James Valliant and "Uncritical Reliance" on "the Brandens"

Neil Parille's picture
Submitted by Neil Parille on Sun, 2007-05-20 20:16

In reading PARC, one gets the impression that all the negative reports about Rand’s personality have their origin in the Brandens’ books and that without these books there is no reason to accept as accurate the description of Rand provided in them. Let’s remember that the most Valliant is willing to concede about Rand is that her anger could be unjust at times and that she made some poor choices.

However, we shall see that Valliant has ignored a large amount of evidence that Rand had personality flaws beyond her anger. These were well documented prior to the publication of PARC.

Valliant makes no mention of Justin Raimondo’s biography of Murray Rothbard, An Enemy of the State, published in 2000. Raimondo quotes a 1954 letter from Rothbard to Richard Cornuelle. Rothbard writes “[George Reisman] found himself under a typical vitriolic Randian barrage, according to which anyone who is not now or soon will be a one-hundred percent Randian Rationalist is an ‘enemy’ and an ‘objective believer in death and destruction’ as well as crazy.” (An Enemy of the State, p. 110.)

Another book which isn’t mentioned is Stephen Cox’s 2004 biography of Isabel Paterson entitled The Woman and the Dynamo. Although I won’t go into the details, Cox’s description of Rand is somewhat negative and he takes Paterson’s “side” against Rand’s claim that Paterson failed to acknowledge that she got some of her ideas from Rand. Cox interviewed Nathaniel Branden, Henry Holzer, and Ericka Holzer.

One book that Valliant does cite is Jeff Walker’s The Ayn Rand Cult. Valliant occasionally uses this as a source, claiming it gives a version of events different than Barbara Branden’s, while attacking its general reliability. There is nothing inherently contradictory about using a book that one doesn’t consider reliable to be accurate in certain cases. However, Valliant doesn’t say why TARC is reliable when it quotes Kay Nolte Smith’s changes to Penthouse Legend but not the critical things she says about Rand. Likewise, why is TARC believable when it quotes Henry Holzer concerning his break with Rand, but not believable when it quotes the Holzers’ description of Rand as “nasty”, “insensitive” and “unkind”?

Incidentally, Valliant does not dispute the reliability of anyone who says anything critical of Nathaniel Branden. Edith Efron is not credible in her description of Rand's anger, but Valliant finds her trustworthy in her denunciations of Branden. (PARC, 65, 77-78.)

Finally, Valliant’s use of the Brandens’ books is contradictory. Valliant says there are “valueless as historical documents.” (PARC, p. 6.) The Brandens' books become quite reliable when they contain admissions by the Brandens. For example, Valliant credits Nathaniel Branden's claim that he became Rand's "enforcer" although claiming that Rand didn't know about Branden's conduct. (PARC, p. 59) And, as Ellen Stuttle has noted, Valliant does not question either Nathaniel or Barbara Branden when it comes to their claim that Rand received Frank’s consent for the affair. Yet they are the only sources for such a claim.

Branden bases much of her account on interviews with those who knew Rand post-1968. Some of these people are quoted extensively. Branden quotes Allan Blumenthal: "She [Rand] was relentless in her pursuit of so-called psychological errors [concerning judgments on art]. If an issue were once raised, she would never drop it; after and evening's conversation, she'd telephone the next day to ask what we had concluded about it overnight . . . It was becoming a nightmare." (PAR, p. 387.) She quotes Joan: "but, often, she would seem deliberately to insult and antagonize us." (Id.) When I asked Valliant about this, he says he doesn’t dispute the Blumenthals’ account or that they have been quoted accurately. I read the Blumenthals account to go considerably beyond a claim of “unjust anger.”

