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“I have permanently broken all personal, professional and business association with them, and have withdrawn from them the permission to use my name in connection with their commercial, professional, intellectual and other activities.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

Question

James S. Valliant's picture

Prof. Campbell, you have said that Branden was "BSing" in that counseling, and have even criticized Rand for giving him such extensive counseling, so I wonder if you could address the following:

In 1968, Nathaniel Branden published to the world his "Answer" to Ayn Rand. In this "Answer," Branden strongly denied Rand's assertion that their relationship had "deteriorated into long discussions of his personal, philosophical and psychological problems."

He strongly suggests that such counseling was neither serious nor extensive.

In fact, he complains that it was Rand who had "volunteered" such advice -- in direct contradiction to the statement in his memoirs in which he admits to having "solicited" Rand's advice -- and, as her notes make clear, was in fact the case.

Can you describe this as anything other than a deception of his own readers?

Upon Reflection...

James S. Valliant's picture

"BSing Rand" hardly seems a sufficient term for what this was, given the complexity (psychological and otherwise) and, especially, the duration of it -- four-and-a-half years of "BSing," in fact, and at least two years, by Rand's description, of "BSing" during serious counseling.

That Branden could engage in such elaborate deception for so long, and for many months in coordination with Ms. Branden, in order to remain in charge of the Objectivist movement, powerfully speaks to his and Ms. Branden's motives.

And if Rand was rigorous in the advice she was giving the man, it was, after all, a psychologist whom she was counseling.

I quote from the above-posted chapter:

"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.'"

That Barbara...

James S. Valliant's picture

... was "taking his side" and willing to go down with him said something, Chris.

As did Rand's statement about this.

A point raised by JHN

Chris Cathcart's picture

In his common sense, James H-N brings up one point that is somewhat troublesome, presuming that the way the Brandens presented it is true: that Rand was demanding adherence to her denunciations and shunning of the Brandens, without presenting everyone involved all the first-hand evidence sufficient to go along with her. On the other hand, we also have this chief fact: Branden himself spoke to a last gathering of NBI personnel and said, himself, that because of actions that he engaged in, in which he failed to live up to his principles, he would be stepping down from his capacity as spokesman for Objectivism. His own "In Answer to Ayn Rand" in 1968 hints at the various deceptions and evasions he engaged in, in connection with a young woman he fell in love with, and which he acknowledges was wrongful (followed by all the "but" stuff that supposedly mitigated against the extent of Rand's charges). So let's say that we already had enough hints from his own statements and from Rand's that he had engaged in actions so offensive and irrational that it justified breaking off all association with him.

That still leaves Barbara, whose main betrayal was her complicity in Nathan's deceptions. However, don't know right off what statements or evidence publicly available in 1968 supported the decision of others to join Rand in the denunciation of Barbara. Maybe someone else can try a stab at this one?

Rand as "therapist"

Chris Cathcart's picture

Where's this thing that Rand was acting in the capacity as a therapist coming from? Branden came to Rand with his "sex problem" and she responded as a close friend, associate and lover, in a highly-intellectually-charged context, might normally respond. What is all sick and deranged about his whole situation was that Branden was using her in some sick fashion as a "therapist". Not only did Branden know he was feeding her a massive pile of bullshit, he has said that he didn't respect her opinions, judgments, etc. on matters of psychology, and yet he consulted and used her on such matters. We needn't go into all the sordid details yet again, but Rand didn't do a bad job at all, all things considered, uncovering his dishonesty. Campbell says that she was painfully oblivious to the obvious, as though she was supposed to recognize as obvious that the man she had held for 18 years to be a standard-setter in rationality, and gave the highest benefit of the doubt on that basis, was engaged in massive irrationality.

If it were a real problem requiring real therapy, Branden (presumably? hopefully?) wouldn't have gone to Rand. If there's stuff deranged and fucked-up about the scenario as it unfolded, it's Branden's doing.

Campbell's Half-Picture

James S. Valliant's picture

Campbell tells Jim, "You raise legitimate points..."

But these are points raised by PARC and/or the internet discussions which followed it, and points which imply a sensitivity to the issues PARC has raised.

So, it's odd that he should also say this: "I drew attention to the revelations about NB's alleged sex problem and his BSing about it during my exchanges with Jim Valliant back in 2005. It's one of my very few points of agreement with Mr. Valliant."

If Jim has raised "legitimate" questions, questions raised for the first time by his sensitive reading of PARC... (must I finish?)

Campbell writes:

"I think you should be careful about assuming that 'Rand's critics' are all on the same page--either about AR the person, or about her ideas. I don't know why you keep doing this. Do you really imagine that Michael Stuart Kelly thinks of Rand the same way Edward Sorel does?"

Jim suggested nothing of the sort, even implicitly. He said that "a pattern had developed among the critics" -- only some similarity was suggested, not an identity -- so why, one must wonder, should Campbell be so sensitive about a comparison?

Campbell writes:

"You realize there is, from Mr. Valliant's point of view although maybe not from yours, a problem with the connection you are drawing. Mr. Valliant maintains that anything critical of Ayn Rand that comes from Nathaniel Branden or Barbara Branden, and is not corroborated, on or off the record, by sources acceptable to himself, is an arbitrary assertion."

No -- I completely agree with Jim here, and the Rand notes actually provide at least some corroboration of such an alleged statement from Rand -- if certainly not its exact wording. Of this, I remain skeptical, given the dishonesty of the way this was presented, the dishonesty Jim observes. And this is something I've said before, too.

Also, Campbell misstates PARC's clear position -- it does not matter whether the assertion is "critical" or "positive" about Rand.

Also, as I've said before, Casey played no role in selecting the entries, as Campbell alleges.

And, of course, while the notes were written over a period of one year, Rand discusses the whole of her relationship with Branden on multiple occasions. Are we to ignore her discussions of the past?

As to Rand's jealousy, these notes reveal the remarkable fact that Rand had once suggested the possibility of Branden getting himself another lover!

And, of course, she does consider whether she's "too little" for him, if not in those words, in certain senses -- for she discusses how her age would be a natural issue for him -- which, of course, Branden denied for so long.

I also appreciate the fact that Campbell has conceded that Nathaniel Branden was "bullshitting and stalling" in all that counseling -- i.e., using these therapy sessions to manipulate Rand, at least, in part -- and, of course, this is something with which I agree, but for which I have been harshly criticized.

In any event, who should have been more sensitive to the "therapy" issues Campbell discusses? The trained psychologist and professional therapist -- or the philosopher-novelist this "professional" solicited for this advice?

Campbell writes: "Of all of the issues to which Mr. Valliant appears to be blind, I am convinced that this is the biggest one. When the head of a movement offers therapy to subordinates, this is commonly (and rightly) taken as evidence that the movement is a cult."

This is it -- the "biggest one."

Well, as PARC says, Rand did not claim to be a psychological professional or a trained therapist -- and, if Branden is to be believed, she even disclaimed specialized knowledge in this field as such, and specifically to him. Also, to be precise, both Rand's notes and Branden's admissions make plain that it was he who had solicited Rand's advice.

Branden was the psychologist -- the one who claimed to possess the professional status and training here -- indeed, even revolutionary theories on the subject. To whom was he to turn for his own counseling needs? [edit.: Of course, I'm trying to express what would have been NB's own attitudes at the time, and not my own position here.]

"Today's professional codes" do not apply to the advice given by friends and relatives, however rigorous or systematic -- only to professional, licensed psychologists or those who professionally hold themselves out to be such -- and only Branden could've gotten into trouble for this relationship.

These codes are designed to prevent exploitation -- and who was lying and doing the "exploiting" here?

And, finally, the notes indicate that Rand herself -- non-professional though she was -- appears to have been acutely aware that the counseling was inconsistent with a personal relationship of any kind -- she believed that this change helped to kill anything personal in the relationship altogether, as she even wrote in her own 1968 statement.

Branden showed no such awareness at the time.

Should Rand still have refused to give him the advice he requested of her under the circumstances?

Yes, she wanted badly to help, but maybe so.

I wonder what Campbell thinks of the "Dr. Branden-Patrecia" relationship in this regard?

Of O'Connor's drinking, Campbell writes "I'd like to see, in detail, all of the evidence about his drinking (with chronology firmly established)."

So would I.

The chronology problems first observed in PARC are indeed central to Ms. Branden's very case. She concedes that her evidence is confined to the 1970s, but claims this drinking was the result of his anguish over the affair, which, of course, was well over by then.

I would remind him that the housekeeper -- whose testimony appears most important to him -- was upset with Ms. Branden's report of what she had said.

I would also ask him to consider the affects of O'Connor's debilitating illness during the very same period of his life, which he does not mention at all.

Moreover, the comparison to the accusation against Mr. Perigo was designed not to inspire a comparison of weak cases, I would guess, but to focus us on Ms. Branden's threshold for throwing the accusation around.

Campbell's description of PARC's "utterly free-floating speculation about Frank O'Connor's outlook on life and love" seems to ignore (forget?) the startling evidence presented in this regard.

As to Perigo's criticisms of TAS: in the wake of his invitation earlier this year, OL was harshly critical of TAS, as well. TAS may as well have invited a Nazi, as I recall. I'm not sure how one gets harsher than that.

Are you suggesting that TAS must/should exclude critical voices?

Campbell writes: "Indeed, NB and AR might both have been better off, had they gone their separate ways around 1960 or 1961." This, of course, was just the insight Rand herself had in 1968 -- even before she learned of NB's lies.

Campbell writes: "Do you think that critics of Mr. Valliant's book really believe in some Randian obligation to keep NB and BB in positions of authority around her? I never have. I doubt that either NB or BB has, for a very very long time, but if in doubt you could always ask them."

So, at one time, they did? Does that "very, very long time" mean to say that this doesn't show up in their books?

Well, it clearly does, if Campbell also ignores or forgets the evidence.

Campbell writes: "... if you're saying that AR was well-advised to drag all of her close associates into a public denunciation, and demand loyalty from her readers without bothering to tell them the half of what had been going on... Nope. No way."

I also regard this as a mistake -- and it had "unfortunate consequences," as PARC says.

But all of this is progress of a kind, my friends.

Robert,I was dismayed when

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

Robert,

I was dismayed when I saw that Ayn was conducting therapy sessions with Nathaniel and no she wasn't licensed iesand I do not condone it. However, it does explain the denouement when no other explanation is possible.In Barbara and Nathaniel's biographies that statement about impotence is just standing there leading us to believe that this was nothing more than an unbalanced woman's jealous rage.

PARC shows that that is not the case. So why did the Brandens mention the curse without mentioning the context that would explain it? It just comes from nowhere as if it was from someone who was unbalaned and mentally ill.

Robert, if I was around in 1968, I would not have signed the statement that Peikoff, Blumenthal, Sures and Greenspan signed. They didn't have evidence and they certainly didn't know all the circumstances. However, can you really draw an equivalence between Rand's actions and those of Nathaniel?

Also, to be on the record, I do not approve of the kind of atmosphere that seemed to exist at NBI. I think of the living people in the world I think most highly of: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Antonio Damasio, Jeff Hawkins and Eric Kandel. I've never met them. Partly because some of them I've encoutered reently, but they have different goals and aims in life than I do and they pursue them. Neither have I met my heroes in my own field Jack Kilby, Robert Noyce(deceased), Andy Grove and Gordon Moore.

Rand was different in an important respect from these people. Philosophy is the broadest of all disciplines. She needed to be in contact with psychologists, historians, cognitive scientists and others who were specialists in different fields. The group dynamics of this mutated into something other than a healthy collaboration, but it wasn't Rand's doing.

Jim

Big picture

Robert Campbell's picture

Jim (H-N, that is),

Good to see you.

You raise legitimate points, though I think you should be careful about assuming that "Rand's critics" are all on the same page--either about AR the person, or about her ideas. I don't know why you keep doing this. Do you really imagine that Michael Stuart Kelly thinks of Rand the same way Edward Sorel does?

To your numbered points:

1. I agree with you wholeheartedly about this. And it is not a new element in these discussions. I drew attention to the revelations about NB's alleged sex problem and his BSing about it during my exchanges with Jim Valliant back in 2005. It's one of my very few points of agreement with Mr. Valliant.

You realize there is, from Mr. Valliant's point of view although maybe not from yours, a problem with the connection you are drawing.

Mr. Valliant maintains that anything critical of Ayn Rand that comes from Nathaniel Branden or Barbara Branden, and is not corroborated, on or off the record, by sources acceptable to himself, is an arbitrary assertion.

Therefore, he does not mention the 20-year curse in his book. It would be interesting to know whether he believes that Ayn Rand actually pronounced it. If he is true to his dictum about arbitrary assertions, he would have to say that NB's statement about the 20-year curse is neither true nor false, has no context, cannot be placed in a cognitive hierarchy, and is unworthy of further examination or evidence-gathering.

2. The journal entries, in my opinion, show Rand to be a lot of things. In pain, sorrowful, confused, resigned, resolved, perplexed, generous, angry, jealous (or insulted that her lover prefers an "inferior" woman), working overtime to understand, painfully out of it, grandiose (as when she considers how she might have been too much for him, but never how she might have been too little for him), and lots of other stuff besides. Hysterical, rarely. Keep in mind, though, that she was still engaging in self-presentation in these entries (some of which she drafted and rewrote). Also, Messrs. Valliant and Fahy held back some allegedly repetitive entries from July 1968.

3. The journal entries are an important new source of data. They take up less than a year, from the fall of 1967 into the summer of 1968. Mr. Valliant's book provides precious little new evidence about Ayn Rand or Nathaniel Branden's state of mind between 1957 and 1967. In general, Mr. Valliant has done remarkably little work of any kind to obtain new information, beyond getting access to those journal entries. Mr. Valliant occasionally makes bold claims about NB's motives going all the way back to 1950, but what does he have to go on when he makes them?

Now to the big issues:

Was NB "in therapy with" AR, at least partly under false pretenses? Sure, he was bullshitting sometimes, and stalling sometimes. But there was also a level on which he thought, or at least wanted to believe, that the "therapy" might help.

Does therapy work when the client is bullshitting and stalling? As a rule, no.

But if we are interested in the big picture, we also need to ask whether

--Therapy works when the "therapist" lacks competence at it (the journal entries, with their elaborate attempts at philosophical diagnosis and their frequent failure to notice the obvious, do not attest to AR's effectiveness in this role)

--Therapy works when the client's decision to discontinue it may be construed as proof of bad motives on his part

--Therapy works when the therapist is the client's
-- Secret lover and still occasional sex partner
-- Business partner
-- Boss (AR wasn't NB's manager, but she was the leader of a movement in which he played a subordinate role; indeed, she sometimes thought, and Mr. Valliant enthusiastically agrees, that his biggest financial asset was her name, and he wouldn't have amounted to anything without her)

For instance... if the therapist is the client's secret lover, and in fact the best course of action for the client is to end his sexual relationship with her and take up with a younger, far less intellectual woman whom the therapist doesn't think highly of, can the therapist be counted on to encourage or support this course of action?

