The Exploitation of Ayn Rand: a Comparison of the 1968 Statements of Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden Regarding Their Break

James S. Valliant's picture
Submitted by James S. Valliant on Sat, 2008-01-26 02:47

The following is an excerpt from The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics. It is the bulk of Chapter 4, The Exploiters and the Exploited, with only a few modifications for publication here at Solo. Unfortunately, this includes the removal of the footnotes. For that, one must still repair to the text of PARC.

Ayn Rand’s endorsement of both Nathaniel and Barbara Branden had been a high one. Their closeness to Rand had given them a status within a subculture largely of their own creation which was equally high. Rand’s endorsement had made them sought-after teachers and Mr. Branden a sought-after therapist.

It is clear that in 1968 Rand did her utmost to remove that endorsement. Her repudiation of them, “To Whom It May Concern,” begins:

“This is to inform my readers and all those interested in Objectivism that Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden are no longer associated with me or with my philosophy.

“I have permanently broken all personal, professional and business association with them, and have withdrawn from them the permission to use my name in connection with their commercial, professional, intellectual and other activities.

“I hereby withdraw my endorsement of them and their future works and activities. I repudiate both of them, totally and permanently, as spokesmen for me or for Objectivism.”

Rand explains that it involved her exploitation at their hands and their growing departure from the principles of Objectivism. Rand tells us:

“For the past three years, I have observed a disturbing change in Nathaniel Branden’s intellectual attitude. It seemed to indicate his gradual departure from the principles of Objectivism, a tendency toward non-intellectual concerns, a lessening of interest in philosophical issues and in the Objectivist movement as such.”

Rand says that “[t]he clearest indication of this trend was Mr. Branden’s venture into the theater with his project to produce Barbara Branden’s stage adaptation of The Fountainhead.”

Despite Rand’s alleged capacity to rewrite the virtues of former friends out of existence following a break, Rand says that “Barbara Branden... had written a good adaptation...”

Rand relates her concern, however, that “this project seemed to become Mr. Branden’s central concern, taking up a major portion of his time, causing him to neglect his intellectual and business commitments. His attitude... can best be described as authority flaunting, unserious and, at times, undignified.”

Rand noted that Mr. Branden had begun to “default” on his responsibilities, citing as two examples, “the growing and lengthening delays in the writing of his articles for the magazine (I have at times been late with my own articles, but not chronically nor to such an extent) [and] his failure to rewrite the ‘Basic Principles of Objectivism’ course for his own organization, Nathaniel Branden Institute.”

With regard to The Objectivist, we are told, “We agreed that we would write an equal number of articles and receive an equal salary.” Rand asks readers to review recent issues and that they would find that she was writing an ever larger share of the articles.

This disturbing trend had been observable for at least three years, Rand says.

“During the past three years, my personal relationship with Mr. Branden was deteriorating in a puzzling manner: it was turning into a series of his constant demands on my time, constant pleas for advice, for help with his writing, for long discussions of his personal, philosophical and psychological problems.”

Rand depicts a troubled man whom she was doing her best to help. Until, that is, she began to detect hypocrisy and dishonesty.

“I was shocked to discover that he was consistently failing to apply to his own personal life and conduct, not only the fundamental philosophical principles of Objectivism, but also the psychological principles he himself had enunciated and had written and lectured about... he admitted that in many respects he was acting on the basis of unidentified feelings.”

And then, Rand writes, Branden “presented me with a written statement” so “offensive” to Rand that she says she broke her “personal” association with Branden, if not her professional one. (In Part II, we will see, in some detail, the exact nature of the deceptions revealed by Branden in that paper.)

Nonetheless, Rand tells us that she was “about to acquiesce” in Branden’s plans to resume lecturing, when Barbara Branden “suddenly confessed that Mr. Branden had been concealing from me certain ugly actions and irrational behavior in his private life, which were grossly contradictory to Objectivist morality and which she had known about for two years.”

Following the “shock” of discovering him capable of “conscious deception,” Rand began inquiring about the finances of The Objectivist and was then informed that Mr. Branden had arranged for NBI to borrow “almost the entire cash reserves” of The Objectivist in order to meet NBI’s rent at the Empire State Building. Rand had found out about the loan after the fact; occasional loans of this sort had been taken out before, but the unprecedented amount of the loan was not revealed to her until the time of her break with Branden.

Rand writes:

“The realization that Mr. Branden was exploiting me intellectually and professionally had been bad enough; that he should also attempt to exploit me financially was grotesquely shocking.”

As for Ms. Branden, her case, said Rand, was “far less complex and much more obvious.” Since it was she who had exposed Mr. Branden, at first, Rand says that she “gave her credit” for her belated honesty since Ms. Branden, too, had “seemed to be a victim of Mr. Branden’s policies.”

Rand notes that Mr. Branden apologized to the staff of NBI at its closing, admitting to them that “Miss Rand had given him a blank check on the use of her name and he had defaulted on his responsibility.”

Rand says that she then gave serious consideration to the idea of Ms. Branden running a lecture organization. Rand says that she was exceedingly reluctant because she was “not a teacher by profession and personal inclination” and that she never wanted to be the leader of “an organized movement.” Despite this, she gave Ms. Branden a hearing. “The plan did not offer any relevant factual material, but a projection (by unspecified method) of future profits to be earned... a business arrangement of so questionable a nature that I rejected it at once...”

It was the very next day that Rand heard that Ms. Branden had begun “to utter veiled threats and undefined accusations against me.” At her attorney’s advice, Rand authorized him to invite Ms. Branden to a meeting so that they could discuss the accusations she was making. However, Ms. Branden declined the invitation to explain herself.

Rand noted that the change in Ms. Branden’s attitude occurred immediately after the rejection of her business plan by Rand, who then asks the reader to “draw your conclusions about the cause and motive” of her behavior.

Rand concedes having made an “error of knowledge” with respect to her judgment of the Brandens, but suggested that the consequences of such an error “are never as hard to bear” as those of a breach of morality.

There is no question that Rand was not telling her readers everything. But it was also clear that this was intentional. Perhaps Rand was protecting the innocent, and much could rationally be considered not the public’s business, but Rand had certainly said enough to make clear that she had felt “exploited” by them.

In response, Nathaniel Branden begins:

“The charges and accusations stated by Miss Rand are, in the overwhelming majority of cases, either false or so misleading as to be false by implication. It is very unfortunate that Miss Rand chose to make a tragic, highly personal conflict between us the occasion of a public scandal, through the publication of her article; she has left me no choice but to make my response equally public.”

As an example of his reciprocating candidness, he states that the theater project “never took up more than a small portion of my time.” Branden even takes issue with the suggestion “that I was obliged to justify [to her] the disposition of my time and energies...”

Branden claims that “I never committed myself to writing an article per issue, nor would I have agreed to make such a commitment.” True, he had not begun the “total” rewrite of his course on Objectivism—which he planned to do “in 1969”—but he had been updating it all the time, he claims.

Branden notes what he calls Rand’s “astonishing lack of grace” in accusing him of professional exploitation in view of the enormous contribution his efforts made to Rand’s “career and the spread of her ideas.” The idea of Rand riding on his coattails is too rich an irony for serious comment.

He admits that Rand had “expressed apprehension” at the size of the Empire State Building lease and that NBI “required loans from time to time” from The Objectivist and even concedes that the loan in question was much larger than normal. He does not dispute that Rand found out about the loan after the fact, and he does not dispute Rand’s account of when she found out the exact amount of the loan. Branden merely says that he had done similar things in the past and that only part of the loan was for the rent. He says that Rand was wrong: the amount transferred was $22,500, not $25,000.

He denies that there was any “stipulation” between him and Rand (business partners in The Objectivist) that all decisions were to be “unanimous,” presumably implying that he was authorized to act entirely on his own. Branden then notes that he voluntarily signed over his interest in The Objectivist to Rand for absolutely nothing in return and that he would have been “entirely within my legal rights” to have demanded that The Objectivist be closed. Rand’s lawyers threatened him with a full investigation of his financial dealings and even a lawsuit to do so if he did not “sign immediately.” This made Mr. Branden feel “moral revulsion,” presumably his first pang of it thus far in his dealings with Rand.

Branden claims Rand was simply lying when she wrote that their relationship had deteriorated into “long discussions” of his “psychological problems” and “pleas for advice.” (In Part II, we will see that Rand was acting in almost an official capacity as his therapist.) He tells us that it was Rand who prolonged phone calls and it was Rand who was “constantly volunteer[ing] personal advice.” While it is true that Rand had been “of personal help” to him in the past, Branden says that he had helped her, too, during what he describes as Rand’s two-year post-Atlas Shrugged depression.

As Branden describes it, he “found [him]self” in an “agonizing personal dilemma which [he] saw no way to resolve.” He admits that he withheld “certain information about [his] personal life,” specifically his relationship with a young woman with whom he was in love. But he gives no suggestion why this should be of any concern to Rand.

The statement to which Rand had referred as “irrational” and “offensive” had been, according to Branden, “a tortured, awkward, excruciatingly embarrassed attempt” to make clear to Rand why he felt that the age distance between them “constituted an insuperable barrier, for me, to a romantic relationship.”

Notice how Branden powerfully implies that he would never, could never, have such a relationship with Rand, and recall that Branden is here in the act of detailing Rand’s “astonishing lack of grace.” (Branden, of course, had an affair with Rand lasting almost fourteen years of their eighteen-year relationship together.)

Branden also writes that Rand was lying when she suggests that her discovery of Mr. Branden’s “falsehood” was the final cause of her break with Branden. In fact, writes Branden, the decision had actually been made a month earlier when Rand learned of Branden’s “present feelings” but before she learned of any deception.

As we shall see, the Brandens’ later statements contradict this and, indeed, many other of their assertions in 1968, and the comparison of the Brandens’ rolling admissions indicates not only how right Rand had been at the time, but also the nature of the Brandens’ continuing dishonesty on these topics.

Rand, of course, was not herself privy to Branden’s memoir, nor did she make further comment on Branden after “To Whom It May Concern” was published in 1968. There, Rand tells us that she “observed a disturbing change in Nathaniel Branden’s intellectual attitude,” which seemed to “indicate his gradual departure from the principles of Objectivism.” Rand says that this became increasingly clear to her during Branden’s attempt to produce a stage version of The Fountainhead.

In his “Answer to Ayn Rand,” Branden denied and ridiculed Rand’s charge of “intellectual drift.”

In retrospect, Rand appears to have been quite perceptive, for, in subsequent interviews and memoirs, Branden would himself chronicle what amounted to much more than mere “intellectual drift.”

In Judgment Day, Branden claims that even during his earliest conversations with Rand he felt “pushed along a particular path faster than I would have moved at my own speed.”

Branden does not report ever expressing this feeling to Rand or ever asking for clarification from Rand. Nor does Branden specify the issues about which he felt “pushed.” In his typically vague fashion, Branden just “felt pushed.”

Though he never specifies the issues involved at this stage, Branden’s discomfort was apparently intense. Branden reports that for “all of us” around Rand, “there was terrible violence done to our emotional life—the repression or suppression of any feeling that clashed with what an ideal Objectivist was supposed to experience, be it a sexual impulse, an artistic preference...”

Branden is obviously not qualified to speak for everyone else, but taking his self-report at face value, Branden was engaged in a pretty comprehensive deception of both himself and Rand—given the “terrible violence” that he admits he was doing to his own “emotional life.” His use of the word “suppression”—as opposed to “repression”—suggests that it was, at least in part, conscious deception.

Here, Branden’s story confronts a certain problem: to the extent that he held views contrary to Rand’s during his association with her, he was deceiving and exploiting her professionally, and such differences may partially account for his break with Rand—as Rand had said. And yet, to the extent that Branden claims to have come to these differences only after their separation, he really does look like a socially conditioned robot—the true “social metaphysician” he identified as one whose opinions will vary depending upon who his friends happen to be.

To a certain extent, Branden does his best to have it both ways.

In what looks like a naked attempt to avert the criticism of intellectual hypocrisy, Branden’s version of events usually does suggest that only after his break with Rand in 1968 did he begin to have significant disagreements with her ideas, or that he was only dimly aware of these differences—perhaps psychologically repressing them—until after the break.

Branden asserts at one point that the entire situation had put him into a “trance.”

Branden also suggests that the very success of NBI and The Objectivist had contributed to an “emotional disorientation.”

“Increasingly,” Branden tells us, “I saw to what extent my personality had become distorted through [my] association [with Rand].” And later he says, “Today I am convinced there are errors in [Rand’s] vision, elements that need to be changed, eliminated, modified, added or amplified...”

Nevertheless, before his break with Rand, intellectual differences were emerging of such scope that even Branden must relate them to us. There can be no doubt Branden’s interests were straying from Objectivism. Branden reports that during one conversation with Rand she openly wondered, “hypnosis, Koestler—what next? Extrasensory perception?” (In a speech made shortly after her death, Branden would, indeed, admonish Rand for being “closed minded” on the topics of ESP and telepathy, a criticism he fails to repeat in either version of his memoir.)

Although Branden was the one “excommunicated,” his “dissatisfaction” with Objectivists, he told Reason magazine in 1971, was “a gradual thing”—a mere three years after his break with Rand.

In that interview, Branden also admits that “[t]here are certain touches in her novels that bother me and I guess always bothered me, but in the past I did not pause to consider them, I did not think about them.”

For example, Branden told Reason that the character of Dominique in The Fountainhead is “completely unreal” as a “psychological portrait.”

In Atlas Shrugged, Galt’s refusal to inform Rearden that Dagny is not dead for a month, claims Branden, is “morally and psychologically... criminal.”

Branden also maintained that the character of Eddie Willers—to whom he once compared his secret, new mistress—is “very neurotic and pathetic.”

These are hardly “touches.”

As Objectivism’s leading advocate outside of Rand herself at the time, it must have occurred to him that it was his professional responsibility to mention such sharp differences to Rand herself. But, of course, that would have been biting the hand that was feeding him.

Branden asks us to believe that he largely repressed his true opinion that Rand’s protagonists were “unreal,” “morally criminal,” and “very pathetic” during all of his eighteen years with Rand, and that it all became suddenly clear to him within three years of his break with her. Improbable, at best.

If Ms. Branden deceptively smiled and nodded in discussions of her artistic preferences, Mr. Branden did so in discussions of Rand’s work itself.

When the Reason interviewer asserts that Rand had claimed that “one must accept all of [Objectivism’s] tenets or none of them,” Branden agrees and calls this “pretentious” and “grandiose nonsense.”

As usual, the only “nonsense” here turns out to be that Rand ever said such a thing; she did not.

Of course, Branden was very familiar with what Rand had actually said, which inferred a similar but importantly different meaning.

In his lectures on epistemology at NBI, Nathaniel Branden had spoken extensively about the importance of comprehensive integration to certainty itself, the vital role of system-building in philosophy, the necessity of attending to the hierarchical structure of knowledge, and the fundamentality of philosophical knowledge.

Indeed, Branden had once proclaimed that Rand’s powerful insight could, perhaps, best be seen in the manner in which she had integrated her various philosophical positions.

None of this could he bring himself to mention to Reason in 1971.

All of this was apparently already “grandiose nonsense.”

So, as early as 1971, Branden provides evidence that he had been involved in a widespread conscious deception of Rand about the state of his mind, not just his heart.

Branden suggests that—from the beginning—his relationship with Rand to a significant extent was self-denial maintained by self-deception. “In one sense,” he conceded to Reason, “I can say I was never really happy [among Objectivists].” And about Rand herself, Branden says that it was “hard” for him to “face the fact” that he “did not really like her in important respects.”

In his memoirs, Branden supplies additional evidence of the very intellectual drift which Rand had observed—and that this drift involved far more than he had told Reason.

Branden reports in Judgment Day that throughout his relationship with Rand he became increasingly concerned that she seemed “closed” to certain new interests of his. He could not understand why Rand seemed nonplused by the ideas of Arthur Koestler. It bothered him that Rand did not seem more than mildly interested in hypnosis or the physiological aspects of depression. He tried to explain “non-Darwinian” theories of evolution and, again, Rand seemed insufficiently interested to him.

Still more significant, Branden tells us that he was, from the first, “uncomfortable” with the first sentences of Rand’s “Introduction” to The Virtue of Selfishness, which was published in 1964 and which contains some of her most important essays. Branden suggests that Rand’s alleged “moralism” was already making him “uncomfortable” in 1964.

When Rand broke with John Hospers in 1962, Branden relates that he felt “thoroughly miserable” having to “read [Hospers] the riot act”; allegedly, Branden had disagreed with Rand over the severity of her reaction to Hospers’ unspecified criticisms—while never breathing a word to Rand or Hospers about such disagreement until after his break with Rand.

Such differences might be regarded as marginal if they were with someone else, but to be the silently held opinions of Rand’s intellectual heir suggests a widespread intellectual hypocrisy on Branden’s part.

Cumulatively, these differences amounted to at least a drift—if not an active steering—away from Rand and her ideas, but the biggest indication of Branden’s admittedly increasing intellectual separation from Rand rested, apparently, in his own field of psychology.

In Who Is Ayn Rand?, Branden credits Rand with profound insight into human psychology. Many of his essays in The Objectivist Newsletter and in The Objectivist do as well. Branden explained how Objectivism provides a means of reconciling the alleged conflict between morality and psychology, how it makes possible an objective standard of mental health, how its insights into the nature of volition, the cognitive causes of emotion and the central importance of self-esteem, productive work and romantic love are nothing short of revolutionary—and how they constitute the necessary basis of any future science of psychology.

This is strong praise, indeed, for Rand was by profession a novelist, screenwriter, and non-academic philosopher. It should be remembered that Rand had no academic or professional training in psychology. Branden himself did not suggest that Rand had presented an entire psychological theory, only that the heroes in her novels are models of certain aspects of mental health and that her philosophy provided fundamental insights into his own field.

In the Reason interview Branden recants his praise, saying that Rand did not offer much psychological insight at all:

“I did not realize this, or did not realize it fully, during the years of our association, but Miss Rand is very ignorant of human psychology. On certain occasions she admitted that to me. It was not unusual for her to declare, “Nathan, I don’t really understand anything about human psychology.” But I never realized the full implications of what she was acknowledging. In Who Is Ayn Rand?, I compliment her psychological acumen. I was wrong to do so. That was my own naïveté or blindness. I think Miss Rand’s lack of psychological understanding is a great liability to her... “

Although Branden claimed in 1971 that he did not “fully” realize Rand’s weakness here until after the split, in Judgment Day, published eighteen years later, he admits that his essay on psychology in Who Is Ayn Rand? was “by far the briefest, since I did not regard psychology as Rand’s strong point, and my compliments felt a bit stretched to me even then.”

Branden did not tell Reason what will become obvious in Part II, that for many years—up to the last days of his relationship with her—he quite literally used Rand as his personal psychotherapist.

Branden does not claim to have abandoned reason, volition or self-esteem as central tenets of his psychological theories. His substantive differences with Rand in 1971 appear to be over issues such as to what extent conscious and subconscious processes can be “kept separate.” (The invitation to psychologize shall be duly declined.)

These issues would hardly seem to a casual observer to be reasons to retract the whole of the earlier praise, which had comprehensive and fundamental philosophical gravity. What is interesting—apart from his obvious squirming over exactly when these differences became apparent to him—is the incredible contrast: In print, he goes from believing in a brilliantly insightful and revolutionary Rand in 1962 to having no intellectual disparity with Rand in 1968 to branding Rand painfully blind by 1971.

Even taking Branden’s assertions at face value, his intellectual differences with Rand were widespread and growing as early as 1962, ranging from psychological theory to the characters and plots in her novels to her dealings with other intellectuals—and he never mentioned any of these things to Rand.

Nonetheless, for several more years Branden continued in his role as Objectivism’s foremost champion.

Branden never mentioned to Rand that he felt his praise of her psychological insights “felt a bit stretched” to him. Nor did Branden disclose his growing “discomfort” with the “Introduction” to Rand’s major book on ethics. Nor did he tell Rand that his role in Hospers’ departure made him just “miserable.” Nor did he say to her face that he believed that she was “closed” to new ideas—or that psychology was (at the very least) not her “strong point.” When he felt “pushed” too fast along a certain path he never said “slow down.”

Instead, he said, “of course, Ayn,” and remained the one intellectual in her presence who seemed to her to be her most intellectually sympatico colleague.

All these conflicts, if not many more, were left to stew.

Branden cannot admit that it was ever a conscious disagreement while he was still with Rand, and, hence, he says his compliments “felt” a bit stretched, he was “miserable,” he was “uncomfortable,” he was “bothered,” etc., about each of these issues.

It must be remembered that Branden has since written extensively about what he calls “the art of living consciously.” This appears to be merely an outgrowth of Rand’s principle that “man is a being of self-made soul,” that each of us has the responsibility actively to introspect, honestly to identify our values, and to avoid acting on the basis of unidentified emotions. In short, to know conscientiously what we are doing when we are doing it. This was the moral and psychological doctrine he would become famous for articulating both during his years with Rand and subsequently.

At NBI, Branden would lecture students on the virtues of rationality and honesty—and on the self-destructive vice of evading them.

He advised that all aspects of our lives must be brought into the light of reason and that happiness and joy were possible to the man who thus pursued rational values. He spoke of the ongoing commitment required to apply these virtues to our actual life. The virtue of integrity was repeatedly stressed by Branden in his lectures—the need to practice what one preaches. Perhaps no psychologist in history has stressed these ideas so explicitly.

Rand’s claim—the claim he angrily denied in 1968—that Branden was not living up to his own teachings and that he was acting on the basis of “unidentified emotions” is precisely what Branden now makes a central theme in his memoirs.

But these were not just personal issues and did not relate only to his private relationship with Rand. They pertained to his intellectual and professional life.

If, as a lecturer on ethics and as a psycho-therapist, he was having these kinds of emotional conflicts—for several years—and was letting them go without the benefit of any conscious thought or discussion, then Branden was—by his own admission—guilty of widespread intellectual and moral evasions. (We will see in Part II this kind of “mental drift” displayed by Mr. Branden in regard to a number of other issues as well.)

For a mind such as Branden’s that dealt daily with such explicit conversation on the evil and self-destructiveness of such behavior, it seems more likely, however, that Branden was engaged in a more conscious deception of Rand regarding his positions on these issues, given not only his eloquence on the topic so soon after his break with Rand and the comprehensive nature of the unresolved “discomfort” he admits to having experienced, but also on the financial and professional dependence on Rand he had developed during this time.

In 1982, a few months after Rand’s death, Mr. Branden delivered a speech entitled “The Benefits and Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand,” at the University of California at San Diego (at my invitation).

There, he detailed a still broader range of objections to Rand’s work—its subtle but pervasive encouragement of emotional repression, its lack of benevolence, its unspecified “gaps.”

The death of Rand in 1982 seems to account for Branden’s failure to disclose these differences earlier. How much further back all of these differences go can only be guessed. In his 1999 Liberty interview, Branden was asked when it was that he discovered the unspecified “gaps” in Objectivism which he now contends exist. Could it have been before 1968?

“No, no, before 1968 the most I ever had was a feeling of apprehension, or something is not quite... but no. It all happened in the years after 1968 when I was out of that world and kind of took it as one of my challenges to rethink everything, and ask myself, you know, what really satisfies me intellectually, and where I feel something is not right. All of that is post-1968. I wish it had been earlier.”

In light of his position at the time, Branden, of course, owed it to Rand to have done so much earlier—even ignoring the other implications of this kind of intellectual—and psychological—irresponsibility to himself.

As Rand’s spokesman and business partner, he had a moral obligation to Rand to think—at least once—about these things before the break.

And, of course, his self-serving account cannot be taken at face value. We are asked to believe that the “gradual thing” Branden had spoken of to Reason magazine in 1971 lasted less than three years.

Listening to Rand praise his essays and lectures, in which Branden himself could not yet express his true feelings, would have tipped off even the most self-deluded that his professional and intellectual life was just as much a fraud as his personal life. Branden admits in his memoir that he “felt like a fraud facing [his] own students,” because of his personal hypocrisy, at least.

But, it is also clear that Mr. Branden was dishonest about matters other than his love life and to many more people than his lovers. By his own admission he was giving Rand rhapsodic praise in his first book for something he did not think was her “strong point.” If he was so conscious of his growing doubts as to make the psychology chapter “by far the briefest,” then Branden was also conscious enough of the potential impact of these doubts on the content of his essay, as well as its length.

Branden was lying to his readers. Such was the intellectual respect Branden gave his public.

Rand, of course, he treated much worse. As long as Branden continued receiving Rand’s unmitigated endorsement, it was surely his ethical responsibility, according to the principles he still explicitly espoused, to be honest with Rand about even the smallest philosophical disagreement, much less the degree of “misery,” “bother,” “discomfort,” etc., he now admits it was causing him.