Brian Doherty published a history of the libertarian movement in 2007 called Radicals for Capitalism which discusses Rand extensively. He likewise confirms unfortunate aspects of Rand’s personality and the authoritarian nature of her movement. He interviewed, among others, Robert Hessen, Ralph Raico, Barbara Branden, Nathaniel Branden, and Joan Kennedy Taylor. He also quotes letters from two anonymous “longtime members” of Rand’s “inner circle” attesting to Rand’s “cruel[ty]” and lack of a “benevolent sense of life.” (p. 705.)

In addition to my general point that negative aspects of Rand’s personality have been confirmed by those who knew Rand, Walker, Cox and Doherty have obviously made their own independent evaluation of the credibility of many of the sources used by Barbara Branden. It is thus unfair for Valliant to claim that they uncritically rely on PAR for their negative assessments of Rand.


( categories: )

Agitprop

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Neil,

I'm no Peikoff fan and your review raises issues of scholarly standards vis-a-vis PARC, but if there is a factual problem with the main issue pointed out in Rand's journal entries why not face it head on?

Jim

Believe

Neil Parille's picture

Mr. Perigo,

Why do you care what I "believe"? I care about the truth. I think I've shown that Valliant's book is unreliable; that it consistently misquotes and misrepresents the Brandens' books; that it enages in double standards; that regardless of what one may ultimately decide about the Brandens vis-a-vis their critics, anyone who thinks that Valliant is a "scholar" ought to be ashamed of himself. So, in short, I "believe" that PARC is a piece of partisan agitprop worthy of Valliant's buddy Leonard Peikoff.

Further, I believe you didn't in fact ask me "what do you believe?"

Incidentally, I believe that what you did ask me was this: to keep what you and Casey Fahey were discussing, and who you were talking about, to myself.

So I also believe your memory is not so reliable.

Heaps!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

To be fair Barbara's biography is entitled The Passion of Ayn Rand, but Rand's passion was only one facet of her personality. Her commitment to reason and rationality looms large as the other major component.

This is your big error and I suspect the source of your congenital fence-sitting (is your bum shredded yet? Smiling). The passion and the commitment to reason and rationality are one integrated whole, not competing, mutually subversive attributes. And by Objectivist standards, they must be!! Listen to my Borders presentation, please!!!

Valliant's account being "extreme" is not a flaw—it's extremely true, as shown by Rand's journal entries. There were lies everywhere!!

The question is, what is real? Not, what is the middle ground between two opposing positions that happen to have been stated?

Linz

Balance and Thorough Research

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Neil,

You place an emphasis on balance and thorough research. I view both The Passion of Ayn Rand and PARC as polemical pieces. A thoroughly researched biography of Ayn Rand would have included some kind of account of the formal development of Objectivism in the 1960's. Both Branden pieces focus on Ayn Rand as novelist to the exclusion of Ayn Rand as philosopher save the philosophical passages in Atlas.

My surmise is that both Nathaniel and Barbara's interests and passion lie outside of philosophy. That's OK, but when talking about Rand they should say so. Rand was a blend of realist and romantic. In the Branden biographies we get this picture of Rand as some kind of manic-depressive who bounced from lyrical ecstasy to unspeakable agony. Isn't it more likely that this is how they saw her through Barbara's lens as an aspiring novelist and Nathaniel's lens as a psychologist with a side interest in the theater? When they talk about Rand we get drama and diagnosis. Couple this with obvious sources of bias and you don't get the makings of an objective account.

Valliant wrote an extreme account and sees lies everywhere. I see the major lies to Rand involving the counseling sessions and a lot of understandable denial and confirmation bias.

You speak of balanced research, but as an unfortunate result of the split and ARI biases and views on sanction it was really only possible for Barbara Branden to render one side of the story. Her research pool only consists of those who split with Ayn Rand. This also would skew the account.

To be fair, Barbara's biography is entitled The Passion of Ayn Rand, but Rand's passion was only one facet of her personality. Her commitment to reason and rationality looms large as the other major component. The Brandens see Rand's separation from many people as a personality defect. I see it as a natural evolution of her interests toward more purely philosophical topics as she got older. Many people's interests no longer coincnided with hers.

