Important!!!

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Wed, 2006-03-22 19:48

Diana's account of her history with the Brandens:

http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/


...and Philosophy.

Prima Donna's picture

Smiling

You mean ...

eg's picture

Food?

--Brant

Good.

Prima Donna's picture

Now we can get back to proper discourse. Smiling

The Thread--Ayn Rand the hero

eg's picture

Well, Jen, I've read the rest of the thread. Right now they are trying to throw out the idea of psychologizing's moral dimension so they can continue to do what you object to.

Mr. Anderson--no, not the guy from The Matrix--thinks Rand isn't anything like her heroic characters because of her purported flaws. Well, she did have flaws, but she wasn't a work of art, either.

Just think a little about her life story and the creation of the Objectivist philosophy and what she survived and how she came to America and made herself a writer and the novels she wrote and then try to imagine she wasn't heroic. You didn't miss much by not reading the rest of the thread.

--Brant

Not a matter of taste.

Prima Donna's picture

Ms. Stuttle,

I would not go to the trouble of posting a retort without actually reading the words that inspired it, so kindly refrain from further extrapolations. Such things are what compelled me to post in the first place.

You may now try to twist your meanings however you like, just as you did with your psychologizing (by which I mean making psychological evaluations) of me and people "like me." I've read the words -- and their meaning. And no, I did not read the rest of the thread, nor will I be reading any others.

Good day.

Jennifer

OL

eg's picture

Ellen,

I tend to avoid discussions of philosophy, as such, and a lot of OL is metaphysics, epistemology and ethics--etc. So I have no evaluation of OL from that perspective.

I would like to see MSK start a Rand thread in which only good things are posted about her.

--Brant

Tastes Differing

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Brant wrote: "The basic problem with Objectivist Living is it is an intellectual/cultural ghetto for the Brandens."

I think you've read very little of the material on OL if that's your assessment, Brant. Instead, I'd say that the basic virtue of Objectivist Living is that it's a place where one can have a quiet conversation without the shouting which characterizes Objectivist lists. I, for one, enjoy the peace. True, I did enjoy Atlantis, especially in its heyday. But Atlantis was never what I think of as "an Objectivist" list, and the shouting there was in a different style -- more like 17th/18th-century repartee; overall, it had literary merit. Some here can turn a phrase, granted, but the prevailing style of the shouting here seems to me of the typical Objectivist "You're evil"; "No, you are"; "No, you" (ad infinitum) sort.

To Jennifer: If you read, or re-read the post of mine which offended you -- I'm not sure from your comments if you actually read it -- you might find that there was no "sull[ying]" of your name, and that no accusation was made against you or against anyone else.

Re the terms "psychologizing," "psychologize," etc., you might also find interesting a post of mine on the same thread in which I ask how many can quote off the top, without looking it up, Rand's definition of "psychologizing." There was no "psychologizing," as Rand defines the term, in the post in which I referred to you. Nor in any of my other posts. I've never been a "psychologizer" -- as Rand defines that -- though I've long had a keen interest in psychology.

Ellen

___

Another -ism.

Prima Donna's picture

This reminds me of an anecdote: http://www.gildedfork.com/intheweeds/trotterism0205.html

(Really wish I could figure out how to embed these links. But never mind.)

Communist Living

Landon Erp's picture

Yeah I was posting there for a while but after the "Baby in the woods" thing and the constant Rand baiting got to me I stopped. It just blows my mind how it seems like everyone there is missing the point... I'll put it this way: If I viewed ANYONE as badly as they seem to view Rand I'd run screaming from them and tell everyone else to do the same I don't even think I've said as bad of things about Marx or Stallin as they have about Rand and I'm not running a site called "Communist Living."

---Landon

It all basically comes back to fight or flight.

Jennifer

James S. Valliant's picture

Yes. Thanks.

OL

eg's picture

The basic problem with Objectivist Living is it is an intellectual/cultural ghetto for the Brandens. The Branden partisans could publish all their stuff here on Passion if they wanted true feedback instead of a small, insular world of their own. The best example is the prolific Roger Bissell, who has the brains and knowledge to stand up to anyone and is capable of making a lot of sense. It's a shame because MSK has set up a nice site over there, but I doubt he is a sincere man. I think that for the Brandens it is any port in a storm and that is exactly what they have been provided.