And not doing so can only be characterized as professional exploitation—whether accomplished by conscious deception or by systematic evasion.

The philosophy Branden had publicly advocated, taught, and detailed holds that honesty is a virtue of fundamental importance.

In Atlas Shrugged, Rand tells the reader through her hero, John Galt, that any attempt to gain a value through deception, be it love, fame or money, is immoral and self-defeating.

Such were the principles that he claimed to have shared with Rand, the principles he taught others.

If Branden knew that his new beliefs would upset Rand or cause a break with her, then for that very reason he owed her the truth—whether or not her reaction would be reasonable or unreasonable. And he could not help but know this.

Rand’s endorsement of him was her “spiritual property” and could not rightfully be taken from her by fraud, something Branden, of all the people on earth, knew more intimately than any other. His ongoing conduct to the contrary amounted to spiritual embezzlement.

We must also remember that Mr. Branden’s relationship with Rand was not merely intellectual; it was financial. Rand had no financial interest in NBI, but she and Branden were joint owners of The Objectivist, the magazine devoted to the dissemination of Rand’s philosophy. The magazine apparently turned a healthy profit.

Branden, it can be safely said, owed his career to Rand. It was with Rand’s literary agent and Rand’s publisher that he first signed contracts, presumably at Rand’s recommendation. It was Rand that had the international reputation as a novelist and an individualist philosopher. It was her work and her philosophy which had given Branden a subject to discuss at NBI and the frame of reference to his own work. It was her fame which established his fame, such as it is.

Branden’s own first book, Who Is Ayn Rand?, was the product of the generously long discussions he and his wife had tape-recorded with Rand.

The Nathaniel Branden Institute existed for the purpose of spreading Rand’s ideas.

The Objectivist magazine had the same purpose.

And, before the break, Branden’s reputation rested almost exclusively on the fact that Branden was Rand’s chief spokesman.

In denying that his dispute with Rand involved intellectual and professional exploitation on his part, Branden contends that Rand got benefits from the relationship, as well, such as his efforts through NBI and The Objectivist to promote her ideas, along with the admiration and love he had expressed to her.

Without NBI, he maintains, there would have been no “Objectivist Movement,” at least, the kind of “movement” that he confesses Ayn Rand never wanted.

But, especially in the face of multiple deceptions, that is not his call to make.

Branden blithely claims to have come to terms with what his “own rewards were for remaining with Rand,” but gives scant introspection to the degree to which he was professionally exploiting her, even as he reveals the evidence for this exploitation.

As for Branden’s motive in his professional deception of Rand, Branden gives several psychological justifications and excuses, but on this issue many of his statements regarding the matter Rand are rather revealing.

Branden admits that he was afraid that the entire structure he had built at NBI on Rand’s endorsement would be destroyed if he were to reveal the truth to Rand about his other affair. Recall that at this time Branden is married to Ms. Branden, having an affair with Rand which is known to their respective spouses, and having an affair with a third woman which both he and Ms. Branden are concealing from Rand.

He reports that during the years of his deception of Ayn Rand about his “private life,” at least, he “paced the floor of [his] office for countless hours, trying to think [his] way toward an alternative that would not result in the total collapse of the life I had built.”

Branden relates the following extraordinary account of a conversation he had with his former wife, in which they consider telling Rand the truth:

“There was a subtle note of hard, practical calculation behind [Ms. Branden’s] words, “Give up NBI? ... Give up everything we’ve created? ... How can you possibly do that? You can’t. You’d never respect yourself again.” I nodded in exhausted acquiescence; but my survivor-self contemplated Barbara as from a great distance, thinking: So. Well, well, well. We are all operators, it seems.” (emphasis added)

In other words, business considerations significantly played into Branden’s more than four-and-a-half years of deceiving Rand about his other, secret affair.

Although his income was destined to become even greater, promoting Rand’s ideas had provided him with a comfortable living. Branden notes the “hard, practical calculation” involved in Ms. Branden’s compact of dishonesty here, and the “countless hours” of thought and pacing which he gave these issues himself, none of which can be reconciled with his 1968 denials of financial wrongdoing.

Remarkably, Branden has long denied Rand’s accusation of financial exploitation and has mocked her specific allegations to that effect, and, yet, here he provides us with the details of his (and his former wife’s) very thought process as he nakedly chooses a course of exploitation.

Rand had specifically called into question both the lease at the Empire State Building, which Branden had pushed, as well as the transfer of money from The Objectivist to NBI in the form of “loan” in order to pay the rent on that lease.

In 1968, Branden conceded a good many of the facts Rand had alleged: that NBI “required loans from time to time” from The Objectivist; that Rand had expressed concern over the expense of the lease at the Empire State Building; that another, much larger than normal loan was then taken out, at least in part, to pay the rent on that lease. Nor did Branden contradict Rand’s statements regarding when and how she found out about this loan, i.e., after the fact.

In attempting to dispute Rand’s claim that the loan “represented the entire cash reserve of this magazine,” he actually admits its truth. He does not tell us what The Objectivist had in the bank at the time of the loan, but as of March 31, 1968, the amount was $17,434, he says. The amount of money transferred to NBI, he alleged, had only been $22,500, not the $25,000 Rand had claimed, and, of this, only $16,500 was “borrowed.”

Of course, the numbers cannot be verified by the author, but no matter how Mr. Branden slices it, the loan still required the depletion of most of the cash reserves of The Objectivist—as Rand had said. Rand’s only detectable potential error is, perhaps, having confused 22.5 with 25 thousands, but—given Branden’s own credibility issues—a “perhaps” is certainly required. Otherwise, all of Rand’s basic facts are confirmed by Branden.

Mr. Branden claims that the loan was repaid at his own instigation, but he also concedes that Rand did “put in a request for repayment, not knowing that I had already given instructions to that effect.”

Curiously, Branden does not then explain why he initiated repayment on his own so soon—if there was no impropriety with the original transaction.

In 1968, Branden contested Rand’s assertion that their “incorporation agreement” required their mutual agreement on all decisions, but in 1989—in another about face—he reveals that such was their oral agreement from the inception!

Still Branden completely ignores Rand’s reasonable—and, more important, legally correct—suggestion that, as co-owner of The Objectivist, Branden should have obtained Rand’s explicit agreement to such a loan before it happened.

Even assuming that most business decisions had been the exclusive concern of Mr. Branden, the loan was of an unprecedented size, as he concedes, and, therefore, required unprecedented treatment. Any such thought, however, Branden simply brushes aside calling Rand’s anger at his financial deception “controlling.”

It will become increasingly evident that it was Rand’s insistence on knowing the truth that the Brandens’ call “controlling” and “oppressive.”

Whether it was a little deception—like the surprise party—or a big one—like Branden’s intellectual fraud—the Brandens insist on their right to manipulate Rand with their lies. If Rand complains, they accuse her of being manipulative and “controlling.” Projection, smoke-screen, and avoidance, all in one increasingly familiar package.

Rand tells us that she did consent to the loan when she first learned of it a few months before her break with Branden, but that the amount of the loan remained undisclosed until the summer of 1968, in the midst of the break. These facts have never been disputed by the Brandens. This partial consent probably would have made any legal action against Branden for fraud difficult, but Rand had not accused Branden of an actionable crime, only of dubious business practices—in Rand’s words, “questionable policy.”

Morally, of course, Branden should have obtained Rand’s fully informed consent even if he was not also anticipating a break with Rand, as he now admits he was. In light of this additional fact, the loan was—morally if not legally—all the more fraudulent.

The essence of the financial exploitation involved in these transactions was not addressed by Mr. Branden in 1968. In 1989, with Rand now dead and her statement still standing as the final word on the subject, he finally gets around to it.

Less than a year before Branden’s break with Rand, NBI signed a lease at the Empire State Building—“the biggest financial commitment” Branden had ever made in his life. Branden was taking on such a responsibility even as he was contemplating the inevitability of a break with Rand, since this was precisely what he says he feared would happen if Rand ever found out about the various lies he had been telling her. Branden already felt, in his own words, that “his back was to the wall” because of the situation with Rand.

He quotes his ex-wife as saying at the time: “Are we crazy? Everything can explode at any minute! It’s only a matter of time until you have to tell Ayn the truth; we both know that. Wouldn’t it be better to tell her before signing the lease?”

Branden’s only response: “Eight thousand square feet in the Empire State Building to house all of our projects; I wanted that.” This is a strange attitude for a man who has “his back to the wall.”

In this context, “financial exploitation” seems a rather mild euphemism on Rand’s part. In any event, her focus on both the lease and the loan were apparently well justified.

The extent to which Branden actually verifies the facts behind Rand’s denunciation of him merely heightens the hypocrisy of the ridicule he heaped on that denunciation in 1968.

During an interview with Liberty magazine in 1990, Ms. Branden revealed that Rand had originally intended to write the introduction for Branden’s first book on psychology, The Psychology of Self-Esteem. Ms. Branden tells us that when she began to plead with Branden to tell Rand “the truth,” Branden replied, “Just wait until she writes the introduction.”

Branden’s anxiety over getting that introduction from Rand has been confirmed by Joan Blumenthal, another member of Rand’s circle of friends.

There were, it seems, multiple layers of financial exploitation at least one of which Rand herself was wholly unaware.

In “To Whom It May Concern,” Rand had said that the production of Barbara Branden’s stage adaptation of The Fountainhead “seemed to become Mr. Branden’s central concern, taking up a major part of his time, causing him to neglect his intellectual and business commitments.” Rand suggests that this was chief among the reasons why Branden had become chronically late in delivering his articles for The Objectivist and another indication of his wavering commitments.

Branden takes issue with this, saying in 1968, of the theater project, “it never took up more than a small portion of my time.” He does not dispute—in 1968, 1989 or 1999—that he was “behind schedule,” or that he was becoming habitually late with his articles, or even that Rand was by then writing more than her share of articles.

Instead, Branden attacks a straw man. “I never committed myself to writing an article per issue...” he says. In her article, Rand had only asserted that their initial agreement was to write “an equal number of articles,” as they received an equal salary.

Branden simply claims that Rand was “often late with her articles, too.” (Something, of course, Rand had never denied.) Branden says that the reason for his tardiness was actually a result of “the theoretical complexities of the issues about which I was writing.” But in 1989, he adds, “I found it difficult to concentrate on my writing.”

Branden also now admits that “[o]f the various projects at NBI, none gave me as much pleasure” as NBI Theater, which Branden “had initiated” shortly before the break. Its first project was to be Ms. Branden’s stage adaptation of The Fountainhead. Branden reports that his new mistress, an actress, had “reawakened” an early love of the theater in him.

So, however much time he was actually devoting to it, NBI Theater had become his favorite activity, and another of Rand’s points against Branden appears to have been well taken—despite earlier denials.

In his 1968 “Answer,” Branden actually asserts that he had no responsibility whatever “to justify... the disposition of [his] time and energies” to his coeditor on The Objectivist, the founder of the philosophy he had dedicated his life to spread, and whose continued endorsement buttressed his livelihood. Branden conceded Rand’s point that he had not yet begun the planned “total” rewrite of his NBI course on Objectivism, though he conveniently responds that he had planned to do it “in 1969.”

Rand’s complaint regarding the course had included the observation that a major portion of the “Basic Principles” had by then been made available (and more affordably) in print. Even in the “updated” version which he sold on LP following the break, a substantial portion of the material appears to be (almost verbatim) what can be found in The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal. Branden’s “continuous updates” consisted primarily of added quotations from Rand’s newly available, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, which are also contained on these LPs. Otherwise, despite Branden’s claims to the contrary, his lecture material changed very little throughout the Sixties.

In 1968 Branden vigorously denied Rand’s assertion that their relationship “was turning into a series of constant demands on my time, constant pleas for advice, for help with his writing, for long discussions of his personal, professional and psychological problems.”

Branden has never disputed that he had certain personal and psychological problems. In 1968, however, Branden insisted that Rand had not spent all that much time with him on these issues, except, perhaps, for some telephone calls which Rand herself had dragged out. Branden conceded that Rand, his coeditor on The Objectivist, was “a more experienced and accomplished writer” and, therefore, had “a greater number of suggestions to offer” about the writing in their magazine. But that was it.

In 1989, Branden was a bit more forthcoming. Beginning at least as early as 1964, he tells us, he began to exhibit “erratic behavior with Ayn,” including an “elusiveness” and “coldness” which was “alternating, as always, with expressions of passionate devotion...” Branden admits during this period that it was he who sought out Rand’s advice and help with his deteriorating marriage. Branden even admits that he knew it was wrong “to solicit Ayn’s help with our marriage while withholding information” that he and his wife were both having other affairs!

Although it was Mr. Branden who had solicited Rand’s help, he now sees sinister motives behind the generous counseling and emotional support which Rand gave the Brandens’ troubled marriage during this time. In the new edition of his memoir, he suggests that Rand had tried to manipulate the situation for her own purposes. Although Rand did make “negative observations” about their marriage “from time to time,” her generous help now suggests to Branden that Rand was “keenly interested” in preserving the Brandens as a couple.

Ms. Branden was “safe,” formulates Branden, and Rand never had to worry about “another woman.” (Of course, there was “another woman” at that very time.)

This theory, of course, ignores the evidence that Rand had been a warmly supportive counselor to each of them long before the affair and, indeed, before the Brandens’ marriage. Both Brandens report that Rand’s supportive counseling had begun in California many years earlier.

Moreover, neither of them report that Rand’s attitudes towards them changed because of their legal separation in 1965.

Perhaps this is why, Branden says, “[i]t did not enter my mind” that Rand was being manipulative until decades later.

In 1999, Branden confessed to Liberty magazine that the thought had still not “entered his mind” when he published the first version of his memoir in 1989.

It turns out this theory was the suggestion of his third wife, Devers, and that upon first hearing it, Branden responded, “Jesus, you know something? I don’t know; I can’t prove whether it’s true or not, but it... it feels intuitively like—not that that would have been the only reason—but that would be quite like Ayn to have that as one of her considerations.”

It may come as a complete surprise to readers of his book that this is not a “claim of knowledge” by Branden, or that this is only a hypothesis or “partial” explanation of Rand’s behavior. In his book, Branden successfully hid all of these underlying qualifications that he admits in the interview.

One can only wonder how much else of his book, which otherwise seems to be a claim of knowledge, contains such uncredited “intuition.”

However, Ms. Branden does not repeat or suggest this herself in her own biography. It seems the thought never occurred to Ms. Branden, either.

In any event, it was Mr. Branden who solicited help from Rand as a marriage counselor, not Rand volunteering her services, as Branden has now made clear, again in contradiction to his 1968 assertions.

Branden now says that he consciously knew as early as 1964 that “the deception in the manipulation I was attempting was in conflict with my own convictions about human relationships.” Convictions? What is clear is that the convictions he refers to were Rand’s convictions, the ones he was preaching if not practicing.

As a therapist, at least, Branden must have been, even then, conscious of the simple truth that deceiving one’s chosen psychological counselor is inevitably self-defeating, if not self-mockery. Soliciting Ayn Rand’s help with his marriage while simultaneously concealing important facts about his (and his wife’s) romantic life can, therefore, only have been part of a sophisticated and deliberate effort to stall for time by deceiving Rand about the state of his mind and his relationships generally. It cannot have been part of any sincere effort by the famous psychotherapist to save his marriage. That much is certain.

Rand’s generous, unwittingly futile advice is now “manipulation,” according to Branden, when his own role in soliciting that help from someone he was deceiving is the only manipulation present here to an honest eye.

Branden’s memoir, in some respects, continuously reflects the trickery of an expert magician, causing the very thing he pretends is caused by something else, in this case, once again covering his own manipulation of Rand by accusing her of manipulation. Projection, smoke-screen, avoidance.

This was by no means the only psychological counseling, as it turns out, that Branden solicited from Rand in the period during which he was deceiving her on so many levels.

Ms. Branden describes conversations between Branden and Rand in the period before the break as follows: “He spoke vaguely of problems troubling him, of physical and emotional exhaustion, of depression, of being overworked, as Ayn tried conscientiously to listen and to help."

In Judgment Day, Branden describes his conversations with Rand in 1967 as follows: “At Ayn’s, we discussed my psycho-epistemology, my mysterious emotional repression, my difficulties with the triangle of Ayn, Frank and me, the question of my real values.” Branden even admits that he “had been complaining of depression a good deal” to Rand.

We shall see in Rand’s private journals (Part II) just how extensive this counseling had been. These confirm, however, one of Rand’s chief complaints to Branden, that he had, in fact, transformed their relationship into nothing but psychotherapy. Before she had learned of his four-year romantic deception of her, Rand would write in private journals that Branden’s “worst offense of all” consisted of his allowing the relationship to “drift” into “the last two years of myself as [his] psychotherapist.” She also makes quite clear in those notes that she communicated this complaint to Branden. Discussions of Branden’s psychology had involved more than a few prolonged phone calls, it seems.

Much of “To Whom It May Concern” was implicitly conceded by Branden in his 1968 response, “In Answer To Ayn Rand.” Most of the rest had simply to wait for the publication of Judgment Day for confirmation. But one could never have guessed the truth of Rand’s statement from Branden’s original response.

Contrary to Mr. Branden’s fierce denials, Rand’s accusations about his intellectual, professional and personal dishonesty and manipulation of her are largely validated—by Branden himself.

Perhaps the most dishonest (and ugliest) part of Nathaniel Branden’s 1968 response to Rand concerns his affair with her.

Rand’s references in her statement to professional and intellectual exploitation were just cover, he tells us. The “real” cause was kept secret by her: Branden had told Rand that their age difference “constituted an insuperable barrier, for me, to a romantic relationship.”

No mention was made by Branden that for the previous fourteen years such an age difference had not been “an insuperable barrier” for him.

In effect, he suggested that Rand had “come on” to him and that he had been forced by his own emotional integrity to nobly refuse before any affair had begun. Preying upon the discretion of the wronged, he actually implied that Rand alone desired such a relationship, that he would have been incapable of it, and, perhaps, that he always regarded the very concept as irrational.

Rand, by contrast, had merely said that “Mr. Branden had been concealing from me certain ugly actions and irrational behavior in his private life, which were grossly contradictory to Objectivist morality...”—a statement that was true and discreet while necessarily explanatory.

But by the time of his memoirs, Branden would finally concede the nature of his personal deception of Rand. His affair with Rand had been commenced only at his instigation and, at Rand’s insistence, with the full knowledge and consent of their respective spouses. By the start of 1964 Branden had begun a new affair (with a married woman) which he kept secret from the woman’s husband at first, from Branden’s wife for two years, and from Rand for over four and half years.

During the course of this secret affair, his marriage with Barbara Branden now in shambles, Branden nonetheless refused to give his wife permission to have an affair of her own (with a married man), when she had the honesty to come forward with her own new interest. (This appears to have been the first instance of Ms. Branden’s up front disclosure of a desired affair, but certainly not her first affair in the course of her relationship with Branden.) Branden would continue for some time in this stance against Ms. Branden’s own affair while secretly commencing his own, according to Ms. Branden.

Ms. Branden says that it was “several months” after Branden’s affair with the other woman had already become sexual that Branden gave his consent, while Mr. Branden claims that it was only twelve or thirteen days. In any event, it was at least a year after his romantic feelings for the new woman were known to him, even if his account is to be credited. Today, after having been exposed by his first wife, Branden admits that such behavior was “ludicrous and unconscionable.”

When Branden did finally consent to Ms. Branden’s affair, he still did not reveal the truth of his own affair to her, Branden admits. Apparently it was not until after their formal separation that Branden finally told Ms. Branden of his new affair sometime near the end of 1966. Even then, he told her only that he was about to begin an affair with her, not that the affair was now more than two years old.

When Branden solicited Rand’s aid with his shattered marriage during the year 1965 and, probably, into 1966, he still did not disclose either his or his wife’s other affairs to Ms. Branden or Rand.

All the while, he continued teaching courses discussing the primacy of existence, the fundamental virtue of honesty, the evil of “counterfeiting reality,” the objectivity of knowledge, etc., etc.

Dishonesty had become a way of life for Branden. Ayn Rand’s philosophy, the very thing he was selling, made it impossible for him to deny, every minute of every waking hour.

When Branden’s ex-wife told him he should tell Rand the truth before initiating major new business commitments, Branden plunged ahead—even as he was feeling that he had his “back to the wall.”

Nor was it Branden who finally told the truth to Rand. Rather, he left this dirty work to his former wife. It is not clear that Branden himself would have ever told the truth to Rand.

Rand’s description in “To Whom It May Concern,” while it certainly did not reveal the affair to which she had been a party, had been a fair summary of Mr. Branden’s dishonesty in the less personal areas of their relationship. But it was also clear from Rand’s statement that something was missing, that Rand was holding back certain information which, it might well be said, was no one else’s business. In this sense, Rand’s statement was perfectly honest.

The same cannot be said of Branden’s 1968 statement, which was clearly intended to mislead the reader and to slander Rand in a miserably exploitative way.

In his memoir, Mr. Branden says that only when his relationship with Rand had been “reduced to long, drawn-out sessions made of nothing but pity, rage, guilt, and mutually [sic] inflicted pain,” and only after years of deceptively encouraging Rand’s feelings, did he finally tell Rand that—despite all of his earlier protests to her concerns that she would “always be a sexual being” to him—the age difference did, indeed, matter to him.

Because of Rand’s understandable sense of betrayal at this prolonged deception, the Brandens both agree that Rand contemplated denouncing Branden even then and began considering whether Ms. Branden might assume Mr. Branden’s professional position at the head of NBI and The Objectivist.

But Rand’s anger, it seems, did not prevent her from continuing to have business meetings with Branden. Her private journals reveal that they even continued to discuss Branden’s psychology, as we shall see.

Additionally, it is now conceded by both Brandens that Rand spoke of giving Branden another 'chance.'" Thus, the Brandens’ contention in 1968 that Rand had already decided to denounce him before she learned of the deception in his personal life is—once again—something squarely contradicted in both of the Brandens’ later accounts. Once again, their 1968 statement proves to be the actual series of “fabrications.”

The Brandens say that it was the prospect of Ms. Branden’s own financial windfall implied in Rand’s deliberations which motivated Ms. Branden to tell Rand about Mr. Branden’s affair. Branden probably could not have prevented this disclosure to Rand by his former wife, but he somehow still manages to give himself credit for acquiescing to Ms. Branden’s decision.

If this is all true, it may say something for Ms. Branden’s belated and partial honesty to Rand about Mr. Branden’s four and a half year old secret affair. Mr. Branden does, however, reveal that for two years Ms. Branden had explicitly agreed to help him keep his new affair a secret from Rand. He quotes Ms. Branden as agreeing with him “because you’re right, that would be the end of everything.” (We will also see, in Part II, the elaborate extent to which Ms. Branden would go in assisting Branden in this deception.)

Ms. Branden, possibly to her credit, could not, in the end, accept such a reward while still deceiving Rand, despite the financial motives that drove her previously. This is not something that can be said of Branden, even though it was his affair they were concealing.

Following Ms. Branden’s disclosure of that affair, Rand’s mind was made up—Branden was gone, the denunciation would come. Discussion of Ms. Branden’s possibly running NBI suddenly became even more serious. Ms. Branden quickly drew up a business plan.

Ms. Branden reports that Rand hardly looked at it before rejecting it. She quotes Rand as saying, “I can’t run a business, and I can’t let anyone else run it when it carries my name!”

This meant the liquidation of NBI.

The same afternoon that Ms. Branden’s plan had been rejected by Rand, Ms. Branden now admits that she began to tell friends of her “growing concern at Ayn’s reckless accusations and threats against Branden,” her concern for Rand’s “state of mind,” and her concern for Branden’s “professional destruction” by Rand. Even in 1968, Ms. Branden had admitted that she had openly worried that Rand’s attack on Mr. Branden “would compel him, in self-defense, to reveal information which would be painful and embarrassing to Miss Rand.” Ms. Branden does not mention this last in her biography, but what Rand had referred to as “veiled threats and accusations against” her by Ms. Branden are again seen to be based in fact, vindicating Rand’s account.

In “To Whom It May Concern,” Rand had observed that Ms. Branden began to take Mr. Branden’s side, as it were, only after her business plan had been rejected. Rand tells readers to draw their “own conclusions regarding Ms. Branden’s motives.”

The Brandens take issue with Rand’s questioning Ms. Branden’s motives. In their “Answer” to Rand, the Brandens insisted that it was Ms. Branden’s despair of financial gain while still deceiving Rand that had motivated her belated honesty.

Even if this is true, it does not contradict the possibility that Ms. Branden’s motivation for later siding with Mr. Branden was revenge for the loss of the windfall she had anticipated. After all, Ms. Branden had for two years deceived Rand, at least in part for financial reasons, and then suddenly signed her name to Mr. Branden’s highly deceptive version of these events in 1968.

Nor can Ms. Branden deny Rand’s account of the timing of Ms. Branden’s sudden switch to a defense of her ex-husband.