Today's codes of professional ethics for counselors and therapists treat therapy provided by a lover, a business partner, or a boss as involving gross conflicts of interest, and therefore unethical.

Of all of the issues to which Mr. Valliant appears to be blind, I am convinced that this is the biggest one. When the head of a movement offers therapy to subordinates, this is commonly (and rightly) taken as evidence that the movement is a cult.

I don't conclude from this that AR was running a cult (because I don't believe that all of the requirements for cultism were met during the NBI days), but if you want to provide fodder for those who think AR was a deranged cult-leader, keep harping on her provision of "therapy" and they'll have enough to keep them occupied for the next several centuries.

OK, now another biggie. Is there enough evidence to establish that Frank O'Connor was an alcoholic? If the story about rows of empty liquor bottles in his studio is accurate, there's presumptive evidence that he had a drinking problem. I'd like to see, in detail, all of the evidence about his drinking (with chronology firmly established). In the meantime, Mr. Valliant's reliance on unnamed sources (you know, the kind he says he never uses, then says he uses only when they corroborate what Jeff Walker says even though he insists that Walker's book is a crock, then says he must protect from reprisals by people who don't like his book, then... well... we'll see what he comes up with next) and utterly free-floating speculation about Frank O'Connor's outlook on life and love don't constitute an effective rebuttal.

Is the evidence about Frank O'Connor's drinking of better quality than the evidence about Mr. Perigo's drinking? I would say yes, since I have not been presented with even indirect evidence of Mr. Perigo's approximate daily consumption. But I have not inquired much into Mr. Perigo's drinking. How much he drinks, and under what circumstances, and with what motives, affect his health and well-being. They might affect the well-being of people around him to some extent. That's about it, as far as I'm concerned.

When I wrote to several top people at TAS, encouraging them to reverse their decision to invite Mr. Perigo as a speaker, I made no reference to his drinking. I made reference to his bad character, his near-constant recourse to abusive language, and his obvious hankering to restore esthetic policing to the Objectivist world. I also reminded them of his open and long-standing despisal of both them and their organization.

On the last one, you're going to need to get a lot more specific than you are now.

If you're referring to the break between AR and NB, I am convinced that a break was inevitable under the circumstances, as they stood by 1967 if not earlier. AR was justified in not wanting to have anything more to do with him. He'd jilted her and lied to her.

In the longer run, do you see NB ultimately occupying the role that eventually went to Leonard Peikoff? I can't. Indeed, NB and AR might both have been better off, had they gone their separate ways around 1960 or 1961.

So, no, AR didn't owe anyone a permanent position in her life, or in any organized activities of hers. Do you think that critics of Mr. Valliant's book really believe in some Randian obligation to keep NB and BB in positions of authority around her? I never have. I doubt that either NB or BB has, for a very very long time, but if in doubt you could always ask them.

However... if you're saying that AR was well-advised to drag all of her close associates into a public denunciation, and demand loyalty from her readers without bothering to tell them the half of what had been going on... Nope. No way. I don't think she ever stopped paying for that decision, and people like Mr. Valliant are doing their part to ensure that it will keep on roiling Rand-land, nigh on 40 years later.

Robert Campbell

Give the Man a Cigar!

James S. Valliant's picture

By posting your giant blasts of rationality and common sense, Jim -- of the sort I've come to expect from you -- I wonder, will you have any friends left at TAS? Smiling

John Hospers

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

As an addendum to the below, much has been made of Rand's break with John Hospers. Given that Rand's and Hospers' views on free will and ethics are widely divergent, I would consider that friendship simply a gulf too wide.

I read John Hospers in college and he is a thoroughgoing psychological determinist. His views on criminal responsibility are certainly completely at odds with Rand. Incidentally, I have met John Hospers and like him very much.

Jim

Big picture and context

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

When reading some of the arguments made by Robert Campbell and others elsewhere, I have to wonder why the big picture is not considered. Here are a few things I value about PARC:

1. It provides a context for Rand's infamous "impotence" statement on the day of her break with Nathaniel of which the Branden biographies provide none. The biographies are positively misleading on this score.

2. It provides Rand's journal entries which show her to be anything but hysterical. They show an honest searching for the source of Branden's professed problems and an honest desire to help. This goes on for a period of years.

3. It provides a cross-examination of the mental stability/psychological assertions made of Rand by Nathaniel and Barbara concerning the years following the publication of Atlas Shrugged.

A pattern is beginning to develop among Rand's critics that is more an indictment of their inability to see big picture issues than an effective criticism of Rand.

Why not just tackle the big issues head on?

Was Branden in therapy with Rand for years under false pretenses?

Did Barbara have enough evidence to conclude that Frank was an alcoholic? Was this evidence as airtight as her conclusion that Perigo is an alcoholic?

Why are others allowed personal preferences in who they choose to spend time with, but Rand is not allowed her considered judgments in this matter based on her context and her interests?

Jim

Actually ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Nothing, that's what. Absolutely zilch. It's totally made up in his fevered imagination. Product of his non-objective psycho-epistemology, i.e., broken thought processes.

I think it's the product of his being a typical O-Lying scumbucket.

I so look forward to seeing my defence of "unfortunate and sub-optimal." I'm sure Diana does too!

Nothing, that's what

Chris Cathcart's picture

Campbell:
"I'm afraid Mr. Perigo has failed his own sufficiency test, and will have to be scratched right off the list."

Perigo:
"And this conclusion is based on what evidence, precisely? Your evidence that I do visit the sewer is what?"

Nothing, that's what. Absolutely zilch. It's totally made up in his fevered imagination. Product of his non-objective psycho-epistemology, i.e., broken thought processes.

Excuse me??

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Campbell:

Mr. Perigo defends Diana Hsieh's declaration that being gay is "unfortunate and suboptimal,"

????????????? Chapter and verse, please, Professor. I fear you may have surpassed even your Valliant/Perigo conspiracy to take over TAS with this one, and I never thought you'd equal that.

Mr. Perigo has taken to proclaiming that, for sanitary reasons, he never reads anything at Objectivist Living. Yet he seems remarkably up to date about everything that is said about him over there. So where does that put his honesty score?

Again the simplest things go over your head, Professor. In this matter of the Kelly-slime's latest oozings I have relied entirely—that means 100%, Professor—on what's been reported here. This is because when I last actually, reluctantly and briefly did visit the O-Lying sewer, when the lynch-mob was baying for my blood and demanding my removal from the TAS speakers list, the odours made me feel nauseous. I don't enjoy feeling nauseous, Professor, so I don't go to the sewer. Easy-peasy.

I'm afraid Mr. Perigo has failed his own sufficiency test, and will have to be scratched right off the list.

And this conclusion is based on what evidence, precisely? Your evidence that I do visit the sewer is what?

Viz: Ante

James S. Valliant's picture

Readers can see here what I wrote about Hessen. It did not include an attack on Ms. Branden because he had noted "chronological errors" that might have been different from the ones I noticed. I do not even know if they are the same as the errors of which I am aware or not -- and I have certainly never made such a claim one way or another -- but Campbell writes the following:

"Robert Hessen, who knew Ayn Rand, comes out with a public statement that Barbara Branden was too easy on Ayn Rand's character, and Mr. Valliant converts that into... a new reason to reject Ms. Branden's criticisms of Ayn Rand's characer (because Dr. Hessen noted chronological errors that might be different from those already claimed by Mr. Valliant)."

Having never said such a thing, one can only wonder where he's getting this. Well, there is that issue of the double standards applied to PARC by defenders of PAR. I have argued that if Hessen found such errors in PAR -- whatever they were -- how can one excruciatingly unimportant mistake in PARC be a cause for total dismissal?

And this is the man accusing me of poor scholarship -- even as he attributes to me arguments I never made -- and while simultaneously ignoring the one's I have made about the subject referenced by him.

These he ignores or pretends don't exist.

If this specific argument for Campbell's less-than-sound methodology is the sort of thing that he considers a "denunciation of my opponents," then, of course, I'm guilty as charged. I have repeatedly demonstrated by fact and logic, in specific case after specfiic case, that these critics still haven't addressed the arguments I have made -- and that they are still arguing with a Straw Man of their own construction, as Campbell has just done, again.

On the other hand, of course, Mr. Cathcart, for example, and I have had certain disagreements, even about elements of PARC, and far from "denouncing" him, I can only once more offer my unqualified praise for his efforts.

But all of this is just par for the OL course:

Rather than attempt to show us that any unnamed sources are in fact used in PARC -- when none are -- Campbell merely repeats the charge that such sources were used. Irresponsibly, too, for even Neil's original charge in this regard had only one alleged example, the Smith break. That example was sourced, of course, and the source has turned out to be accurate in this matter -- even from the critics' own evidence!

Rather than consider any of the facts I laid out in showing the defamation and ad hominem against PARC, Campbell merely issues more empty vitriol. The highly personal nature of the charges against me gives him no pause whatever, even as complains of my "denunciations." Campbell does not even attempt to show that MSK's assertion was not a brand of defamation -- how could he?

Rand can write that whole paragraphs of confusing material had been removed from the "old novel," but Campbell can allege that philosophically significant matters had been changed -- without, of course, identifying a single such philosophical position of the older version -- knowing that philosophical clarity from the older version about such positions, just as Rand had suggested, is precisely what he won't find there. Unless, that is, he wishes to identify still another error in PAR -- for Ms. B. said that even Rand didn't think it a good a idea to "force fools," even at that stage of her career.

Even assuming that Rand was trying intimidation in her argument about old Bertie in this single (utterly non-PAR and non-PARC-related) example, would that match the "ethics" we've seen from Campbell himself right here? No, like her esthetic opinions to which Campbell himself compares this, what bothers Campbell and his friends is the very suggestion that these things might actually be revealing of one's soul.

Rather than roll up his sleeves and discuss the facts behind any of these examples, he vaguely claims that there are still others -- of course, without identifying them.

Rather than address anything I actually wrote in response to the Hessen statement, Campbell invents an argument I never made -- and then merely repeats the refuted claim. The mistakes Hessen believes BB made were raised to show, of course, only the double standards at OL in evaluating PAR vs. PARC -- and what was said about Hessen goes completely ignored.

No, repetition and bluster is all we ever get -- never an engagement with the responses made -- and the pile of unanswered replies grows ever more ponderous.

A little plodback for the plod provider

Robert Campbell's picture

Campbell: Problem is, an analysis this coarse-grained would not exclude Nathaniel Branden from the ranks of Objectivists. In his 1971 interview, was he rejecting objective reality? Promoting faith? Declaring his allegiance to altruism? Denouncing capitalism?

Perigo: That was a simple illustration to make it easier for you, Professor. Apparently it's still too difficult. Perhaps I should introduce the term "necessary but not sufficient." In Objectivism, to believe is to strive to practise. The virtue of honesty, for instance.

Mr. Perigo seems to be saying that no one may qualify as an Objectivist, unless he or she scores high on the 7 virtues. Or, at least, works hard to overcome a less than high score on any of them.

So how do various self-proclaimed Objectivists fare on the Perigonian sufficiency test?

Mr. Perigo defends Diana Hsieh's declaration that being gay is "unfortunate and suboptimal," so long as he needs her as an ally. (A declaration, I might add, that Ms. Hsieh never got around to explicating, amongst the—what?—100,000 words she posted during her sojourn at SOLO.) Now that Mr. Perigo and Ms. Hsieh are no longer teaming up to try to ruin anyone's career, he denounces her as a bigot. Mr. Perigo's integrity score is... ? A little short of the highest attainable, wouldn't you say?

Has he at least publicly admitted a need to improve in this area? Not as long as I've been reading either this forum or its predecessor. Maybe people with longer memories than mine can come up with an instance.

Mr. Perigo has taken to proclaiming that, for sanitary reasons, he never reads anything at Objectivist Living. Yet he seems remarkably up to date about everything that is said about him over there. So where does that put his honesty score?

I'm afraid Mr. Perigo has failed his own sufficiency test, and will have to be scratched right off the list.

Mr. Valliant has a proven track record of smarm and equivocation in discussing his book, not to mention a demonstrated propensity to denounce anyone who shows that he has made a mistake on matters of importance to him. He frequently relies on anonymous sources, while condemning such sourcing whenever he thinks someone else is engaging in it. Just recently, he took up the venerable American sport of trying to bully a persistent opponent by threatening him with a meritless lawsuit.

Honesty score? Integrity score? Justice score? They may not be the highest, but Mr. Valliant seems well pleased with his performance.

Robert Hessen, who knew Ayn Rand, comes out with a public statement that Barbara Branden was too easy on Ayn Rand's character, and Mr. Valliant converts that into... a new reason to reject Ms. Branden's criticisms of Ayn Rand's character (because Dr. Hessen noted chronological errors that might be different from those already claimed by Mr. Valliant).

Rationality score?

So is his performance on the 7 Virtue Profile high enough to keep Mr. Valliant on the Objectivist roll? Or will he, too, need to be stricken?

For that matter, you know it's judge and be prepared to be judged, so don't we have to run that sufficiency test on Alissa Rosenbaum?

She morally denounced arguments from intimidation, but wasn't adverse to occasionally producing one herself—like when she unloaded on old Bertie in the pages of her monograph, or made that "gentle reader" remark about the dreadful premises she could detect as soon as she noted a deviant esthetic preference.

Made a few philosophically significant changes to an old novel of hers, then told the public (at a time when the first edition of said novel was a rare book that few of her readers could hope to get access to) that none of the changes were philosophically significant.

Rationality score? Less than 100%. Honesty score? Ditto.

Not that she performed that horribly overall, but in the area of admitting a need for improvement... and working on what needed it...

Uh oh, it looks like we're going to have to scratch the founder of Objectivism off the list.

So, how many Objectivists are going to be left when we're all done? Will we need all of our fingers and toes to count them?

Robert Campbell

I'm curious ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

James wrote:

From OL, that rich source of fiction, fantasy and fury:
M.S. Kelly: "Peikoff also heartily endorsed the book by claiming the following: 'Jim Valliant... is one of the few people that knows what he's talking about when he says something.'"
No, this was his endorsement of Ideas in Action, ten years before PARC, and the quotation can be found on the video's jacket.
Robert Campbell: "Let's also see how Mr. Valliant accounts for the steady disappearance from the Web of Dr. Peikoff's personal endorsement."
Just another Campbell flight of fancy -- to my knowledge this has only ever appeared on the video jacket and websites which have sold or quoted it.