--Brant

The moral of the story is ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... don't frequent unseemly venues! Smiling

Thanks Joe. :)

Prima Donna's picture

Don't worry, sweets -- not sweating or feeding. Smiling I simply had to address the point, as I'm not having my name sullied without challenging such a ridiculous accusation.

Back to regularly scheduled programming. Smiling

Don't sweat it

JoeM's picture

Don't sweat it, Jen. I'd say that that group has turned it around and wallow in the need for the Brandens to be unblemished. It's disgusting what they are doing and it's best simply not to feed into them.

Yeah,

Casey's picture

I've dipped in for a look and it's like seeing a feeding frenzy of vultures in a living room tearing at the corpse of Rand as they trade wispy watercolor memories of the horrible way she was and tease the slightest inference from their collective brains to find Rand guilty and the Brandens innocent no matter what mental gymnastics are required. What a spectacle.

Psychologize This.

Prima Donna's picture

I find it interesting that elsewhere, in response to my statement below about seeking objective truth, some random woman has found it necessary to make an example of me -- by name -- as being the type of person who needs Rand to be "unblemished."

So, Ms. Ellen Stuttle:

1) It is not wise to venture into psychologizing when you don't have the facts to back it up.
2) Neediness of heroic perfection is for insecure people.
3) Read #1.

James, you've had quite a long road.

Linz...

sjw's picture

I disagree completely with your evaluation.

But it doesn't matter. If anyone--Casey, Holly, or James--makes a reasonable, non-sarcastic, non-sneering post to me I'll respond to the content. And if they go back to their sneering and distorting I'll respond to that appropriately too.

There need be no truce because there is in fact no war. I respond to what I am presented with and that's it. Though certainly when I see nonsense I take into account whether the person spewing it has done it in the past--that effects the degree of my response not the response.

Passion is good, but it doesn't give one the right to fabricate like Casey does, it doesn't give one the right to deal in hyperbole instead of reason. They don't deserve a clean slate and they're not getting one.

Batgirl

Dan Edge's picture

Holy covering all bases, Batman.

Jen, you're one quippy quipper. I knew I liked you for some reason. Eye

--Dan

Lindsay Perigo...

Prima Donna's picture

...under no circumstances are you allowed to turn my world completely upside down like this. We are not allowed to agree upon these issues -- DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME, MR. PERIGO? Yes, truce, gentlemen, please. For the love of...my liver, if nothing else. Smiling

Fair enough

sjw's picture

"Knowledgeable exponents of Objectivism" -- now *that's* funny!

As I've said many times I'm basically ignorant of TOC. I intend to speak mainly to the principles involved. If they are indeed selecting lecturers by reference to character judgments and integrity to Objectivism, then I definitely have a problem with them inviting the Brandens. It's patently clear that at least Nathaniel Branden grossly distorts Objectivism. And it's just as clear that Barbara Branden distorts her recollections and evaluations of Ayn Rand.

But I think it needs to be proved that TOC is making those value judgments. It's not self-evident. Will's comment is certainly evidence, but not enough.

Regina D ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I can confirm Will said that. The e-mail was to me. If I recall correctly I already quoted that bit in one of the threads here.

Shayne ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

James offered a truce. He implicitly acknowledged that his "straitjacket" post was uncalled for. He didn't relitigate the reasons he posted that. He said, let's start over—no more insults. It's a shame you didn't accept that. A truce would have meant, in effect, OK, both sides said things they shouldn't have: now let's get back to the issues. That would have been good. Instead, both sides are now saying they'll never speak to each other again. You think they're dishonest, they think you are. I don't think either side is, but I DO think your hair-trigger umbrage level is the primary culprit here. No doubt you'll take umbrage at my saying so, & point me to various things the other side has said. But I put it to you that nothing they said, at least till Casey's last post, came close to "snarling little creep" or "lying through your teeth." A straightforward "You're wrong—and here's why ..." is more likely to persuade your adversary than "You're lying through your teeth." I know Casey well, and he's not a liar.