Such facts compel one to reconsider the assertion that Ms. Branden’s belated honesty was even the product of ethical considerations at all. Her revelations to Rand did have as their immediate effect the termination of any talk about “second chances” for Mr. Branden and conceivably could have put Ms. Branden in charge of her ex-husband’s former businesses. There is no reason to suppose that this was not part of Ms. Branden’s motive all along. It was, after all, only when Rand had put the kibosh on her own business plans that Ms. Branden turned. Ms. Branden tells us, in fact, that it was later that same day. And if Ms. Branden’s concern for Rand’s state of mind had been a sincere one, it certainly had not prevented her from proposing to make Rand her closest business associate earlier in the day.

Apparently, we can identify this day then as the day that the Brandens’ need to slander Rand’s psychology was born, and the day that their historical revisionism would begin.

Ms. Branden has kept insisting that her business plan had been solid and that Rand’s dismissal of this plan as a mere “projection” is indicative of her growing instability. Of course, it was just a “projection,” and the prospects for this projection relied as much on Ms. Branden’s now-tarnished trustworthiness as on sound business judgment. And without the draw of NBI’s “star” lecturer, Nathaniel Branden, Ms. Branden’s projections, which as she says were based on NBI’s past performance, were of little value. Nonetheless, Ms. Branden goes into some detail in her biography to justify the economic soundness of this plan.

It seems that Rand’s rejection of Ms. Branden’s business plan still smarts.

Nathaniel Branden’s own exploitation of Rand is far more complex and layered than Ms. Branden’s. Mr. Branden, as we have seen, is compelled to concede much of this himself. Perhaps this can be associated with his newly found desire to avoid calling anyone’s actions “immoral,” just “harmful,” as in the sentence, “I was harmful to Ayn Rand.” Therefore, the obfuscation of his own wrongdoing, however artfully done, is insufficient.

“Rand wronged me, too,” he spins by way of justification. Rand exploited Mr. Branden, both Brandens insist. In one of the most absurd examples of his distorted bias, Branden claims that Rand literally tried to “destroy him”: “‘You’ve got to understand,’ Barbara beseeched me, ‘that Ayn wants you dead!... Ayn wants you dead! That’s all that’s moving her now!’... Now I asked my brain to absorb the fact that the woman who had been my idol was plotting my annihilation.”

To justify this operatic assertion, Branden points to Rand’s published statement “To Whom It May Concern,” her efforts to get both her agent and her publisher to cancel their contracts with Branden, alleged efforts by Rand’s attorney to “blackmail” him when she improperly, in his view, took The Objectivist from him.

It probably need not be pointed out that Rand never tried to have Branden killed. Nor do the Brandens even try to substantiate this melodramatic claim. The allegation provides no insight into Rand, but, rather, it is the extent of the Brandens’ own paranoia that it serves to illuminate.

The phrase “plotting annihilation,” for example, in light of the actual evidence, takes Brandenian distortion to a new and intriguing level.

Rand’s only written references to the Brandens after the break were the aforementioned statement and a brief “p.s.” in a couple of books which still contained essays of Branden’s, to the effect that he was “no longer associated with” Rand or her philosophy. That’s it. Then, complete silence.

While Rand also removed Mr. Branden’s name from the dedication to Atlas Shrugged, this hardly amounts to “professional destruction.”

His essays—and his name—remained in Rand’s books, The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal. The “annihilation” plot apparently missed this open shot, at least, in striking Mr. Branden out of existence.

Rand had thought the Brandens to be honest people. When she discovered that they were not, it might even be argued that Rand was morally obligated to take whatever steps that were necessary to remove her public endorsement, even as Rand continued to acknowledge, in some sense, the value of their previous work. If her endorsement had secured Branden his publisher and agent, Rand had every right to withdraw her endorsement as vigorously as she could, when she no longer believed Branden to be an ethical man.

Since there are other publishers in the world, Branden was somehow able to publish The Psychology of Self-Esteem in 1969, the year following the break. And he was somehow able to establish a psychotherapy clientele on the West Coast. (The “somehow” was by using NBI/The Objectivist mailing lists.) Even if it were simply his personal deception of her, Rand certainly had every right to do her utmost to remove the endorsement to her agent and publisher which had been so valuable to Branden.

Because Branden was late in delivering the book, Rand’s publisher was free to take her new recommendation, according to Branden. The agent, it seems, had no intention of dropping Branden and never did. Both were within their rights in making these decisions. (The publisher had every right to do so, if only to please one of its best-selling authors.)

Regardless of her right to withdraw her endorsement of Branden, was Rand ethically justified in doing so? In the face of Mr. Branden’s prolonged dishonesty and exploitation of Rand, as well as Rand’s personal responsibility for her public endorsement of him, it was not only understandable, but also, perhaps, morally necessary.

During the course of Branden’s ongoing efforts to obtain professional certification, Rand had written letters of recommendation for him to agencies like the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety. It is true that, following their break, she wrote back with new letters simply withdrawing her previous recommendation. This was the apparent extent of Rand’s efforts toward Branden’s professional “destruction”—the withdrawal of her previous endorsements.

Branden, however, suggests that he was the one who had been financially exploited. He suggests darkly that his transfer to Rand of his ownership interest in The Objectivist involved “blackmail” and unfair pressure, if not actual coercion.

As co-owners of The Objectivist, Branden and Rand each had an arguable claim to the other’s copyrights to a great many substantive articles. The magazine was the chief voice of Rand’s philosophy. This, according to Branden, was a focal point of their legal problems in the midst of separation. Branden signed the transfer of ownership when the documents were first presented to him by Rand’s attorney. Wishing the spread of Objectivism to continue, Branden says, he was simply concerned about retaining the copyrights to all of his own articles, and via telephone Rand quickly gave him an oral agreement to the effect that Branden would be “treated fairly” with regard to his copyrights.

In his 1989 memoir, however, Branden does not mention any “treated fairly” proviso and now states forthrightly that he was told that his articles were “his own property.” Again, it is curious that the Brandens did not mention this in 1968, when it would have seriously helped Mr. Branden’s legal position, which was then supposedly still in question. It is likely that, once again, the Brandens are modifying the truth for their own ends. Branden also now adds that, despite this oral agreement, soon after the break he was claiming that Rand had “refused” to sign over the copyrights to his articles. Branden does not disclose why he started to make this accusation, but this may have simply been his way of demanding that Rand publicly acknowledge his right to his own articles.

According to Branden’s memoir, when he actually inquired of Rand’s attorney, Henry Mark Holzer, he was told that Rand had never refused, and Branden never makes clear from whom he got that idea in the first place. Branden says that Rand’s attorney did then try to impose certain conditions, among which were: Branden must keep the affair confidential, he must not “respond” to Rand’s forthcoming denunciation of Branden, and he must not accuse Rand’s lawyer (who, before the break, had acted as attorney for both of them) of acting unethically. Branden does not say, but he presumably had already made this accusation against the attorney privately, as he would certainly do publicly in his 1968 “Answer” to Rand.

While it is probably the case that Mr. Holzer’s joint representation of both Branden and Rand—and its sudden termination—should have disqualified him from any legal involvement in their conflict, only an attorney can be expected to be sensitive to this point in the midst of conflict, and Rand may have been poorly treated by her own attorney in this matter (assuming Branden’s assertion that Holzer had previously represented him separately is true.)

In that “Answer,” Branden did charge Holzer with shoddy ethics and, of course, he did respond to Rand. And, when Branden used his articles from The Objectivist to form the basis of his most important book, The Psychology of Self-Esteem, published the following year, Rand took no legal action whatsoever.

There is thus no circumstantial corroboration that such “conditions” were ever imposed, and Mr. Holzer is apparently the only person now in position to confirm the truth of Branden’s account on this score. Even if it is an accurate account, Mr. Holzer’s interest in protecting his own license and reputation suggests that these “conditions” may have been the work of Mr. Holzer, if they are not the invention of Branden. Rand is not likely to have been the author of the attorney-ethics condition, at least. Rand may never have known of any of them, since the only “condition” in which Rand appears to have had a possible interest was Branden’s discretion about the affair.

Based upon existing evidence, there is no way to tell which may be true.

If such conditions were actually ever proposed, it further suggests the truth of the “treated fairly” proviso Branden originally reported in 1968. Arguably, such a proviso would have put Rand in a legal position to negotiate the release of Branden’s copyrights.

And if Rand had actually solicited Branden’s discretion through her attorney, this can only have been the opening bid in an attempt to negotiate their mutual silence. According to his own scenario, it is probable that Branden could have avoided “To Whom It May Concern,” despite his later complaints. It was Branden who necessitated the eventual exposure of his own comprehensive dishonesty.

Nor would soliciting such conditions have comprised a violation of Mr. Branden’s rights, much less an effort to “destroy” him, in any event. Even assuming that these conditions were made and that Rand herself was privy to them, Rand was simply asking for Branden’s agreement not to make a private matter public in the privacy interests of everyone concerned.

Branden refused.

The Brandens not only denied Rand’s charges, they did so dishonestly. The Brandens, already comfortable deceiving their readers, would reveal in the substance of their memoirs that everything Rand had initially said about the break and everything that they had initially denied about it was true. Yet they simultaneously insist that Rand’s 1968 statement, not their own, was the libel.

Mr. Branden’s original description in 1968 makes quite clear that the original transfer—assuming his own copyrights were retained—reflected his own explicit, considered and voluntary wishes at the time. It was not the result of inappropriate outside pressure. Yet, in his memoirs, he now suggests it was the product of duress.

In 1968, Branden says that he would have been within his legal rights to have demanded that The Objectivist terminate publication. Legally, this may have been true, but to have done so, of course, would have constituted an even greater spiritual theft from Rand, whose own efforts—sans the intellectual dishonesty—had also built that magazine.

According to Mr. Branden, it was his devotion to the ideas of Objectivism which had already made him, in his own words, “willing” for Rand to continue publishing the magazine named for her own philosophy. Scruples do not appear to have plagued the noted psychologist then or now, as he would cite this modicum of decency years later as evidence of his mistreatment.

In immediately signing over his whole interest in the magazine without financial compensation of any kind, Branden was clearly acknowledging a guilt that was obvious to all those involved at the time.

In 1968, to be sure, Branden had said that he had been threatened by Rand’s lawyer to sign immediately or that Rand “would demand a full investigation” of NBI’s financial dealings with The Objectivist—and even initiate a suit against Branden to do so. In 1968, this was the extent of the unfair pressure he was willing to allege.

“Exhausted,” he tells us, and with “a last vestige of sympathy for Miss Rand’s anxiety,” he signed.

Ms. Branden goes so far as to call this “his gift to Ayn.”

Branden does not mention in 1968, 1989 or 1999, what Rand’s private journals now make clear, namely that Branden had offered to sign The Objectivist over to Rand at least a month before their break, a suggestion which Rand—at the time—took as “offensive”!

As has been already observed, if Branden had not relinquished his position as coeditor of The Objectivist, or if he had used his technical copyright on any other articles in The Objectivist, he would have been morally, if not legally, guilty of an enormous intellectual theft. His position at the magazine had been maintained for years by deceiving his business partner—and the originator of the philosophy he professionally espoused.

Branden’s only “gift” to Rand was not to further amplify his own policy of intellectual, financial and emotional exploitation of her.

One can only imagine “what Howard Roark would have done” to Branden under such circumstances.

In 1989, Nathaniel Branden, for the first time, has added a much more sinister dimension to his accusations when he claimed that he was told by one of Rand’s representatives, “We had to talk Ayn out of wanting to send Bob Teague up here with us to make you sign.” Teague, it is reported, had a “brown belt in judo.”

But, if this story is true, then why did Branden fail to mention any of this in 1968? He was perfectly willing to suggest that he was being wrongly “pressured” in other ways to sign the transfer, to have an affair, etc.

Indeed, Branden was giving a rather complete list of Rand’s dastardly role in the break. He certainly accuses Rand of slander and blackmail in that document. Furthermore, he was even willing to reveal Rand’s part (if not his own) in wanting a romantic relationship. Why suppress just this? And why, if Branden was so willing to sign over his rights from the start, would Rand ever have felt tempted to “send Bob Teague?”

Ms. Branden, in her 1986 biography, neglected to include mention of this, as well, though it certainly would have added to the book’s cinematic potential.

According to Mr. Branden, his former wife was also in the room at the time. Why did Ms. Branden not choose to include this alarming occurrence?

And, of course, there is the formulation of this double-hearsay to contend with. We are to believe that Teague never was called because Rand had already been “talked out” of it. More precisely, Rand had been “talked out of wanting to” do it. This is a very fine piece of wording, but what is it supposed to mean?

Three steps removed from Rand herself, this allegation says nothing about Rand, even if Branden’s is a true report. But the prevailing evidence suggests that this is simply another of Branden’s many creative and conveniently unverifiable recollections.

Unfortunately, perhaps, the story is not likely to be true. Had Branden withheld “his gift to Rand,” he would have been asserting his control over Rand’s valuable intellectual property. He would have been continuing in a position which he had kept up by fraud for at least five years. He would have denied Rand—who had never once consciously lied to him—control over the official voice of her ideas, and Rand—once again—would have been the one victimized by Branden’s fraud.

Morally, Branden should have signed over his interest in The Objectivist years earlier. To have asked for monetary compensation for this, in the wake of years of systematic deception of Rand about so much, would have been the equivalent of theft, a kind of spiritual theft grievously hurtful to Rand. The transfer was perfectly voluntary and proper, Mr. Branden’s subsequent objections and lies notwithstanding.

Rand had acted as best as she could to withdraw her endorsement of the Brandens.

However, it is beyond hyperbole for the Brandens to suggest that Rand was attempting to “destroy” Branden. Rand may have tried, unsuccessfully, to prevent Branden from slandering her. Branden’s subsequent lies soon vindicated this motivation in spades.

The Brandens were dishonest with Rand about nearly everything a person can be dishonest about, largely in order to maintain the good thing they had going at NBI. This dishonesty lasted for years.

The Brandens not only lied to Rand, they lied to their readers about their relationship with her, and their break in 1968—and then they lied about their lies. Ever since then, they have continued to lie in memoirs and biographies about their lies to their readers in 1968—calling Rand’s 1968 statement, not their own, “libelous.” This remarkably all-encompassing dishonesty is manifest even from the biographies themselves—and it is all the more apparent, as we shall continue to see, now that we have Rand’s journal entries from this same period.

When Rand began to find out about the Brandens’ dishonesty, she severed her personal and professional relationship with them. The Brandens would go on and on in their dishonest attack on Rand in the years to follow. After her 1968 statement, Rand’s public silence about the Brandens continued until her death.

One thing the Brandens got right—someone had been exploited. But it was not them.


( categories: )

Well...

James S. Valliant's picture

Who said the following?

"Insofar as Objectivism became a cult, it was Nathan who did that, not Ayn."

and

""He [Mr. Branden] was constantly denouncing. Oh boy, I remember it loud and clear. Ayn seemed like a pussycat in comparison."

Answer?

Barbara Branden.

[Yes, I know this is what I said on the other thread, too. BUT IT BEARS REPEATING.]

Was That "Jumping the Shark" or "Nuking the Fridge"?

James S. Valliant's picture

Of course, I've never suggested that Ms. Branden claimed Rand to have been a physical torturer who literally used "fire and the rack," so why does Campbell make this distinction in his defense of this characterization?

And, since the complaint in PARC is that Ms. Branden has provided us no example -- not one -- in which the observer could fairly describe Rand in this fashion, one might have expected Campbell to have provided us with such information himself. We need to see Rand wielding these "psychological instruments," of course, in order to judge her this negatively for ourselves.

We require an example of Rand actually using this psychological weaponry, rather than merely theorizing about the arsenal. This example should show us the victim, the inflicted wounds, how the wounds were inflicted, and, then, of course, tell us how the impact was fairly comparable to having one's bones shattered on the rack or being burnt at the stake.

Instead of indicating how "torture" was accomplished -- or against whom -- by the concepts of "social metaphysics" and "emotionalism," Campbell says that he lacks evidence of anyone "helped" by those concepts! Reversing the order of proof required to support Ms. Branden's massive assertion, he merely asks if these concepts were "helpful" in individual cases of therapy.

A theorist who comes up with a psychological concept that we eventually conclude is largely "unhelpful" -- e.g., "penis envy"? -- do we conclude that its originator was a medieval torturer (that is, outside of the context of its misuse in therapy)?

Really?

Rand was not a therapist and she never claimed to be one, and the concept of "social metaphysics," for example, is very helpful in ways outside of the context of psychotherapy. Surely, if these concepts were used destructively in a therapeutic context, the fault is Branden's.

Now, Campbell does provide us one purported example of this "rack and fire" treatment -- Nathaniel Branden!

Yes, Branden was lying to Rand in that counseling -- yes, he was attempting to manipulate her through this deceptive counseling -- absolutely, Rand refused to give such counseling to whomever requested it, like Patrecia -- sure, Rand's advice to Branden was also in part philosophical and psycho-epistemological -- and, yes, he was the trained psycho-therapist, not Rand -- and, sure, they were both well aware of this -- we are seemingly being asked by Professor Campbell to see Mr. Branden as a torture victim in this counseling and Rand, though the victim of deception and manipulation in this instance, as Torquemada herself. (Imagine the audacity of using Branden's testimony about himself! Even Mr. Spock would call this "outrageous" and not merely "fascinating.")

BTW, Mr. Parille had not merely called this "hyperbole," but "unfortunate hyperbole."

For Robert Campbell of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, it is simple truth.

With all due respect to my friend, Chris Cathcart, these instances can no longer be called "meltdowns" on Campbell's part, but, rather, seen as a way of life, a permanent condition, a representation of his judgment generally.

Fire and the rack

Robert Campbell's picture

For some time now, Mr. Valliant has making heavy weather out of a single sentence in Barbara Branden's book:

It was her new theorizing in psychology that Ayn Rand began to use as an inquisitor might use fire and the rack. (The Passion of Ayn Rand, p. 269)

Particularly since Neil Parille once called this invocation of fire and the rack "hyperbole."

Continuing to pound the daylights out of the word, Mr. Valliant can't quit repeating that Mr. Parille has "conceded" something.

Well, Mr. Parille will have to speak for himself. But after rereading the passage in question, I personally have no problem with it.

I ain't concedin' a damn thing.

For it is plenty clear from the context that Ms. Branden is not attributing the use of literal instruments of torture to Ayn Rand, let alone claiming that she organized any clandestine autos da fé.

Rather, she is talking about ideas that Ayn Rand could apply, and soon did apply, to induce guilt in her disciples, beat down their self-confidence, and make them subservient to her. There is no reason to suppose that any of the ideas were initially developed for these purposes, but it did become evident very quickly what results their application actually produced-and Ayn Rand nonetheless kept using a lot of them.

Ms. Branden shows how philosophico-psychological diagnoses, such as "social metaphysics," harmed people and make them more susceptible to domination.

... the diagnosis of "social metaphysics" became in Ayn's hands, and in Nathaniel's, both a means of accounting for human "irrationality" and a means of exercising control. The world, before divided into the Roarks and the Keatings, now was divided into the rationalists and the social metaphysicians-with the rationalists forming a minuscule portion of that division. When applied to one or another of Ayn's friends or close acquaintances, the diagnosis of social metaphysician-announced with the gravity of a medical doctor pronouncing a verdict of cancer, to which was added the moral opprobrium appropriate to a volitionally chosen cancer of the spirit-became a nightmare to avoid at all costs. (ibid.; in the mid-1950s "rationalist" was an honorific in Rand-land; it did not become a pejorative term until the 1960s, developing in the 1980s into Peikovian catchall for philosophical deviationism)

And she lays the blame for the damage primarily at Ms. Rand's feet:

No one, however young and inexperienced, would have accepted so cavalier and damning an explanation of his psychological state as social metaphysics, had the source of the explanation not been Ayn Rand (p. 270)

A little further into the same chapter, Ms. Branden discusses a new philosophico-psychological diagnosis called "emotionalism" that Ayn Rand hatched to try to explain Ms. Branden's anxiety attacks (pp. 275-277; this was not the same as the general-purpose synonym for irrationalism from the 1970s, which is now given major currency by the Peikovians).

There is no evidence that the diagnosis of "social metaphysics" helped anyone solve his or her genuine psychological problems; the diagnosis of "emotionalism" didn't have an impressive success rate, either.

Ms. Rand's decision to act as counselor to Nathaniel Branden in 1967-1968 needs to be understood in light of these activities during the 1950s.

As do the philosophico-psychological notions she employed, whether they were new ones like the "Kantian goddess premise" and "meta-selfishness," or old ones, such as "the stylized life."

How would these have actually helped him, if he had been genuinely cooperative with the "therapy"?

How much did such diagnoses, and such efforts at counseling, help anyone?

Robert Campbell

Your "Logic"?

James S. Valliant's picture

One of your premises is artfully put, Mr. Campbell:

"No mention of lies being OK to protect one's privacy from snoopers, in any of Ayn Rand's published nonfiction..."

Why should we limit this to nonfiction? As I recall from Atlas, Dagny is deceptive with Lillian about her own affair with her husband -- and, in Dagny's presence, Rearden compels Lillian to apologize to Dagny for even suggesting that she was sleeping with him -- in the Taggart wedding scene, I believe. Lillian wasn't just a "snooper," she was the deceived wife.

This is also consistent with the approach taken in Rand's notes on the subject of the "complete secrecy" of Dagny's "healthy" affair with Francisco in Atlas Shrugged where Dagny's "reason" for secrecy is simply her "hatred for people's view of sex" and her "furious indignation that anyone should dare to presume to lay down rules about it for her." Dagny, the notes say, refuses "to grant them the right to discourse about it."

And your recollections of earlier lectures won't cut it, either. We still need both sets of exact language.

And, even if they did, such a "pattern" still doesn't prove anything you seem to want to conclude from it.

So, I guess I was wrong about your ability to see these obvious things.

Sorry.

Now, let's see, Peikoff reported this just seven months after the release of Ms. Branden's book, in response to a question based on PAR, so that didn't give his wife much time, did it? And, if he did not say it then, and he may have, he said in my presence "shortly after Rand's death."

Also, there's a big difference between identifying something and thoroughly examining and recording its contents and assigning a project to have it published.

Mr. Valliant's latest lapse into illogicality

Robert Campbell's picture

Jim Valliant has not established the date at which Cynthia Peikoff found papers of Ayn Rand's that confirmed the existence of an affair.

Is he incapable of putting a year on it, even?

What's novel is not his claim about the discovery of papers by Cynthia Peikoff—Leonard Peikoff referred to that in April 1987—but the relatively early date at which Mr. Valliant insists the discovery was made.

Mr. Valliant has previously alleged that the Estate of Ayn Rand often takes its sweet time identifying and cataloguing some of Ayn Rand's papers. So it hardly follows from the Estate's interest in identifying and cataloguing that the journal entries about Nathaniel Branden were identified right off the bat in 1982.

As for the matter of "privacy lies," Mr. Valliant hasn't denied the following pattern:

--No mention of lies being OK to protect one's privacy from snoopers, in any of Ayn Rand's published nonfiction;

-- No mention of lies being OK to protect one's privacy from snoopers, in Leonard Peikoff's 1976 lectures on Objectivism;

--A clear endorsement of lies told to protect one's privacy from snoopers, in Leonard Peikoff's 1991 book on Objectivism

Nor has Mr. Valliant provided evidence of any Randian or Peikovian endorsement of "privacy lies" prior to the publication of OPAR.

Yet he proclaims:

You haven't done anything like demonstrate a "change" occurred in Peikoff's position, but, from your own comments, it seems you recognize this.

Wow, talk about conclusions not following from premises...

Robert Campbell

Campbell

James S. Valliant's picture

You haven't done anything like demonstrate a "change" occurring in Peikoff's position, but, from your own comments, it seems you recognize this.

In case you don't know it, Mr. Campbell, Peikoff has stated publicly that he learned of the affair from his wife who was reading Rand's notes shortly after her death. I merely reported that Peikoff said the very same thing in his living room to a group of us.

You sure throw accusations of lying around pretty recklessly -- especially for a man with such a reputation for fable-telling as your own.

So, I wasn't lying about what Peikoff said -- and there's simply no reason to suppose that Peikoff is lying about the matter, either.

We have the notes Peikoff says he had -- now published in PARC -- and we know that he must have had those notes when he claims to have had them. These make an affair obvious. Are the notes not sufficient corroboration for his account? In any event, doesn't it seem likely to you that Rand's estate would at least try to identify each of the papers in their possession shortly after Rand's death?

No, the laboring oar is all your own for the claim that Peikoff is lying.

Change

Robert Campbell's picture

In Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (two full paragraphs, pp. 275-276 in the paperback), Leonard Peikoff discusses lying to criminals. He gives the example of being asked by a kidnapper where one's child is sleeping.