Jim

Well Neil

Lindsay Perigo's picture

"Parille and I once coincided in the chat room. We exchanged pleasantries, then I asked him what he actually believed. He promptly vacated the chatroom! Nothing to say! A Scumbarrian Brandroid mole is all he is."
My recollection is different.

Don't stop there!

And while you're about it, what do you believe?

And by the way

Neil Parille's picture

For those who would defend PARC, please explain why Valliant's description of the break with K. Smith should be trusted when: (1) it contradicts his only source (TARC) and (2) contradicts what K. Smith, P. Smith and (apparently) G. Reisman have said.

Incidentally

Neil Parille's picture

My goal in placing these posts here is to encourage discussion and see what counter-arguments people might advance. If someone can show I've made mistakes, then fine. That's why I haven't responded.

However, in response to Mr. Cresswell's point, here is a discussion of Valliant's use of TARC --

http://objectiblog.blogspot.co...

"Parille and I once

Neil Parille's picture

"Parille and I once coincided in the chat room. We exchanged pleasantries, then I asked him what he actually believed. He promptly vacated the chatroom! Nothing to say! A Scumbarrian Brandroid mole is all he is."

My recollection is different.

Parille ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... and I once coincided in the chat room. We exchanged pleasantries, then I asked him what he actually believed. He promptly vacated the chatroom! Nothing to say! A Scumbarrian Brandroid mole is all he is.

Linz

James is welcome to post any time. He knows that. But I'm not going to pretend the fatwa is anything less than contemptible, or its defenders anything other than prostitutes and group-thinkers on that matter, in order to effect that result. No one's posting here should be contingent on what I think of his stance on this or that issue. If anyone wants to be a sissy or a baby, that's his prerogative.

Where's Parille now?

Kenny's picture

The coward has shown that he is a "hit and run" poster. No doubt Phil will defend the undefendable again.

It is good to see Casey posting again and, hopefully, Jim Valliant will return to post here here (despite Linz's jibe above).

Oh Phyllis!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I don't like to repeat my posts. And of all the venues I would choose it wouldn't be Solo where anything I say on any subject seems to get slimed or the worst interpretation put on . . . as wouldn't surprise me with -this- post and as I've seen above.

You poor martyr you!

But really, there's no get-Phyllis conspiracy here. Life doesn't revolve around you, believe it or not. It's just that you posted contradictory testimonies, and the curious-minded are eager for you to clarify. What's the problem, Phil—will Barbara stop being your friend if you do?

Linz

PS—What a bunch of fucking sissies some of you Americans are! Really!! You and James Valliant should form a support group, Phyllis. What an irony! Sissies for Rand and Sissies against Rand coming together for counselling and group-groping. Sissies against Linz. Hahaha!

I was actually interested.

Casey's picture

Sorry.

Casey

Guys, I believe I've already

PhilipC's picture

Guys, I believe I've already posted in detail on my interactions with Ayn Rand on other forums going back to OWL and Atlantis days.

I don't like to repeat my posts. And of all the venues I would choose it wouldn't be Solo where anything I say on any subject seems to get slimed or the worst interpretation put on . . . as wouldn't surprise me with -this- post and as I've seen above.

Sorry, I just seldom find the primary "debaters" here to be particularly objective or willing to have a calm, fair-minded discussion.

Feel free to take offense.

Quite, Phil!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

So you saw "unjustly dismissive" firsthand, too? Do tell!

Having read her private journal entries in PARC and seen her extraordinary patience in the face of Branden's extraordinary deceitfulness, I'd be inclined to think that if she called someone an "evil evader" it would be because he was! But as I've said elsewhere, if she did blast off into orbit for no good reason occasionally, what of it??!!

Linz

Phil,

Casey's picture

You can't blame people for not being sure where you stand.