Of course James, if you made a comparable simple error, the Kelly-slime would be writing a whole article about it and its fellow-swamp-dwellers would be undulating uncontrollably!

I'm curious as to what got the slime oozing on this occasion. The business about the Rand/Babs meeting was cleared up weeks ago. Why is it suddenly an issue now?

Get This

James S. Valliant's picture

From OL, that rich source of fiction, fantasy and fury:

M.S. Kelly: "Peikoff also heartily endorsed the book by claiming the following: 'Jim Valliant... is one of the few people that knows what he's talking about when he says something.'"

No, this was his endorsement of Ideas in Action, ten years before PARC, and the quotation can be found on the video's jacket.

Robert Campbell: "Let's also see how Mr. Valliant accounts for the steady disappearance from the Web of Dr. Peikoff's personal endorsement."

Just another Campbell flight of fancy -- to my knowledge this has only ever appeared on the video jacket and websites which have sold or quoted it.

This is a VHS tape copies of which have not been made in some time -- and it still needs to be converted into DVD, as retailers keep telling us.

Neil Parille: "Since Peikoff must have known this meeting took place [BB-AR], it is interesting that he didn't inform Valliant of [t]his fact..."

Again, such amazing prior certainty, but we mortals must wonder how he "must have known this."

Ellen Stuttle (the lady who elsewhere suggested the existence of an "empirical" demonstration of determinism): "From this post [quoting me]:

"'In any event, the Brandens are hardly "evil incarnate," and I would be curious to know how one would conclude this from PARC -- if you can be specific.'

"'In PARC Valliant said NB has the soul of a rapist and that both Brandens are liars, manipulators, etc. about 50 gazillion times [that many?] and... and... and... [and what exactly?]

[....]

"Unreal, if he actually doesn't know 'how one would conclude this from PARC.'

"Well, let's see, we start on pg. 6 with his describing the Brandens' respective books as:

"'[...] monuments of dishonesty on a scale so profound as to literally render them valueless as historical documents [...].

"'Despite the claims these biographers make that their memoirs are drawn from personal experience, it will be seen that their intense personal animosity towards Rand--which emanates from that experience--has scarred all aspects of their work.

"'We shall see that rhetorical maneuvering, insinuation, failure to name sources, uncorroborated, self-serving assertion, and extensive internal contradiction, render even the positive things the Brandens have to say about Rand--which might be regarded as credible considering the authors' obvious hostility toward her--of little value as well. Any praise they offer seems, in the end, a mere acknowledgement of the observations of far more honest sources.

"And that's only the beginning...

"A 'favorite' paragraph of mine -- because it deserves one of those awards for lousy writing (what are they called: the Buhler Lytton [sic] awards or something like that?) -- is this gem from pg. 15:

"Most helpfully for her readers, Ms. Branden wears her own distorting prejudices on her sleeve. The portrait of Rand that she paints is so filled with contradictions, both explicit and implicit, that they form a striking spectacle of their own that focuses the eye away from Rand and on a disturbing portrait of Ms. Branden painted with impressions of Rand refracted through the prism of her conflicted mind. Just as in non-objective art, the prism of Ms. Branden's mind soon becomes the focus, since what is reflecting through it is clearly impossible.'"

Another OL poster, Neil Parille, has observed "unfortunate hyperbole" and "overgeneralization," so, yes, those distortions are worn openly enough to be noticed by NP.

From "wearing her distorting biases on her sleeve" -- to BB being an (admitted) "liar" -- to suggesting that N. Branden's admissions of getting "turned on" during violent quarrels and his own claims that deception is a form of coercion suggest a comparison to the "psychology of a rapist" -- to NB being an (admitted) "manipulator" -- to having written highly "dishonest" and "valueless" books -- and all of these things put together -- do not even suggest that they are Hitler, of course, or the very incarnation of evil itself.

If they really do think so, these friends of BB had better consider what BB and NB have themselves admitted, even ignoring what PARC has demonstrated.

Going so far over the top in the very act of trying to claim that someone else has gone over the top is something they may have picked up from Ms. B., but the irony and the self-refuting nature of it is far too rich to avoid noticing. They're just hell bent about these a priori truths.

And, Mr. Scherk, I trust that you will lecture these folks on the need to admit mistakes and avoid "overblown rhetoric."

Brandroids vs. actual Objectivists

Chris Cathcart's picture

The folks from Babs's Bunch who have shown their mugs here demonstrate their capacity for broken thinking. If this is how they think about these matters, just imagine how it is that they think about Objectivism. All the "Polish" of Sciabarra's work notwithstanding, this crowd has failed to really understand and apply the lessons about Objectivism that he was trying to impart and which is given full orthodox presentation in Peikoff's Understanding Objectivism. This group of folks has misintegrated Objectivism.

At the top of their totem pole is Babs herself, whom Rand had pegged as an emotionalist and whim-worshipper some 40+ years ago; it's not clear she ever understood Objectivism beyond an emotional level. You have "Dr." Branden, who understood it well enough indeed (and as James Valliant himself acknowledges, has had plenty of valuable things to say in his books) and failed to integrate it into his character, and as he himself would admit, engaged in a kind of prolongued spiritual rape of Miss Rand. One assessment is psycho-epistemological; the other is moral. Neither figure can be said to be an Objectivist and yet here we have a crowd of folks who treat them as such. This crowd just doesn't properly integrate or keep context, and their whole embarrassing act over one inconsequential mistake in PARC is just more evidence of that.

Once again, James, who understands Objectivism properly, blew these jokers away with his extended response a few posts down. It's a matter of who gets it and who remains clueless. I don't know if Prof. Campbell can come up with one properly-integrated interpretation of anything that Rand said, to save his life; his record in these past few days has been a half-baked hash of confusions and misinterpretations, as Linz and James have ably been pointing out.

Buncha psycho-epistemological clunkers, over there in Babs Land. Try this embarrassing clunker by Babs herself I happened to encounter on some browsing a couple days back -- a link to some lousy caricature of "modern liberals" from someone at the Heritage Foundation. A waste of 40 minutes that gives you no valid insight into the roots of "the liberals" alleged hate for America and which completely misses the irony that the attack against rational thought comes at least as dangerously from the right these days. Believe me, no one who actually interacts with and understands mainstream "modern liberals" says the stuff this guy says. (The pomo-wankers relegated to lesser departments at the universities are a different story, but they're not the mainstream of the left.) But Babs hails this totally floating diatribe as "brilliant."
Sad

James ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You'll forgive me if I don't click on the link to O-Lying, I'm sure. Watching dregs at play in their ghetto is bad for one's moral hygiene; one might catch something unspeakable. The "slime" to which you refer is in bed with a one-time publisher of a pedophile rag, remember.

In a way I'm glad you turned out to be wrong about the Ayn/Babs meeting: by their fixation on such a non-issue and refusal to give you credit for admitting to and correcting the error, the Church of the Brandens have demonstrated yet again that for them what's important is not the truth but scoring a numbingly unimportant point over a truth-teller in their quest to resurrect their discredited, disreputable, smearing, lying icon.

Mr. Scherk

James S. Valliant's picture

It does remain "curious" that we are given much detail when Ms. B. makes a (usually bad) case that a break reflects badly on Rand -- and none when at least a fan of Ayn Rand immediately would have seen a reason for it with the evidence Ms. B. possessed but decided not share -- except, of course, where she, too, believes it a "good" break, for lack of a better word, and, yes, she thought "breaks" could be justified, as in the case of Rothbard.

And, yes, after all of this time, I'm still happy to answer question after question about my book at this open forum -- still knocking them out of the "park," if I say so myself -- and, yes, the same little squad of detractors hasn't let go, either, and apparently feels it necessary to keep trying and trying and trying... And through this long process I have won over person after person (Cohen, Linz, and folks you've never heard of) who at one time believed in the Brandens' books and/or were once affiliated with TAS, i.e., ARI-critical individuals.

And, no, I still see no serious response to the posted chapters...

Campbell

James S. Valliant's picture

Sciabarra did so in our private correspondence -- which I still possess and which was quite extensive both before our public exchange (when he did the insisting) -- and after -- and, therefore, he should confirm this for you. Much of our early conversation was a discussion of issues related to PARC and his review of it.

None of PARC's sources is anonymous, sir, as is clear from the quotation you cite -- except the many unnamed people who layered confirmation upon confirmation before, during and after PARC's publication. By the well-established conventions of scholarship, such multiple and purely repetitive sources and, certainly, merely multiple confirmatory sources, need never be mentioned at all.

There's just no reason to drag them through the irresponsible defamation and muck you folks would, of course, chuck out.

Now, like Neil, do you just let all the other conclusive responses you've let slide by without answer just sit there, or, in blowing your own previous concerns off after they've been refuted, are you conceding the demonstration of your previous errors, or what?

Dr. Sciabarra's own insistence?

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Valliant,

In your response to WSS, you declare that

I rashly accepted — in our on-line discussion — Dr. Sciabarra's own insistence that the [unauthorized] changes [to Penthouse Legend] were all pre-production, and agreed that this qualification might have been a nice addition, although still not required.

However, the evidence now cited contradicts Sciabarra's insistence — strengthens PARC's position — and would make the idea of qualifying the assertion in PARC totally unnecessary, right?

Here's what you had to say in your response to Chris Sciabarra, still available at

http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sc...

In the few instances where I rely on Walker, such as Hospers' report on Rand's difficult youth and the break with Kay Nolte Smith, I do have other, corroborative sources, providing independent, if anonymous, verification. Unlike Ms. Branden, I do not rely on anonymous sources as my only source for something, but I will allow multiple, credible sources to remain unnamed where they serve as mere corroboration. Walker is cited because he is the only published source for them. Hospers has confirmed this testimony, if not in published sources, and the reported account of the Smith break, involving changes to the dialogue of a play by Rand they were producing, has been in circulation for many years, indeed. I should have, perhaps, included the fact that the changes made to Rand's play were removed before its opening (although ~ how ~ Rand discovered these changes in the production remains the essence of the charge), but my own anonymous sources here are credible contemporaries to the event and their reports to me long pre-date Walkers book. As Sciabarra must know, Walker did not invent this.

The long essay by Dr. Sciabarra to which you were replying makes no claim about the Smiths changing anything in Penthouse Legend before the play was produced.

Would you mind explaining when and how Chris Sciabarra did his insisting?

Robert Campbell

PS. Is there a reason why so many of your sources remain anonymous?

Plod for the professor

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Mr. Perigo tells us that Ayn Rand never insisted on all-or-nothing acceptance of her ideas.

Erm, it's rather a matter of your continuing to insist that she did, Professor. I'm insisting that she insisted that anyone who disagreed with any of her fundamental tenets should refrain from calling himself an Objectivist, and that as the founder of Objectivism she was entitled to do that. Here are the precise words of hers that you initially quoted:

"There is nothing wrong with using my ideas, provided you give me credit. You can make any mixture of ideas that you want; the contradictions will be yours. But why name someone with whom you disagree in order to spread your misunderstandings or falsehoods?"

And:

"What is the proper policy on this issue? If you agree with some of the tenets of Objectivism, but disagree with others, do not call yourself an Objectivist; give proper authorship credit for the parts you agree with—and then indulge in any flights of fancy you wish, on your own."

Any moron can see the context here is: who may call himself an Objectivist according to Objectivism's founder, not: what does Objectivism's founder insist all of humanity has to believe? Any moron, but not necessarily a professor, Professor.

You say:

Problem is, an analysis this coarse-grained would not exclude Nathaniel Branden from the ranks of Objectivists. In his 1971 interview, was he rejecting objective reality? Promoting faith? Declaring his allegiance to altruism? Denouncing capitalism?

That was a simple illustration to make it easier for you, Professor. Apparently it's still too difficult. Perhaps I should introduce the term "necessary but not sufficient." In Objectivism, to believe is to strive to practise. The virtue of honesty, for instance.

I am an advocate of objective reality, reason, self-interest, and capitalism.
I do not call myself an Objectivist. Are Mr. Perigo and Mr. Valliant going to encourage me to reverse my decision and adopt the nomenclature?

I can't speak for James but I would encourage you to adhere to your present course. Anyone who seriously proposes, as you did recently, that James and I were/are conspiring to take over The Atlas Society has a disconnect from reality and reason of morbid proportions and would give any philosophy to which he professed allegiance a bad name. What do you call yourself, btw?

(I do find it fascinating that an avowed non-Objectivist gets to have an Objectivist speaker [me] disinvited to speak at an allegedly Objectivist [TAS] event after the deal was done and dusted.)

I reject Leonard Peikoff's attempts to legislate the content of theories in physics. Does this mean I reject objective reality?

No, not if that's what he's doing. The Objectivist position would be that one should ground one's theories in the empirical evidence. I suggest a separate thread for matter of Peikoff and physics if you wish to pursue it.

I disagree with specific claims that are normally considered part of the Objectivist epistemology; for instance, the doctrine of the arbitrary assertion, and the doctrine that perception is error-proof, and only perceptual judgments can be wrong. I think Ayn Rand was quite wrong in her refusal to consider skills a form of knowledge. I reject Ayn Rand's claim that emotions are invariably the product of "premises." Do these disagreements bar me from being an advocate of reason?

An advocate of reason conscientiously applies logic to facts. Being merely mistaken—leaving aside who is and who isn't and whether you have portrayed Rand accurately in the foregoing— does not automatically or necessarily disqualify one as an advocate of reason.

I disagree with the Peikovian claim that the applicability of moral judgment is contingent on a "premoral choice to live,"

I disagree with him in a different way. I think it's incoherent to say the choice to live is pre-moral and then to assert that the choice not to live is monstrously immoral. I have argued this elsewhere on SOLO in a discussion in which I think you participated. I don't believe the whole Objectivist deck of cards collapses if I'm correct.

and I consider Ayn Rand's notion of moral perfection a dangerous brew of mythology with philosophy. Does this mean I can't be an advocate of rational self-interest?

That's because, if I remember aright, you equate "perfection" with infallibility. Perfection is never knowingly breaching your (rational) principles.

Just who gets to count as an Objectivist and who is not are not matters that I find pressing.

Whoa! That's cute! Hahahaha!

I am content to leave the designation "Objectivist" to the Ayn Rand Institute contingent. They are doing what Ayn Rand, at least on occasion, wanted her followers to do. The trouble such uncritical adherence causes them, many of them richly deserve. The future is less than bright for a seriously incomplete system of ideas with gaps that can never be filled and errors that can never be corrected.

I am the first to agree that the ARI in the past quashed honest inquiry and debate and engaged in stupid, unconscionable heresy-hunting. I have a "please explain" letter from Gary Hull to prove it. But it's your lot doing that now, Professor. "Uncritical adherence" is exactly what you Brandroids insist upon, as your recent lynch-mobbery attests. Hell, Babs's chief cheerleader was even up-front about it: "No Branden-bashing."