OPAR is primarily based on Dr. Peikoff's 1976 lecture series. The discussion of honesty in his 1976 lectures was very similar on these points, although the concrete examples were different. (The book also follows the 1976 lectures when Dr. Peikoff also rejects the Kantian notion that one has a duty to tell the truth to everyone, under all circumstances.)

What has no counterpart in the 1976 lectures is the single paragraph that follows this discussion, on p. 276:

There are men other than criminals or dictators to whom it is moral to lie. For example, lying is necessary and proper in certain cases to protect one's privacy from snoopers.

Beyond this I cannot go, for I cannot prove a negative.

If Mr. Valliant can find an endorsement of "privacy lies" in Leonard Peikoff's 1976 lectures, he is welcome to produce it.

Logically, I can't produce the absence of any such endorsement.

I will also note that, when Ayn Rand did not cover a topic to the satisfaction of Drs. Peikoff and Binswanger, The Ayn Rand Lexicon typically inserted an edited transcript from Dr. Peikoff's 1976 lectures to fill the gap. No excerpts whatsoever from those lectures were included under such headings as "Honesty" and "Integrity" in the Lexicon. Only Ayn Rand's works are quoted there.

No doubt I will be further pilloried as a liar for daring to suggest this, but here goes: there is no endorsement of "privacy lies" anywhere in Ayn Rand's nonfiction, as published during her lifetime.

Drawing on his endless reserves of chutzpah, Mr. Valliant demands to know:

What evidence do you have that Peikoff said anything, if asked, or didn't refuse to answer the question, or that he was ever asked?

It was Mr. Valliant who proclaimed that Leonard Peikoff learned of the affair between Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden shortly after Ayn Rand's death in 1982, rather than in 1986 when he learned that the affair was to be discussed in Barbara Branden's book.

It is Mr. Valliant's story that leaves Leonard Peikoff 4 or 5 years to field questions while knowing there had been an affair but not publicly acknowledging that it had taken place.

Mr. Valliant needs to provide his evidence, if he has any.

Otherwise, the most reasonable inference is that Mr. Valliant is lying.

Robert Campbell

No Tape?

James S. Valliant's picture

There has been no demonstration of any change whatever in Peikoff's position.

We will need both sets of exact language -- especially given your penchant for fabrication, Mr. Campbell -- before we start constructing theories on still more unwarranted assumptions.

What evidence do you have that Peikoff said anything, if asked, or didn't refuse to answer the question, or that he was ever asked?

And, of course, name-calling won't make your position any more sound.

In any event, do you mean the subject of this exchange?

Ellen Stuttle:

"Again, I got this during the late '70s at second remove from Evan Picoult. Harry told Evan that he once asked AR herself, straight out, the question left begging by Nathaniel's response to 'To Whom It May Concern': Had she and Nathaniel had an affair? According to Harry's account, she replied, 'No, and he wasn't my type.' I.e., instead of becoming angry with Harry for even asking such a question (as Hessen said she did with someone else in another incident -- that incident during the Q and A period after one of LP's lectures), she answered directly, in the negative.

"I can understand why she would have lied (assuming she did) in response to being queried outright regarding her relationship with Nathaniel by a fairly close associate (Harry was part of what in those days was often called 'The Second Inner Circle'), but only on the supposition that it was important to her that the truth be kept secret -- as both of the Brandens have said it was."

J. Enright:

"At this point I'm not sure of the event. We did used to do all her Ford Hall Forum appearances. We left New York in May of 1980. After all these years it is possible that I have some of the setting wrong, but I think I would remember if Harry had asked that question. I recall being surprised that the question was asked, and I half-expected her to blow up, but she didn't, and she got a laugh from the people listening with her smart-alecky reply, and I completely believed her. I cannot swear it was during Q&A, but I would swear it was not a private conversation. There were people listening, and they went hush at the question, at least that's how I recall it. So it must have been Q&A or one of those little crowds that would gather around her.

"It looks to me like Leonard P. did his Objective Communication lectures in 1980, but I don't know what months, and I don't remember it specifically."

I don't know all that's been discussed about this over at OL, but did no one have a tape (Rand's public appearances were all recorded) or a confirmed context where this was said? Or, is this still a matter of folks' memories? Could we have a garbled memory of a story sourced in Binswanger or Picoult?

In any event, for what it's worth, this is entirely inconsistent with what Branden's sister reports, who says that, after extensive efforts to "evade" answering the question, Rand admitted the affair to her. (J.D., p.393, MYWAR, p. 350) Why not just deny it to her, too? Curiously, Rand did not deceive her, whatever Objectivist ethics would have permitted -- both in the 70s and in the 90s.

For a cockroach ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... like Campbell to be concerned about lies when he tells so many and acts as willing accessory to so many others is rather like a butcher joining the Vegan Society.

Here's what's at the Enright link:

My wife is reading the Valliant book the old-fashioned way, from the beginning. Today she quoted him as saying that apparently Rand had never explicitly denied having an affair with Branden.

But I remember her being asked about this during a Q&A session, which must have been at Ford Hall Forum. As I recall, she did deny it, and went on to add that besides, Branden was "not my type." This got a big laugh.

I believed her. I was wrong. In retrospect, I can see where she could truthfully add that "not my type" remark. But I THINK the denial was explicit. I don't have it on tape, so I'm admittedly relying on memory here.

In OPAR, Peikoff wrote that "lying is necessary and proper in certain cases to protect one's privacy from snoopers". I'm guessing she would have agreed with this.

The truth can hurt
When it's turned into dirt
And flung at your face
In a public place.

For what it's worth, if Rand did answer that way, I say she had every right to.

Denials of the affair

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Valliant claims that Ayn Rand never lied about her affair with Nathaniel Branden.

Here are links to two accounts of her denying it in front of an audience during her last years: "No, and he wasn't my type."

http://john-j-enright.livejour...

http://www.objectivistliving.c...

John Enright recalls being there when she said it.

As for Leonard Peikoff, we still have a period of up to 5 years (some time after March 1982 to April 1987), where, according to Mr. Valliant, he knew about the affair but had not publicly admitted knowing of it.

Are we to conclude that no one asked Leonard Peikoff about the affair for 5 entire years?

And if anyone did ask, what did he say?

If he had said, "Yes, they had an affair" before April 1987, wouldn't that have gotten around Rand-land in a hot minute?

If Mr. Valliant wants to act like he doesn't know the passage in OPAR concerning "privacy lies," I will provide the page reference later (John Enright quotes the exact language, so I don't need to provide that).

I took Leonard Peikoff's 1976 course, making detailed notes. I recall no remark about lies to protect privacy back then. Mr. Valliant is, of course, welcome to correct me if he can find on those 1976 tapes an endorsement of lying to protect one's privacy from snoopers.

This particular Peikovian change has been much remarked upon, so it takes either extra boneheadness or extra chutzpah to accuse anyone bringing it up of "making bizarre and unwarranted accusations out of thin air."

What's more, "privacy lies" are one of three issues, by my count, where Tara Smith does not toe the strict Peikovian line in her book on Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics. My inference—in Valliant-speak, "my dark insinuation"— is that there is still a little bit of dissension within the Leonard Peikoff Institute about that particular matter.

Robert Campbell

Campbell

James S. Valliant's picture

Well, if these are the "questions" you think are so vital for some reason, then maybe I have asked him "nothing" at all. (But do check out Ideas in Action where you can see me asking him about stuff others found worthwhile.)

There is no evidence that Rand or Peikoff ever lied about the Affair. Until you can produce such evidence, you are engaged in irresponsible speculation.

Of course, Mr. Branden -- who did very much and very publicly lie about it -- and Ms. Branden who put her name to those public lies about it -- and those trying everything to defend the Brandens -- obviously have a deep and abiding interest in claiming that Rand and/or Peikoff lied about it, too. Still, there's not a bit of evidence to support such a claim.

If you think Peikoff has changed his position on honesty, please provide the exact relevant quotations -- and, then, you will still have to stitch together your dark insinuations about the motive for this alleged change.

You ask me to provide the distinctions to make sense out of your confusions -- when you are the one making bizarre and unwarranted accusations out of thin air -- and who bears the burden of proof.

Mr. Valliant's lack of interest in "privacy lies"

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Valliant proclaims:

Schwartz didn't want to credit any of it -- as such, in total, the whole nine yards -- even if he assumed she would get more than just Rand's date of birth right.

How, then, does Mr. Valliant know that one of the things Mr. Schwartz thought that Ms. Branden might have gotten right was the existence of the affair?

Has Mr. Valliant ever bothered to ask Mr. Schwartz about that?

But, no, why should I have ever asked [Leonard Peikoff] that? Unlike you, I do not assume Peikoff's dishonesty when there's absolutely no reason to do so.

Mr. Valliant seems remarkably incurious about the "progression" from Dr. Peikoff's 1976 lectures, which did not license lying to "snoopers" to protect one's privacy, to Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, which did.

What led Dr. Peikoff to change his mind on the issue?

But then, despite his access to Dr. Peikoff, Mr. Valliant seems to have asked him hardly anything.

Robert Campbell

Campbell

James S. Valliant's picture

Exactly -- Schwartz didn't want to credit any of it -- as such, in total, the whole nine yards -- even if he assumed she would get more than just Rand's date of birth right.

But, no, why should I have ever asked him that? Unlike you, I do not assume Peikoff's dishonesty when there's absolutely no reason to do so.

Now, of course, if you -- a well-known teller of tales and inventor of Byzantine fictions -- told someone that the sky was blue, could we blame him for checking?

What did Leonard Peikoff say, for up to 5 years?

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Valliant,

If Leonard Peikoff really knew about the affair for up to 5 years, before his Ford Hall Forum speech in April 1987, how did he respond to questions about the affair during that time?

Either

(a) He got no questions on the subject

or

(b) He got questions on the subject and answered them truthfully (yes, there was an affair)

or

(c) He got questions and refused to answer them (none of your business--go away)

or

(d) He got questions and responded with lies (no, there wasn't an affair)

Did you ever bother to ask him how he handled the matter for those 5 years?

Robert Campbell

PS. Mr. Schwartz's review makes no reference to Frank O'Connor's drinking, or to "fire and rack." In fact, Mr. Schwartz's review studiously avoids identifying any of the concrete claims about Ayn Rand's character and actions that he finds so objectionable. So, how interested in any of them could he have been?

PAR's a Lot More Than That...

James S. Valliant's picture

Apart from misrepresenting my position and earlier statements -- again -- your logic on this go is practically non-existent. It's transparency allows me to keep this brief.

As readers of PARC know, the smears of Rand in PAR are extensive, and often have nothing to do with the Affair -- from Frank's alleged excessive drinking to "Rand the Inquisitor with Fire and the Rack." If Schwartz did not mention the Affair, how interested in it could he have been?

When you write, "If Leonard Peikoff knew about the affair as early as 1982, that gave him up to 5 years to respond to queries by issuing false and misleading denials," are you accusing Peikoff of making "false and misleading denials'? It is of course a tiny shred of evidence for this which you have yet to produce.

And, in any case, there is no reason for biography to have been the Estate's first concern, Mr. Campbell -- ir's task is vast.

Why did Peter Schwartz say this?

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Valliant has claimed, in some recent exchanges on this site, that Leonard Peikoff discovered right after Ayn Rand's death that she had had an affair with Nathaniel Branden.

Therefore, Mr. Valliant now insists, it was no big deal when Dr. Peikoff publicly admitted that there had been an affair, in the question and answer period after his Ford Hall Forum speech in 1987.

Dr. Peikoff, he says, did not have to be jolted into finding out whether the affair had taken place by hearing reports about The Passion of Ayn Rand.

Peter Schwartz, Mr. Valliant has further claimed, did not intend to include assertions about the existence of such an affair in his dismissal of most of Barbara Branden's book as arbitrary.

Mr. Valliant's chronology, if correct, poses some interesting problems.

If Leonard Peikoff knew about the affair as early as 1982, that gave him up to 5 years to respond to queries by issuing false and misleading denials. (Of course, he wouldn't have had to lie if no one asked him. But just how likely is that?) The publication of Ms. Branden's book wouldn't have jolted him into realizing that there had been an affair— just limited the effectiveness of continuing to lie about it.

But there is another, deeper problem with Mr. Valliant's current line.

Mr. Valliant pretends that the affair, in and of itself, was of no great consequence to virtually anyone in Rand-land back in the early 1980s. In particular, it was no big deal to guardians of orthodoxy like Leonard Peikoff, Harry Binswanger, and Peter Schwartz.

If the affair was no big deal to Leonard Peikoff, and he knew about it in 1982, why did he wait until 1987 to admit it in public? Surely he could have readily explained to everyone in Rand-land why it ought not to be any big deal to them, either.

And if the affair was no big deal to Peter Schwartz, why did Mr. Schwartz make the following statement, in his 1986 review of The Passion of Ayn Rand?

Ultimately, what real difference is there if any of the factual allegations made by Barbara Branden—or anyone else of her ilk—happen to have actually taken place? Ayn Rand's glorious achievement is her philosophy and her literature. They stand as her testaments, as the only testaments her life requires. If Miss Rand were alive today, she would certainly not deign to reply to Mrs. Branden's attacks. She would simply point — as Howard Roark did in the Stoddard Temple trial — to the evidence of her work. Her books are what she should be judged by. Read them — or reread them — and then decide for yourself whether or not a philosophy that holds reason as an absolute and that views man as a heroic being is worth living by.

Why would Mr. Schwartz say anything like this, unless there was some allegation in The Passion of Ayn Rand that he feared would be extremely damaging to Ms. Rand's reputation?

And if that allegation wasn't that she had had an affair with Nathaniel Branden, what exactly was it?

Robert Campbell

PS. It is most interesting that Mr. Schwartz, who, unlike Dr. Peikoff, can be presumed to have actually read Ms. Branden's book, never mentions the affair in his review.

Campbell's Absolute Premises

James S. Valliant's picture

Get this:

"Do I have to remind the reader that the claims I quoted from Mr. Valliant's book all pertained specifically to Ayn Rand's work as 'therapist' with Nathaniel Branden, in 1967 and 1968? Therefore, what Nathaniel Branden said in one place about Ayn Rand's psychological insight, or what Barbara Branden said in another, are not particularly relevant here. Besides, neither of them has consistently attributed to Rand the near-superhuman powers on which Mr. Valliant keeps insisting."

How's that?

No, do try to follow this "logic" closely. Relevant to what -- the cultish insanity of ascribing powerful psychological insight to Rand -- just as the Branden's do -- or, just in this one specific context?

Mr. Branden, yes, in another context, "marvels" at Rand's insight, and Ms. Branden describes Rand as possessing a "special antennae" of insight, yes, in another context.

Campbell's ally in PARC-hatred, Daniel Barnes, thinks me nuts just for using such language about Rand -- in any context -- so, it might be interesting to see Campbell go a couple of rounds with him on the matter.

In any event, Campbell claims that the identification of Branden's self-alienation was no big insight. Of course, it was the very insight that Branden showed no signs of recognizing until much later. It was the insight that Branden missed altogether for some years -- going by his own memoir. Yes, Branden "complained" of it himself -- but only years later -- long after Rand's diagnosis. Indeed, had he truly grasped this insight of Rand's, he might have avoided making many of his mistakes.

Also, in his memoirs, Branden somehow fails to credit Rand with any such advice or insights -- to even hint that this was Rand's contemporary perspective. To have done this would have shown Rand setting him straight according to his own later self-diagnosis, when the picture he presents in the memoirs is of Rand doing just the reverse.

Also, my earlier description of this diagnosis was a brief one -- Rand's advice stretched from rationalism to repression -- and implies far more than Campbell seems to realize.

No, Rand was not a trained psychotherapist, and Branden, a trained therapist, knew this at the time -- the nature of the advice Rand gave was in part psycho-epistemological and philosophical -- both areas where Branden needed help, as well.

Also, as to the "context" of Branden's praise for Rand's psychological insight, isn't it curious that in the midst of the very counseling sessions recorded in PARC, Branden's secret lover, Patrecia, sought the same counseling from Rand? Shouldn't Branden, her lover, have warned her away from such a thing if his opinion of Rand insight wasn't still quite high at this point? Or, on the other hand, if he really didn't think that highly of Rand's opinions in this area any longer, what kind of game were they playing here?

In any event, Campbell's allegation that PARC does not recognize (or stress?) that Rand's diagnoses were warped due to Branden's dishonesty is simply false. PARC repeatedly notes how Branden was intentionally trying to throw Rand off -- and how Rand's understanding was conditioned and distorted by these lies. Indeed, that Rand could still know Branden better than he would seemingly know himself -- for years to come -- and despite such dishonesty -- is part of her remarkable insight.

Campbell -- even observing the layers of Branden's dishonesty -- can still allow himself the speculation that Rand would never have been "satisfied" with the outcome of this manipulative counseling! Forget all her "second chances" and "should've ended it years ago" stuff, forget Branden's lies, Campbell is just certain, she would never have been "satisfied"!

Only someone lost in his hatred of Rand could twist the facts to allow himself that sort of mental indulgence.

"Objectivist Hero" to Branden was mostly "mythos" -- a floating abstraction -- as PARC says, a religious concept to Branden.

So, what is Campbell actually driving at here?

Simply, his implicit demand that Rand's immorality be announced loudly and clearly in any discussion of her life whatever -- even in a context where someone else's immorality is the dominating fact.

And, as he says, that Rand's concept of an "Objectivist Hero" was "mythos" -- by which he means what? Impossible, mystical, unrealistic, or what?

Campbell seems to regard the Objectivist ideal as wrong-headed, impossible to achieve and impractical -- in any event, he rejects the Objectivist Ideal.

Campbell claims that Rand's evaluations of Patrecia must be rejected out of hand -- that Rand's judgments are, in fact, flawed. Objectivity requires this, he claims.

This is to claim more than I think we can know.

On the one hand, Rand's judgments are flawed due to Branden's lies, including his own comparisons of Patrecia to Eddie Willers -- check. On the other hand, we must blame Rand for those judgments to the extent that they were flawed... get it?

But were they necessarily flawed by jealousy?

Rand -- said by both Brandens to have never otherwise been jealous of a woman's beauty -- and who suggested at one point that her lover take another lover -- is to be seen as jealous in this instance of evaluating Patrecia -- even before she knew that Branden was her lover -- no matter what?

When Rand asserts that Patrecia's flaws "coincided" with Branden's, what does PARC say? On page 371, PARC states that it is "impossible to say" whether she, in fact, shared Branden's poor character or not.

PARC does not endorse Rand's judgments on these matters, even implicitly.

To Campbell's distress, however, it does not dismiss Rand's opinions out of hand.

For example, even prior to suspecting a relationship with Branden, according to Campbell's insistence, Rand could never herself have seen and evaluated Patrecia's conversation as "empty chatter" or "theatrical prattling." Nope. No way -- no how.

We do know that Patrecia sought counsel from Rand during the period of Branden's deceptive counseling with Rand -- something Rand never provided.

This is pregnant with implications also left unpacked by PARC, which seem to imply that a far more negative evaluation of Patrecia is warranted than anything Rand had considered.

But this would have taken far more than "two sentences," and was beyond PARC's required scope, in any event.

Patrecia Scott, and Ayn Rand's alleged psychodiagnostic powers

Robert Campbell's picture

Down the thread a little, at

http://www.solopassion.com/nod...

Mr. Valliant tried to

(1) Defend his extreme assessments of Ayn Rand's powers of psychological diagnosis.

(2) Lend some credibility to his prior assertion that his magnum opus takes no position regarding the character and qualities of Patrecia Scott.

Let's start with (1)...

Do I have to remind the reader that the claims I quoted from Mr. Valliant's book all pertained specifically to Ayn Rand's work as "therapist" with Nathaniel Branden, in 1967 and 1968? Therefore, what Nathaniel Branden said in one place about Ayn Rand's psychological insight, or what Barbara Branden said in another, are not particularly relevant here. Besides, neither of them has consistently attributed to Rand the near-superhuman powers on which Mr. Valliant keeps insisting.

Concerning his most sycophantic exclamation, Mr. Valliant says:

The "MRI" comment, if you recall, was used in PARC to observe that Rand was already way out ahead of Branden in his theorizing about "disowned selves" and "living authentically" -- Rand's diagnosis that Branden was kicking himself for not living up to his quasi-religious conception of what an "Objectivist Hero" should be anticipates Branden's own work -- and his own descriptions of "violently suppressing" his "true self" -- so, are you saying that Branden lacked insight on this subject, too?

First, no great insight on Rand's part was required to recognize that Nathaniel Branden was not living authentically in 1967 and 1968. He complained of that himself.

Second, Rand's understanding of what his inauthenticity consisted of was seriously skewed, because her "client" was lying to her. (Once again, if Mr. Valliant had had any sense whatsoever, he'd have stressed this point in PARC, and dwelt as little as possible on Rand's supposedly brilliant diagnoses.)

Third, Rand's manner of philosophico-psychological diagnosis—employing ponderously rationalistic constructs like the "Kantian goddess premise" and the "stylized life" and "meta-selfishness"—was conspicuously not carried forward in Breaking Free and The Disowned Self. After The Psychology of Self-Esteem, Nathaniel Branden rather quickly ditched the notion of "social metaphysics," which had been his own contribution to philosophico-psychological diagnosis.

Fourth, there was no realistic prospect that Rand was going to be satisfied with the results when her client began living more authentically. I suspect that both of them sensed that.

If living more authentically meant not giving lectures about philosophy any more... well, Mr. Valliant claims that every charge in "To Whom It May Concern" was accurate, and what was the first of these? Why, Rand's accusation of intellectual drift away from philosophy. If he didn't concentrate on her, and on philosophy, he couldn't be her intellectual heir. And if he wasn't her intellectual heir, could he be living up to his potential, from her point of view?

If living more authentically meant getting involved with a woman whom Rand deemed inferior... well, that's all very clear in the journal entries. Hence Mr. Valliant's incessant, strenuous denials.

Fifth, how hard is it to see that Rand's conception of an "Objectivist hero" was mythic? (Mythic is more to the point here than religious.) Mr. Valliant can't spot the mythos, because he so badly wants to believe that she was an Objectivist hero.

Now, (2).

Because PARC attributed such powers of perception to Ayn Rand, Mr. Valliant painted himself into a corner. He couldn't afford to question any of her judgments about Patrecia Scott. He couldn't afford to admit the possibility of Rand misestimating the character of someone she knew. It's that simple.

Hence his interminable S-curving, obfuscating, and rambling on the subject, from which the following extracts will more than suffice:

No, [Patrecia was] not a "non-entity," and hard to evaluate in other respects, but she was someone willing to deceive Rand in the same fashion her lover was deceiving Rand.

A "non-entity"? That I cannot say -- despite Branden's own such claims to Rand at the time -- and by no means does PARC endorse all of Rand's claims -- many may have been the result of Branden's own lies on the subject. And that is what you had claimed PARC alleged.

Nope. All I noted was that Mr. Valliant's book never demurred from any of Ayn Rand's evaluations of Patrecia Scott in her journals. And these evaluations were on the harsh side.

There is no reason to believe that Ms. Rand's evaluations of Patrecia Scott were anyone's but her own.

If these statements don't communicate Ayn Rand's own judgments, what does?

I do not believe that he fell in love with [Patrecia]—because love, on any level, is a response to values… (PARC, p. 361).

[H]e kept insisting that he sees some wonderful qualities in her… which were not seen, not even sensed, by anyone else (most emphatically not by me)…. Her particular flaws coincided with his…" (p. 362).

And what did he get, in exchange for his mind and soul? … Nothing but empty chatter with [Patrecia] at their lunches… with himself (a mind like his!) keeping silent and listening to the theatrical prattling of a girl who bores much lesser minds within half-an-hour… Well, what else was there to do with a girl of that kind? (pp. 362-363)

If Mr. Valliant had wanted to say, in a book of over 400 pages, that he had evidence that Patrecia Scott lied to Ayn Rand, and that beyond this there was no basis for any evaluation of Ms. Scott's character ... he would have said it.

It would have taken him all of one or two sentences.

He didn't do it.

I think it's clear why.

Robert Campbell

Stonewall Campbell

Jmaurone's picture

 I'm sorry to the readers out there if my stonewalling is extremely uninteresting. Of course, I can't compete with Robert's stonewalling on his proof of conspiracy. Again, the burden of proof is on the accuser.

 I owe no one anything in this matter.  

 

Mr. Campbell...

Olivia's picture

Worship, to me, is a religious notion with no place in a rational, naturalistic, atheistic worldview.

Our capacity for worship is a distinctly human trait. It has been used and misused in a multitude of superstitious, irrational ways for millennia, but so has our capacity to love - you gonna throw that out too?