On the one hand you told us Rand was admirably patient and generous, from first-hand experience.

Now you tell us you saw otherwise firsthand.

I'm simply curious -- what did you see? It would be very interesting to me to know.

Casey

Why Do I Have to Explain Something So Simple???#$^&&$@

PhilipC's picture

Linz, she did call people evil evaders (unjustly in important cases) - it's in print. DUH!!

She could both bend over backwards to be fair and ALSO treat people too negatively and too dismissively.

*BOTH* from my personal experience.

WHAT PART OF BOTH FACTS ARE TRUE OF HER DO YOU NOT GET????

What Linz points out

Casey's picture

... is a tendency to build upon the Brandens' testimony.

Tuccille does it, and so do many others with an anti-Rand agenda. It's what the Brandens' were paid to provide for such authors in the first place. It's the "cashing in," to use one of Rand's phrases.

The Branden's already cashed in, years ago, for their part in it. The cashing in on the Brandens is destined to go on forever unless the facts presented in PARC are faced and dealt with squarely and completely.

Read the book, folks. Just read it. Then you will know how absurd statements like Tuccille's are concerning Ayn Rand. It's really worth checking out, if only because of this kind of agenda-driven smearing, because it's good to know, really know, the truth about her.

That's also why my friend's book, PARC, is so important. This won't go away until it is dealt with.

Casey

Phil?

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I'm wondering why you've not volunteered this information before? I'm struck by the difference between:

Both from my personal encounters with her and . . . with respect to audiotapes . . . I and a small group listened to the Non Fiction Writing Tapes **in their entirety**, unedited. Thanks to someone in her inner circle.
What struck me is how calm and even-tempered and enormously patient Ayn Rand was on every one of those - numerous - evenings. She even made once or twice a self-deprecating joke about the group knowing "Objectivist bromides" too well.
She handled challenges and disagreements well and calmly and thoughtfully.
Very impressive.

... and this, from one of your countless, endless sermons:

6. Even AR had major, lethal mistakes of attitude, personality, judgmentalism ... and her example of calling people evil evaders has only been strengthened ...and applies with less judgment.

Your first statement is based on firsthand experience. You have no experience at all to base the second statement on. Why do you persist with it and statements like it when it conflicts so dramatically with your firsthand experience? Why did you take the Brandroid side of the PARC debate even while pretending you weren't taking sides? Why did you withhold your testimony all through that time? You once pleaded with Barbara to remain your friend even though you posted on SOLO—same consideration at work?

Linz

Phil

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Thanks for weighing in on Rand's demeanor. I think people that watch the video and listen to the audio footage of Rand are usually quite impressed. I'm always amazed at how quickly she cuts to the essence of an interviewer's question and how well she stood up to heckling and how she always remains on track.

Jim

Branden's works in psychology

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Kenny,

Branden's works in psychology range from brilliant to fair. I recommend The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem and the Psychology of Romantic Love. Nathaniel Branden is a brilliant psychotherapist. I view him in the way that the biographies portray Rand, a flawed genius who can be kind or cruel. Nowhere in his books on psychology will you find denigrating references to Rand. Valliant argues that Branden cribbed his theory of psychological visibility from Rand, but I don't buy that.

Jim

Thanks Jim

Kenny's picture

That sums up my main concern. It appears that Rand's critics are making a living out of ad hominem attacks on her rather than writing new works that add to Objectivist philosophy.

It could be argued that Nathaniel Branden's books on self-esteem etc are compatible with Objectivist philosophy. I have not read them so cannot comment. Perhaps someone could post reviews of them for discussion.

It's the philosophy that matters

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Kenny,

I agree with you. Nowhere in Nathaniel Branden's memoir or in Barbara Branden's biography can you find any significant discussion of Rand's development of the Objectivist philosophy in the 1960's. No discussion of the written explication of the Objectivist Ethics in Rand's title essay for VOS or the University of Wisconsin talk unveiling it, no discussion of the articles that would become the Introduction Objectivist Epistemology, no discussion of the material that went into the Romantic Manifesto. For those so intimately involved with Rand, these are staggering omissions.