Public Notice

James S. Valliant's picture

The (unanswered) chapters posted here at SOLO have elicited a response that must be read to be believed -- and one that requires something of an "official" response on my part. http://www.objectivistliving.c...

In removing from the text of PARC the issues that formed the basis of the objections of certain critics for the current posting, my explicit intention was not to admit error, but only to avoid "unnecessary quibbles."

To put it more directly: the intention was to demonstrate that these changes do not affect any of PARC's arguments one little bit -- and are simply distractions from them -- and that removing them altogether doesn't change a single conclusion.

To put it still more directly to Neil Parille: to demonstrate that he has yet to address the themes and arguments of PARC at all, in fact, which he seems unable to resist being distracted from addressing.

I have attempted to show some sensitivity to the critics, a willingness to listen, and to direct their attention to what they have, thus far, simply ignored...

Despite the explicitly stated intention -- indeed, in the face of an actual retraction made -- Parille claims that this editing has conceded such "error."

Thus, in his strained attempt to accuse PARC of shoddy scholarship, he is guilty is far shoddier scholarship himself.

Now, let's back up and consider the situation more broadly.

Barbara Branden, as she has admitted, repeatedly lied to Ayn Rand, the subject of her biography. Ms. Branden then put her name on what she knew to be a tissue of public lies -- i.e., Mr. Branden's statement in 1968 about the Break. (The proof of which no one from her camp has even yet addressed.) And, then, she again endorsed those lies in her biography of Rand in the 1980s.

In that biography, Ms. Branden's "objective" opinions included the idea that Rand may be fairly compared to an Inquisitor torturing his victims with "fire and the rack," amongst other fair-minded propositions.

On such grounds, PARC challenged both the credibility and the biases of this "witness."

To this, the shrill, shrieking response of BB's friends came: "How dare you question Barbara's honesty!! There may be a few, minor mistakes -- but this is no reason to doubt her honesty or, indeed, the tender love of her portrait of Rand!!"

Of course, even her own defenders have been compelled to concede error, after error, after "overgeneralization," after "incorrect interpretation," after "unfortunate hyperbole," after error... after error, to be found in PAR, even as they twist into pretzels to defend still others...

Now, consider the SINGLE retraction I have had to make as the author of PARC -- and with my sincerely expressed gratitude to its source – when new evidence was available from the Ayn Rand Archives.

PARC does not argue -- or much care -- that BB never met Rand again after 1968 -- it just says so. Removing this item affects literally nothing else in the entire book. Nor does this in any way corroborate Ms. Branden's account of the substance of such a meeting -- something PARC does not discuss at all. There were good reasons behind what PARC had said -- such as the absence of the claimed physical evidence corroborating Ms. B.'s assertion -- and when those equally "dishonest villains" at ARI reported that a witness could confirm that the evidence had at one time existed, I immediately made a public retraction. I even changed the text in the current posting at SOLO -- and thanked the source of the correction.

Now, over at ObjectivistLiving.com, those who overlooked error after error in PAR have jumped on this single item as the long and anxiously awaited demonstration of my dishonesty.

Such a witness report (not of the meeting itself, but of the existence of a letter which partially corroborates Ms. B.'s account) has never been available to me in any form, nor had I any reason to have heard of its existence, but those fine "scholars" at OL are just certain that I did -- that I had intentionally deceived my readers -- in MSK's words, as an attorney, I "lied to the court." Professor Campbell, with his typical quality of "scholarship," is also convinced that this witness statement was available to me, and to the Archive, and to any there who read PARC, like Mr.Britting -- and he and MSK seem to be absolutely certain just how and when this statement was obtained, along with how and when the Archive obtained it, etc., etc. No questions need to be asked -- no facts obtained -- they just know it.

And it goes without saying, of course, that ARI gets zero credit for their honest assistance to Mr. Parille -- just as any impact of ARI's alleged mendacity on the very premises of their own argument goes unnoticed.

If an innocent poster should suggest that this might have been an honest mistake, MSK jumps right down his throat.

And the hysteria is palpable.

Highlighting the poverty of their case, and the frenzy of its delivery, an expected attack of all "lawyers" and their "honesty" also flew out in an effort to buttress to their case....

Of course, I have never been a defense attorney or a civil litigator, never chasing ambulances or suing folks, never defending criminals, etc. -- and, in any event, I am proud to say that I have never even been accused misleading a court of law in any way, despite the fact that such accusations, often without basis, are as common as corn flakes. My reputation -- among the attorneys I have gone up against -- and my record speak for themselves. Ask my colleagues at the DA's office -- ask my defense attorney opponents -- about my professional character, and, if present, I will be forced to blush from the praise of my professional integrity and honesty.

Of any of this, of course, MSK hasn't a clue and, for him, facts wouldn't matter in any case.

Let me put him on public notice: his words are an irresponsible and baseless defamation of my spotless professional character.

The falsehood of his claims, his confessed malice, his overt lack of concern for the evidence, are all "slam dunks" -- but a law suit of this kind requires proof of real harm -- i.e., "damages" -- stemming from the slander or libel -- and, of course, MSK and his website are incapable of harming anyone in any measurable way -- and certainly not my reputation in either the legal or scholarly communities.

However, should his slime, under some hard-to-imagine circumstance, ever be shown to cause me any such damages -- I will be delighted to take the appropriate action.

I know lots of lawyers -- and these guys ain't Libertarians squeamish about defamation laws, either.

Notice, however, that applying MSK’s own standards to The Passion of Ayn Rand, we would be compelled to conclude that even the many innocent errors of Ms. Branden were lies, as well -- all of them -- a position far more radical than any in PARC.

If this is the impact of a single error in PARC, what should we think, for example, of the list of problems in PAR provided by its defender, Dr. Hessen?

What, then, should we make of Neil Parille's various admissions of "overgeneralizations" -- and "unfortunate hyperbole" -- and even factual errors in PAR?

No, the double and triple standards here are simply amazing -- amazing in the sense of the total lack of self-awareness it confesses -- if nothing else.

The examples are endless, but here's my personal favorite: he complains of PARC's "machine-gun rhetoric" -- using the worst "machine-gun" rhetoric you can imagine. (And do go check it out before he reads this and has a chance to change it.)

Neil Parille, having stonewalled every attempt to get him to address the substance of PARC, accuses me of "stonewalling" (I leave it to readers of this site to evaluate my own willingness to fairly engage my critics) -- and Robert Campbell, who simply cannot write a post at this site without multiple flights of unreality, questions my own scholarship -- and MSK, who thinks that error after error in PAR must a priori be innocent, even absent any retraction whatever, is convinced of evil mendacity from a single, mind-numbingly insignificant cause for an immediate retraction from the author of PARC.

Just the sweaty desperation of MSK’s title speaks volumes -- as if denying the reality of PARC's impact on the field of Rand biography will make that impact just go away -- and, by excluding from his hermetically sealed discussions at OL anyone who knows any better, his threads are only a means of cover-up, and not serious "engagement" of any kind. In fact, OL itself seems designed to insulate BB from any proximity to any open or frank discussion of her work -- such as this very thread -- with the same protective emotionalism expressed by Sciabarra about her age and fragility, but not the truth.

Of course, Ms. Branden praises and endorses MSK's efforts on her behalf -- and, thus, his endless attacks only further devastate his Goddess's credibility. He does her no favors, and only blows away what remaining crumbs of her credibility remain.

The most pathetic aspect, perhaps, of all of this is that Ms. Branden has sought her sanctuary in a fortress of this kind -- a fortress manned by such "defenders" -- who struggle to protect her from the historically inevitable discovery of a more objective and balanced perspective on the life of Ayn Rand.

I must pity Ms. Branden, and, as Howard Roark observed, the authentic experience of this emotion is most unpleasant indeed.

WSS

James S. Valliant's picture

There is no such "mistake" in PARC.

Since the evidence I had was equivocal on the issue you mention, I rashly accepted -- in our on-line discussion -- Dr. Sciabarra's own insistence that the changes were all pre-production, and agreed that this qualification might have been a nice addition, although still not required.

However, the evidence now cited contradicts Sciabarra's insistence -- strengthens PARC's position -- and would make the idea of qualifying the assertion in PARC totally unnecessary, right?

And, yes, the omission of something done to Rand which also would have angered Howard Roark, by itself, is dubious, but when related to the "breaks" Ms. Branden so complains about, it is no less than misleading.

Campbell

James S. Valliant's picture

Under the rules of the Archive, rules common for such collections, material is unavailable for use if it has already been assigned to some project such as the new ARI book which will contain this information. Thus, if the material even existed when I was using the Archive, it was not available for me to use -- and not "part of the Archive" accessible at the time.

And, obviously, this is the unstated context of the prior statement -- i.e, "the Archive" which is accessible to scholars.

For example, the journal material that PARC used was not "at the Archive," even physically, at that time, and is only now "in process" there -- for their project is a huge one.

The material I saw there included all the "unassigned material" (e.g., legal documents, the little love notes between Rand and her husband, Rand's photos and brick-a-brack, etc.) and the previously used material -- the journals, letters, etc. -- much of which was also still being "processed" at the time, although it had been made available to me.

Where this interview was, physically, if it did exist at the time, I do not know.

I would doubt that even the Archivist had seen it when I was working there, since he -- the very person who provided the recent information -- did not notice this when he read PARC.

What I was referring to in Orange County, as Neil should know, was the non-existence of the letter which might have partially confirmed Ms. Branden's account here -- but since this point was so very, very unimportant to PARC, no, I did not specifically ask if any interviews said otherwise.

But when this was actually "at the Archive," or available to scholars at the Archive, or known to the Archivist or to me, etc., don't really matter to you, do they?

And you can't really expect your questions to be taken as sincere, can you?

On May 17, at OL you posted the following in response to this statement of mine which you quote here:

"Wow...

"Let's see how he can wriggle out of his assertion, made in public a little less than two years ago, that the Ayn Rand Archives had no information confirming the 1981 meeting.
...

"The Peikoff Institute (sic) really is in a bind now. If they keep selling Mr. Valliant's book, they will continue to take eminently deserved hits for promoting such an unscholarly, grossly slanted product of blind zealotry. If they quit selling it, they will, as you noted, be seen as admitting in front of everyone in Rand-land that PARC is... well... an unscholarly, grossly slanted product of blind zealotry."

You were condemning me without knowing the answers to any of these questions days ago and in the harshest terms possible.

What impresses me most is the care and precision of my Orange County statement even absent this evidence.

"It doesn't mean it wasn't the case."

Damn, I'm good.

The curious failure

William Scott Scherk's picture

JV (a): The witnesses are unanimous, sir, changes were slipped in -- only to be reversed prior to the opening [ . . . ] Pretend what you like, that's just a fact.

JV (b): [Philip Smith:] "...a line of Regan's that always got an inappropriate laugh was cut for one evening['s] performance and when Kay told Ayn about it the next day..."

That's exactly what I was told about these things -- that Rand found out about any changes to dialogue only after a decision had been made to cut it -- in this case, to an actual performance

There is a mistake here. First James claims that 'changes' were reversed prior to the opening of the play. Then he agrees that 'changes' were made during the run of the play.

Prior !== During. (A) !== (B)

Why doesn't James acknowledge the error? Who knows . . .

In any case, at issue is whether or not Barbara Branden's biography tells a beastly lying awful tale of those who for one reason or another left the inner circle. Remember that James uses the tale of the Smith break to excoriate Barbara for 'deliberate suppression' of vital evidence. We see the evidence that Rand flipped out on the Smiths.

Now, of course, readers are invited to understand that dropping a line was perfect justification for an utter and complete break.

Remember, the aim** here is against Branden. By not mentioning the detail of the Smith break, something nefarious was detected by the Valliant perfidy detector. What, we don't know. Now that we know some detail, what is the perfidy of Branden?

Here is our friend Leonard Peikoff adding his two bits to the Rand introduction to the play:

Hmmmm. Updating the play from its 1935 script, to modernize the language. I am wondering what ultimately happened to the line of Guts Regan that brought an inappropriate laugh thirty-eight years later.

WSS
______________________________

** JV: PARC's aim was to observe Ms. Branden's "curious" failure to provide any reasons for [the break with the Smiths]

Mr. Valliant's statement in July 2006

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Valliant,

Recently, you had to retract your denial that Ayn Rand and Barbara Branden met after 1968.

In July 2006, during your appearance at Borders Bookstore in Orange, California, you said, in response to a question concerning Barbara Branden's 1981 meeting with Ayn Rand:

No. There is no corroboration in any of Ayn Rand's notes or in any of the evidence from the Ayn Rand Archives that there was such a meeting as Barbara Branden describes later in their lives. That doesn't mean it was the case. It doesn't mean it wasn't the case. I will have to say what I said in the book about that.

Everything that either one of the Brandens says that does not have independent corroboration from a credible source is to be dismissed out of hand as an arbitrary assertion.

Was your claim of no evidence in the Ayn Rand Archives actually true?

Did you learn at any time prior to March 2008 that there was, in fact, a documented recollection of the meeting by Cynthia Peikoff?

While doing your research in those Archives for The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics, did you ever search for, or ask others to search for, evidence of such a meeting?

At any time after you completed your book, did you search in the Archives or request a search for evidence of such a meeting?

Robert Campbell

Viz: Ante

James S. Valliant's picture

Not the first clue about any of it, has he?

(See, one naked assertion can be answered with another.)

And, I think that we can safely take that as confirming that he is unfamiliar with "Understanding Objectivism" and the referenced material in the Rand journals (another completely ignored aspect of PARC), among other things.

Campbell Might...

James S. Valliant's picture

... want to check out Rand's numerous discussions on the very special nature of philosophical knowledge, for starters.

No, in fact, all the "Disowned Self" and "Breaking Free" observations about the need to be "authentic" from Mr. Branden are precisely what Rand had been urging Branden to fix in himself for some time. She was literally begging him to stop trying to live up to his "Kantian" and quasi-religious conception of what he mistaken thought an "Objectivist Hero" should be -- to recognize the role of "options" in life, to stop being an "intrinsicist" about knowledge, to appreciate the process of learning -- and to forgive himself for his past "mistakes." Rand's diagnosis of himself formed the basis for Branden's allegedly "liberated" thinking.

More totalizing

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Perigo tells us that Ayn Rand never insisted on all-or-nothing acceptance of her ideas.

According to him, all she was trying to do was protect the Rand brand.

But you see, fellas, it's not her whole philosophy she requires one to repudiate if one disagrees with parts of it; it's calling oneself an adherent to it.