As atheists, our capacity to worship is extremely important. It is the sacred ground where great artists nurture their creations of magnificent music, illustrious literature and amazing art. It is also the place which gives rise to sensational sex - not just bonking to scratch an itch, but really loving someone with the intensity and full focus of your whole being - body, mind and soul. A sense of worship is the appropriate response when one feels intensely appreciative for these earthly gifts – for they are life-giving in a very literal sense. Is there anything greater than that?!

Great art and its creators need to be appreciated as well, not made into objects of ritual obeisance.

Worshipping great artists is not “ritual” obeisance for there is reason behind it, not mindless genuflection. It has everything to do with the greatness of their achievement and how life-enhancing it is to your existence! How can you not worship a person who creates something so beautiful that it encapsulates all (or many) of your values in one profound hit after another? Why shouldn't you worship such a person? Name just one thing harmful, immoral or anti-life about doing so.

It is a damn shame that worship traditionally has been reserved for useless, non-existent gods and goddesses, but that is a symptom of irrational superstition, not a symptom of feeling worshipful. The objects of our worship rightly belong on earth – and this is what Rand clarifies so powerfully in The Fountainhead and Atlas.

Human beings, even those we love, need to be appreciated for who and what they are.

They may need it but does their need of it justify giving it to them? No. They have to warrant it - and of course some people do. But speaking of warranted appreciation a la elephant in the room; if you can't find it in yourself to pay homage to greatness ie: Ayn Rand for her prolific writings on objective reality, rational epistemology, ethical individualism, high self-esteem, free minds and free markets...which pretty much sounds like the whole gamut of life to me... you are massaging mediocrity by the odiousness of your omission. I point you back to my post regarding this: http://www.solopassion.com/nod...

You know what you remind me of?

The film the Life of Brian, specifically the People's Front of Judea getting together and whining "What have the Romans ever done for us?"

"...er... irrigation...roads... um, education... protection, trade, the aqueduct..."

"Yeah, but apart from all that... what have the Romans ever done for us?"

Isn't It Obvious?

James S. Valliant's picture

Why do you, Prof. Campbell, feel the necessity to tell us that your self-reported focus is on Rand's ideas?

Readers of each and every one of your many posts here on this thread, some long and all passionate, should already be able to infer what your values are, what your emotional concerns must be.

No, you need not indicate that you do not "worship" Rand, no one could have missed that, surely -- but how much or how little you are invested in these biographical matters speaks for itself, wouldn't you say?

Mr. Campbell

James S. Valliant's picture

If you really think it wise to waste whatever shreds of credibility the most generous readers of this thread might still allow you on the idea that I was speaking for anyone else -- go right ahead.

Not only is plain English on my side, I also said, for example, that Tara Smith "would be nuts" to have anything to do with JARS. This signals that I do not speak for her, at the very least, to readers of our Mother Tongue.

But I have had the pleasure of meeting her, and I don't think that she'll mind if I tell you that she is a big fan of PARC.

I know Andy much better -- I've known him for years. Ditto.

Now, if someone said that putting Richard Dawkins on the Board of Directors of a Church would be toxic and cause most members to quit, even you would know that it was a simple prediction based on obvious fact. If someone claimed that putting a Nazi on the Board at the Anti-Defamation League would be toxic, the same would be true.

The bile you regurgitate on anyone who has ever walked in the frontdoor at ARI speaks for itself and evasion can't make it disappear.

And if you wish to compound your growing credibility train wreck with more bizarre invention -- go right ahead.

Take your claim I am "pretending to be tight" with anyone. I described the one and only meeting I have ever had with Cox, as was plain from the description of it, and how exactly did you come up with that from what I said? I have said on many occasions that I have never even met Sciabarra in person -- and that our extensive exchange was all via email or phone. I think I've just said it yet again.

Tell me where I claim to be "tight with someone."

Is this the language and sloppy supposition of a scholar? Why do you feel compelled to such hyperbole and invention -- at almost every turn? Why must you put words into my mouth? Read exactly what I say, sir, and you can avoid these confusions -- frankly, they seem endemic.

I know such questions are a waste of time -- that you will ignore them some more and either recycle a previous distraction or come up with a another.

When you say things like "How many supporters does he actually have whose last name isn't Peikoff?" the credibility meters of some may also move a bit into the red, as well.

And then there's the mind-numbing repetition of claims refuted over and over -- it starts to look as if you want to scare any potential readers of this discussion away with the endless, patience-taxing repetitions -- and for obvious reasons.

But -- returning to your lovely new whopper that I "was speaking" for anyone but my own two eyes -- continuing to argue for this will only increase the bleeding, I suspect.

Taking me on is one thing, Professor, but taking on the English language is another.

Good luck with that!

Well

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Worship, to me, is a religious notion with no place in a rational, naturalistic, atheistic worldview.

I think this may be the root of our differences. You have a platonic view of worship just as you do of perfection. When you argue with us, you argue against that, even though that's not the view we're advancing. My dictionary gives as its second definition of "worship," the verb, as "to have intense love and admiration for; the noun, "admiring love or devotion." This has no place in a rational, naturalistic, atheistic world view, according to you, Professor? If so, why? Or would you dispute that this is "worship"?

One worships a god or a goddess, or some other kind of superhuman presence. Human beings, even those we love, need to be appreciated for who and what they are. Great art and its creators need to be appreciated as well, not made into objects of ritual obeisance.

I worship Rachmaninoff, to take one of my heroes. I would liken him to a god, certainly, while realising, of course, that he isn't. Adore him, admire him, revere him. He's very important in my life, and very good for it, to my certain knowledge. Does that make him an object of ritual obeisance, and is my worship of him of necessity harmful in your view? How? Or again, would you say this is not "worship"?

Value in Rand's ideas

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Perigo,

I see a lot of value in Ayn Rand's ideas. Objective reality, a rational epistemology, ethical individualism, and genuine high self-esteem are all extremely good things—as are free minds and free markets.

I do not think, however, that Ayn Rand succeeded in constructing a complete philosophical system. What's more, some of the parts that she and/or her top disciples did construct need repairing.

If you genuinely want to know more, you can find it in my published work.

Worship, to me, is a religious notion with no place in a rational, naturalistic, atheistic worldview. One worships a god or a goddess, or some other kind of superhuman presence. Human beings, even those we love, need to be appreciated for who and what they are. Great art and its creators need to be appreciated as well, not made into objects of ritual obeisance.

Robert Campbell

Mr. Valliant's claims to speak for people

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr Perigo says

surely even you can grasp the distinction between speaking for someone, as in speaking on someone's behalf, and making a confident projection as to how someone will react to something knowing what you do about that someone and that something?

Surely even I can.

But I am not sure that Mr. Valliant can.

He did claim to speak for "ARI scholars," not merely to be able to predict how they would react.

Besides, Mr. Valliant has a bad habit of pretending to be tight with people who haven't had a whole lot to do with him, and don't value him nearly as highly as he would like the rest of the world to believe.

Mr. Valliant rarely names any of the ARI scholars he claims to know. Even when he invokes, say, Tara Smith, he never quotes her. I have yet to see evidence that Dr. Smith knows Mr. Valliant any better than she knows me—and she doesn't know me at all.

Frankly, without hearing from individual members of Mr. Valliant's alleged Silent Majority, I find his claims about them no more credible than his claims to have unspecified anonymous sources for various controversial assertions in PARC. How many supporters does he actually have whose last name isn't Peikoff?

Surely these fans of Mr. Valliant and his book, particularly those within the ARI orbit, have nothing to fear from his opponents, at ObjectivistLiving or elsewhere.

Robert Campbell

Prof ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I find great positive value in engaging Ayn Rand's ideas.

What value do you find in the ideas themselves?

I find no positive value whatsoever in the worship of her person, or in the employment of her themes to bolster a mythology of self or tribe.

Does this pertain only to Rand or to anyone? Is there any positive value whatsoever in the worship of any person?

And ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... my other questions, Prof?

What I've written about matters Randian

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Perigo,

I'll boil my assessment of Ayn Rand down to two sentences:

I find great positive value in engaging Ayn Rand's ideas.

I find no positive value whatsoever in the worship of her person, or in the employment of her themes to bolster a mythology of self or tribe.

For many years I largely ignored the worship and the mythologizing, but I have seen the harm they can do. I intend to continue speaking out against them, and, when appropriate, holding up defenses of them to severe criticism.

I prefer to reserve details of my views for ObjectivistLiving.

However, several of my articles on matters Randian are available online.

There are links to some of them in my "corner" at OL.

They can also be found here:

http://hubcap.clemson.edu/~cam...

My extended critique of the Peikovian doctrine of the arbitrary assertion will appear in the Fall 2008 issue of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.

Robert Campbell

James ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You say:

But, perhaps this would be a good moment to thank the dozens and dozens of people -- from across the entire spectrum of Objectivist groups -- especially those who knew Rand -- for the private praise and encouragement I have received.

Frankly, right now these folk should be stepping up. The Brandroids are clearly on the offensive again in their campaign to de-heroise Ayn Rand under the guise of combatting a cultist equation of heroism with infallibility, of hero-worship with blind adulation. All those people who gave you "private praise and encouragement" should be speaking out at this time. Nothing less than historical justice for Rand is at stake. Those who stay silent in such circumstances are cowards and traitors.

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Now Prof ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You have demonstrated a singular capacity to avoid interacting with the most elementary of points in a way that would demonstrate understanding, but surely even you can grasp the distinction between speaking for someone, as in speaking on someone's behalf, and making a confident projection as to how someone will react to something knowing what you do about that someone and that something?

It's this kind of asininely petty pseudo-debate in which you specialise, in addition to brute repetition of allegations long since refuted, to be sure, but is it advancing the quest for truth here?

This debate prompts the following question from me, Prof: given that by your own admission you're not an Objectivist, why do you involve yourself at all in such controversies, in an ostensibly kinda sort-of Objectivish publication (JARS), and in helping blacklist a speaker from a supposedly Objectivist conference? In fact, what is Campbell's Credo, Prof? And while I'm about it, just what is your assessment of Ayn Rand? Feel free to start a new thread to answer these questions, should you feel inclined to answer them at all.

Ayn Rand Bookstore

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Valliant insists that

There is no reason why ARI should have a position on PARC at all.

Not even the position implied by the choice to carry his book at the Ayn Rand Bookstore?

So if said Bookstore were to quit carrying PARC, that wouldn't constitute any sort of statement by the leadership of the Ayn Rand Institute?

Compounding his smarmy remark about Stephen Cox's book, Mr. Valliant sniffs,

Even an outstanding book that gets something wrong about Ayn Rand should not be expected by us to be carried by the bookstore bearing her name, I should think.

Well, PARC is far from outstanding...

and it gets a bunch of things wrong about Ayn Rand...

So by Mr. Valliant's announced standards, his own book should be struck from the catalogue forthwith.

Robert Campbell

Drs. Cox and Sciabarra

Robert Campbell's picture

Has it ever occurred to Mr. Valliant that Chris Sciabarra once fell for his "good cop" routine?

That Dr. Sciabarra took Mr. Valliant's offers of intellectual engagement to be genuine, when they never had a shred of sincerity about them?

I never went for Mr. Valliant's "good cop" routine, though in the early going I did expect some simulacrum of rationality out of him.

Does Mr. Valliant really think that Dr. Sciabarra ever intended to fire me?

Does he really imagine that Dr. Sciabarra, post-"Dialectical Dishonesty," sees the slightest bit of value in staying on the good side of Mr. Valliant?

Has Mr. Valliant ever pressed his urgent demand on Stephen Cox?

If Mr. Valliant hasn't gotten around to asking Dr. Cox to fire me, I strongly encourage him to do so.

Dr. Cox's reaction is likely to prove, well, interesting.

For an author to demand that a journal fire an associate editor for expressing a strongly negative opinion of him and his work is both asinine and fatuous.

For the same author to repeat the demand, two years after it was emphatically rejected, is completely insane.

Mr. Valliant's rationale for picking a fight with Chris Sciabarra, back in April 2006, was already clear to any reader in possession of his or her faculties. No further explication was required.

But Mr. Valliant didn't just offer an explication.

He repeated the demand.

How are the historians going to evaluate that behavior, when they come a-poring?

Robert Campbell

Not really summoning them after all

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Valliant now complains

He implies that I am somehow claiming to speak for ARI scholars as a whole, when I have suggested nothing of the sort.

Of course, Mr. Valliant was claiming to speak for ARI scholars as a whole. Here's what he declared, down-thread:

And your very presence makes JARS necessarily, predictably and inevitably radioactive to an entire class of important Rand-scholars. Your judgment-warping malice and hostility are things no reader of these threads can miss -- and neither can these scholars.

Your current performance -- alone -- is enough reason for ARI scholars to shun JARS until you are long gone.

He also referred to Tara Smith by name.

I kind of doubt that the "entire class" was meant to include, say, David Mayer or Ed Younkins, both of whose articles will appear in the next issue of JARS.

So what's going on here?

I guess when the spirits don't materialize, it's time to pretend you never said that you could summon them from the vasty deep.

And hope like hell that your audience has an attention span of a few milliseconds.

Robert Campbell

Care to clarify, Mr. Valliant?

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Valliant casually refers to

Andy's discovery of the problem's [sic] at JARS and refusal to engage there

What problems did Andrew Bernstein discover at JARS, back in 2002?

And what did he tell Mr. Valliant about them?

Robert Campbell

And Here...

James S. Valliant's picture

You told me that you had read PARC, Professor Campbell.

No one will pretend to see the "squirming" that isn't there except in your demonstrably over-active imagination -- or be distracted from seeing your own efforts at distraction.

And, folks can read PARC for themselves now, too. (Just look up.)

[edit.: In a nutshell, as the title suggests, PARC is about the distorting influence of both bias and dishonesty on the two leading biographies/memoirs of Rand to date. May I suggest the Introduction?]

Please...

James S. Valliant's picture

Do check with Cox and Sciabarra about my own accounts, Mr. Campbell.

Substance and substantive

Robert Campbell's picture

Substance and substantive...

Next, Mr. Valliant will be offering us a tutorial on what the meaning of "is" is.

Since Mr. Valliant has done so much squirming and obfuscating lately, perhaps he should indicate what he, at least for a moment or two, considers the substance of his book to be.

It's not about the moral perfection of Ayn Rand.

It's not about "the Brandens" being the epitome of evil.

It's not (always?) about people who broke with Ayn Rand having a helplessly warped perspective on her life and character, and about those who stayed with her to the bitter end having an unobstructed perspective on her character.

So what, exactly, is PARC about?

Robert Campbell

Candid account?

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Maurone,

I said that your candid account of the events leading up to "Dialectical Dishonesty" would be interesting.

Your stonewalling is extremely uninteresting.

Robert Campbell

Very Cold and Very Hard

James S. Valliant's picture

When I write, "Your current performance — alone — is enough reason for ARI scholars to shun JARS until you are long gone," Mr. Campbell takes this to be some sort of historical justification for the refusal of other scholars to publish in JARS.

Isn't that odd? Obviously, all I was indicating is the on-going nature of the problem JARS faces with Campbell there.

Yet, fine "scholar" that he is, Campbell accuses me of "historical inaccuracy" with this present tense assertion(!)

He implies that I am somehow claiming to speak for ARI scholars as a whole, when I have suggested nothing of the sort.

This is, however, consistent with the group-think and nutty conspiracy theories which are Campbell's specialities.

Here's yet another. He writes:

"JARS, then, had been off-limits to Tara Smith, Onkar Ghate, Shoshana Milgram, Keith Lockitch, Allan Gotthelf, Bob Mayhew, Jeff Britting, et al...."

The "then" implies a demonstration of some kind. The "proof" which came before consists of Diana's assertion in 2004 that she wouldn't publish in JARS (she was formerly associated with TAS), Andy's discovery of the problem's at JARS and refusal to engage there, and the "arrogant, nasty game-playing" Sciabarra allegedly suffered at the hands of the Archive.

Of course, even assuming his hatred-blinded opinions of the Archive, and putting this all together, it still does not establish his conspiracy theorizing about JARS being "off limits" to anyone.

It is, however, consistent with his bizarre theories about my planned TAS coup. (And, no, I've never entertained the slightest expectation -- or desire -- to speak at TAS!)

In any event, after all of the events cited by Campbell, I publicly announced my desire to engage PARC's critic in the pages of JARS. (Chris and I assumed a critical review with a classic reply and rejoinder.)

Had there been some sort of prohibition against publishing in JARS, wouldn't I have been told of it at this point by the people I had worked with on PARC? Wouldn't they have tried to telegraph this "off limits" thing to me somehow? No, the correspondence with these guys continued, aware of my position, but without a question or comment or even the vaguest hint of such thing in sight...

No, only after my on-line interaction with Campbell, and then the Sciabarra revelations, did I withdraw from any plans to publish in JARS.

This also brings up another point.

Chris Sciabarra told me that he looked forward to my presence in JARS. After our own engagement, he told me that his confidence in a productive exchange was greater than ever. He suggested that our own relationship might begin to bridge the historical gap, if only incrementally. When things got dicey, he expressed terrible disappointment at the idea that I wouldn't be responding in JARS.

[edit.: Campbell might be interested to know that when I complained to Sciabarra about his behavior (no, it doesn't feel too welcoming when an editor at the journal you're invited to write in makes the sort of proclamations about me that Campbell has permitted himself), Sciabarra reassured me that I would be "dealing with" him alone -- and not Campbell -- and he made not the slightest move to defend him. "I know" was the sort of response I got, for what it's worth.]

Now I know he was being an editor trying to stretch the reach of his periodical, but the sentiments were way more than necessary for such "networking," and, given your continued attacks on me, Prof. Campbell, I must ask: was Chris sincere in his invitation and in his expressed confidence that I would provide a worthwhile exchange for JARS?

As for ARI endorsements, they are not diminishing in any way because they never existed in the first place. I never sought endorsements from Peikoff, Brook or others at ARI. There is no reason why ARI should have a position on PARC at all. Campbell will create whatever seems to be pleasing to his fevered imagination at the time, and some sort of "backing away" (as if there was ever a link in the first place!) by ARI is just the latest.

His fantasies of a PARC "internment" are just more confessions of his warping hatreds.

But, perhaps this would be a good moment to thank the dozens and dozens of people -- from across the entire spectrum of Objectivist groups -- especially those who knew Rand -- for the private praise and encouragement I have received.

In any event, Campbell currently refuses to discuss the substance of PARC, or the refutations of the attacks on PARC, but keeps alleging whatever he wants about these things.

Of course, he is in no position to evaluate anyone else's "scholarship."

After the whole Sciabarra event, I contacted Professor Cox about his new book. We had a great exchange. We went to dinner and had a wonderful talk. We discussed the possibility of me writing for -- get this -- Liberty, and, following a lively discussion of poetry and Biblical history, he said, "You're sure a hard person to stay angry at!" I felt just as positively about the meeting.

My "review" of Cox's excellent book begins this way:

"Professor Stephen Cox has done liberty lovers – and the world – a great service with his biography, 'The Woman and the Dynamo: Isabel Paterson and the Idea of America' (2004, Transaction). This is one of those projects where the classic hyperbole is no hyperbole: this is a work of great importance. It would have been a tragedy had its subject, Isabel Paterson, gone without the biographical attention she so richly merits. Without a doubt, she was one of the most important political writers of the Twentieth Century. Among the many measures of this importance is the fact that Paterson probably had a greater influence on Ayn Rand than any of her other contemporaries. Together, these two women were the major inspiration for contemporary 'radical' capitalist thought.

"The book is thoroughly researched in most cases, and full of fascinating, new material. And, yet, for an intellectual biography, it is engagingly written – rich with all of the color of the amazing life and personality of a truly great woman – a real page-turner as such books go.

"For all its virtues, however, there remain significant problems in its treatment of the relationship between those two godmothers of the American individualist movement, Isabel Paterson and Ayn Rand.

"Therefore, what follows should not be read as an overall review, for this is a book with many outstanding qualities, but, rather, an analysis of its treatment of the relationship between these two important writers."

Even an outstanding book that gets something wrong about Ayn Rand should not be expected by us to be carried by the bookstore bearing her name, I should think.

And here is the conversation Mr. Campbell holds to have been "smarmy" on my part:

Kenny: "Stephen Cox succeeded Bill Bradford as editor of both the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies [and] 'Liberty' magazine. I am delighted that Jim [Valliant] has given Cox's book such a positive review. It would grace the pages of 'Liberty' and the 'Free Radical' (Peter Cresswell take note please). ..."

Valliant: "Oh, Kenny, thank you for the opportunity to make this clarification. A worthwhile book by Professor Cox does not convert 'The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies' into a fair or decent journal. That such a journal has NO Objectivist on its editorial staff -- but DOES have a real anti-Objectivist bigot like Robert Campbell working there -- are enough to indicate its toxicity level."

Kenny: "Is Campbell an anti-Objectivist bigot or just an ally of the Brandens? My opinion of him has dropped considerably after reading his posts on a rare visit to Objectivist Living. However, I have seen nothing to suggest that Campbell is anti-Objectivist." (Those OL posts have really shined up your reputation with this British libertarian, Professor.)

Valliant: "I suggest that you simply 'track' his posts on this very forum."

Valliant, in a post titled, "Reasonable Expectations": "The problems involving Rand in Cox's book are significant enough that we shouldn't expect something called 'the Ayn Rand Bookstore' to be carrying it, either, Kenny. And, yet, somehow, the legacy of neither lady will be much affected by this, I suspect." (emphasis added)

See how "smarmy" I was?

[edit.: btw, haven't I violated some kind of prohibition, Professor Campbell, in saying positive things about a book that won't be carried by the ARI Bookstore? Just curious.]

Just More Games

James S. Valliant's picture

Campbell writes: "Mr. Valliant has grown desperate to create a diversion, by once again repeating his demand that I be fired from The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies" -- when it was he who first raised the issue on this thread right here, in what I have already identified as one of his many diversions.

Yes, he brings it up, as you can see below, and then accuses me of "distraction" -- and after I had called it that when he brought it up.

So, I guess after he quoted me, out of context, saying that he should be given the boot, he expected me not to give my full position?

Well, that does sound like his idea of fairness.

Campbell doesn't seem to know how to read English, either, since comments obviously may be "substantive" (adj.) -- in themselves -- and still not address the "substance" (noun) of PARC. It's a matter of what "substance" we are talking about.

The funny thing is that I indicated Sciabarra had failed to address the substance of PARC in the very reply from which Campbell quotes me as praising Sciabarra's review for being "substantive." There, I made the two contexts perfectly clear.

Campbell possesses a singular capacity for game-playing and invention. Or, we might say, "dodging and weaving."

Must run -- but I will be back to say more -- I just had to mention these things right off -- and share the laugh.

Consider the honesty and scholarship on display, my friends -- right here.

For the Record

Jmaurone's picture

 Hey Robert, Chris's emails speak for themselves. No commentary necessary.

Chris dug his own grave, your bullshit shovel is not enough to dig him out. 

  (As I said before, I am not going to argue WITH Campbell, MSK, et. al. But since I and others are being accused of "conspiracy," I state for the record that there was no conspiracy. This is not an exhaustive defense, but anyone who is interested in knowing my involvement with the so-called "collaborative process" can reference my posts on ROR during the initial PARC threads. No emails involved, these posts stand as public record that I was initially opposed to the idea of PARC, but after reading it, changed my mind. And yet, my initial responses were not to attack the Brandens, or Sciabarra, with whom I was still friends, but to admit to my own errors in judging Rand without sufficient evidence. This includes my folding of my Jungian Objectivism site.I was also saying that Barbara would have her defenders, best among them being Chris Sciabarra. Yet it was Sciabarra who pressured me to discuss my change of mind toward Barbara and not associate with anyone who criticized him. It was clearly Sciabarra who tried to shut down opposition, and could not tolerate dissent among friends. Also on those threads are the responses of MSK, et. all, to compare reactions. I've no interest in rehashing the past, so make of it what you will.)

 

http://rebirthofreason.com/Forum/GeneralForum/0611_10.shtml#213

 (http://solohq.solopassion.com/Forum/GeneralForum/0611.shtml 

http://rebirthofreason.com/Forum/ArticleDiscussions/1431_11.shtml#235

(http://solohq.solopassion.com/...)

http://rebirthofreason.com/Forum/GeneralForum/0633.shtml#3

(http://solohq.solopassion.com/...)

 http://rebirthofreason.com/Forum/ArticleDiscussions/1327_5.shtml#105

 (http://solohq.solopassion.com/...)

 

A unique perspective on the collaborative process

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Maurone,

Since you had a unique perspective on the collaborative process that produced "Dialectical Dishonesty," your candid account of events behind the scenes would be most interesting.

I don't even think that any further quotations from private emails would be necessary.

Robert Campbell

Some cold, hard facts

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Valliant has grown desperate to create a diversion, by once again repeating his demand that I be fired from The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.