Jim

It's the philosophy that matters

Kenny's picture

So Rand lost her temper and fell out with people - no big deal! That was her free choice. I have lost my temper and split with numerous people who have crossed me. My life is better without them.

It is Rand's philosophy, and its application, counts and is my main interest now (having given up party politics). Hopefully, the movie of Atlas Shrugged will promote Rand and Objectivism to a wider audience. She will have a legacy and influence that her detractors and slanderers can only envy.

Ayn Rand's Temperament - A Few Concrete Instances

PhilipC's picture

The impression that I have (not conclusive) is that her losing her temper was hardly a common occurrence.

Both from my personal encounters with her and . . . with respect to audiotapes . . . I and a small group listened to the Non Fiction Writing Tapes **in their entirety**, unedited. Thanks to someone in her inner circle.

What struck me is how calm and even-tempered and enormously patient Ayn Rand was on every one of those - numerous - evenings. She even made once or twice a self-deprecating joke about the group knowing "Objectivist bromides" too well.

She handled challenges and disagreements well and calmly and thoughtfully.

Very impressive.

Where's Parille now?

Kenny's picture

There is no need for personal abuse. James Heaps-Nelson makes very fair points. Perhaps he could expand on his comment about the forum restrictions on Objectivist Living. Is there clandestine censorship on MSK's Branden fan site? I do not post there for obvious reasons.

It is unlikely that Parille will be back here to debate or address the proverbial 800 pound gorilla. It seems that it was another cowardly "hit and run" blog post that was intended to offend SOLOists rather than make a positive contribution to this site. I would not be surprised to see him boasting about his post to the vermin like Plagiarising Pross on Objectivist Lying.

Rand Video and Audio

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Have those people commenting on Rand's decorum, such as Doherty, watched the extant video and listened to the audiotapes of Rand in action? This would seem to be a requirement in order to verify the personal accounts of those who knew Rand.

Jim

Bilious Boy

PhilipC's picture

Mr. Cresswell, you elevate the level of discussion with your enormously intelligent ...and on topic... posts as usual.

Time to go

Peter Cresswell's picture

"...I don't care for the nekulturny lowest common denominator itchy trigger finger macho shouting redneckishness of most of the 'frequent flyers' here."

Then why stay around? Unless you're just here to troll. Because I'm sure I'm not alone in not caring at all for you.

PC

Coates, you're a diversionary boor

Peter Cresswell's picture

"Kenny, your post is a smokescreen..."

Coates, your interruptions are getting in the way of the discussion here, as elsewhere.

"...To ask -me- to do something, who is not even a participant in the debate..."

Then stay our of it then.

"...a clever diversionary tactic..."

There is nothing more "diversionary" from a debate than an uninvited flatulent blowhard issuing uncalled for instructions. Everyone here is an adult. Both Neil and Kenny and everyone else can speak for themselves. Stay out of this and let them speak, for Galt's sake.

"You need to apologize..."

You need to piss off and mind your own business.

"Otherwise that is the end of any interest I have in proving anything to you."

Good. Then piss off. Permanently.

PC

The barrage against George Reisman

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Ayn Rand's "barrage" against George Reisman and the propriety of it can easily be verified. Why not simply ask Dr. Reisman himself?

Jim

No smokescreens or smears

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Kenny,

I'm glad Neil Parille is posting his article here, so we can have a discussion of it without the forum restrictions on Objectivist Living. I do think investigating the thoroughness of Valliant's research will point up flaws, but I'm waiting for Neil to address the 800lb gorilla that Rand was dragged through a bogus psychological counseling charade that the Brandens did not come clean about in their books. It is clear from Rand's journal entries that Rand was blindsided by the truth when she learned of it.