As a hothead myself, I know how easy it is to rush to the worst possible conclusion in the shortest possible time. I also know from experience that nothing will kill dialogue quicker. If dialogue is what you want, you must at least do the other participants the courtesy of assuming they're posting in good faith. If you're convinced the other side in *this* debate are proceeding in bad faith, then fine, there's no point in continuing. But I wonder if that's what you really think? I certainly don't, & that's not just because I'm on their side in this matter. Like you (and me), they are passionate valuers. As with you (and me) their passion sometimes runs away on them. Big deal.

Dare I suggest we resurrect the truce idea & try the radical experiment of sticking to the issues & leaving speculative ad hominems as to motives out of it?

Wow.

Prima Donna's picture

"basically good character in the large"

Is that really what he wrote? Holy covering all bases, Batman.

TOC and the Brandens

DianaHsieh's picture

Shayne,

It's not surprising that my history with the Brandens included some substantial criticisms of TOC. As I indicated, TOC welcomed NB and BB into the Objectivist movement. In so doing, they gave credibility to their dishonest criticisms of Objectivism and unjust portrayals of Ayn Rand. And they gave them a platform upon which to continue those attacks, as both have done in their lectures at TOC.

Although I think that TOC's implicit sanction of the Brandens is a slam-dunk, I don't even need to prove that. Will Thomas explicitly sanctioned both NB and BB in describing them as "knowledgeable exponents of Objectivism" of "basically good character in the large" in order to justify his inviting them both to speak at this year's Summer Seminar. I've seen the e-mail, but if you don't believe me, go ask Will Thomas. Frankly, sanction doesn't get any more clear than that.

-- Diana Hsieh
diana@dianahsieh.com
NoodleFood

Recap

sjw's picture

A recap of the events here:

- Diana's history is posted, which reads as much like a personal history as it does like yet another attack on TOC.

- I point out that the only truly damning point she made about TOC she inadvertently misread. Her response was to post yet another link she misread. Which significantly points in the direction: Diana has a tendency to read TOC materials with bias (I don't think she's being dishonest, otherwise she wouldn't have posted the links). I also recognized that there was another avenue for criticizing TOC on here, but that I rejected it. I offered a possible avenue of criticism that I would not object to.

Any of these items could have been legitimate points of debate. Perhaps someone might have disagreed with me that the TOC links were really journalistic instead of evaluative. And certainly I expect debate on my position that TOC shouldn't act like it's your parent.

But that didn't happen. Instead:

- Holly posts her snide and misleading "Pyramid of values" post (As an aside, I have to wonder why she used the odd word "pyramid" instead of the typically Objectivist "hierarchy"). And it's all downhill from there, with me responding as she deserved, and then Casey and Valliant jumping in for more of these kinds of antics.

I have to wonder why, at the crucial point in the discussion, Holly came in with her hyperbole. They are all quite familiar by now with what I will and will not put up with. An explicit conspiracy to derail the the discussion at a crucial point? Perhaps not. But that's in fact what they have achieved so far. Ironically, if pure consequentialism were true as they hold it is, it wouldn't matter whether they intended to do it or not.

Ciro D'Agostino

Ciro D Agostino's picture

Ciro D'Agostino

We're Done

Holly Valliant's picture

Shayne,

One time? Please!

It makes no sense discussing things with you until you can distinguish between an insult and an argument, between saying that someone is wrong versus calling him an idiot, between a description word like "insult" and an insult like "snarl." And you provided more than enough evidence to support Casey's "lie" in the very post in which you made the accusation (not to mention all the others).

Spare us YOUR lectures on name calling. Or insults.

The best alternative now? We're done.

Note to Others:

My incredible husband has shown remarkable patience and dignity over the last year in discussing subjects related to his book on this site and others, most recently, his offer of "truce" to someone who insists on using terms like "PARColyte." Note the response.

Note on insults

sjw's picture

I don't like the level of discourse this has dropped to any more than anyone else. And I went too far with Holly at one point and Linz called me on it--I apologize for that. But as for the rest, as much as I don't like it the only alternative I see is to not post anything at all and not engage in debate. The only proper response to the kinds of lies and distortions I've seen repeatedly by these two is to call them on it, and that requires calling it what it is. I'm not going to tolerate it in the name of politeness. And I consider it a far worse insult to have my position purposefully distorted time and time again than to be called a name.

