kept. However, that's not some acontextual Kantian rule. When a person uses his confidences to attack good people behind their backs while feigning friendliness to their faces, he ought to be outed. A virtuous person ought not allow his virtue to be used to perpetuate and conceal the dishonest unjustice of others.

Jim, your objection on this point amounts to demanding that I suffer in silence while Chris trashes my reputation to whomever he pleases. If that's your idea of virtue, then let me recommend that you openly declare your allegiance to Christian morality. As for me, I don't love my enemies, I don't bless them that spitefully use and persecute me, I don't turn the other cheek -- and I never will.

-- Diana Hsieh
diana@dianahsieh.com
NoodleFood

Jimmy Dearest...

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

Thanks for the welcome , Linz Smiling. I'm feeling the effect of the splinters already Smiling. Ross has done a good job with the place since I've been gone!

Jim

Jimmy Dearest ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Speaking of the h-word, why don't you talk to Diana about condemning the Reismans for the release of private e-mail and then doing the same to Chris Sciabarra on this very site?

If someone is lying about you behind your back under a cloak of confidentiality, and you find out about it, you have a right to expose it. Didn't we go through this at the time? Where the Reismans are concerned I believe they were entirely warranted in publishing the material they did, & the Schwartz-Binswanger duo behaved abominably. I've made that clear repeatedly. If you have a problem with Diana's stance on the matter, take it up with her.

Linz

Oh, btw, welcome back! I'll be able to resume the pastime of fence-spotting now that you're here again! Smiling

James H-N

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

Linz,

I've always made known my distaste for the Branden biographies and I made it known to her at the end of her talk. Speaking of the h-word, why don't you talk to Diana about condemning the Reismans for the release of private e-mail and then doing the same to Chris Sciabarra on this very site?

Jim

James H-N

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You may be sure "the Chris Sciabarra thing" left a bad taste in my mouth too. Finding out a friend has been back-stabbing you with lies is never pleasant. But you, James, the quintessential moral equivalencer, would be indifferent to that consideration, just as you consider a couple of sentences about Bill Nevin a "tirade." I singled him out as an example of someone old enough to know better, unlike the young 'uns I mentioned, who defends Barbara Branden. You can hear him doing it on the tape. This was doubly galling for me since, at the time my speaking engagement at KASSless still stood, he had offered to protect me from the Brandroids, & professed to believe that the Brandens should not still be being feted by KASSless. I believe there's a word for that, starting with 'h,' but I shan't utter it, James, since it would be altogether too much for your delicate sensibilities.

Linz

nonengagement and other matters

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

I had taken a break from solopassion after the Chris Sciabarra thing left a bad taste in my mouth. I'm back on and willing to engage any and all topics. I'm surprised that Linz would single out Bill Nevin for a tirade, especially since he showed up to receive Linz's insults in person Smiling.

Jim

Agreed

Landon Erp's picture

Though my statement was meant more an addendum than a confrontation. But hey if it keeps the interesting thought flowing on this thread I'm all for it.

---Landon

Inking is sexy.

http://www.angelfire.com/comics/wickedlakes

More on Brant's Brilliance

Fred Weiss's picture

That's true, Landon. There is a huge difference between merely having vs. acting on and/or advocating evil ideas. But Barbara is very significantly going a step beyond that - and explicitly. She is saying that ideas, as such, cannot be good or evil. She later of course contradicts herself, but that's nothing new to Barbara. One could almost call that her speciality and her proficiency at it is much in evidence in this speech.

She asks "How do we know it? How do we decide which ideas are proof of evil?"

Now, anyone with a grasp of objectivity - and knowledge of the Objectivist ethics - would have no difficulty with such a question.

But Barbara long ago abandoned any concept of objectivity (she *had* to of course). So what she says instead is (describing Objectivists with the effrontery of thinking they can know the difference between good and evil), "What the argument ultimately amounts to is that mistaken ideas of a fundamental sort—fundamental to whichever branch of knowledge is being considered—are evil. The concept of error, of innocence, vanishes, and error is transmuted into evil. And worse. What do we hold to be the mistaken ideas that constitute proof of evil? Why, those ideas that contradict our own, of course."

So, bottom line, there is no objective basis for good and evil. It is merely a matter of my ideas vs. your ideas.

This of course is total subjectivism - and this the little TASsels gave a standing ovation.

Brant's Brilliance

Landon Erp's picture

I agree that was a great post, but it kind of reminded me of something in "Fact and Value" in reference to evil ideas. A person who has evil ideas but sees them as such, does not advocate them as good and ultimatly moves on from them can be seen as good and moral.