Jim

> I am just fed up with the

PhilipC's picture

> I am just fed up with the ad hominem attacks on Ayn Rand by supporters of the Brandens.

Well, okay, then that is a valid subject to have (or have had) a thread or topic on. But two wrongs wouldn't make a right. Moreover an ad hominem attack is one in lieu of responding to an argument. It's not the same as criticizing someone's behavior or personal life. Which can be valid.

,,,

[While I have not read either PAR or PARC...and I expect to at some point in the not too distant future once my reading stack shortens, I met Ayn Rand more than once and was able to speak with her and ask her some questions. And I view her *very positively as a person and a major role model on many issues*, although *not on benevolence or malevolence regarding people surrounding her or regarding her moral evaluation of the mass of men*.

But once again, that is not the subject I was raising. And it's a long story which I wouldn't use Solo to lay out, in part because I don't care for the nekulturny lowest common denominator itchy trigger finger macho shouting redneckishness of most of the 'frequent flyers' here.]

No smokescreen or smears

Kenny's picture

I am just fed up with the ad hominem attacks on Ayn Rand by supporters of the Brandens.

Own Up, Stop Smearing, Apologize, Pay Attention, Focus

PhilipC's picture

Kenny, your post is a smokescreen and an attempt to change the subject from your ad hominems and smears. (To ask -me- to do something, who is not even a participant in the debate, while repeating your own personal attacks in lieu of logic, facts, and evidence is a clever diversionary tactic: you would apparently make a good politician or a sophist - like a Nancy Pelosi.)

You need to apologize for your approach of personal attack in lieu of offering data and promise not to engage in them in the future...and do what I said in my post.

Otherwise that is the end of any interest I have in proving anything to you.

----
P.S., in your eagerness to insult, you seemed to miss that I was not on Parille's side . . . as well as how to spell his name.

The Coates Challenge

Kenny's picture

To call Pareille's (and his "sources") allegations regarding Rand's personality as "ideas" is risible. I challenge Phil to point me to a post by Pareille, in the last 18months, on SOLO that is positive about Rand or her ideas, i.e. Objectivism. Let's call it the "Coates Challenge".

Attack the Ideas, Not the Man #2

PhilipC's picture

Linz's post is a good example (to Kenny and others) of how to attack the ideas. (Although Linz doesn't always avoid attacking the man - motives, character - on many occasions.)

In this case, he questions Neil P's reasoning as well as arguing that losing one's temper from time to time is natural, not a moral issue. Now that sort of post by Linz provides a basis for debate or follow-up. Calling someone names or questioning their motives does not. It merely allows someone to "vent" and cheapens the discussion and ensures that it will go nowhere.

Walker's book in PARC

Peter Cresswell's picture

"Valliant doesn’t say why The Ayn Rand Cult is reliable..."

Well, yes he does. I don't have James' book with me to provide the complete context, but as I remember it James goes to great lengths to explain when, why and to what extent he finds Walker's book reliable, usually on the basis of corroborating evidence, and when and for what reasons he finds it unreliable.

Perhaps Mr Parille should read and keep in mind ALL of Valliant's book instead of just selected portions, or the claim of "ignoring evidence" might be seen more accurately to be directed back at the "ant" who's making it.

Peter Cresswell

* * * *

'NOT PC.'
**Setting Brushfires In People's Minds**

ORGANON ARCHITECTURE
**Integrating Architecture With Your Site**

Mr. Parille

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You write:

In reading PARC, one gets the impression that all the negative reports about Rand’s personality have their origin in the Brandens’ books and that without these books there is no reason to accept as accurate the description of Rand provided in them. Let’s remember that the most Valliant is willing to concede about Rand is that her anger could be unjust at times and that she made some poor choices. However, we shall see that Valliant has ignored a large amount of evidence that Rand had personality flaws beyond her anger. These were well documented prior to the publication of PARC. Valliant makes no mention of Justin Raimondo’s biography of Murray Rothbard, An Enemy of the State, published in 2000. Raimondo quotes a 1954 letter from Rothbard to Richard Cornuelle. Rothbard writes “[George Reisman] found himself under a typical vitriolic Randian barrage, according to which anyone who is not now or soon will be a one-hundred percent Randian Rationalist is an ‘enemy’ and an ‘objective believer in death and destruction’ as well as crazy.” (An Enemy of the State, p. 110.)