Before we get into that little demand of his, I will simply note that in July 2005 Mr. Valliant, the good cop, said that that Chris Sciabarra had supplied "comments that are serious, substantive, and that avoid personal abuse." In April 2006, Mr. Valliant the bad cop was questioning whether Chris Sciabarra had "actually addressed the substance of PARC."

Let Mr. Valliant wriggle out of that contradiction, if he can.

To be fair, in April 2006 Mr. Valliant had several motives for sticking it to Chris Sciabarra. These included pleasing Mr. Perigo, who wanted revenge on Dr. Sciabarra, and currying favor with the Ayn Rand Institute, by extracting himself from any commitment to publish in a journal that has been off-limits to ARIans for years. They also included payback for failing to praise his book.

Now for a little historical background:

The Ayn Rand Institute has had it in for Chris Sciabarra ever since he published Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, back in 1995. Not long afterward, a faithful ARIan named John Ridpath publicly proclaimed it to be a "worthless book."

Meanwhile, the Estate of Ayn Rand indulged in some arrogant, nasty game-playing with Dr. Sciabarra over Ayn Rand's undergraduate transcript from the University of Leningrad.

So when Chris Sciabarra opened shop at the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies in 1999, he did not exactly garner applause from the Leonard Peikoff, er, Ayn Rand Institute and its principals.

In 2002, any hope of détente was postponed indefinitely, when Andrew Bernstein published a one-paragraph reply to a review in JARS—and ended up having to do penance, in sackcloth and ashes, for his grievous sin. (In 2002 I doubt that a poll of 100 randomly chosen denizens of Rand-land would have came up with 2 who knew anything of James Valliant.)

In 2004, when Diana Hsieh made her noisy conversion to ARIanism, one of her many signals was ... declaring that she would never publish in a journal so blighted and iniquitous as JARS. By 2005 she was making the journal out to be the absolute ruination of Objectivism.

JARS, then, had been off-limits to Tara Smith, Onkar Ghate, Shoshana Milgram, Keith Lockitch, Allan Gotthelf, Bob Mayhew, Jeff Britting, et al.—well before anyone had heard of Jim Valliant; well before I began mixing it up with Mr. Valliant online in 2005; and well before he found it useful to take exaggerated offense at my remarks in April 2006.

Now, to whom is Mr. Valliant addressing his demand that I be fired?

The editors of JARS are Chris Matthew Sciabarra, Roderick Long, and Stephen Cox.

After Mr. Valliant's participation in "Dialectical Dishonesty," it will be a cold day in hell before Chris Sciabarra responds favorably to any request coming from him, on any subject.

Mr. Valliant reviewed Stephen Cox's book on Isabel Paterson, being sure to "temper" his praise for the book with a smarmy remark about how, of course, it would never be sold by the Ayn Rand Bookstore. So Dr. Cox, a real scholar, will fall over himself to accommodate an imperious demand from Mr. Valliant, a phony scholar?

So maybe Mr. Valliant thinks he can convince Dr. Long to run me out? I guess Mr. Valliant could preface his demand with one of his tirades against anarchism...

Or maybe Mr. Valliant thinks he can mobilize the editorial board to share his indignation. Here are their names: Doug Den Uyl, Mimi Gladstein, Robert Hessen, John Hospers, Lester Hunt, Eric Mack, Doug Rasmussen, and Larry Sechrest.

He's going to need a lot of luck. Especially with Dr. Hessen, that exemplar of utter bitter warpage when it comes to a person he knew named Ayn Rand.

When Mr. Valliant delivers up this classic of bloviation:

Your current performance — alone — is enough reason for ARI scholars to shun JARS until you are long gone.

he is obviously being historically inaccurate. The aforenamed scholars avoided JARS for six solid years before I ever challenged Mr. Valliant online —and nearly seven before I criticized Tara Smith's citation practices in this forum.

But that isn't all.

He is trying to create the impression that he is one of them, and that he speaks for them.

If only I were given my walking papers, as Mr. Valliant demands, and time allowed for the Geiger counter to settle down to a few scattered bursts, then Jim Valliant would say the word—whereupon Drs. Smith, Ghate, Lockitch, Britting, and all the rest would come rushing, and clog JARS' in box with their submissions.

Problem is, Mr. Valliant isn't one of them.

First, because he is not a scholar.

Second, because for so long he pretended not to be an apologist for the Ayn Rand Institute. The way things have developed, with the revelations of Mr. Valliant's failures at scholarship, many at ARI will now be happy to back him up in his denials.

Mr. Valliant has no leverage with any of these folks whom he imagines to be his colleagues. He is in no better position than Owen Glendower, supposing he can "summon up spirits from the vasty deep." Will they come when he does call for them?

In 2006, Mr. Valliant burned his bridges with the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.

This year, he lost any slim chance he might have had to gain a speaking platform with The Atlas Society.

And the commendations haven't been flying thick and fast from the Ayn Rand Institute. No one at ARI who actually knew Ayn Rand has praised Mr. Valliant's book since it was published. I haven't heard of Yaron Brook promoting PARC during his speaking tours, either.

If the leadership of ARI could find a face-saving way to stop selling his book, I expect they'd take it.

So all Mr. Valliant has left is Mr. Perigo's forum, with its incredible shrinking audience.

I doubt there will be any further published reviews of PARC, though an autopsy may be performed here or there.

Meanwhile, over at the Ayn Rand Institute, a quick, quiet interment has to be the more attractive prospect.

Robert Campbell

Why Campbell Should Be Fired

James S. Valliant's picture

How does any of that prove a goal of "payback," Mr. Campbell?

No, I wasn't surprised by a negative review. Yes, our engagement was substantive and polite, but, yes, he avoided addressing PARC's main themes, so, no, the criticism wasn't "constructive," but, yes, it was at least "honorable."

All of that happens to be true.

The same emotional bigotry against Rand and an entire class of scholars -- and the same quality of scholarship you demonstrated so eloquently back then -- are all here for people to read for themselves in your own posts.

You've given ample proof right on this thread, sir, why The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies should give you the sack.

Your being there, Prof. Campbell, reflects poorly on the whole organization and everyone involved with it.

And your very presence makes JARS necessarily, predictably and inevitably radioactive to an entire class of important Rand-scholars. Your judgment-warping malice and hostility are things no reader of these threads can miss -- and neither can these scholars.

Your current performance -- alone -- is enough reason for ARI scholars to shun JARS until you are long gone.

[edit.: Consider, as well, your active and highly partisan role in getting TAS to take back its invitation to have Linz speak at its conference. And Linz has been an outspoken ARI critic. Your hatred of all things even barely associated with ARI is strident -- and it's not as though there's a single Objectivist there to balance you out.]

Your name in its pages announces to the world just how "serious" JARS is in its claims to being nonpartisan and non-affiliated. No, there is not a single Objectivist working there -- but to include such a rabid enemy as yourself as an editor permits no one to take Sciabarra's boo-hooing about the absence of these scholars seriously.

Your persistent evasions -- and your focus on personal motives -- and the intensity of your hatreds -- do not comport with the stated goals of that journal -- and render its claims a joke, sir, one stinking with hypocrisy.

Your capacity to invent fiction about your foes is sufficient cause in itself to question your scholarship as such.

In my opinion, someone like Tara Smith would be nuts to have anything to do with your journal. [edit.: You've gone out of way to attack her, too, as I recall. Using your own "logic,"only with reality this time to back it up: was there ever any question that you would?]

Now, you've known that this is my position for some time, so don't pretend an offense that will somehow prevent you from addressing any of the many observed errors on your part and responses to your tirades. You implied that you would address these things even knowing this.

We were discussing PARC, remember?

"Is everyone supposed to

Jmaurone's picture

"Is everyone supposed to believe that Ms. Hsieh's article wasn't already in the planning stages when Mr. Valliant made his bad-cop posts? Or that Mr. Valliant and his ally Mr. Perigo weren't expected to contribute to it?"

 

Burden of proof is on the one making the claim, of course... 

Good cop and bad cop, Part Deux

Robert Campbell's picture

Here again is Jim Valliant the good cop, over at Notablog in July 2005:

Despite his association with the Brandens, I do regard Sciabarra as an independent scholar, precisely because, unlike many of those who both praise and condemn my book, he is capable of acknowledging that Rand's own perspective, though vital, has been sorely missing from the discussion so far. Indeed, I am highly gratified that he recognizes that these Rand journals are required reading for those serious about intellectual history and philosophical biography.

And, I most deeply appreciate that Sciabarra has provided thoughtful and thought-provoking comments that are serious, substantive and that avoid personal abuse and rancorous emotion, something this topic, unfortunately, seems to inspire.

Mr. Valliant would have you believe, as you may read right here at

http://www.solopassion.com/nod...

that this is still his response to Chris Sciabarra's review of PARC, nearly three years later.

Here now is Jim Valliant the bad cop, posting at SOLO Passion on April 13, 2006. The italics are mine:

As my reply to Siabarra's [sic] review indicates (i know it's almost impossible to find, unheralded — and buried deep within the comments section), that review was anything but "balanced." Are you suggesting that Sciabarra's review, despite its length, actually addressed the substance of PARC? I have received a lot of constructive criticism of the book which I value. That review is not among such criticism.

I understand Sciabarra's context, his good friendship with both of the Brandens, and hoped that we could politely leave it there... And, as Chris knows, the reveiw [sic] was hardly surprising to me.

If JARS does not understand that it has a distinct problem with scholars like me, not to mention ARI-affiliated scholars, then JARS is in deep trouble.

You can see it in situ here: http://www.solopassion.com/nod...

On the previous day, Mr. Valliant the bad cop was already in evidence:

http://www.solopassion.com/nod...

Frankly, he [Campbell] should be fired at this point, simply in order to salvage the sinking credibility of JARS. (And I've read every issue.)

A single editor who can be that uncivil and out of touch with reality — that far out of touch with reality — and that warped by partisanship — is enough to demonstrate just how warped the very process of hiring and supervising editors is over there.

Unless management does something immediately about this, why should I, James Valliant, trust JARS, Neil? (One of Campbell's editor-colleagues there is a good personal friend of both Brandens.)

So Mr. Valliant really intended no payback for Chris Sciabarra's review of his book?

You would never figure that from reading his posts back in April 2006.

Just under two weeks later, Diana Hsieh's "Dialectical Dishonesty" was relased, to wild acclaim from Messrs. Perigo and Valliant. See

http://www.solopassion.com/nod...

Is everyone supposed to believe that Ms. Hsieh's article wasn't already in the planning stages when Mr. Valliant made his bad-cop posts? Or that Mr. Valliant and his ally Mr. Perigo weren't expected to contribute to it?

Robert Campbell

Worrisome Pattern, Indeed

James S. Valliant's picture

Where did I ever deny attributing great psychological insight to Rand, Mr. Campbell?

The "worrisome pattern" becoming apparent is your own in simply making stuff up out of thin air.

When you previously questioned my judgement in attributing such a quality to Rand, I replied:

"Do you mean the praise of Ms. Rand's psychological 'acumen' which PARC quotes from Mr. Branden, who -- as late as his memoir -- 'marveled' at Rand's insight into male psychology, for example -- or, those from Ms. Branden, who, in PAR, credits Rand with a 'special antennae' in her ability to understand another's intellectual context, for example?"

This was hardly a "denial," but the observation that the very same critique should be directed at the Brandens themselves.

Again, the "worrisome pattern" here is your own refusal to even name the previous response given to your recycled charges -- to ever even mention your opponent's actual position or the relevant evidence he uses. Just "blank out."

The "MRI" comment, if you recall, was used in PARC to observe that Rand was already way out ahead of Branden in his theorizing about "disowned selves" and "living authentically" -- Rand's diagnosis that Branden was kicking himself for not living up to his quasi-religious conception of what an "Objectivist Hero" should be anticipates Branden's own work -- and his own descriptions of "violently suppressing" his "true self" -- so, are you saying that Branden lacked insight on this subject, too?

[edit.: One of the most fundamental admissions Branden makes about himself in his memoir regards this self-martyrdom of his "True Self." That Rand -- decades earlier -- had identified in Branden the very same thing the psychologist would admit was so fundamental to his psychology in his own memoir is rather impressive, wouldn't you say?]

To the point: what you had claimed was that PARC shared Rand's view of Patrecia -- indeed, you claimed that PARC asserted her to be a "non-entity." PARC shares no such global evaluation of the person that this implies.

This is something you got wrong. Plain and simple.

That was the context here, the context you've just suspiciously switched.

But some things about Patrecia are known, and, repeating your own "worrisome pattern," you decided once again to ignore the argument in PARC made for these observations.

Patrecia lied to Rand, too, and, in a letter to Rand dated July 22, 1967 (PARC, pp. 283-284), even requested counseling of Rand during the same period in which Branden was getting such counseling from Rand. You have yourself conceded the deceptive nature of this counseling, Professor Campbell. We know that Patrecia knew the truth, too. We can assume that her counseling would not have involved telling Rand that truth, either, so she was proposing counseling of the same "nature" that Branden was receiving. Yes, she, too, was acting out a part for Rand.

No, not a "non-entity," and hard to evaluate in other respects, but she was someone willing to deceive Rand in the same fashion her lover was deceiving Rand.

According to Branden, Patrecia thought Rand nothing short of "insane" (under the circumstances, do you also automatically assume that Patrecia was jealous, too, Professor, or just Rand?) -- and still she wanted this counseling -- and still changed her name to a Rand-character's name -- and, yes, that is "suspiciously unctuous" under the circumstances -- just as the praise she had given Rand in her 1967-68 correspondence had been.

A "non-entity"? That I cannot say -- despite Branden's own such claims to Rand at the time -- and by no means does PARC endorse all of Rand's claims -- many may have been the result of Branden's own lies on the subject. And that is what you had claimed PARC alleged.

Yes, it was Branden who put Patrecia in this position, as PARC says in her defense, but she was, at least, a willing participant in his deceptions.

PARC does not shy away from what we do know, as is your own wont, and it discusses what we can infer with confidence.

Patrecia lied to Rand, too, plain and simple.

Is this something that you deny -- or, again, will refuse to mention?

And, still, PARC explicitly declares (on page 371) that it is "impossible to say" whether Patrecia shared Branden's character or not -- even as it observes the cruelty of Branden's behavior to her, as well.

Now, if you want to roll up your sleeves and consider this as PARC does, bully for you -- but PARC does not simply ditto Rand's negative evaluation, as you had falsely suggested, from its failure to dismiss Rand's opinion out of hand.

And, don't forget: we're all still waiting for your answers to everything else.

Further failures to read PARC

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Valliant has recently proclaimed that his magnum opus takes no position regarding the character and qualities of Patrecia Scott.

How, then, does he propose to explain these?

[Nathaniel] Branden also became an expert at "role-playing," a psychological issue that will come up in his sessions with Rand, just as acting was the profession of his new mistress. Rand later saw them both as "role-players," as her private journals reveal. (The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics, p. 236)

The "honeymoon period" of late 1967, along with Branden's extreme proclamations of love, can only be seen as an effort by Branden to buy more time. (Patrecia's taking the stage name "Wynand" after the tragic character from The Fountainhead in the summer or fall of that year looks suspiciously unctuous, as well.) (ibid., my italics on "suspiciously unctuous")

Just as Branden's skills as a psychologist served him well in his four-year deception of Rand, so Patrecia's skills as an actress must have been a similar advantage to her. Even this is something to which Rand's perceptiveness is alert. (p. 284)

Branden certainly used the women in his life, putting them each in a completely untenable relationship to one another, although with the willing complicity of two of them. Patrecia had to be a fraud in Rand's eyes. Rand could only ever perceive her as such. (ibid., Mr. Valliant's italics)

Mr. Valliant has also denied attributing superhuman powers of psychological insight to Ayn Rand.

How, then, will he explicate these?

That it was simply from his mental functioning that Rand was able to detect dishonesty within Branden's elaborate act is itself a remarkable fact. (p. 246, Mr. Valliant's italics; he is referring to events in January 1968, by which time Nathaniel Branden had been lying to Ayn Rand about his relationship with Patrecia for more than three years)

The psychological counseling sessions, though obviously futile due to Branden's dishonesty, have caused Rand to write down keen and valuable insights into human psychology generally, and are worth studying for this reason alone. (p. 282)

Or this now-classic burst of sycophancy?

Rand's mind is the equivalent of a Magnetic Resonance Imaging device in psychological diagnosis. (p. 287)

Will he protest that Nathaniel and Barbara Branden whispered them in his ear?

Again, Mr. Valliant has apparently not read PARC.

This is becoming a worrisome pattern.

Robert Campbell

James ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You ask Campbell:

Why, exactly, do Linz and I need to be "on the same page"? Would it be less upsetting to his narrow biases?

I'm afraid we can't win. If you and I are on the same page, that shows a conspiracy. You know, like our one to take over TAS. If we're not on the same page, then we should get our stories straight!

Newsflash for Campbell: Contrary to your fevered imaginings, James and I do not compare notes. Not that there'd be anything wrong in it if we did, but as it happens, we don't. Ever read any of the "Hsiekovian" threads, Prof? Now, James thinks the Sciabarra review was honorable; I think it was a dishonest attempt to push an agenda while pretending not to have one, and Sciabarra should have recused himself. So James and I differ. Big effing deal. We're allowed disagreements here, Prof. The point is, unless something went on that I don't know about, Diana's article had absolutely nothing to do with Sciabarra's review and everything to do with his other dishonesty and backstabbing which you refuse to address. If you have evidence to the contrary, please present it.

Campbell writes: "The single unauthorized quotation that got Ross Elliot kicked off this site is nothing, compared to what would be made public if others subscribed to Mr. Perigo's peculiar standards."

Wild-eyed and bizarre threats are the sure sign this fellow's run out of any substance.

Reached the bottom of the barrel, too. Or rather, showed that his barrel has no bottom. I rest my case about "squalid Brandroids."

Cliburn, Beethoven, Brandroids, Rand and adagios

Chris Cathcart's picture

My only question is, did Rand detest everything from Beethoven, even the adagio of the Emperor concerto? Puzzled

And Still More Evasions

James S. Valliant's picture

How odd that Campbell has plenty of time in his appointment book to attack personal motives and the like, but his schedule just doesn't permit him to answer the observations of his many errors and refutations of his accusations which have piled up.

Oh, but he's getting around to all of that...

Why, exactly, do Linz and I need to be "on the same page"? Would it be less upsetting to his narrow biases?

Campbell writes: "Mr. Valliant keeps denying his most obvious motive for participating in the joint trashing of Chris Sciabarra's reputation."

And Campbell keeps completely ignoring my responses about this. Here's the latest:

"Prof. Campbell, it was specific acts of dishonesty subsequent to our engagement which led to the article you mention.

"You never mention this dishonesty for some reason.

"You act as if the review had to be involved in my motives, but consistently evade the real reason.

"The whole of my public (and private) engagement with Chris was civilized and civil. Yes, I indicated why it had ended, that's all. I still presume that his review was 'honorable.'

"And our discussions were always substantive and polite.

"As Chris could tell you if he wanted, I never expected a positive review from JARS and said so to him early in our correspondence. It was always hard for me to imagine, frankly.

"But conjure whatever fantasies you like about my personal motives, they won't distract anyone from your many evasions, noted below.

"'Dodge and weave' all you like."

And, again, the very same distraction with nothing new added.

For the last time, Chris lied to me, Professor Campbell.

I really wish he had not -- I was enjoying our correspondence long after our public engagement on PARC.

Campbell writes: "What if they accepted his, er, novel legal theories, according to which criticizing Mr. Perigo behind his back constitutes an initiation of force against him, and licenses, at the very least, his unlimited public quoting of private emails from the alleged backbiters?"

As we have pointed out to you before, Linz, like Mr. Branden does, was equating force with deception, not with merely criticizing someone "behind his back" -- as repulsive as that is, too. And this has been demonstrated to Campbell with the specific quotation in question within the last few days!

Why must Campbell persist in repeating assertions which have already been demonstrated to be false?

Why can't he deal with -- or even permit himself to utter -- the real reasons behind this?

Consider the range of evidence and responses -- and whole topics -- he can never address -- or even name.

Dishonesty or profound psychological issues must be at work.

Campbell writes: "The single unauthorized quotation that got Ross Elliot kicked off this site is nothing, compared to what would be made public if others subscribed to Mr. Perigo's peculiar standards."

Wild-eyed and bizarre threats are the sure sign this fellow's run out of any substance.

That and the repetition of arguments already refuted without showing the first sign of having read the response.

The passage of time and a number of long posts, perhaps, is being relied upon here.

Campbell writes: "Finally, if Mr. Valliant's exchanges with Dr. Sciabarra were all civil, prior to 'Dialectical Dishonesty,' how does Mr. Valliant explain his repeated demands that Dr. Sciabarra fire me? Public demands that the editor in chief of an academic journal fire a trusted associate editor can be many things. Civil isn't one of them."

Did it ever occur to Prof. Campbell that such calls for him to be fired came after our dialogue ended? Such was the case, of course. With a title like "professor," he really can't be as dumb as his accusations make him sound.

And, civil to whom? One most certainly can ask someone in a civil way to bounce -- even a friend. What an odd perspective for the editor of a journal devoted to Objectivism!

Oh yes, one can be quite civil and name the truth about another's incompetence, bigotry and overt malice and a quality of "scholarship" on display for all to see.

Just read this thread.

His malice is dripping, so wear a haz-mat suit.

Great art and purblind Perigonians

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Perigo praises Van Cliburn's performance of Beethoven's 5th piano concerto, for reassuring him that the world doesn't belong to "squalid Brandroids."

Odd how that works...

When I watched the video, it helped me to forget purblind Perigonians. (I was never under the impression that the world belonged to them.)

Great art has remarkably little to do with the agenda of some petty tribe or sect.

It has even less to do with the personal mythologizing of Lindsay Perigo.

Robert Campbell

Mr. Valliant and Mr. Perigo need to get on the same page

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Valliant keeps denying his most obvious motive for participating in the joint trashing of Chris Sciabarra's reputation.

Unfortunately for Mr. Valliant, his chief ally, Mr. Perigo, has been running right out and making a mockery of his denials as soon as he utters them.

Clearly, Mr. Perigo deems Dr. Sciabarra's failure to endorse Mr. Valliant's book not just as proof of his thralldom to the demonic Brandens, but as a dishonest substitute for ripping that magnum opus.

Sciabarra could never have praised PARC, except faintly, because he was in thrall to the Brandens. He should have recused himself from doing a purportedly disinterested review and attacked PARC unambiguously. As it is, walking a tightrope, he did a review praised by Babs for its "stiletto" subtlety. […]

There was another option, of course: go with the truth ... and be shunned by the Brandens. That was never going to happen.

Is Mr. Valliant's actual judgment of Dr. Sciabarra's review any different?

Can Mr. Valliant stand it when any scholar of Ayn Rand's work fails to praise his book and obey his call to worship?

Aren't failure to praise and refusal to join in the worship ipso facto proof of thralldom to "the Brandens"?

And isn't thralldom to the Brandens, when not brought to an immediate end through a purifying reading of PARC, ipso facto proof of evil motives?

Mr. Perigo does give us another tired pro forma denial of any connection between Chris Sciabarra's review of PARC, and his and Mr. Valliant's collaboration with Diana Hsieh on "Dialectical Dishonesty."

(All of which had nothing whatsoever to do with Diana's article, the substance of which you seem curiously reluctant to dispute, Professor.)

Those who are genuinely interested in "Dialectical Dishonesty" and what led up to it can read the archives here at SOLO Passion and judge for themselves.

But perhaps Mr. Perigo thinks I am "curiously reluctant to dispute" the actual or purported contents of various private email communications.

Problem is, to go any further I would have to... quote in public from private emails.

Mr. Perigo shows no gratitude for it, but he is in fact extremely fortunate that most of his former associates do not think as he does.

What if they accepted his, er, novel legal theories, according to which criticizing Mr. Perigo behind his back constitutes an initiation of force against him, and licenses, at the very least, his unlimited public quoting of private emails from the alleged backbiters?

What if his one-time collaborators who have since become his enemies had as few compunctions as Mr. Perigo? What if they shared his inclination to give top priority to personal vengeance?

Given Mr. Perigo's near-flawless track record of turning friends into enemies, a lot of people could publicize a lot of private emails from Mr. Perigo that would hardly comport with the image he has sought to cultivate.

The single unauthorized quotation that got Ross Elliot kicked off this site is nothing, compared to what would be made public if others subscribed to Mr. Perigo's peculiar standards.

Finally, if Mr. Valliant's exchanges with Dr. Sciabarra were all civil, prior to "Dialectical Dishonesty," how does Mr. Valliant explain his repeated demands that Dr. Sciabarra fire me?

Public demands that the editor in chief of an academic journal fire a trusted associate editor can be many things. Civil isn't one of them.

Robert Campbell

As the Professor isn't answering my posts

Chris Cathcart's picture

Anyone else wanna take him to task on the following statement?