If one is an adherent of objective reality, reason, self-interest, and capitalism, and knows how to tie them all together one is entitled to call oneself an Objectivist.

If one upholds objective reality, faith, altruism and capitalism, one is not required to repudiate objective reality and capitalism, but one should NOT call oneself an Objectivist.

Problem is, an analysis this coarse-grained would not exclude Nathaniel Branden from the ranks of Objectivists. In his 1971 interview, was he rejecting objective reality? Promoting faith? Declaring his allegiance to altruism? Denouncing capitalism?

Unless, of course, you can't be in favor of any of these things unless you accept every last Randian tenet concerning each of them.

I am an advocate of objective reality, reason, self-interest, and capitalism.

I do not call myself an Objectivist.

Are Mr. Perigo and Mr. Valliant going to encourage me to reverse my decision and adopt the nomenclature?

I reject Leonard Peikoff's attempts to legislate the content of theories in physics. Does this mean I reject objective reality?

I disagree with specific claims that are normally considered part of the Objectivist epistemology; for instance, the doctrine of the arbitrary assertion, and the doctrine that perception is error-proof, and only perceptual judgments can be wrong. I think Ayn Rand was quite wrong in her refusal to consider skills a form of knowledge. I reject Ayn Rand's claim that emotions are invariably the product of "premises." Do these disagreements bar me from being an advocate of reason?

I disagree with the Peikovian claim that the applicability of moral judgment is contingent on a "premoral choice to live," and I consider Ayn Rand's notion of moral perfection a dangerous brew of mythology with philosophy. Does this mean I can't be an advocate of rational self-interest?

Just who gets to count as an Objectivist and who is not are not matters that I find pressing. I am content to leave the designation "Objectivist" to the Ayn Rand Institute contingent. They are doing what Ayn Rand, at least on occasion, wanted her followers to do. The trouble such uncritical adherence causes them, many of them richly deserve. The future is less than bright for a seriously incomplete system of ideas with gaps that can never be filled and errors that can never be corrected.

But Rand's demand for total acceptance of Objectivism was not just about who gets to be called an Objectivist and who doesn't.

It was about who qualifies as rational and who doesn't.

Hence Rand's insistence that partial acceptance of Objectivism leads to contradictions or requires flights of fancy.

Robert Campbell

Total Integration

James S. Valliant's picture

Clearly, there are any number of ways one can interpret the claim -- out of any context -- that reality -- and our knowledge -- of it is an "all-or-nothing" proposition.

Obviously, one can be mistaken about something without having the whole of his knowledge cast into doubt, as Rand herself understood, so, maybe, that one wouldn't be the fair guess here. (Is Campbell totally unaware of the Peikoff lectures -- at which Rand was present -- discussing this?)

And, just maybe, it was actually Rand's conception of the need for integration and absolutism in human knowledge to which I had referred.

Might this be possible, given the context?

One would have to guess -- and that's all he's allowed us to do here -- that Prof. Campbell is rejecting entirely Rand's belief in the need for logical integration itself -- even absent some indication that he has any grasp of Rand's own epistemological position here.

In fact, he claims that "the distinction between Ayn Rand's philosophical ideas and her non-philosophical ideas is a latter-day convenience for Leonard Peikoff and his acolytes," ignoring or unaware of the numerous statements by Rand herself regarding this distinction.

It does seem pretty clear that he is unfamiliar with Peikoff's "Understanding Objectivism," at the very least.

Particularly amusing is the fact that Rand discusses such "rationalism" in the journal entries published in PARC!

All of this material is far too copious and complex to school him on here, of course.

In any event, he doesn't even attempt to square his assault with anything else I posted -- nor, curiously, does he attempt to defend Branden's baseless accusation that Rand thereby claimed "infallibility" -- something else which one must presume that he supports -- although neither he nor Branden have given us the slightest reason to believe this.

Integration? Or totalizing?

Robert Campbell's picture

Here is Mr. Valliant's latest effort at clarification:

Rand believed in her ideas, in all of them. More than this, she believed that methodological integration was a key aspect of sound thinking -- and essential to certainty.

She taught that reality — and our knowledge of it — is an All-Or-Nothing proposition.

But, so what?

A Christian of just about any denomination would tell you that there are no non-essential elements to his faith, either — just as a Marxist of almost any variety would not say that some philosophically grounded element of his position was dispensable, either.

It is true that Rand went further, methodologically speaking, and insisted that a complete and rigorous integration of knowledge was an indispensable hallmark of sound philosophical reasoning.

I don't think Mr. Valliant's comparisons with Christianity (faith-based, not to mention the very source of the meaning we currently attach to "dogma") or to Marxism (a philosophical system that has turned out to be a far more effective instrument of oppression than a promoter of rational inquiry) are exactly flattering to Ayn Rand and her ideas.

Be that as it may, note his assertion that reality is all-or-nothing, and so is our knowledge of it. Real knowledge is, of course, far from all-or-nothing; otherwise we could neither learn, not correct our errors. But Objectivism was all-or-nothing, from Rand's point of view.

Does it follow, then, that one must either embrace the entirety of Objectivism—or reject the entirety of reality?

In Ayn Rand's statements that I quoted, down-thread, she declared that anything short of accepting the kit-and-caboodle entirety of Objectivism would lead to contradictions—or to the substitution of "flights of fancy" (i.e., strings of arbitrary assertions) for genuine knowledge.

Mr. Valliant continues:

However, the question from Reason implied something more, didn't it?

It implied that Rand was intolerant of process -- that she was dogmatic in her totalism -- right down to her favorite cigarette holder, perhaps -- and rationalistic in her call for comprehensiveness -- right down to her adoring of skyscrapers, it seems.

This was Branden's opportunity to make the key distinctions which would have been fair to Rand's actual position -- one he failed to take.

That's why this exchange could elicit all of the silently smug effect it was after — implying that Rand required absolute agreement on everything — including her taste in ice cream and facial hair — and on philosophical grounds, no less.

The distinction between Ayn Rand's philosophical ideas and her non-philosophical ideas is a latter-day convenience for Leonard Peikoff and his acolytes. Without it, obeying her demand for adherence to every tenet of Objectivism would prove insupportable, even for them.

I've seen little evidence to suggest that Miss Rand approved of such bright lines being drawn. The key difference between Ayn Rand's belief that cancer is caused by bad premises and her belief that no psychologically healthy woman would ever want to be President of the United States is that she published the latter opinion, but neither published the former, nor made a public statement of it in a speech or an answer to a question from the audience.

I of course sympathized with the Peikovians when they got around to rejecting Ayn Rand's publicly proclaimed view of homosexuality as "immoral" and "disgusting." But I doubt that Miss Rand would be amused with their decision to repudiate it because it is "non-philosophical." Any more than she would care for the increasingly common Orthodox defensive maneuver of rejecting her conception of newborn babies as experiencing pure sensations—on the grounds that it is psychology and not philosophy.

Robert Campbell

Prof. Polish

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Still having a problem with plain English, I see Prof.

Here's Branden, who seems to have been similarly confused, quoted by you:

But the suggestion that if one disagrees with her about some tenet of her philosophy, one must repudiate the total of her philosophy, is nonsense. It's worse than nonsense. It's pretentious nonsense. It's grandiose nonsense.

But you see, fellas, it's not her whole philosophy she requires one to repudiate if one disagrees with parts of it; it's calling oneself an adherent to it.

If one is an adherent of objective reality, reason, self-interest, and capitalism, and knows how to tie them all together one is entitled to call oneself an Objectivist.

If one upholds objective reality, faith, altruism and capitalism, one is not required to repudiate objective reality and capitalism, but one should NOT call oneself an Objectivist.

I must say it's instructive to see how palpable is the desperation of the Rand-diminishers and lynch-mobbers when the best they can do is, "Rand said don't call yourself an Objectivist if you're not—how dare she?!" and, "Valliant got it wrong about the Rand-Babs reunion," and, "She got uppity about folk changing her scripts without her knowledge or permission." Really cosmic stuff must go on over at the Church of the Brandens. And they get to burn the occasional apostate, too, while chanting, "Toleration! Openness! John Stuart Mill! These matters ought to be debated!"

"Too Many Notes"

James S. Valliant's picture

The lack of humility on display by many (both here and at OL) who think they should be able to sit in their armchairs and draw the line where Rand herself may or may not go in defending the integrity of her art, is simply astonishing.

It is the same arrogance Rand was astonished to find in those producing her play -- and certainly would have broken any trust she had that those people had any inkling of how out of line they were in assuming such an authority without even consulting her.

To believe otherwise is to accept a socialized view of artistic creation and ownership -- it is the equal of joining the committee of mediocrities who assumed the right to mangle the design of Howard Roark.

Had these "friends" read The Fountainhead yet, or what?

Isn't it interesting that the same people who defend the desire to change Rand's language -- and still call it "the art of Ayn Rand" -- are those who also demand a green light to modify Rand's philosophical fundamentals while still calling the result "Objectivism"?

Call it "Socialized Objectivism."

No -- Why?

James S. Valliant's picture

There is still no "because" clear to me, Neil.

Are you saying that the same standards apply to the changing of poetic language in a dramatic work of art as to the decision of which assembly of essays in a non-fiction collection of already previously publshed essays -- with their exact language intact?

I don't see it at all.

All of Rand's essays and all of their language were retained, right?

This was a non-fiction collection, wasn't it?

The new essays are relevant to what Rand was saying, aren't they?

Peikoff also said, "whenever possible," didn't he?

Doesn't this mean that he had also to trust his own judgment?

As heir of her estate, Rand entrusted precisely these very matters to him.

Isn't this a matter of the very language itself?

Are you saying that Rand's essays can never be re-assembled into different collections?

Has someone gathered up and burned all of the copies of the previous edition?

Isn't the way to show actual respect for Rand's previous collection the honesty of giving it a new title?

Perspective, man!

Because

Neil Parille's picture

. . . it was her book that included only her own essays.

In the introduction to Philosophy: Who Needs It (published shortly after she died), Peikoff says that Rand wasn't able to see the completed collection, but that "it has fallen to me to make these decisions, guided, wherever possible, by Miss Rand's stated wishes."

Do you know if Rand had a "stated wish" to see a different version of The New Left?

Why?

James S. Valliant's picture

Not at all.

Was the language of any of Rand's essays modified?

A different book requires a different title -- don't you think?

Rand was a great admirer of Schwartz's work, and inclusion of his essays in a new volume of Objectivist essays seems appropriate to me.

He retained all of the original essays and just added some more, right?

BTW: as I say, it's not up to you or me to say where the line is crossed with Rand's own words -- it's up to Rand.

It's like that scene from Amadeus when the Emperor claims that The Magic Flute, I believe, has "too many notes." Mozart's incredulous reply is apt: "Which, sire, would you have me cut, then?"

As time goes on, I suspect that there will be any number of differing collections of essays by Rand and by other Objectivists, and, for clarity's sake, I suggest that they all be given new titles.

Also, I must add my thanks -- the utterly non-PARC-related examples you toss out delightfully illuminate the issue of perspective.

Changing Rand's Words

Neil Parille's picture

Jim,

If you think the Smiths changing a line or two in one performance of Penthouse Legend is so bad (given Rand's concern for the integrity of her own works), what is your opinion of Leonard Peikoff permitting Peter Schwartz to come out with a revised version of The New Left under a new name (Return of the Primitive) and with entire essays she never saw?

Isn't this at least as bad as what the Smiths did?

Thank You

James S. Valliant's picture

Precisely what I had said.

Branden implies that this could mean -- and may well mean to Rand herself -- that one "agree[s] with every position that Miss Rand has taken and... regard[s] the sum total of Miss Rand's intellectual pronouncements as being equal to what is meant by 'the philosophy of Objectivism'" -- imputing to Rand the very problem she had diagnosed in him -- rationalism. (Rand, of course, never held such a bizarre position as Branden states here -- and Peikoff's "Understanding Objectivism" should be required listening for those who claim otherwise.)

Instead of asking if Rand also accepted "his" distinction, the interviewer then proceeds to accept Branden's implication -- and then explication -- that Rand's position was nothing short of absurd.

Nothing in Rand's position remotely implies her omniscience or "infallibility" -- or anyone else's -- and Branden cannot suggest how it does so, either.

He just asserts it.

No, Rand repeatedly and explicitly denied such "infallibility" of herself or anyone else -- and she did so consistently with her fully integrated philosophy.

Go figure!

The only "must" here is the obvious fact that to disagree with any philosophical principle of Objectivism is to render one -- precisely to that extent -- something other than an "Objectivist."

Those who disagreed with Rand about something philosophical got their feelings really hurt when Rand pointed out that they couldn't still use her good name.

As one could deduce for himself, this included many who read the magazine called "Reason: Free Minds and Free Markets."

How shattering for them!

What Nathaniel Branden actually said

Robert Campbell's picture

On the question whether Ayn Rand demanded acceptance of Objectivism in toto, Jim Valliant doesn't seem terribly interested in quoting Nathaniel Branden in context.

So here is the exchange, verbatim, from Dr. Branden's interview in the October 1971 issue of Reason magazine. Michael Etchison was the interviewer.

REASON: Do you consider yourself an Objectivist?

BRANDEN: You have to realize that Miss Rand would answer that question, if she were asked it about me, with an emphatic "No!"

R: That's clear.

B: If you mean, do I agree with the broad fundamentals of the philosophy of Objectivism, I would answer "Yes."

But if you mean, as Miss Rand might well wish you to mean, do I agree with every position that Miss Rand has taken and do I regard the sum total of Miss Rand's intellectual pronouncements as being equal to what is meant by "the philosophy of Objectivism," then I am not an Objectivist. Is the distinction clear?

R: Yes. Miss Rand has declared, has she not, that Objectivism is a thoroughly integrated, self-consistent system, and that one must accept all of its tenets or none of them?

B: It's true that Miss Rand has claimed that, many times. But think about what it means.

Anyone can claim that about his intellectual system. To claim it means nothing.

All that sentence translates to in English is that Miss Rand holds that she has been infallible in working out her philosophical system, that she has never made an error of inference or application, and that everything she says is absolutely true. If she thinks so, fine.

But the suggestion that if one disagrees with her about some tenet of her philosophy, one must repudiate the total of her philosophy, is nonsense. It's worse than nonsense. It's pretentious nonsense. It's grandiose nonsense.

Robert Campbell

So Much Recent Attention, Guys!

James S. Valliant's picture

I am truly flattered!

But, be patient, your comments should be saved up for the appropriate chapter, which is coming in due course.

I notice that there is still no response to the posted chapter above.

None whatever.

C'mon guys, you must be able say something about it!

The Smith's...

James S. Valliant's picture

... were cashing in on Rand's endorsement and on the fact that this was "Rand's version."