Some ideas are always evil, but a person's morality isn't always simply reflective of whatever ideas may have passed into (and possibly out of) their heads, but what they did with said ideas.

---Landon

Inking is sexy.

http://www.angelfire.com/comics/wickedlakes

My brilliant self

eg's picture

Thx, Fred (blush). I found it in a crackerjax box.

Didn't Robert Bidinotto once write a book which was based on the idea that criminal acts came from criminal thinking? Doesn't he believe that anymore?

--Brant

Barbara's Babblings

Fred Weiss's picture

Isn't the issue fairly simple - that is, if one were trying to make a valid point? That point being the distinction between making rational moral judgments vs. unjustified and unfair moralizing, such as...umm...morally condemning 12 year olds for certain religious/philosophical beliefs they may hold (gee thanks, Barbara - we really needed you to tell us).

Nowhere in the talk does she explicitly make that distinction which of course she can't because if she did it would be obvious that she wasn't saying anything all of us don't already know - and which her Great Nemesis, The Great Satan, Leonard Peikoff has spoken on a number of times.

So what's left? What is *really* going on here? It becomes clear near the end of her talk when she starts babbling about "oversimplifying complex issues" and how we are "immensely complex creatures psychologically, who often fail even in our best efforts to understand ourselves and our own motivation, much less to understand other people". Why, she declares, do we even know "why we fall in love with a particular person?"

And then comes the clincher, pay dirt so to speak "Often, it is difficult even for us, who have unique entry into the workings of our own minds, to say with certainty if we have or have not evaded in considering a particular issue."

Can't you just see all the little TASsels giving Barbara a standing ovation for absolving them from the necessity of knowing when they are evading? "Dayaam", shouts MuSKy. "Terrific", declares Heaps. "Profound", says Coots.

"Whew!", murmers NB under his breath, "I never had to know wtf I was doing back then."

Brant

Fred Weiss's picture

Holy fucking shit! (Sorry, if anyone is offended but those were the exact words I said to myself).

That's the most brilliant thing I've ever seen you write, Brant.

I mean it.

Thesis

eg's picture

Barbara's central thesis seems to be that people can be evil, but not ideas.

Well, Stalin had the idea of murdering millions. He did it. The idea wasn't "evil?" Just how can any ideas be separate from people? That's where they come from. Now, if Stalin had kept that idea to himself--if he hadn't acted on it, then it would have only been an evil idea inside him. To say an idea per se is beyond good and evil ignores the fact that there is no such thing as an idea per se. If there can be no good ideas or bad ideas or wishy-washy ideas then ideas cannot be evaluated and judged. A bad idea doesn't have to be evil, but no idea is beyond moral judgement--or idea holder respecting his ideas once he expresses them. What does this have to do with "Objectivist rage?"

Here's an idea: Child molesting, rape and murder is good and if you feel like it go right ahead. If that's not an evil idea I'll concede there is no such thing. I'm not evil respecting this idea just because I expressed it by way of making my point, but there are some monsters out there who do such things--who hold and act on such ideas. Such ideas are evil and people become evil when they advocate them and do them.

--Brant

Well said, Thomas

Lindsay Perigo's picture

She opposes, not that rage, but the devotion to morality that underlies it.

Though I'd say she opposes the rage because of the devotion to morality that underlies it—the point of my Borders speech.

As for "those too young to know better (who are prone to say silly things)" I know of two such young 'uns who have unfortunately been poisoned by the serpent's venom. It's such a shame. Talented innocents corrupted by a witch, both of them intelligent enough to see what's going on, but too star-struck to be true to themselves. And it's not just young 'uns. Bill Nevin, at my Borders speech, was defending the witch's anti-rage presentation. He's the one on the Kassless Walkout thread audio who whimpers that BB was not opposed to all rage as such. Pathetic, dishonest, cowardly stuff. Staple fare for The KASSless Society. How truly contemptible they are.

Mike

Thomas Lee's picture

I'm not denying that these guys are out there. So why do all these nutters cross paths with Barbara Branden?

Well, no legitimate Objectivist (and certainly no Objectivist intellectual) is going to deal with her, so that leaves the pseudo-Objectivists, the kooks, and those too young to know better (who are prone to say silly things).

I would add that moral rage (or contempt) are the appropriate emotions to feel toward someone like Ms. Branden--those who attempt to destroy great values. She opposes, not that rage, but the devotion to morality that underlies it.

Suicide bombers

Landon Erp's picture

Ok if she's referencing that again I'm glad I missed it. That article was when I knew I was done on Objectivist Living.