Well, that's Rothbard's account of the "barrage" Reisman found himself under, not George's own. "Rozbott" was scarcely a disinterested party, I would suggest. I have visited with the Reismans many times over the years, and listened to their accounts of life in Rand's orbit. These accounts have always been affectionate and admiring. Both acknowledged Rand's temper, George humorously recounting that "the walls shook" when she had one on, but the content of her explosions was never depicted as Rothbard depicts them here. Nor were the Reismans critical of Rand for having a temper. And indeed, why would one be? What is wrong with having a temper? The idea that a temper is necessarily a "flaw" or worse is Brandroid nonsense. See my In Praise of Objectivist Rage.

One book that Valliant does cite is Jeff Walker’s The Ayn Rand Cult. Valliant occasionally uses this as a source, claiming it gives a version of events different than Barbara Branden’s, while attacking its general reliability. There is nothing inherently contradictory about using a book that one doesn’t consider reliable to be accurate in certain cases. However, Valliant doesn’t say why TARC is reliable when it quotes Kay Nolte Smith’s changes to Penthouse Legend but not the critical things she says about Rand. Likewise, why is TARC believable when it quotes Henry Holzer concerning his break with Rand, but not believable when it quotes the Holzers’ description of Rand as “nasty”, “insensitive” and “unkind”?

I can't answer for James, and he has left here in the wake of our ferocious disagreement over Peikoff's fatwa, but regarding "nasty, insensitive and unkind" I can't relate this to anything I've ever been told by anyone who knew Rand. Quite the reverse. And it is quite explicitly contradicted by Charles and Mary Sures, for instance, in Facets of Ayn Rand where they speak at some length as to how soliticous, warm and benevolent she was. Moreover, it's utterly inconsistent with the Rand we meet in her journals and letters.

Branden bases much of her account on interviews with those who knew Rand post-1968. Some of these people are quoted extensively. Branden quotes Allan Blumenthal: "She [Rand] was relentless in her pursuit of so-called psychological errors [concerning judgments on art]. If an issue were once raised, she would never drop it; after and evening's conversation, she'd telephone the next day to ask what we had concluded about it overnight . . . It was becoming a nightmare." (PAR, p. 387.) She quotes Joan: "but, often, she would seem deliberately to insult and antagonize us." (Id.) When I asked Valliant about this, he says he doesn’t dispute the Blumenthals’ account or that they have been quoted accurately. I read the Blumenthals account to go considerably beyond a claim of “unjust anger.”

Where exactly do they go then? That Rand so cared about her values that she wouldn't let a subject drop until it was resolved? My, what a terrible flaw!! Give me someone with a "flaw" like that over a conventional milksop any day!

Brian Doherty published a history of the libertarian movement in 2007 called Radicals for Capitalism which discusses Rand extensively. He likewise confirms unfortunate aspects of Rand’s personality and the authoritarian nature of her movement. He interviewed, among others, Robert Hessen, Ralph Raico, Barbara Branden, Nathaniel Branden, and Joan Kennedy Taylor. He also quotes letters from two anonymous “longtime members” of Rand’s “inner circle” attesting to Rand’s “cruel[ty]” and lack of a “benevolent sense of life.” (p. 705.)