"What Mr. Valliant leaves out is his subsequent participation in a collaborative effort to ruin Dr. Sciabarra's career."

Prof Campbell muses ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Mr. Valliant must have taken control of my schedule while I wasn't looking.

He does that, you know, Prof. And it won't stop there. First, your appointment schedule, then TAS ...

Or perhaps he's just exasperated at your habit of repeating allegations that have been refuted and blithely ignoring the refutations.

Campbell

James S. Valliant's picture

Do you mean the praise of Ms. Rand's psychological "acumen" which PARC quotes from Mr. Branden, who -- as late as his memoir -- "marveled" at Rand's insight into male psychology, for example -- or, those from Ms. Branden, who, in PAR, credits Rand with a "special antennae" in her ability to understand another's intellectual context, for example?

Do you forever mean to ignore the evidence -- e.g., Rand's suggestion to her lover that he take another lover -- as well as the wider context of evidence -- on the subject of Rand's jealousy?

Do you forever mean to ignore how Branden described Patrecia himself?

"Wouldn't the woman he jilted Rand for have to be worthless"? Where do get such crap? Not from PARC, at any rate.

No, Professor, you are suggesting that we entirely discount Rand's opinion as that of a jealous woman, even before she knew of any affair between with Branden, and this is as unwarranted as a blanket endorsement of those opinions would be, sir.

In doing so, you imply an unwarranted evaluation of Rand.

Mr. Valliant's implied judgment of Patrecia Scott

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Valliant pretends that his magnum opus takes no stand on the character or worth of Patrecia Scott.

Neither you nor I, Mr. Campbell, are in a position to evaluate Patrecia as a person only from Mr. Branden's account and Rand's notes.

That is why I avoid doing so.

If PARC does not deny Rand's assertions here, it does not endorse them, either.

It's that simple.

Like so many of his other protestations and proclamations, this one has no credibility.

In his book, Mr. Valliant reproduced many passages from Ayn Rand's journals in which she judges Ms. Scott negatively, making her out to be either a nonentity or a worthless individual.

Mr. Valliant has never once expressed a single objection to these statements, or cautioned his readers about any of them.

If Mr. Valliant's expository strategy, in PARC, had consisted of quoting page after page of statements by Ayn Rand without his endless commentary, I might have been willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But this was not his procedure.

Instead, he rattled and hectored, on and on, about the supposed meaning of Ayn Rand's statements, as though he were afraid of allowing the reader the tiniest bit of space to make his or her own judgments.

In a book that runs to 400 pages, he didn't see fit to provide a one-sentence disclaimer about Ayn Rand's remarks vis-à-vis Patrecia Scott.

What's more, Mr. Valliant had some obvious motives for not questioning any of Ms. Rand's condemnations.

Openly distancing himself from these negative judgments would have undermined

-- His fawning praise of Ayn Rand's purportedly extraordinary psychological acumen (if her impressions of Patrecia Scott were wrong, maybe her judgments of some other folks weren't so accurate either)

-- His insistence that Ayn Rand was not, and could not have been, jealous of Ms. Scott (if Ms. Rand's judgments of Ms. Scott were inaccurate, jealousy would immediately occur to the reader as a possible explanation for the inaccuracy)

-- His utter devaluation of Nathaniel Branden and of anything near and dear to Dr. Branden (wouldn't the woman for whom he jilted Ayn Rand have to be worthless?)

As in so many other cases, Mr. Valliant's handling of Patrecia Scott reveals his mastery, not of evidence, argument, and rational persuasion, but of smarm, sleaze, equivocation, and underhanded appeals to emotion.

Robert Campbell

I Had No Idea...

James S. Valliant's picture

... that you were even planning to take up the long list of questions pending here.

Glad to hear it.

No, there's no real reason that you should have an answer at hand -- despite the wild and harsh charges you make with allegations now shown to be bogus.

No, take your time, Professor.

Has Mr. Valliant become my appointment secretary?

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Valliant must have taken control of my schedule while I wasn't looking.

Otherwise, I can't see why I wouldn't be allowed to respond to one of his countless posts, before getting around to another one that he deems of supreme importance.

Besides, Mr. Valliant normally behaves as though anything he feels like posting in connection with his book is of supreme importance.

Robert Campbell

Campbell

James S. Valliant's picture

Two days ago, Prof. Campbell laid down a real he-man challenge, saying:

"Since Mr. Valliant puts himself forward as the sole guardian of unsurpassable inside information, who better than he to dispel the mystery on this issue?"

He asked three questions of me and then concluded by saying:

"... Mr. Valliant should have no trouble hitting these out of the park."

I have never claimed to be a "guardian of inside information," much less an "unsurpassable" one -- but I ignored the baseless hyperbole. But I did answer his inquiries directly in my reply.

Campbell has given us a long post since then, but, strangely enough, we don't hear a word about the questions which comprised his boldly stated challenge -- or my reply.

No, after my reply, his next post is a personal attack, a baseless bit of psychologizing.

Readers are invited to draw their own conclusions about "motives," and, possibly, "dodging and weaving," as well. Readers are also invited to look elsewhere for this same Campbellian pattern.

The Nutty Professor

Chris Cathcart's picture

The Nutty Professor, wild-eyed, announces another conspiracy:

"What Mr. Valliant leaves out is his subsequent participation in a collaborative effort to ruin Dr. Sciabarra's career."

Oh, please.

Prof. Campbell...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

After all, if Dr. Sciabarra had praised Mr. Valliant's book, he would have been endorsing Mr. Valliant's efforts to demonize Barbara Branden. Blessing the demonizing would have kept him in the good graces of Mr. Valliant, restored him to the good graces of Mr. Valliant's ongoing ally Mr. Perigo, and made him a far less attractive target for Messrs. Valliant and Perigo's erstwhile ally Ms. Hsieh.

Oh what a tangled web you weave. It's all fantasy, as much so as your deranged notion of a Perigo/Valliant plot to stage a coup at KASSless. Sciabarra could never have praised PARC, except faintly, because he was in thrall to the Brandens. He should have recused himself from doing a purportedly disinterested review and attacked PARC unambiguously. As it is, walking a tightrope, he did a review praised by Babs for its "stiletto" subtlety. (All of which had nothing whatsoever to do with Diana's article, the substance of which you seem curiously reluctant to dispute, Professor.)

There was another option, of course: go with the truth ... and be shunned by the Brandens. That was never going to happen.

(In turn, Mr. Perigo would never have given Mr. Valliant the time of day—might never have read his book at all—had it not been for an act of public Perigo-diminishing by Barbara Branden.)

I've answered this many times. Why do you persist with it? Which is it you have a problem with: reading, comprehending, or acknowledging the truth when it's brought to your attention ... Professor?

Ah, what the hell!? Here's definitive reassurance that the world doesn't belong to squalid Brandroids. Thank Galt!

Brendan the cunt

HWH's picture

Olivia

I love how you scrag a scrote.

Go girl...you're the best.

I admit that reason is a small and feeble flame, a flickering torch by stumblers carried in the starless night, -- blown and flared by passion's storm, -- and yet, it is the only light. Extinguish that, and nought remains.- - Robert Green Ingersoll

Prophet Now, Too?

James S. Valliant's picture

Prof. Campbell, it was specific acts of dishonesty subsequent to our engagement which led to the article you mention.

You never mention this dishonesty for some reason.

You act as if the review had to be involved in my motives, but consistently evade the real reason.

The whole of my public (and private) engagement with Chris was civilized and civil. Yes, I indicated why it had ended, that's all. I still presume that his review was "honorable." And our discussions were always substantive and polite.

As Chris could tell you if he wanted, I never expected a positive review from JARS and said so to him early in our correspondence. It was always hard for me to imagine, frankly.

But conjure whatever fantasies you like about my personal motives, they won't distract anyone from your many evasions, noted below.

"Dodge and weave" all you like.

Scherk: how does this compulsive focus on personal motives comport with your own values?

Scherk

James S. Valliant's picture

Anyone who has read PAR would have gotten that "Russian" context from the mention of Leo, among other things. Neil Parille, I assume, has read PAR. Our previous discussion explicitly focused on both the place of this in the biography as well as in Rand's life -- with clarity.

But, thank you, sir, for providing the additional material for still more (if unnecessary) context.

Neil's error, though, is clear, right?

Or, can we detect some of Campbell's '"dodging and weaving" by means of long quotation?

Beyond the vilest PsychoBabsle

William Scott Scherk's picture

JSV: I pointed out that Ms. Branden's context for this was actually in Russia, before Rand ever came to America at the age of 21. I pointed out that Ms. Branden was suggesting that this lost capacity to enjoy the present might have begun with the loss of her teenage crush, Leo.

Thanks for the precision, James. I am not sure where you pointed out to Neil the essentials of the Russia context for the quote you hallmarked. I wondered what Barbara was getting at, what she was attempting to portray. The emotional effects of this first love's crumbling led to a repurposing of Rand's life, perhaps.

I put up pages 48 and 49 from PAR for context and comment. Rand introduced the notion of living in the present. For more on Leo aka Lev Bekkerman, see Mayhew and McConnell (cited and excerpted in Sciabarra's review of PARC**).


WSS

** Note on Lev Bekkerman McConnell, Scott. 2004. Parallel lives: Models and inspirations for characters in We the Living. In Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living, edited by Robert Mayhew. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 47–65.

Good cop and bad cop

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Valliant imagines himself capable of honorably treating an informed and persistent critic of his magnum opus.

To this end, he quotes a comment he made about Chris Sciabarra, toward the end of their exchanges over at Notablog, back in 2005.

Despite his association with the Brandens, I do regard Sciabarra as an independent scholar, precisely because, unlike many of those who both praise and condemn my book, he is capable of acknowledging that Rand's own perspective, though vital, has been sorely missing from the discussion so far. Indeed, I am highly gratified that he recognizes that these Rand journals are required reading for those serious about intellectual history and philosophical biography.

And, I most deeply appreciate that Sciabarra has provided thoughtful and thought-provoking comments that are serious, substantive and that avoid personal abuse and rancorous emotion, something this topic, unfortunately, seems to inspire.

What Mr. Valliant leaves out is his subsequent participation in a collaborative effort to ruin Dr. Sciabarra's career.

Does anyone really think that if Chris Sciabarra had praised Mr. Valliant's book in 2005, Mr. Valliant would have joined in the loud chorus of "Dialectical Dishonesty" in 2006?

After all, if Dr. Sciabarra had praised Mr. Valliant's book, he would have been endorsing Mr. Valliant's efforts to demonize Barbara Branden. Blessing the demonizing would have kept him in the good graces of Mr. Valliant, restored him to the good graces of Mr. Valliant's ongoing ally Mr. Perigo, and made him a far less attractive target for Messrs. Valliant and Perigo's erstwhile ally Ms. Hsieh. (In turn, Mr. Perigo would never have given Mr. Valliant the time of day—might never have read his book at all—had it not been for an act of public Perigo-diminishing by Barbara Branden.)

Mr. Valliant will occasionally affect civility toward a critic, when he wants to play the good cop.

But if the critic doesn't "flip," out comes his bad cop side.

The only difference between Mr. Valliant's handling of Chris Sciabarra, and his handling of any other persistent critic I can think of, is the length of time that elapsed before he abandoned the good cop routine.

I suspect that this was a function of two things:

(a) Chris Sciabarra's incredible patience and forbearance (which nearly everybody can now see were entirely wasted on a purblind zealot like Mr. Valliant)

(b) Mr. Valliant's project, later abandoned, of getting something that he wanted out of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (such as, a favorable review of his book)

In essence, there is no difference between Mr. Valliant's response over time to Chris Sciabarra and his handling of Robert Hessen.

Mr. Valliant sent a copy of his book to Robert Hessen, no doubt accompanied by a charming note. Dr. Hessen did not praise the book as Mr. Valliant expected.

So now, all of a sudden, Dr. Hessen's stated point of view about Ayn Rand's character has become proof of his utter bitter warpage—even though Robert Hessen knew Ayn Rand for years, and Jim Valliant never even met her.

Mr. Valliant imagines all of his assertions about Ayn Rand to be truthful; all of his arguments concerning her life and character to be watertight; and all of his writing to wield such persuasive power that no one could read it with a glimmer of comprehension and not be caught up in what he would like to think is its majestic sweep.

So a critic, from his point of view, must either be ill-informed ("hasn't read PARC!") or ill-intentioned ("Brandroid!").

Mr. Valliant's bad cop side is authentic. It's his efforts to play the good cop that are forever doomed to break down.

Robert Campbell

Yes, negligent...

Olivia's picture

is what I meant. Smiling

My psychobabsle estimate would be what I said to Brendan the Cunt. A morbid need to watch others make an authentic attempt to live honourably in order to besmirch the attempt, thus alleviating themselves of any standard that may require honesty or effort on their part.

Anyhoo, perhaps one of them may care to explain their "attraction" to Objectivism, considering they routinely hang out here on SOLO and over at OL. Perhaps the "attraction" gives Brendan a moistie as I doubt he'd be capable of a hard-on.

Lady S

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I think you mean "negligent." Smiling

Thankfully these entities don't profess to be Objectivists; indeed, they will tell you quite specifically that they're not. I suspect their attraction is akin to love-hate: they're fascinated and repelled simultaneously by the command to rise that Objectivism represents. Ultimately they feel they have to discredit it.

Or maybe that's just psychobabsle on my part. Smiling

Classic.

Olivia's picture

Psychobabsle is perfect!

I couldn't agree more with the assessment that Sherk, Brendan and that lot are way past vile. What baffles me is why the likes of them are drawn toward Objectivism in the first place? Perhaps one of them could enlighten me on this one day.

Name calling is the absolute least they deserve, in fact I'd go as far as saying it is negligible not to do so.

When you think about it ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

"Tragically. when she reached a point in her life when the world around her at last offered its rewards––rewards of fame, of love, of respect, of appreciation, of material wealth––it was too late: perhaps it was too late from the last day she saw Leo. She could no longer live in the present, no longer stop to notice it, no longer remove her mental focus from tomorrow. Several of the people who knew her most intimately in later years commented that they never once saw her fully enjoy an event or activity that was here and now.”

How on earth were we ever taken in by Babs's twaddle? As Dagny might say, we never had to take any of it seriously, did we? So why did we? "Perhaps it was too late from the last day she saw Leo." What utter psychobabble and bollocks. In future I shall call it "psychobabsle."

Mr. Scherk

James S. Valliant's picture

See what I mean, folks?

Mr. Scherk says that I am "free" to use whatever epithet or insult that I want.

Apart from the suggestion that I have used epithets or insults against him, he is here declining an offer to avoid epithets, believe it or not.

In other words: "No, thanks, I myself will take no efforts to make the conversation civil -- I just want to complain about the incivility."

Well, of course, "the flow" of my comments doesn't involve any such thing -- and "the flow" of even our own dialogue need not be troubled by these hated epithets he likes complaining about -- but for Mr. Scherk's own insistence on including them.

One item "caught his eye," so let's discuss it, since it is one of those many topics on which Mr. Parille has gone into shut-down mode.

Ms. Branden says that Ayn Rand lost the capacity to "live in the present" or "to fully enjoy an event or activity that was here and now."

PARC starts adding up the contradictory experiences -- not just of a vaguely happy Rand, but a Rand enjoying "the moment" with full abandon -- quite early. I start with the accounts of her Chicago relatives, some of her first experiences in America. The examples continue with Rand into her middle age and beyond.

Mr. Parille claims that this is no contradiction at all. He notes that immediately following the claim, Ms. Branden cites witnesses from "later years," and, thus, contradictions from Chicago are too early to count as such.

I pointed out that Ms. Branden's context for this was actually in Russia, before Rand ever came to America at the age of 21. I pointed out that Ms. Branden was suggesting that this lost capacity to enjoy the present might have begun with the loss of her teenage crush, Leo.

In fact, Ms. Branden writes:

"Tragically. when she reached a point in her life when the world around her at last offered its rewards––rewards of fame, of love, of respect, of appreciation, of material wealth––it was too late: perhaps it was too late from the last day she saw Leo. She could no longer live in the present, no longer stop to notice it, no longer remove her mental focus from tomorrow. Several of the people who knew her most intimately in later years commented that they never once saw her fully enjoy an event or activity that was here and now.”

Thus, even "later years" could mean any year after that, and, in any event, the claim is being made that Rand lost this capacity quite early. Yet, contradictory evidence can be found throughout Rand's life.

Neil's claim that I had misread PAR, in fact, was based a simple misreading of PAR of his own.

This was a flat contradiction on BB's part, and Parille refuses to admit this fact or his error about it.

But, I do thank you for raising a point of substance, despite your inadequate account of the history of the discussion of this point.

Whatever the condition of your "eye," there are a bunch more like that one.

    "..Future

Elijah's picture

 

 

"..Future historians will pore over this thread..."

Rather like future music historians will write books about 'Active Dog'? Sticking out tongue

Elitism, forever!

These scum are the enemy

William Scott Scherk's picture

An also-ran in the potty-mouth sweepstakes, while spouting off about a non-answer to his query about the SOLO Emperor's party line, spouts the party line as promulgated.

Here is the line: Brandroids, which includes presumed cheer-leeding slime-buckets, slimy little fucks, skunks, schism-junkies, Scumbarras and, well, scum, are The Enemy. Simple, clear and concise.

I predict zero degree of digression off the line from the also-ran.

Future historians will pore over this thread.

WSS

To a higher level

William Scott Scherk's picture

Thanks to James Valliant for the offer of a higher level discussion of PARC. Although I have not yet demonstrated that I am capable of such a discussion to his satisfaction, I appreciate the stance. I should say that James is free to use whatever epithet, tone, style or vocabulary he chooses. Here in the sunlit glade of SOLO, where passion is married to reason, I dont't wish to impede the flow.

One item in the post "Mr Scherk" caught my eye:

JSV: You can catch Neil Parille in error after error, but, once more, we find a rare talent for dropping subjects.

Take the "here and now" blunder he made. I have pointed this out, again and again, only to be ignored every time.

Now, the "here and now" blunder is what, James? Again and again you pointed it out, you say. I think Parille's blunder, if blunder it is, erupts from a reading of PARC and Mrs Branden's characterizing of Rand's later-in-life enjoyment of the here-and-now.

I include relevant portions of several threads, starting with a passage from PARC, then to Fred Seddon's review, and Neil Parille's discussion with you (my questions and request for clarification at bottom):

[from page __ of PARC]

“[Rand] could no longer live in the present, no longer stop to
notice it, no longer remove her mental focus from tomorrow.
Several of the people who knew her most intimately in later
years commented that they never once saw her fully enjoy an
event or activity that was here and now.”

“Never once” is a long time. Certainly longer than the nineteen
pages between that and page 68:

“Whatever the mud and the dross of the years, that capacity for
enjoyment... never wholly left her.”

And one only has to wait until page 71 for this:

“[Rand's] relatives recalled that Ayn seemed happy. Minna [an
aunt] explained: ‘She sang a lot around the house... she'd dance
around the room [to her favorite song]. She loved it.’ Ayn was
happy; something inside her was blazing with a fierce, exultant
joy.”

Ms. Branden also quotes Rand’s husband, Frank O’Connor, on page
87 as follows:

“[Ayn] had a tremendous capacity for enjoyment. Whether it was a
piece of music she liked or a story or some present I bought her
that cost a dollar—she was so expressively and radiantly
delighted.”

This zest for life lasts at least up to page 239, where Ms.
Branden reports the following observation from her own early
experiences with Rand:

“When we entered the living room, it was to the sight of this
serious, austere woman, interested only in the most crucial
issues of human life and thought, dancing around the room,
spinning in circles and laughing, her head thrown back in a
gesture of cheerful defiance, waving a baton that Frank had
bought for her—like a child to whom life was an endlessly joyous
adventure.”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Valliant vs the Brandens

Nits to Pick

(1) The Law of Contradiction. Although Valliant accuses Ms. Branden of violation of the law of contradiction, he doesn’t seem to fully understand it himself. For example, on p. 17 of PARC he claims to find a contradiction between what Branden wrote on p. 49 and p. 71. Let me reproduce part of both quotations.

“Several of the people who knew her most intimately in later years commented that they never once saw her fully enjoy an event or activity that was here and now.” (p. 49)

“[Rand’s] relatives recalled that Ayn seemed happy. Minna [an aunt] explained: ‘She sang a lot around the house…she’d dance around the room [to her favorite song].’ Ayn was happy." (p. 71)

The first quotation is about people who knew her in “later years.” Her relatives knew her circa 1926. For these two claims to be contradictory they would have to apply to Rand at the same time in her life. Also, there has to be an identity of respect. But the first quotation is about Rand’s inability to enjoy the ”here and now,” and the second about happiness in general. Since these events did not happen at the same time or in the same respect, there is no contradiction.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Neil Parille notes the Seddon nit

1. I think you are ignoring Fred's argument, but readers can check for themselves.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Valliant counters Parille's note

1. Ms. Branden says -- "Rand could no longer live in the present," as PARC puts it, "as early as page 49." This means that Ms. Branden is claiming this joyless state started way back then. Yes, her witnesses come from "years later" (see, it's her issue of proof here), but that doesn't change her assertion.

That Ms. Branden means that Rand lost her capacity for joy at this early stage can already be inferred simply from the fact that she uses it this early. But, more importantly, from the context. It reads:

"Tragically. when she reached a point in her life when the world around her at last offered its rewards––rewards of fame, of love, of respect, of appreciation, of material wealth––it was too late: perhaps it was too late from the last day she saw Leo. She could no longer live in the present, no longer notice it..." Meaning, "after Leo" she could no longer be "here and now."

That early.

That's how it reads.

Right?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Valliant again notes the 'here and now'

Ms. Branden was claiming that Rand lost the capacity to be "here and now" at that earlier stage in her life... This was a simple misreading on your part.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

-- what was the actual time period described in the page 49 excerpt that you cite, James, and which you characterize as "way back then" and "that earlier stage"?

WSS

No Controlling Linz

James S. Valliant's picture

And I agree with his premise.

But I don't need to do it, and will easily forego the same for another value...

In any event, Mr. Scherk, I will at least argue -- and defend you against the injustice of hitting someone engaged in serious debate with name calling.

Yes, Lindsay, that William

Elijah's picture

Yes, Lindsay, that William Scott Sherk fellow does appear to have a bee in his bonnet about something.

Gosh...not really the sort of chap you could invite to dinner, is he? ...hmmm

Elitism, forever!

James ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Right here and now, Mr. Scherk, I undertake to defend you from all name-calling, even Linz's, if you would like to take our discussions to a higher level.

You're buying into the Brandroid premise that name-calling is never justified (except when a Brandroid does it), regardless of the name, who is called it, and what the evidence is. I think I'd call that a label-content dichotomy. Good luck in your "higher level" discussions with Scherk. The evidence is ample that he's a schism-junkie and a slime-bucket, the perfect cheerleader for the low-life lying Babs-bitch. You won't get good-faith answers any more than Chris will to his "party line" question, 'cos the guy's a creep. They are ALL creeps. Sincerity is what is alien to them: they think the very concept is a joke.

You're welcome to defend the Scherk-skunk from my "name-calling," but don't expect any resiling by me. These scum are the antithesis of what Rand is pleading for in that "life-on-the-level" quote. Spiritually, they are as much The Enemy as Islamofascists. My only regret about the names I call them is that they don't do justice to their vileness.

I guess my simple question

Chris Cathcart's picture

I guess my simple question doesn't get an answer...

Mr. Scherk

James S. Valliant's picture

Over at OL, Ellen Stuttle can give us this convoluted mess:

"Nathaniel's explanation of the contents of his paper might have been worded more accurately if he'd had leisure to think longer. He does imply that the age difference would have been a barrier at any time in his relationship with Ayn. But finding wording which wouldn't have implied that while still not revealing that he and she had had a sexual relationship would not have been easy.” (emphasis added)

Well, Branden didn't have to describe the contents of that paper at all -- did he? Even IF he wanted to deny -- up one side and down the other -- Rand's own empty account of its contents.

No, only someone willing to twist herself into pretzels for Mr. Branden can see this for something other than what it was -- a lie, a very ungallant one, to put it mildly.

And, of course, merely the crowning lie on a big hill of lies in that statement. (Still no reply to my pointing out the lie Branden told about all that counseling -- one which you all but admitted yourself -- Prof. Campbell?)

Yes, right here at SOLO, Campbell repeatedly shows that, for him, making an accusation does not require any evidence. Accuse and ask questions later, is this scholar's motto.

Let's just take one of the several examples from these threads: I allegedly called Patrecia a "non-entity."

No, it turns out I did not. But since it came first in accusation-form do you think an apology was in order?

No, no, the subject simply gets dropped, or, later changed to the fact that Rand, who knew her, did not think highly of Patrecia, which, of course, PARC recognizes.

Campbell just seems to want to throw in the idea that this proves Rand was jealous. Just 'cause.