So, yeah, this obliged them to show some sensitivity to her history, I should have thought, and, therefore, about the smallest alterations.

WSS

James S. Valliant's picture

Branden was calling Rand's very belief in philosophical integration pretentious and grandiose nonsense, if he did not make those vital distinctions.

Period.

It's what he did not say that counts here.

Neil

James S. Valliant's picture

Worse or better, Neil, the Smith facts were omitted, and those more sensitive to Rand's history should at least have been told.

But do you have the nerve to talk about "stonewalling"?!

Sheesh!

WSS

James S. Valliant's picture

Have you ever read Rand's 1968 "Introduction" to the reprint of this play, published three years before the Smith's production -- itself one of Smith's very inspirations for doing a corrected, new production, i.e., one "now in accord with the author's wishes"?

Please do read Rand's own account of this, if you have not, before dismissing this as being "callous."

Callousness depends on the personal context involved, especially a personal context well known to one's "friends."

Presumably, you are familiar with the story of Howard Roark who blew up a housing project when his work had been altered...

A betrayal of Rand is not to be measured by your context of what's important -- or mine -- especially when it comes to an artist's own work -- but by Rand's -- and especially if the very intention of the production was to finally present the "author's cut" -- the very PR that got the bums into the seats at this off Broadway revival.

In addition, I was not writing a biography of Rand, and a total evluation of this break was well beyond PARC's scope. (I believe it involved other reasons, as well.) PARC's aim was to observe Ms. Branden's "curious" failure to provide any reasons for it -- echoed in the example of Ms. Efron, another named break -- so, such a full blown treatment of this was hardly necessary.

No, this is just one of those "breaks" the reasons for which BB decided not to inform her readers about -- nor any aspect of "Rand's side," as it were.

So, the important "knobs" on this issue are Rand's.

But I notice that your old "knobs" are still fixed in place, however.

None of PARC's sources are anonymous, so none can be "frightened," either -- and you seem to have been sucked into one of Neil's little fictions.

In any event, the Brandens are hardly "evil incarnate," and I would be curious to know how one would conclude this from PARC -- if you can be specific. Sure, their books are pretty awful, but they're hardly unique cases of this, and Branden is a pretty creepy fellow, but... Hitleresque?

Do you really think it fair to say that I hold "all those critical of Valliant's opus [to be] evil, stupid, illiterate, evasive or insane"?

Campbell's unending and usually non-PARC-related fantasies have been observed by many others, such as Mr. Cathcart, for example, and Neil's remarkable and uniform failure to answer a straight question must have some cause -- but, WTF, I continue to respond in a civil way to all and sundry, something which Ms. B. would never and could never do.

Also, where exactly does PARC question the honesty of the accounts of the others you mention? And where exactly do I morally evaluate the Blumenthals, much less the Kalbermans?

So, what is the factual basis, if I might ask, for the "overblown rhetoric" in your last paragraph?

In any case, I am confident that readers of these chapters -- and these discussions -- will have no problem identifying the true sources of such "overblown rhetoric."

What if you really were a bad girl, and Ayn Rand found out?

William Scott Scherk's picture

Neil says . . . So it wasn't in the production of the play ("before its opening") contrary to what Jim has said. Rand's "discovery" was merely Kay Smith telling her.

Right. I don't know why that had got thrown in, being unsupported by anything to date, anonymous ARI mummers aside.

But don't be beastly to James. If we can grant a few truths to him, he can grant a few truths to us in his own way . . .

There we are. Kay aka Evil Betrayer, drops a line or two, lines that got an innappropriate laugh, on request of the actor. Tells Momma Rand, who gives betrayer girl her walking papers.

And her dorky husband too. And bye bye. No more articles in the Objectivist. And oh, you can't go around calling yourselves Objectivists. Slam. Ha ha ha.

WSS

The answer choked off after three words . . .

William Scott Scherk's picture

However, the question from Reason implied something more, didn't it?

It is hard to tell. The book seems only to have reproduced two words from the entire exchange, "'pretentious' and 'grandiose nonsense.'"

If some kind soul devoted to context could post the relevant passage, we would know if Branden said what you say he says . . .

It implied that Rand was intolerant of process -- that she was dogmatic in her totalism -- right down to her favorite cigarette holder, perhaps -- and rationalistic in her call for comprehensiveness -- right down to her adoring of skyscrapers, it seems.

What did he actually say, James?

WSS

WSS

Neil Parille's picture

I'm surprised and pleased to see that Jim responded in a straightforward manner. I have asked him many times just what his sources told him, only to be stonewalled.

But let's look at what Jim said on Dr. Sciabarra's blog:

"I should have, perhaps, included the fact that the changes made to Rand's play were removed before its opening (although ~ how ~ Rand discovered these changes in the production remains the essence of the charge)"

So it wasn't in the production of the play ("before its opening") contrary to what Jim has said. Rand's "discovery" was merely Kay Smith telling her.

Sounds to me that if Barbara Branden had included this excommunication, it would have made Rand look worse.

If Rand kicked the Smiths out for one minor change in one performance of the play, imagine what she would have done to Peter Schwartz for changing the title of one of her books!

Playing by the book

William Scott Scherk's picture

Hey Neil,

Good to see you are enjoying the free-wheeling SOLO group.

If I am missing Valliant's point in relation to the reckless, callous, systematic betrayal of Rand, it could be that we need to put our eye back on the larger argument. I don't have my copy of the book to hand, but rather think it goes like this . . .

Barbara Branden reported on the Smith's departure from the inner circle, but she didn't mention the details. The details that she didn't mention (in Valliant-speak, 'deliberately suppressed') were put forth in Jeff Walker's book, which Valliant cited. In sum, Walker gave a sketch indicating Kay Nolte Smith made "unauthorized changes to a few lines of dialogue for a public performance." Valliant didn't quote Smith or Walker. And of course, he didn't quote Reisman:

Many years ago, there was a young actress to whom Ayn Rand gave the responsibility of directing a production of her play 'The Night of January 16th.' Toward the close of the play’s run, an actor prevailed upon this young woman to allow him to alter one of Ayn Rand’s lines in one of the play’s last performances. When Ayn Rand learned of this, she was furious and completely ended her relationship with this young woman, who had been in her inner circle for several years.

That the Smiths were both excommunicated is not in dispute. What is at dispute was the justification of the banishment and the details of the transgression.

Was this was an example, pace Barbara, of an ugly row in which Ayn Rand was unfair? Or was it an example of a totally justified expulsion, pace Valliant?

I cannot see from what James has lately referred to -- whether to Reisman or in some murky aside to his frightened, nameless sources -- that there is much meat on the bones of the contention.

Was this a systematic betrayal? Did a minor line change or drop, at the actor's request, engender a total break?

Where was the recklessness and the callousness?

In any case, I find the Blumenthals departure from Fortress Rand to be more interesting and equally suggestive.** Ayn Rand angry? You bet. Angry enough to denounce? You bet? To excommunicate? Uh huh. And in every case justified? Doubtful.

Has Valliant adequately given us enough information to support the idea of a systematic betrayal? Hardly. Is he likely to temper his overblown rhetoric in this instance? Not at all. If he turned down the knobs there, he would have to turn down the knobs elsewhere . . . and the case against the Brandens as evil incarnate would deflate.

If you ask me, Neil, if I expect James to lay out a comprehensible and comprehensive theory of the Smith expulsion, no.

WSS

** Suggestive in the sense of Rand's lack of judgement. If we believe the Blumenthal's and Kalberman's accounts, as put forward in PAR. But, oh, we can't believe them, because they left Rand and must be considered part of the plot to destroy her reputation. In the PARC trance-world, where all those critical of Valliant's opus are evil, stupid, illiterate, evasive or insane. In the PARC version of hell, where Barbara Branden burns for her witchery, where all the cast-away lesser demons like the Smiths and the Blumenthals roast.

WSS

James S. Valliant's picture

"Can we at least find out what they told James were the actual circumstances of Rand finding out?"

Actually, the quotation you provide does a fair job:

"...a line of Regan's that always got an inappropriate laugh was cut for one evening['s] performance and when Kay told Ayn about it the next day..."

That's exactly what I was told about these things -- that Rand found out about any changes to dialogue only after a decision had been made to cut it -- in this case, to an actual performance (and, therefore, a matter that would require immediate attention) -- that is, without first getting Rand's okay to do so, despite the special endorsement and assistance Rand had rendered this production.

And this is the rather obvious and simple point: Rand's history should have alerted any but the most callous to the need to get such prior permission or risk reopening old wounds on Miss. Rand.

This play, in particular, had been butchered by others for previous productions, and Rand had already published the story of her prolonged and anguished struggle to keep the dialogue of this very play intact, years earlier.

Rand was a ruthlessly practical technician and craftsman, as the Brandens themselves concede, so had the producers explained the concerns over the "inappropriate laugh," and given Rand the courtesy of bringing her into the decision-making process, she might have helped to -- in her own way -- update the language or make whatever correction was required, if the concern was a valid one.

[I don't know, Neil, but was that par for my "playbook"?]

Smug and Superior, But Really Just Stupid

James S. Valliant's picture

Campbell is confusing two very different things here, of course.

Rand believed in her ideas, in all of them. More than this, she believed that methodological integration was a key aspect of sound thinking -- and essential to certainty.

She taught that reality -- and our knowledge of it -- is an All-Or-Nothing proposition.

But, so what?

A Christian of just about any denomination would tell you that there are no non-essential elements to his faith, either -- just as a Marxist of almost any variety would not say that some philosophically grounded element of his position was dispensable, either.

It is true that Rand went further, methodologically speaking, and insisted that a complete and rigorous integration of knowledge was an indispensable hallmark of sound philosophical reasoning.

However, the question from Reason implied something more, didn't it?

It implied that Rand was intolerant of process -- that she was dogmatic in her totalism -- right down to her favorite cigarette holder, perhaps -- and rationalistic in her call for comprehensiveness -- right down to her adoring of skyscrapers, it seems.

This was Branden's opportunity to make the key distinctions which would have been fair to Rand's actual position -- one he failed to take.

That's why this exchange could elicit all of the silently smug effect it was after -- implying that Rand required absolute agreement on everything -- including her taste in ice cream and facial hair -- and on philosophical grounds, no less.

Thus, it is the vital distinctions that Reason, Branden, and now Campbell did not, but should have made before commencing their egregiously shallow assault on Rand which are (once more) noteworthy.

Prof. Campbell...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... she had sufficient command of the English language to make herself clear, even to befuddled academics such as myself.

It is clear. It's as plain as plain English could be. That's why I wondered if all that Sciabarrian Polish had done permanent damage.

She wasn't content to describe views that disagreed with any of her ideas as non-Objectivist. She went right on to insist that they contained "falsehoods," "misunderstandings," "contradictions," and/or "flights of fancy." In the 1980 piece she further proclaimed that no one in the philosophical arena except herself considered consistency to be a "necessary virtue." In other words, rejecting some piece of Objectivism while retaining the others wasn't merely inconsistent with Objectivism—it meant rejecting any deep commitment to consistency in one's thinking.

Well, she would say that, wouldn't she? She was the founder of Objectivism and she believed Objectivism was true. Debate with her, disagree with her, but don't call your disagreements part of Objectivism—that's what she's saying, and what she's fully entitled to say.

And I repeat, given your own feverish participation in Babs's lynch-mob, you're scarcely in a position to finger-wag at anyone re "tolerance" or whatever your point is. Did you say something about consistency?

Valliant's Playbook

Neil Parille's picture

WSS,

I predict that Jim will not tell you what his sources (allegedly) told him about the changes that were made to the play. He will probably berate you, say you don't understand English, are missing his "point," etc.

Mr. Perigo,

Robert Campbell's picture

Mr. Perigo,

If Ayn Rand had really meant to say what you attribute to her:

Rand was making the perfectly reasonable stipulation as the founder of Objectivism that one should not disagree with any of its tenets and still call oneself an Objectivist! "Disagree away, but don't claim your disagreements are part of my philosophy," in effect.

she had sufficient command of the English language to make herself clear, even to befuddled academics such as myself.

She wasn't content to describe views that disagreed with any of her ideas as non-Objectivist.

She went right on to insist that they contained "falsehoods," "misunderstandings," "contradictions," and/or "flights of fancy." In the 1980 piece she further proclaimed that no one in the philosophical arena except herself considered consistency to be a "necessary virtue." In other words, rejecting some piece of Objectivism while retaining the others wasn't merely inconsistent with Objectivism—it meant rejecting any deep commitment to consistency in one's thinking.

Robert Campbell

Changes to the playbook

William Scott Scherk's picture

James writes:

I should have, perhaps, included the fact that the changes made to Rand’s play were removed before its opening

(although ~ how ~ Rand discovered these changes in the production remains the essence of the charge),

but my own anonymous sources here are credible contemporaries to the event and their reports to me long pre-date Walker’s book.

In PARC, James writes:

Such a famous reputation might be counted on to provide caution to those who would take liberties with this author's text. Not so with Kay Nolte Smith and her husband, who, in an act exhibiting unbelievably reckless judgment, changed the dialogue in their production of Penthouse Legend without authorization from Rand. (p 57)

A curious reader asked:

"Does anyone know what the changes were [that Kay Smith made to Penthouse Legend, the original title of The Night of January 16]? I attended the production, but I didn't notice whatever they were. Did the Smiths shorten a scene or scenes for reasons of length? Did they change a line or lines which seemed to them dated? Or some other minor editing? I have trouble believing that either Kay or Philip (I knew both of them) would have made any changes which they thought for a minute Rand might be upset by. But the "systematic...betrayal" makes it sound as if the changes were extensive and ones which altered the character of the play. As to the description "callous indifference," I doubt that either of the Smiths would have displayed that to anyone -- "indifference" to some people, sure; but "callous indifference," no, as I thought both of them kindhearted of disposition."

In reply, we have something from Philip Smith:

All I remember is that a line of Regan's that always got an inappropriate laugh was cut for one evening performance and when Kay told Ayn about it the next day you would have thought that the Enola Gay had dropped the bomb.

-- does this mean that James has got the story mixed up? I mean, it seems a fairly simple point. The guy who was involved in the play (Philip Smith) and the guy whom Valliant cited (Jeff Walker, quoting Kay Nolte Smith) note dialogue cut during the run. Philip Smith notes that Kay told Ayn Rand about the cut.

It is hard to know who James is talking about:

The witnesses are unanimous, sir, changes were slipped in -- only to be reversed prior to the opening -- and only when Rand found out about them.

Witnesses to what? The play? Its production? The excommunication?

Do James's anonymous commentators have some reason to be so bashful about their remembrances that they cannot be tapped for a quote?

Can we at least find out what they told James were the actual circumstances of Rand finding out?