Duncan...

jtgagnon's picture

I think that is an EXCELLENT idea.

Casey, this isn't about me

Titan's picture

Casey, this isn't about me 'defending' Shayne. I find his posts on SOLO more often than not worthy of good character and factual consistency so far as is his knowledge of a given subject is concerned. If he doesn't know something, he admits it. You may also be surprised that I have found some things that you have said of good repute as well and that I found very knowledgable. I'm confused by your insult of me.

Okay, new feature proposal ...

Duncan Bayne's picture

... we need a "thread thermometer" that counts the number of times "insulted", "offended", "fuck off" etc. are used, and then calculate a score. Once the score gets high enough, a little orange flame is displayed next to it in the 'New Posts' section ...

Smiling

Casey...

sjw's picture

You did lie through your teeth twice. Characteristic of you that what you object to is being called a liar, not whether or not the call was based on any fact. Again--you divert attention from the claim to righteous indignation that it was made in the first place. If you were honest you'd want to expose how false my claim was not take your ball and go home.

And now we have a third lie--that Bidinotto is my mentor. You just make shit up. That's your whole method--you don't like someone or something, and you make shit up about them. You and Holly. "Noble" indeed. The truth is that I hardly ever talk to Bidinotto. If you average out the exchanges we've had, most of them were me criticizing some view or other of his (see the Solo archive). But he never makes shit up like you. He's a far more worthy debate opponent.

No I'm not going to the SS and I've never been to a TOC conference, though I am curious to see what they are like.

It's most definitely a "No"

sjw's picture

Because by "truce" you mean I'm going to stop evaluating your dishonest tactics as dishonest, but you're going to keep on engaging in them. Knock off the dishonesty and I'll stop calling you on it.

Case in point: your allegation that my insults are "baseless". Name any insult and I'll show you its basis. On the contrary, you three are the only ones here making baseless claims. I have consistently been willing to answer any criticism and back up any claim, while you three have consistently diverted attention from criticism directed your way. This fake indignation about being "insulted" is just another diversionary tactic. You really aren't that thin-skinned, you just don't want to deal.

Shayne,

Casey's picture

I am never engaging in anything as polite as words with you ever again. You can rail on and on about the "dishonest debating tactics" of James's "buddies" and how I "lied through my teeth twice" and how all the "real viciousness" is coming from the other side and any other such deluded twattle that you want now, bub. And Jennifer and Titan can defend you till the cows come home, too. But I won't tolerate a hair-triggered punk like you spewing your vomitous nonsense on me or my very noble friends ever again. And you can go tell your cowardly little shit mentor Bidinotto that goes for him and his willing tool EQUALLY. Enjoy the summer seminar (if you're going this year?). MSK will be there. You two should get on famously. Now fuck off.

I'll take that as a "No."

James S. Valliant's picture

I'll take that as a "No."

Does it seem reasonable, folks, to continue with a chap who will use a truce offer to level still more baseless insults? I could have reviewed the bidding (far more accurately), but I decided to try a more neutral approach. No more.

An Observation

jtgagnon's picture

Debate the ideas. The insults to one another are entirely worthless -a waste of your time and everyone else's. Diana's account of her history with the Branden's was informative, honest and well worth considering. Debate about it is fine - and should be heartily encouraged. Anything else is not only silly, but downright immature.

I'm tempted...

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

Jennifer,

Are you kidding? You never know what kind of dangerous activities can be initiated by foam pummeling sticks Smiling. Anyway, this has been going on for four months now. My typical reaction when debates hit the diminishing marginal returns stage is the following:

1. Take stock of where my interlocutor and I disagree.

2. Is there anything further I might learn from the debate?

3. What is the value I might gain from persuading my opponent or being persuaded by him?

Even after reading Ayn Rand and digesting her works, it took me about 5 years to decide it was worth it to undertake a full study of the philosophy.

Why? I kept seeing the differences between Ayn Rand heroes and Ayn Rand herself and people like Leonard Peikoff and people who would write kiss-and-tell books like the Brandens.

I kept wondering why people who kept preaching the virtue of dealing with reality seemed so comically inept at it. The Ayn Rand heroes studied both philosophy and physics. They knew how to deal with reality and with men and understood the independence of mind necessary for true human achievement.