So, I reply that, yes, this new assertion, i.e., Rand's negative opinion of Patrecia, is true -- but add that there is surprising new evidence suggesting that Rand was not a traditionally jealous lover, and that Branden himself described Patrecia to Rand in less-than-glowing terms, and, so...

And, so, the subject gets dropped.

No, with his finest "scholarship," Professor Robert Campbell of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, publicly accuses me of failing to clearly retract the single error thus far found in PARC. And this was presented as a harsh attack on my scholarship.

Of course, I had made a clear retraction -- and Campbell himself had posted on the thread in which this had happened, no less(!)

The retraction is demonstrated -- but then the subject is, once more, simply dropped.

Bitching and moaning in full voice about my alleged failure to acknowledge error -- can we ever expect an acknowledgment of error from Campbell?

Maintaining that a failure to make a clear retraction demonstrates poor scholarship, Campbell makes the very same error, fails to retract it -- and fails to see how this might reflect on his scholarship.

You can catch Neil Parille in error after error, but, once more, we find a rare talent for dropping subjects.

Take the "here and now" blunder he made. I have pointed this out, again and again, only to be ignored every time.

And, still, Parille can join in the chorus complaining about my "evasiveness."

Right.

Oh, and what else was it?

"Smarmy"?

Mr. Scherk accuses me of claiming that all of PARC's opponents are "dishonorable."

How did he ever infer this with justification? No evidence supported this -- but consider his confidence in making such a claim.

Okay, I go to the evidence, show him otherwise... and then we read his "retraction" below(!)

Indulgently "smarmy" is the best description which comes to mind, don't you agree? I mean, as "retractions" go?

Yes, Mr. Scherk, if anyone in the future does read these threads, he or she will be astonished at the layers of illogic, hypocrisy and the sheer lack of self-awareness on display.

Mr. Scherk and I have our own "civility agreement," one reached earlier this year. But, mind you, it only came after I had made more than one offer -- and only with considerable explicit reluctance on Mr. Scherk's part.

You can even show him my engagement with Sciabarra -- civilized, even friendly, despite sharp differences of opinion -- and this reminder is not the first he's had of this fact.

Yes, I can offer him the very same treatment that he can read for himself I gave to Sciabarra.

And, still... don't you see, Mr. Scherk complains, over and over and over, about name calling and dismissing one's opponents as less than honorable, etc.

No, he cannot decide to accept the treatment I gave to Sciabarra -- it would shatter his world view and end is sole complaint, his seeming motive for involving himself in discussions about books he's never read.

No, Mr. Scherk has not yet demonstrated that he is capable of the kind of exchange I had with Dr. Sciabarra -- but I am willing to try -- just as I was the initiator of our current "civil discourse" agreement.

Right here and now, Mr. Scherk, I undertake to defend you from all name-calling, even Linz's, if you would like to take our discussions to a higher level.

Yes, I suspect that you won't go for this -- but you clearly doubt my motives, too.

Why not set them all aside right now for a meaningful engagement? Dr. Sciabarra thought it worthwhile, and he's no dummy.

Or, as I suspect, would it destroy the premise of my irrationality when it comes to my opponents -- the very premise you must cling to at all costs?

Sciabarra

James S. Valliant's picture

As I wrote in response to Sciabarra on this point:

"Sciabarra concedes that I recognize and cite other critics of Rand who long preceded the Brandens, and that I acknowledge that long before the Brandens there were critics whose �most consistent complaint� was that the movement constituted a �cult.� It appears, then, that his charge against me is not that I claim that the Brandens invented �Rand-bashing� (which they did not), but the degree of blame I assign to the Brandens for this.

"He notes that William Buckley had long been a Rand-critic, and, like most other Rand-critics, he is inspired by his ideological differences with Objectivism.

"But, here, observe the difference the Brandens have made. Buckley�s pre-Branden short swipes and jabs� as well as the longer negative articles and reviews by others about Rand�'s work that were published in National Review �were small potatoes indeed compared to his recent �historical� novel, Getting It Right. For the first time we get a whole book, and one that is deeply inspired by the Brandens� legend. (Anyone else see another film there?) More importantly, a whole new dimension has been added to the assault -- �the attack against Rand based on her �private life� and psychology.

"The impact of the Brandens has simply been incomparable to that of previous critics. Thus, into a loud and well-publicized conversation, already long begun by others, my book is obviously only a single new voice.

"Perhaps this entire conversation has been a �distraction.� I wonder then why it was not until Rand�'s own perspective became available that the subject suddenly became a �distraction�?

"It is true that the motivation of Rand�'s critics is and has always been their ideological differences with Objectivism. But, I was not discussing their motives but their tactics in avoiding serious discussion. The Branden books themselves do not appear to have focused Buckley'�s attention (or anyone else�s) onto Rand�'s ideas, but, rather, seem to have given him an excuse to dramatically expand his attack on such irrelevancies, and an improved technique in changing the subject.

"I do not, in the book, object to Rand-criticism of every type. As I observe in the �Introduction,� there have been two types of �unfair� criticism of Rand, i.e., two forms of 'Rand-bashing': the inaccurate presentation of her ideas, and what I call only �the more recent trend� toward distracting serious discussions with accusations about Rand�'s private life. It is this latter type, or, as I say there, this �particular form of Rand-bashing,� for which the Brandens are to be blamed. And, as I point out later in the book, the Brandens merely picked up the already existing and well-developed notion that Objectivism was a �cult� and used that canard to bolster their own case against Rand.

"But there can be little doubt that the coming of the Brandens'� books rendered previous Rand-bashing obsolete and inspired a new and more personal wave of attack. As I clearly imply, it is this �recent trend� that �starts with the Brandens.�

"And, while I can understand Sciabarra'�s propriety concern to defend The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, such Rand-bashing has even appeared in that journal. He calls James Arnt Aune�s method in the pages of that journal �a familiar rhetorical strategy� that does not in fact, suggest that �the particulars of Rand'�s private life� should cause us to �question� the validity of her philosophy; no, he is just �curious as to what Rand scholars� think about this question. Familiar though such a �strategy� might be, it is simply an indirect way of raising the same issue, which he at the very least credits with his curiosity. There is no other purpose to raising the issue except to distract from substance and �push buttons,� as Sciabarra seems to concede himself.

"Whether directly or indirectly, this form of Rand-bashing has reached the pages of his own journal, whether Sciabarra will acknowledge it or not, and this fact does demonstrate its increasing currency.

"Despite all of this, Sciabarra finds objectionable the rhetorical use of Tuccille�s earlier title�in a footnote�where I say �it 'usually begins with' the Brandens� when it comes to Rand criticism. As stated, this is an overstatement if taken to mean all Rand criticism, as I already implied in the opening paragraphs of the book. And, given the topic of the book, as well as the short history of Rand criticism found in the introduction, I had hoped that the reader would know what was clearly meant: '�this particular form of Rand-bashing,' as PARC puts it.�

"In this regard, the Brandens represent a goldmine of material in current use by Rand�'s less rational or honorable critics. In failing to recognize this, Sciabarra has mischaracterized �one of my premises in writing the book� by suggesting that I claim the Brandens to be the source of all, or even most, Rand-bashing, much less criticism. Moreover, an encyclopedic and comprehensive account of all such critics is hardly needed to acknowledge this, as he seems to imply.

"Sciabarra, of course, correctly identifies the motive of most Rand-bashing, but he seems not to recognize the impact of this tactic of ad hominem distraction, oddly, even as he fears the capacity of my book to distract us from more serious matters."

But this was the least interesting part of our exchange.

Chris Sciabarra placed my own extensive reply, and our further exchange, in the "comments" section, and it is buried below various other "comments." I hope you didn't miss those, either, Mr. Scherk -- despite the lack of ease with which they can be accessed. But you can read about the "fairness" of his review in detail there.

As you can also read there, I said of Chris's review at the time:

"Despite his association with the Brandens, I do regard Sciabarra as an �independent� scholar, precisely because�, unlike many of those who both praise and condemn my book�, he is capable of acknowledging that Rand�'s own perspective, though vital, has been sorely missing from the discussion so far. Indeed, I am highly gratified that he recognizes that these Rand journals are �required reading� for those serious about intellectual history and philosophical biography.

"And, I most deeply appreciate that Sciabarra has provided thoughtful and thought-provoking comments that are serious, substantive� and that avoid personal abuse and rancorous emotion, something this topic, unfortunately, seems to inspire."

Mr. Scherk, your accusation that I regard all of PARC criticism as "dishonorable" was not simply mistaken, as you now admit, it also reflected your own baseless biases. Rather than correct these biases, or provide any foundation for them, or indeed answer, say, that pending question about an alleged "party line," you repeat the charge as if nothing had been said -- and display no signs of any desire for "honorable" engagement yourself -- persisting in your relentless focus on me and my supposed motives.

As I have said on many occasions, the death of the Collective Generation will largely subdue the emotions surrounding this history.

However, it is important to raise these issues within the living memory of Rand and other principals in order to obtain what information we can. And, frankly, give the Brandens a chance to respond.

To fight a dense mythology like that created by PAR and the PAR film and Tuccille and others takes time and effort. PARC's most "fruitful" days still lie ahead -- as a more balanced and sensible view of Rand than that provided by either of the Brandens emerges.

WSS

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

You write:

Soon the Brandens will die, and Peikoff and all the old generation. How much longer do you think your campaign will be fruitful?

This is exactly why James is doing what he's doing. He's giving the Brandens what Rand never had: a chance for them or their partisans to rebut his central claims during their lifetimes.

I suspect a lot of the reasons for division in the Objectivist movement will disappear in some number of years.
I've always thought that the personality-focused model for the philosophy was the wrong one. The biographies of Rand were an exhumation. It's best to get the forensic report that goes with it.

Jim

It usually begins with Sciabarra

William Scott Scherk's picture

James Valliant advises me that I have pending questions, and asks if I concede the a list of errors. Perhaps he means this post, "Scherk's errors."

And, no, I have never implied that Sciabarra's critique of PARC was anything less than honorable. I have explicitly said otherwise. Where do you get that nonsense?

You might have read the following passage with an aim to comprehend the point being made:

"As I noted below, I understand that you feel you haven't met any honourable critiques of your book. I also understand that critiques are generally to be laid at the feet of "ugly trolls . . . or worse, Ellen Stuttle." In other words, it is your habit to view your critics as a collective, which fits in nicely with the party line of "O-lying" and "sewer dwellers" and so on. I will admit that you no longer refer to Dr Campbell as being insane or psychotic, leaving that to lesser members of your clade."

It is wonderful to hear that you consider Sciabarra's critique of PARC as honourable. Future historians may note my error. I might ask if you considered the critique both honourable and fair, but hey. Let us rejoice then in your recognition of the honour, with a section of the 2005 "Reason, Passion and History," below. It may do well to reiterate the honourable criticisms of your book from the only critic to date whom you find worthy.

Coming up on the third year marker on your electronic book tour, James. You are a youngish man. Soon the Brandens will die, and Peikoff and all the old generation. How much longer do you think your campaign will be fruitful?

WSS

Valliant points out that even William F. Buckley “relies heavily on the Brandens in his own attacks on Rand” in the book Getting it Right (399 n. 37). In Getting it Right, Buckley does repair to the Brandens on the issue of the Affair, which he uses as a springboard to ridicule Rand. But, at root, this is a smokescreen for a much deeper ideological opposition to Rand. Indeed, Buckley’s animosity toward Rand long predates the Brandens. Even in his obituaries on Rand, written in 1982—long before the Branden books made their appearance—Buckley expressed disgust with Rand because of her atheism.

More significantly, the charges of authoritarianism and cultism also predate the Brandens. Valliant is aware of the fact that Rand critics have been attacking her on both personal and philosophical grounds since the 1950s (171, 387 n. 2, 410 n. 2). But in his emphasis on post-Brandenian criticism, he is more interested in singling out the Brandens for having "exploit[ed]" the "very [form of personal] attack which for so long [they] resented" (172). He fails to mention those many essays and books written throughout the early-to-mid 1960s, predating the Branden works, which took aim explicitly at the "Rand cult": John Kobler’s 1961 Saturday Evening Post essay, “The Curious Cult of Ayn Rand,” Nora Sayre’s 1966 New Statesman piece, “The Cult of Ayn Rand,” Dora Jane Hamblin’s 1967 Life article, “The Cult of Angry Ayn Rand,” Albert Ellis’s 1968 book, Is Objectivism a Religion?, Honor Tracy’s 1966 New Republic review of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal: “Here We Go Gathering Nuts” (and she wasn’t talking about almonds and pecans) ... and so on, and so on.

But none of these aforementioned works compares to the antagonism that Rand inspired from left-wing and right-wing commentators alike on truly substantive grounds: those on the left who derided Rand for her defense of the free market, and those on the right who savaged her for her defense of the free mind, that is, for her atheism and her rejection of religion and mysticism. And that is the “root” of Rand-bashing: Not the Brandens, but Rand’s intransigent secular defense of reason, egoism, individualism, and capitalism. Everything else is smoke and mirrors used by some to deflect attention from the fundamental issues at hand.

It wasn’t an appeal to the Brandens that led Whittaker Chambers to declare in 1957, in National Review: “From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: ‘To a gas chamber—go!’”

It wasn’t an appeal to the Brandens that led Charles Rolo in Atlantic Monthly to dismiss Atlas as “execrable claptrap.”

It wasn’t an appeal to the Brandens that led Granville Hicks to view Atlas as a “book ... written out of hate,” or Gore Vidal to see it as “perfect in its immorality.”

It wasn’t an appeal to the Brandens that led critics to condemn Rand as a Nazi, a fascist, or a capitalistic mirror-image of Communist propagandists (that’s what Sidney Hook implied in his NY Times Book Review essay when he dismissed For the New Intellectual as an example of “the way philosophy is written in the Soviet Union”).

This is where the battle needs to be fought: In the realm of ideas. Ultimately, the arguments and debates must be centered on matters of substance, not over who was right and who was wrong in the Affair—but over the nature, implications, and applications of Ayn Rand’s philosophy and legacy.

It would be wrong to dismiss Valliant’s book simply because one doesn’t accept one of his premises for writing it—that it is needed as an antidote to counter criticisms of Rand that are largely rooted in charges by the Brandens. Indeed, the bulk of this review essay will focus on the content of Valliant’s book. But it must be stated: I do not grant that in “Rand criticism[,] it usually begins with the Brandens” (397 n. 5).

Curious Indeed

James S. Valliant's picture

You know, Professor Campbell, as I recall, Peikoff stated at a Ford Hall appearance following her death that he was going to publish all of Rand's notes "in due course" -- with ominous implications for certain people. (I don't recall his exact words, but does someone else?)

Had the notes in PARC been published prior to the publication of PAR or JD -- i.e., before the Brandens had had a chance to concede the existence of an Affair themselves -- Peikoff could've exposed as lies the 1968 statement they both put their names to all the sooner -- and before they had "corrected" their own deceptions (without, of course, admitting to those prior deceptions.)

This gets one thinking, doesn't it?

(Why is Ms. Branden so heavily invested in the fiction of Peikoff's "denial"?)

Ms. Branden went to Rand for that final meeting, she sought her out shortly before Rand's death. She followed up that meeting with a letter in which she informed Rand that she was writing PAR.

Unlike other correspondence, it seems that Rand did not preserve Barbara's letter.

Ms. Branden herself says that Rand never replied to her last letter.

On the other hand, Rand did preserve her notes on Mr. Branden -- a record of what she had endured from Mr. Branden.

Ms. Branden was already writing that biography when Rand died.

As we observed below, Mr. Branden's paranoia at the prospect of these notes being published was palpable -- he tells us that he knew Rand was keeping a journal throughout the events of 1968. He knew well that these notes would be falling into Peikoff's hands when Rand died.

When I interviewed him in 1982, only weeks after Rand's death, he, too, told me about the "memoir" that he was planning already.

I submit, Prof. Campbell, that both of the Brandens were themselves compelled to come out with their own versions of events before Peikoff got around to keeping his promise.

They both were well aware that Peikoff possessed the evidence that would make them out to have been liars in 1968.

Quite the opposite from any denials of this, was Peikoff already suggesting that these notes would vindicate Rand -- even before PAR came out -- with a revelation of the Affair they had overtly denied?

[edit.: After further consideration of this, I've decided to ask Peikoff about this myself in the near future!]

Just About as Nutty

James S. Valliant's picture

I'm just curious how exactly that fits with their image of Peikoff the Goddess Worshipper who can acknowledge no wrong in Rand?

James ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Did you realise that Leonard was getting even with Ayn when he gave you the Journals, as you quote Babs claiming on O-Lying? Did you miss that he was salivating with anticipation?

That's nearly as hilarious as one of Campbell's conspiracy theories. Eye

Campbell II

James S. Valliant's picture

Neither you nor I, Mr. Campbell, are in a position to evaluate Patrecia as a person only from Mr. Branden's account and Rand's notes.

That is why I avoid doing so.

If PARC does not deny Rand's assertions here, it does not endorse them, either.

It's that simple.

What PARC does do is to observe the remarkable fact that Rand at one time suggested to her lover that he take a new lover -- something rather anti-indicative of cliche jealousy.

It further observes that one of Rand's sources for the idea that Patrecia wasn't much was Mr. Branden himself -- something you again curiously omit yourself.

PARC clearly states that Rand had a negative opinion of Patrecia, and that this contributed to Branden's perceived problem, so, yeah, I've "read PARC."

In any event, it is clear that you know you blew it when you accused me of saying that of Patrecia.

That's okay, no one missed it. Smiling

Campbell

James S. Valliant's picture

You make it sound as if an Affair as such was the part of PAR that many of us thought was even "critical" of Rand -- when, for many Objectivists, at least -- it is the details in Ms. Branden's account of it which raise so many questions. The bare fact of an Affair doesn't necessarily say anything bad about a person at all.

I never had to ask Peikoff about when he learned about the Affair because he volunteered the information early in our conversations. Shortly after Rand's death, but well before the publication of Ms. Branden's book, Leonard's wife was reading through Rand's journals -- which, as readers of PARC know, make such an Affair plain -- and she told him about these. Later, Leonard read through the notes himself.

The notes were gone through very quickly after Rand's death -- notations and transcriptions of them suggest this.

So, Leonard knew about it before PAR came out, as did those around him.

No, I never specifically asked if he had ever in his life denied an affair -- i.e., in private, at some point before Rand's death -- but I am reasonably certain that he never did so in public.

It would be a curious thing even to ask about -- publicly -- before the publication of PAR, don't you think?

I arranged for Branden to deliver "The Benefits and Hazards..." speech for the first time, just after Rand's death, and I asked the written questions Branden got from the audience afterwards. One of the questions turned in asked just that -- was there an affair?

This was the one question I "screened out" -- Branden had asked me to screen the questions -- after all, hadn't Branden clearly told us that the age difference was, for him, an "insuperable barrier" to such an affair?

When I told Branden about it -- Branden neither admitted nor denied it...

To my knowledge, Peikoff was never asked about this before PAR became an issue, but maybe I'm wrong.

And, no, sir, the critique of Ms. Branden's credibility and "what was done in secret," as you phrase it, only focus us onto the uncorroborated nature of so many of her assertions. These extend so far beyond the Affair, that it is impossible to say that these disclaimers were all (or even primarily) directed to that in particular.

Also, Schwartz chose examples specifically from PAR's treatment of Rand's childhood suggesting that his scope was much broader. Peikoff, as I say, didn't read PAR, so imputing such a "denial" to him is absurd.

All of her uncorroborated assertions and opinions, and, yes, including her account of the Affair, are being dismissed. However, such a dismissal does not mean to imply a denial of any single aspect of that account. This is why "arbitrary" is more exact than "false" -- it discounts the source as "evidence" without admitting or denying any particular asserted.

You now claim: "All I actually did was acknowledge that I had no published evidence of Leonard Peikoff saying there was no Affair. (Robert Bidiinotto has reported what various people in Rand-land were saying to him, back when he wrote for The Intellectual Activist. But he cited no published statements—quite possibly because there never were any.)"

No, sir, most recently, what you said was:

"But, then, Dr. Peikoff and Mr. Schwartz could (and did) cite the self-same doctrine to excuse their disinclination to look into anything in Barbara Branden's book that they were disinclined to believe. Up to and including her claim that Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden had had an affair."

This implies a claim on your part that they had "cited" the doctrine of the arbitrary to even avoid "looking into" something which they were "disinclined to believe" -- and these things specifically included the Affair.

This is utter nonsense.

Ms. Branden, the author of The Passion of Ayn Rand, whose credibility you endorse, flatly contends of late that Peikoff "hotly denounced" the idea even after the publication of her book.

Now, for Ms. Branden's assertion -- and what, in fact, you had really claimed down page -- the laboring oar is not mine at all.

Okay, you don't have to justify what Ms. B. is alleging -- though an admission of her lack of foundation might be helpful -- but do try to justify your earlier claim if you can.

I look forward to it.

As usual, Scherk ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... the fact of the "red-buttoning" which is not in dispute is more important to you than the reasons for it, which in fact do not register on your moral radar at all, since you don't have one. "Slimy little fuck" is a perfect description of you, as it happens.

Mr. Valliant Hasn't Read PARC

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Valliant complains of me that

There seems to be no end to his fictions and evasions: PARC did not call Patrecia a "non-entity" — it merely observes that this was how Branden presented her to Rand…

Uh huh....

What Mr. Valliant's book does is present Patrecia through Ayn Rand's eyes.

Like this:

The case of [Patrecia]. … (The obvious inferiority of the woman to himself permitted him the freedom of selfishness, the conviction that his terms and standards were right and should be given supremacy—so long as the mind classified the relationship as mere friendship…) (Mr. Valliant's magnum opus, p. 278)

And this:
 
He began to glamorize the character of [Patrecia], in order to convince himself that she represented his values (at least, in part). He minimizes the extent, nature, and seriousness of her flaws—and exaggerates the extent and meaning of her (potential) virtues. His proof of her virtues does not consist primarily (basically), of observed facts, but of an undefined "sense of life" feeling or "hunch." (He should compare this to the way in which he established the virtues of [Ayn]. The [psycho-epistemological] difference is shocking.) (p. 279)

Rand declares about Patrecia, "I do not … understand her at all" (p. 282). Which does not hold her back from "I do not think that she is honest" and "I think that she is shallow, superficial, and presumptuous, the presumptuousness consisting of her ‘idealism,’ which is unearned and unsupported conceptually or intellectually" (both p. 283).

Rand doubts that Nathaniel Branden is truly Roarkian or Galtian, partly on account of

his friendship with [Patrecia]—which had contradicted everything I knew about him in the past, particularly his passion for intelligence and intellectuality. What was worse, he began to claim that Patrecia reminded him of me or had some of my characteristics or some part of my sense of life… I tried to get acquainted with her myself—and observed nothing of the above, but only a fairly pretentious emptiness and fear. (p. 326)

Indeed, he forfeited any claim to Galthood when

He said that only three persons meant anything to him, in the whole world: I, [Barbara Branden] and [Patrecia]. This was an equation like: "Philosopher, novelist and notary public (or advertising model)." (p. 328)

"I do not believe that he fell in love with [Patrecia]—because love, on any level, is a response to values…" (p. 361). "[H]e kept insisting that he sees some wonderful qualities in her… which were not seen, not even sensed, by anyone else (most emphatically not by me)…. Her particular flaws coincided with his…" (p. 362).

"And what did he get, in exchange for his mind and soul? … Nothing but empty chatter with [Patrecia] at their lunches… with himself (a mind like his!) keeping silent and listening to the theatrical prattling of a girl who bores much lesser minds within half-an-hour… Well, what else was there to do with a girl of that kind?" (pp. 362-363)

None of this is new. I covered it, and a good deal more, in my essay "Ayn Rand? Jealous?"

It ran on the old SOLOHQ, back in November 2005:

http://rebirthofreason.com/Art...

PARC "merely" reproduces a slew of Ayn Rand's derogatory comments about a woman who was, in fact, her rival.

In his book, when not fawning over Ayn Rand's superhuman psychological perspicacity, Mr. Valliant is eager to "instruct" the reader about the true meaning of Ms. Rand's comments.

But never once, in page after page of repetitious bloviation and hectoring commentary, does Mr. Valliant suggest that there is anything wrong with a single word that Ayn Rand says about Patrecia.

So Mr. Valliant doesn't want his readers to agree that Patrecia Scott was a nonentity?

Sure, and I have a nice big bridge over the East River to sell you.

Cheap...

Robert Campbell

PS. I have a new hypothesis to explain some of Mr. Valliant's otherwise mystifying remarks. I feel so foolish... It was right in front of me all this time...

Mr. Valliant hasn't read PARC!

True, the new hypothesis makes the writing of the book more difficult to explain.

But it makes such good sense of Mr. Valliant's subsequent explications and defenses that I'm sure we'll figure out how the writing got done.

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