---Landon

Inking is sexy.

http://www.angelfire.com/comics/wickedlakes

Does this mean I should read

Boaz the Boor's picture

Does this mean I should read the actual words of the angry woman with the serpent's tongue?

Sure, if you think she still has something meaningful to say. You'll quickly be disabused of that notion, so I recommend evasively ignoring it if you'd like to preserve some measure of intellectual respect for her (in view of your past friendship).

Damn!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

James wrote:

If anything, Linz was too nice.

Damn!

Well, you'd better get me over for another booksigning! Smiling

Does this mean I should read the actual words of the angry woman with the serpent's tongue?

Must I?

Barbara Branden likens Objectivists to suicide bombers!

Mike_M's picture

It's actually a pathetic article. The discussion of the young fanatic is quite embarassing, for example. It actually does raise an interesting question, though. I've met and discussed philosophy with I'd say 20 to 25 Objectivists. If you add email correspondence to the list the number is over 30. Not a lot, but not a litte, either. So how come I've yet to meet one who behaves in this odd moralizing manner? Who thinks that all liberals are evil, for example. I'm not denying that these guys are out there. So why do all these nutters cross paths with Barbara Branden?

I was curious as to what

Boaz the Boor's picture

I was curious as to what might have been in that speech that would warrant putting it on TOC's website. After all, "The Objectivist Center" is now supposed to be the philosophical wing of The Atlas Society.

The only thing the speech reveals, once and for all, is that Ms. Branden doesn't deserve any more attention from anyone with a vestige of a glimpse of an understanding of what Objectivism actually holds to be true. Fortunately, that won't include people who can't distinguish between a twelve year old muslim boy and an educated terrorist. It won't include the mentally retarded, either.

Right

James S. Valliant's picture

Having read it now, thank you, it's clear that Linz was right on target.

These "young people" who are being morally condemned with rage are largely a figment of Ms. B.'s imagination.

And her discussion of evil ideas was borderline evil.

Her real targets were obvious.

If anything, Linz was too nice.

Text of Barbara Branden's talk

Melissa Debonne's picture

Perhaps some readers might like to read the actual text of Barbara Branden's talk. The content gives a somewhat different impression than one can glean from Mr. Perigo's advance, uh, review. http://www.objectivistcenter.org/cth--1758-Objectivism_and_Rage.aspx

Bravo Linz....

Michael Moeller's picture

I knew this speech would be a hit, thanks a lot for posting it. I assume I'm still in the "almost" category, but one day I'll rise above it. Oh, and I do appreciate the added irony...those in the KASSless society getting angry at your speech on Objectivist anger, which they so loathe (when directed properly!!!) They really are quite a bunch.
Michael

Thanks Julian ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... and everyone. Well, almost everyone. Smiling As I've said in Something Beautiful for Ayn:

Michael Limber had observed how hyped up I was for this speech. I had told him, prior to leaving for Borders, paraphrasing Mother Teresa's "something beautiful for God," that I wanted to do "something beautiful for Ayn." It was the least I could do, after the years of uncritically believing the diminishers. I gave it my all. Was it "something beautiful for Ayn"? Listen, and judge for yourself. I want to thank all those who have listened, and said, "Yes," or even "Fuck yeah!"

Please note that because of a stuff-up just prior to printing, the text version of the speech in the FreeRad is missing a chunk. As well, I made last-minute changes before delivery. The final draft, as delivered, will be posted here soon. But I would still urge everyone to listen to the audio.

A word to those who defend Barbara by pointing out that she claims to be campaigning against unwarranted rage only. Of course she does ... as I said! She's not going to come out openly against all anger. But the import of "There's enough anger in the world already. Why add to it?"—which she said more than once, & not just on SOLO—is exactly that. As is the fact that when someone gets angry, Barbara fixates on that fact to the exclusion of why the person got angry, as she did with me, for instance, over my anger at Michael Newberry's vile claims about the nature of artistic integrity. The effect is indeed moral and emotional disarmament. And it's not just an innocent lack of perspective. That witch is one of the most artful, least innocent people I know. I now discard all the things she told me about individual Objectivists, in particular her cousin, as being simply a part of her ongoing backstage smear campaign against anyone who is passionate about Objectivism (or anything!), of which I myself became a target.

Linz

A wonderful tribute to Rand

JulianD's picture

Lindsay, like many others, I would like to congratulate you on not just the content of your speech but on its delivery. Truely inspiring. I hope that this speech is heard by many within the Objectivist community.

Julian

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