Jim

I too, find Shayne's posts

Titan's picture

I too, find Shayne's posts both enlightening, fair, and with respect for facts and reason. He's one of the main reasons I like coming to SOLOP.

Another "Truce"?!

sjw's picture

James, last time we had a "truce", you used it as an opportunity to get hyper-sensitive and take umbrage at something I didn't intend as an insult.

Besides, "truce" only makes sense when there's two sides engaged in hostilities. I don't consider an occasional insult really that hostile here (Linz gave me the "PMT" insult and I don't really care--at least it's a reality-oriented insult), the real viciousness is in the absolute lies distortions your side engages in. E.g., the most recent by Casey where he lies through his teeth twice, or Holly's last barage of distortions (But--I admit I went a little to far in exressing my evaluations of her. I should have kept those to myself.)

I find it ironic how touchy you are James at a few insults directed your way, when your buddies are so steeped in dishonest debate tactics. Very ironic, given who it is you're allegedly standing for here. Ayn Rand would never deal in the kind of currency they regularly use. On the contrary, she was often the victim of just that tactic. One would think James, that if you stood for any kind of principle, you'd tell them to knock it off--regardless of whether I agreed to a "truce" or not.

I'm tempted...

Prima Donna's picture

...to go buy a set of those foam pummeling sticks so you can all beat the hell out of one another and get it over with. But I'm projecting. Eye

Completely off-topic: James, your cheeks just scream "pinch me." They evoke my inner Italian grandmother.

Carry on.

Truce Then?

James S. Valliant's picture

Okay, I am willing to try still another "truce."

No more insults.

Agreed?

There have been plenty of ideas, Jennifer,

Casey's picture

But Shayne tends to focus exclusively on what he perceives as insults. If you go back on this thread you will see many very good points made by James that were completely ignored in favor of returning to sniping bullshit.

What the hell?

Prima Donna's picture

It is one thing to argue ideas, but this has gotten entirely out of hand.

Shayne uses sharp words, and I've been subject to some myself over the year I've known him, but he is one of the most rational, virtuous people I have ever had the pleasure to call friend. To insinuate that he is "foaming at the mouth" or is in need of a straitjacket is, in my opinion, beyond the pale.

Holly, James and Casey, with all due respect, I've seen you hurl invective in Shayne's direction too, so all of this is now becoming a vicious cycle.

Can we please put aside the animosity and get back to the ideas?

raison d'etre

Jody Gomez's picture

Damned, I'm glad I have a life that streches beyond hostile bitterness. Shayne, I admire you. It's good to see a voice of reason, though I think your plight is one that Sisyphus could relate to.

Crazy house

sjw's picture

Apt James. I definitely feel like I'm in the funny farm when I talk to you guys. Ergo my questions to Holly. I guess I might as well have asked her if existence exists.

Doctor in the house?

James S. Valliant's picture

Somebody call a doctor -- and tell him to bring a straightjacket.

Honestly...

sjw's picture

Holly you didn't answer my questions. They were serious. You just answered with more snarls. At least when I insult you I have facts too. All you ever do is snarl and insult.

Linz...

sjw's picture

You certainly haven't engaged in the same kind of lowly "arguments" that Casey, Holly, and James engage in. If I'm letting TOC off too easily, it's because the vast majority of what I see (mainly from the above crew) is so steeped in hyperbole and illogic that it drowns out anything else.

In addition, I have a hard time getting worked up over TOC's treason to Objectivism when the cheerleaders for it are themselves treasonous for a different reason. If you ask me who is most harmful to Objectivism, I'd say it's the zealots first, the Brandens second. At least with the Brandens, the culture can easily know they don't stand for Objectivism. But with people who profess a deep devotion to Ayn Rand and then act worse than Mormons...

Ciro D'Agostino

Ciro D Agostino's picture

Ciro D'Agostino

Honestly...

Holly Valliant's picture

The snarls have all been from the image in that mirror you never seem to use. I ~ honestly ~ think that you've been foaming at the mouth for some time now. There must be a reason...

Phew!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Shayne:

Because I am honestly beyond understanding how someone could be that stupid. I think you knew all of the above, and are really just a dishonest, snarling little creep.

Ah, that's more like it. I was getting worried about you there for a bit.