Anonymous testimony is worthless in my view, the terrain of cowards. No surprise to see the Brandens in the above list, but here's something about Hessen: In 1983 at the first TJI school in San Diego, Hessen was part of a panel of luminaries who fronted up for an all-purpose q&a session on the first Friday night. A callow newbie youth named Perigo plucked up the courage to ask the panel their recollections of Ayn Rand the person. To a man, Hessen included, they answered as above—generous, warm and benevolent, with a temper. Was Hessen being a hypocrite then, or now?

The Brandens were (and are) always at liberty to come on (in Barbara's case simply to remain on) SOLO and confront James Valliant directly. They chose to make snide ad hominems in their comfort zones. If they believe PARC maligns them, why do they not make their case themselves? Mr. Valliant has done them the courtesy of making Rand's posthumous case in response to them while they are still alive, which is more than they did for Rand. Why don't they answer him? Have you, Neil, been appointed their proxy? Is it your purpose to show that the founder of Objectivism was nasty and insensitive with a malevolent sense of life? If so, to what end?

Linz

More hypocrisy from Phil

Kenny's picture

Phil concluded "Attack the Ideas, not the Man." But Pareille's entire post is an attack on Rand, the woman, not her ideas. Pareille titled his post as James Valliant and "Uncritical Reliance" on "the Brandens". Yet his comments show that the Brandens were sources for Stephen Cox and Brian Doherty. You couldn't make it up!

Neil Pareille has not, since I joined SOLO, posted a positive article or lengthy comment on Rand or Objectivism. His sole purpose seems to be excoriate Rand and attack Jim Valliant for his criticisms of the Brandens. His behaviour demonstrates nothing but contempt for this site, its objectives and its members.

Rand was not perfect (who is?) but she was a oowering intellectual and philopshical giant compared to her critics such as Neil Pareille and his cronies on the Objectivist Lying forum. (BTW, Victor Pross has been caught plagiarising again! Even Ellen Stuttle is appalled.)

Attack the Ideas, Not the Man

PhilipC's picture

Kenny, I don't know who is right in all the issues of the ancient history about Ayn Rand's personal relationships, but if one is going to discuss it what should be addressed is *facts or evidence or argument* offered by Neil Parille or Jim Valliant or anyone else, not trying to perform character assassination on someone because either (a) you don't like him over past issues, (b) you don't like or agree with the position he is taking.

It would be like saying global warming is wrong because enviros are bad people. Guess which side wins when you argue that way:

"I would [take] Neil Pareille more seriously if he was a regular poster on SOLO." --- What matters is what the facts are, not whether someone is a "regular poster".

"he only posts here to criticise Jim Valliant and PARC. " --- What matters is what the facts are, not whether someone only post on one topic or whether he is criticizing someone you favor.

"anti-Rand invective" --- What matters is what the facts are on the issue *presently* raised, not whether some of his other views you disagree with on issues raised in the past.

"he is no Objectivist" --- What matters is whether a statement someone makes is true or false, not whether his entire philosophical system is true or false.

"appears to be doing the Brandens' bidding" --- What matters is what the facts are, not your suppositions on someone's ulterior motives for presenting them.

I don't have much interest in whether or not Ayn Rand was over-angry or over-authoritarian with her friends: it doesn't affect her greatness. But what I have an interest in is allowing someone to present his case on either side without first trying to smear or discredit him with guilt by association and second being *unwilling to make a single substantive comment or answer* about his claims.

Attack the Ideas, not the Man.

Don't feed the Brandenite troll

Kenny's picture

I would Neil Pareille more seriously if he was a regular poster on SOLO. However, he only posts here to criticise Jim Valliant and PARC. Sadly, Jim no longer posts on SOLO as a result of recent disputes relating to Peikoff fatwa.

Pareille's obvious anti-Rand invective shows that he is no Objectivist and appears to be doing the Brandens' bidding. In my opinion, they should have the guts to respond to Valliant in person on SOLO. However, they have chosen not to do.

Don't feed the troll. He does not belong here!

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