WSS

Prof. Campbell...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I know you are at home in the milieu of Sciabarrian Polish, but don't you understand any English at all?

Rand was making the perfectly reasonable stipulation as the founder of Objectivism that one should not disagree with any of its tenets and still call oneself an Objectivist! "Disagree away, but don't claim your disagreements are part of my philosophy," in effect.

What are you suggesting she should have said? "You agree with me that A is A but you think faith is equal to reason and individual liberty should be subordinate to the common good? Ha! Whatever! A mere bagatelle. Feel free to call yourself an Objectivist anyway"??!!

And I suggest, Professor Campbell, it's a bit rich for you to be faulting anyone for Savonarolaism so soon after your participation in the Babs Branden lynch-Linz mob.

grin

Chris Cathcart's picture

As soon as I saw that avatar and name, I big fat grin came across my face.

Ayn Rand on all-or-none acceptance of Objectivism

Robert Campbell's picture

In the excerpt from The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics posted at the top of this thread, Mr. Valliant makes the following statement:

"When the Reason interviewer [in 1971] asserts that Rand had claimed that 'one must accept all of [Objectivism’s] tenets or none of them,' [Nathaniel] 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 [sic] 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."

Here are two things that Ayn Rand actually said about partial acceptance of her ideas:

"There is nothing wrong with using my ideas, provided you give me credit. You can make any mixture of ideas that you want; the contradictions will be yours. But why name someone with whom you disagree in order to spread your misunderstandings or falsehoods?" (Ford Hall Forum 1971, transcribed in Ayn Rand Answers, p. 131)

"What is the proper policy on this issue? If you agree with some of the tenets of Objectivism, but disagree with others, do not call yourself an Objectivist; give proper authorship credit for the parts you agree with—and then indulge in any flights of fancy you wish, on your own." ("To Readers of The Objectivist Forum," 1980, Vol. 1, no. 1, p. 2)

For Rand, partial acceptance of Objectivism either led to contradictions and falsehoods—or to "flights of fancy" and arbitrariness.

In other words, less than total acceptance of Objectivism was either seriously mistaken, or grossly irrational.

So much for the claim that Rand did not demand acceptance of her ideas in toto.

As is so often the case, the real Ayn Rand bears little resemblance to the person Mr. Valliant wants his readers to believe she was.

Robert Campbell

In Addition

James S. Valliant's picture

The correction regarding the later meeting of Ms. Branden and Rand has been made to the text above.

Links

James S. Valliant's picture

It's probably a good idea to provide links to the other parts of PARC now available on SOLO. So far, these are the Introduction, Chapter One and Conclusion and Chapter Two.

btw

James S. Valliant's picture

Just let us know when you can respond to any of the substance here, Neil.

Or, just pop over to this thread now.

Oh, so...

James S. Valliant's picture

... you contend that the modest changes confirmed by Reisman, and many others, did not happen at all?

Hmm.

The witnesses are unanimous, sir, changes were slipped in -- only to be reversed prior to the opening -- and only when Rand found out about them.

Pretend what you like, that's just a fact.

Penthouse Legend

Neil Parille's picture

Jim,

Yes I do dispute (and have always disputed) your claim that changes were slipped into Penthouse Legend prior to the opening --

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

Neil

James S. Valliant's picture

I've already answered both questions. No "backtracking" involved.

Are you backtracking and now claiming that no changes were slipped in at any point before the opening?

Are you becoming confused again?

Now, will you answer any question whatever?

For example, will you ever address the demonstration of Ms. Branden's dishonesty?

Or, by moving on, are you conceding everything we have refuted in your assertions to which you apparently have no answer?

Well, if you are moving on again, why not try tackling this message from Ms. B.?

Jim

Neil Parille's picture

1. What efforts did you make to confirm or refute Barbara Branden's claim that she met with Rand in 1981?

2. Are you backtracking on your claim that the Smiths tried to change the play before it opened?

Neil

James S. Valliant's picture

You can't address the instant essay, then?

Or, the previous responses?

My real "thank you," Neil, should thank you for just showing up.

Vivid contrast makes subtle things clearly visible to everyone.

1. Of course, Ms. B. also questions Rand's gratitude (you did read all of PARC, right?), and, yes, she can even do so despite her contradictions on this very point -- as on so much else. Again, the use of PAR was to show their contradictions -- as I said in my reply to you -- and as PARC makes explicit. Such contradictions are a central theme of PARC -- and one you have yet to address at all. On the issue of Rand's alleged "ingratitude," they share a very similar perspective and, obviously, for similar reasons.

As every experienced litigator knows, even perjury is important "evidence" from which important inferences often may be drawn. This "use" of the perjurer's testimony does not make the witness reliable or change the perjury into truth.

2. And you're still making stuff up, I see. No one told me that there was no meeting -- and there is no reason to suppose that anyone did. Our discussion here, of course, explicitly indicated my reasoning. PARC was not intended as a biography -- and literally nothing else in PARC relies on this.

3. The Smiths did change dialogue in the play, of course, and any such changes -- given Rand's famous history -- certainly constitute personal betrayal (and its other forms are discussed in PARC, as well.)

PARC describes the betrayal -- and what you leave out altogether is the reason why it was betrayal: Rand's personal history, well-known to the Smiths.

PARC never attempts to describe the changes -- AT ALL.

What sounds "major" to you is, of course, all beside the point of PARC. To attempt to change the words in the production without telling Rand is exactly as PARC describes it. Sciabarra and you were going to other sources -- and, in reply -- so was I.

These are sources PARC, of course, does not need or employ.

PARC's actual point here (and, thus, the one you will never address) is that Ms. Branden does not tell us the reasons why Rand broke with Ms. Smith at all. Ms. B makes much of Rand's breaks and Rand's intolerance -- but in certain key instances, like this one, she just leaves out Rand's side, Rand's reasons completely -- almost as consistently as you do.

You are free to think the changes were minor, but a reasonable reader, aware of Rand's personal history, will also see the betrayal.

Now that we have scanned the rest of your standing objections to PARC, it seems you have nothing to say about the instant essay, family and work not withstanding.

3 Points

Neil Parille's picture

Jim,

1. With respect to "the Brandens," you do often treat them as if they were one person. For example, when you discuss NB's statement about Rand not being able to express gratitude on a certain occasion, you end with a jibe against "the Brandens" even though you use PAR as a source for Rand's gratitude! I discuss this incident in part 2 of my critique.

2. You still haven't come to terms with the fact that your sources who told you that Barbara Branden didn't meet Rand were in error. I mean you must have tried to verifiy this, right?

3. In your book you describes the Smiths’ conduct as a “systematic and personal betrayal.” You say they "changed the dialogue in their production of Penthouse Legend without authorization from Rand.” (PARC, pp. 75-76.). When Chris Sciabarra pointed out that this goes beyond what TARC says happened, you responded:

". . . and the reported account of the Smith break, involving changes to the dialogue of a play by Rand they were producing, has been in circulation for many years, indeed. I should have, perhaps, included the fact that the changes made to Rand’s play were removed before its opening (although ~ how ~ Rand discovered these changes in the production remains the essence of the charge), but my own anonymous sources here are credible contemporaries to the event and their reports to me long pre-date Walker’s book."

This sounds pretty major to me -- changes made to the the "production" of the play ("before its opening") that Rand had to ferret out (apparently the worse part). The Smiths and George Reisman have said it was a small change (a line or two) in the last (or one of the last) performances of the play. Phil Smith says Kay Smith told Rand about the change!

(I never said they were "great changes," just they were "not as great as you claim," a statment which is true, unless your anonymous sources want to come forward.)

Neil

James S. Valliant's picture

It's been years now, Neil, and you still haven't gotten around to any of the pending questions and responses to your nonsense -- much less this entire chapter -- or any of the others, for that matter.

So, I don't expect anyone is holding his breath at this point.

However, readers of this chapter have just read the huge differences between Barbara and Nathaniel Branden. Such differences are pondered in several other places in PARC, as well.

Readers of the posted essay can see for themselves -- THIS TIME -- how it is Neil Parille who is doing the serious misreading, for PARC does not treat the two interchangeably.

The seriously different moral evaluations of the two Brandens was even the subject of my discussion with Mr. Cathcart, below, as readers can also see for themselves.

If this chapter from PARC itself doesn't indicate the differences between the Brandens, nothing can or would, don't you think?

No, it is you, it seems, attempting to evade the fact that Ms. Branden did indeed lie -- both to Rand and to the world. It is you attempting to sever the link which actually does exist between them -- for example, as he says himself, Ms. B. helped to inspire Mr. B. to modify his memoirs.

(In any event, Rand's meeting with Ms. B. proves nothing of the sort vis a vis Mr. Branden, does it? Did he even try to meet with her -- or, are you just assuming things? Also, a mere meeting proves very, very little in any case -- e.g., was she coming over to apologize having seen the light? -- except to extreme BB partisans, of course.)

Rather than address the point I make, you simply ignore it. Neither of your issues have any bearing on anything else in PARC.

As you well know.

In your efforts at evasion, you start making things up -- once again. PARC never claims that "great changes" were made to the play. In fact, it never quantifies or evaluates the nature of the changes at all.

No -- it tells Rand's history and it suggests that taking ANY liberties, even the slightest, with this particular author's text would be problematic -- and that Ms. Smith had reason to know this.

Why must you continuously use blatant falsehoods in your crusade against PARC, Neil?

It is obvious that you are frustrated that your efforts have yielded so very little -- but, please, just don't make stuff up, okay?

You Are Welcome

Neil Parille's picture

Jim,

Due to work and family concerns, it might be a while until I disect this chapter of PARC.

However, your mistake about Barbara Branden's meeting is quite serious. Throughout the book you treat "the Brandens" as if they were one person. Rand didn't. Her willingness to meet with Barbara Branden (and Devers Branden) says something about how she apportioned blame. I doubt she would have met with NB again.

The example concerning Frank O’Connor’s insight is taken by you as true, because in the next line you say that “[t]his is not the only evidence of O’Connor’s perceptiveness.” Evidence? How can it be evidence since you don't have any independent proof that he said it? What happened to the giant asterisk and the attached footnote which you say are required when quoting the Brandens' "uncorroborated" statements?

Your sources who told you that the meeting in 1981 didn't take place and the surprise party was thrown by Random House are in error. So I think we should question your anonymous sources on this and other matters (such as the changes in Penthouse Legend, which were apparently not as great as you claimed).

Finally, how can PAR be "useless" to historians if Barbara Branden accurately quotes what the Blumenthals and the Kalbermans said and if what they said is true? In any event, it's good to know that you apparently have independent evidence to support their claims.

Thanks Again, Neil

James S. Valliant's picture

Yes, I do "often find PARC accurate" -- that is, when I can corroborate it. This should not be surprising, since I say so explicitly and repeatedly in PARC.

PARC is way out ahead of you there, Neil.

For example, in your #3, when you quote my post, I am specifically pointing to the circumstantial evidence of such corroboration. (Thus, by implication, I am questioning the numerous occasions where no such corroboration or circumstances exist.) As I also repeatedly observe in PARC, my use of PAR -- as in both of your other examples -- does not imply that I am claiming the account to be true. In both of your cited examples, I am observing the existence of information which internally contradicts a Branden account (or an assumption made about Rand, at least in part, based on those accounts by others.) It is "relied on" only to show that the original account cannot satisfy. It is no evidence of truth, only evidence suggesting we look in another direction. My own positive theses about things rely on neither of these items -- again, as the context and the rest of PARC make clear.

PARC does not use weasel words without a point. In #1, as your quotation shows, "it seems" is the cast given to the whole story, and it is immediately followed by a "Ms. Branden reports..." Knowing PARC's conclusion, this should tell you that, in fact, the author does NOT necessarily believe this to be true -- shouldn't it?

Or, take your number 2, which begins "Ms. Branden relates..." One would expect this to be sufficient to source the story -- but I go further, adding a "according to Ms. Branden." Why do you suppose I add these modifiers and qualifiers so often, if not to signal my own DOUBTS about the matter?

Pick any three more, "at random," and you will find the same qualifications.

So, no -- it is only the corroborative evidence which renders a Branden account possibly true -- but often still not trustworthy in its particulars -- and, indeed, their accounts are quite "useful" indeed in determining their own credibility, if not the truth of the matter in question.

Their "usefulness" to serious historians, however, is precisely as described. (edit.: Even the Blumenthals' account, lacking specifics and context, is of almost no value.)

As to your other claimed "mistake," will you not concede any possible ambiguity here?

In any event, both of your alleged "mistakes" have absolutely no bearing on PARC's theses -- and they are not relied on in any way whatever. And, as has been pointed out to you with regard to both, neither has any impact whatever on another word of PARC. You seem to regard both as "minor" yourself. In fact, your use of only these two in response to the challenge laid down for you here -- out of the thousands of other assertions in PARC -- reflects a profound compliment to the book and its author.

So, thanks, again.

Any response, though?

About Rand not being candid about affair.

Marcus's picture

This news item from Italy raises some food for thought on the whole issue of Rand keeping her affair private (albeit in an absurd manner). In Italy, judges in the highest court in the land have ruled that it acceptable for a married woman to lie about her extramarital affairs, even in a court of law, in order to protect her honour.

On the face of it this ruling seems crazy, but does anyone here think Rand would agree with this?
.............................................

Licence to lie for Italian women
By Christian Fraser
BBC News, Rome

Italy's highest appeal court has ruled that married Italian women who commit adultery are entitled to lie about it to protect their honour.

The court gave its landmark ruling after hearing the case of a 48-year-old woman, convicted of giving false testimony to police by denying she had lent her mobile phone to her lover.

The appeal court did not agree that she had broken the law.

It said bending the truth was justified to conceal extra-marital relationships.

In a predominantly Catholic country you might expect the courts to take a dim view of lying and adultery.

But not in this case.

The woman who brought the appeal was from Porto Ercole on the Tuscany coast, and named only as Carla.

She had lent her telephone to her secret lover, Giovanni, who then used it to call Carla's estranged husband, Vincenzo, and insult him.

Giovanni, the lover, was convicted of abusive behaviour in a local court, and Carla convicted as an accessory.

Controversial judgements

But the Court of Cassation found that having a lover was a circumstance that damaged the honour of the person among family and friends.

Lying about it, therefore, was permitted, even in a judicial investigation.

It is not yet clear whether the ruling might also apply to men who have secret mistresses.

The Court of Cassation, which is largely staffed by elderly male appeal judges, has in the past issued a number of controversial judgements.

It once gave a ruling, later rescinded after protests from women's groups, that a woman could not be raped by definition if she was wearing tight jeans, since the jeans could only be removed with her consent.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wor...