Mind you, the discussion was going along nicely when you had a remission of the PMT. Smiling

Honestly...

sjw's picture

Holly I have a few questions for you.

Do you honestly believe that I'm intimidated by you or Casey? Did it really not occur to you that by "indimidated" I meant to refer to your tactics, which deal mainly in baseless evaluations and condemnations and little facts, and not my own mental state?

Are you honestly oblivious to the distinction between moral intimidation and physical intimidation?

And are you really oblivious of the nature of your last question as being akin to "Did you stop beating your wife"?

Because I am honestly beyond understanding how someone could be that stupid. I think you knew all of the above, and are really just a dishonest, snarling little creep.

Funny ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I guess I'm a "PARColyte" since PARC changed my mind about the Brandens, with a little assist from Barbara's displaying identical behaviour toward me to that described in the book. Doesn't mean I'm ready to rush into the bosom of the ARI or to believe every allegation about David Kelley made by a "PARColyte." But Shayne, you're letting TOC off way too lightly, which is uncharacteristic of you, to put it mildly. Their behaviour post-PARC has been shabby. Pre-PARC I would have said, & *did* say, they were merely ineffectual, KASSless. Now they've sunk into a true moral abyss. Cowardly, evasive, hypocritical—& closed to criticism, just like ARI.

Are you by any chance attending their Summer Seminar this year?

I saw Ciro faulting Diana for changing her mind. I thought her riposte was a good one. Clinging to the Brandens through hell or high water is scarcely a sign of intellectual independence or moral integrity. And let me say, in my own case, I don't put loyalty to Ayn Rand above rationality, etc.. But I do accord it a high premium, since she's worth it, rationally. Which is more than can be said for those who've made a career out of diminishing her. The fact that Barbara speaks these days via one of the most odious people I've ever encountered speaks volumes.

Real Substance

Holly Valliant's picture

How exactly has anyone asked you to surrender your independence? "Intimidated"? Okay, but "morally"? What exactly intimidates you about the subject of ethics, Shayne?

Sanctioning the Brandens

sjw's picture

Casey & Holly, if my alternative here is sanctioning the Brandens or permitting myself to be morally intimidated into hitching my mind to the PARColyte wagon, you bet I "sanction" the Brandens. I'd literally give them both a big warm hug before I give up my independence. And I consider any "Objectivist" who thinks otherwise a far worse traitor to Ayn Rand and Objectivism than the Brandens could ever be.

"Pyramid" of values indeed. PARColytes put loyalty to Ayn Rand above loyalty to the principles of rationality, independence, pride, and honesty. Nothing could be more disloyal to what she stood for than that.

That's "Reductio"

Holly Valliant's picture

It's called a "reductio" not "hyperbole," Shayne. And I was accusing TOC, not you, of endorsing the Brandens in any case. Surprise me one day, okay? (sigh) But, since you ask, you clearly are helping the Brandens -- and encouraging them, and supporting them, and harming Objectivism.

By sanctioning TOC

Casey's picture

you are sanctioning the Brandens, since TOC sanctions them. And no, it is not a matter of allowing them to make posts on a website, it is a matter of inviting them to speak as featured lecturers at a seminar for paying customers. If you have a beef with that, tell it to TOC. Linz did, by opting not to speak at the TOC summer seminar.

Holly's Hyperbole

sjw's picture

Many of those who criticize TOC are either too dishonest or too incompetent to be taken seriously. Case in point: The notion that I sanction "promoting the Brandens" is either a vicious lie or a grossly incompetent leap from what I've been saying. In either case, anyone who'd do it has no moral right to engage in these discussions.

The bottom of this page says: "Opinions expressed are those of the contributors, and do not necessarily reflect those of the editorial staff."

When someone speaks at TOC the same proviso is in play. Letting someone speak on your platform is not sanctioning them. Linz himself said the Brandens were free to post here whenever they wished--are you going to wage your hyperbole against him too Holly?

Inverted Pyramid of Values

Holly Valliant's picture

Shayne cannot see the harm in TOC's promoting of the Brandens and their attack on both Objectivism and Ayn Rand -- in the name of Objectivism.