Another Mistake & A Comment

Neil Parille's picture

Jim,

This is from my blog --

"In PARC, James Valliant says that the surprise party to celebrate the publication of Atlas Shrugged was thrown by Random House (the novel's publisher). I pointed out that this contradicts the Brandens' accounts, which say they/the Collective threw the party. When I wrote my critique of PARC, I did not have the Sures recollections of Rand published in 2001 as Facets of Ayn Rand. The ARI has now made the book available on the web. The Sures confirm that the Collective threw the party."

"This is a minor mistake on Valliant's part, but it should be remembered that he claims that no one has found any mistakes in his book. (Valliant did cite Facets for Rand's view of surprise parties.)"

"When I confronted Valliant on this mistake in 2007, he claimed he based his account on 'various sources.' Maybe Mr. Valliant should be a bit more skeptical of his (alleged) sources."

I also think that if there is a second edition of PARC, you should revise such statements as:

1. Their books are "useless to the serious historian." (PARC, p. 85-86.)

2. "Where the Brandens are our only source, the topic must be marked with a giant asterisk and an attached footnote reading 'Highly dubious.'" (PARC, p. 128.)

You often find PAR accurate, even if it's the only source.

Let me give three examples, almost at random:

1. "O'Connor had been the first to recognize Mr. Branden's true character, as well, it seems. Ms. Branden reports that in 1968, just before Rand was to learn the truth. O'Connor ' . . . said . . . that man [NB] is no damn good . . . . ' Ironic that it took Frank O'Connor to point out that Rand was projecting an imaginary virtue--on Branden!" (PARC, p. 161.) Your only source is PAR.

2. "Ms. Branden relates that Rand was quite close to her brother-in-law Nick O'Connor--who, according to Ms. Branden, Rand believed was gay. (P.A.R., pp. 100-101)." (PARC, pp. 405-06, n 7.) Again, PAR is the only source.

3. "PARC does not challenge the Blumenthals' story or the idea the Blumenthals were quoted correctly [in PAR] -- I presume they would have challenged Ms. B. by now about it if they were not." (James Valliant on Objectiblog, August 6, 2006.)

Thank You, Neil

James S. Valliant's picture

We have learned that Ms. Branden did meet with Rand once more.

Despite Neil's mischaracterization of my position, I wish to sincerely thank him for, at last, finding something which needs correcting in PARC.

After three years, this is a first.

And I would note that it took the cooperation of the ARI Archives -- no, they did not find the documentary evidence itself, but they were able to provide witness information from Rand's secretary that it once existed and that a meeting occurred.

Neil should have posted it here to make a clear record, but, no matter, I am now.

Obviously, however, this has no impact whatever on anything else in the essay.

Neil

James S. Valliant's picture

So, you really don't have an answer of any kind, then?

And nothing "on topic" to say -- and nothing to say about the posted essay?

Are you going to walk away from all of this, once more, imagining that this has actually been "responded to"?

Credibility does not vary from person to person in your view? Since you quote legal principles, e.g., the "sufficiency of one witness" principle, you must also be familiar with the standard jury instruction which reads:

"A witness who is willfully false in one material part of his or her testimony is to be distrusted in others. You may reject the whole testimony of a witness who willfully has testified falsely as to a material point, unless, from all the evidence, you believe the probability of truth favors his or her testimony in other particulars." (I've heard it so many times, I know it by heart, i.e., California Criminal Instruction 2.21.2, emphasis added, and a parallel federal instruction exists, the number of which presently escapes me.)

This fairly summarizes my position.

(And isn't it curious how so many dismiss Rand's autobiographical reports out of hand -- even absent any demonstration of overt dishonesty?)

Of course, I make no such argument in PARC as the one you are now arguing against, but imagine, for just a moment, if you can, that it even acknowledged Ms. B.'s claim about meeting Rand later -- despite your inability to provide any corroboration at this point. (But do keep up your researches -- you're bound to learn.)

Now, go.

If you need help, I had written below:

"That Rand's contemporaneous notes so thoroughly contradict Branden's 1968 public statement -- and in ways he now confirms to be true himself -- can be evaluated. That the Brandens now concede to so much of what they once accused Rand of lying about is also something we can evaluate.

"For example, we now know that there was an affair. Branden even admits initiating the affair. He admits to keeping Rand on the hook using the most extreme expressions of passion. That Branden, in 1968, asserted to the world that it was only Rand who wanted such an affair, and that such an affair was impossible to him, was a wretched lie and smear."

[edit.: And this was a lie which Ms. Branden, though knowing the truth, publicly endorsed in 1968.]

Corroboration

Neil Parille's picture

Jim,

When person A says he met person B, I generally take him at his word. You say in your book that you met NB and (if I recall correctly) BB. I assume you are telling the truth about this, even if it is self-serving (eg, you were once inclined to believe their accounts). I haven't tried to corroborate your claim.

You are claiming that BB made up this story of a 1981 meeting. Considering that you often find the Branden books credible, I think you have the burden of proof in showing that this meeting was fictional.

That being said, I did email the Archives and asked them about this. If they respond and give me permission to post it, I will do so.

Neil

James S. Valliant's picture

So, that's a "no"?

Even simpler.

How 'bout you answer first his time -- since my questions never get answered?

My questions to you just seem to pile up without answers and without end!

Jim

Neil Parille's picture

1. Did you contact the housekeeper who Barbara says was there?

2. Did you contact the ARI archives and ask if they had any correspondence relevant to this issue (Barbara says she wrote a letter to Rand after the meeting)?

3. Did you ask Peikoff if he knows anything about this meeting?

Not difficult questions.

Neil

James S. Valliant's picture

I'll take that as a "no," i.e., about having any corroboration, and leave you to discover the truth all on your own...

So, no answer to any of it, then?

None at all?

Simple

Neil Parille's picture

Jim,

Barbara Branden says that she met Rand in 1981. This may be "self serving," but as you know as a prosecutor, a jury is may convict someone beyond a reasonable doubt based only on the testimony of one eyewitness.

You say that Barbara Branden never met Rand again, so you believe that she is lying.

What did you do to attempt to verify or refute her claim? Did you contact the housekeeper who Barbara says was there? (You claim she says Barbara misrepresented her on Frank's alleged drinking, so I assume you talked to her). Did you contact the ARI archives and ask if they had any correspondence relevant to this issue (Barbara says she wrote a letter to Rand after the meeting)? Did you ask Peikoff if he knows anything about this meeting?

Not to get a little bit too crass

Landon Erp's picture

The last point about Barbara in PAR kind of reminds me of a Bill Hicks bit. He said that he could refute the entire bible with one word, that word being "Dinosaur." The bit ends with a piece of biblical sounding exposition:

"And ye Jesus walked with the apostles and in the path he saw a brontosaurus with a splinter in his paw.
'What was that?!' said Mathew
'A gigantic lizard!' said Mark
'I'm definitely writing about this in my book!' said John
'Me too.' said Mathew."

Quite frankly I remember a remark in PARC at the end of the notes section that after a short section of "blowing up" at the actual time of the break there were no other references to I'm 100% sure Nathaniel, and don't remember too well if it also applied to Barbara.

Either way I couldn't see Rand leaving out.

"Saw Barbara for the first time in about a decade today. We had a nice cordial chat. Leonard, Alan, and about half a dozen of my friends were there to see this. She said she's writing a biography of me and I gave her my complete and total sanction to do so.

No off to mourn poor cuckholded Frank, whom I was so horrible to."

Just seems a little too big to leave out of her journals.

---Landon

Never mistake contempt for compassion, or power lust for ambition.

http://www.myspace.com/wickedlakes

Quite Simple

James S. Valliant's picture

This is precisely the lame evasiveness I keep observing in you, Neil.

That Rand's contemporaneous notes so thoroughly contradict Branden's 1968 public statement -- and in ways he now confirms to be true himself -- can be evaluated. That the Brandens now concede to so much of what they once accused Rand of lying about is also something we can evaluate.

For example, we now know that there was an affair. Branden even admits initiating the affair. He admits to keeping Rand on the hook using the most extreme expressions of passion. That Branden, in 1968, asserted to the world that it was only Rand who wanted such an affair, and that such an affair was impossible to him, was a wretched lie and smear.

Nowhere do I attempt to "determine how much time NB spent on the play." So, obviously on this little observation, PARC says the very same thing you just did. And where do I evaluate how much lecturers were paid? So, why do you mention it? In any event, were the lecturers' reported complaints not those lecturers' complaints? Again, you appear only to echo the implicit position of PARC, whether you seem to grasp this or not.

Also, Ms. B. makes the claim that she later saw Rand. Is there any corroboration of this self-serving claim? (Do try to keep the rest of PARC in mind.)

What exactly--specifically--in the above essay--does Fred "challenge"? (He's around here often enough. Perhaps he can join in here...?)

I still await a response to any of this.

But, thanks for showing up.

It just places our observations in italics.

Simple Truth?

Neil Parille's picture

I may discuss this chapter in more detail, but I'll make three points now.

1. It isn't correct that no one ever challenged what Jim says here. Fred Seddon did early on --

http://solohq.solopassion.com/...

2. As Fred pointed out, it's pretty hard to evaluate most of Rand's claims (or the Brandens' for that matter). I have no way of determining how much time NB spent on the play, or whether the lecturers were paid too little. (Fred's point on the percentage is quite reasonable however.)

3. Jim says on page 94 that "Rand never saw [Ms. Branden] again." That's incorrect. On pages 397-400, Barbara Branden discusses meeting Rand in 1981.

Simple Truth

James S. Valliant's picture

Well, this essay has been posted for some time now.

Explicit calls for a response have been unavailing.

In none of the reviews or criticisms of PARC has any of this been challenged -- or even discussed.

Not once.

In 1968, Rand told the truth to the world about her break with Branden, even if she left out the fact of the affair.

In 1968, in his response, Nathaniel Branden lied about a great many things -- including his accusation that Rand had lied -- but also everything from the amount of psychological counseling Rand gave him to his intellectual drift from Objectivism -- all the things that he would later admit, while still denying that he had ever lied about them.

In 1968, he told the world only that Rand desired an affair with him, and that such an affair was impossible for him.

He let the world sit with that thought -- and apparently would have let history record it so -- and it may have, if his ex-wife had not revealed to the world that an affair had actually happened, or if Peikoff had not allowed Rand's private notes to be published (something Leonard announced he would do shortly after her death).

In his responsive memoir, years after Rand's death, Branden would finally concede that: (1) he initiated the affair; (2) he kept Rand on the hook with extreme and continuous protestations of love and affection; and, (3) he romantically deceived her for several years.

In short:

Branden lied to Rand for a number of years.

He lied to the world about his break with Rand in 1968.

Only when the truth of an affair had been revealed to the world did he admit the facts which show his 1968 statement to have been a tissue of lies.

Yet, he still insists that Rand, not he, was lying.

This demonstration of Nathaniel Branden's impressively comprehensive dishonesty has never been challenged, rebutted or denied.

It hasn't even been addressed.

Draw your own conclusions.

(We may have to repeat this experience with other sections of PARC.)

Ha, Casey!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I suspect it's "paint a cold sore on the Mona Lisa" territory.

I'd quote Rand on that type, if only she weren't so uncivil.

Linz

One more thing

Casey's picture

I find it interesting that Valliant critics like Neil Parille, of whom I have never seen attributed a single positive statement about Ayn Rand -- and Robert Campbell and William Scherk for that matter, neither of whom I can remember committing to words anything like an unqualified or nonsatirically positive statement about Rand -- seem right at home at a so-called "Objectivist Living" site.

Even Barbara Branden or MSK couldn't dredge out of these three folks a statement about Rand more positive than that she was a flawed woman, with the smarmy wink that this makes her wonderful and human, just like the rest of us. That sort of thing's about all you will get. Can anyone imagine a more Toohey-like twist of the knife? Ho-ho, Barbara. You know it is! Eye

(Hey, perhaps I'm wrong and one of them has said something I'm not aware of -- I hope so, but I don't think so. If so, please give it to me right here. I'd really like to see it.)

So folks over "there" welcome these three who are apparently acting purely as gadflys with an agenda of sowing discord in Objectivism or trashing Ayn Rand and her philosophy. They even seem to celebrate them over there, oddly enough. Barbara Branden welcomes them, of course. So let me get this straight.. And you all hang out acting like you like Ayn Rand? WTF?

I don't normally like to intellectually "club" anyway, but getting together because you all resent the certainty of the thinker you pretend to honor is a whole new level of weirdness for me. What is Objectivist Living about? The three folks I listed are honored and featured voices there. And they HATE Ayn Rand! No shit! They have nothing good to say about her -- or if you saw the "good" they had to say about her it would shock you in its cynicism and overall intellectual rejection. (Ask them ONCE to say what they LIKE about Rand, and you'll see what I mean.)

But these guys are apparently part of the mutual admiration crowd over there -- and what are they admiring as the supposed "Objectivism" at the center of their gathering is some Brandenian denial of Objectivism at the very ethical root that, coincidentally, would leave no other conclusion than that the Brandens are crooks and liars and should not be associated with Rand unless one is into dissing Rand, as apparently there are a number of people who are into that and a number of people who go along with it because it seems less confrontational to do so, even though it's their own attested values being confronted and attacked.

Wow. Never heard of a bunch of people so bent out shape by Hume or Niestche as to set up an oppositional faction that worshipped the fallibility of their idol and resented those who defended his morality. That Rand has both a group who defends her (based on the facts) and a reactionary group that must drag her into some morally compromised state is a testament to her, I would say, that equals only historical schisms in the Christian church regarding the person of Jesus Christ.

Yes, Rand was human. And yes, she was moral. It's the answer some just can't seem to get together in their heads, and, considering the facts stated clearly above, must be because they DO NOT WANT TO. For what reason, I won't speculate -- but they should.

Or offer some answer to this, Neil -- remember that both Brandens still have the statements in question in this chapter posted on the Internet for the whole world to see to this day. What do you think about that? Robert? William? What? What?

What?

Nothing yet, Neil Parille?

Casey's picture

How are you going to square this circle, now that everyone can read what you've been misrepresenting, Neil? It's right here and everyone can judge it. Valliant's book has been called "hagiography," "silly," "tendentious," etc. ad nauseum by the Brandens' supporters in their "reviews" of it at Amazon.com, claiming that the author seems to be on drugs or is some kind of fanatical cult member (gotten a lot of mileage out of that one) and on and on, and there's Neil adding his voice to the bunch. Well this is the first time the public gets to read a chapter for themselves.

And where is Neil? Moving on, I suppose...?

If Also...

James S. Valliant's picture

... the incorrect version.

The shorter version

Brendan Hutching's picture

Chris: “Really, what more is there to be said?”

Not much, and it could have been said more succinctly:

He: I never believed it.
She: He never loved me.
They: That’s my money!

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