O.K., then, should they seek out socialists and mystics with their students' dollars? Specifically, dishonest ones? Or, just ones that distort the life and work of Ayn Rand -- at The "Objectivist" Center? You know, there are so many misconstructed versions of Objectivism, it will still be pretty dang hard to select. Maybe they should decide by having a competition to see which ones are least sympathetic to Objectivism, or those causing the most damage to it, eh, Shayne?

Let's see, we could line up Noam Chomsky, Norman Mailer, Angela Davis, some leading environmentalists. Then, the true moment of pride, a list of vicious critics of Objectivism! After all, the first list isn't half as dangerous as the Brandens, so we'll need to go right after Rand and her ideas directly and dishonestly -- right, Shayne?

In this way, we will be giving false ideas a platform, so that everyone can see how bad these ideas are! Good thinking!

Mind Changed, Passion Same

DianaHsieh's picture

Ciro: My passion for truth and justice remains the same as twelve years ago. I did change my mind though: I read, I studied, I thought, I debated, I discussed -- and I realized that I was wrong. I have no problem with publicly admitting my past mistakes and with subjecting my reasoning to public scrutiny, as I have consistently done in this case. It's far more honest that your approach of clinging Nathaniel Branden, come hell or high water or murder.

So if you've got an argument against me, I dare you to make it. If all that you can do is complain about the fact that I did change my mind, then I'll happily return to ignoring your only semi-coherent remarks.

-- Diana Hsieh
diana@dianahsieh.com
NoodleFood

The new sighting isn't positive either

sjw's picture

Diana,

Interesting link, especially the last 3 paragraphs. However there are no positive evaluations of PAR there either. It is again still just a journalistic news item. And I'd add that it's of interest to Objectivists and worthy of publishing mention of.

Again--I definitely agree with your negative evaluation of PAR, and I think the movie is far worse and has done a lot of real damage. I agreed with you before you did!

I think the point you leave aside is in fact the crux of the issue with TOC for me. The only thing they are guilty of (at least given any actual evidence I've seen) is in fact in their not taking sides on these issues. Yes they have slots for the Brandens. They also had a slot for Linz even after he slammed them hard for not taking sides, and you know, my *guess* is that they'd be happy to have Peikoff come and talk (assuming it was on philosophy and not Ayn Rand's private life).

I think there's a legitimate point to critique them on here.

On the one hand, I think there's a good case to be made for *organizations* like this NOT taking sides, even in extreme cases like the Brandens. ARI is a case in point--by trying to be "official", they end up being stultifying and stagnant. Better to let some garbage through than to keep out some good stuff. I'm not afraid of the Brandens, and I'd much rather see them at TOC and know that there's a renaissance-like free inquiry at TOC than censorship and cliques that I know for a fact in part drives ARI lectures.

On the other hand, just because the *organization* doesn't take sides doesn't mean that individuals, including David Kelley and Robert Bidinotto, shouldn't. And even though the policy of not allowing someone like James Valliant to come give a lecture on PARC because it involves Ayn Rand's private life is not hypocritical, it is dubious. Precisely because the *organization* isn't taking sides, I think it should permit an atmosphere where *individuals* are encouraged to take sides. It underscores the important point here: that each individual is on his own and responsible for his own conclusions and evaluations.

Like how it is here at Solo. The ideal Objectivist organization would be closer to Linz's approach than to either TOC's or ARI's.

Ciro D'Agostino

Ciro D Agostino's picture

Ciro D'Agostino

The Sighting

DianaHsieh's picture

Shayne,

You are right that that the linked "Sighting" is neutral. (Of course, it should be negative, but I'll leave that point aside.) Because TOC redesigned its website (and killed many of its old links in the process), I'm not sure whether I was thinking of some other "Sighting" or just mistaken when I read it over a year ago. (I didn't re-read the "Sighting" in preparation for posting it. And TOC's web site is seriously broken due to the redesign, so I'm doubtful that my present searches are all that effective.)

I do think that this mention of PAR (attached to the "Sighting" to which I linked) is far more positive, in that it treats the media attention aroused by the movie as a positive phenomena. (In fact, the effect has been totally pernicious, not just focusing on the supposed scandals of Ayn Rand's life while ignoring her ideas, but also reinforcing BB's false portrayal of AR's personality and moral character.)

In any case, since I don't wish to portray TOC in an unfair light, I've changed the post accordingly. However, my error on that small example does not change the basic nature of TOC's intimate ongoing sanction of the Brandens in the slightest.

-- Diana Hsieh
diana@dianahsieh.com
NoodleFood

TOC's Relationship with NB and BB

DianaHsieh's picture

Thanks for the link, Linz. But you probably meant to point people to the blog entry, rather than the comments upon it. It's here:

http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/2006/03/my-history-with-nathaniel-and-barbara.html

I would like to highlight one passage particularly intended for those who've been convinced by the damning evidence against the Brandens in PARC, yet still associate in some fashion with TOC. After discussing my own failure to judge the Brandens, I wrote:

"And yes, it was important for me to come to a clear moral judgment of the Brandens, particularly Nathaniel. Nathaniel and Barbara Branden were not mere distant strangers, but intellectuals actively involved in an organization claiming to represent and promote Objectivism. So by supporting and promoting that organization, I was also indirectly supporting and promoting Nathaniel and Barbara Branden's unjust and dishonest attacks upon Ayn Rand's philosophy and character. I was helping to send the message to the world, including to newbie Objectivists, that Nathaniel and Barbara Branden are basically friends of Objectivism, that their criticisms thereof are honest and reasonable, and that their portraits of Ayn Rand are generally correct. By participating in an self-described 'Objectivist' movement which welcomed the Brandens as friends, I implicitly sanctioned -- and even encouraged -- those nasty smear articles on Ayn Rand and Objectivism based upon the 'stunning revelations' of the Brandens. From an outside perspective, if even defenders of Ayn Rand's philosophy accept that she lived a sordid life, then that's all fair game, right? (Every single person who still chooses to associate with TOC in any way, shape, or form, is guilty of the same injustice, even if sometimes critical of the Brandens. That's why I think it's so critical for the few honest ones to read The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics -- and then sever their ties with TOC.) So due to my failure to judge the Brandens as I ought to have, I was destroying the very values I wished promote."

-- Diana Hsieh
diana@dianahsieh.com
NoodleFood

Eerily familiar.

Prima Donna's picture

As I read Diana's post, I noted some conclusions that have echoed my own thoughts as of late. I'm re-reading PAR in preparation for my read of PARC, as I want to be sure I examine this issue from all the necessary perspectives.

This is one of the most poignant tasks I've ever assigned myself, but the truth is of paramount importance to me, regardless of the personal consequences. Long ago I decided to recognize and accept Rand's genius despite her "faults" -- which at times made me incredulous -- but it took a considerable fortitude, and many years, to do so. I've now come to discover that it is possible I went through that mental hand-wringing for naught.

I will not make speculations regarding my potential reaction if I find this to be true, as I don't have the words for it now; I also don't want to color my conclusions in advance. I simply needed to say this out loud.

The case against TOC

sjw's picture

I agreed with Diana's final conclusions about the Brandens long before she did. In fact her evaluations of "Passion" and "Benefits and Hazards" is pretty much exactly how I saw it when I read them. So my thought regarding that aspect of her history is: Spot on, and it's about time!

It's a different story with her spin on TOC. It could well be that my lack of intimate familiarity with TOC is part of the cause here, but I do not see the connection between her finally understanding the Brandens and her negativity toward TOC. The only factual item Diana gave here that I'd consider damning evidence was this:

"In 1998, Navigator favorably highlighted the then-forthcoming movie The Passion of Ayn Rand based upon Barbara Branden's biography."

I've seen the first part of that movie. It'd indeed be damning if TOC endorsed it. But look at the link Diana supplies here. Diana calls this a "favorable highlighting", when it's nothing of the sort. It's merely listed as a "sighting", and there are no favorable remarks at all--it's presented as news but not evaluated.

And this makes me think that it's not my lack of familiarity with TOC that's really to blame. She inadvertently distorts facts she herself presents, I certainly don't count on her recollections about the behind-the-scenes at TOC.

I'm open to hearing the case against TOC, but so far I haven't seen one.

(I realize there are a lot of Objectivists who feel like TOC & ARI should be like a kind of parent, filtering out bad content for them, ergo merely by having the Brandens there they are in breach. I disagree with this perspective as I elaborated on in this thread).

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